The real meaning of enlightenment is to gaze with undimmed eyes on all darkness. – Nikos Kazantzakis

Dabbling in philosophy

My karma just ran over your dogma

Suddenly, this has become a very quiet, lonely blog.  To those of you reading, I am truly sorry that you now have to put up with the hassle of either 1) Logging in everytime you want to read my blog or 2) Making a wordpress account just to read my blog.
But who knows, maybe something good will come from this!  Maybe you will make and follow-through with a blog of your own!  If you do, please do inform me, I love reading other people’s thoughts and ideas on anything.

So let’s get down to the topic of today: karma.  Basically, does what you do now come back to you in the future?

Does it really exist?  Or is it just an ingrained instinct of humans to see patterns?
So taking sides now…let’s explore a little.

Karma does exist

Karma exists when humans admit that there is such thing as fate.  You may not be a determinist, but you sure do believe in some kind of natural justice that exists in this world.  You believe that “an eye for an eye” occurs naturally during the course of life because it was just supposed to happen.  And when you do good things, you believe that good things will happen to you because fate is quite pleased by all this justice making.

When you really get down to it, karma is in almost every religion.  For those of you that believe in a heaven and a hell, karma is most definitely ingrained in your *cough* dogma (pardon the terrible joke).  The determination of whether or not you go to heaven or hell not just rests on your adherence to your dogma, but also on your acts that you do in your lifetime.  If you were  good person, and you helped the old lady cross the street, and generally lived a “good” life, then you will most likely go to heaven.  If you were an evil person, and commited great atrocities against all of humankind, and set into motion WWIII, you’re probably going to get sent to hell.  I suppose that it is this incentive of the reward of a happy afterlife that pushes some people to lead good lives.  Of course, not all people are like this, but there are always some out there that need some kind of motivation like utopia to jolt them into religiously based morals.  The “if I play nice now, I will always get a cookie later” way of thinking.

Personally, I don’t think that is the best way of parenting.

Karma does not exist

Karma does not exist when the human sees no reason in life.  Well that sounds depressing.  What I meant to say was something more along the lines of…life is just events that happen and there is no apparent justice guiding the fate of our world.  What we perceive as “karma” is nothing more than a good deed followed by a good event or a bad deed followed by a bad event.  Moral justice then, is nothing but a mirage in our heads.  Oddly enough, this type of thinking requires so much more faith in humans themselves because what people do is not then a precedence to a reward or punishment, but a choice that they make to be either “good” or “bad”.  Not believing in karma is more like believing in people rather than a higher force, whether you believe them to be intrinsically “good” or “bad”.

Of course, it is impossible to tell whether events are connected or just a part of the beautiful chaos of our universe.  No one will ever know whether our good action today foretells a good day in the future.  No one will ever know how long it takes for karma to kick in.  A person may give up a kidney today to save the life of a stranger.  Ten years later, will he consider the $100 bill he found on the ground a retribution from fate from so long ago or a random lucky find?

I myself do not believe in karma.  I find it refreshingly startling to think that humans have the ability to choose between so called good and evil, just for the sake of being good or evil.  What I do believe in is the astonishing power of the human brain to perceive differently.  Humans are instinctively inclined to continue a line of sight once seen.  So karma to me, is doing something nice and seeing the other nice things in life, and doing a bad thing and seeing other bad things in life.  To me, we just perceive a pattern in the mess of events.

Worthless people blame their karma.  ~Burmese Proverb

KARMA STRIKES AGAIN.

 – Beyond Apathy

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Forgiveness

What is forgiveness, but another way to better our own existence?
Thinking back to ancient times, for what reason did man stick with fellow humans?  True, it provided company, something alive in a harsh world, but above all, it was much more efficient.  With a two man team, you could alternate tracking an animal to hunt, and you had double the manpower.  This led to the discovery that one no longer starves to death during the winter if one works in a team.  So if 2 people are good, then why wouldn’t 3 people be great?  And 10 people?  And a tribe?  A village?  A city?  A nation?
In numbers, even the most incapable of animals find strength.  It is because of this strength that the word “society” evolved.

Forgiveness then, has always been beside man since he joined forces with another being.  Forgiveness, perhaps I sound too positive right now.  A better phrasing would perhaps be the “power to pardon”.  Imagine that in a team of two people, there is the stronger, more skilled dominant figure, and the lesser, slightly less skilled subordinate.  The subordinate, being less skilled than the alpha, screws up and lets prey get away.  The alpha now has to make a choice–a choice that probably flits through our minds at trivial acts, but nevertheless, a choice.  Does he let the subordinate stay with him, or does he make him leave?  By logical reasoning, he should be asking himself another question that determines his choice: Will my hunting be better without him?   In other words, does the subordinate’s hunting outweigh the fact that there is another mouth to feed?  If he decides that the subordinate is indeed an asset, then he has “pardoned” him.

On a darker note, if he decides that having the subordinate by his side is, in fact, bringing him down and making his existence less efficient, then he has refused to pardon him.  If you think that our society is now beyond this stage, then think again.  Why do students have new teachers every year?  It is because they have taught students to the best of their abilities, and there is nothing more or quality that they can give them.  In businesses, why do people get fired or laid off?  It is because their pay has outweighed their work, and it is worse for the company’s income to keep them.  Livelihoods depend on efficiency and the determination of what is beneficial and what is detrimental.

There is a saying that says that everyone has something to teach if you pay attention.  In the human conquest to know, to fully live up to our name Homo sapiens sapiens, we have found that the quickest way to gauge profit is to see who a person really is.  Observe how they react to different environments and situations, and see what their true face is.  If a person is truly bad, it has been found through many centuries of society that said person is most likely to cause damage to our existence, therefore, making a bad person somewhat like loose baggage.  If it is found that a human is with mostly good intentions, one has a greater chance of reaping a better reward, a better existence.  Oftentimes, it takes years before a person “knows”.  But in that instant, what will you choose?

When there is nothing more for me to gain, when I have seen the core of your existence, when the detrimental effects simply outweigh the benefits–it is then that you will become nothing to me.

 – Beyond Apathy


What if we lived in a hypothetical universe? Pt.2

This part is going to take a slightly different, more, dare I say, philosophical view on quantum mechanics and how this applies to the world.

Warning–the following paragraphs contain a staggering amount of mind-bogglement.  If you like having a sense of sanity, some semblance of self-worth, and a cozy, dark, little hole in the ground to live in, do not read on.

The universe as a whole, the Existence as a whole, it’s a thought that nobody likes to think about.  And deep inside, each of us know why.  From a purely scientific standpoint, we don’t matter.  From a philosophical standpoint, it is impossible to comprehend it.  From a religious standpoint, there is so much to doubt and so little to believe in.  From a normal standpoint, it is a sense of loneliness and cold, and we as humans tend to stay away from that.  And to think about it all is overwhelming.  If you don’t think it’s overwhelming, you’re not thinking about it.  When these thoughts flood your brain, there is little else that can function, so this is why we keep it locked away, deep in the crevices of our mind so we don’t have to deal with it.

So you never have to think about it if you don’t want to.  But one must, for it is the question that has haunted all life since its beginning.

“Why do we exist?”

Mind bogglement: What if there were others, just like us, but not in our plane of existence?  What if there was a different me or you going, “Why do we exist?”

Would you like a cold cup of perspective? http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/scienceopticsu/powersof10/

It’s an amazing, beautiful universe, and if you don’t think so, that’s pretty short-sighted and narrow-minded of you.  The Existence is a terrible/awe-inspiring, both at the same time, and it transcends every thought that you thought you knew.

Now getting to the point, there is a different interpretation of quantum mechanics that allows for a whole different type of reality, philosophy, time, and choice.  That very interpretation is the Many-Worlds Interpretation.  Its implications are staggering.  If it were proved to be true, then for every moment in our lives, there is an infinite number of different universes that spring from that moment, and the choice we make at the moment is the reality that we live in.  The other infinite choices that we possibly could have made are actual realities in parallel universes.  Sounds sci-fi, right?

Well, put into scientific terms, what happens at the point at which we observe electrons is the key.  The Copenhagen interpretation asserts that electrons undergo wavefunction collapse and become what we see.  Many-worlds interpretation states that electrons do NOT undergo wavefunction collapse and instead split into separate realities.

Each of these realities is as real as the next.  There is another you and another me in another universe, exactly the same except for a minor change in the flow of our lives.  And another you and me in another universe.  And a universe in which we never existed in the first place.  There is a reality for everything.

This is like the equivalent of freaking Sparta in science.

So this universe…it could very well be that it is unremarkable.  Indistinguishable.  One among infinite.  One universe in the entire multiverse.

Many-worlds interpretation tries to explain Schrödinger’s Cat with the idea that in our universe, the cat is dead, but the alternate reality of it living splits off into another universe.  We’d never know because we only exist in one plane of reality.

Most people perceive the flow of life as one continuous river, and maybe determinists see it as the only river.  The introduction of this interpretation means that time and reality is more like an infinitely forked road at every moment in our lives.  So what is time?  Just a bunch of choices that we make that keeps reality in motion?  Does this affirm the existence of free will and choice?  Are those separate universes impossible to reach?  What does this mean for what’s beyond us?

These questions are some that should address the implications of this theory.  Yes, it is a little spine-chilling, yet awesome at the same time.

Well, thanks for reading!  Yes, this is what I read about in my free time.

Everything you’ve learned in school as “obvious” becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.— R. Buckminster Fuller – Beyond Apathy


Time flows on–an idiom explained

Sorry about the delay in posting!  It’s been a busy past week as most of you well know.  I suppose I’ll miss you all during the summer unless I happen to see you over summer.  In that case, yay for those of you out there.

So!  The topic of this post…yes, you guessed it: time.  One clap for you.

And by delving into time, some philosophy and some physics will be brought in, so leave while you still can.

Or stay.  Staying and reading would be good too.

Time continuum sounds like something to do with scientifiction (nod to Hugo), but really, this is probably the generally most accepted version of time theory out there, the official creation credit going to Mr. Albert Einstein.  As most of you all know, there are three dimensions (in the traditional sense): length, width, and depth.  Now apply Einstein to the world, and voilà, you get four dimensions after adding in time.

Some of you may argue that time is not a dimension.  The tangible world around you, your chair, your desk, whatever you can touch in this reality is length, width, and depth.  If that object, let’s say a pencil, occupies a certain place in this plane, then it is tangible. So if it’s tangible, it must have dimensions.  But what if it’s not there at a certain point in time?  You couldn’t possible touch a pencil if it doesn’t exist in it’s place in space.  This means that time is indeed a dimension, allowing an object to exist in space while the other three dimensions mold its form.

Now that we’ve established that there are (at least) four dimensions in this universe, let’s focus in on the nature of time.  As described by Einstein, when all four dimensions are applied, it is called space-time.  This space-time could be what some call “the fabric of the universe”.  Imagine space infinitely stretching out in all directions.  Trick statement, it’s impossible to even fathom it.  Anyways, think of a table cloth, stretched out parallel to the ground in the air.  This table cloth is our very puny universe.  Drop a bowling ba–no, that’d induce the “Big Crunch” of our universe or rip a hole in its space-time…  Fine, a marble.  That small indentation in the cloth surrounding the marble is what gravity really is–a slight curvature of our universe.  Thus, the large/more mass an object has, the larger and deeper the area of indentation is.  Basically, this is why Jupiter has a truckload of satellites.

In order for space-time to be an accurate representation of the universe, it has to be a continuum.  Continuum in a mathematical sense is: Range = (-∞, ∞).  Discrete on the other hand is: Range = {…-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3…}.  Good if you got that.  If you didn’t…sigh.

What if the universe was discrete?  That is one big “what-if”.  Time would not “flow” as it does in a continuum.  Between two points in time, there would be no essential “middle” that connects the two points in time.  If you’ve ever put a camera on the multi-shot option, discrete time would be somewhat like those pictures.  Snap shots in reality is what time would become with no existence between those pictures.  Really, we would not exist.

And here lies fault with determinism as well.  To the determinist, there is no choice nor reason in this universe for everything happens as it will predestined to.  Predestination indicates some planning, and if there are points in our life that we are to follow with no choice between those separate points in time, then, with the lack of the essential middle ground, one can infer that a determinist inadvertently (or mindfully) believes in the discrete version of time.  Which was concluded to be impossible in the previous paragraph.

Time travel is a tricky thing to envision, but again, only possible in the continuum theory of time.  So say Einstein’s “thought experiments” were not for naught, and that at the speed of light, everything freezes (if what we see is light, and light obviously travels at the speed of light, then we, moving at the speed of light, should see only one point in time, frozen.  This also leads to the conclusion that the speed of time and light are the same).  Go faster and the idea is that it would allow you to go back in time.  Of course, with light being the universal speed limit (for now), this is impossible to prove.

But to go forward in time, that requires a whole new set of rules.  To go forward in time indicates that there is something that already happened in the future, that there is something that exists in the future.  AGH, those darned determinists.

And this is why time theory is all still a theory.

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. – Albert Einstein

– Beyond Apathy


The End

The first year is coming to a close, and I should feel relieved.

But I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love sleeping in and all the great things about summer, but the end becomes “I should’ve…” for me.  And then over summer, I brood, I forget about it all, then the school year starts.  Then I’ll do/not do some important things, and the cycle starts all over again.

And in the midst of all this internal turmoil, my thoughts always go back to one thing…the human struggle to change our existence.

What?  How did I get there?

Think of it like this—you get stabbed in a dark alleyway.  Now, were you stabbed because it just happened or was it your bad luck or was it just your own stupidity?  To determinists (the first reason), nothing happens for an actual purpose because this is just how things are supposed to be.  So it was your destiny to be in a dark alleyway at 2 at night with psychos armed with knives lurking around, and nothing could have steered you away from your untimely death.

Or maybe you knew a shortcut to the pharmacy because you needed to buy some cough drops.  Maybe there usually weren’t psychos in that alley (and you know by experience).  If you hadn’t chosen to take the shortcut, if you hadn’t been sick, you’d still be alive.  But no, you chose to take the shortcut, and you died while trying to buy some cough drops.

Or maybe you were being a human, and you were being stupid.  Maybe you walked into that dark place, fully aware of Psycho Alley, and you thought that you could make friends with them.  Well then, that’d make you mentally unsound, but it was a choice that you made with your limited human capacities.

I constantly argue with myself, “Was this meant to happen?  Probably not.  But will this affect me in the future?  Probably.  Then isn’t my future determined by what I do right now?  STOP IT.”  But that’s just dealing with events like my stupid choice back in sixth grade that is killing my math career right now.

If you erased a person out of your life, would anything be the same?  Would your life be the same minus all the things that the one person touched in your life?  Or would something drastically have changed, diverting the flow of my life into another tributary?  Or would this never be an answerable scenario because all things were meant to happen (oh, you determinists, always the easy way out)?  I’m probably going into time theory right now, so I’ll stop at this.

I don’t have all the answers, but no matter what your perspective on free will is, remember that the verb form of “life” is “to live”.

– Beyond Apathy