Mind, Non-Duality and What’s Up

 

The identity of the relative and absolute; from infinite circle to infinite waves

 

If you want to pursue and intellectual philosophical understanding of non-duality, consider reading Bernardo Kastrup. He posits One Mind, though his terminology is more technical. He asks tough questions of himself and all who consider Mind as foundational. This is Zen, Buddhism in general, Biocentrism, ancient Mahadyamika and other more recent non-dualistic philosophies.

Mind, consciousness, as foundational, brain as secondary, as a mode of Mind function, an expression of mind, how consciousness translates in our world, rather than the other way around.

If that is so, how come I can’t wiggle your toes? Why is there apparent self and other? What is death? If it is all Mind, what is all that stuff out there, galaxies, black holes, and so on, and how come we didn’t know about it all before if we have minds?

 

You can find out about this with a science/quantum bent reading Bob Lanza’s books on biocentrism

Robert Lanza speaking at Hazy Moon Zen Center a few years ago. Can find it on Hazy moon website.

Bernardo Kastrup also has very good, sophisticated answers. He just got his PhD in philosophy to go with his PhD in computer science. His philosophy PhD defense is on YouTube. I suggest if the intellectual philosophical, metaphysical aspects interest you in detail, look up his books, blog, or YouTube offerings.

Kastrup has used the metaphor of individuals with consciousness as eddies in a stream of One Mind (not exactly his term), especially a stream of a reflective material so we see our projections from within and think that’s how it is. Such metaphors are not new: eddies in a stream, waves in an ocean, currents in an ocean, broken flows in a waterfall, all have a fine and ancient pedigree. We are localized energy and momentum that is not separate from the medium, in fact totally one with it, interdependent, yet endowing it with contingent temporary local form and function.

Kastrup refers to us as “alters.” Those are different identities in people with multiple personalities. Alters may or may not be aware of the other alters, but in any case, alters are clearly in the minds of the afflicted, products of mind, yet have an apparent independent existence, a “life of their own.”

Mind and existence as psychopathology. Not bad, I think. After all, in Buddhism there is samsara, Maya, and it is a kind of projected mental illness! Or just, without what could be construed as implied value judgement, the great dance of illusion.

So, how do you know consciousness? Well, meditation accesses it directly, but in any case, you do know. After all, consciousness is the awareness of some way, an experience, it is to be something (some call that meta-consciousness, but I don’t care much about that debate. Bernardo Kastrup does, I’ll let him do the heavy lifting). You know at any moment, if you care to access it (that’s the meta-consciousness part), what it is like to be you. You are influenced by it even without meta-awareness of it. You react based on what it is like to be you, colored by conditioning (karma),to the degree you are not awake. Pretty obvious, there is nothing fancy there.

So, we go to the metaphors above to get to non-duality. They are weak, but of course they are just metaphors! As an alter, as a current, wave, broken up waterfall, or eddy in a stream, in the relative, in time and space, in the six senses, in samsara, I have my own sphere, my energy is finite, I can touch you indirectly, influence you, but not wiggle your toes. And death comes to all things in time and space. The wave crashes, current abates, the water falls, the alter loses juice.

Now, then what about all that stuff I never imagined?

Well, they become manifest to us out of the ocean, river, waterfall, when they enter our sphere of experience.

How about quantum? Sure, that’s how it works. Entanglement, non-locality

[Above is a schematic Interferometer, where a photon from lower left interferes with itself when out of phase in the two paths when it engages by half silvered mirrors as long we we don’t look at it in progress and “know” what path it takes. An indivisible photon on two paths here, but really many, or maybe infinite paths? Yep. And we have to be ignorant of the path? Yep. non-locality. Subatomic particles aren’t little pebbles flying around! Waves, energy, fields. It is deeper and way beyond what we ever imagined. See old posts or read up on it if you are interested.]

Another way to look at that: Maybe, to the degree I am aware, I know my experience, have access to my consciousness, but how do I know what Mind is up to? How do I see how that works? I experience my thoughts, but how does that work for Buddha Mind? For all that I can’t wiggle? What is all that?

Open your eyes. Engage. What you can’t wiggle is Mind outside of your “alter,” your self-reflective eddy in the stream, your current, your wave, your part of the waterfall. Same stuff as inside your eddy, your wave, your current, your waterfall, just a different pattern of energy. From beetles to black holes, from quarks to quasars, from so very way teeny to so awesomely way immense, that is Mind functioning. That is what Mind is up to. That is what the ultimate thought, Mind, Cosmic Consciousness, if you like, looks like, what it is, how it functions in time and space. It is time and space.

Why is it that way? Wrong question. That tries to bring it down to human terms. Too self-centered and self-important. A deflection, an infinite regress that will lead nowhere. In Zen we talk about the identity of relative and absolute; this is not a newly recognized conundrum. For most of us most of the time, those are just words and concepts. Distractions. Maybe that’s got to be okay. Maybe it’s how we function, not worth worrying about. That just makes for more noise, more distractions.

Better, perhaps, to be aware, awake, intimate with what is True, with Mind.

Shut up and see what’s up.

 

 

Ego and Interconnectedness

One in everything, everything in one. Tee shirt from Nara temple.

 

I haven’t been fond of the term “ego,” as popularly used, from way back. Always seemed what someone spat that out when they were justifying their own behavior, which was almost invariably self-serving, and meant to stop the conversation. Ego was bad. End of story. I called it on you first, and with more aggressive belief I am right, so I win.

I have come around a bit. Not about using it in that way, as a word to bludgeon others into seeing things one’s way. Ego is useful to consider as a process of reifying ourselves as a solid entity that can be protected and preserved. Not very Buddhist, and often quite uncompassionate and even frankly toxic.

Well, it is easy to see ego write large in our president, isn’t it? Self interest uber alles. No lie, no harm to truth, justice and the American way, that isn’t on the table if it furthers his personal agenda.

In Buddhism we have the 3 poisons, anger, greed and ignorance (usually taken to be ignorance writ large, about the nature of Truth, not say, lacking knowledge of calculus. Of course, ignorance of things you need to know to function compassionately could be included, see my previous post/rant).

These poisons usually arise because you are trying to protect yourself, your projected image of who you are, in order to “feel” that the stories you tell yourself are true. Because the alternative is that you have to face impermanence and death, or at least the fact that you aren’t all you hoped you would be, life isn’t what you want and expected. You lose control, the bottom can fall out (is that all bad? Well, it can be scary to our propped-up model of who we are that we carry in our heads, our egos).

Nyogen Roshi suggested reading books Anthony De Mello this last Summer. There are two in particular, with Awareness and Awakening in the titles. A clue to where he is at. Like Zen, like all mindfulness and spiritual practice, wake up, pay attention, see what is there past your conditioning. Your ego, a term he favors, so I reassessed for myself.

De Mello was born in India, a Catholic, became a therapist and Jesuit, got kicked out of the church for his teachings. He taught that religion as practiced is usually at best a waste of time, a diversion (I paraphrase). He believed most of his patients as a psychologist didn’t really want to get better. I am agnostic about the latter point, as I never did such a practice, but he has a point. I certainly see myself skirt issues and the hard work of facing my bullshit from time to time.

And I have found his advice very helpful in my practice, that is, in my daily life. If you are disappointed, hurt and angry, fearful, jealous or whining, ask how your ego is involved. What is your conditioning? What are you protecting? What are you afraid of? What is your anger and hurt masking?

Sure, people will do you wrong. How do you experience it? After all, De Mello points out, are you surprised if you are hurt by people? Didn’t you know what assholes we all are much of the time?  Did you think it was only you and your parents? If people are very toxic and you can’t handle them, then disengage, he suggests. Move on. Don’t get dragged into their delusions any more than you have to or than is helpful. Don’t let them gaslight you, condition you.

Okay, some people do criminal or very deeply egregious things, and you may need help dealing with that. Your emotions and intellect can be guides, that’s why they evolved, just understand that they will outlive their usefulness fairly quickly, but that doesn’t mean they won’t hang around.

But Post-traumatic stress is real, and there are treatments. If it is that bad, and meditation and practice and chanting or yoga or relaxation exercises or talking to friends, whatever positive activities that you normally do when things go south, isn’t enough, get help. Cognitive therapy, ketamine, neurolinguistic programming (is that still a thing? I knew a therapist who swore by it being effective for PTSD), whatever you need. I am not expert on that, so I am just throwing out things I have heard might help. Get help if you need it. Right away.

Some people are dangerous and if you are unlucky enough to be victimized you may need help from the authorities. They will likely hurt others, so it is compassionate to stop them. Maybe you will be doing them a favor, as in the gangbangers I meet who are trying to live without crime and deal with their anger, their horrible past history of being victims of abuse that led them to where they are, in constructive ways.

I would add, again referring to my last post, if it is a matter of protecting others, you are one victim among many, or it barely touches you but touches others painfully, as in social, political or environmental big picture issues, disengage from taking it personally, see how much of your attitude is your ego, but engage on a principled level of defending others, especially those who may not be able to defend themselves.

(oh, and by the way, if you are fortunate have money, be generous and help those who are doing the hard, frontline work. If nothing else motivates you, it is a good selfish investment. Let it prop up your ego, heck, I don’t care. Maybe you deserve it. I won’t be Zen purist for you. Just, do the right thing.).

Anyway, as I wrote above, I have found De Mello’s advice very helpful. If I am brooding, hurt, angry, what is the issue? Not only the facts of the matter as I see them. Certainly, I may have to point out what is up, that someone was careless or had an agenda that was serving their ego and I was collateral damage, but what about my attitude? Is it just self-image protection? Is my “ego” bruised? My comfortable lifestyle threatened? To the degree that is the case, my efforts will often make matters worse, my life will suck just a bit more, if I don’t recognize that and let it “self-liberate.” And that has been useful, it can work, at least for the usual daily personal life slings and arrows.

I mean, it won’t help pass the deepest koan, but it helps me get through somewhat tough personal barriers. And in fact, that is not separate, I suspect, from the deepest koan. Not only because almost all separations are imagined or flimsy, as it is all One, interconnected, but also it seems it would be hard to see into the heart of the matter, life and death and Being, touch Mind directly, to see the true nature of Oneness and “interbeing” ( as Thich Nat Han likes to say) if you are in your head, licking your ego wounds. Heck, it is hard to even really pay attention to what is in front of you, to wake up on any level, if you are so distracted. Again, I’m not an expert, just my suspicion.

Now, regarding science, I may put up some suggested readings later, but for now since I just  brought up the interconnectedness and last post implied it by talking about ecology, let me suggest a popular science book that came out several years ago that I just got around to reading (yay retirement): “I Contain Multitudes” by Ed Yong. Fantastic book. It is deep biology, story after story of interconnectedness. It makes no promise to reveal deep mysteries of Cosmic Truth, but it kind of does, as all honest things do, if you follow the threads and read between the lines. It is about the microbiome, sure, a current and recent buzzword, our internal (well, counting skin, also external) body’s ecology, and there are other books and articles about the microbiome and human health. But this goes into much more than that. It isn’t just human centric, and I love that. We are so full of ourselves, even though we are looking to be such a failed evolutionary experiment! Anyway, you needn’t have any science background to read it even though it blew my mind and I know a lot about biology.

Retirement and What Practice and Compassion Are For Me Now.

I have taken a break from writing on this blog for some time, mostly because my retirement was on the front burner.

First there was the process of retiring. Not just the nuts and bolts stuff. As a physician I had months of saying goodbye to patients, some of whom I have known most of their lives, from childhood through teen years to adulthood, with careers and family, some as long as 20 years. Others I have seen go from young adults to middle aged, or middle aged to elderly (like me!). Even those I have known for less time, the bonds often grow thick and fast. Some serious diseases, adventures, trials, we shared.

Saying goodbye. Many, many tears.

Of course, with most patients it wasn’t so intense, but for some it was a major deal for both them and me.

Now I have been retired for 3 months, and in that time it has been about seeing what my new life is. That process is ongoing.

And no, while I miss my patients and colleagues, I do not miss the identity of physician. Others will step into that role, the world goes on. I never believed that defined me. It was right livelihood, and I love that I did that. Now I don’t do that. Letting go of people and relationships was difficult, of my role of being a physician was easy.

So now:

I do a bit more at the Zen center.

I have arranged volunteering, for example canvasing and phone banking with the Democrats (this is a critical time, obviously), and with groups like Homeboy Industries (the world’s largest gang reintroduction program for those seeking a life after crime). I am on the board of Swipe Out Hunger (swipehunger.org) that is involved in food insecurity in colleges, a major problem for those trying to improve their lives though education. Even conservative republicans should want to help out with that! Bootstraps and all.

I have always had concerns about the environment as a high priority; it was part of what led me to the commune I lived on when I dropped out 45 years ago, and I am currently getting more educated and active.

I mean, you do know 16 year old Greta Thunberg is right, don’t you? We are on fire. Ecosystems are collapsing. I don’t buy that all life on earth is at risk from the increased CO2 and warming. Life bounced back from much worse climate change. We have already started a mass extinction, and many species, perhaps most, wont survive, of course. Including some that have lasted hundreds of millions of years. But that doesn’t mean life on earth wont survive. It has survived mass extinctions before. But on the other hand, the toxins we are releasing (including plastics) are more of a global long-term threat to life that we can barely even guess about, let alone quantify. that could be a real game changer, in the worse way, much more than climate change.

For us humans climate change is a different matter. We are set up so precariously, our civilization is so fragile, our population so large, that climate changes our ancestors would have barely noticed (they did go through all sorts of climate changes, ice ages, then warming and sea level changes, etc) can wipe us out in a few decades.

Don’t you just want to cry? I do.

Speaking of Greta, at first, I wasn’t such a fan, but then I realized it was the rhetoric around her that put me off. The whole “from the mouths of babes thing.” I thought that if it took Greta to wake you up, you weren’t paying attention for the last several decades! That’s of course true, but that’s not her fault, I realized. No, she just started doing her thing, and somehow it started getting attention. Good for her. She is fantastic. I believe that she is sincere, she doesn’t want fame, she wants the dumb shits who aren’t doing what they should be doing to stop being dumb shits and listen, not to her but to scientists, and for all responsible people in any position of power and influence to do what they should be doing. And for the rest of us to push them (and ourselves!) to do the right thing, to do more. Not find excuses for inaction: it’s too big, too tough, this or that wont do enough, some say. It wont matter. Well duh, probably not, but doing nothing is even worse. That certainly guarantees failure. Doing anything, even a tiny bit, helps set the tone of the discussion, shows you care, and can seed bigger action, as long as it doesn’t become an excuse not to do even more if and when you can.

Kids should speak up and yes, we should listen out of compassion; they are looking at severe devastation in their lifetime if Trump and other outlandishly greedy willfully ignorant people have their way, and if the rest of us just go about our lives as if it will take care of itself and there’s little we can do.

Being rich wont prevent anyone from being crushed by this as it gets worse. The rich think it will, but they will be in prisons of their own making. They can’t escape for long. The social disruptions in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, central and South America, and so in the US and Europe, the demagoguery and populism, the difficulties this will bring, will eventually be impossible to escape no matter how rich you are. Climate change is  already causing significant disruptions and problems politically and socially. The rich and willfully ignorant are just too greedy and so too stupid to see it. They hope they can run out the clock, or buy their way out, blinded by their desires and delusions. It won’t work forever. This is too big. You can’t print money or bitcoin to buy your way out of it. (aside: do you know how much energy bitcoin uses? A travesty). Hungry ghosts, no satiating them, even if it hurts them and others.

As for my interests and practice, I find it is not enough to think about Cosmic Truths and philosophy, quantum coolness, entanglement, and non-dualism. And even meditation can be just a waste of time, IF we don’t use any wisdom and sanity and energy we generate to put compassion into action to the best of our abilities and resources.

I am not saying you shouldn’t read and think about all that, certainly I am a big fan of practice and meditation, which over all I do now more than before, I am just saying right now, the interface of science and Zen, and philosophic insights about non-dualism, is not the heart of my practice. That is all foundational, but I find I have enough to go on and it is time to realize it, to make it real. Yes, I look forward to reading the next book on Biocentrism by Robert Lanza when it comes out. But for me now, to express my practice in my life is what matters. I am not waiting for anutara samyak sambodhi, ultimate enlightenment, or the next great book or scientific-spritual-philosophical insight.

Don’t let practice be an excuse, a prop for your ego. A reason to disengage.

At least, that’s how I see it for myself right now.

Certainly, we can’t all be scientists, policy makers, or Greta. But we can do whatever we can do. Practice without compassion is limited at best, and compassion without expression is conceptual nonsense, an oxymoron, or perhaps just simple self-indulgence. Mental masturbation.

If you are too hurt by your life, so destroyed by the world, sure, take some time and get it together. But in the meantime, how about, if you at all can, acting “as if.” As if you had compassion and some ability to function. It needn’t be big stuff. It can be very little stuff. Baby steps. But we need all hands on deck, doing whatever little you can.

Even just offering a bit of encouragement to those who can do more and are trying, maybe just showing gratitude and respect, is something, is enough, if that’s all you got.

Oh, and please no hand wringing about the Trump impeachment proceedings. If it loses us the election, then we would have lost anyway. If our country is that ethically and morally bereft, and there is evidence unfortunately that it is, then worrying and plotting and strategy wont help.

We have to do this impeachment proceeding. It is clearly the right thing to do. It is at the foundation of any fair system, especially a democracy, that no one is above the law and that getting a foreign power, or for that matter any power, person or any institution, to help you crush your enemies outside of the law and due process, is an abuse of power.

So, we already won! The truth is out there. That is sufficient.

You think it has to be more? It has to be that the senate, miracle of miracles, finally comes around and sets Trump packing?  Republicans get sane and fair? Puhleeeese! Okay, maybe there will be such a miracle. But do you think we will be better off if we have Handmaid’s Tale Pence in the white house with his theocracy? You think he’s a closet environmentalist (well, he may be in the closet… just not that one) who will save the day?  I want Trump out, sure, our future depends on it, but if it means by the election so be it. In fact, putting Pence in the office might make it harder to elect a Democrat (some moderate republicans and independents will use it as an excuse not to vote Democrat) and prevent doing something about climate change.

Yes, the Dems did little about the environment, and did some bad things, let some stuff get by on their watch, but they did some good things. They at least tried. Now we are driving headlong toward the abyss, republican foot heavy on the pedal…

And again, if we lose the election, let’s lose it by doing what is right, not by over thinking it or cringing in fear.

Okay, you know all this. Sorry. Had to get it out there in case there was any hesitation or lack of clarity. This is our lives now.

If you need it in spiritual terms: think of it as our karma, a quest, a spiritual challenge, a cosmic battle, a spiritual test of who you are in your heart, your gut, deep, deep down. You know, like the stories where the beggar turns out to be a saint or god testing you. Whatever inspires you. Whatever story gets you out of your head into action, real compassion.

We need to be on this.

And I likely will get back to more spiritual themes and maybe math and science and maybe some more cosmic vision, sharing some of my fiction, etc. Lighten up a bit! We’ll see.

But for now, this is where my practice, where Zen and Science, has led me, and I promised from the beginning I would be honest with you, that I’d share my journey. Otherwise what’s the point? I am not after likes or followers.

 

DNA

21719379-dna

From Scientific American June 2019:

“All The World’s Data Could Fit In An Egg”

A strand of DNA is about 0.00001 meters thick. That is 1/100,000 of a meter. The DNA is so tightly packed in your cells that the DNA in each cell each cell can be stretched to 2 meters (about 6 feet). If all the DNA in all of your cells was placed end to end it would be 100 trillion meters long. That is 100 million kilometers, or over 62 million miles. Your DNA would stretch 2/3 of the way to the sun, though the strand would be too thin for you to see.

An ounce of DNA has the storage density of almost thirty million hard drives.

How lucky that life stumbled on that little trick. Useful for evolution.

There isn’t a selfish gene. There is nothing selfish about it. Information, always changing, always morphing into contingent forms.

The buddha turns the dharma wheel and reality is shown in all of its many forms, we chant in a Zen service where I meditate.

30 Kushan Buddha

Information made manifest.

Mind made manifest.

Slide3

New Aidan Novel, Stories and Life

 

I have published my second novel, “Aidan and The Mummy Girl Save the Universe.”  It s, like my first book “Aidan and the Dragon Girl Save the world” about Aidan Alvarado, 11 year old dream detective. You don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this one. The books have history, mystery, mythology, Zen and adventure. If you are interested in knowing more, look at my other website ralphlevinson.com. it is available of course on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and other sites, as print or eBook, but the coolest thing is that a friend ordered it from a bookstore in Amsterdam. I love bookstores!

The theme of the new book is in the dedication: to those who try not to be trapped by their stories.

How you frame your world in your mind is how you experience it in a recursive delusional trap if you aren’t awake and present (and very careful). The narrative we run is often a product and symptom of our fears and greed and ignorance, although we dress them up to be much more palatable.

The Lankavatara and other sutras, and Nyogen Roshi, point out how we spend our lives reacting to our projected idea of the world.

I am amazed at the depth of my conditioning, the degree to which I am trapped by the past, re-telling my life to myself as some sort of talisman. I wrote about this previously; to paraphrase Lily Tomlin: to wish for a better past is crazy.

This is at the core of my practice now: Not being trapped by my idea of the world, by my conditioning, by my stories.

This practice isn’t about not remembering things, not thinking, or not loving stories. That’s what brains are for. The operant wording: not to be trapped by stories. Stories are powerful. They are “skillful means,” upaya, in Buddhist jargon. Stories can reveal truths that we can’t weigh or measure, that we don’t have a clear quantitative metric for. Myth and stories have a place in communicating how we experience the world before measurement, for exploring values and truths that rely on judgment and perspective.

 

In the one everything, in everything the one. Tee shirt I bought at Nara Temple in Japan. It’s from a sutra.

 

I haven’t written on this website for a while. I don’t have much more to say about science and Zen, All is change.  Particles are localized waves. The currency is energy, the substance is energy. Nothing solid, nothing fixed, all is contingent. The relative (all things and events, particle and wave) is embedded in and inseparable from the absolute (which science cannot name. Energy? Quantum and gravitational fields? Strings? Quantum loops? These aren’t the absolute, but the most basic expression of what arises from the absolute, as close as science can get). That’s what science tells us that might inspire a Zen practitioner in the quest to not be limited by and attached to our senses and how our brains put together the world (biologic conditioning), while at the same time not rejecting our brains, our karma.

Then there are a lot of cool details in science. I have been enjoying the science channel’s “How the Universe Works” about cosmology and astrophysics. Gets pretty trippy.

The science that most interests me most now is life science, and more of a global life perspective. That means plants, invertebrates, and microbes. Most “biomass”: plants. Most number of organisms: viruses. Vertebrate species are few compared to insects and bacteria. JBS Haldane, a scientist (genetics) in the first half of the 20thcentury, wrote, “God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles.” (Wikiquote.org goes through the variations of this)

As an aside, Haldane also wrote: my suspicion is not only that the universe is queerer than we suppose but queerer than we can suppose.

The limits of concepts, well known to Zen.

We can even make it about us: Photosynthetic plankton create about half the oxygen we breathe. If we lose bees and we lose a big chunk of our food supply. But in fact, we are dwarfed as an expression of living potential.  Ecology. What we are doing to our environment (climate change. May be the topic of my next novel, Aidan and the Dragon Girl, Princess Peace, whose father is Dragon King of the East Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, are pissed about what us stupid monkeys are doing to the ocean.)

So, yes, I love studying life. It does allow a humbling and yet exhilarating perspective on our lives: the deep and abiding dance of carbon we are part of. The cycling of energy in a kaleidoscope of form and function. As Darwin wrote at the end of “Origin of Species”: endless forms most beautiful. Savor the phrase, savor life. Kind of Buddhist in a way.

 

Some Thoughts/Fun Facts on Light

 

In one, all; in all, one.

From a Buddhist Sutra (and a tee-shirt from Nara temple in Japan)

 

In white, all colors. In all colors, white.

All it takes is some heated sand and water (that is, a glass prism) to show that!

 

You have no receptor in your eye for yellow.

 

Rainbows aren’t things. They are contingent processes of light, water, quantum electrodynamics and an eye and brain

 

Having no mass and traveling through a vacuum at light speed a photons’ universe is one of time dilation such that the next tick of the clock never happens, so no time, and space contraction so there is here, so no space. So, see that star thousands of light years away here and now?

The Pleiades in the night sky

 

Photons pop in and out of electrons. That’s what a “quantum jump” is: an electron absorbs a photon (only some energies are allowed for a given orbit in a given atom. That’s quantum electrodynamics) and gets the right amount of energy to be in (jump to) a different (higher energy) orbit around the nucleus of the atom (or spits out a photon and goes to a lower energy orbit).  So atoms are constantly creating and absorbing light. 

Not atomic orbitals, but a cool picture that reminds me of atomic orbitals

 

You can pile up photons in the same place, but not electrons and protons and neutrons. That’s why you experience things as solid, but not light. Light has energy though, and so it can cut through things and burn you up and give you cancer. However, it helps if you want to read a book at night.

Neither Exists Or Doesn’t Exist

in all things the one, in the one all things

 

Neutrinos!

Neutrinos are subatomic particles that have just a hint of mass yet can move at light speed. They are created by radioactive decay in the sun, supernovae and some other radioactive processes like human made reactors.

Here’s the question that interests me: Do we exist in the same universe?

Neutrinos were first suggested by Wolfgang Pauli (whose exclusion principle is primarily why we can’t have two atoms in the same time and place i.e. why things seem solid when we know atoms are empty for the most part). It was known that in a kind of radioactive decay (beta decay) the momentum and spin of particles did not appear to be conserved, even though momentum and spin were known to be conserved in every other process. Hmmm. Conservation of something (like momentum and spin) in physics means that the total is unchanged before and after something happens, even if distributed differently (say one object looses momentum, but another gains it). As I wrote in earlier blogs, if you can’t tell if something changed after you messed with it, it is a symmetry. For example, if I close my eyes and you rotate a circle, it looks the same to me when I open my eyes. That’s rotational symmetry. If I close my eyes and you move it, the circle itself looks the same when I open my eyes. It is symmetric to translation.

Now, the symmetry of momentum and spin in beta decay seemed like something that better not be violated. Pauli did the math and suggested a new particle. People were a bit shook up by that, and it took 20 years to find the neutrino experimentally, but they did and it worked! This is the kind of thing that excites physicists who suggest we should trust the math: sometimes it works!

Anyway, this was part of the discovery of one of the main forces, the weak nuclear force, which has been unified with the electromagnetic force (the electroweak force) and so is a big deal.

Neutrinos have no charge, but like the electrons they are related to (which have charge) they have spin. Spin is weird. Point particles can’t literally spin around (there is no axis or lateral extent to spin around the axis; they’re points!), but the term spin is used because the particles behave like spinning particles would (like how they move in magnetic fields). Well, something is weird with neutrinos; they have a preference and they shouldn’t! Neutrinos are “left handed” and anti-neutrinos “right handed” (the direction of spin) and that is weird. Unlike the other situations mentioned above, we can’t just flip the terms and it is just how we say it, it doesn’t matter which you call which. It isn’t symmetric. It may not seem it, but that is really unique!

Yikes!

There’s more.

When they measured how many neutrinos/second came from the sun, it was less than expected. It turns out there are 3 flavors of neutrino that can change into each other. They “oscillate.” Other particles don’t do this, at least not in the same way. It was once thought that maybe all three types (flavors) of neutrinos don’t have mass. That was wrong. They have mass. But we don’t know the masses of the three neutrino flavors; we only know the differences in the mass between them. Anyway, neutrinos interact differently with the Higgs field (which gives mass) compared to other particles. So it seems all three have some really tiny mass, way below other particles with mass, but tiny as the mass is, they are not massless like photos and gluons.

I have seen various estimates for how many neutrinos pass through you, but it is something like 100 trillion per second, every second you are alive.

Why don’t we have any effect from them? You don’t hear about putting neutrino sun block on. In fact, if you could see neutrinos, it is said the sun would be as bright as the full moon. That is neutrinos from the sun wouldn’t be as “bright” as photons (regular light), but it would be plenty.

It’s because they interact very weakly with matter. We are invisible to them and they are invisible to us.

How weak is this neutrino interaction with stuff? According to one estimate, neutrinos interact with atoms so weakly that it would take about four lifetimes for one to interact with an atom in your body despite the trillion going through every second. Askel Hallin in Scientific America wrote that in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, a 1000 ton heavy water solar-neutrino detector picks up about 1012 (1 with 12 zeros after it i.e. a trillion) neutrinos each second. About 30 neutrinos per day are detected, say about one per hour). There are 3600 seconds in an hour, so about it seems that almost 3,600 trillion are “picked up” in the detector (his word, I believe that means passes through) for every one neutrino detected (that is, that interacted sufficiently with their apparatus to be detected).

The universe of the neutrinos is: be created, have a tiny bit of mass, and exist in a vast empty universe. Most will go light years without interacting with anything, cruising through planets, dust clouds, people, whatever.

If neutrinos could somehow put together all the vast neutrino “data” of the rare and random neutrino/matter (subatomic) interactions throughout space and time, some objects would have enduring patterns and become “visible”, or perceived in the sense of registering interaction/o interaction, yes/no, 0/1 information. That is, an interaction event happened that changed the information content of the universe that could be considered a “perception.” If enough events/perceptions were gathered over time, there would be entities that would be denser to neutrons than their surroundings and persist long enough to be present in the neutrino universe. Perhaps stars and planets and nebulae would be large and persistent enough to exist in the neutrino universe.

But neutrinos wont ever “perceive” you or me. The neutrino world of can’t resolve us as anything but a single data point that would be lost in the noise of other random and rare interactions, if we as individuals have such an interaction at all. Remember that most of us (3 of 4) wont ever interact with neutrino world; we are truly invisible. If there are four of us, yeah one of us was “seen” but at such low resolution (a single 0/1 for all space and time, just one data point, one interaction with one neutrino and one atom) that in neutrino universe he or she would be no different from a falling leaf, the air or water in a mountain stream or a wandering cosmic particle in empty space. Just a bit of noise, if even that.

As a small practical issue, if some genius advanced aliens did have neutrino vision, the neutrino data, the “perceived” patterns that persist through a sufficient time at neutrino interaction scale (many, many, many human lifetimes) on a planetary level that could resolve say our planet, would require supercomputers to even approach giving any real image. After all, our planet is a moving target; around the sun, then around the galaxy with the sun, then the galaxy rotates and moves and space expands. Just looking at an area in space would be useless. Any object would be gone.

We are invisible to neutrinos; we simply do not exist.

Are neutrinos invisible to us? Well, they were until a few decades ago. Certainly they are without huge and expensive detectors. They pass through us (and our planet) with impunity, the rare interactions too weak and isolated to have any abiding effect on any macroscopic entity. They are without direct effect and certainly in that sense non-existent.

Now, here is a neutrino universe we have discovered and added to (with nuclear reactors), the neutrino universe of radioactive processes, the sun, supernovae, our reactors on earth, that through science we can “perceive”, but barely, that interacts so rarely that we as individuals can never exist in that neutrino universe.

And despite having mass a neutrino travels at the speed of light (some scientists thought they saw evidence of faster than the speed of light neutrinos, but so far doesn’t seem true. Information in entangled particles can transcend time and space, for example, but it doesn’t seem neutrinos can). As I have written elsewhere, travelling at the speed of light means the ultimate n space contraction (there is no here to there, only start then place of interaction, no here to there) and time dilation (the next tick of the clock never comes, just start and time of interaction, no then to now.)

A neutrino universe is our universe, but then again, it isn’t.

All of this about neutrino world as written sounds a bit like pantheism or maybe just bad “anthropormorphizing” if you take it that I mean literally that the neutrinos are self aware and communicate these interactions. But in math and science you can talk about a space of states. Here what I mean is the space of neutrino states as encoded in 0-1, neutrino yes/no, interaction/interaction with a subatomic particle, exists independent of our experienced universe.

And here is my point:

In that neutrino space of states I do not exist. Literally. I do not, I cannot, exist. I am in a space of states  (e.g. momentum and energy) that interacts too rarely with neutrinos to register as more than noise, if it registered at all. The sum of neutrino universe interactions would not be sensitive or specific enough to detect that I exist.

Neutrinos do not exist for you and me, even if we look them up on Wikipedia. You may trust me as I trust the physicists, but there is no consequence to you of the vast number of neutrinos that pass through you undetected that they truly do not exist for you except as a rumor that you have. If you aren’t a physicist or part of a team researching neutrinos, they don’t exist but as a story.

Really, they just don’t exist.

But…they do exist, these children of the stars.

And whatever space of states neutrino world evolves through, you don’t exist.

But…you do exist, a set of various spaces of states, whether or not it “matters” to neutrino world.

In Buddhist sutras there is a category of what neither exists nor does not exist. Not Aristotelian, trying for non-dual logic.

Neutrinos: You bet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Again?

Here’s a fun fact:

Closer to an object with mass time moves more slowly compared to further away from the mass. That’s relativity. That’s why things fall (huh?). That is gravity. Which is cause and effect? Gravity slowing time, time slowing being gravity! Scientists also talk about bending space. Time dilates, space contracts. Same issues.

More details later.

But for now, let this sink in. so assuming you are on earth, if you are standing or sitting up, even slouching, your feet are in a different time zone (or if your prefer, space-time zone) from your gut, which is in a different zone from your head. Your chin from your brain.

That time difference, that space difference, that space-time difference, can actually be measured using modern technology.

So, where is now? When is here?

You can’t hold it.

My New Novel

Cover of my first novel. You can look at ralphlevinson.com for more

Note:

I edited this for format and minor changes in text on 6/11/18

I am getting ready to self publish this novel for older kids (and grown ups!). It is the second novel about Aidan who travels through time and space in his dreams to solve cosmic mysteries. I’m waiting for my friend who is working on the cover then there’s always this and that to do. Self publishing means each hard copy is a bit expensive, but it will be on kindle and nook and if you know someone who cant afford a copy let me know. I just like hard copies! Anyway heres the first five chapters just for fun.

In this novel he has to solve the mystery of the golden feather; he goes to Tang China, Nalanda the Buddhist university in ancient India, meets a naga, Taxila where Alexander’s troops are ready to invade the Indus Valley, an Ancient Greek island and finally faces a cosmic battle in the realm of the dead in Ancient Egypt.

Busy boy!

One of his mentors is Wise-and-Able, Red Pine’s translation of the name of the 6th ancestor of Zen in China, Hui Neng.

Enjoy (note the spaces are a feature of the website; ignore) :

 

Aidan and the Mummy girl Save the Universe

 

Dedicated to those who try not to be trapped by their stories

 

Chapter 1.          That Mummy Case

 

 

Aidan Alvarado put the large old-fashioned metal key into the lock of the door to his grandfather’s study.

Turn the key, he thought. It won’t turn by itself.

Or maybe it would. He wouldn’t put it past the study to give him a nudge if the time   was right.

Maybe the time wasn’t right. The key wasn’t turning by itself, and Aidan wasn’t turning the key either.

KoKo, his grandparents’ mostly black German shepherd, nuzzled Aidan’s arm.

“Don’t rush me, KoKo.”

Ever since Aidan finished his first case as a junior dream detective and saved the world, he followed his grandfather’s advice to just be a kid again for a while.

No traveling through time and space in his dreams. No dangerous people like the greedy ancient Chinese General Ling or the powerful renegade dream detective Diamante Petrus who tried to kidnap Lotus, a dragon princess, in order to force her father, the Dragon King of the East Ocean, to use his powers to help them rule the world.

No study that gives you clues. He hadn’t set foot in there for over three months.

Being a dream detective and saving the world was exhausting. Taking a break was a good idea.

Still, he missed it. Homework and studying and grades were boring after all he had been through, and that was a problem. He didn’t put any effort into his schoolwork, and he didn’t much care. It’s not like the fate of the world depended on it!

His grades tanked.

He promised to do better but never got around to it. He just got his report card and his broken promise was obvious. Cs and a couple of Ds. Ds! He had never gotten a D on a report card before in his whole life.

His poor performance at school was not going over well with his mother, not only because she was a teacher, Aidan decided, but also because she was a mother, always looking for things to worry about. His report card was going to be something for her to worry about.

Maybe a new dream detective case was what he needed. Excitement. A challenge. Something that mattered. On the other hand, it might be overwhelming, scary, tiring, and totally terrible for his grades.

The study could help him. It had a way of telling you what you needed to know. Or, it might suck him into a case before he was ready, like dream detective quicksand, complicating his life and making things worse.

He probably shouldn’t take the chance. It was too risky. He was on shaky ground as it was. Better to walk away, right?

Nah. He was going in.

Aidan turned the key and the door slowly swung open. The musty, dusty smell of old books swept over Aidan, and musty and dusty smelled like adventure and mystery.

Aidan’s grandfather, Emanuel Prosperowitz, greeted him when he stepped inside the study. “Aidan! Welcome. I was bored. Come keep me company.”

Aidan didn’t believe him for a minute. His grandfather was never bored.

Aidan’s grandfather was sitting in one of the two large ratty old over-stuffed chairs. His grandmother, Jane Prosperowitz, was sitting in the other one.

“Sleeping well?” his grandfather asked. “Any special dreams lately?”

“I thought you were bored and needed company?” Aidan challenged.

“I was kidding. Jane never lets me be bored,” his grandfather responded, laughing at his little joke as Aidan’s grandmother rolled her eyes. “But you didn’t answer my question.”

“No, Grandpa, no special dreams.” Aidan was pretty sure his grandparents already knew that.

“I had an interesting dream about the Emperor Wu,” his grandmother offered.

Aidan felt a rush of energy go up his spine. At the end of his first case Emperor Wu told Aidan that she’d need his help as a dream detective again.

“Does anything in the study grab you?” his grandmother asked.

Looking around his grandfather’s study was not simple. The shelves went up almost 30 feet and books and papers were piled up and scattered around everywhere. Aidan scanned the library quickly since thinking too much got in the way.

On top of the old wooden filing cabinet there was a large feather that he hadn’t noticed before. A feather wasn’t nearly as interesting as the fossil dinosaur skull or the samurai sword, but those were old news.

Aidan shrugged. “Not really.”

“We’re stuck. We’d like your help. Look again,” his grandfather said.

Aidan looked all the way up to the top shelves. Nothing glowed. Nothing shifted. Nothing did anything. He climbed a few rungs up the ladder by the shelves and reached out without looking. His hand touched a book. Aidan took the book off the shelf and climbed back down.

His grandparents were smiling.

“You’re really getting the hang of the study!” his grandmother said.

Aidan loved her smile. Few things in the world were that warm and sincere.

Aidan read the title of the book out loud. “‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead.’ Wow, that’s kind of creepy. But what does that have to do with Emperor Wu? She’s not from Egypt.”

“That’s right,” his grandfather agreed. “It’s very odd. Not only wasn’t she from Egypt, but Emperor Wu lived 1,300 years ago, and ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’ was written 3,500 years ago.”

“It’s a book about dead people?” Aidan asked.

“‘It’s been ages since I’ve looked at it, but as I recall ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’ has instructions on how to get through the trials the dead person faces in the afterlife,” his grandfather explained. “‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’ wasn’t what the Egyptians called it. They called the book ‘Coming Forth by Day’—”

“You mean the dead came out in the day?” Aidan was getting interested. “Like zombies?”

Before his grandfather could answer, Aidan found himself looking at the mummy case standing in the corner.

That mummy case! When Aidan first met Diamante Petrus he almost convinced Aidan that there was a mummy in there. That was just mean. But it wasn’t the meanest thing Diamante Petrus did. He pulled a gun on Aidan and his friends (sure, it wasn’t loaded, but still!) and tried to kidnap Denise Hu and steal the piece of the vase with the dragon spirit so he could rule the world.

Aidan was notin the mood for anything to do with that mummy case.

Aidan looked away.

Then he looked back.

Then away.

But it was no good.

He knew it. Dream detective quicksand!

Aidan sighed. “This is gonna be about that mummy case and Mr. Petrus, isn’t it?”

His grandparents both nodded.

Aidan moaned. “This isn’t gonna be good for my grades, is it?”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” his grandmother said.

“I’m gonna have to see that Petrus guy again,” Aidan grumbled.

His grandfather shrugged. “You can handle it. Maybe he’s not such a bad guy.”

“Not such a bad guy? The whole gun and rule the world thing seems bad guy enough for me.”

“He got carried away,” his grandmother said, “but we should give him a chance to make up for it. He was really sorry. Believe it or not, he had his reasons, and they weren’t all bad. He thought he could use the dragon’s power to make the world a better place. Sure, he went a bit crazy—”

Aidan exploded. “Sometimes you two drive mecrazy! I know he’s your friend, and you think he meant well and you like to be nice, but you can’t be thatblind, can you?”

His grandfather stood up. “Show your grandmother a little respect, young man. This is a big world and for dream detectives it’s vastlybigger than most people can imagine. You still have a lot to learn—”

“Really, both of you! What did I just say about not getting ahead of ourselves?” Aidan’s grandmother scolded.

“Sorry,” Aidan and his grandfather said at the same time.

Actually, Aidan was a bit surprised. He knew his grandmother was the top dream detective, but Aidan never saw his grandmother shut his grandfather down and take charge quite like that before.

“Back to business!” his grandmother ordered. “Aidan, I think you’re right, something is brewing and it likely has to do with that mummy case because the study clearly spoke to you just now.” She took the book from Aidan and put it aside. “But I’m also not sure what all this has to do with Emperor Wu.”

“Or Diamante Petrus?” Aidan asked.

“Or Diamante Petrus,” his grandmother agreed.

KoKo nudged Aidan. She had left while they were talking and returned with a rubber ball in her mouth.

“Are we done? Can I play with KoKo?” Aidan asked as he took the ball from the dog.

“Are you sure you haven’t had any special dreams?” his grandfather asked.

“Nope. No special dreams.”

His grandparents nodded again, but they didn’t say anything. They were lost in thought. Aidan took that as an opening to leave and play with KoKo.

Aidan kicked the ball in the back yard for KoKo to chase. Was there going to be a mystery with Emperor Wu? He’d probably see Lotus, the girl who used to be the dragon named Princess Peace. That would be awesome.

But first there was still the matter of his report card.

 

Aidan waited until after dinner to give his mother, Anna Prosperowitz Alvarado, his report card. She looked it over for all of five seconds, and then handed it back to him.

“There’s been some mistake,” she announced.

“No mistake,” he murmured.

“Oh, there’s been a mistake. My mistake. I believed you when you told me last month that you would bring your grades up. I thought I could trust you.”

Aidan started to protest but stopped himself. Not only would it make things worse if he seemed to be arguing with her, but also he had to admit she had a point.

“I’ll do better. Really.”

“Please, Aidan. It wouldn’t take much. Is there something wrong? Are you depressed? It’s not drugs, is it? A bully? You can tell me. We’ll get help.”

Aidan felt like he had been punched in the stomach. It was easier when he thought she would be mad at him. Now he wanted to be mad at her; how could she think that?

But he knew how she could think that. It’s what they tell parents. Look for the signs. And his grades being in the toilet was a sign of something. Just not the something she thought. It was only that school didn’t seem all that relevant after his dream detective adventures.

She looked so down, so defeated.

“No, mom, it’s alright. I just haven’t been interested.”

“What would get you more interested? I mean it. What do we have to do?”

Aidan hugged her. “Give me time. I’ll try, really I will.”

“Hey, I have an idea. How about no more soccer? Will that motivate you to try?”

Ouch. “Please don’t make me stop soccer. That would be really depressing!”

His mother stared him down. “Okay, one more chance. I want to see a B or better on every test. One C and no more soccer this spring.”

Aidan had to agree. He had no choice. If that’s what it took to keep playing soccer, he would make himself study.

Maybe the whole dream detective thing wouldn’t happen right away. Maybe his grandparents got what they needed from him. Maybe there wouldn’t be any special dreams for a while.

Though he was pretty sure that was notgoing to happen!

 

 

Chapter 2. The Girl With A Plan

 

 

When Aidan woke up the next morning he was relieved to find that as far as he could remember he had no dreams at all. He was well rested and ready for school…

Then it hit him. He had a history test! If only the test was about Emperor Wu he’d ace it, but no such luck. Aidan tried to talk himself down. Just calm down, he told himself. Was the test today? Oh, please, no, not today!

He bolted over his clothes on the floor, dove at his desk, and opened his notebook. Tomorrow! The test was tomorrow! What a lucky break.

Aidan instructed his heart to slow down. His heart didn’t listen right away, so he took a slow deep breath, counting to five in and five out, like his grandfather taught him to do (well, what his grandfather said was: “if things get weird, take a deep breath;” this wasn’t really weird, but close enough). His grandmother told him to breathe in slowly and imagine smelling soup, breathe out slowly and imagine cooling soup. Then repeat: smell the soup, cool the soup.

They were really into this breathing thing.

Whatever. Aidan wasn’t sure breathing like that helped all that much. Sometimes if he used the smell-the-soup trick, all it did was make him hungry thinking about soup, especially tomato soup, his favorite.

At least breathing slowly was something he could do when he didn’t know what else to do, so he did a couple of minutes of smelling-the-soup breathing and his heart did slow down.

He had a day to prepare for the test. Tonight, he would actually study. He used to study before the whole dream detective saving the world thing. He didn’t want to study, but he had to if he wanted to play soccer, and he really wanted to play soccer, so he had to study.

Wait a minute! This afternoon is soccer practice. Dang! That was twisted. He had to skip soccer to be able to play soccer. He didn’t like it, but that’s how it was.

The school day went by pretty quickly, mostly because Aidan doodled and daydreamed to pass the time. He really liked drawing the wild, long flowing beard of the Old Sage he met on his first adventure. When he was sure no one could see what he was doing he’d sketch butterflies. Aidan’s name was Butterfly in old China. That’s what the Teacher of the Way of Wisdom, Wise-and-Able, called him because in Aidan’s first dream as a dream detective the Old Sage told Aidan that he, the Old Sage, dreamt he was a butterfly, then when the Old Sage woke up he wondered if he was a butterfly dreaming he was the Old Sage!

Aidan still wondered about that. Was the Old Sage for real? It seemed so dumb to think butterflies could dream. Did he really think he was a dream in some tiny butterfly head?

How big could a butterfly brain be? Like, maybe as big as a grain or two of sand? Was that big enough to be able to dream about being the Old Sage? How big did a brain have to be to do that?

Still, given the crazy things Aidan had been through, it didn’t seem all that big a stretch to imagine that butterflies could dream, maybe even about being the Old Sage.

Thinking about this made paying attention to schoolwork tough.

After school, Aidan rushed off toward the soccer field, forgetting he was going to skip practice that afternoon so he could study. He wanted to get there early so he could work on the Okocha kick, named after the professional soccer player who made it his thing years ago.  He flick-kicked the soccer ball over his head from behind, and when it landed he could change direction or pass the ball. Aidan could do it pretty well, but he never used that move in a game, of course. It was too risky.

Aidan acted like he was dribbling an imaginary soccer ball as he hurried to make it to practice when he remembered that he had to study for the history test. He stopped short, turned around, and found himself face to face with Denise Hu.

“Hey Aidan, where are you going?”

Denise was a year younger than Aidan. Her brother, Jeremiah, was in Aidan’s class and had been Aidan’s number one enemy, a bully who only bullied Aidan. Aidan had to admit it was his own fault. He started the feud by calling Jeremiah “Jerry Berry Brain.” The bullying stopped when Denise, who was out of school because she was very sick, told her brother that she needed Aidan’s help to get better. It wasn’t a coincidence that Aidan needed their help in his first case as a dream detective. Denise and Jeremiah completed the mission by braving the waves in the Santa Monica Bay, releasing the dragon girl’s spirit from a piece of the vase that their parents brought with them when they immigrated from China.

The effort had almost killed Denise.

“Hey Denise. I was going to soccer practice, but I remembered I have to study,” Aidan said.

“That explains it.”

“Yeah. See you later.”

“Wait a minute,” Denise called out to Aidan as he started to walk past her. “I think Jeremiah’s not doing so well in school.”

“Uh, I guess.” Aidan shrugged. “I mean, I’m not sure. He’s always been quiet in class.”

Aidan started to walk off again, thinking the conversation was over, but Denise walked with him.

“Our parents sent me to my room last night and it didn’t sound like they were exactly celebrating with Jeremiah.”

“Bad report card?” Aidan asked. Welcome to my world, he thought.

“Me? No, mine was great,” Denise said. “I want to be a doctor or a scientist and cure disease, like my dad and your granddad.”

Aidan started to object.

“Oh, you mean Jeremiah’sreport card, not mine,” Denise said. “Oh yeah. Must’ve been really bad. My dad looked like he ate something rotten and needed to puke and my mom looked like she wanted to cry before they sent me to my room. I thought you guys were friends. How come you never hang out together? Jeremiah really liked the study.”

“We’re friends. But I got soccer—”

Denise tilted her head. “If soccer’s such a big deal, why aren’t you walking that way?” she asked, pointing over his shoulder toward the soccer field. “Your report card wasn’t good either, was it?”

Aidan shrugged. “No big deal.”

“What’s with you guys? You need to move on. Maybe you should take Jeremiah to the study again.”

“Does Jeremiah think so?”

Denise was quiet for a few steps. “I haven’t asked him. He doesn’t like to talk about it.”

“Bet you do.”

“Yes, I’d like to talk about it, but who would I tell? They’d think I’m totally nuts. I mean, it was nuts, but it was amazing. I felt her, you know. I felt Princess Peace, Lotus the dragon girl, all through me. I felt what it was like to be a water spirit. But that’s beside the point. You and Jeremiah should be friends. You both need the study.”

“How do you know I haven’t been back?”

“Have you?”

“Yesterday.”

“Good. It’s about time. Now bring Jeremiah. Like, form a club or something. Call it ‘The Club of The Secret Magic Study.’ No girls allowed, just a couple of boys or something. No, wait. Forget that! Bring me too!” Her face lit up, as if she never thought of that before and it was just the most fun thing she could ever imagine. “How about it? Me and you and Jeremiah, we all go.”

“Do you really want to?”

“Gee, I thought you’d never ask,” Denise answered with a huge smile.

“You’re playing with me, aren’t you? You wanted me to invite you!”

“I really would love to see the study. And meet KoKo,” Denise added.

“Okay, maybe this weekend.”

Denise pulled on his arm. She was almost as tall as Aidan, and now that she was healthy she was strong like her brother. Aidan thought she could easily beat him in a wrestling match. “I’m doing much better now. I almost never miss school anymore. You saved my life, Butterfly.”

“Aidan. In Los Angeles my name is Aidan. And I didn’t save your life. You did. And the medicine.”

“If that’s what you want to believe, go ahead. But you really are a hero,” Denise said.

Aidan rolled his eyes.

“You can roll your eyes and make all the faces you want, but I’m the smart one with the good report card, and you know I’m right. We’ll meet you after the soccer game on Saturday and go to the study. I’ll make sure Jeremiah comes.”

Denise spun around, saw some girls from her class and called out, “Hey, wait for me!” in what Aidan thought was a way too cheery voice, and then ran off to join them without even waiting for his reply or saying goodbye.

 

Once Aidan started studying it wasn’t so bad. When his mind drifted to dreaming butterflies or wondering how in the world his grandparents could even thinkof trusting Diamante Petrus, he would take some deep breaths and get back to studying.

After he finished studying, he went to bed and fell right to sleep.

And he fell right into a special dream.

 

Chapter 3. Do Alligators Smile?

 

 

Aidan knew right away that this was not an ordinary dream. He was in a long, wide hallway, dimly lit by Chinese paper lanterns. The hallway had red wooden ceiling beams with carved and painted dragons on them. Chinese scroll paintings hung on the walls.

Okaaaaay… maybe he was back in Emperor Wu’s China.

Would that mean Lotus was around? When he last saw Lotus she was living as a human girl in Emperor Wu’s palace, her dragon spirit safely hidden by the Old Sage in the small white vase. Aidan really wanted to see her again.

There was a large round shadow at the end of the hall. What, he wondered, could be casting that shadow? As his eyes adjusted to the flickering yellow light produced by the lanterns, Aidan was beginning to make out a shape in the shadow.

Just as it was coming into focus he heard Lotus’s voice behind him.

“Butterfly, don’t say anything. Don’t make a sound. Step away from that thing.”

She didn’t sound surprised to see him. Then again, she didn’t exactly sound happy to see him, either. She sounded very scared.

Aidan didn’t have to ask what thing she meant. The shape was huge. It took up a good part of the eight-foot height and ten-foot width of the hallway.

It looked like the butt of a hippopotamus with a little flicking tail and stubby hippo legs.

“Why is there a big hippo in your hallway, Lotus? And hi, great to see you, too.”

“I don’t have any idea why that beast is here. But it isn’t just a hippo. Please, just step back and be quiet.”

The butt down the hall shifted back and forth as the tail wagged faster and faster.

“I think it heard us,” Lotus whispered with increasing urgency.

“But it looks like such a happy butt.” Aidan started to laugh at his joke when the beast managed to turn itself around, and Aidan was not looking at a happy hippo butt anymore.

Aidan was now looking down the hall at a huge alligator face with snapping jaws surrounded by a thick, golden lion’s mane, a very powerful lion’s chest, and a lion’s strong front legs.

The alligator looked like it was smiling.

“Do alligators smile? Maybe it’s friendly—” Aidan whispered.

“That has to be one of the dumbest questions asked at the dumbest time to ask it ever. We need to get out of here right now,” Lotus said as she turned and tried to run.

Lotus almost fell over since the long silk dress she wore was not made for running. Princesses in China didn’t run! She lifted the dress above her knees and ran as fast as she could.

The hallway shook with the deep vibration of a voice that came from everywhere at once. Even though the alligator’s mouth was open, it obviously couldn’t be speaking, yet Aidan was sure the booming voice came from the freaky beast.

”I will eat your heart. I will eat your mind. You will cease to be now and forever. I know your names! You are Butterfly, you are Aidan Alvarado. I had you in my power and you cheated me!I have come here to find you, to stop you, and now you are MINE!”

The alligator face was laughing, Aidan was sure of it. That thing may have been laughing at him, but it was notfriendly!

The monster tried to lunge at Aidan, but its stubby hippo back legs couldn’t keep up with its long lion front legs, so it only lurched forward awkwardly.

Aidan turned and ran right into 20 of Emperor Wu’s Imperial Guards. They looked mad and scared. They clearly had no idea what that thing was or what they could do about it.

“Aidan, you know what to do!”

Aidan knew that voice coming from behind the Imperial Guards.

Diamante Petrus!

The tall, angular figure with long sandy hair lurking in the shadows sure looked like Diamante Petrus. The guards parted and there was no doubt about it when Mr. Petrus walked out of the darkness into the light of one of the lanterns.

“No, I don’tknow what to do. I don’t have a clue!” Aidan protested. He really was not in the mood to deal with Mr. Petrus. “You know, between you and the alligator-lion-hippo thing, maybe I’m better off with that beast!”

“Really?” Mr. Petrus asked, pointing past Aidan, “You might want to rethink that.”

The bizarre creature was moving faster and faster as it built up steam. It let out something between a roar and a hiss that shook the walls.

“It wants you, Aidan. Tell it you know its name. It’s Ammut. It doesn’t belong here. Tell it so!”

Aidan didn’t have a better idea. He knew that if he didn’t act soon they would all be alligator-lion-hippo food. He turned to the beast, now only two clumsy hippo-lion steps away.

It was so close that Aidan smelled its hot, wet, stinking rotten meat and dead fish breath.

“Ammut! I know your name. Go back where you came from. No hearts or minds for a snack for you tonight!”

The beast screeched and howled and tried to leap forward, but just as its six-foot-long, tooth-filled jaws were inches away from Aidan’s face it disappeared.

Gone. It was completely not there.

 

Aidan woke up.

I might as well kiss soccer goodbye, Aidan thought; this is going to cut wayinto my studying.

 

 

 

 

 

Quantum Big Time

Entanglement is certainly one of the most out there and interesting observations in quantum mechanics.

I have written here about it in more detail before, but just briefly: In the basic experiment, if two particles are born together, say a particle goes through a crystal and is “broken” into two each with half the energy of the first, they are entangled. Not because they share inherent properties, which to some degree they do (like the amount of energy that must be conserved), but because they are entangled. When you measure one of the quantum properties that measurement result can vary within those results that are allowed according to quantum laws (say magnetic spin or polarization) in that one particle, and the corresponding property the in the other, sister particle is immediately determined. Anywhere in space, instantaneously, not obeying the speed of light limit (and some experiments, called delayed choice, even suggest a time component i.e. it is determined before you did the measurement, which is even more mind boggling!!)

Many think this suggests Mind plays a role, or is evidence we are all one, non-duality. It certainly does suggest that, but it is all so inconceivable, so beyond what I can grasp with my brain (and I am not alone; the great physicist Feynman famously said, and I paraphrase, you can’t understand this),  I shy away from interpretations because it is so beyond intellectual thought for me it is like a deep koan and I keep my conclusions to:

Whatever you think, based on your 4-d (space and time) experience and scale of sense perceptions is true is wrong in some basic and ultimate way. The universe, Truth, is deeper and more omnipresent than your brain functions.

I do think the deepest view, to the degree views can approach Truth, is Mind and non-duality as the core of Truth, and sure entanglement is about non-locality in space and time and so is consistent with that (as we say in medicine and science), but I admit after all these years still I balk a bit where others I respect, those I have suggested you look into in these blogs, do not fear to tread. I just know we don’t really understand quantum mechanics so I wont bet my Mind on it, as we measure it  it in our experiments.

And it certainly doesn’t mean whatever fantasy you have about non-locality and its implications is right, of course. Good luck on jumping off a roof and trying to manifest a soft landing by thinking quantum states of the ground. As Bob Lanza said, there is cause and effect. You have karma. Don’t get arrogant and indulgent. Is your little brain in that itty-bitty boney box really that pure and powerful? Be careful about confusing your brain with Mind, non-Duality as meaning your ego, your perspective and delusions, your hopes and fears, is the universe. After all, that’s wisdom, that’s spiritual practice, not aggrandizing the ego with uber-spirituality and just adding more delusion by interpreting the truth through what you’d like to believe. (It’s also science. Ha did the science spirituality thing again!)

One scientific criticism has been that this is limited to single of a few particles or atoms. Well, now it has been none at the level you can see with a magnifying glass or certainly a $50 toy microscope, the level of small cells (i.e. life). Look up:

Einstein’s ‘spooky action’ goes massive: The elusive … – ScienceDaily

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180425131858.htm

The criticism to extrapolating to your day to day life is that is was done near –273 degrees centigrade, absolute zero where all but the most basic quantum effects determined by Heisenberg’s uncertainly principle stop (cant stop completely; that is very deep and Buddhist also; can’t stop change), about 3 degrees colder than the universe in deep space.

Well, quantum effects have been seen in warm wet living beings, they may just be harder to demonstrate.

Remember, the ancients, our spiritual and philosophical ancestors, came to this without quantum mechanics! And practice (and science!) is about authenticity I think, not proving some a priori claim however cool and whether I agree with it.

But even if it doesn’t mean you are likely to (or should feel a delusional need to) try to quantum change the ground if you challenge time and space by jumping off a roof, or that it PROOVES we are all one, Mind and non-duality and all that, at least, at a minimum, we can revel in the deep mystery, the underlying unity it suggests beyond our concepts and experience.