Where and When

Where and when does anything come from? Each quantum moment, each quantum space, each state of being or non being or neither, or both.

Where does it go?

Don’t gloss it over.

A thought comes from chemicals that change the electric fields of bundles of fat and protein we call nerves? How? A gift? A pattern? An emergent phenomenon? Handwaving, black box stuff.

If you use the model of a computer generating an image, that’s has a wee bit of truth I suppose from a scientific point of view or even Buddhist point of view; both have space and time quantized as a space of states, and the monitor image is quantized states of energy in each pixel. There is no continuity outside the running of a program, and each pixel is updated  individually in space and time. Movement on the screen is an illusion. Three dimensions is an illusion.

But you do know the computer has no idea there is a monitor screen let alone what is on the screen? You can program it to seem to care… but is that the same thing?

It is obvious we are in a world of illusion. No one believes there is solid stuff, right? Science talks about fields of energy. Or strings. Or forces. Or whatever. But go small enough, or for that matter large enough, and there is no thing.

So it’s all energy? What is that possibly mean? What IS it? Where does that come from, where does it go, and is it infinite or limited?

Where does the perfect, symmetric circle come from? Or the breaking of symmetry to form waves. You can’t show it to me. You can show me a cartoon of it, a sketch, an approximation, an idea of it, as I have done in previous blogs (which seems to be at times very popular, and I don’t know who or why that is), but that’s all. Doesn’t exist as a “thing” out there. But this symmetry, this perfect circle, is the basis of all scientists have to describe the world. Waves adding and subtracting, all from the perfect circle we can imagine. It is embedded in the enso and it is the Yin and Yang.

Clearly all the day-today stuff that means so very much to us, our experience of the world, all time and space, is ultimately without substance as it all arises from and merges into…. into what?

So, it’s all Mind? Sure. Easy for you to say.. do you know it or think it or believe it? Really believe it? Some say any belief is delusional. That’s Mahadyamika, emptiness, the Middle Way of Nagarjuna, Pyrrho, the early Tang Chan/Zen master’s  “ceasing of notions.”

I say that because, I don’t know.

But not knowing doesn’t stop me from trying to struggle against greed anger and ignorance. That’s practice.

Maybe sometimes not knowing even helps.

I love having a practice. Keeps me from being lazy.

But if that’s not your style, if you are reading this, please don’t forget to resist evil. I’ll be going to the march for science next week here in LA; practice isn’t really about lighting incense in robes, is it?


Work As The Expression of Love

When I was a teenager thinking about life and death and my place in the cosmos, I did not trust science at all. I had the early 19th century Romantic, Mary Shelly’s Dr. Frankenstein and his ungodly creation, view of science and progress as being out of control, aberrations not worth the few baubles they provided. Science led to atomic weapons and to pollution, serving as the tool of soulless greed and reveling in intellectual arrogance. Progress was a cancer, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Science and progress had become what we would now call “too big to fail,” and I wanted no part of them, at least not as a source for answers to the questions that mattered. Of course, the real question that mattered was when I was going to get laid, and when that happened, when I would again, but still, it seemed to me that we had likely taken a wrong turn somewhere around fourteen thousand years ago with the invention of agriculture. Continue reading

Hearts and Minds


This image is the same as the banner of the website, the word xin (pronounced a bit like sheen in Mandarin). I had a recent experience with xin and a dear friend.

I was looking at the original Chinese text of the poem I introduced in my blog on the circle and wave, “The identity of the relative and absolute” by the 8th century Chan master Shitou. Looking up the words in a Chinese-English dictionary was not very productive, so I showed the text to my friend Ping, who loves to read Tang dynasty poetry.

She shook her head. That’s a very difficult poem, she told me.

I pointed to the first symbol, the first word, xin. I know that one, I told her, it means “mind.”

“Ooohhh nooo, Ralph” she pointed to her chest, shaking her head again with a deep and sincere look, a kind of yearning and supplication in her voice, expression and gesture. “It is heart, it is soul.” Continue reading