Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

all the world’s a stage!


All for one and one for all!

Appalled the world watches while children burn!

Horrified the spectators stare!  So many maimed.

This is not a Virtual Reality show!

This is real! in living rooms everywhere!

Now!  Do something! and act decisively!

But how?


Albi cathedral The Last Judgement.


No quiz show with the answer there!

Real people dying on-screen now!

Death is no bluff to be postponed!

Or a political position

Taken at one’s choice!

It is there! Inevitable! For us all.

But now?

north american prehistoric rock art: a cosmology


This carved rock surface is about 6,000 years old from the Cumberland  Plateau of the Appalachian mountains.


the dhammapada, the earliest written sayings of the buddha

Under the Bodhi tree where the Buddha reached enlightenment.
Under the Bodhi tree where the Buddha reached enlightenment.

The Buddha’s teachings were not written down while he was alive.  They had  initially been transmitted orally.  Eventually they were written down in Pali, a language close to what the Buddha would have spoken.  These succinct teachings, known as the Dhammapada are the closest to the original sayings of the Buddha.


A reading of the Dhammapada


A modern musical interpretation of the Dhammapada by Ronald Corp


hypothesis-a generalized process cycle: emergence and disappearance of universes and other entities


It is notoriously difficult to explain how  the world we live in is a product of processes rather than objects.   Since before the time of  the  Buddha and Heraclitus there have been individuals who have been sensitive to the concept and have tried to explain it. For example  recently these ideas have been explored  by James Whitehead and David  Bohm among others.


This core teaching  the Buddha is difficult to fully understand at first glance, the full profundity of the doctrine takes time to unfold in the mind. The difficulty is that the teaching is describing processes which are invisible  not objects. Though it does incorporate cause and effect, of necessity, it is much more subtle and fully comprehensive.

For example take the surf around a desert island:

this being, that becomes…………………follow the surf. It is there as a result of the island having formed.

Arieal View Coral Island wallpaper

From the arising of this, that arises………follow the surf, the island is a process continually arising that creates surf; the surf itself is a process that continues

Arieal View Coral Island wallpaper

From the cessation of this, that ceases……..the island is overwhelmed by the rise in sea level, there is no surf now.


This not being, that does not become………….the island never formed, or has yet to form. there has never been surf.


The Buddha often used this fourfold structure to hang teachings on, it’s easier to follow and remember if there is a structure, especially as the teachings were never written down at the time.

For example: the Four Noble Truths leading to the elimination of suffering mirror the above:


Modern ideas about our universe are developing rapidly, and normally data are presented to show the emergence of it from the Big Bang  plotted against time. This figure is credited to Steven Hawking. It shows an origin of the universe  followed by a complex  process evolving over time.


In the context of the above diagram the graph plotted below is of the quantum fluctuations including the situation prior to the emergence of a universe.  The y axis shows  ENERGY LEVEL or TEMPERATURE which is a reflection of the energy level, there is no scale but it goes from infinitely large to infinitely small.  At the high region there is a situation with a combination of high energy and high organization.  This is beyond our comprehension at present, some have called it the Generator Of  Diversity or GOD.

On the  x axis is plotted the ENTROPY or degree of organization; highly organized to start with but with increasing disorder with time .  An example is dropping an egg on the floor and smashing it, decreasing the organization.   This increasing entropy  prevents the evolutionary process of a universe  being  reversible, one cannot put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.  Also indicated on this axis is the PROPORTION  OF MATTER to ENERGY present running from there initially being 100% energy at the left hand side,  to there being 100% matter on the right hand side of the diagram.

Definition of  Universe:

A  (nearly) self-contained entity emerging out of quantum fluctuations through which energy flows continually creating structure which evolves, so creating a process which humans experience as  time.  The example Heraclitus used was a river, the energy producing its transient structure being the potential energy of the water lifted to the watershed through evaporation from the surface of the sea.   Note also that a river is also a product of an evolutionary process over a long period of time.

A diagram of the steady state from which universes emerge and evolve.  The big bang is not a unique event but a stage in the evolution of a universe.  The energy flux driving  the events shown in the diagram exists throughout whether at high or low absolute energy levels continually creating all energy and all matter.   The origin of this flux is unknown, perhaps the equivalent of Vishnu.

The open triangle 1 4 5 8  represents the path of the evolution of a representative universe.


1  Big bang, the dimensions of the universe emerge.  For arguments sake let  it be our universe with the creation of 3 dimensions of space and also time. There is a set of infinite  possibilities that can arise during this process of individualization of a potential universe at this stage, the choice of dimensions and the setting of the constants, the initial mass/energy ratio and its configuration are influential.  How many potential dimensions are possible is unclear.  Perhaps axis is a better term to use. As well as the space  and time we recognise and related axes one can imagine one might consider including spiritual axes:

suffering/joy Buddhism

grasping/rejecting Buddhism

flight/fight  Bion

introvert/extrovert Jung

thinking/feeling Jung

sensation/feeling Jung

2 Evolution of universe as diagram above.  Emergence of forces and matter from the original energetic state

3 Life may or may not evolve. (See 6).

4 Let us assume that this universe continues to expand and becomes  colder and colder.  Matter and energy may be lost (or gained) through evaporation of black holes or quantum effects at temperatures approaching absolute zero. The universe may stay like this for a very long time but will eventually evaporate..

5 The universe may exchange mass or energy with other universes and lose entropy relatively rapidly.

6  Niches exist where  life can emerge.with a combination of  low entropy and relatively  low temperatures.  Complex self-replicating  structures can arise with a flow through of energy being used to sustain an evolutionary process, in a way being miniature universes . These are virtually self-contained , but linked systems driven by the energy of chemical reactions (archaebacteria), of the sun (plants) or energy generated by the metabolism of food (animals)  can evolve.  In some situations this can lead to form, sensation, perception, mental formation and consciousness (the 5 Buddhist skandhas).  Consciousness, as defined here, is the awareness of one’s presence in the universe, of other conscious entities and of a kind of  spiritual dimension one is part of.  The spiritual dimension will be discussed in a subsequent post but to paraphrase, the arising of a Buddha in a universe (which is a rare event) is Awareness becoming aware of Itself.

7  Living intelligence may give rise to machine intelligence which has a wider range of conditions over which it can function.

8 In some cases a universe will rapidly collapse, the material in it reverting to the primordial state so completing the cycle. The energy from the collapsing process being used to eliminate the entropy and regain the ordered high energy state but with loss of information.   It should be noted that self awareness allows living creatures to influence their environment and the direction of its  evolution consciously.
G B Clements May2013