Archive for the Science Category

Pace-Maker

Posted in All, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by marushiadark

“Can you hear it?  Hear this rhythm?  It’s the rhythm of time … and life.” ~ Fatman, Metal Gear Solid 2.

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this animated lecture called The Secret Powers of Time, by Philip Zimbardo.  I watched it, trying as best I could not to analyze it, but to just empty my cup and take it all in as new information and a different perspective.

The general gist of the lecture is that there are six different “time zones” that people live in and that this has a profound effect on the way those people view the world, conduct themselves, where they live, how their mind works, and so forth.  I won’t go into too much detail about that.  If you wanna know, you can just watch it yourself.  This post is mainly my reflections on it.

From my own experience, I can attest that cities in the southern portions of countries tend to have a much different experiences of time than people in the northern portions.

Let’s compare two such cities: Savannah, Georgia, and New York, New York.  Both are major cities, but the overall pace of Savannah is much slower, much calmer, much more relaxed.  Even the appearance of the city seems to reflect this difference.  Where New York is crammed and full of skyscrapers, Savannah is much more open, with the tallest buildings being scarcely above twelve floors.  The whole city of Savannah seems to shut down somewhere between 6PM and 10PM, with few exceptions, whereas some place like New York is still alive and active during that time; in fact, it’s often just beginning to wake up.

This is just one example taken in brief.  I’m sure if you’ve traveled at all in your life, you can think of many examples like this.  You could probably also notice the subtle differences in pace between some place like New York and Philadelphia, where the change in latitude is smaller, but the relative pace is still proportional.

So a general rule, what Philip Zimbardo said about north-south relations of time seems accurate.

It makes sense from a physical standpoint too, since as you go north, the distance between lines of longitude grows shorter.  You can cover more ground (in a polar sense) in the same amount of time, ergo you are more productive.

But one thing I noticed as Zimbardo was talking is that this is a relative value.  Time is a factor in pace, but so are other things like climate, population, and the availability of resources.  For instance, Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole is a highly efficient machine compared to New York, but the same can’t be said for Albany or Toronto.

Perhaps the most valuable insight in Zimbardo’s lecture is how he highlights the way in which younger generations are geared to think digitally and thus at a faster pace than their parents and grandparents, who are accustomed to analogue.  That every second is precious and waiting is a pain is something I think will only become worse (or better) as time goes by.  Soon, it won’t be seconds we’re counting, but microseconds, especially with the advancement of computer technology wherein computers begin to piece together complex patterns that only the human brain can do right now.

Technology doesn’t make things better, it just makes things faster.  Technology only makes things better where lack of speed and efficiency in accomplishing a task was the fundamental problem in the first place.

The same fundamental problems exist for humans everywhere.  The disparities between the pace of life in the north and south, I think, are ultimately largely a matter of differences in the way in which people have resolved these problems.  How they’ve assessed what their needs are and how to go about acquiring them.  The same can be said of the conservative vs. liberal model, or of the traditional vs. modern model.  Such extremes are only paths and we take a left or a right at any given fork based on what we want or need in any given moment.

I’m sure all of you reading this right now, if I asked you to, could come up with a list of values, beliefs, and practices that you agree with and those you disagree with, and in full assessment of said lists, you’d find that, more than anything, you probably aren’t fully to one side or the other in any of those models I just described.

Some of you may consider yourself pious, religious persons, for instance, yet you don’t dive into the deep end of the pool and live monastically in a convent, eating mush and practicing asceticism.  Do you?

Conversely, those of you who abhor religion probably see the value, either from a rational perspective, or otherwise through intuition, that certain rules and morals like “don’t hurt people on purpose without a good reason” are good and necessary and that, whether you’re aware of it or not, society is living and functioning because of such rules and principles.

All things in moderation, including moderation.  Your pace should change with the circumstances.  When you drive a car, you go one speed in a school zone and another on the highway, and somewhere in between all other times, right?  You adapt your pace with the changes in the road, and you adapt your pace of life, and your temporal focus in much the same way.

So which time zone should we live in?  Zimbardo seems to favor the future, but I think the present’s where it’s at.  When you look out, you see mostly just what is right in front of you in that moment, occasionally glancing to the left and right through your peripherals.  If you turn your head, you environment changes, but your anatomy hasn’t changed.  You’re still looking at what is directly in front of you in the immediate sense.  So I think it must be in life that we remain mostly in the present, while keeping the past and the future in our peripherals.

The past tells us where we came from and how we got to the state we’re in.  The future gives us a sense of where we are, or would like to go.  But the present just is.  And let it be.

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Mindfuck #4: Infinity

Posted in All, Humor, Psychology, Science, Spirituality on October 9, 2010 by marushiadark

“The religious idea of God cannot do full duty for the metaphysical infinity.” ~ Alan Watts, philosopher

The concept of infinity is another one of those doors that I opened up once without actually knowing what it was and then quickly slammed it shut in fear upon realizing what I was looking at. I don’t recall how old I was at the time when I first had that revelation, but I must have been around fourteen or so, because I still held firm to a Christian understanding of the afterlife.

In school, they taught me that when you die and go to either heaven or hell, you go there for an eternity.  One day, I found myself wondering about that.  I imagined myself up in heaven, sitting on a cloud with God and angels plucking at their little harps.  You know, heaven.  Then, I thought about being in such a situation as that forever.  So after all that had been done, then what?  Still the same, with the singing and the clouds and the halos.  Fast forward a million, billion, gazillion years (numbers that I couldn’t even fathom in their own right) and that still wasn’t the end.  Fast forward a million, billion, zillion, bazillion years, … nope.  Still the same spot.

I tried to stretch my mind  to keep going as far into the future as I could.  But intuitively, I knew that, no matter how far ahead I went, the situation would always remain the same.  If heaven was being on a cloud with God for all eternity, then this is what it would look like.

At about that point, I started becoming deathly afraid.  I realized, in that moment, that no matter how hard I tried, there would be no end to it.  It would just keep going and going and going to the point of madness.

Truthfully, words like “infinity” and “eternal” have no meaning until you actually come face to face with the realities they describe.  Only then do you truly realize how frightening the concept really is.

It’s just like how words like “heights” and “hundredth floor” don’t mean anything until you get up there and look down and the threat of imminent death is slammed into your face.  You become like Eddie Murphey’s character in The Golden Child where, in one scene, he drops a quarter into a bottomless pit.  He waits and waits for there to be a sound.  He knows that it ought to make a sound if there’s a floor, but none is made.  After a few seconds, he started to become confused.  After half a minute, he becomes worried.  The longer time drags on without a sound, the more frightened he becomes, as the more he realizes that there is no bottom!

Infinite time and infinite space are linked.  But infinite time is less frightening when one is always living in the now.  Infinite space, however, is another matter entirely.

In art, the principles of linear perspective and relative scale help define a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional medium.  Such depth, especially infinite depth, is merely an illusion on the page.  But the reality of infinite depth is potentially incomprehensible, and certainly very frightening.

To illustrate this point, consider the following parable I created.

Imagine a spaceman who travels out into the universe in search of God and meaning and truth and other such things.  He knows that God is greater than anything there is, and this is all he has to go by.  So he travels out into the depths of space until he loses all sight of the earth.  He travels to the end of the solar system, until the sun appears as nothing more than a tiny dot.  By now, he has traveled incredibly far, but space is vast and there’s still so much left.  He presses on to the edge of the galaxy, until millions upon millions of stars are now within his field of vision.  Still he trudges on until the whole of the galaxy now appears within his windshield.  By this point, if he were traveling at the speed of light, it would have taken him over 100,000 years to see such a thing.  In such a time, the ancient cavemen would have developed to the point where they could build ships like his.  And there’s still so far to go.

Our spaceman turns to his left and sees Andromeda, the nearest spiral galaxy, through his port window.  To reach it, it would take twenty-five times longer than it took him to go from earth to where he is now.  Such a trip would be maddening.  As he travels towards Andromeda, it would appear as though he wasn’t even moving at all.  Andromeda would appear to stay exactly the same size and distance away.

But supposing our spaceman took pictures every few millenniums of Andromeda to prove to himself that he wasn’t losing it, but that he was, in fact, showing marked progress in gaining towards Andromeda.  Such might encourage him to stave off madness and press on a little further (never minding how the hell he’s even still alive at this point).

So our astronaut friend has traveled about 2.5 million light years.  The galactic equivalent of moving from one blade of grass to an adjacent blade of grass in a great big universal lawn.

In his millions of years of travel, he’s found no God.  But he’s seen the wonders of the universe through his windshield and has grown quite bored of them.  He decides that he will make a trip to the edges of the universe itself.  Assuming our little spaceman was somewhere near the middle of the universe, it would take him about forty-six billion (46,000,000,000) years to reach the edge.  The significance of such a number in terms of either time or distance is really lost on human beings.  It’s just beyond our comprehension.

Most people can’t even last a single day without going mad from boredom (some of you probably won’t even make it to the end of this post).  If our astronaut friend didn’t shoot himself in the head after 2.5 million years, he might do it in 2.6 million, or three million, or even five million; and that’s still only a fraction of the way to his destination.  Even if he managed to make it as many as a billion years, that still leaves 45 billion more to go.

And we humans think we know what God is?!  God is supposed to be greater than the whole of the universe, right?  To be able to even see the whole of the universe in his windshield, we’d have to travel at least twice that distance, or close to 90 billion light years!

Again, such a concept loses all meaning in human minds.  I could probably take you to the beach and say, “Here’s a billion grains of sand,” and have you line them up end to end.  Now multiply that by ninety (good luck even imagining ninety beaches).  That would make ninety billion grains of sand, but we’re talking in terms of light-years here, not microns.  A light-year is 10^16 kilometers.  To make just one light-year, you’d need like a million, billion, billion beaches.  Yeah, ok.  The human mind can imagine that, right?  No!

So to reach the other side of the universe, you’d need like 90 million, billion, billion, billion grains of sand and … you see where this going.  It’s just too much for any mind to comprehend.

And we’re still not even done yet!

Supposing our astronaut gets far enough away from the universe that he can see the whole thing in his windshield.  Who’s to say there isn’t a multiverse made of a trillion universes, each about 90 billion light-years across and several trillion light-years between them?  At this point, the only way we can talk about such things is through comparison and scale.  To shrink down the universe through a metaphor.

Now imagine the astronaut gets to the end of all of that and sufficiently beyond (say 1.5 times the distance from the center) to see the whole thing in his front windshield.  Is that God?  I don’t know.  It could be.  Or maybe there’s even more to existence.

But for sake of argument, let’s say there isn’t.  Let’s say that after the multiverse, there’s just nothing as far as the eye can see, except when you’re look directly at the multiverse.

Supposing also that our spaceman is a closed-minded, uptight, and arrogant little fucktard who’s not at all impressed with the fact that he’s got the whole of the multiverse in one glance.  So he begins to wonder what’s “out there” in the emptiness of the void beyond existence.  Is there just oblivion or is whatever it is just so far away that he can’t seen it?  After all, he’s seen the universe itself become a spec within his window and that was pretty big.  But he still hasn’t seen God yet.

He continues on and on into the void of space beyond the multiverse.  Only this time, he has no visual reference to go by.  There is no point of light appearing in the distance to mark his journey by, no matter how far out he travels.  Because there is no secondary point, there is no time, since time requires a change in the relationship between two objects in space.  He’s in solitary and time seems to stand still.

Eventually, he looks back behind him and sees that the whole of existence is quickly fading into the distance, appearing now as just a faint point of light.

Our astronaut begins to get worried.  Like Eddie Murphy from the Golden Child, he is becoming more aware of the infinity before him.  He starts to sweat now at the thought of there not being anything else out there.  What if he goes to far and loses sight of the multiverse behind him?  How will he knew which way to go to get back?  He could be lost in the void for all eternity, too late to reverse his foolish and prideful decision to soldier on.

At this point, he has two options.

The first option is to admit to himself that he is afraid and will turn back in fear, returning to the multiverse.  He will have to admit to himself that reality is an island in a void and that God is the sum total of it all and that meaning and purpose are self-defined.  He will then return a changed man and have a new-found spiritual awareness.  He will appreciate the universe for what it is, having seen every last bit of it and realizing that there never was an end point at all.  He will feel at one with anything and everything there is.  He will then travel to planets of lesser minds and cultivate them with this profound spiritual wisdom.  Both he and they will be much happier for it and he will live out the rest of eternity in peace.

The second option is to continue on into the void and stay there for all eternity, living in abject nihilism.  Since he will have existed for billions of years, he will no doubt have done a lot of thinking in that time and have unlocked all the mysteries of existence.  This may be why he chose to carry on, because nothing in reality fulfilled him.  So if there is nothing left for him in the universe, he will go on to create his own, using what he has available: his thoughts.  He will divide himself and enter the realm of dualism and separateness where he is a fissure of mind, a fragmented consciousness, a veiled awareness.  He shall either be the most enlightened soul in all existence, or the maddest.

C is for Chi

Posted in All, Health, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2010 by marushiadark

“You guys can do all this awesome Bending stuff … I’m just the guy in the group who’s regular.” ~ Sokka, Avatar: The Last Airbender

When I was young, around nine-years old, my dad decided to enroll me and my younger siblings in martial arts.  My father was a black belt.  The sensei of the school he enrolled us in studied under the same master as him.  From time to time, my dad would show us techniques well in advance of what most of the other students were learning.  I don’t really consider my father to be the best of teachers.  I feel he lacks the patience to go through things in a step-by-step, kinesthetic, ground-up manner.  When I first learned to drive, he started me on my mom’s SUV, which to this day I still get nervous driving.  However, regardless of how I may feel about him, there’s one thing I owe him my gratitude for and that’s introducing me to the concept of chi.

I don’t remember exactly how I old I was at the time, maybe somewhere around fourteen years of age.  But I remember my father sitting me down in the living room.  He didn’t really go into too much detail; he just explained that there was a sort of energy inside us and that we could learn to use it with practice.  He told me to hold out my hand, which I did.  Then he held his own up around mine without touching it and asked what I felt.  I remember feeling a sort of warm energy when he did this.  That’s chi, he said.

So ended the lesson.  It wasn’t much of anything, really.  All I had to go by was that experience, that feeling, and a vague idea that it had something to do with breathing.  But fortunately, that was enough to get me started.

It’s truly a revelatory experience your first time.  I remember my eyes went wide when I first felt it.  Over the years, I had to figure a lot of stuff out for myself and my progress was very slow.  Having someone there to guide you through your exploration of internal energy is a very beneficial thing.  Joining a Tai Chi or Chi Kung or Yoga class, or even just working with a partner who knows something about it, is a lot better than trying to figure it all out all on your own.

“To train the mind, one must first train the body.” ~ Izumi Curtis, Full Metal Alchemist

In my house, we have a lot of old Shaw Brothers kung fu films.  The first one I ever saw was The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.  It’s the story of a young man named San Te who enters Shaolin Temple and learns kung fu.  At first, San Te’s eager to the point of foolishness and wants to start with the highest art, so he’s taken to the 35th Chamber where a bunch of old and senior monks are reciting Buddhist sutras.  The master of the chamber tells the San Te to leave because San Te clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing.  When he refuses, the master raises his arms and the man falls back on his ass.

The monk never touched him, but was sitting at least ten feet away.  You can imagine the look on San Te’s face and how afraid and confused he was.  That was his first experience with chi.

While that may have been a movie, the idea of chi has basis in reality.  The other day, I was watching Stan Lee’s Superhumans, which is a documentary series about real life superhuman abilities.  Among the ones I saw in the episode was a Shaolin monk named Shi Yan Ming who used chi in martial arts.  The premise of the show is to try and determine the scientific basis of such superhuman feats.  A collision scientist was brought in with equipment that revealed results unlike anything the woman had ever seen before.  Shi Yan Ming’s punches delivered damage greater than that of a 30 MPH car crash.  That was just one of several feats performed that would appear impossible given his size and muscular build, so clearly chi has an affect here.

Many martial artists have spent years developing their chi power through training of the body and getting a feel for their own energy.  Unfortunately, few of them spend as much time studying the nature of reality, science, healing, philosophy, and metaphysics, so their ability to use chi is limited mostly to its connection with their physical bodies.

“Teacher, what is this?  This isn’t kung fu!”

“That’s the highest form you’ll ever see, the final form.  You don’t understand.” ~ 36th Chamber of Shaolin.

So what exactly is chi?

In its most basic sense, chi is a type of energy that exists within your body.  It originates from your soul and is the essential life force that powers your mind and body like electricity flowing through your computer.

Your body has many different systems of organs, such as the nervous system, the circulatory system, the skeletal system, the digestive system, etc.  There is also an energy system.  You may have seen diagrams of energy meridians which map out the locations of this system for use in acupuncture, reiki, and other healing arts.  If the meridians are the blood vessels, the chi is the blood that flows through them.

Through mental training and practice, you can learn how to use and manipulate your own chi for a variety of purposes.  If you’ve never worked with it before, it’s essential that you experience it for yourself.  I can’t think of a better way to start you off than to say find someone who knows about it and get them to show you, just like how my dad first showed me.  It will jump start your awareness.

The nearest I can describe it in words is that it’s like an electromagnetic effect.  If you were to hold two magnets of the same polarity in your hands and try to bring them together, you’ll feel a well of magnetism between your hands as if there were an invisible ball there.  That’s basically the same effect that you are creating here.

It’s likely that chi is electromagnetic energy, but I us the word “chi” out of tradition and because it just sounds cooler.  Recall that everything in the universe is made of energy, most of which, if not all of which, is electromagnetic in nature.

The human body is indeed capable of generating electrical charge, which creates magnetism.  The effect of putting your hands out acts like two opposing capacitor plates.  Through focus, you can turn the current on or off and control the flow of electromagnetism between your hands.  I’ve heard of people that can actually shoot sparks across their fingertips like a van de graaff generator.  That’s probably what allows the Sith and Firebenders to manipulate lightning, at least in theory.

Over the years, I’ve been able to do a lot of things with my chi.  I can generate it, manipulate it into different shapes, alter its “mass,” and use it for healing purposes.  I haven’t been able to use it for telekinesis yet, bu

Realistically, I’ve found that, for the amount of time and focus you’d need to gather the energy necessary to flip off a light switch from across the room, it’d be a hell of a lot easier to just summon the discipline and energy to get up and turn it off manually.  So that scene with Anakin Skywalker feeding Padme with the Force … not likely to happen.

Persistence of Memory

Posted in All, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2010 by marushiadark

“God is Santa Claus for grown-ups.” ~ Unknown

People of faith often believe that, when we die, if we are good, we’ll get eternal happiness, and if we’re bad, we’ll get eternal punishment.  But does that sound fair to you?  Does that sound like the invention of an all-knowing, compassionate being?  Or does that sound more like a bedtime story you’d tell to kids?

Hey, kids, you know, if you’re really good, Santa Claus will bring you lots of presents, but if you’re bad, he’ll bring you an icky lump of coal instead.  And he can see when you are sleeping and knows when you’re awake.  In fact, he won’t even come until after you’re in bed.

You know, there’s a reason they call it eternal rest and sleeping like the dead.

It doesn’t seem right to me that God should give you an eternity of something based on the actions of a fraction of a fraction of that time.  Given all the hype about God, I think he would have more sense than that.  I mean, even our own limited and fallible human institutions know that people change over time and that reward and punishment must be in accordance with a person’s recent behavior.  For some, it may takes moments to change, for others decades, for some maybe even a few hundred years, but that’s still nothing compared to eternity.

Based on the laws of karma, I do believe that you receive some sort of reward or punishment after you die, but I hardly think it’s eternal.

“Death is rest for the soul.  Who was it that said that?  If the body did not die, and the fears borne in the mind just continued to pile up, the world would be nothing more than an eternal prison.” ~ Ziggy, Xenosaga Episode II

The law of conservation of energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, only transferred.  Even a cynical empiricist who worships the scientific method must admit that if consciousness is energy, then it retains some form even after the body has died.  It might not be in exactly the same state, but it still continues to exist in one state or another.  And what does that sound like from a spiritual perspective?  Reincarnation, perhaps?

Reincarnation is simply the conservation of consciousness between one lifetime and the next.  Many religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and even Christianity teach that this is what happens to you when you die.  The body decays and the carbon, water, and other components go back into the environment.  The mind goes offline and reawakens in some other body, like transferring documents from one computer to the next.  And the soul just remains as it’s always been, in the position of the observer.

The concept of reincarnation can be scientifically verified.  In fact, some people have already tried.  Maybe you’ve heard stories and news reports about young children being taken to certain places and having knowledge of those places and certain events relating to them that no one has mentioned to the child and which the child can’t possibly know otherwise, except through some sort of metaphysical transfer of information.  That would be a way of proving reincarnation to someone else, but there are other ways of proving it to yourself.

“‘How can I tell,’ said the man, ‘that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?'” ~ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Ever since I was young, I’d always gotten along a lot better with adults than I did people my own age.  I think a number of people can probably say they feel the same way.  Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve conversed with people much older than myself and have come to realize that there are people ten, twenty, even thirty years older than me that act like children.  I don’t really count myself particularly privileged, at least no more-so than those individuals.  So what accounts for this?

When I was in college, I took an introductory course on Psychology and learned about the various stages of development that the human mind goes through.  Among them was the concept of Generativity vs. Stagnation, more commonly known as the mid-life crisis, in which a person looks back on their life and feels that they’ve done nothing but waste time and miss opportunities.  I was only about twenty at the time, but I felt as though I’d already had several mid-life crises over the course of my lifetime.

Some months later, I began to do a great deal of soul searching and starting to become aware of the fact that this wasn’t the first time I’d been here on this planet.  All in all, I’d been here at least five or six times that I can recall (possibly even more than that), which would mean that I’m a fairly old soul.

People often ask me how I know all this, how I came to realize that I’d had past lives and that they took on the particular characteristics that I claim they did.  Well, let me put it to you like this.

I know that there is a lot of New Age emphasis on the Power of Now, as made famous by Eckhart Tolle and others, and that along with this comes the realization that there is no past or future.  But for sake of argument, let’s assume that there is a past.  Most people would think it reasonable to say there is a past.  But how do you know?  How do you know that you weren’t literally born yesterday?  How do you even know that there was a yesterday?  How do you know that, when you woke up this morning, it wasn’t the beginning of time and you simply discovered you had all these thoughts in your head from the very beginning?

When you play a video game, it’s all a programmed illusion that begins as soon as you turn the game on.  That is year zero.  Yet when you turn the game on, you are immersed into a world and a body that has history, or so it believes.  In rare cases, such as Assassin’s Creed II, you get to know the character from the time of their birth; but usually you just wake up one day to find that you are now in a situation and that you have thoughts and ideas in your head about who you are, where you are, what you do, and who your friends are.  Time began at that moment, so all the so-called past is really just an illusion.

Do you think it’s reasonable to suggest that the same could be true for us as well?  That time could just be an illusion and the past merely accounting for discrepancies between our present condition and our memories?

But let us suppose that the opposite is true.  Supposing there really is a past.  So there’s a yesterday and a last year.  Why would your birth, then, be the beginning of your consciousness?  Genetic memory and the 100th Monkey Effect can explain where behavioral instincts come from, but not memories and wisdom of things that neither you nor your ancestors experienced.  For that, you’d need reincarnation.

So how do I know that I lived a past life?  Simple.  I remember something about it, the same as I remember something that happened yesterday or last year.  How do I know it’s memory and not imagination?  Well, how does anyone know that what they experienced yesterday or last year was real and not simply made up?  You feel it in your gut that this is true and accurate and what really happened to you.  That’s how.

“Now if you’re thinking, just now, ‘Why me, oh God?’  The answer is, God has nothing to do with it.  In fact, God is never in France this time of year.” Dorleac, Count of Monte Cristo

Reincarnation is tied with karma.  What you do in the past effects your future.  Even if you get away with something in this lifetime, there are higher forces at work that will see to it that you make up for it next time.  Just like in playing a video game, if you fuck up and die, you retain the memory of what happened and that can effect future outcomes.

That’s probably also what Déjà Vu is, too.  If you feel like you’ve experienced something before, it’s probably because you have.  You just hit the restart button and decided to play over from your last checkpoint.  Like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day, when he keeps trying to find the right words to say to his coworker.

So if you find yourself thinking, “Why me, oh God?” the answer is, it’s always been on you.  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people and to young children?  It’s probably to teach you a lesson for something you did in a past life.  For instance, in one of my past lives, I was a really shitty parent.  So God decided to grace me with a bad father.  Not as bad as I had been, but enough that I could understand what it was like from the receiving end.

In another past life, I was a cruel Templar master.  So God decided to set me in a time and place where the Templars ruled as the sort of cruel masters that I had been.  He set me on a path to learn about the New World Order from the perspective of one of their slaves.  If I am truly the observer and the creator of my universe, then it stands to reason that such things as The Da Vinci Code and Assassin’s Creed were also created by me as tools for my benefit.  The entire history of the world has been constructed and uploaded into my mind to serve as context while I progress through the game of life towards my objectives.  It’s only logical.

It’s a lot like Alice dreaming of the Red King, who’s dreaming of Alice, who’s dreaming of the Red King … From your perspective, I’m the illusion and the whole world is created for your benefit and lesson.  So life becomes a dream, a shared dream (like in Inception), in which we all create and grow and experience together.  And when we die, we simply wake up somewhere else, with only the memory remaining.

K is for Karma

Posted in All, Economics, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2010 by marushiadark

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” ~ Galatians 6:7

I’ve heard a lot of people tell me that the concept of karma isn’t expressed in the Bible, but I can’t think of a more concise definition of karma that than passage right there.  What you sow is what you reap.  So simple that even a child can understand, yet profound enough to have an impact on everything we do.  It’s also one of the few fundamental laws of the universe.  There aren’t very many absolutes in life, but causality, action-reaction, is one of them.  Everything has a cause and everything has an effect.  Nothing happens by accident.  If you had full and complete knowledge of a system’s causes, you could predict all its effects.

That’s really what karma is, except that karma tends to be more focused on the behaviors of human beings.  If you do something good, you’ll eventually be rewarded.  If you do something bad, you’ll eventually be punished.  And usually, that reward or punishment will be both in accordance with what you did and several times greater in yield.  Just as a single seed, overtime, can yield many fruits, each with many seeds of the same type, so too do our actions bear fruit.

In explaining the concept of karma, I’ve always found it helpful to think of karma as a form of spiritual currency.  Many of the same rules of currency can also be applied to karma.

For instance, say you get paid and are feeling really good about it.  You go to the bank and deposit your money into a savings account.  The bank then takes that money and lends it to someone else, so the money makes its way through the system.  The bank then collects interest on loans and transfers it to your savings account in the form of interest.  Now you have more money than you put into the system.  Conversely, when you take out a loan, the idea is that you borrow someone else’s money, use it to create something of value, and then repay the full amount with a little extra as the cost of doing business.  The extra value comes from having multiplied your commercial energy through the act of creation.  If you can’t pay your debts, then your creditors will add penalties and fees because they think you’re being irresponsible and squandering the money they gave you, so you must be taught a lesson.

When you do something for another person.  You are giving some of your own energy to that person.  They then take that energy and transfer it to someone else.  That energy goes into the system we call the universe, which has theoretically unlimited energy.  Eventually, some of that energy will come back to you through the deeds of other people or from the universe itself, usually with a bit more or at exactly the right time you need something.  So going things for others is like investing your energy into the Bank of the Universe and collecting interest on it.

Conversely, when you do something for yourself, it’s like taking out a loan.  You are borrowing energy from the universe to satisfy your own needs.  Hopefully, once those needs are met, you’ll be in a better position to give back that energy and contribute to serving others.  If you don’t, but instead squander that energy and use it to hurt others or deprive them, then eventually you will have to pay for what you’ve done with extra fees attached.

That is the basic principle of karma.  What you put in, you get out.  What you take out, you must put back in.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~ Romans 6:23

I was listening to some audio lectures by Brandon Adams on commercial law.  One of the things he talked about is how the Bible can be seen through many lenses, one of which includes a commercial lens.

For instance, it’s said that Christ’s sacrifice has redeemed us.  What does it mean to redeem something?  If you have a coupon, you go and redeem it and get stuff.  Well, the redemption is basically a certificate that says the thing is prepaid, whether in part or in full.  It’s on someone else’s tab, a gift that you just have to accept.

Originally, we lived in a paradise called Eden, which was a commercial-free zone.  Everything we wanted was free for the taking, so long as we observed the rules that God set down.  The only rules at the time were be fruitful and multiply, take care of the earth and everything on it, and don’t touch the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge.  If the rules were broken, God would demand payment in blood.

Adam and Eve broke the rules by eating from the tree.  God said that the punishment for this would be payment in blood, but as we know, Adam and Eve didn’t die.  Instead, Adam and Eve were banished from Eden, i.e. they entered a different jurisdiction of law.  They no longer had access to free stuff and were forced to labor (Gensis 3:16 for Eve and 3:17 for Adam) for things.  God revoked the privileges of Eden, but discharged the debt, off-setting it to a later date.  So Adam and Eve and their descendants could live for a while, but they still had to pay for the damages.  Originally, they offered fig leaves, but God, being the creditor, wanted payment in the form of blood sacrifice, so eventually, the two would have to die.  During the course of their lives, however, they and their descendants would have to offer up animal sacrifices.

Cain tried to offer fruits and vegetables, but that wasn’t an acceptable form of currency.  Abel, on the other hand, offered God an acceptable currency in the blood of lambs, and God favored Abel more.  So Cain slew Abel to pay his debts, but this damaged God’s property (our bodies are vessels of the soul) and so God demanded restitution.  So Cain’s fate became the same as that of Adam and Eve: banishment and labor.

Abraham offered payment to God in this form as well.  Eventually, following the Exodus, this became the standard ritual and God further contracted with mankind in the form of a covenant.  Basically, sin is a form of spiritual debt and must be repaid in blood, which is where we get such ideas as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  This is all balancing debts.

In Exodus 34:7, God declares that he is willing to offer mercy and forgiveness to those that have repaid their karmic debts, but that those who remain guilty, his wrath will extend to the man’s descendants.  Basically, this is the spiritual equivalent of life insurance.  If you have enough money saved up, your descendants will inherit when you die and receive a better start on life.  Likewise, if you leave the world in a better place than when you found it, future generations will reap the benefits.  Conversely, if you leave this world with a lot of debts, your family will suffer in paying your bills.  And unfortunately, we as humans have wracked up a lot of karmic debts over the course of thousands of years and the Bank of the Universe isn’t at all pleased with this.

So now we come to the time of Christ where Jesus volunteered his own life, taking on the sins (karmic debts) of the world.  He and God made a deal that Christ’s blood would replace the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament and serve as an extension of credit to the human race.  This is why Christ declares that his is the “blood of the new and everlasting covenant,” with the old covenant being “pay with the blood of animals or die.”

In dying for our sins, Christ gave us a great gift.  He settled our tab, as it were, and wiped the slate clean, balancing our karmic books and zeroing out all the accounts.  God would no longer demand blood sacrifice during the course of our lives.  The original debt had been paid.  So only new debts would affect us and it was our choice to put his gift to good use or squander it.  If we put it to good use, then we will eventually prove that we are responsible individuals worthy of returning to the commercial-free zone of Eden.  However, if we squander that gift, God will once again demand payment in blood and suffering.

U if for UFO

Posted in All, Miscellaneous, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by marushiadark

“I think that the fundamental mistake that many scientists make is that they assume that extraterrestrial beings are only 100-200 years beyond our civilization, not thousands, millions of years beyond ours.” ~ Michio Kaku

If I had to name my top five favorite scientists of all time, they would probably be: Nikola Tesla, John Hagelin, Carl Sagan, Fred Allen Wolf, and Michio Kaku.  Einstein would be lucky to make top ten in my book.

When I was young, I used to watch The History Channel and The Discover Channel all the time.  This was back before Nazis, 2012, Global Warming, 9-11, UFOs, The Da Vinci Code, Nostradamus, and Jesus documentaries comprised 90% of all the shows on those two channels.  During that time, UFO documentaries were few and far between, but also really good and informative, even inspiring.

One of the earliest videos on aliens and UFOs that I can recall seeing was Carl Sagan explaining the Drake Equation.  Shortly after seeing it, they stopped airing Carl Sagan’s documentaries and started showing newer stuff.

The opening quote of this article comes from one such program on the possibility of extraterrestrial life.  In that show, physicist and futurist Michio Kaku explains his rather unique perspective on the matter, which was very memorable to me and has stayed with me ever since.  Between Sagan, Kaku, and similar documentaries on UFOs, I became intensely fascinated with the subject.

Around my freshman year of college, I began to get into more of the conspiratorial aspects of UFOs.  The first three documentaries of that nature I ever saw were:

  1. Evidence: The Case for NASA’s UFO, by David Sereda
  2. Behold a Pale Horse, by William Cooper
  3. The Disclosure Project, headed by Steven Greer

To this day, I still rely on them when introducing people to the subject of UFOs and alien life.

“At any given time, there are approximately 1500 aliens on this planet … Humans, for the most part, don’t have a clue.” ~ Kay, Men in Black

I consider it fortunate that I had such a well-grounded baseline for the topic of UFOs and aliens, because there are a lot of cooks, fakes, and hoaxes out there.  From that point on, my mind was wide open to the idea and I continued to learn about aliens and UFOs from the likes of as Bob Lazar, George Carlin, UFO Hunters, Crop Circles, and many others.

In particular, I find Lazar’s accounts to be the most revelatory, since he actually worked on reverse engineering and testing the propulsion of the alien craft.  His findings on the use of eka-bismuth (or should we say vibranium?) in a miniature particle accelerator to create a gravitational wave distortion (possibly interfering with superlight waves) for propulsion and unwired electrical power makes a great deal of sense and could be the answer to many problems on earth involving energy and space travel.

Of course, I can’t really think of anyone both powerful enough and caring enough that has the type of funding necessary to build such devices while also wanting humanity to have them.

“We’re not hosting an intergalactic kegger down here.” ~ Zed, Men in Black

For a long time, I believed that human beings might be entirely behind the UFO phenomenon and that the saucers were simply secret man-made crafts.  But more recently, I think they are actually alien in origin and it’s only been since the mid-twentieth century that humans have attempted to reverse engineer them.

Obviously, a lot of questions are raised about why they don’t show up, why haven’t we seen them yet, and so forth.  For every question out there, there’s also a viable answer.  Why haven’t we seen them?  Maybe we’re not sure what we’re looking for.  Maybe some governmental body is actively keeping us in the dark.  Why don’t they come down and visit?  Maybe we have nothing to offer them that is of interest to them (like Michio Kaku’s analogy of ants next to a highway).  Maybe it’s like Star Trek where-in they have a prime directive to not interfere with planets that haven’t reached a certain state yet.

Quite frankly, I think it’s a greater mystery is why they would come and visit us than why they wouldn’t, given how backwards and self-destructive our species tends to be.

We need to put ourselves in their shoes.  Maybe, in continuing to fight amongst ourselves, we simply haven’t earned the right to interact with them.  Not yet, anyway.  As agent Kay from Men in Black puts it, “Human thought is so primitive, it’s looked upon as an infectious disease in some of the better galaxies.”  If we were the ones traveling to another planet, would we readily immerse ourselves in harmful contagions if we had no way of shielding ourselves from them?  Think about it.

And if they had any hand in creating us, maybe we’re just a failed and forgotten experiment; or, at best, maybe they’re just on the other side of the glass sitting patiently observing us to see what we will do next.

“Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the earth was the center of the universe … and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet.  Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.” ~ Agent Kay

Generally speaking, people tend to pigeon-hole extraterrestrial activity into one of two categories: enlightening or destructive.  They’re either angels here to save us or demons here to enslave us, and we portray them as such in our fictions.

I think such dualistic thinking is disingenuous to them and to us.  It fails to take into account the potentially broad spectrum of possibilities.  Just as not every human being can be classified as hero or villain, so too do I feel that not every ghost, alien, or other such entity can be classified as belonging to either one of two categories.  More likely, I think there are good aliens, bad aliens, and indifferent aliens.  Some wish to do us harm, some wish to help us, and some don’t really care either way; they’re just trying to make a living for themselves and fulfill their basic needs and be happy, just like us.

The only thing that really differentiates us from them is that their origins, technology, culture, customs, and possibly their physical forms are unlike ours.  Otherwise, if they are intelligent, sentient beings, it’s reasonable to assume that they have minds and souls not unlike ours.

What those differences actually are and which ones are good and which are bad, I don’t really know.  I’m sure some probably look like greys and some look like us and some may even look like lizards.  But until they arrive, your guess is as good as mine.  I await with baited breath the same as anyone else.

Mindfuck #2: Time and Space

Posted in All, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by marushiadark

“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.” ~ Rod Sterling

When I was in high school, I joined the Math Team because I had great interest in math.  I was better at it than most people I knew and enjoyed it a lot.  If I was being fair, I would have to say that I was probably the weakest link on the team, but I still took great pleasure in going all the same.

Our coach had ordered a great many copies of the book Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin A. Abbot.  He didn’t know what else to do with them, so he gave each of us team members a copy of the book to keep.  I read it with great interest, despite the first half being very difficult and abstract material for me at the time.  But it was a book that would forever change my perspective on life.

I was maybe only fourteen or fifteen years old at the time, but after reading Flatland, I became intensely fascinated with the notion of there being other dimensions besides the three that we live in.  In the years following, I would encounter Flatland again many times.

When studying Dante’s Inferno in my junior year, I tried to apply the concept of multiple dimensions to the different levels of hell.  In my AP Physics class, we watched What the Bleep Do We Know? and I recall having in-depth conversations with my teacher about hyperforms.  I even tried to draw out my conceptions of them on the white board.  Eventually, I bought the sequel to What the Bleep? and there came across a retelling of Flatland in the adventures of Dr. Quantum.  I also became fascinated with books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide series and movies like the Cube triology, which had similar themes of dimensionality in them.  It was from watching the movie Hypercube that I first learned the word “tesseract” and their visual example struck deep to my core.

In college, I came across this little gem of a video by the late, great Carl Sagan and my fascination with Flatland was once again renewed.  At about the same time, I also happened upon a most excellent video on Moebius Transformations and their connection with dimensionality.  I also just recently learned that there was a movie made in 2007 about the tale of Flatland, narrated by Patrick Steward, which I’m interested in seeing.

Such obsessions with dimensionality also pushed me to learn about things like black holes and wormholes.  As you might well imagine, I spent a great deal of my time thinking about those too.  In particular, I hold a special place in my heart for Alcubierre Drives and Krasnikov Tubes.

“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.  It is the middle ground between … the pit of man’s fears and the sum of his knowledge.” ~ Rod Sterling

My fascination with dimensions was equalled only by my fascination with time and my obsession with time travel movies like Timeline, Back to the Future, Clock Stoppers, and Time Cops.

Most people know that we live in a world of three dimensions: height, width, and depth (or x, y, and z).  Some will even say that we live in a four-dimensional world with time being the fourth dimension.  But even as a teenager, I never really bought that time was the fourth dimension.  To me, dimensions were more a thing of space than of time.  After all, you could have a “2-D” movie that was changing over time.  Should we relabel that a “3-D” movie?  And should all the new “3-D” movies coming out be relabled as “4-D” movies?  I bet they’d sell even better if we did.  And what about a “1-D” object (a line) or even a “0-D” object (a point)?  Can’t those move in time as well?

Most people know that velocity / rate / amount of change (v) is equal to distance (d) divided by time (t).  Your car moves at a rate of fifty miles per hour, for instance.  But the equation v = d/t can also be written t = d/v in which case time is defined as the distance between two points divided by their change in distance.  In order for there to be time, there must be at least two things and a change in their relationship.  That’s all that time is.

If we perceive lots of change, like when we’re having fun, then we say that time flies.  Conversely, if not much is changing, it appears as though time is dragging on.  How can time change?  It’s not a physical object.  Numbers and objects can change, but time can’t change.  Time is merely an associative thing created in our minds with no real counterpart in the physical world.  It’s like a metaphor, it doesn’t actually exist in reality.  When you look at your clock, you’re checking the relationship between the hands and the face.  Without a change in that, there is no time. If you look at the motions of the sun in respect to the earth, it’s the same.  No motion, no change, no time.

Consequently, that explains the phenomenon known as time dilation as well.  The observers are observing different events, different changes in the same objects, so in their minds, the time appears to be different.  But it’s simply a difference in perception of change, not the actual change itself.  We are defining all this stuff backwards.

It’s like that familiar episode of The Twilight Zone where the man presses the watch to “stop time” and everything else around him stops moving.  He didn’t stop time, he stopped the people around him.  Time continued as long as he was still moving and doing things in respect to everything else.  The movie Clock Stoppers is similar in that the kids don’t stop time, but are actually moving very fast in comparison to everything else.

Why can’t we tell what happened before the Big Bang?  Because there is no object besides the singularity to give us a sense of time.  That’s why the Big Bang is said to have created space-time, because space is defined as the distance between two points and time is defined as the change in their relationship to one another.

Why do we say that God always existed?  Because before God made the universe, there was just God – one object – and time did not exist before he made something else.

To me, the concept of a fourth dimension always brought to mind a fourth spatial dimension, like height, width, and depth.  I don’t really know what to call it, since no one’s yet come up with a name for it.  Maybe I’ll do that now and call it “inth,” as in “inside,” “inner,” or “inward,” since most fourth-dimension projections appear to show one thing inside the other.

It’s hard to imagine what such a realm would look like because we only live in three spatial dimensions, and anything that enters our space from the fourth dimension would necessarily appear to us as being three-dimensional.

How do we know if something is coming from a higher dimension?  Well, one way would be to take the various trends of lower dimensions and apply them to higher ones.  For instance, a line is a point traveling in a direction.  A square is a line traveling perpendicular to itself.  A cube is a square traveling perpendicular to itself.  So a hypercube, or tesseract, would be a cube moving perpendicular to itself.

In another example, a circle is a point rotated around a point.  A sphere is circle rotated around a point.  And a torus is a sphere rotated around a point.  So in one light, a torus is a four-dimensional object.  And then a hypertorus would be a torus rotated around a point, thereby creating a fifth-dimensional object.  Pretty neat, huh?

It’s important to realize that these are, as Carl Sagan puts it, just three-dimensional projections of four-dimensional objects.  Just as the denizens of Flatland can only ever see a slice of the whole form, so we can only ever see a slice of the whole hyperform.  It’s also important to realize that, although higher dimensional objects are made of an infinite number of intermittent component parts between their two ends, the objects themselves are considered one object, not several.  A cube is just a bunch of squares lined up between two squares, thus making a hypersquare, which we call a cube.  It’s a more holistic level of conception.

So imagine that the tesseract in the previous link is not two nested cubes, but really an infinite number of cubes lined up between the inner cube and the outer cube, thus making one single hypercube.  In the case of the torus, imagine many spheres all packed tightly together to make one single hypersphere, i.e. a torus, with an inner and outer radius, instead of just a radius.  And in the case of the hypertorus, imagine that there are infinite toroids all pressed together and overlapping as they go around the center, thereby creating one single hypertorus with an inner and outer hyperradius, as well as inner and outer radii.

That’s one way of understanding hyperdimensional objects.  But this becomes more difficult when we consider more complex hyperforms, and so we must rely on more abstract ways of thinking.

“The deepest level of truth uncovered by science and by philosophy is the fundamental truth of unity.  At the deepest, subnuclear level, you and I are literally one.” ~ John Hagelin

If you look at a tree, it has many roots and many branches.  These are all individuals and each of them different.  And yet, they are all connected to one another.  They are all the same tree.  They are just different parts of the tree.  If we stick the tree in the ground, the roots are covered and we can’t see them because of the limitations of our three-dimensional vision.

We are like the Flatland square that can only see the outside of objects that pass through its dimension.  However, the sphere is operating at a higher level of consciousness in its three-dimensional world and can see everything inside the square and even pass through its insides.  Were we gifted with four-dimensional sight, we would be able to see through the ground and through the tree and be able to view it in its entirety all in one glimpse.  We could see its insides and its outsides, and its front and back as well without even having to rotate it.

Even though the tree is divided in space by the plane of the ground, thus limiting our ability to see the whole thing, we understand that there is more to it than we can see and that it’s all another part of the same tree.  In much the same way, philosophers and religious leaders have told us for thousands of years that we are all one with God.

In this case, our individual bodies would simply be the roots and branches of a very large God tree, the Tree of Life.  In the Book of Genesis, the Tree of Life gave man eternal life, because he was still in the realization that he was connected with God and that everything is all part of the same holistic God, which is all that exists, therefore there is no time.  Thus, everything was eternal. Man was like the Flatland sphere, able to move in and out and through the world of lower dimensions at will and could see everything at once and, theoretically, be everywhere at once, because he was not limited by the interactions of lower dimensions.

However, as soon as man took from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, his consciousness changed.  He became dualistic, seeing himself as a separate entity from the other beings around him, forgetting that they were all just other branches of himself.  He entered the lower dimension, the lower consciousness and became like the sphere turning into a planer circle and then forgetting it was actually a sphere.

In this realm, there was now time and so there was death – or at least apparent death.  There was nothing to suggest the parts that left simply didn’t go somewhere else only to reappear back in the plane in another point in time in some other form (hint, hint).

So now man was bound to the motions and rules of interaction on the lower plane.  If any part of him moved along the higher plane and did something spooky like levitate, pass through solid objects, have actual knowledge beyond his five senses, disappear, or appear in multiple places at once, it was a fluke or magic or an act of some higher dimensional being.  But the reality of it is that he is the higher dimensional being and he’s simply forgotten.

We can speculate as to the reasons why God would suddenly become more dualistic and enter a lower level of consciousness.  My personal belief is that he was just bored and tired of being alone in an eternity of nothingness and emptiness as far as his all-seeing eye could see, so he decided to split his consciousness up and put on a finger-puppet show for himself.

I mean, think about it.  What would you do if you were stuck in a void for all time?  It’d probably drive you mad as well.