New Buddhist Path - Implications to New Evolutionary Myth - PP 62 - 85

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39271

    New Buddhist Path - Implications to New Evolutionary Myth - PP 62 - 85

    Hey Fellow Products of Evolution,

    This week's reading is a little denser, so I might allow a second week (and also to allow folks to rest or catch up. Let's see how it goes. We are actually past the mid-point of the book now).

    The big ideas David Loy is proposing don't really come until the last few pages of the assignment (although he also touches on them in the "Implications" section). You have to wait to the last few pages to see what he is getting at. Much of these chapters deals with how Darwinian evolution has been seen, in the past and even today, as creating a cold, random, dog-eat-dog "survival of the fittest" vision of the universe, our place in it, and even human relationships in capitalist society. David, together with many other writers and scientists that he mentions in his essay, proposes that there is another way to interpret all this which is perfectly consistent with modern science and the evidence we have now for how the universe works.

    - Do you agree with him that modern human beings need, or would at least benefit from, a new story or "mythology" for our place in the universe?

    - Is it possible to have a "mythology" that is quite compatible with our understanding of the universe through modern science, i.e., a story that (unlike origin stories of the past) is not contradicted by science, but which is actually consistent with and backed up by scientific discoveries?

    ** SPOILER ALERT ** (the next questions reveal the perspective David is pointing to)

    - Do you believe it is possible to see the universe as a creative, fertile, self-organizing cosmos that has some properties that have actually allowed it to become self-aware? Do you agree with statements such as: "Instead of our eyes being the product of a mechanistic process driven by random mutations, can they be understood as having been created by the cosmos, in order to be able to perceive itself." Since you and your eyes are made of star dust, arising from materials which poured forth from the Big Bang, are you not the universe aware, looking at and thinking about the universe? "Walt Whitman is a space that the Milky Way fashioned to feel its own grandeur."

    I don't believe that David is saying that the universe necessarily and consciously planned out things in the way you might plan a vacation in Paris or an architect might plan a building. However, I believe that he (and other writers and various scientists) are saying that ... for whatever incredible reason, and whatever the amazing mechanism ... the universe somehow wound around to you and me despite the seeming need for so many factors of physics, chemistry, biology and history to have been precisely "just so" (or nearly so, without one single turn in another direction or variation along the way in needed conditions) to allow such an unlikely result (all as shown by it by your being here to think about it), and that ... when you plan a vacation in Paris, it is in fact the universe planning a vacation in the universe (because you and Paris are just the universe, are you not? Are you or Paris outside and separate from the universe, or just each and all an expression and manifestation of the universe and this planet in it?) The architect is just the universe become smart enough to use the mathematical and physical principles and properties of the universe to build a new part of the universe (what else is the architect but a thinking face of the universe?)

    Is there anything about the above which contradicts our modern understanding of how the universe works in any way?

    As a personal disclosure, I myself believe very deeply ... and have for a long time ... that such interpretations are valid and important. I am a true believer in all this. Am I mistaken?

    Gassho, J

    SatToday


    Last edited by Jundo; 03-25-2017, 11:46 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Mp

    #2
    Thank you Jundo. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today

    Comment

    • AlanLa
      Member
      • Mar 2008
      • 1405

      #3
      I felt like I was reading "you" in this section Jundo, because you've been saying the same thing (minus the scientist references) for as long as I've been here. No wonder you picked this book for us

      - Do you agree with him that modern human beings need, or would at least benefit from, a new story or "mythology" for our place in the universe?

      - Is it possible to have a "mythology" that is quite compatible with our understanding of the universe through modern science, i.e., a story that (unlike origin stories of the past) is not contradicted by science, but which is actually consistent with and backed up by scientific discoveries?
      Yes, but the old myths are so embedded in our collective psyche that it will take a long evolutionary time to modify them. Personally, I love the idea that the universe created me to help it know itself. I am glad to oblige yet humbled in the task.
      AL (Jigen) in:
      Faith/Trust
      Courage/Love
      Awareness/Action!

      I sat today

      Comment

      • Byrne
        Member
        • Dec 2014
        • 371

        #4
        The myths are vital. At least the ones that speak the truth. Many of us are afraid of superstitions. Why do so many western Buddhists feel they have to make it clear that Buddhism doesn't contradict science? What does that have to do with any of the problems Buddhism addresses? Stories speak to wide audiences. Buddhism is for everyone. Even superstitious people. Buddhism has been comforting superstitious fools for 2500 years. I'm one of them. I just haven't figured it out yet.

        Gassho

        Sat Today

        Comment

        • Jundo
          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
          • Apr 2006
          • 39271

          #5
          Originally posted by Byrne
          The myths are vital. At least the ones that speak the truth. Many of us are afraid of superstitions. Why do so many western Buddhists feel they have to make it clear that Buddhism doesn't contradict science? What does that have to do with any of the problems Buddhism addresses? Stories speak to wide audiences. Buddhism is for everyone. Even superstitious people. Buddhism has been comforting superstitious fools for 2500 years. I'm one of them. I just haven't figured it out yet.

          Gassho

          Sat Today
          Hi Byrne,

          If a fantastic fiction or superstition helps someone, I am all for it. The Buddha called this "Expedient Means", basically a means to help someone who needs that. It is like the father who, in the Lotus Sutra, promised his kids imagined toys to lure them out of a burning building. If it gives someone strength, comfort and a bit of understanding to think and feel in such terms, I honor that.

          The only issue for me is when people cling to these stories as truth, and are willing to excommunicate ... or worse ... anyone who does not hold to such "truths", be it very literal visions of rebirth or heaven and hell, the magic powers of a superhuman Buddha, faith healing (which actually does have some psychological powers, but that is a story for another day) over hospitals for child with a curable disease, a Virgin Birth, that the earth was created in 6 days, and the like. If folks need those stories, and it helps people to have faith in them as literally true, I support their doing so. Ok also to take much of this symbolically, holding that "6 days" is actually a timeless description of "6 Billions of years". In fact, it could even be that the earth was created in 6 days (of the ordinary calendar), and only my ignorance prevents me from seeing it as so.

          But there is also nothing wrong with insisting that science has shown us some solid evidence for how the universe, this planet and our brains work and are put together, and historians a bit about the past, so our myths and stories need not (and perhaps, best not) contradict such facts. In fact, ignorance of all kinds is dangerous, and all of us need to recognize the potential for ignorance within ourselves.

          By some recent surveys, such as this from Gallop ...

          More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, a view that has changed little over the past three decades. Half of Americans believe humans evolved, with the majority of these saying God guided the evolutionary process.
          http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/be...n-origins.aspx
          I also believe that there is something a little dangerous in that, as much as their is danger in a cold and uncaring beiief in dog-eat-dog Social Darwinism, materialistic "scientific" Marxism and many other extreme beliefs that are just as narrow.

          Gassho, J

          SatToday
          Last edited by Jundo; 03-27-2017, 05:42 AM.
          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

          Comment

          • Onkai
            Treeleaf Unsui
            • Aug 2015
            • 2840

            #6
            I was most impressed in this reading by the evidence that the elements and bacteria show creative responses to their situations. I think that is the basis of a new story or mythology. Also interesting was the creative self-ordering of societies, and the idea that without something or someone guiding all the changes in nature, the mechanistic view falls apart. Thank you, Jundo, for making this a book for discussion. I see things differently now.

            Gassho,
            Onkai
            SatToday
            美道 Bidou Beautiful Way
            恩海 Onkai Merciful/Kind Ocean

            I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

            Comment

            • Hoko
              Member
              • Aug 2009
              • 444

              #7
              Jundo,

              One of my very favorite things that you ever said around here is that "the universe still needs you when it wants to make toast".

              Yes, we are infinitesimal specks on the rural side of a gigantic and (seemingly) uncaring universe.
              BUT: we are also amazing creatures who rescue stray dogs and run into burning buildings to save lives and look up at the stars and wonder "what's it all about anyway?"
              We MAKE meaning. Something as ordinary as a stuffed animal can become the most precious thing in the cosmos.

              So when you leave hydrogen alone long enough and it becomes rose bushes and giraffes and people and then those people wonder "what am I?" then that literally means that we are the universe manifesting curiosity about itself.
              And if that's not enough for you to "make meaning" out of your so-called "pointless life" then go make some toast.

              Gassho,
              Hoko
              #SatToday
              法 Dharma
              口 Mouth

              Comment

              • Jakuden
                Member
                • Jun 2015
                • 6142

                #8
                New Buddhist Path - Implications to New Evolutionary Myth - PP 62 - 85

                Originally posted by Hoko
                Jundo,

                One of my very favorite things that you ever said around here is that "the universe still needs you when it wants to make toast".

                Yes, we are infinitesimal specks on the rural side of a gigantic and (seemingly) uncaring universe.
                BUT: we are also amazing creatures who rescue stray dogs and run into burning buildings to save lives and look up at the stars and wonder "what's it all about anyway?"
                We MAKE meaning. Something as ordinary as a stuffed animal can become the most precious thing in the cosmos.

                So when you leave hydrogen alone long enough and it becomes rose bushes and giraffes and people and then those people wonder "what am I?" then that literally means that we are the universe manifesting curiosity about itself.
                And if that's not enough for you to "make meaning" out of your so-called "pointless life" then go make some toast.

                Gassho,
                Hoko
                #SatToday
                I don't often "squee" but this got a squee outta me. [emoji23][emoji120]
                Gassho
                Jakuden
                SatToday


                Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                Last edited by Jakuden; 03-28-2017, 02:35 AM.

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39271

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Hoko
                  Yes, we are infinitesimal specks on the rural side of a gigantic and (seemingly) uncaring universe.
                  BUT: we are also amazing creatures who rescue stray dogs and run into burning buildings to save lives and look up at the stars and wonder "what's it all about anyway?"
                  We MAKE meaning. Something as ordinary as a stuffed animal can become the most precious thing in the cosmos.
                  Maybe okay to repost something I wrote a few times on why we are each standing at the center of a universe (but so is everybody and everything) ... a universe that is truly not "big" nor "small" when human measure and relative self-comparisons are taken out of the equation ...

                  =======================================

                  One Buddhist perspective to experience is that the whole of reality, all time and space ... is manifested in a grain of sand ... and all of the universe is held on the tip of each blade of grass.

                  So. do not be so quick to judge either a grain as "big" or "small" ... a blade as "tall" or "short" or finite ... or the universe as vast and distant ... for to do so is perhaps each a relative value judgment, and saying how "small and insignificant" we must be is not much different from ancient man's subjective judgment in asserting how "grand" we are and that we are at the heart of it all, the universe spinning around us, the "center of creation".

                  Mahayana Buddhists point out that "big and small" and "far and near" and "center and periphery" and the like are, more than we realize, measures of the human brain that are not the only way to experience reality. For example, the "center of the universe" and "place where the Big Bang is still happening" (even physicists will point out) is not some place far from here and long ago ... but here and here and here and everywhere in the Cosmos ... and now and now and now and all times ... and all is "the center". You want to know "where the Big Bang happened/is still happening?" Well, open your eyes, look around and in the mirror too! Space is expanding outward right from every particle in your body!

                  As well, who is to say that an ant is "less important" than an elephant because one is smaller, or an atom is less than a star, in the whole scheme of things because of relative size? These are value judgments we make.

                  In fact, we are at the heart of all, the center, for where in the universe is the heart, the center of all? Better said, where in the center of reality, all emerging, is not the center? Where in the heart is not found the heart? Every point in the universe spins around every point in the universe.

                  ...

                  It used to be thought that mankind was the center of the cosmos, thus very important. Then, Copernicus, Hubble and others showed that we are just fleas on a speck of dust in one galaxy among countless galaxies ... so apparently unimportant in our relative smallness. However we Mahayana Buddhists (and many modern physicists!) tend to see the cosmos as more like the surface of a sphere, like the surface of this ball or balloon ...



                  For the surface of a sphere, no matter the size of the sphere, EVERY point on the surface is as much the center of the surface as every other point. In a sense. every point is just as important or unimportant as any other ... and is as much the ball or balloon as any other. We are all the ball, and playing ball, in the most radical sense. In our universe, every point can also lay claim to being a center around which all spins as much as any other too. In fact, each point of the ball's surface supports all the rest of the surface.

                  Gassho, J

                  PS - This was also recently posted ...



                  [Physics FAQ] - [Copyright]

                  Original by Philip Gibbs 1997.



                  Where is the centre of the universe?

                  There is no centre of the universe! According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a "Big Bang" about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since. Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere. The Big Bang should not be visualised as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.

                  In 1929 Edwin Hubble announced that he had measured the speed of galaxies at different distances from us, and had discovered that the farther they were, the faster they were receding. This might suggest that we are at the centre of the expanding universe, but in fact if the universe is expanding uniformly according to Hubble's law, then it will appear to do so from any vantage point.

                  If we see a galaxy B receding from us at 10,000 km/s, an alien in galaxy B will see our galaxy A receding from it at 10,000 km/s in the opposite direction. Another galaxy C twice as far away in the same direction as B will be seen by us as receding at 20,000 km/s. The alien will see it receding at 10,000 km/s: ...

                  So from the point of view of the alien at B, everything is expanding away from it, whichever direction it looks in, just the same as it does for us.

                  The Famous Balloon Analogy

                  A good way to help visualise the expanding universe is to compare space with the surface of an expanding balloon. This analogy was used by Arthur Eddington as early as 1933 in his book The Expanding Universe. It was also used by Fred Hoyle in the 1960 edition of his popular book The Nature of the Universe. Hoyle wrote "My non-mathematical friends often tell me that they find it difficult to picture this expansion. Short of using a lot of mathematics I cannot do better than use the analogy of a balloon with a large number of dots marked on its surface. If the balloon is blown up the distances between the dots increase in the same way as the distances between the galaxies." ...
                  Last edited by Jundo; 03-28-2017, 04:28 PM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Jakuden
                    Member
                    • Jun 2015
                    • 6142

                    #10
                    One thing that strikes me, as a scientist, is that Loy seems to think that scientists are attached to certain principles... such as Newtonian physics, as if we object to any concept of "intelligent design" in any way. Or conversely that we always look for patterns rather than randomness. This may be true to some degree in a basic science class, but once you get into more advanced education, there is much more of a sense of the fusion of the known with the unknown, IMHO. I remember learning almost 30 years ago how the seeming randomness of the DNA mutations that allowed for evolution to take place really are both random and not random. Mistakes built into the system that are not mistakes, but seeds of potential. Mathematical probability theory is wound so tightly into physics, chemistry and biology that the more you learn, the more they become interdependent and indistinguishable. Randomness and purpose are also "not two."

                    Gassho
                    Jakuden
                    SatToday


                    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

                    Comment

                    • Byrne
                      Member
                      • Dec 2014
                      • 371

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Jakuden
                      One thing that strikes me, as a scientist, is that Loy seems to think that scientists are attached to certain principles... such as Newtonian physics, as if we object to any concept of "intelligent design" in any way. Or conversely that we always look for patterns rather than randomness. This may be true to some degree in a basic science class, but once you get into more advanced education, there is much more of a sense of the fusion of the known with the unknown, IMHO. I remember learning almost 30 years ago how the seeming randomness of the DNA mutations that allowed for evolution to take place really are both random and not random. Mistakes built into the system that are not mistakes, but seeds of potential. Mathematical probability theory is wound so tightly into physics, chemistry and biology that the more you learn, the more they become interdependent and indistinguishable. Randomness and purpose are also "not two."

                      Gassho
                      Jakuden
                      SatToday


                      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                      Beautiful and humbling perspective.

                      Gassho

                      Sat Today

                      Comment

                      • AlanLa
                        Member
                        • Mar 2008
                        • 1405

                        #12
                        One possible interpretation of our oneness with the universe.


                        Pickles, 3/31/17
                        AL (Jigen) in:
                        Faith/Trust
                        Courage/Love
                        Awareness/Action!

                        I sat today

                        Comment

                        • Jeremy

                          #13
                          I loved this section because I could ramble on at great length and with great pleasure in disagreement with David Loy. I'll just take one statement quoted in Jundo's opening post:
                          Instead of our eyes being the product of a mechanistic process driven by random mutations, can they be understood as having been created by the cosmos, in order to be able to perceive itself?
                          Sure you can see our eyes in such a way, but that wouldn't be science. One of many arguments comes from a wonderful 1959 paper in cognitive psychology by Jerome Lettvin et al called "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain". Most of the paper is about the technical details of the structure of the frog's eye and brain, but there's a nice pertinent section early on:
                          The frog does not seem to see or, at any rate, is not concerned with the detail of stationary parts of the world around him. He will starve to death surrounded by food if it is not moving. His choice of food is determined only by size and movement. He will leap to capture any object the size of an insect or worm, providing it moves like one. He can be fooled easily not only by a bit of dangled meat but by any moving small object. His sex life is conducted by sound and touch. His choice of paths in escaping enemies does not seem to be governed by anything more devious than leaping to where it is darker. Since he is equally at home in water and on land, why should it matter where he lights after jumping or what particular direction he takes?
                          Lettvin et al found what came to be called 'feature detectors' in the frog's eye - 'cells in a frog’s retina that are predisposed to respond when small, dark objects enter the visual field, stop, and then move intermittently'.

                          The point is that the frog's eye doesn't present to the frog a 'true' representation of 'reality'. It works to create a reality for the frog that enables the frog to eat and avoid predators. There's no scientific reason to suppose that we human beings are more important or better than frogs, or indeed, anything special in the grand scheme of things. By this argument, the view we have of 'reality' is not to do with 'the cosmos perceiving itself'. Just like the frog's eye, the human eye has evolved by natural selection to ensure our continued success at surviving and reproducing ourselves. (Incidentally Donald Hoffman has a more modern argument to the same effect - https://www.theatlantic.com/science/...eality/479559/)

                          Or do you think we're better than frogs croaking in a spring paddy field?

                          Jeremy
                          SatToday

                          Comment

                          • Byrne
                            Member
                            • Dec 2014
                            • 371

                            #14
                            Jeremy,

                            The Buddha often emphasized that it is incredibly rare to obtain a human form in this Universe. Of all the possible combination of atoms and molecules constantly rising and falling, human is just one of immeasurable possibilities. Humans aren't "better" than frogs but we have been reborn in the human realm which is considered the ideal realm to learn the Buddhadharma. Frogs aren't banned from entering this Sangha, and frogs have much to teach us, but frogs aren't equipped to study Buddhism. Their karma leads them where it leads them, just as ours leads us where it leads us. Nothing to add or take away.

                            Gassho

                            Sat Today

                            Comment

                            • Hoseki
                              Member
                              • Jun 2015
                              • 649

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Jeremy
                              I loved this section because I could ramble on at great length and with great pleasure in disagreement with David Loy. I'll just take one statement quoted in Jundo's opening post:

                              Sure you can see our eyes in such a way, but that wouldn't be science. One of many arguments comes from a wonderful 1959 paper in cognitive psychology by Jerome Lettvin et al called "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain". Most of the paper is about the technical details of the structure of the frog's eye and brain, but there's a nice pertinent section early on:

                              Lettvin et al found what came to be called 'feature detectors' in the frog's eye - 'cells in a frog’s retina that are predisposed to respond when small, dark objects enter the visual field, stop, and then move intermittently'.

                              The point is that the frog's eye doesn't present to the frog a 'true' representation of 'reality'. It works to create a reality for the frog that enables the frog to eat and avoid predators. There's no scientific reason to suppose that we human beings are more important or better than frogs, or indeed, anything special in the grand scheme of things. By this argument, the view we have of 'reality' is not to do with 'the cosmos perceiving itself'. Just like the frog's eye, the human eye has evolved by natural selection to ensure our continued success at surviving and reproducing ourselves. (Incidentally Donald Hoffman has a more modern argument to the same effect - https://www.theatlantic.com/science/...eality/479559/)

                              Or do you think we're better than frogs croaking in a spring paddy field?

                              Jeremy
                              SatToday


                              Hi Jeremy,



                              I can't really talk about Science as I don't really know what it is. But I don't know if "feature detectors" is a problem. I think its just that a frog's world. That's the cosmos aware of itself as a frog. Perhaps the reason we find the distinction between a true representation and reality problematic is because its not a representation in the sense of realistic painting. But more like skillful means. Many objects of sense seem to be permanent but experience overtime suggests that they are not. This isn't something I learn from the senses alone. I look at my daughter now and I realize shes grown so much in such a short time. How I wish I could go hug that toddler in the pictures again but I can't because shes a little girl now (I will hug the shit out of her when I get home from work though .)

                              I think there are other ways to look at this. Things like color arn't "out there" in the world. But the result of a combination of different wave lengths of light interacting nerves in the eye and then a electrical-chemical reaction takes place. We could also say this data is processed further. In either case, it hinges of the idea of an "out there" and "in here." But if we set aside that distinction for a little while I think we can see it as one unfolding process that is composed of smaller processes. Like a Rube Gold machine where a phone call ends with putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. Its just part of the process.


                              Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.


                              I also wrote this but I don't know how sense able it is.

                              1. The world is knowable
                              2.1 The means of knowing enable knowing
                              2.11 What can be known is limited to the product of the means of knowing
                              3. Its possible to conceive of other means of knowing
                              4. The world exhausts definition


                              Anywho just some thoughts.

                              Gassho

                              Hoseki

                              Sattoday

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