[FutureBuddha (Hunches VII)] 10 Hunches about Hunches

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39275

    [FutureBuddha (Hunches VII)] 10 Hunches about Hunches



    Today’s 'Hunches about Hunches' post builds on my previous essays, entitled "Further Hunches" (LINK) and "Even Further Hunches" (LINK) and "Yet Even Further Hunches" (LINK), Still Yet Even Further Hunches (LINK), Still Yet Even MORE Further Hunches (LINK) and "10 Amazing Lucky Breaks Leading to You" (LINK). They follow on my original scribblings, entitled just "Hunches" (LINK). If you don't buy the wild notions I toss out there, you surely won't catch what I'm pitching today. The premises of those essays can be summarized as follows (you can read the rest at the foregoing links):

    • There is something special, deserving special explanation, about the fact that, in a seemingly wild and largely random universe, you find yourself to be a self-aware being able now to imagine and contemplate any point in time in the history of this universe, beginning from a moment after the Big Bang, continuing on through 13.7 billion years to the moment of your conception when, according to our currently accepted notions of physics, chemistry, stellar and planetary development, biology and evolution, the intricate sequence of events headed in precisely a direction necessary for your eventual existence despite the seemingly far greater likelihood time-and-time again that any single event amid the ages-long unbroken chain could, it would be thought, have turned in another direction among the vast set of directions which would have foreclosed your eventual existence, all as proven by the simple fact that here you are, alive and pondering your existence and all it required.

    • Although the same unlikelihood could be claimed for any sentient being, creature or thing that has come into existence at this now current moment of universal history, the fact that the contemplator is not just someone or some creature or something, but rather, you yourself now subjectively contemplating your own personal fortune is a special phenomenon deserving special explanation.

    • You are not the winner of a single lottery (something not particularly amazing), but the always and each-and-every time winner after winner of a string of constant lotteries within lotteries, one after the other in sequence and often entwined in complex parallel, stretching through all time from cosmic expansion to sperm meets egg, which unbroken chain of a googol of wins resulted in you, no step skipped or tripped over, bar none, not a single miss as proven conclusively just by your present contemplation of the most personal outcome.

    • This outcome, if more than brute fact, may point to a mechanism, as yet unknown but open to conjecture, which has served to weight nature’s dice, tilt the roulette wheel, limit the possible results, fix the game. If such a mechanism exists, it need not always remain unknown, its nature can be the subject of theory and, hopefully, testing and demonstration.

    • Though beings identical to you, or extremely close, may have appeared time and again in an infinite universe or ensemble of universes where like circumstances endlessly happen, their existence would not explain your existence, here and now, in this place and timeline where you apparently need to find yourself to be this you right here and now. The others might be doppelgängers or twins, but that would be different from this very you which you need right now in order to be experiencing you.

    • While Buddhism is generally not concerned with "where we all came from," being content in guiding us to Liberation here and now however we got here, Buddhism also does not forbid our investigating such matters. In fact, Buddhism is based on certain suppositions about reality, our deep connection and inter-identity with the universe, and even a "built in" system of ethics/Karma, which overlaps with many of my speculations.
    ~ ~ ~

    The following are wild, unsubstantiated, totally personal speculations about why reality seems as it is, based on a lifetime of observation and consideration. Take them, learn from them, or laugh and leave them. I am far from the first person to propose many of such suggestions, so make no claim to originality. Perhaps some may sometime be testable and falsifiable, while others will always be speculative.

    In the following, I will raise examples based upon various natural and human-made phenomena as comparisons to demonstrate that something resembling each "hunch" is possible.

    1 - Given the course of events over the past 13.8 billion years in this universe where we find ourselves (without regard to whether there exist other universes more, less or equally hospitable to sentient life), based upon all a priori conditions for sentient life needing to exist in this universe within finely tuned parameters, with very specific properties and mutual interactions in physics, chemistry, stellar and planetary development, biology and evolution, it is reasonable to assume that there is something particularly hospitable to life in general about this universe, including with regard to the even more fragile conditions necessary for the appearance of complex, sentient, intelligent life. While things could have been other than they are while still allowing for some life, and even intelligent life, one might surmise that the range of conditions which would preclude those possibilities would be so much greater. When one adds the particular conditions and events necessary for the life of you, the reader of these words, in contrast to all seemingly once possible conditions which would have precluded your being here now, reading these words, one must be led to the conclusion that this a most personally hospitable universe for you. Seemingly, a vastly much MUCH greater set and variety of other potential states of affairs we might imagine as having once been possible at any point prior to your conception and birth would have precluded your being here now, pondering those past conditions.

    If you were to enter a 'crooked casino,' one in which you, to remain alive, would need to win every single spin of the roulette wheel, roll of the dice and hand of cards without a deadly miss (otherwise to be instantly shot through with an arrow to the heart), in needed sequence, within each moment within a moment spanning 13.8 billion years' equivalent of spins, rolls and hands (perhaps simulated quickly by powerful computer so that one need not actually wait for billions of years until the outcome), all as needed for you to find yourself on the other end still breathing, pondering your good fortune ... then that finding of yourself still alive on the tail end of the gamble could very well be but great good fortune. However, one would be foolish not to consider the possibility of the wheel being weighted, dice loaded, cards marked and/or computer pre-set. In fact, any other scenario but a "cheat" would be so seemingly unlikely as to be ridiculous. If "the fix is in," the cheat mechanism may be as yet unknown, but something physical and testable.

    2 - The universe, including the events of earth's planetary development, biological evolution, all human history and your most personal ancestorial history do seem to have been driven by large doses of random chance and happenstance. Yet, are there any possible models of mechanisms that could present the appearance of 'random chance and happenstance' while actually not being as free-wheeling as they appear on the surface? Yes, there are. For example, if the universe and its history, including evolution, were something like a film recorded on a great DVD ... and were we each like characters (though somehow self-aware ones ... characters who are also movie viewers) first appearing in the film late in the story ... the course of past events as seen by us characters would appear largely wild and random although actually pre-burned into the deterministic DVD. In this movie version of Earth history, the 'Titanic' can never miss the iceberg because the story is already set and unalterable.


    A DVD would seem to preclude free will, unless a kind of recordable disc on which the past is determined, but the future is open and as yet unwritten, with us as a kind of stylus at the pivot point between the two. In such a scenario, our choosing would help write future events. In any case, whether or not choice is an illusion, we are somehow either choosing mechanisms or the vehicle of an illusion that is somehow necessary.

    I suspect, however, a mechanism that allows some freedom, but within certain parameters and given directions. A video game (such as a road race simulator), for example, may have a vast number of potential alternate plays, crashes and outcomes possible within the game, selected by what appears to be a nearly random process within the program, yet the general direction of events in the race is limited (i.e., cars will stay on the track, heading forward toward a certain "finish line" no matter the events during the race.) If you are in the program bound to appear as a character in the race under certain conditions called for in the game, then you are bound to appear even if the race itself is internally very wild and random. In a more natural example, dandelion seeds scattered randomly across vast fields by breezes will appear to grow or to be eaten by birds (and never grow) with great randomness, however, by this process, some dandelions are bound to grow and, when they grow, to grow as dandelions (never as roses.) In both examples, there is a combination of randomness with certain limited or nearly guaranteed outcomes. If you are such a "you" seed, you would be bound to grow as you when finding soil. (It is worth noting that Buddhism does speak of "Karmic seeds.")


    3 - Evil exists in this world because, alas, the process of evolution and growth is based on competition and survival, is organic and biological, with predator eating prey, and humans able to choose to kill or otherwise harm others. (Buddhism is based on the premise that, even though this is so, we can recognize our transcendent nature, possibly as the process or "game" itself rather than merely as separate, competing characters in the game, by which we can see beyond the apparent win/lose, flourish/die events of the process.) At the same time, whether by happenstance or as part of the game, kind and peaceful morality (specifically, choosing peace and cooperation over war and extreme selfishness) becomes more important at a certain stage of development (where, by coincidence, we happen to find ourselves now) where technology allows mass slaughter and human annihilation, verses the mere "one on one" or "village by village" slaughter of the past. In other words, pacifism is more important in a world of atomic weapons than in a world of bullets or spears. (Buddhism, in its Precepts, has always encouraged our better natures, turning from our violent animal natures toward peace and kindness to other sentient beings.) One way or the other, we are humans with the power of choice, and we can now choose to live gently, peacefully and in cooperation. Our animal ancestors, bound by instinct, could not so choose.


    4 - Life and intelligence in this universe might have appeared for no particular reason or, more likely (like dandelion seeds blossoming as dandelion flowers, reaching for the sun, because called for by natural process), are somehow an integral part of the universal process which calls for life and intelligence. There may or may not be a "final outcome" anticipated by the process (e.g., an eventual "Omega Point" of advanced consciousness) or possibly the living and experiencing of life itself is the point with no final destination, or possibly some combination thereof (much as each moment of the playing of the game is the point of the game, not just some final outcome at the end.)


    5 - For the foregoing (4) to be true, it may be that some aspect of nature, this universe (or what is the actual source and foundation of this universe) needs our individual life experiences to bring the universe to life (e.g., much as a garden or forest needs the life and growth of the individual plants and trees within it to bring the garden or forest to life, without which it is just dead, barren dirt) and, furthermore, needs our actual self-conscious experiences to exist as part of that life (for which reason, non-self aware life alone, such as mere bacteria or insects, would not suffice), perhaps because the process somehow experiences life through us (e.g., the universe cannot taste chocolate ice cream without our tongues and experience of the sweet taste) or just because our conscious choices help the process proceed (e.g., much as individual cells and bacteria in a living body, each making their own selfish "choices," allow the body to thrive and proceed, even though we are not ourselves aware of the inner "experience" ... if any ... of each of those cells or bacteria within our own bodies that are together keeping us alive, and truly are the living body itself.)


    6 - Just as there cannot be any "sweet taste of ice cream" without our sentient tongues to create the living experience from the raw chemical properties of sugars and other ingredients, most of life and the things in it cannot fully exist (or exist at all) without our interpretive brains. For example, there are no "beautiful green trees" without our eyes and inner interpretive experience of qualia to know certain photon wavelengths as "green," then judge and label the object a "tree" based on our categorization of what it is (versus, for example, our mental idea of "a forest" or an "elephant" which, as children, we learn to categorize and label differently in our thoughts and language) and to weigh it as "beautiful" by our subjective feeling. Of course, I must assume (unless a radical idealist) that there is something "out there" which my eyes are seeing, and that all is not a mere idea, fantasy or dream. Even so, whatever is "out there" likely little looks like a "beautiful green tree" without us to see it so. The result is that we actually create this world to large degree (if not wholly) as our own thoughts and inner perceptions of the world. Without us, it is all just some kind of hodge-podge of undefined chemical reactions, almost quality-less "stuff."


    7 - Space is so spread out for much the same reason that seeds spread out in a vast field, some to find fertile soil with a place in the sun and some not, some to grow and thrive and some not. Likewise, the universe takes a "shotgun" approach to finding the "goldilocks" conditions necessary for life in general and intelligent life in particular. Much of the universe is inhospitable to life, let alone complex life. Even so, once landing in that good soil and sun, the "dandelion seed" takes off, becoming a dandelion. Likewise, once finding the specific conditions for life afforded by a planet such as ours (assisted by other "pre-set" conditions in the process, such as the characteristics of carbon and other elements of the periodic table), the life process began on this planet and, though wild and violent and often chaotic, likewise followed other "pre-set" conditions of the game. Another reason that space may be so spread out, one star system unable easily to reach another given the limits of speed-of-light travel, is that "good fences make good neighbors," life cannot muck and meddle with each other ... for parsecs of space make the best fences.


    SHOTGUN SHOT

    8 - The size of the universe, so vast compared to us (and possibly so much vaster than we see if cosmic inflation is true), is not necessarily as impressive as it first seems, and need not indicate our relative unimportance given our small size. First, there is no way to judge whether the process to create such a vast universe was particularly hard or resource consuming for whatever phenomenon created it. Perhaps it is "easy," with the right conditions to create so many worlds and whole galaxies much as, with little seeming complexity, this planet was able to produce whole oceans, rivers, lakes, clouds and rain storms of water molecules literally "out of thin air" (perhaps 4.62924×10^49 molecules of water are present on earth, compared to only 100 trillion neural connections in your brain and a mere 7x10^23 stars in the known universe.) Making your brain does not seem to have been particularly "tricky" for nature either, given that it got it done. To a self-aware dandelion seed scattered in a field, unable to see past the horizon, the Earth itself would appear equally immense, and yet that seed is playing its precious role as the life of the planet in its particular space and patch of earth. In Buddhism, each seed, flower and blade of grass (likewise for all people, things, moments of time) are precious, bring the world to life, are the world coming to life and, in fact, contain the whole universe within.


    8 - I believe that the brain is not "creating" consciousness out of matter, but rather, is a material mechanism that (through a process somewhat resembling individual GPS devices creating a particular "position in space and time" from a centralized "signal" of some kind, or a carnival "house of mirrors" which divides up a single image into myriad broken images) creates our individual experience of being ourself, in our own position in time and space, by breaking up some centralized underlying ... something. The process causes self-reflection, and a feeling of individuality, although in reality we are truly ourself looking out our eyes (also ourself) at objects that our also ourself ... the universe gazing at the universe. One might call that "something" a "Grand Consciousness," and it may have aspects of that (including having something about it like "preferences" and "planning ability," and the power to create by making choices ... not totally unlike our own ability to have preferences, plan, create, choose, which might explain how the "design" for this reasonably hospitable "universe" got to be what it is), but is likely so very different from our small human experience of "consciousness" created in the "stupid box" between our ears that the word "consciousness" may be quite misleading (in much the same way as we could barely compare a mouse or ant's experience of consciousness to our own.) "It" could just be a natural process, not conscious at all ... but one that was able to set the conditions and give rise to our personal experience of being conscious. However, given the fact that a great deal of planning and creating would have been required if this universe was indeed "pre-set" for life as I suspect ... and given that it seems hubris on our part to think that we sentient beings are the only thing "conscious" in the universe, and somehow became so in a universe that is not sentient (like airplane passengers thinking that the plane is flying itself just because, right now, we cannot see the inside of the cockpit from our seats in economy class) ... there is a good chance that the universe (or the substrate from which the material universe arose) is some kind of very smart and capable "consciousness" of some kind, able to plan, choose, create, etc. It is possible that, in our own ability to plan, choose, create, etc., we are some weak reflection of its nature.


    9 - It is possible that, as one way to explain the particular "trail of lucky happenstance" which led to our individual births, we (each sentient consciousness) exist in something like "our own universe," and all our individual universes are interacting as a kind of shared "multi-verse." For example, in such a model, alternative universes exist merely as indeterminate potential universes in an ensemble of "might happen" (but not actually yet existing until observed) universes, the wave function for any one of which is caused to collapse by an individual's birth/life (and the resulting observation), which collapse selects for that individual the universe causationally necessary for that individual. Somehow the "state" of an individual's personal existence is entangled with all particles of the universe upon which the individual's existence would be dependent, requiring the particles (and thus their resultant larger, emergent phenomena too) to each have states causally necessary for that individual's existence (e.g., if I need a particle somewhere in my universe to have precise spin X, but not Y, for my personal existence, the particle will have spin X and not Y, proven by my own existence alone, which required X, not Y.)

    Just as Jundo is in my own relative time measure, and you (dear reader) are in your own relative time measure, by Special Relativity in relation to mass and speed, yet somehow we can co-exist together in this same universe without incongruity (because our relative speeds and nearby mass are not too different from each other right now), my universe/wave collapse relative to me (causationally necessary for my birth), and your universe/wave collapse relative to you (causationally necessary for your birth) can exist together without incongruity. You and Jundo are also somehow "entangled" with each other so that our (and every other being and thing's) respective universes/collapsed universal wave functions exist together without incongruity even though, from one perspective, we are each individually in our own universe (just like, from one perspective, we are each individually in our own space/time measure according to Einstein.)

    But ... Zen fellows should not speculate on Quantum Mechanics too easily.

    10 - Accordingly, if this universe(s) we exist in are not brute fact, if our births are not simply a hell-of-a-lot of happenstance and luck, and if there is some "intelligence" or "consciousness" that did meddle or guide the planning, choosing and creating, where and how would that come about? Was it always so? An eternal, omniscient and omnipotent God? Or, no "wise guy God" at all, "it" could be just a blind process, much as "mother nature" seems to plan, choose, create ... or inert AI seems to do so ... but there may be no conscious "mother" in the nature, or nAIture, which might just be blind and thoughtless in its doings.

    First, "it" must be pretty effective and smart (at least smarter than our human "stupid box between the ears" since it may have designed or set the conditions for our "stupid box" to manifest ... although it could be an AI kind of "smart," which is smart without being self-aware at all ... at least, for now! ) I don't know if that is equal to "omnipotence" and "omniscience," especially if there still remain large patches of wild, unpredictable randomness in the "video game" of the universe which "it" cannot control ... only guide and limit, like someone at the game's joy stick or opening/closing gates to channel a wild river (unless, of course, the universe is more like a single DVD, and "it" somehow has the ability to write, burn and read the universal DVD all at once, like some super-powerful computer/DVD player.)


    Certainly, this would be existing in some realm where "time" as such is not much of a concern. Even if cosmic events take billions of years, that is only "a long time" by human measure. Perhaps the word "eternal" is misleading, and maybe "timeless" is closer to the truth. Humans think in terms of time because we live in a world of time, and struggle to imagine a world unbound by time in the same way that fish, raised only in the ocean, would struggle to imagine dry land. To ask about what was "before" the Big Bang may be as meaningless (as Prof. Hawking said) as asking "what is south of the South Pole." The question is itself wrong. If Hamlet had been a Zen Buddhist, he might have more options besides merely "to be, or not to be." Certainly, by simple logic, some state must exist unbound by time at the root of reality (the uncaused cause), and "time" emerged with matter and motion with the Big Bang. Some physicists posit that "quantum fluctuations" can make something (matter) appear from "empty" space, something from "nothing" (although, in fact, it is not really "nothing" as we usually think about that term, another human word held in our "stupid box.") There was some basic nature from which something was possible (an obvious conclusion based on the fact that you and I are here, two somethings who were possible, and this universe is here as a big something that was possible.)

    So, my best guess is that this "creative source" did not exist "eternally" into the past, but that, from something like a quantum fluctuation, something "popped up" that "stuck together" enough to itself begin to grow, develop, evolve, get smarter. Maybe, at first, it was very simple, but gradually developed something resembling "thought" and its own ability to dream, imagine, plan, choose, figure out and create within itself (or by using some external resources it could create or access.) I suspect that matter, energy, our personal consciousness and the source substrate are different facets or versions of each other, much as we now know true of matter and energy.

    But it was lonely, or bored, or felt the need to grow somehow, to become more alive. It could not actually taste ice cream (although maybe it can imagine it ... ) so needed us to do so (maybe its imagining the taste, and our experiencing the taste, are the same?) Likewise, it could not see "green beautiful trees" on its own, and needed our sentient eyes and other senses for that. Sadly, for whatever reason, it also allows, needs, tolerates or even maybe downright wants to experience or otherwise have happen wars, torture, sickness, grief and fear (Maybe that is where Buddhism comes in? As a check and balance to all the violence, sadness, fear?) "It" created the universe because, well, it was not any more difficult for "it" to do so as for your mother to bake an apple pie ... something seemingly miraculous to a child's eyes, but not so tricky if you know what you are doing. Alas, mom put or allowed some bitter herbs in the pie that we wish she did not.)

    An aspect of Zen Practice is to realize that we are both the baker-mother and the pie, the child and the cooking and the taste.

    So, that's my "best guess" on what's going on, where this came from, is all going and where we are. I bet that I am not so far off the mark.

    And in any case, since we now find ourselves alive in the middle of time and space ... whatever the cause or reason, if any ...

    ... best to get on with the living, and live well, making a nice pie.

    Gassho, J

    stlah






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    Last edited by Jundo; 03-21-2024, 01:42 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Kaitan
    Member
    • Mar 2023
    • 447

    #2
    Very good read, thanks, Jundo.

    I also notice that at the beginning of the first paragraph of point 1 - you missed the word "billions"

    Gasshō

    stlah, Kaitan
    Kaitan - 界探 - Realm searcher
    Formerly known as "Bernal"

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39275

      #3
      Originally posted by Kaitan
      Very good read, thanks, Jundo.

      I also notice that at the beginning of the first paragraph of point 1 - you missed the word "billions"

      Gasshō

      stlah, Kaitan
      13.8 billion thank yous.

      Gassho, J

      stlah
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • Jenny A
        Member
        • Mar 2024
        • 44

        #4
        Just fascinating. And to me it somehow all makes sense.

        Gassho,
        jenny
        stlah

        Comment

        • Jundo
          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
          • Apr 2006
          • 39275

          #5
          Originally posted by Jenny A
          ... And to me it somehow all makes sense.

          Gassho,
          jenny
          stlah
          Oh, then you are in trouble!

          Gassho, Jundo

          stlah
          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

          Comment

          • Jenny A
            Member
            • Mar 2024
            • 44

            #6




            Gassho,
            jenny
            stlah

            Comment

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