a direct teaching Nov 1, 2018
"Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness."
"Are you kidding?" asked Govinda.
— Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
These days, the truths and meanings of life are readily available to any who seek. Meaning is dependent on interpretation, which requires perspective. When searching, trust only yourself. Question yourself. Prove to yourself that you know what you believe is true. And listen to the doubters, but do not let them in to your house.
There are two kinds of truth you can feel. There is finding truth in something, when you feel the resonation from the story to your soul. Not all who hear the story will feel this truth; you must bring it to the story like a key. And then there is the encoded experience, where you receive, through the story, the truth which you did not have before. And this is harder to create, and it takes longer to receive. Because the first type of truth need only signal its presence, whereas the second must instill in the listener what it is to walk along that path. It is our empathy which allows this to happen. It is a skill you build by experiencing things yourself. To be open enough to allow your dreams to be real, for a moment, and to come out of the dream with a shard of light. This is true communication. But you have to be ready, or you will only awake confused.
We are in the universe. It is a great dance of stars and planets. We are still figuring out all the rules, but we have the gist of a lot of it. Different materials have different properties, and so can be used for different things. The earth is our home, covered in water, rocks, plants, animals. We live in a very thin ocean of air that is settled over our marble like mist.
We have come from evolution: a vast process, beyond our conception of time and space, which does not exist unto itself, but is simply a consequence of the rules of our world. At first mechanical, it quickly became an informational struggle, but continued to be driven by the need for energy, to sustain oneself, and the tension between working together and competing. Cellular life forming colonies, forming organisms, gaining the ability to accomplish more than any individual could on its own, opening entire fields of existence which made no sense to the lower levels; but if others don't get the energy, there is more for you. It continues. It will always continue.
We are associative. We operate on the adjacency of ideas. All ordered thought is a chain of adjacency walked in a certain direction. We have built machines which think very differently than we. They are rigid and simple. They are restricted because we do not understand ourselves well enough.
We are reductive. Labels are useful but they are not reality. Words are the most powerful tool we have ever created. They allow us to transmit thoughts from mind to mind. And coupled with our cognition, this created the network of the human race. We have created many tools to transmit our words, so that now we are more connected than ever. This path continues.
We are dreamers. We perceive a shadow of the true world, through our own perspectives, and we fill in the gaps with our imaginations. We dream up alternate scenarios that never occur, and possibly could never occur. Our past shows us that our ideas of what is real are not always accurate. We must strive to re-evaluate reality, to seek truth. This is difficult because of the entropic nature of time. Only traces of evidence remain. Digital recording is contributing something, but always remember that these are still only perspectives. There is no way to observe objectively. There is always missing context. We must do the best we can.
We are transformations. We are controlled chemical reactions which persist through time and varied environments. We are interpretations of genetic code, manifested via proteins and self-assembling nanomachines. We are robots and computers, consuming other life to fuel our ability to move and think. We are processors of concept, turning sensory data into abstracted ideas, which we manipulate and connect, and on which we base our actions. We move objects and ideas from place to place. Imagine the paths you trace every day, the things you touch changing color. Imagine the shape of your entire life, a still sculpture, like an ant colony cast in bronze.
There are so many unexplored corners. And over the well-trodden, do not be afraid to go yourself. It is worth seeing some things with your own eyes. But also, behind every fine sofa is a corner. There are mysteries.
a direct teaching
- All you have to do is listen, and be ready.
- Robots don't write poetry. Anymore.
- a distant reflection
- a watch is a view of time
- an essay for humans
- joy to the world
- words are in the way
next: Physical Insights from Conway's Game of Life
previous: mirror on the mountain
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