A Gentle But Stubborn Heresy

The Electron can hardly decide
To display an appearance or hide
The spark of synapses
Wave function collapses
The seer and seen coincide

If you wave to me I will take it as a sine

Aside from Einstein’s mind-bending notion of time as a dimension, Relativity also means that the data point D on the sine wave above is a part of the sine wave only in relation to all the other parts. Without that relationship it is a meaningless piece of data: an amplitude at a point in time. The waveform is like our breathing in and out, charting out the states between lung-full and lung-empty. But there is no point in time or thing you can isolate as a breath. It is a process, not a thing.

This is different from a object like a glass marble for instance which exists as a persistent thing, not an unfolding process like a sine wave. Right?

But matter itself breaks down into process just beneath the surface. This is not spooky New Age weirdo stuff, it’s just science. As the limerick above explains, electrons do not exists as things. If they can be said to exist at all, they exist as an interaction with something else and remain impossible to pin down until then. Energetic Tendency is a name we could give matter at the sub-particle level. We know the electron by its effect and call it a thing but this is a convenience, a convention. The thing we call thing is an appearance left behind by an activity that never happens in isolation but always in relation to the conditioned unfolding of reality as it appears to the mind.

Now the marble’s existence as a persistent thing is drawn into doubt. It appears as thing but dissolves under analysis into a process. Appearance can be deceiving. Where have we heard that before?

The nature of living beings can perhaps be better understood as process as well. The basic teaching in Buddhism is that you don’t exist as a solid permanent self, clearly defined and separate from everything else, but as an unfolding relative self, deeply interdependent with everything and everybody else. We feel like we are all individual Data Point Ds as we dismiss the significance of the wave that gives us meaning. The Sanskrit word samskara means conditioned thing and all such things are impermanent including your own self with its mental and physical manifest of appearances.

So the point of the Buddhist observation about the relative nature of being is that unawareness of this state of affairs is the root cause of suffering. When we think of ourselves as self possessed players in a winnable game then our mistaken view of the world and our attitude toward the other is going to produce unwanted results. The obviousness of this truth varies by individual. There are very fortunate people who do not encounter much in the way of problems in life and might think it strange to characterize it as suffering. It is easy to ignore the background radiation of the knowledge that you must one day die, which begs the question what really is the point of all this. Most of us shrug off the problems that we have to deal with and continue with our life’s project of grasping at what seems pleasurable and avoiding the other crap. The first order of business for a Buddhist is to observe yourself and your modes of operation and see for yourself whether or not that teaching is true.

Reality is a wave. Relax into it. Surf it.

There are no bird tracks in the sky
This thought now is also gone
Relax into the trace-less space

There are no discrete units in a waveform
Lingering between the past and the possible
There are no things
There are only processes
Among the relations of collapsing probabilities
Relax into the ineffable reality

A gentle but stubborn heresy
To pry loose the orthodoxies
From the clarity of vision
Wisdom does not worship at the alter of truth
Wisdom is seeing clearly, truly

4 thoughts on “A Gentle But Stubborn Heresy

    1. I mean what we experience due to consciousness. I’m being kind of loose and provocative in calling “it” a wave. In Buddhist terms talking about reality always leads to the question, “who is asking?” which is not academic but intending to lead to a direct experiential non-conceptual result. These are the kind of things I find myself thinking about these days. Did you have something else in mind?


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