The nature of reality

How we perceive the world around us, space and time, cause and effect, these concepts have little meaning at the subatomic level. What we think of as the atom has no basis in ‘reality’.

What is the nature of being? It is a question that has been posed ever since Man learnt how to think. Or at least we can trace back to 2,500 years ago.

Ancient Greeks did not separate out or distinguish physics, philosophy or religion. It would have been seen as an artificial distinction. Theirs was a search for the essential nature of the world around them.

No different to a mystical search for the essential being.

The universe was seen as being permeated by an energy force. This force was then separated out, given a name and separate identity and intelligence, it stood outside of and apart from the Universe, it now directed the universe. The force was given a name. It was called God.

We had separation of mind and body, spiritual development was separated from material development. The external world, even our own bodies, were simply dead mechanical devices, everything could be explained if we had sufficient detailed knowledge and sufficient computing power.

This is fine as a simple model, for performing our calculations. This is the Cartesian-Newtonian view of the world. It should not though be confused with reality.

The world is not a billiard game!

Further fragmentation took place. The economic sphere is separated from the physical world.

The world is on the point of catastrophic collapse. But it is the economic world that dominates, even though it is completely divorced from reality.

Even within this world we have fragmentation. At the recent Copenhagen Climate talks (COP15) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised extra aid to the Third World to pay for climate change. That money is to be taken from the existing aid budget, ie the poorest of the poor are to pay for the cost of dealing with climate change, as if they are not paying already.

Zen and other Eastern religions are concerned with the nature of existence. They have though a radically different approach, their approach is holistic.

Not all western thought is non-holistic. A network approach is holistic. The consideration of Gaia is holistic.

When we delve into the subatomic level, we find the Cartesian-Newtonian world-view loses all meaning. We cannot acquire detailed information, the more we try, the more fuzzy is the information that we acquire. The subatomic level is not only an essential part of the cosmos, it is in turn influenced by the cosmos.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

To seek enlightenment is to transcend the physical world, to engage with the life force of the cosmos, that energy with which everything vibrates including ourselves, to cross the transition zone, to learn how to communicate with the Soul of the World.

We have two types of knowledge, rational and intuitive. In the West we tend to undervalue the latter.

The structure of the carbon ring came in a dream, a serpent chasing its own tale.

If we cannot rationalise or analyse what the rational mind produces we tend to dismiss it, but that does not make it any less real.

Many of us possess a level of awareness which hard won experience has taught us to heed.

We have difficulty expressing abstract knowledge, and so we do it through poetry, through koans, through art, through music.

Western civilisation in its arrogance believes it has made great advances in the acquisition of rational knowledge, but can the human race be said to be any wiser that it was 2,500 years ago?

For my lovely friend Sian who inspired these thoughts.

Also see

The Tao of Physics

How to Know God

God is

Christian Theology and Gaia

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5 Responses to “The nature of reality”

  1. urbanmonkdiaries Says:

    Very well written. The limitation of knowledge is that it is relative. It depends on a perceiving subject, the perceived object/aspect (whether material/immaterial) and the process of knowing.

    It is this dependency(however artificially created by us), that needs to be broken. The break may occur in a moment of satori or dissolving in oneness.

    So, IMHO, it is a moment of dissolution that provides the breakthrough, not the process of thought, however sophisticated, it may be.

    Nature does not require us to have the IQ of an Einstein. It requires us to have the heart of a child, though. (On second thoughts, both appear difficult:-)

  2. neteonwordpress Says:

    Go to the root of the logic and you will find that after all logic is based “apriori knowledge”. How do you know if a thing is what it is? Why a thing is what it is? Is a thing or being its quantity or quality or both or any thing? Aristotle answered many of these fundamental questions but also puts rider that common man considered questioning logic to be stupid. Does it mean should we not question logic and empiricism as a method at arriving facts? In logic, there are lot of deductions which you go up, find that is based on some fundamental “premise” or assumption or Axiom like orange juice is orange juice. Rest all facts follow it.

    Please read blog posthere:
    science and apriori knowledge here

  3. keithpp Says:

    Confusion has arisen. The problem is not ones of lack of knowledge. It is more fundamental. There are things that are unknowable.

    At our human level, we have events that appear random, to the extent that they are not predictable, and yet they are described by very simple equations. Very small changes in the initial conditions make large changes in outcome. This is chaos theory.

    A butterfly flips its wings in the Amazon and a storm takes place across the Atlantic.

    At the subatomic level, what takes place is unknowable. Two states may exist simultaneously, but are only resolved at the time we observe them.

    We can measure position and velocity. The more accurately we measure the velocity of a subatomic particle, the more fuzzy becomes its position. The greater accuracy with which we can measure the position, the less defined becomes the velocity.

    Two states may exist, but only one is possible, and that state is not fixed until we make an observation.

    Newton’s Laws of Motion were accepted as a set-in-stone description of reality. We now know them to be a mere approximation from which we diverge as we approach the speed of light.

    It was once thought if we had sufficient knowledge, everything would be known, but this is not true.

    Where once we had the certainty of Rene Descartes or Isaac Newton, enter the inner world of the atom, the world of quantum mechanics, and you learn nothing is certain. Not only that, everything that happens in this inner world is governed by what happens in the universe, including the behaviour of the observer.

    We should be careful not to confuse knowledge with truth. We can only ever have relative truth as we do not posses infinite knowledge.

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