America, Buddhism, Logic and Einstein’s Equivalence Principle…

img_0953You know the American dream, the whole world does: two-story house and a two-car garage, two kids in the breakfast nook and the neighbor’s kids coming over later, God’s little acre in a sanctified suburb, full ownership and bulging bank accounts, stay-at-home mom and a rising-star dad, with a bachelor’s degree in business and a lotta’ backyard gossip, Saturday at the zoo and Sunday barbecue, PTA meetings and postman’s daily greetings, fried chicken and crispy French fries, milk shakes and apple pies…

Also known as the Australian dream or Kiwi if you prefer, but only a quarter-acre there and the fries just might be pies, so be careful what you eat, otherwise just the same, with a down-under accent, big goofy grins on the chinny-chin-chins, a weekend in the outback, a maid in the kitchen, a promise of deliverance, and the assurance of no limits: neither sky nor sand nor seacoast nor sex, all-you-can-eat in a never-ending buffet of consumer goods, entertainment, sensations, but mostly money…

Well, we had a good run, at least, carrying out a premise to its logical conclusion…

But we’ve only scratched the surface, really, because discoveries of science are deep and profound and virtually incomprehensible to the average bloke from the average family from the average small town in small town Amerika. After all: is the fact that energy is equivalent to mass multiplied by the speed of light squared going to change anyone’s social status between today and tomorrow? Or put more simply: how does that affect the price of rice in China?

And then there’s Brownian motion, the quantum theory of light, and the special theory of relativity, just one year’s work in the life of Albert the Great, but I was always intrigued more by a lesser-known theory embedded in the latter called the ‘equivalence principle’, Einstein’s largely unheralded axiom that the laws of physics must apply equally to all regions of space, which seems so obvious, that it almost escapes our attention…

But it just may be wrong, despite the fact that it is self-evident if local knowledge is to be universally useful, which is the point, I believe, that all knowledge just might not be useful, as space may have ebbs and flows, and nooks and crannies, so not equal. So we could be inside a slower-than normal anomaly that just makes it look like the universe is expanding exponentially… 

But maybe our slow cool world is the anomaly,

…our slower-than-light-speed blue-green swamp that defies gravity while falling short of light, maybe a universe that looks like Swiss cheese or lumpy gravy or something else to account for the so-called ‘dark matter’ while leaving us to our cloudy skies and our unnatural tides and rainbows and chart-flows and all the other things that we just take for granted as ‘normal’… 

…but which might be freaks of nature to the uninitiated, and the upshot of all this speculation is that we may never know with any certainty just exactly how the universe works, which is obviously limited by our own capabilities to even perceive and conceive it, much less reduce it to language for mass consumption…

Which is fine, as science should not be expected to provide certainties, as that is the job of religion and philosophy, and as such should be limited to the things that religion and philosophy are indeed suited for, such as ethics and morality, aesthetics and legalities, and the means to live your life in such a way that it is mutually beneficial to yourself and others, so as to somehow provide the greatest good for the greatest number…

…as we somehow wend our way through obstacle courses on our way to destinations, toward some vanishing point where the decrease of sadness equals the increase of happiness enough to call it such, without getting into any ego or emotional entanglements with such concepts as bliss or salvation or God forbid love…

To avoid sadness is the greatest happiness

…because, after all, what is happiness, anyway? About the best anyone can say is: “it feels good,” but such definitions are broad and vague, and many things that supposedly ‘feel good’ are best avoided in the long term. Sadness, though, seems more easily definable, and anything, and everything, that can be called ‘sadness’ is best avoided, unlike ‘happiness’…

I consider the peddlers of bliss to be false prophets. This life is not about getting bliss, rapture or even transcendence. It is about avoiding hate, anger and sadness. This is Buddha’s message IMHO. Enlightenment is not about bliss, and not even about happiness. Enlightenment is about taking all the slights and insults and internalizing them into nothing, emptiness if you will, so that everyone benefits, and all are better off, in the long run if not the short…

…so if that makes Buddhism ‘pessimistic’, then so what? If optimism gets you global warming, then we obviously need more pessimism, though I don’t cop to any of that, preferring distinct neutrality, i.e. none of the above, the obvious answer to reductios ad absurdum, Buddhist catuhskoti, impaled on the horns of a tetralemma…