Buddhism and the Laws of Conservation of Energy and Matter…

Live simply to simply live. Everything else is excess. But this is the hardest thing for most people to do, because we tend to see our lives as games of addition and subtraction, zero sum, such that our gains come at the expense of others, and there must be someone keeping score somewhere for there to be any playing field to begin with.

This is a logical fallacy, of course, and the actions of multiplication and division are no better, they the flip sides of each other, just like addition and subtraction, in which to multiply 3 x 4, for instance, is to automatically divide the lot into twelve equal parts, regardless of what the original quantity consisted of, and regardless of any intent, real or supposed.

But our lives on this planet, in this universe, for all practical purposes must be presumed to be zero sum operations, regardless of the amendments to the law of conservation of mass and energy which are at the heart of classical mechanics and physics. We simply have no other basis on which to proceed. The fallacy lies in the postulation of an all-powerful creator at the center of his creation, manipulating his puppets with heartstrings, no matter that such details are not in evidence.

But the zero sum holds, unless and until we find something more or better. So we have to assume that all actions are followed by equal and opposite reactions, more classical physics. Thus we are wise not to rush to judgments and short-sighted utilizations of scarce matter and energy, regardless of the fact that, if the system is indeed a closed one, that matter and/or energy is still there, albeit perhaps changed now into a form that makes it much hard to retrieve and re-purpose for other uses.

For instance: do we really want to burn a piece of wood, resting assured that the molecules still exist somehow somewhere, when the act of burning deprives us of a house and home in the process? Probably not. Thus the forms that matter and energy take are of supreme importance to our old-fashioned lives on this old-fashioned planet, regardless of the quantum effects which may or may not accrue, given the time and resources necessary to process that new information.

For now we are limited to the systems which define us, five or six senses, a language or our choice, and a system of rational thought that results from these origins. Whatever we use, and effectively change forever, may not be retrievable for future use. Thus it is better to use resources sparingly, lest they be lost to us effectively forever.

The Christian-Capitalist-Democratic myths of eternal life, resources, and freedoms are simply not backed by empirical observation. Yes, the game is zero-sum, as far as we currently know, in terms of matter and energy, but not ideas. Ideas are empty, and so without limit. Still there are no winners, and there are no losers. This is not a game. We are playing for keeps here.