Sunday, April 07, 2024

The bee moves on (Manzoku-an 2)

Somewhere out back

the seven-year-old cherry

takes up its found duty

teaching evanescence


I sometimes don't make it out to the hut for two or three days at a time, especially in rain or snow. I've reached the age of more or less permanently camping in the easy chair, medications at hand, scarf wrapping neck, wall-gazing like Bodhidharma but with perhaps less intent, my sitting interlaced with napping, like Daughter's very old dog who lives with us still.

Son or Beloved bring me teas and nibblets. This perks me up, and seems to do them some good as well.

The thought experiments I've been sporadically attending to have to do with: Occam's Razor and entropy.

Occam's idea, not completely original to him but close enough, is that there is no call to multiply entities needlessly. That is, if you fell off the cliff due to your own carelessness, you need not also attribute the fall to interference in your short life by a demon. 

Applying Occam will tend to lead one toward a monistic materialism devoid of teleology, which many physical scientists hold either explicitly or implicitly, for reasons. "Literary criticism is a branch of biology" -- I. A. Richards.

Core Buddhism as it has come down to us does not have a lot of new ideas: 

  1. there is suffering,
  2. some suffering is self-inflicted,
  3. stop that,
  4. here's how.

It stands up well under Occam. 

Buddhism has acquired a lot of cultural accretions, some of which go back to the first generation or soon after. Many -- if not most -- of them may not stand up well under Occam.

Entropy can be thought of in lay terms as "everything runs down." 

To assemble what we may call a state or object, we must find and supply additional energy to the amount originally embodied in it to maintain it as such; otherwise it becomes other stuff

A car becomes not a car if it is set up on blocks and its wheels taken away. Leave it there long enough and it becomes an unwieldy and rather forlorn flowerpot.

Combine the razor and entropy when looking at the Four Truths and we get a pretty easily tested life engine that strikes me as having some ontological staying power.

Buddha's charioteer brought him to see the Four Sights, the first three of which were signs of entropy: old age, illness and death. The fourth was asceticism, a somewhat extreme response to the first three, which appealed to the young man and led to his years of practicing some rather severe yogas, as if punishing himself for being subject to entropy. 

After a rather simple meal offered to him, that is, some energy input to maintain his state as a living being, he decided against punishment and proclaimed a Middle Way: live without either seeking too great a buffer against entropy or too little. Entropy just is.

The bee checks out the cherry blossoms for at most a few days. The petals fall. The bee moves on. 


The best way is not difficult
It only excludes picking and choosing.
-- Xinxin Ming
tr. Pajin


No comments:

Post a Comment

Stony Run Farm: Life on One Acre