Ultimate Theory of Everything

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zoofence
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Ultimate Theory of Everything

Postby zoofence » February 2nd, 2006, 7:03 pm

The October 2005 issue of Discover magazine is packed full of interesting stuff (which explains why I'm still reading the October issue! Considering that it is already February, I guess I'm doomed to spend 2006 three months behind the clock, which, according to Brother Theophyle's anti-aging scheme, will make me at the end of the year three months younger -- or is it, older? -- than everyone else).

Anyway, the famed physicist Stephen Hawkins is quoted: There are other, purely hypothetical, reasons to believe that an ultimate theory of everything might not be possible. For instance, there is Godel's theorem, which says that you cannot formulate a finite system of axioms to prove every result in mathematics. A physical theory is a mathematical model, so if there are mathematical results that cannot be proved, there are physical problems that cannot be solved. But the real relevance of Godel's theorem is its connection to the fact that inconsistencies can arise if you try to prove statements that refer to themselves. One of the most famous of these is the assertion "This statement is false". If the statement is true, then according to the statement itself, the statement is false. But if the statement is false, then the statement must be true. Since we are not angels who view the universe from the outside, we -- and our theories-- are both part of the universe we are describing, and hence our theories are also self-referencing. And so one might expect that they, too, are either inconsistent or incomplete. (Italics mine)

Somewhere on The Zoo Fence, as regards a definition or explanation of God and the nature of the Universe and of ourselves, we say something like: If it'll fit into your mind, it's too small!

The separative, egoic mind, being a finite tool, is designed to function in a finite universe, which it does reasonably well. But it can't reach beyond its own limitations. Much less can it describe or explain beyond its own limitations.

So, inevitably, as Hawkins suggests, any "ultimate theory of everything" that the mind can develop, grasp, understand, even articulate, must fail. At TZF, we say, There is no God but God, and God is all there is (or, far more dangerously, there is no I but I, and I am all there is); but even that can't be more than words to the mind, and as regards the parenthetical version, particularly dangerous words at that!

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Neo
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Postby Neo » February 3rd, 2006, 7:36 pm

Zen buddhism says 'nonexistence itself is supreme existence.' Try fitting that into the mind.

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Ultimate Theory of Everything

Postby windabove » February 4th, 2006, 11:43 pm

"All knowledge is ignorance."

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Postby anvil » February 11th, 2006, 6:19 am

thank you but as a side note i think the point of walking the path is that the mind does not work "reasonably" well.

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Postby mjoel53 » February 12th, 2006, 12:59 pm

The Truth is clear. Very clear. So clear, that it can't be seen.
--Michael

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Postby zoofence » February 13th, 2006, 4:12 pm

Last evening, we watched The Human Stain, the movie version of Philip Roth's novel, with Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman in the leading roles. It's a powerful, well-told, if not very happy, story about a 71-year old college classics professor whose life comes apart in the context of an inadvertent, misunderstood racial slur, a heated affair with a 34-year old janitor (well portrayed by Nicole Kidman) who has lived a tough life, and a deep personal secret that has shaped and threatened his life from childhood. In a word, it's not exactly a "fun night at the movies".

Anyway, one of the characters in the movie refers to "parapateo" (spelling?) as "in Greek tragedy, the moment in which the hero learns that everything he knows is wrong".

I have never encountered that word before, and for all I know, Roth made it up. But how well it describes the spiritual path!

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Postby Speculum » February 14th, 2006, 1:27 pm

Anvil's post above raises two questions.

First, about whether the mind works "reasonably well". If by "reasonably" is meant "in accordance with reason", then history suggests that Anvil is right; the mind rarely works so. However, I think my use of it was intended to mean something like "more or less sufficiently well given its inherent limitations and the limitations of its finite environment". But I concede even that is debatable.

The other question Anvil raises concerns "the point of walking the path".

Speaking for myself, I do not recall any moment in which I decided to become a seeker; that is, any moment in which I said to myself "I am going to become a seeker". For me, entering upon the spiritual path had no discernible moment in which yesterday I was not, and today I was. At least, if there was such a moment, I was not aware of it.

Rather, as I recall, I became aware of the process after it was already in train.

In those early days, and for a long time thereafter, the "point" of the spiritual path was to achieve Enlightenment or Self-Realization, which for me meant a lot of things, all of which were, in one way or another, glamorous, exceedingly glamorous. That is, even though I probably would have denied it at the time, my sense, intention, and hope were that enlightenment was going to make me (the separative egoic personality Stefan) bigger and better in ways too wonderful to imagine (although imagine them I did).

And, let's face it, that promise of personal glory undoubtedly strengthened my commitment. After all, if the egoic I/me didn't think there was a reward at the end of the road, why would I continue the effort of walking it?

Over time, and perhaps by virtue of my increasingly enthusiastic and sincere surrender to "what is" (I say perhaps because I'm not sure there was any identifiable, "reason-able" cause), it became ever more apparent that personal, private, separative ego gain is precisely what the spiritual process is not about.

Here, the "point" evolved from aggrandizing Stefan to accepting that it is enough to be Stefan. And from there to a growing awareness that there is no such thing as Stefan.

Another movie we've seen recently, Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, quotes Leo Tolstoy: "The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless".

Stirring Tolstoy into Hawkins (see my first post -- submitted as "zoofence" -- at the top of this thread) I get: The meaningfulness of life is beyond the capacity of the mind of man to perceive or to grasp.

But not to love.

Ultimately, I suppose, that's true as regards the "point" of the spiritual path as well.

Or is it that, in the end, there is no point to the spiritual path? Perhaps that's the proof of it.

Just so, the Buddha says, "I obtained not the least thing from complete, unexcelled awakening, and that is why it is complete, unexcelled awakening".

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Postby mjoel53 » February 14th, 2006, 2:18 pm

Interesting ... I do recall a moment in my life when "I decided" to become a seeker, or rather, at that time, decided the only thing that mattered was to know the truth, to wake up, for "me" to be enlightened.

That seems to have come to pass. However, there is no me to have it, or be it. Yet it is. Additionally, I now steadfastly maintain I had nothing to do with it ... that I have absolutely no control over my life whatsoever. No control, no sayso, over anything about anything. I can't decide my next thought.

Perhaps "it" has not come to pass. Perhaps I just finally realized it was all for naught, could not ever happen, is impossible. And I gave up.

Really gave up. And then it happened. Whatever "it" is.

And that moment I do not remember. Because it happens all the time. One can't remember what one can't forget.

Anyhow, I can affirm what you said the Buddha said. My life has not changed one iota. I still have all my same problems. I have not turned into an all knowing saint. I'm still an idiot and I'm still a really nice guy. My body gets sick sometimes and sometimes my emotions are off the charts.

Gangaji used to (and probably still does) talk about how she taught nothing, had nothing to give us, and we had nothing to get out of her speaking with us. At another time she also talked about how the most significant aspect of her realization was the fact that her experience of living was now more ordinary.

At any rate ... one of the things I like to say is "everything is going according to plan, and there is no plan."

There may be a path to walk, but there's no one to walk it.
--Michael

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Postby T » February 15th, 2006, 11:15 pm

I also do not remember becoming a seeker. Perhaps I was born one?

In staying with the theme of this thread though, somehow, I believe that if there is indeed an "Ultimate Theory of Everything" were it to be known to us, we either wouldn't believe it or our lives would not be enhanced by knowing it. A rather fatalistic thought, I know...it seems I'm happiest and most blissful when I'm distracted by some pleasurable sensory activity and/or during meditation.

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Postby Speculum » February 27th, 2006, 8:40 pm

I suppose that, from a seeker's point of view, and possibly from a physicist’s as well (which is not intended to suggest that the two are mutually exclusive), the real problem with discovering "an ultimate theory of everything" is that if day-to-day reality is in fact not something separate and distinct from us, but instead a reflection or projection or whatever ("The outer is the inner perceived outerly" or "My life is my self"), then each of us ourselves is the ultimate theory of everything, and the instant we discover what that means, or rather the instant that Truth is realized or revealed (Self-Realization), we as us or I as me ceases to exist (to be perceived as existing) as a separate and distinct reality and therefore ditto whatever outer reality about which I/me might have been trying to find an ultimate theory.

In other words, the world I seem to me to live in is informed or shaped by the person I seem to me to be, which consists of a basket of memories and expectations that I label as"me" and "mine" and which I project into the apparent past and apparent future. As long as these are the terms of "my life", then that's where I'll live.

The only way out is out.

Physicists now know that our observation of a thing changes it. That is, it is impossible for us to observe something as it is apart from us because our observing it puts us into relationship with it, however apparently indirectly, and alters it accordingly. The same is true of everything so long as we perceive ourselves to be living in a universe composed of separate and distinct things ("I am me, and you aren't").

All the Teachers insist on "Know Thyself" or "Who am I?" or the like ("Before [your name here] was born, who am I?"). Clearly, if we seek to know the nature of reality we have to know the nature of "I". Doing so answers all questions. And failing to do so will always and inevitably leave questions unanswered and unanswerable.


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