18 March 2007
Cultivate an expansive sense of time. Offer yourself a reprieve from the duty of budgeting time as if it were a scarce commodity. Ascend into an expansive sense of time’s bounty.
– Josh Mitteldorf
17 March 2007
“Our gratest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we
tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail
16 March 2007
“A person who has decided to put others before herself is known as a buddha, which means ‘awake.’ We have awakened to the best thing to do with our lives—use compassion and wisdom to move forward on the path of virtue. Once we are in tune with life in this way, making decisions isn’t so difficult. Our concern becomes how to express what we’re sure of—that we can accomplish our own happiness by choosing activities that will bring about happiness for others.”
Mipham’s advice on How
to Make a Decision is to develop a meditation practice, get in touch
with your own loving spirit, and then you’re over the hump.
15 March 2007
“15% of our genes are like those of bacteria, 25% are like those of single-celled fungi, 50% are like those of fruit flies, and 70% are like those of frogs. How can animals be so different and yet so much the same? The resolution of the paradox is found in the use of the same versatile adaptable components in different combinations and amounts to different ends, to generate the different anatomies and physiologies of the diverse kinds of animals.”
14 March 2007
We are the music-makers,
With wonderful deathless ditties
We, in the ages lying
~ Arthur O’Shaughnessy, born this day in 1844
13 March 2007
It is entirely possible for you to achieve immortality, and to experience absolute joy and freedom forever. The practice of undiscriminating virtue is the means to this end. Practicing kindness and selflessness, you naturally align your life with the Integral Way. Aligning your life with the Integral Way, you begin to eliminate the illusory boundaries between people and societies, between darkness and light, between life and death. Eliminating these illusions, you gain the company of the highest spiritual beings. In their company, you are protected from negative influences and your life energy cannot be dissolved. Thus do you achieve immortality. Remember: it is not that those who cultivate wholeness and virtue in themselves do not encounter difficulties in life. It is that they understand that difficulties are the very road to immortality: by meeting them calmly and openly, however they unfold, and joyfully developing themselves in response to them, they become as natural, as complete, and as eternal as the Tao itself.
12 March 2007
In 1917, Einstein published the first comprehensive theory of gravity since Isaac Newton, and for the first time it was possible to think about the large-scale structure of the Universe. He constructed a model of the Universe based on the idea that stars were randomly distributed in space, so that if you look at the Universe on a large scale, the stars form a uniform sea. The assumption of uniformity in the way matter is distributed through space on the largest scale came to be called the ‘cosmological principle’.
Just a few years later, Edwin Hubble discovered that stars were organized into galaxies, but the Einstein model persisted, with the assumption that galaxies were uniformly distributed in space. Clusters of galaxies were discovered decades later, and the standard assumption shifted again. When I went to grad school in the 1970’s, we assumed that clusters of galaxies were uniformly distributed through all space. Then superclusters were discovered – clusters of clusters – and we held on to the ‘cosmological principle’, claiming that superclusters are uniformly distributed through space.
Cosmology has become more ambitious since then. We seek to understand the clustering physically. Current theories of the Universe purport to explain the way matter started out uniformly distributed except for tiny statistical fluctuations. Gravity caused the tiny fluctuations to grow, even as the Universe was expanding, and matter came to be clustered on larger and larger scales. Stars organized into galaxies. Galaxies organized into clusters. Clusters organized into superclusters.
So this is the standard picture today: The Universe started out with a smooth, uniform density of matter. As the Universe has expanded, gravity has simultaneously caused clumping in ever larger clumps. The scale of the clustering grows faster than the expansion of the Universe, so that larger and larger structures are always appearing. Yet, even today, the largest clusters of clusters of clusters are still much smaller than the whole Universe, so we can paint the Universe with a very broad brush and see only uniformity.
This standard picture is facing a crisis. The physics of clustering can explain structures up to about 50 million light years in size. But in the latest galaxy maps, the largest structures that appear are ten times this large. And the maps themselves cover regions of the Universe not so much larger than the largest cluster, so that it’s a debatable point: Are there larger clusters yet? If there are, then the whole of the visible Universe may be one big clump.
The largest scale we can see is a few billion light years, because light has only had time to show us this much since the beginning of time 14 billion years ago. But if our Universe is clumpy on this largest scale, then Einstein’s elegant mathematics can’t be applied. The theory of gravity (General Relativity) still works, but without the assumption of large-scale symmetry, the equations will be too complex to solve.
The Big Bang is an elegant theory about how all the complexity we see arose from simple beginnings. Observations of super-duper clusters may be a hint that the elegant theory doesn’t work. The need for dark matter and dark energy within the Big Bang may be a further clue that something is wrong in the basic assumptions. The cosmological principle may have to go.