Appendix B: Miscellaneous Philosophies

Aesthetic Recreations

The Arts provide a general means for stimulating heightened states of awareness that are available to all in society, so I wish to encourage them, though I am well aware that my aesthetic appreciation of the Arts is fledgling. Nevertheless I still wish to voice my support for their role in society and I have a few ideas too!

- A Musical Note

Have you ever considered how structured are the standard musical forms? Today's Western musical scale was established at around the turn of the 18th Century - a system of equal temperament ensures that in terms of frequency each successive tone is some fixed multiple of the previous one. Music is constituted from a certain selection of tones with certain durations. It is an indication of how the principle of fixed measures (including the much-cherished clock time) is so deeply rooted in Western culture that this highly linear musical scale has hardly been challenged until this century. Anything audibly askew is denounced as 'out of tune', but 'out of tune' with what?!

Music is a language of and for the emotions; it should not be subject to the same restrictions as English, say. Is it really necessary to stick to convention? Surely not. I believe there should be experiments with non-linear scales, so one 'C' should not necessarily be double the frequency of a previous 'C'.

In practice it would be tricky for traditional orchestras to cope with numerous different scales, but modern technology could provide a solution. Each musical instrument may have its characteristic sound waves sampled by a computer. A composer can then write instructions for the computer to use the sample wave forms in the generation of any kind of music for the instrument, in accordance with any musical scale. The finished music may subsequently be stored on digital format to be later replayed - after digital-to-analogue conversion - through an amplifier and loudspeakers.

Such technology can in this way enable us to abandon our linear musical conditioning (Doh to Doh; semibreve to hemidemisemiquaver) and to just listen to the tonalities of instruments - individually and then together. It will be perhaps an initially discordant experience, but with effort may be most refreshing.

Incidentally, I find myself much more receptive to music both after meditation and at night just before retiring to bed.

- Art

I admire those who express their spirituality through art; I think it wonderful that people can earn a living from this gift. My knowledge of art, although growing slowly, is limited. Further, in many instances I find I receive only modest communication from a picture. I wonder whether much of the art is in the painting (or drawing etc.) process itself - to view just the finished product is somehow lacking.

My enthusiasm multiplies if I can listen to artists describing, almost mentally redrawing, their work. No longer am I dangling in mid-air since communication is now much clearer. Thus I've been delighted to hear a Wigan painter, Theodore Major, describe how he paints people in all his local industrial scenes - the factories and their chimneys. He said his painting was spiritual and I certainly agree.

Art has great potential for refining the emotions, but it can work both ways: care is needed not to become obsessed by certain dark aspects. Having been to a recent Royal Scottish Academy exhibition of students' work [1991], I fear that if this is representative of current sentiments, then many young artists have been adversely affected by the bleak aspects of contemporary society. The student creations I saw were based on negative reactions - predominantly dark in colour and mood, cynical, aggressive and full of despair.

It is hard to find visions of light in our troubled world, but they do exist (prompted especially by the approaching third Millenium AD) and artists should find and express them so that others may be inspired.

Echoes of Mind

I wonder whether it is the case that the cruder the mental bodily form of mind, the more fragile it is and, in general, the shorter its duration. Our mind's eye may detect not only external physical odours, but also the subtler auras from more refined mental forms. These have their own substances - perhaps psychic energy patterns - which form and pass away more slowly. As an example, this is, perhaps, what we encounter in shrines - although the human form decomposed hundreds of years ago, there still remains a charged spiritual atmosphere.

Quantum Theory revisited

Western science has a strong empirical component, i.e. it relies to a large extent on experimental evidence. Science aims to model the universe as it behaves and to predict how it will behave. Physics, in particular, seeks to predict.

It is generally the case that up until the end of the 19th Century, scientists were confident that they could explain everything in terms that were certain. They enshrined their hopes in equations - in the 18th Century, in the field of motion, it was thought that Newton's Laws of motion explained perfectly how physical objects travel.

However, by the end of the 19th Century [?], it was being realised that not everything could be explained with such certainty - experimental data was insuffucient to be able to predict how things should happen. This was the case for chaos theory. To get round this, *probabilities* were used to give a degree of certainty as to the expected outcomes.

It has been the way of Western Science, that wherever there is uncertainty, this uncertainty should be modelled in terms of certainty ("what we [think] we do know"). Probabilities are defined in terms of certainty - of occurrences of actual observations of events.

This basis, hinged on certainty, for modelling phenomena is what I call 'classical'. Classical models are deterministic - ultimately they treat of all physical matter as behaving (at least in theory) in a completely predictable manner, or, failing that, in a manner which is as predictable as the bounds you choose.

Then, early this century, physicists struck a problem when they started to make observations at the sub-atomic level. This gave rise to Quantum theory. Western science, pressing ahead with establishing empirical data in search of an equation of equations, found that when observing certain particles, they could not observe at the same time both its velocity and location. So a theory has been developed which is probabilistic - it offers only likelihoods of [condensations of] sub-atomic particles being in certain states at certain times.

Yet no-one has ever managed to actually observe this. So the use of probabilities is inappropriate. There are other types of uncertainty which are more suitable, notably fuzzy values. But then the scientists would have to confess they can't know the workings of the universe - and that, by the way, their deterministic methods fail automatically!

By considering the various devices to obscure this lack of knowingness, light may be cast on the workings of mind. Delving into the New Scientist article of 10/10/92, I observe ...

For a given quantum mechanical model, the outcomes depend upon observation (or lack of it) of degrees of freedom which completely define the model. The more the unobserved degrees of freedom, the more classically the model behaves (the process of decoherence).

Clumsy scientific instrumentation (classical/linear and relativistic in nature) can observe only a few of these, so for 'large' models there is only observed a classical outcome. Nevertheless, at least the theory allows for the possibility of what used to be regarded as unfathomable miracles - 'mind over matter' - such as passing one 'solid' object through another.

Meditation, however, may cultivate non-classical/non- linear/non-relativistic integrated awareness, through the increasing realisation of unconditioned mind (hence externalisation from the conditioned mind) thereby releasing an ability to observe mindfully many degrees of freedom (ultimately the quantum universe) and to actually perform the miraculous feats!

If there is inappropriate mindfulness in meditation, then there is what I've heard called 'piggy Samadhi' (concentration on one aspect at the expense of all others). This relativistic view achieves nothing and is analogous to setting up classical instruments to observe only one part of a quantum mechanical experiment. The outcome is consequently mundane and predictable.

The consideration of Convergence

In which direction is society converging? What are the possible outcomes? Any utility values need to bear in mind these questions, but most of us can only see uncertainty.

My description in the latter sections of this book is based upon the assumption that the precarious, selfish, acquisitive and materialistic nature of society will continue to be at least very influential medium-term. Further, I've considered it likely that society will continue to increase in complexity. The emphasis in particularly Perspectives I was thus on defining structure and thence healing systematically identified blockages rather than engaging in transcendental processes and meeting obstacles on a more general front.

However, I'm not sure that this state of affairs can be sustained for very long. All structure is liable to instant liquidation! For humanity to survive, a very deep renewal and inner transformation is urgently required - 'idealism' may have to become realism!

Miscellaneous Questions

(to be considered over some Hot Chocolate)

  1. Did Jesus ever laugh? If so, what kind of laughter?
  2. Are our minds multi-taskers or parallel processors?
  3. Why does the recitation of a mantra work? [Suggestion: Consider the refinement of conditioning.]
  4. It is the aim of a Bodhisattva to liberate every being. Suppose that this aim was achieved some finite time in the future. But our spirituality is eternal, and compared with infinity, this time becomes nothing! Will this happen? If so, what then?!
  5. It is known that people who meditate require less than the average amount of sleep. Why is this so? [Consider: Current theory indicates that one of the main purposes of sleep is to sort out unfiltered images.] So do Enlightened people dream?
  6. Is gravity a product of reactive mind?


- Paul Trafford 1996,97 Paul's home page