Archive for April, 2009

diaphanous spirit

Here is a lovely piece from Daily Om

Journey of the Senses: Incense Meditation

When we focus on incense sticks during meditation, we move into a mystical space that is both physical and spiritual at once. Like us, the incense stick is earthbound with an ember that burns for only a finite time, but the diaphanous spirit it releases is unbound by time or space. Rather than shutting down our senses to focus on an inner realm, incense involves our senses as we follow whirling smoke upward and outward while we take its scent into us, filling us as we breathe.

The journey starts with a flame, and then a glowing ember releases smoke to rise above us in an ethereal dance. Ashes fall below, purified by the fire. We can use this to imagine negative thoughts being changed from darkness into the beauty of warm gray snowflakes and a scented spun-silver plume, lighter than air. We can watch as our atmosphere is altered to become reminiscent of the heavens and lifts our thoughts: Embers become shooting stars, and the silver ribbon of smoke becomes unraveled clouds. Altered senses may guide our inspired thoughts to travel along new, perhaps undiscovered, pathways…

[the rest, here]


I heard a robot buzz when I died…

I have always been afraid of robots. But now that I am all grown up, I think I mostly worry for them. It seems that one day in the future we will quite possibly create artificially intelligent life – but what then? Will these creatures live and then die? Will they have souls? Here we are still fumbling with the concept of our own human souls, wondering if we will maintain our consciousness in some way after we die – when we are slammed with an overlapping question: Where do the artificial lifeforms go when they die? And if they have souls, are those souls going to be included in the circle of life and rebirth? And, even more mindboggling is this intense question:

Is it possible that one day you and I could possibly be reborn into the body of an artificial lifeform?

Artificial life ‘could be created within five years’: researchers from the USA have claimed.

Laboratories across the world are closing in on a “second genesis” – an achievement that would be one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of all time.

Prof David Deamer, from California University, said although building a new lifeform from scratch is a daunting task he is confident it can happen in five to 10 years.

He said: “The momentum is building – we’re knocking at the door.”

A synthetic, made-to-order living system could produce everything from new drugs to biofuels and greenhouse gas absorbers.

Opponents of the controversial research claim the technology could lead to machines becoming “almost human”…

[the rest, here]


The Philosophy of Reality

As a follow up to an earlier post about the connection between science and magic, I thought I would post the following news:

Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner
By David Lindley
ScienceNOW Daily News

What is reality? French physicist Bernard d’Espagnat, 87, has spent a lifetime grappling with this question. Over the years, he has developed the idea that the reality revealed by science offers only a “veiled” view of an underlying reality that science cannot access, and that the scientific view must take its place alongside the reality revealed by art, spirituality, and other forms of human inquiry. In recognition of these efforts, d’Espagnat has won this year’s Templeton Prize, a £1 million ($1.4 million) award sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, which supports research at the intersection of science, philosophy, and religion.

In classical physics, what you see is what you get: Any measurement is presumed to reveal an intrinsic quality–mass, location, velocity–of the thing measured. But in quantum mechanics, things aren’t so clear-cut. In general, the measurement of a quantum object can yield a range of possible outcomes, so that the original quantum state must be regarded as indefinite. More perplexing still are “entangled” states in which, despite being physically separated, two or more quantum objects remain linked, so that a measurement of one affects the measurements of the others (ScienceNOW, 13 August 2008).

Albert Einstein and others objected to the implications of these lines of thought and insisted that quantum mechanics was an incomplete theory precisely because it did not support old-fashioned literal realism. But that’s a lost cause, says d’Espagnat, who studied particle physics early in his career. Instead, he has concluded that physicists must abandon naïve realism and embrace a more sophisticated philosophy of reality…[the rest, here]

More on Bernard d’Espagnat’s prize, here.


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