Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Name of God and the consciousness of everything

Lent 2016: Day 42

Six weeks through, four days to go. On Sunday we heard in church that 40 of Lent had elapsed, the Biblical 40 days. The 40 days that Jesus was fasting in the desert, and was tempted by Satan*. So why does Lent last 46 days? Two schools of thought: 1) Lent is over on Palm Sunday, with an additional and strict fast on Good Friday; 2) the 40 days are from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday inclusive, but there is no obligation to fast on the six Sundays of Lent. I'm happy to go the distance without the Sunday breaks nor quitting on Palm Sunday.

Anyway, my reading of Filozofia przypadku has slowed to a trickle. The maths is beyond me. "You understand the dead cat?  But... you... you can't really understand the physics without understanding the math. The math tells how it really works." The Coens evidently side with Fr Michał Heller on this one.

Incidentally, a probability conundrum has occurred to me reading the book. When you add whatever two numbers together, there are three possibilities - odd plus odd, odd plus even, and even plus even. Yet although there are three possibilities, there are only two outcomes - the sum of the two numbers is either odd or even. My brother claims there are actually four (odd + odd, even + odd, odd + even and even + even). Is that the answer? Anyone care to comment?

Meanwhile, Google, bless it, is getting cleverer and clever. On what basis did YouTube suggest to me that I listen to The Stooges' We Will Fall? This ten minute-long track from their first eponymously named album has the drone of an instrument resembling the tar (Persian stringed instrument used by Edward Artemiev in the soundtrack of the film Stalker, which I'd been listening to recently). And - a Hindu mantra. Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram repeated throughout the song. Wikipedia interprets the deepest meaning of the Ram mantras as God is Everywhere, and present in every particle of nature, whether living or non living.

What could such a sign - mean?

I looked. Google led me to the Wikipedia page about Swami Ramdas, an Indian mystic (1884-1963). Endlessly repeating a name of God, Ram, was his path to Enlightenment.

The Name of God.

Why do many religions give such importance to God's name - the word given by Man for the Deity? And the use of that name as a device around which to meditate upon? Swami Ramdas said: "People do not know what the Name of God can do. Those who repeat it constantly alone know its power. It can purify our mind completely... The Name can take us to the summit of spiritual experience."

We Will Fail, recorded in 1969, some two years after The End by the Doors or All Tomorrow's Parties by the Velvet Underground, is similarly hypnotically Eastern in musical atmosphere. The late 1960s were the decade when the artistic avant-garde of the pop world flirted with Eastern mysticism, the first such opening up to the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism began to enter the Western mainstream.

The notion of God being Everywhere, present in every particle of nature, whether living or not, is making its way into science. Many years ago, I was inspired by books like The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra or The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav, both nuclear physicists interested in Eastern philosophy, and making the connection between science and mysticism. A few days ago, my brother sent me a link to a fascinating article by Bobby Azarian about the theory of Integrated Information Theory (IIT) which resonated with me, because so much in this article (written by a science writer) squares with my personal conjectures and intuition.

The theory posits that the Universe itself is conscious; that we live in a cosmos composed of a sentient fabric. IIT claims to provide a precise way to measure consciousness and express it in mathematical terms. Even the proton, which possesses information (related to the position of sub-atomic particles within it) has consciousness, albeit in tiny amounts.

A Universe teeming with consciousness. IIT suggests, the article concludes, a new kind of scientific spirituality. God everywhere. The Name of God? The Universal Singularity.

"Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science, but man needs both." - Fritjof Capra, from the epilogue of The Tao of Physics.

* Incidentally, why did Jesus follow Satan to the mountaintop? An omniscient Jesus would have known Satan's intent was to tempt Him, so why didn't he just say "Sod off Satan" rather than go along with the ploy?

This time two years ago:
The clash of narratives

This time three years ago:
The Church and democracy

This time four years ago:
Prime lens or zoom?

This time five years ago:
Warsaw's failed bid as City of Culture, 2016

This time six years ago:
Stalinist downtown at dusk

This time seven years ago:
The End of an Age of Excess?

This time eight years ago:
Snowy Easter in England


DC said...

Off topic slightly, but in case anybody's feeling a desparate need for more food variety before the end of lent. In "The People's History of Quebec" Lacoursiere writes:

In 17th century Catholic countries, abstinence from meat was the rule for 140 days of the year. In New France beavers were found everywhere and the question arose, was it animal or fish? If it belonged to the fish family it could be eaten throughout the year. Bishop de Laval sent the question to the Sorbonne and to doctors at Hotel Dieu in Paris. The experts discussed it at length and determined it was fish because of the tail. This brought joy to the ccolony.

Bon appetit.

Michael Dembinski said...

I look forward to beaver pate at Lidl in forthcoming Lents! :-)

Or thinly sliced carpaccio of smoked beaver...