Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906) and the Re-Discovery of the Atom in Western Science

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Ludwig Boltzmann AUSTRIAN PHYSICIST

Although the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus (460-370 BCE), and his famous student Epicurus (341-270 BCE), speculated that ‘atoms’ existed beneath the surface of conventional reality (which could not be seen with the naked eye), this did not mean that following the ‘Renaissance’ in Europe (and the re-discovery of ancient Greek logic and reason), all Greek ideas were automatically accepted without question. This is the case with atoms. Western science evolved not only from the logic of Greek thought, but also from the rejection of Judeo-Christian theology (and faith) as a means to discern correct knowledge about the universe. Empirical science is premised upon the correct observation and measurement of matter and material processes. The problem with the atom hypothesis was that the existence of an atom had to be taken on ‘faith’, and because of this, many leading scientists in the 19th century refused to accept the idea of an atom on the grounds that its existence could not be confirmed and verified through observation and measurement. This is where mathematics and algebra came into play. Mathematics (and algebra) represent the meaningful arranging (or sequencing) of numbers and letters, so that empirical truths could be revealed about the material nature of reality. Ludwig Boltzmann, being fully aware that atoms had to be ‘statistically’ proven to exist, exercised his particular genius, and developed a mathematical formula which proved the existence and behaviour of atoms. In-short, Ludwig Boltzmann developed what is known as ‘statistical mechanics’. Statistical mechanics confirms the existence of atoms, and predicts how the mass, charge, and structure of an atom will behave. Such an observation determines the physical properties of matter – namely the viscosity, thermal conductivity, and diffusion. Ludwig Boltzmann lived at a time when microscopes were not yet powerful enough to observe individual atoms (or sub-atomic particles), and so had to use the power of representative mathematics to ‘reflect’ a material world that could be ‘predicted’ to exist with the human mind, but which could not yet be seen with the human eye.

Decoding Bourgeois Science

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Bourgeois science is the product of the controlling class that currently dominates Western society. The bourgeoisie control society and therefore provide the dominant ideas of the age. Bourgeois science emerged out of Judeo-Christian theology, and developed an entirely new way of viewing  the world. This process is generally perceived as a historical extension of ancient and classical Greek thought, although bourgeois science is much more advanced, in as much as it has proven its hypotheses through devising logical experimentation. The problem is that the thought community that preserves, and perpetuates bourgeois science is more or less fully divorced from the real world as experienced by the working class. Bourgeois science exists in a rarefied world that is elitist and exclusive in nature (i.e. ‘alienating’) – designed only to serve the class interests of the bourgeoisie and the capitalist system it has established. As a consequence, the pristine logic of bourgeois science has become enshrined in a type of ‘rational’ mysticism that is designed to befuddle and confuse anyone not of a middle class background. This is because bourgeois science, at its core, remains fully ruptured from the material world it seeks to understand, define and explain. In-short, bourgeois science has no direct association with ‘labour’, other than in the fully exploitative sense. Workers may use their labour to produce scientific equipment – but at no time is it explained to the worker what the equipment does, and why it is important. It is assumed a priori that although the worker obviously possesses the ability to manufacture advanced scientific equipment, he or she simultaneously does not possess the intellectual ability to ‘understand’ the bourgeois scientific method. For the worker to ‘decode ‘bourgeois science, its findings, methods and techniques must be re-explained in a practical manner, directly related to the ‘real’ world as the worker experiences it. This is science devoid of its elitist elements and made universal in scope. The working class must find new ways to transcend the bourgeois logical mysticism that permeates that type of science.

411 Missing People – Reconsidered

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People go missing all over the world. Anyone can go missing at anytime, and in the most unlikely of circumstances. David Paulides – a former police officer – starting with 411 examples, has spent a number of years researching the oddest and most disturbing of these disappearances, originally in North America’s vast national park network. He has subsequently extended his forensic research to include areas outside the US, including Canada, Europe and beyond. The evidence suggests that in this modern age of instant communication, there is a phenomenon of disturbing disappearances that appear to defy logic. Although David Paulides makes a living out of his research (one of his books on Amazon UK sells for just over £99!), he does share his research freely on radio in the US, and on Youtube across the world. Another point to this, is that a price of a book does not necessarily equate to a vast income, and David Paulides self-funds most, if not all of his investigations, which includes communicating with US National Parks Authorities that state that they do not keep any records of ‘missing persons’ – as bizarre as that sounds. The same US National Parks Authorities have stated that they could compile a public list for Paulides (suggesting that an internal list already exists), but that it would cost Paulides $1.4 million!

One point never mentioned during any 411 discussion is that the concept of the ‘national park’ in North America was created into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. What many do not realise, is that this act was just one of many designed to disempower Native American Indians, and in this case, ensure that large swathes of  ancestral land were taken off of the various tribes, and kept exclusively for European ‘leisure’ activities. A special ‘armed’ police force (i.e. ‘park rangers’) was created to ensure that Native American Tribes remained dispossessed, and nolonger entered or roamed on this now ‘stolen’ land. Europeans (and now other ethnicities) make use of these beautiful open spaces, and have no idea that the true Native American inhabitants are now forced to live on small ‘reservations’ of poor quality land – also patrolled by yet another ‘special’ police designed to limit their movement. This injustice is the basis to ALL ‘national parks’ in the US.

With regard to these apparently ‘odd’ disappearances of adults and children (both able-bodied and disabled), caution must be exercised. Many people who are experts in search and rescue are of the opinion that many incidences are the product of animal attack, whereby a victim is quickly killed and buried in a particular area – and only retrieved by the animal when the human activity dies down. This might explain why bodies are later found in areas already searched. If people disappear near bodies of water, the culprit seems obvious. There is also the possibility of sudden onset of psychological and physical medical issues that affect perception and generate all kinds of unusual behaviour. A simple reason for people getting lost is disorientation. Panic soon sets in, as does manic behaviour and activity inspired by fear. It could be that the manner in which the evidence is being viewed is faulty. We must always be careful with how evidenced is gathered, processed and interpreted. This is the scientific method in action. It is only when a tight control of information gathering is exercised, and that information objectively and logically assessed, that the truly anomalous details (if any) can be ascertained. The 411 phenomenon represents the tragedy of human disappearances, and on the surface, offers examples of some very odd situations and circumstances.

 

Ch’an Buddhism as Scientific Socialism

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If Buddhism is viewed as a ‘religion’ – and the Buddha as a ‘theistic’ being – then Buddhism has nothing to do with modern science, and in that case, would represent one of many pre-modern theories devised by the human mind to explain reality. However, it is clear from a study of the Pali Canon that the Buddha’s system is a perceptual science premised upon the logical and rational observation of matter, and assessment of natural processes. Within the ‘five aggregates’ teaching, it is clear that the human mind is defined by the Buddha as a number of impermanent processes that ‘emerge’ from biological matter. This is why the Buddha places ‘rupa’ or ‘matter’ as first in the list of the five aggregates. The Buddha also seems to have been the first human in history to suggest that the tiniest specks of matter are ‘flashing’ in and out of existence during every moment, and that the idea that the world of matter forms a solid wall in-front of the senses is an illusion. This would suggest that the Buddha’s path is one of physical and psychological discipline that clears the mind of all ‘old’ and ‘out-dated’ modes of thought (such as an external or subjective belief in a god construct), and when coupled with the observation that compassion and wisdom manifest throughout society – serves as the foundation for the application of  Scientific Socialism. This is how Ch’an Buddhism is viewed in modern China.

How the Big Bang Continues to Defines Human Existence

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The Universe Just 370,000 Years Old

The universe began from an event which human understanding knows to have happened, but which is difficult to define. Space and time suddenly emerged for reasons unknown, within a infinitesimally small area, and suddenly expanded, releasing immense light energy and heat (i.e. ‘inflation’). This process was not an explosion in the conventional sense, as an ordinary explosion requires a change of pressure. The above photograph shows the process of the ‘big bang’ from year 0 – 370,000 years (around 18.7 billion years ago). This is a hot ball of plasma, within which areas are beginning to cool and condense into solid matter. This process produces matter as light energy slows down. This matter has been thrust outward at tremendous speed, and over-time, has created the physical universe (the earth was formed around 4.9 billion years ago). When matter is formed, gravitational force is generated (as a side-effect) which pulls all galactic objects into a rounded shape (due to gravity operating in all directions). Gravitational pull generated by a sun, for instance, also sets the orbits for all the planets (and other objects) to circumnivigate through, in any given solar system. The entire universe appears to rotate around a theoretical centre-point at the heart of existence. As matters stand, human science does not know what caused the big bang, or what exists beyond the light horizon. As there is no data to analyse, or experiments that can be carried-out, everything beyond this point of understanding is purely speculative (with one theory being as valid as anyother). The big bang was probably not a ‘big bang’ – as nothing seemed to exist before this event – or exist in a manner that humanity can currently perceive and understand. Why and for what reasons the physical universe emerged are unknown, but one-day this will be known. There probably is something beyond the light horizon, and there was probably some kind of existence prior to the emergence of the physical universe. Or, it might be that concepts such as ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’ have no ultimate meaning, and that humanity is looking at existence from an incorrect interpretive position, or utlilising a flawed logic. What is known, is that space at this current time is beginning to speed-up in its expansion rate, and that this expansion of space will continue forever, or what humanity perceives to be ‘forever’. If multiple universes exist, it could be that the universe that humanity inhabits is just one amongst many, with each having its origin through a ‘big bang’ event. As human science is premised upon immutable laws, its understanding is limited to the observation of light. If material (of whatever kind), exists beyond what humanity can see through the observation of ‘light’ (i.e. the ‘light cone’), then as long as human science remains focused upon the observation of light, any reality beyond the light horizon will remain beyond what can be observed and measured. The human universe can probably be defined as having a boundary – the true extent of which cannot be observed through the measuring of light – but it might also be true that the pattern of material universal existence could be repeated infinitely throughout reality, so that there could be many such universes. This feeds into the multi-verse theory and the idea of parallel universes. The point is that anything and everything could have happened before the big bang, but it has been the big bang that has served as the basis of the material reality within which humanity exists and has evolved.

Buddhism: Demystifying Ucchedavada Materialism

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‘..the recluse Gotama is a Materialist, who teaches a doctrine of Materialism and trains his disciples in it.’

Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge: By KN Jayatilleke (2204)  – Page 375 – A VI 183ff

Throughout all the Buddhist schools, and irrespective of differences in philosophical interpretation, it is agreed that the Buddha advocated a ‘middle path’ between what is often termed in English as ‘nihilism’ (ucchedavada) and ‘eternalism’ (sassatavada). These definitions, although technically correct, do not convey the full philosophical context of these terms. Another set of terms used are ‘materialism’ and ‘beginningless’ – again technically correct, but not very helpful in understanding what the Buddha was attempting to convey.  Sassatavada translates as ‘eternal soul school’, or ‘beginningless theistic concept school’. Ucchedavada (ဥေစၧဒ) is a Pali term that translates as ‘Annihilation School’, and which refers to a ‘denial’ of the existence of an eternal  ‘soul’, ‘atma’ or ‘theistic concept’ which links each human-being to a divine creator. In and of itself, the term ‘ucchedavada’ does not make any reference to the material world as such, but appears to have been philosophically used during the Buddha’s life-time to suggest that anyone who denied the existence of a soul, automatically believed that all that existed was the material world. Within the Chinese language, the Pali term ‘ucchedavada’ is written as ‘断滅論 – Duan Me Lun’, and translates as ‘Cut off Extinguish Theory’. Ucchedavada then, refers to the philosophical position whereby an eternal soul concept is denied as being ‘non-existing’, and that any theistic construct built-upon such an assumption is equally ‘non-existant’. As the Buddha continuously and constantly ‘denied’ the existence of any eternal soul (atma), he certainly did not agree with the ‘sassatavada’ position, and it is logical that he distanced himself from that school, However, as he quite clearly understood and accepted the existence of the physical world (rupa), and made ‘matter’ the first of his five aggregates, it would seem a little odd that he would also distance himself from the ‘ucchedavada’, unless of course, the ucchedavada did not actually refer to the material world, but merely the ‘ending’ of all things. If this is the case, then the numerous commentaries that assume ‘ucchedavada’ correlates with ‘materialism’ are wrong. They are wrong because it gives a false impression of the Buddha’s teaching which is rooted in the existence of a material world – even if that material world lacks any permanency (or, as Nagarjuna later asserted – is an ’emptiness’ containing all insubstantial things). As ucchedavada does not make any mention of the material universe, why then is it associated with the material universe? This interpretation stems from the idea that the spiritual teachings of Brahmanism are obviously undermined. If there is no ‘atma’ (soul) residing in an individual, then there is no connection with Brahma, retributive karma (i.e. ‘moral law’), or agency to ensure a future rebirth. This is a complete denial of the validity of the Brahmanic world-view (both seen and unseen).

The Buddha was in full agreement with this criticism of Brahmanism, and so his rejection of ucchedavada could not have been on these grounds, indeed, in this context, the concept of ucchedavada appears to encapsulate the Buddha’s teachings. The reason that the Buddha rejected the concept of ‘ucchedavada’ was not because it denied the Brahmanic world view, but rather because as a concept it also assumed that every death equated to the attainment of nirvana. It is this latter point that the Buddha disagreed with, as simply ‘dying’ did not ensure an entry into the non-conditioned state of nirvana that he had discovered. The ucchedavada viewpoint is that all life and all suffering ceases at physical death. To assume that ucchedavada equates to materialism must be qualified and explained to make contextual sense. What is also important here, is the Buddha’s positive view of materialism. The Buddha disagrees with one aspect of ucchedavada, because within his system, ‘nirvana’ can be realised whilst an individual is still alive, whilst if an unenlightened individual dies – they remain unenlightened and subject to rebirth (whilst in the deluded state). To make his point, the Buddha developed elaborate dimensions of existence beyond the material plane, which he inhabited with gods, demi-gods and spirits, etc, through which deluded beings transmigrate. As many of these gods do not correlate with those known to be part of the Brahmanic pantheon, it is obvious the Buddha constructed these beings as a matter of illustration. We know this because in many suttas and sutras the Buddha clearly states that in the enlightened state, gods, heavens, rebirth and karma are all understood not to actually exist. Obviously, if these constructs only appear to exist in the deluded state, then they are not real, and were probably used by the Buddha to guide followers who believed these things to be true, until they were ready give-up these incorrect views.

As well as Materialists and Sceptics in ancient India, there were a class of intellectuals known as the ‘vinnu’ or the ‘elite’, with whom the Buddha was keen to address, in Suttas that record this encounter, the Buddha adopts a far more obvious materialist approach in his teachings. This can be seen in the Apannaka Sutta and the Sandaka Sutta (amongst many others). By ‘materialist’ in this context is meant ‘logical’ and ’empirical’. The Buddha moves the dialogue away from rebirth, karma and gods, and towards a much more rational approach to assessing reality. He suggests that even if these things were not ultimately true, it might be more conducive for humanity to voluntarily adopt a mode of disciplined behaviour – as if these ideas were potentially true. Interestingly, evidence suggests that a belief in rebirth was not widespread or prominent prior to the rising of Buddhism and Jainism in ancient India, even though there were ideas of survival that did not require the notion of rebirth as an agency. Ironically, this might suggest that the Buddha’s expedient use of the notion of rebirth could have made the idea popular – even though he himself did not think it ultimately correct. As matters stand, the Buddha defined reality as an integration of the material world with the immaterial mind – with both being inherently linked. He was probably the first thinker in history to develop a ‘psychology’ or ‘philosophy of mind’ which replaced a belief in gods and spirits. In the last analysis it is clear that he rejects rebirth, karma and gods as being ‘real’ in the enlightened state. In this regard, even if the material world is ‘translucent’, and ’empty’ of any substantiality and permanency, the Buddha’s philosophy is premised upon its apparent existence – and this would steer his philosophy nearer to the ‘materialist’ camp than any other mode of thought.

The reason the Buddha rejected the ‘ucchedavada’ viewpoint in the final analysis, is not because of its apparent ‘materialist’ emphasis (which the Buddha shared in many respects), but because this school of ancient Indian thought adopted a sceptical position with regards to knowledge and its limitations. Although what was sensed through the bodily sense organs could be said to be ‘true’ (in the sense that such stimuli appeared to materially ‘exist’), nevertheless, the followers of ucchedavada held the opinion that this sensory data did not represent ‘ultimate’ knowledge, and could not be used to ascertain ‘universal’ understandings. All that was known for sure, was that sensory data was ‘sensed’. Furthermore, the followers of the ucchedavada denied that ‘sound’ theoretical knowledge could be gained from ‘inference’ (anumana). This was problematic for the Buddha, who although stating that nothing ‘sensed’ was viewed ‘correctly’ whilst observed through a deluded mind, also taught that ‘correct’ knowledge was possible if the mind was purified and non-inverted in operation (i.e. ‘enlightened’ to its own true essence). He also arranged his thinking around the concept of correct perception, and correct inductive inference premised upon this correct perception. For the Buddha, things could be definitely ‘known’, despite the fact that for most people, things were ‘incorrectly’ known. This observation demonstrates that the Buddha partly agrees – and partly disagrees with the followers of the ucchedavada on this point. It also follows that as those perceiving the world through a deluded mind-set cannot gain any ‘true’ knowledge of the world, they also cannot ‘infer’ any correct conclusions from this faulty perception. The Buddha also agrees with the ucchedavada on this point – but the major disagreement lies in the fact that the Buddha believes that he has proven (through personal realisation) that this situation can be changed through behaviour modification and meditation – and this is exactly where the Buddha’s theory parts ways with ucchedavada thinking, which assumes this situation cannot be altered. The ucchedavada views humanity as existing existentially in a material world that cannot be correctly perceived through the senses, the understanding of which cannot be ‘inferred’ through the mind. There is no science and no religion, or requirement for morality. There is no way out of this situation. The Buddha agrees that there is a material world, but disagrees with the ucchedavada notion that nothing can be ‘correctly’ known, or that the situation cannot be changed. On the contrary, the Buddha logically expounds a sophisticated philosophical appraisal of reality, and clearly explains how its perception and manifestation can be radically transformed.

Further Reading:

Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge: By KN Jayatilleke

The Conception of Buddhist Nirvana: BY FI Stcherbatsky

The Message of the Buddha: By By KN Jayatilleke

What the Buddha Taught: By Walpola Rahula

Over-Come Racism with Logic and Reason!

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I am not a Muslim, but I did spend an extended time (over a year), living with a disparate group of young British Muslims during the 1990’s, whilst in higher education. These people were decent, clean, law-abiding, compassionate, and caring toward me. Although I did not ask for anything, nevertheless, they fed me for free, and made sure all my needs were taken care of. I was not once asked to go to the local mosque (in fact, to this day I have no idea where that local mosque was), I was not ‘radicalised’ in anyway, and no demands of anykind were made of me. When taken to Indian restaurants, I was never asked to pay a penny and my money was always refused. When taken to their homes (in London), I was welcomed and treated with the utmost respect. When I asked why all this was happening, I was told it was the demanded ‘way’ of Muslim of hospitality, as conveyed through the Holy Qur’an, and that it was their religious duty.

Whatever happens in life, be it personal or public, the best possible course is the use of logic and reason, because such reasoning, if performed impartially, benefits everyone involved. For instance, what the Western media does not tell you, is that 90% of the victims of Islamo-fascist groups are in fact other Muslims that do not agree with this rightwing ideology or terrorist actions. The West does not want you to know this, because if you did, you might not be so quick to condemn ordinary, peace-loving Muslims who live around you.

The US created Islamo-fascism to confront the USSR in Afghanistan – but now it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon that carries-out attacks on everyone accept Israel! One of President Obama’s last acts whilst in Office was to ‘gift’ billions of dollars of military equipment to ISIS! All this lying can be over-come if the mind is detached from the propaganda, and the higher capacities for reasoning engaged. Onething is for sure – racism will not solve this issue and neither will Western imperialist actions abroad.

How Emperor Ashoka Invented Indian Buddhism

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The Chair is ‘Empty’ – The Buddha’s ‘Non-Existence’ Confirmed Within Early Buddhist Iconology

Disclaimer: The following article is a thought experiment designed to breakout of the confines of human beliefs and belief systems. Whether the Buddha existed as a historical personage is unconfirmed at this present time, as the only evidence of such an individual stems entirely from the philosophical works associated with his name. This lack of objective evidence logically suggests that the Buddha did not physically exist – but this does not necessarily mean that this is the last word on the matter. Objective evidence could still come to light that would prove the Buddha’s existence. Whether the Buddha existed or not, does not invalidate the ‘scientific’ nature of the teaching associated with his name, despite the fact that its logical core is encased within a superstructure that contains much religious mythology. Whether the Buddha’s logic influenced Greek thought (as suggested by Christopher Beckwith in his ‘Greek Buddha’), or Greek thought influenced the Buddha, is a matter still open to debate. Furthermore, the idea that Buddhism might simply be another ‘mythic’ religion constructed out of historical circumstance and imaginative fantasy, cannot be completely rejected – as suggested by Hans Penner in his ‘Rediscovering the Buddha’. Whatever the case, the scientific efficacy of the Buddha’s method as a means of psychological (and physical) self-assessment and self-organisation remains strong, and does not need its apparent founder to be an ever present figure – as does most theistic religions premised upon faith. Finally, as matters stand, (and regardless of personal belief) it would be dishonest to suggest that the Buddha ‘definitely’ existed when a forensic examination of the available evidence does not support such a hypothesis. ACW 30.3.2017

The earliest written evidence for the existence of the Buddha is that contained on the numerous stone pillars (and other objects) raised by order of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (304 BCE – 232 BCE), who militarily conquered much of the Indian sub-continent, and ruled from 268 BCE – 232 BCE. Prior to his reign, there exists no evidence of the existence of the Buddha, and this might explain why within early Buddhist iconology, no images of the Buddha’s physical likeness exist. Although generally explained today as being the product of the Buddha’s own philosophy, this does not make sense when viewed in the light of the fact that the Buddha is depicted in those earliest times as ‘not existing’ through an empty chair, a set of idealised foot-prints, a tree or even a chakra-wheel. Indeed, even the stone pillars that have inscribed upon them the teachings of the Buddha often contain not images of a serenely sitting Buddha, but rather depictions of four lions sat facing what is assumed to be the four cardinal points. Logic dictates that as the Buddha does not pre-date these Ashokan inscriptions in anything other than historical assumption, his existence before this point in discernible time must be open to question. Emperor Ashoka cleverly discusses an apparently extraordinary man, who is assumed to have pre-existed the raising of the pillars by a vague couple of hundred years, and in so doing constructs a philosophy that seeks to undermine the prevailing Brahmanic theology and dominant social order – with its rigid caste-system and militant warrior-kings – ensuring its spread throughout India (through imperial decree and protection), and the literal ‘removing’ of any Brahmanic threat to his rule. Where the Brahmins advocated a concept of ‘holy war’ against tyranny and heresy, the Buddha advocated a renouncement of caste and ‘killing’ and a preference for ‘reasoned’ argument not dependent upon the authority of Brahmanic scripture (effectively a rejection of theology). Emperor Ashoka whole-heartedly subscribed to this ‘new’ world-view simply because he invented it. By ascribing a vague date to the Buddha’s existence, Emperor Ashoka immediately ‘mystified’ the Buddha’s origins, and implied that the ancient sages of India were more advanced in insight than the contemporary thinkers of his day. On a practical level, through the use of ‘Buddhism’ – or a form of Greek-like logical use of the mind – Emperor Ashoka sought to utterly transform his new Indian conquest and eradicate any and all vestiges of the old order, by advocating a complete transformation of the mind’s traditional opinions, and the removal of all psychological traits that could be related to the old order. To achieve this, Emperor Ashoka focused his creative efforts on subduing greed, hatred and delusion, whilst simultaneously removing the notion of ‘atman’ from Indian thinking, as this religious concept was the basis of Brahmanic power within Indian society. The ‘atman’ or ‘breath of life’, was the divine-spark that the god Brahma placed in all living creatures at conception – and controlled them thereby throughout their lives. By breaking the link between ordinary living Indians and their ‘imagined’ Brahma-god, Emperor Ashoka ensured that he ruled over a passive population of inverted truth-seekers that had no interest in changing the status-quo. This eradication of Brahmanism from ancient India was a purely ‘revolutionary’ philosophical construct that was clear in its function. Ashokan Buddhism, although advocating passivity once established in the minds and bodies of the people, nevertheless was reliant upon thoroughly over-throwing the old order. This is why Buddhism today retains its old defining impetus of ‘rejecting’ the status-quo, and can be easily adopted to assist revolutionary, political ideologies. The collective religious mythology that underpinned Brahmanic society and Brahmanic militancy, was undermined by a new Buddhist rhetoric that equated suffering and delusion with an adherence to theistic teaching, and sought to replace that model of human understanding, with one that defined freedom from suffering as being synonymous with freedom from religion. Emperor Ashoka’s transformation did not end there, however, but carried-out another piece of deft philosophical footwork, by stating that ‘knowledge’ of conventional Brahmanic religion was actually no knowledge at all (i.e. theology being a product of ‘delusive’ thinking), and that by a deliberate act of ‘unprogramming’ the mind from its previous cultural conditioning, can ‘true’ knowledge be attained. How was his ‘new’ knowledge to be achieved? By training the mind to assess and record the physical (knowable) world through a scientific-like adherence to the observation of ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ of matter and its functionality. This transition from idealism (i.e. the inner generated delusion of theism) to a perceptual science premised upon the precise observation of physical matter, ensured that all religiously generated resistance to change was quickly abandoned in the minds of ancient Indians, as Emperor Ashoka set about defining his new regime along the lines of the revolution in thought that was happening in Greece.

Of course, Emperor Ashoka could not simply expect to take all the credit for his new approach to defining reality, but instead created a set of ‘religious-like’ texts, the content of which was anything but ‘religious’ in the old sense, and ascribing their creation to a ‘mythical’ being who lived sometime in the distant past. Emperor Ashoka, along with his able and highly educated ministers, were probably well aware of Greek thought before the arrival of Alexander the Great in India. Whether Emperor Ashoka acquired this knowledge of Greek thought from Indian sources, or directly from Greece is unknown, as is the matter of whether Indian thought influenced Greece, or Greek thought influence India at an earlier date. The point is that prior to the rule of Emperor Ashoka and the development of Buddhism, India did not possess a developed political system of philosophical thought that in anyway resembled that of Ancient Greece. The Buddha’s thought is distinctly ‘scientific’ in nature, and it is probably due to its Greek influence, that Buddhism remains today as popular as it does in the contemporary West. Karma as a vehicle for divine intervention in the physical world (Brahmanism), was transformed through Buddhism into a logical observation of the process of the physically observable world. Emperor Ashoka allows the Buddha a dalliance with a god concept and agency of rebirth (all strong Brahmanic themes), but ultimately uses these ideals as a means to draw an essentially uneducated populace into the Buddhist way of viewing things – ultimately rejecting such ideas as ‘god’ and ‘rebirth’ as the transition is completed. This would suggest that the passionless state known as ‘nirvana’ within Buddhist thought, is in fact a new mind-set that is non-resistant to Emperor Ashoka’s interpretation of spiritual and social order. Further implied in this ‘perfect’ state is the attainment of a pristine logic premised upon the correct observation of all psycho-physical functionality. Such a state of ‘enlightenment’ is said to be ‘free’ of the delusion of the previous ‘theology’ that defined pre-Ashokan Indian society. As a reliance upon Brahmanic theology disappeared, Emperor Ashoka’s reign became ever more stable, to the point where he felt comfortable enough to ‘export’ his new way of thinking to other countries, in the form of sending gift-bearing emissaries. These couriers of the new Ashokan order would arrive in theistic-led societies and immediately set-about converting this mind-set into a reliance upon the use of logic and reason – although this message was often reinforced with quasi-religious trinkets such as assumed body-parts taken from the cremated remains of the ‘Buddha’. Quite often the Buddha’s remains were ‘worshipped’ as if he were a god, but his message of secular wisdom was embraced nonetheless. This process may be viewed as a temporary collaboration with inverted thinking associated with a belief in theism, as a means to eventually transition such populations away from the old and toward the new. By eradicating Brahmanic thought within India, and similar systems of theistic belief in the countries surrounding India, Emperor Ashoka was effectively removing any internal or external threats to his rule. In so doing, he applied the Buddha’s thought (as if he were a real person that had lived in the past) to his own kingdom (as if he were venerating a wise man that had lived long ago). The fact of the matter is that there is no physical evidence for the existence of the Buddha in the pre-Ashokan age, and any evidence that appears to suggest otherwise, is either the product of misidentification, misdating, fraud, or deliberate misinterpretation. The Buddha’s story begins in the Ashokan age, and the lack of evidence prior to this time (for the existence of a teacher who is supposed to have lived hundreds of years before), is explained by the clever artifice that the Buddha could not read or write – and that his teachings were submitted to memory and conveyed by word of mouth (a process that conveniently left no discernible mark until advent of the Ashokan age). It seems incredible that this method of ad hoc recording could eventually spawn a literature of around 5,000 different texts (i.e. sutras), all expressing the same opinion about a revolutionary, but otherwise unified vision for society and the world. The Buddha, although stating that what he teaches is a ‘rediscovery’ of an ancient system of Indian understanding, the reality is that India had never known such a manner of understanding existence prior to Emperor Ashoka. By ascribing an ‘ancient’ origination to the Buddha’s thinking (as opposed to ‘foreign’), the bitter pill of uprooting and replacing Brahmanism was thereby ‘sweetened’ as a consequence. Buddhism was not to be thought of as ‘new’ (it just seemed ‘new’), but was in reality a ‘return’ to a ‘pre-Brahmanic’ understanding, an understanding so ‘pure’ and ‘clean’ that the subsequent Brahmanic system marked a considerable divergence from it.

Emperor Ashoka, for practical political reasons, could not be seen to be the originator of ‘Buddhism’, as this assumption would have added to the military opposition he faced when subduing the country. The term ’Buddha’, in and of itself, simply refers to a specific use of the human mind. It is the replacement of religious ‘faith’ with personally experienced knowledge. Its usage demarks a movement away from speculative theology, premised as it is on imagination, and a transition to a reliance upon verifiable fact ascertained through the senses. However, the Buddha’s path maximised this observational activity by demanding that the observer be ‘detached’ from the method of observation. This may be considered similar to a modern scientist observing phenomena, without allowing personal belief to intercede whilst recording the results. Since the rediscovering of Emperor Ashoka’s pillars by British archaeologists in the 19th century, the Western scholarly tradition has tended to take the inscriptions ‘literally’ and ‘uncritically’ – ascribing all kinds of dates to the Buddha’s presumed existence. With no body, tomb or written work, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Buddha existed as an independent personage outside of the Ashokan inscriptions. Once this ‘disembodied’ existence is taken seriously, then any speculation as to the Buddha’s birth and death dates is a free for all, with one assumption being as good (or ‘false’) as any other. In reality, the physical Buddha never physically existed, and neither is he a composite figure created from the many examples of Indian holy ascetics. His biography (contained within his teachings) is improbable and illogical. Why would a rich man with every physical and spiritual advantage his society could give, renounce this privilege simply upon a vaguely defined philosophical disquiet premised upon the experience of how life is, rather than what he thought it might be (in his immature and youthful understanding)? By walking-out of his life of high caste privilege, the Buddha also abandoned his caste duties, his parents, his friends and his wife and child, not to mention his servants and animals, etc. This bizarre behaviour only makes sense if it is interpreted as a general message intended for the people of India, and designed to justify Emperor Ashoka’s reign, by encouraging the whole-sale abandoning of Brahmanism as a religious practice, and as a basis for organising society. It is only within this social-engineering context, that the Buddha’s story makes any sense at all. The Buddha leaves and rejects Brahmanic society (and culture), because this is exactly the same social policy of the Ashokan government. Emperor Ashoka uses the tenants of Buddhism to persuade the Indian people that they have wilfully chosen to be ruled by him, and that he is not oppressing them in anyway, when he demands nothing less than the complete abandonment of their Brahmanic culture. Although Emperor Ashoka used extreme military violence (and atrocity) to conquer India, he has to immediately out-law the use of similar violence by everyone else – to prevent his own government from being usurped in a similar fashion. A non-violent approach to his rule is presented as a spiritually superior way to behave, that leads to the eventual emancipation from the wheel of suffering.

From the West’s re-discovery of Buddhism in the 19th century in India, its history has been completely misunderstood and misinterpreted. Most obviously in this misinterpretation has been implicit in Western analysis, a Christian gloss over Buddhist philosophy that has no historical place or relevance in the development of Indian thought. This interpretive error has been compounded by a relentless ‘literalism’ that has conveyed Buddhism into the Western psyche as a new kind of secular religion, the founder of which actually existed independently from the texts that convey his teaching. This continuous process of missing the point and avoiding the correct context, has led to a wild goose chase with regard to ‘proving’ the Buddha’s physical existence. The Buddha’s physical existence cannot be proven, logic dictates, because he never existed in the physical sense. The Buddha is a rhetorical device designed to facilitate Emperor Ashoka’s new political, cultural and social vision for the India that he conquered. This understanding reveals that Western scholarship in this area is in disarray, and that Indian scholarship, premised as it often is on the concept of ‘Indian nationalism’ is equally misled. Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma or Nepal, etc, exist within the imagination of Emperor Ashoka, and accept without criticism everything contained within the Buddhist teachings. More than this, however, these very same countries also ascribed to Buddha a god-like quality that Emperor Ashoka tried to avoid, and create social schisms by separating men from women, and ascribing a superior status to men. Monks are viewed as superior to nuns, and monastics superior to the laity – and yet all this ‘contemporary’ Buddhism can be seen as incorrect from even a cursory viewing of the Buddhist texts – errors in interpretation that maybe viewed as a consequence of historical deviations from Emperor Ashoka’s original vision for Buddhism – the central purpose of which, appears to be the achievement of ‘equality’ throughout the society he ruled. Within Emperor Ashoka’s original vision, all social barriers implicit within theological Brahmanism, were to be demolished through the use of Buddhistic logic and reason. In this sense, ‘Buddhism’ is a method for using and applying the mind in the transformation of society, and nothing more, Buddhism was certainly not intended to be like the religious system it replaced, or recreate the social injustices it reformed. However, the Buddhism of the modern world, although in places still retaining this original vision, is riddled with revisionism and contradiction which sees Buddhist monastics embracing the greed of capitalism, and getting involved in all kinds of worldly affairs. Whereas Emperor Ashoka sought to prevent and stop all meat-eating (and thereby animal slaughter), many Buddhists today eat meat (accept in China), thinking that hurting animals is inaccordance with the Buddha’s teaching. Emperor Ashoka developed Buddhism as a means to create a revolution throughout society – and this aspect of Buddhism remains its central tenant. Revolution within the mind represents revolution in the environment and vice versa. Bourgeois modes of Buddhist distortion, of course invert this defining reality, and transforms Buddhism into just another middle class plaything that supports and sustain the status quo.

 

A Non-Threatening Mystery

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The problem with the agency of ‘mystery’ as a conveyor of meaning, is that it is premised upon ‘not knowing’. This means that in the process of acquiring certainty, uncertainty becomes a prime mover. This differs from modern science in as much as the method of knowledge acquisition is dependent upon the eradication of ‘uncertainty’, as a means to secure ‘certainty’. Of course, a scientific mystery is different from a religious mystery in as much as it indicates an area of research not yet clarified through logical investigation. A religious mystery, on the other hand, provides a type of emotional support lacking in the scientific method, but does not supply a similar robust intellectual response. Yes, theology can be sophisticated, meandering, complicated, obscure and dogmatic, but it can never be scientifically ‘proven’ to be correct or to even exist – but such is the nature of reality. For some, for instance, the prospect of space travel can appear mysterious because it is unknown, but this does not mean that it is ‘unknowable’. Religion, by its very nature, is known only through its ‘unknowable’ nature, and herein lies its attraction for many people. It is not a matter of being ‘anti-religious’, but rather a matter of understanding the difference in how the human mind functions within the two systems under discussion. The problem with theistic rapture, is that the experiencer can stay in a dark cave for decades, and end his or her life staring at what is believed to be the divine, whilst contributing nothing to the scientific development of humanity. Poverty, illness, famine, drought, illiteracy and homelessness are not resolved by this approach to self-absorption. Although somekind of inner freedom is hinted at, nothing changes on the outer plain. Science, strictly speaking, does not require religion to function, and the same can be said for religion and its relationship to science. Both systems exist in parallel, but the battle in recent centuries has been which paradigm should direct human affairs – and secular science has proven its material worth by making human life better. Of course, with regards to the technologically-led destructive nature of the arms industry, a case can be made to suggest that science (at least in part), has contributed immeasurably to the over-all suffering of humanity, quite often in some of the most brutal ways imaginable. This criticism of science (and one of its uses) is undoubtedly true. However, the monopoly upon social destruction is not owned exclusively by science, as the Christian religion has had its fair share of committing mass atrocities over the last thousand years or so (the same observation and criticism can be equally levelled at numerous other religions). Perhaps it is better to state that humanity has a thread running through its genetic programming that has the capacity for immense violence, and that this capacity has been activated and operated in a vicious manner at various stages of its evolutionary development. This being the case, it is this propensity for violence that needs to be developed out of the human system as a means to secure a better future. This is where the various peace-orientated ideals contained within most religions and spiritual paths can be useful for the further evolution of humanity. This need not clash with the scientific paradigm, but exist peacefully alongside it. Although science may pursue a non-religious narrative, this does not necessarily mean that science is ‘anti-religious’. In reality, as religion cannot be ‘measured’ or ‘quantified’, it is of no interest to the scientific method, and exists outside of it. As science does not operate through the agency of ‘faith’, religionists should have no opinion about it, and yet the world is full of individuals that purport to support religion or science from a diametrically opposing position. This is not useful or helpful for the development of humanity, but this is not the complete story, as many religionists today study science, and many otherwise hard-nosed scientists profess a religious faith outside the laboratory. An appreciation of nature, and the sheer randomness of its creation and functionality maybe termed a non-threatening mystery that does not compromise the material essence of modern science. From the scientific perspective, religion can be explained scientifically (through the auspices of psychology and psychiatry, as well as secular philosophy), and need not necessarily be an issue that requires confronting, even if it does not obviously contribute toward the scientific method.

Chile: Lake Riesco Disappearance (2016)

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Until around the end of May, 2016, Lake Riesco was a nearly 6 square-mile body of water that was a major tourist attraction in the beautiful Patagonia region of Chile (South America). The general narrative surrounding this incident is that this substantial body of water ‘disappeared’ over-night, but as I write, I have no way of confirming this detail. What is beyond dispute is that a once large body of water did exist and was called ‘Lake Riesco’, and that around half-way through 2016, this body of water had disappeared. This is how the area looks today:

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Despite being the subject of paranormal speculation, this disappearance is in reality an intriguing ecological event that has serious implications for the environment and the survival of life on earth. The water has probably drained away due to somekind of natural fault in the earth, but what is alarming is how such a large body of water could drain-away so quickly, with no warning, and apparently no witnesses. The speed of this event probably excludes water evaporation, or even the highly unlikely event that the water was deliberately drained by people unknown, for purposes unknown. However, if evidence came to light that the disappearance was not quick, but protracted, then other logical theories would come into play. This is not a ‘paranormal’ event, but an as of yet ‘unexplained’ natural event. Given the right data, the human mind can solve any problem.

References:

http://strangesounds.org/2016/05/lake-riesco-mysterious-disappearance-patagonia-chile-video-major-liquine-ofqui-fault-photo.html

http://earth-chronicles.com/anomalies/in-chile-one-night-disappeared-in-a-lake-of-lago-riesco.html

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