Brian Greene

Review of the Fabric of the Cosmos and some thoughts on being a moral person

Book Review: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

This is an excellent book on contemporary physics. It is written for a popular audience, but even with that, it is a dense book. However Greene does an excellent job of making the material easier to approach. He uses some pop culture references such as the Simpsons to illustrate and explain the concepts involved in the physics he's discussing. What I enjoyed most, however, is the evident enthusiasm in Greene's work. His enthusiasm consistently made the book more enjoyable and the concepts easier to understand.

I highly recommend picking this book if you want to learn more about physics, or if you're interested in how science can inform your spiritual practices. I found it useful in helping me understanding some of the finer details involved in quantum mechanics and how time and space work from a physics perspective.

5 out 5.

I've started reading Confucius: The Analects. Vince Stevens recommended I check his work out, especially given some of my interests in looking at occultism from different angles outside of the rebel archetype. So far, I've just been reading the introduction, but the passages already stand out to me:

Behind Confucious' pursuit of the ideal moral character lies the unspoken, and therefore, unquestioned, assumption that the only purpose a man can have and also the only worthwhile thing a man can do is to become as good a man as possible. This is something that has to be pursued for its own sake and with complete indifference to success or failure.


Love for people outside one's family is looked upon as an extension of the love for members of one's own family. One consequence of this view is that the love, and so the obligation to love, decreases by degrees as it extends outwards...our obligations towards others should be in proportion to the benefit we have received from them.

I left some of the examples in the second quote, but reading both passages was interesting because while I found myself in agreement with the first passage, I had a definite knee jerk reaction to the second. nonetheless on further reflection about the second passage I could certainly see the point of the author and agree with it as well, mainly because I see this particualr pattern demonstrated in this culture all the time.

The first passage speaks a lot to my current spiritual journey, with the focus being on a process of change with no definite result in mind, so much as a desire to become what and who I can become as a result of going through that process. If it seems odd that I don't have a specific result nailed down, it's because I realize that having a specific result would necessarily diminish the opportunities and possibilities I can experience as I undergo this journey. In fact, that speaks to the weakness of result oriented magic...The focus is so heavily on the result that the process isn't fully explored or experimented with. But what could that process tell you if you did explore it? So no specific result...I'm involved in a process of change, with indifference to success or failure in any traditional sense of the words. Perhaps the lack of concern about success or failure is what makes all of this efficacious. There's no external standard or bar to compare myself to, no definite end of the journey or a sense of completion. It just is...and so am I and the only constant in that is's a process of change, and whatever results arise out of that change ultimately feed right back into the process, and so have meaning only as a context to the process.

The second quote, in reflecting on it...I see it in the cliques, family structures, etc. The degree of separation definitely impacts how people treat each other and/or the willingness of said people to help (and harm) each other. I can see how the benefit cycle influences how people treat each other...It goes back to the concept of give to get. You give, in order to get benefits. It's an eminently practical method of handling social relationships. The idealist in me cringes, and yet I see the same behavior repeated in myself and others. If you belong to x subculture and so do I, the chances of us helping each other is increased because of that connection. Granted, that increase may be minor, but it is still present. Obviously as you get to know people better, and incorporate them into a friend, tribe, or family structure what you are willing to do for those people increases as well. I see this behavior in everyone. I don't think I know anyone who falls outside of it. And I recognize it as a survival strategy, something which has worked really well for humans for who knows how long. Is there a way to get past that survival pattern? Do we really want to? I'm not sure...I had my kneejerk reaction, but as I think about it more, it makes a lot more sense. I'll be curious to see what further reading yields and I'll be sure to share it with the rest of you.

Past, present, any of it real?

In a previous post, Xi O'Teaz asked for more details about my perception of time, wherein I stated the present didn't exist. He noted that many would argue that only the present existed, while the past and future were illusions. Intriguingly enough quantum physics seems to support my meditative trance perspective of time, as I'll explain a bit further down in this post. The perspective that only the present exists, while the future and past are illusions is a perspective that is easy to adopt in everyday consciousness, because the experience of time is a very linear, moment to moment experience in that kind of consciousness. You experience it once and then its gone, and was it ever real? It's this kind of awareness of time which leads, I think to a lot of the short term thinking that has continually created problems for the world in general...too much focus on the immediate moment, while ignoring a more long term perspective.

In the meditative trance states I've hit, the sense of linear time fades right out. It's replaced with a feeling of timelessness, or rather a feeling of time being a very fluid gel that contains every possibility you could experience and has all the past moments available as well. The present becomes just one moment among all other moments experienced. It is neither more real or unreal than any other moment.

In The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene, he explains that time is a continuum which we experience all at once. A moment that occurred in the "past" is still fact space/time contains and encompasses all the events that occur within it, which means that all of those events are occurring at the same time. Wait a minute, do we have free will, choice, etc., if this is all occurring at the same time? Also how do you explain linear time then?

The answer to the first question is that all events in space/time are really possibilities. They are simultaneously real and not real. They exist and yet they don't exist. So how do we have free will, etc. This is where linear time comes in, because linear time is really about filtering all the extraneous possibilities and focusing on specific realities that are local to the person. Time becomes organized and laid out in a fashion that enables choices to be made, while limiting those choices. Linear time is also a way of keeping us sane, because experiencing all possibilties can make for a very heady experience, but also one where the variety of choices overwhelm the capacity to make a choice, unless you go in with an agenda focused on a specific set of circumstances, at which point it could be argued that you are imposing some linear time limitations on non-linear time in order to effect a choice.

So is the present real or is the past and future real? All are real, and all are possibilities. And we censor it all out to deal with set possibilities, to limit ourselves, and this makes sense on so many levels, and offers so much potential for how to change those limitations as well, provided we're willing to brave the wilds of non-linear time to do so. There are ways to do that...meditation being one, the creative flow another, and of course magic, but a lot of it really comes down to changing the awareness of what is possible vs what can become real.

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