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Is the Universe 'alive'?

But don't we know, for example, objects like a chair aren't alive, or conscious? Or are they?
This is from another thread, where the question is slightly different. So . . .

In some paths the world (including chairs) are a 'manifestation of the veiled'. A personification or revelation of the ineffable. A chair is a thought of gods or God.

This is why as Buddhists, when it comes to God, we sit on it. For some a chair, for others an expression of care for asses.

This relationship between form and emptiness is experiential. If your universe is devoid of non caused Great Mindfulness, then sit. If you think you are The Chair - Sit. If the chair is empty . . . then . . . well you'll think of something . . .

What side of the great chair debate is your order based on?

Comments

  • JohnGJohnG Veteran
    Define life?
  • This is weird to me. We study and learn that to mitigate suffering we need to change OUR perspective to pleasure and pain. Change our perspective, we change the universe(s). And, I think, (this is how I look at it) my current perspective is tethered to hubris. Insidious thing, hubris...

    I don't think its about the chair. I think its about our relationship/perspective to the chair/universe.
    mfranzdorf
  • ZaylZayl Veteran
    Yes, the universe is fully alive. We are, after all (and not just us, but every other living thing) the way that the universe is able to become aware of itself. You see? Because of us, and possibly other intelligent beings out there, the universe has achieved self-awareness. Not too shabby, considering it all started as purely hydrogen gas.

    But if you are asking if inanimate objects are alive, no, no they are not.
    nenkohai
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    I guess I'd phrase the question a little differently and ask if the universe is sentient.

    Life, I think has a more empirical and quantitative definition and I don't think the universe qualifies.

    Does the universe have some level of sentience though? Scientifically its an unanswerable question at present (we don't even have a means to really tell if you or I are sentient). When science digs down to the smallest level every space is filled with information and some mainstream interpretations of quantum mechanics seem to suggest that consciousness is a fundamental component of the universe.

    The philosopher of consciousness David Chalmers thinks that some type of 'proto-consciousness' may need to be included as one of the fundamental building blocks of the universe.
    Lazy_eye
  • Zayl stated a wonderfully nondualist comment which I love! Well said!
  • Its different emphasize in view, experience and realization of various practitioners in various schools of spirituality.

    But I've been enjoying the Korean Zen outlook lately.

    Which is that everything arising is the full exertion of everything.

    So sound is fully the universe as sound in action, thus no self, no center, completely traceless as it arises.

    And everything is like that.

    So the universe is most definitely alive. It is total motion with no-thing moving. The experience and insight into dependent origination, anatta, full exertion, and emptiness.

    No dead pools, but a fully empty reality that is completely unique in expression each instant of its non-arising.

    So the chair as it is, its all its glory and appearance is emptiness, thus functions as the whole universe in that instant, then gone.

    How wonderful and magical.
    nenkohairiverflowBeej
  • Is the universe alive?

    It is ... if we are.
    riverflownenkohailobsterBeej
  • A chair is part of the form skhanda of the being who perceives it. And, yes, the universe is alive.
  • howhow Veteran
    edited April 2013
    One form of existance might be less than the blink of anothers eye.
    Perhaps inert material wonders if organic material could ever become sentient considering how transitory it is?
    lobster
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Should we be looking at the chair as sentient/alive, or the zillions of components of which it consists?

    @person - Are you sure you mean Chalmers? Or were you thinking of Roger Penrose? If it is Chalmers can you point me at where he says this? I'll be interested if he has moved from his earlier position. (Not putting you on the spot, just interested in where Chalmers has got to on all this. I no longer follow his writings).

    I wonder if @Zayl's 'purely hydrogen gas' can be sentient. I find it interesting that Erwin Schrodinger likens the mystics to the particles in a ideal gas.
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    @Florian He mentions this aspect in this radio documentary on consciousness. Its really a good one imo, if you want to take the time to listen.

    I found this excerpt from the transcript.
    Chalmers: Right, but when it comes to conciousness, this reductions program doesn’t succeed. SO my only view is we should take something like conciousness as a primitive element of the world, a fundamental property if you like in the way that physics take space and time and mass and charge
    http://ttbook.org/book/mind-and-brain
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    "Awaken the mind without fixing it anywhere" - Diamond Sutra

    Strangely enough, a chair has no sense of self.
    It is not enlightened.
    Can something exist without a capacity for Self?
    Does a chair have awakening potential?

    The enlightened chair? Wake up and smell the furniture polish?
    [no disrespect to any wooden tops]
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Thanks @person

    It seems he has rather changed his position over time, which is an admirable thing, and now agrees with Penrose and McGinn.

    What bothers me is that while he promotes consciousness to a theoretical primitive, in doing so he puts it on a list of other phenomena that we cannot explain. So maybe he hasn't changed his position by much.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    lobster said:

    "Awaken the mind without fixing it anywhere" - Diamond Sutra

    Strangely enough, a chair has no sense of self.
    It is not enlightened.
    Can something exist without a capacity for Self?
    Does a chair have awakening potential?

    The enlightened chair? Wake up and smell the furniture polish?
    [no disrespect to any wooden tops]

    Maybe some chairs.

    image
    BeejJeffreyVastmind
  • Lazy_eyeLazy_eye Veteran
    Florian said:

    Are you sure you mean Chalmers? Or were you thinking of Roger Penrose? If it is Chalmers can you point me at where he says this? I'll be interested if he has moved from his earlier position. (Not putting you on the spot, just interested in where Chalmers has got to on all this. I no longer follow his writings).

    I haven't followed him all that closely either, but I did read "The Conscious Mind" awhile back and recall him mentioning somewhere that he considers panpsychism worthy of consideration.

    (Digging around for Chalmers book...) Ah yes, here it is, in Chapter 8,
    We ought to take the possibility of some sort of panpsychism seriously: there seem to be no knockdown arguments against the view, and there are various positive reasons why one might embrace it.
    This after an extensive discussion of "what is it like to be a thermostat?" :)
  • "The universe is alive" is a skillful means.
    riverflowBeej
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    It also has to do with the refuge. In the west we think of what we do as the refuge; do we practice when able? But in the east they say a lot more about how the universe and mandala of awakening is also meeting you. The two work together. If you live the dharma you see more of this alive nature. It's like the saying 'manure for the practice'. Turn everything into practice of generosity for example. Bring your other situations in life into that sense of giving compassion.
    Beej
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Lazy_eye said:



    This after an extensive discussion of "what is it like to be a thermostat?" :)

    Ah, the famous thermostat. I rate Chalmers because he is more honest than most, and even complains about the lack of honesty in consciousness studies, what he call the 'sleights of hand'. But his books I find tedious. He says it all in two short early articles for JCS, 'Facing up to the problem of consciousness and 'Moving on...' It was these two articles that eventually led me to Buddhism, which would probably surprise him as much as it did me.
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