Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Lojong 1.1: Life is precious

In a universe many billions of years old, full of energy and matter, there is a particular kind of matter that can do chemistry.

Particles of this special kind of matter can attract and repel each other. Most matter doesn't seem to react to itself -- it just flows around randomly as far as anyone can tell. But this special matter -- about 2% of all that is -- can structure itself and become things.

In fact, it's self-organizing in some sense and some of it has formed into stars, some into planets, and some of the matter on some of the planets has even created something called biology -- forms that can replicate and reproduce themselves.

Of course, some forms of life survive and reproduce more effectively than others. Some strategies work better, some don't work as well. So over time, the population of living things tends to be dominated by those forms that are most effective at surviving and thriving given the conditions current at the time.

In one particular corner of this universe, there is a life form that calls itself "human". As far as anyone knows, humans are the only life form ever to develop a way of recording thoughts and feelings so that they can be repeated even years later, after all the individuals alive when the recording was first made have died out.

That ability has allowed humans to develop mathematics, literature, philosophy, religions, science, and many other areas of study and endeavor. One of the most amazing results is a technology that continues to advance and become more sophisticated with time.

In some ways, humans are quite delightfully amazing. In some ways, they are disappointing and perverse. They have been clever enough to create amazing technology, but they tend to squander their lives in endless cycles of misery and habit, not realizing how much more pleasant and meaningful an experience they could have by making a few simple changes in their attitudes and routines.

Most of them spend their lives in a mindless trance of greed and fear, chasing after things they find attractive and fleeing from what they find fearsome. Some of them have realized this and developed ways of breaking this trance, but for the most part they ignore this possibility and carry on chasing after the next shiny toy that promises to make them happy but never delivers in a sustained way.

Lojong

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