Zen: Don’t Think Good or Evil


If you think good and evil,

You become a person of good and evil.

I recently chanced upon a book sale and was able to purchase a book of Zen koans and a book of Haiku poetry for a fair price.  I had read about Zen in the past, but I had not read actual works by Zen masters.


I have completed reading Zen Inspirations: Essential Meditations and Text, by Dr. Miram Levering for the first time.  It includes the complete text of The Gateless Gate a thirteenth century collection of koans, commentary and poetry by Ekai, known as Mumon.  The book also includes The Ten Ox-herding Pictures accompanied by ten poems by the twelfth century Chinese monk K’uo-an Shih-yuan It is definitely not something you read only once.  I enjoyed the Zen masters’ admonitions to read the koan and permit yourself to solve it quickly and without hesitation to discover the enlightenment that comes from honesty.  As I read the koans, I let myself be honest about my inner response and the wisdom of the Zen masters became increasingly amusing.  I think I came to be enlightened many times by their frank honesty about the human condition, the Buddha and the Tao.  I think one admonition by Zen master Mumon, that if you encounter someone filled with the Tao, strike him in the face with all the strength you have, sums up what I have learned.

The Zen koans and Taoism I find agree with the philosophy of science, the philosophy of Karl Popper, skepticism, the evolutionary biology of Charles Darwin, the physics of Werner Heisenberg and the mathematics of Kurt Goedel seamlessly.  Uncertainty remains the only certainty.

There is origin without origin, direction without direction, destination without destination.  Any sense of order is localized and transient.  That is the Tao Te and not the Tao Te, and that is what the adherents to Zen struggle with daily.

I don’t claim understanding or overstanding of this paradox.

Physics: Within and Without the Box

I have been reading extensively about the thought experiment, called Schrödinger’s Cat, and have reached a personal conclusion that it is inherently flawed by its idealism.  There is no case where any object inside “the box” can be fully shielded from decoherence.  There is no example of this in nature.  Every case for the validity of the experiment is baseless.  Interestingly enough, this is what Schrödinger was out to demonstrate and with which Einstein agreed.  What hadn’t been explored at the time was entanglement can be explained simply by additional dimensions.


Atomic Tunneling

Science: Within and Without the Box

I have been surfing for quite some time looking for a new approach to the Six Hats, Six Coats Framework and I came across this blog entry Is There a Box To Think Outside Of? from ProjectArmannd.com It got my mental muscle pondering the framework and inside-the-box and outside-the-box thinking. I agree with the conclusion of ProjectArmannd’s blog entry “there is no box”, however disciplining oneself and training oneself to master a classification system or systems is a powerful method for exercising control of the universe and we are always looking for better classification systems. And these systems are forever improving at the smallest and largest scales. Which brings me to this character:


Hugh Everett was the first to come up with what is commonly known as the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Basically, Hugh had the epiphany that perhaps what he was attempting to understand with systems at the quantum scales also applied to observers at classical scales. Such an insight is no different that Sir Issac Newton having the epiphany that the forces acting on a falling apple were the same forces that applied to the motion of the planets. Both are grand unifications, Issac’s was called “gravity”.

Issac knew that the natural philosophers of his time would choke on the scope of his grand unification of gravity, it didn’t appear to be simple because of its scale. The Many World’s Interpretation is also simple and resolves many of the paradoxes of attempting to have a universe that obeys quantum mechanics at the subatomic level and classical mechanics at the observer level, but physicists seem to choke on all the parallel universes. The conflict is one of scale rather than one of simplicity.

Now, why do I talk about Everett? Because Everett’s theory was an attempt to bring the universe into the box of quantum mechanics. It required a new understanding of the existing structure of quantum mechanics to resolve the exceptions that Everett wanted to handle.

The Six Hats, Six Coats Framework exists for me because I have been continually restructuring my understanding of what the Framework represents and what the exceptions to it represent. I think within-the-box and without-the-box continually to handle exceptions in the simplest manner possible. And like Everett I include the observer in the systems. When our classification system doesn’t work it is usually because one of the interrogatives is being excluded.

Cause | Observer | Energy | Mass | Space | Time

Why | Who | How | What | Where | When

Related Posts:

Physics: Only When We Look At It

Systema: Seven Hats, Seven Links