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

Posted on December 26, 2008
Filed Under book review, Culture, identity, mystical journeys, Taylor Ellwood, Vince Stevens | 6 Comments

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.

and

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 change…it’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.

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