Galactic Eye

It’s not the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last. My thoughts had just turned toward someone whom I had met briefly over the weekend, who had none-the-less made quite an impression on me, but, unfortunately, just happened to be moving back to Brazil. It turned out she was half Japanese, so we spent a good chunk of our time speaking in that language, which still felt amazingly natural to me after nearly 14 years of essential non-use - far better than my Chinese can ever hope to be… She had said she was going to SMS me her e-mail address, but I still hadn’t heard from her. Until the exact moment I started to think of her. Then, right on cue, a message arrived with her email address.

This isn’t even the best example.

I remember vividly, years back, walking the streets of Tokyo with my friend Alex, when he stopped suddenly, got a very apprehensive look on his face, and said, “I’ve got to call my sister!” We found an international phone booth close by, and he called her, only to find out that his grandfather had just died.

At the time, I was an absolute materialist, so I just didn’t know what to make of it. Yet nearly everyone shares similar experiences. Indeed, before our world of instantaneous electronic communication, such occurrences of instantaneous non-verbal communication were commonplace.

I believe I’ve come a bit closer to understanding what was occurring in both of these cases by accepting the fact that there are some things simply cannot fit within the limited framework embraced by the majority of mainstream scientists, and therefor a great many people in the modern world. Fortunately, not all, though.

Rather than representing anomalous behavior of the physical universe, I’d say these two stories illustrate a fundamental principal - a universal principal - namely, that everyone, and everything is connected to everything else.

Non-local communication in physics happens between two particles after they interact, separate, and then go on their merry ways. It turns out that once they come in contact, they maintain the connection however far apart they then may go. When one changes state, the other will, seemingly miraculously, change to the same state as well - at the exact same moment. Well, it only seems miraculous to someone who believes fervently in Einstein’s speed limit that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. How then can these entangled particles share instantaneous communication?

I bring up Einstein here, because this has been a core issue of contention among physicists, ever since Einstein and Niels Bohr duked it out, beginning in 1927 at the fifth Solvay Conference of physicists, and ending with Einstein’s death in 1955. Whereas Bohr was convinced that experimenters were, in fact, creating the universe out of their results, Einstein insisted there must be something “real” out there.

It is said by some that pretty much everything in our modern world can be traced back to Plato. Plato claimed that we cannot really understand the physical world by itself, and that in order to comprehend all that occurs in our world we must accept the reality of another nonphysical, unchanging, timeless, and eternal realm which he called the world of forms.

Prior to the whole quantum mechanics debate, physicists had finally nailed the coffin shut on the idea of an aetheric field. Nowadays, people like to talk about a “zero point energy” field, but what is the difference between that and the aether? Essentially, we now know there is no such thing as “empty space”. So, what exactly is it that is missing?

Ancient mystics spoke of Akashic records upon which all that occurs is written, and whereby it is possible to know everything there is to know about anything. That sounds remarkably similar to an information field that exists outside of time and space. Like something that could explain the non-local instantaneous communication that occurs as part of our daily lives. Like why prayers and the laying on of hands actually do heal people.

In his most excellent book, Science and the Akashic Field - An Integral Theory of Everything, Ervin Laszlo makes an excellent argument that what is missing is, in fact, an information field quite like the Akashic records of legend, which he has therefor dubbed the a-field. He goes a long way toward explaining why things just don’t seem to add up for many traditional physicists.

So, where does that leave the reductionists? As we plod on toward a unified field theory, it leaves many physicists extremely disturbed. In mathematics, if you end up with infinity as a sum, you’ve done something wrong. And every attempt to bridge the gap between the macro world and micro world inevitably ends in infinity. Maybe that should be a sign that they are never going to get totality to fit into such a tiny box.

Perhaps, they need a larger box.

So, tell me… It’s a fact that our modern world was made possible by discoveries made early in the twentieth century. Yet, here we are… stuck in the middle between what can and cannot be explained. What lies ahead with the next breakthrough? Quantum computing? Time travel? Something as yet unimaginable?

From whence will this breakthrough arrive? Will you argue that consciousness is mere epiphenomena of the brain? Or are you ready to accept that there may be more? That perhaps consciousness is all there is?

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Wen Jiabao poses with Japanese journalists

One sticky topic that comes up for discussion from time to time is Japan. When I arrived in Beijing 4 years ago, the advice from those close to me was to not advertise the fact that I had spent 9 years in Japan to anyone. Events since then seemed to support that view, with demonstrations at the Japanese embassy and around the country flaring up over unresolved issues from the Japanese occupation of China, especially over the issue of so-called “comfort women” - the forcing of many young women into sexual slavery, a gripe which many other Asian nations share - and more pointedly, the visits of then prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to Yasukuni shrine, regarded by Japanese as equivalent to the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” in the US, but seen by formerly occupied countries as honoring known war criminals, of which 14 are buried there.

In fact, Japan has repeatedly apologized for Japan’s former aggressions, most recently in August of 2005, for what Mr. Koizumi claimed was the last time. The full text can be read here:

In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Sincerely facing these facts of history, I once again express my feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology, and also express the feelings of mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, in the war. I am determined not to allow the lessons of that horrible war to erode, and to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world without ever again waging a war.

To say that relations between Japan and China have been chilly is an understatement, this despite the fact that no one has invested more in China than Japan. Japan has recently witnessed the trade volume with China whither away, losing most of the advantage they had gained by investing in China while most still considered it too risky.

Well, at last things appear to be improving. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled to visit Japan in about a week, the first such visit in seven years. Wen remarked that, “The two countries should seek equality, mutual benefits and common development,” and called for the two countries to abide by three political documents which review the past and chart the future of China-Japan ties, saying, “As long as the principles and spirit of the three political documents are observed, China and Japan will develop steady ties.”

This is very good news to me, as I would very much like to see the two countries which have hosted me as a foreign guest for the longest get along.

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This morning, brought out a calligraphy brush pen she had recently acquired. She takes a moment to write her Chinese name, ??? Bai Li Ya, and the characters are utterly beautiful. Suddenly, my own memories of hours spent practicing calligraphy in Japan came rushing forth and I grabbed the pen from her and wrote my Chinese name ???, Ben Jie Ming. Hmmm, not bad, but obviously out of practice. I decided to do my favorite character from my erstwhile Japan days, when I seemed to have so much more time to devote to calligraphy, the character for love, ? ai. Ah, now that’s better!

then wrote out Ellie’s Chinese name, ?? Ai Li, which has the character ? ai in it. ?This brings to light that in the PRC, there is a fundamental difference between the way I wrote ai and the way that ai is written with the simplified characters used in mainland China. Blysse was watching us and waiting for her turn with the “brush” and I said to her, “Isn’t it ironic that when they simplified the character for love, they took the heart out it?” , ever on the lookout for conspiracies replies, “That isn’t ironic at all!” They had taken out the entire radical representing heart/mind ? xin and made a slight adjustment to the remaining radical and replaced it with the radical representing friend ? you instead. A different kind of love, perhaps, but I have to hand it to them for meeting the objective of reducing stroke count while maintaining as close to the original meaning as possible. My kids are learning the simplified characters at school here, and have occasionally encountered the traditional versus simplified characters debate before, but this seemed to drive the point home.

Generally, I approve of the notion of simplified characters, because they do require much fewer strokes, and therefore save a lot of time and effort over time. On the other hand, as I learned the Japanese version of Chinese characters first, which were based on the traditional characters, and spent a year in Taiwan, which still uses traditional characters, I appreciate that it is easier to see how and why a character came to mean what it does if you have all of the components in place, although this can lead to some mighty complex characters. I’ve met some people here in the mainland who are very disapproving of the practice, usually people who love the traditional Chinese ways and see the practice of simplified characters as a slight on ancient traditions. I even know a few who blog in traditional characters!

I went out for the day and when I came back, I saw that both Blysse and Salomae had been practicing the traditional character for “ai”, with the heart back in love.

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