El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

A comment on "Extremely Interesting!!"

January 11, 2016 0

Some time in my high school years, we had to write an essay arguing the existence of aliens. It was framed as a debate and you could choose your position i.e. if you support the existence of aliens or otherwise.

Not your typical high school assignment, I guess.

I chose the former position and one of the points I argued was that of arrogance. That is, in a universe that is in a constant state of flux, it seems impossible to me that we are the only planet with intelligent life. How could it be that of countless galaxies and solar systems, that ours is the only one with intelligent life? Perhaps there exists life on other planets that we do not necessarily recognise as “intelligent” because we are measuring them against our human-defined markers of intelligence. Maybe WE are looking for the wrong things.

And did we ever consider that to them, WE are the aliens because we are foreign to them? Maybe we have not found them yet because they are that much more intelligent than us, and therefore much better at avoiding us? Maybe they do not want to be contacted…

Many, many years later, Rinpoche told me that the Buddha recognised the existence of life on other planets, and even spoke about atoms and bacteria.

A yojana, the Buddha said, is equivalent to:

Four krosha, each of which was the length of
One thousand arcs, each of which was the length of
Four cubits, each of which was the length of
Two spans, each of which was the length of
Twelve phalanges of fingers, each of which was the length of
Seven grains of barley, each of which was the length of
Seven mustard seeds, each of which was the length of
Seven particles of dust stirred up by a cow, each of which was the length of
Seven specks of dust disturbed by a ram, each of which was the length of
Seven specks of dust stirred up by a hare, each of which was the length of
Seven specks of dust carried away by the wind, each of which was the length of
Seven tiny specks of dust, each of which was the length of
Seven minute specks of dust, each of which was the length of
Seven particles of the first atoms.

So here’s the neat part: According to Alex Bellos, it turns out the Buddha’s calculation got the size of an atom very close to right!

This was, in fact, a pretty good estimate. Just say that a finger is 4 centimeters long. The Buddha’s “first atoms” are, therefore, 4 centimeters divided by 7 ten times, which is 0.04 meter x 7 to the minus 10 or 0.00000000001416 meter, which is more or less the size of a carbon atom.

(Source: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/did-buddha-correctly-estimate-size-atom)

What is my point of all this? Every single day, scientists are turning up new species of plants and animals that were previously undiscovered. They are discovering new things that make us question our role on this planet. Yet, people continue to deny these findings, dismissing it as pseudoscience, questioning the methodology and going so far as to try and disprove it.

I do not doubt that methodology is important and yes, hypotheses do need to be tested in multiple scenarios, with multiple variables. But I think our arrogance does stop us from scientific progress. Just because new information makes us question our existence, does not mean it is wrong or bad. It does not mean it has to be rejected. It just means whatever we know needs to be changed, to accurately reflect our history and existence. Did we get into science, archaeology, anthropology to make a name for ourselves, or to uncover the truth? If it is the latter, then change what we know.

I get it. It sucks when your life’s work is suddenly thrown into question because someone comes along with totally different findings that might actually make sense.

No one ever said progress was painless.


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The videos were done very well. Clear narration, presented good evidence and used speakers who didn’t look like crazed, loopy people…

“What is the big deal if newer evidence usurps older views that may advance our knowledge. Who loses? No one in the end.” – oh I REALLY liked reading this, it made total sense to me. It was like the establishment that rejected Galileo’s discoveries about the way our solar system works. If they hadn’t rejected his findings, who knows how much further along we would now be in terms of scientific discoveries? Who knows how many years we were set back because they didn’t want to accept what he discovered?

Why DO we reject feedback and new information, just because it may shake up our old paradigms? I like what Dr Richard Thompson said in the first video, that we have a knowledge filter. We don’t need to be scientists to experience this; we can see this filter in action on a day-to-day basis. We easily accept information that matches what we know and think, and reject information that doesn’t because it’s easier for our ego to do so.

Even when we are actively searching for information, we look for data that matches or reinforces what we already know. For example, when a girl has a crush on a boy, she will create an image of him in her mind then look for information which matches. If she perceives him as nice and kind, when she sees him shopping with his mother, she will assume he’s family-oriented and a nice boy (when maybe, that’s not the case at all and he was forced to accompany mum). If he displays behaviour showing he’s not happy to be there, she’ll excuse it by saying, “Oh he’s probably just having a bad day.”

So we always want to find information that supports what we know, but that behaviour isn’t the path or method to success. Like what Rinpoche always says to us, never be afraid to admit we are wrong. It might sting at the beginning knowing we made a mistake but if we are result-oriented and we want to be a success, then feedback is always welcome. No one loses when we are wrong. The most successful people are always the ones who are questioning and curious, and not afraid to admit they are wrong and to look for a solution or answer to it.

Of course you can argue that the scientists were looking at the evidence (for example the fossilised finger) and applying THEIR own knowledge filter – they were looking at the evidence to see what they wanted to see, and that the fossilised finger could just be a cleverly eroded rock. But the evidence isn’t being found independent one of another but rather, side by side and it’s not one piece of evidence found in isolation, but a whole mass of evidence being discovered all over the world, dating to different periods in history.

So to dismiss the findings presented by these scientists, anthropologists and archaelogists means we run the risk of repeating the same mistakes made by people who rejected Galileo’s findings. It cannot be that these ancient people dreamt up such elaborate hoaxes, thinking, “Oh yes, in the future, someone will come along and it’ll totally confuse them!” You’re talking about ancient civilisations whose entire existences were so vulnerable to famine, disease, migration, climate change – did they REALLY have the time to engage in such elaborate schemes for their own entertainment?

Who would dig so deep into the ground, and struggle to move carved blocks of megatonne rocks (like in Easter Island) just for their own entertainment? Or transport red granite down a mountain and up another, five miles away? Or build temples with such precision in the construction? To do things on such a large scale, that would’ve expended so much energy would have required a very significant reason.

I think it’s important for people to be open-minded to such theories because if we examine the situation, our experience shows that history can always be changed and updated. If Java Man was accepted, then later found to be inaccurate, why can’t what we know about the origins of man be inaccurate, and ready for an update? Isn’t it possible for man to have existed alongside dinosaurs? It’s not possible according to the science NOW, but what if what we know isn’t correct and isn’t the truth? What if we shift our knowledge just a little, to make room to consider the possibility this new evidence may be true?

The other thing I also thought about when watching the videos is, these ancient civilisations went through so much. They were people just like us, and struggled, fought, loved, studied, shopped, ate, slept. And now everything they put so much effort into is reduced to near-rubble, left behind for archaeologists and scientists to pore over. What are we doing now that we place so much importance on, that will be forgotten in the years to come?

Reflections and Teachings

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