Monday, 20 April 2009
written by Kyle
In physics, entropy is a mathematical theory that measures the rate of breakdown from highly ordered systems to more disorderly states. The more variables that exist within a system, the more uncertainties in action are present and the greater probability for a larger amount of entropy, or rate of organizational decay. The principle is based on the equilibrium concept that states over time all things flatten out and return to par. This is due to thermodynamic equilibrium which is the eventual heat/energy loss or displacement from a system which maintains its current state of order and mode of action. For a system to maintain its current order the theory states a greater amount of energy is needed to be put back into the system than is lost.
What does this mean? The most common example of entropy given is the action of a glass of ice cubes in a warm room. The ice cubes are well formed at first but eventually melt to become on par with the temperature of the room. One could not simply place the glass back in the freezer to re-animate the well formed cubes of ice but would need to reform them again inside the mold from which they were made. Perhaps, picture if you like a new vehicle, shiny, well oiled and clean. Over time, despite our best efforts to maintain the car it eventually becomes more hassle than its worth and we trade it in for a new one.
I realize you are asking what this has to do with Buddhism or anything else for that matter. It all has to do with our attempt at control of the world around us. We all go to some effort to control the objects, events or people in our lives in order to feel more in charge of our situations and feel less confusion and turmoil. Many of us spend a good amount of time trying to alter the course of events or the feelings of others to maintain a sense of control or normality. We think if we can control the circumstances of our lives or the people we interact within it, we can produce some modicum of calm and comfort. Why do we do this? We do it because confusion and turmoil are painful and are understandably undesirable.
What we fail to realize is the impossibility of controlling all the aspects and circumstances of our lives. We could not even begin to fathom the innumerable possibilities that can and do occur on a moment by moment basis. Our life’s progression is incalculable and the events that occur in the span of our existence happen seemingly by chance or randomness. Because all things change and nothing can exist independently from anything else, the thought of trying to control what happens around us is absurd. Yet we try anyway, and by doing so create more turmoil, more pain and more bedlam in our lives.
Simply put, we need to put more and more energy or effort into that which we desire to control to maintain the same level of order and organization. As the number of these things in our lives we wish to control grows, the more energy is needed to keep them in balance, and the more pandemonium ensues in such efforts. “I need to get a better job. I want her to pay closer attention to me. I need to keep my place cleaner. I want them to like me. I don’t want it to rain today. Why can’t they make these roads have fewer potholes?” When does It end?
We do, however, have control over something far more important and significant when it comes to our peace of mind and happiness; our actions. We may not be able to control the circumstances of life, the curve balls of hard times or wonderful opportunities that present themselves out of the blue to us, but we can control how we act towards them. A vital key to our happiness in life is learning to accept that which life deals us without feeling the need to control every aspect of it. This does not mean we should not bury our heads in the sand and let the world fly by us or not plan for the future. Nor does it mean we should let people walk on us or not push a child out of the way of a speeding bus. It means we can learn to become unattached to the outcomes that happen in life and allow those things that are out of our hands go. Each moment, each circumstances and each person we cross paths with we should attempt to greet with an open mind and an honest candor.
From order comes disorder then back to order. From chaos comes calm and from harmony comes disarray. Such is the wonder and mystery of life.
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