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In The Beginningless Time

April 1, 2015

The argument on whether the world has a beginning is as old as mankind itself.  Some Buddhist monks (see iep.utm.edu) were told to use

“No, the world does not have a beginning, it does not fail to have a beginning, it does not have and not have a beginning, nor does it neither have nor not have a beginning.”

as their answers.  That does not go down very well as in conventional logic as

“the statement P cannot have both B and not-B”.

But I am going to use an argument in Mathematical Analysis to answer that question.  If you ever sit down and contemplate on both zero and infinity and came up with both being two sides of the same coin, then you are not wrong.  Sir Issac Newton used that and invented the mathematics of taking limits to make sense of zero dividing by zero and hence the much dreaded mandatory Calculus courses for all science and engineering students of colleges all over the world today.  So go sit down under an apple tree and you could re-invent Calculus just contemplating on that, or easily come up with an answer of “the similarity of zero and infinity”.

No, it’s not so easy.  But if we live in a world whose time goes from negative infinity to positive infinity, how can we “argue” ourselves out and say we are living from zero to 1000?  “Easy, ” say a mathematician.  The open set (0,1) is in on-to-one correspondence with (-\infty, \infty) and  (-\infty, 1) or (0, \infty) .  End of argument.

“Wait,, wait, wait, wait…”

Yes, mathematician just bring \infty to 0 or 1, and then said you’re not allowed to go near it, it’s the same.  It’s kind of like, Einstein said the speed of light is finite, but the things (particles) we know and think we know could never get near that speed.  And then you come along and said “Since we cannot go near the speed of light, could we just say it is infinity?”  Mathematically, if you consider it to be infinity, you are correct.  If you consider it to be 300000 kilometres per second (because you have some very precise instrument to measure it), then you are also correct (and then conventional adding and subtraction of speeds will have no problem).

Yeah, it’s almost like me being thrown into a black hole and you watching me, As I approach that “singularity” in the black hole, me (and  my”experience” ) are “frozen” according to you.  But me, using my own experience and still flying towards the black hole claim my time was never frozen and that I am living normally.  To me, what seems infinity, to you, it’s finite, you said I almost hit that singular point in the black hole.

So there seems to be two different “frame of references” here. ONE, you — watching me flying towards the black hole;  TWO, me, the person flying towards the black hole.  In Buddhist language, you seemed to be in “Ultimate truth” and me, I am in another reference called “conventional truth”.

If that still does not make sense, it’s okay, take this from a Master:

Stop wasting of valuable time (trying to understand the guy who was “watching”), time that should be spent on the much more important and doable task of psychological self-mastery.

If I were “shot with an arrow thickly smeared with poison”,   I should not zhizhuo (执著) and said

until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short…
until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-coloured…
until I know his home village, town, or city…
until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow…
until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fibre, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated…
until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird…
until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.

I won’t have this arrow removed  — taken from Cula-Malunkyovada Sutra

(quotes from Wiki — Parable of the Poisoned Arrow)

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