Chaos


All points burn through to the surface… a little deeper, if possible, into the underlying substance

There are so many unique souls out here. All of them seem to have a handle on it—even the children. Their happiness is in human terms: fleeting, a moment only—the crest of the wave. In the study of meditation, countless times I’ve seen the adept grappling with this. Not wanting to break from the depths, they try to remain seated after the chugpi is struck. You can’t keep it, you couldn’t bear it—moments only. Then the walk, single file, eyes down. The practice continues, only from a more agitated position. We need the change, yes, to move the blood through the legs, but also to break from the intensity of the floor, to stimulate the senses. There’s no state of mind that remains constant, yet we are never resolved to this, no matter how far along. We refute it, because we know in truth there is a constant. Our entire struggle is to reveal it, once and for all.

In Chaos and Fractals—New Frontiers in Science authors Peitgen, Jürgens, and Saupe show, through repeated feedback evaluations using two different calculators, remarkably different results after only three iterations. The same is shown on one calculator using two different implementations of the same equation. The pattern these anomalies reveal is an endless spiral, into the depths…

Ed. note: After reading over this chapter of Field of Weeds for the Chaos segment, I thought it didn’t quite dig deep enough into this luminous discovery. I regard this book, alongside Camus – The Rebel and Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, as one of the formative works that deeply impacted my understanding of the human condition. I felt it needed more math, so I added this section:

Mathematicians discovered that while iterating p + rp (1 – p) for the constant r = 3 and the initial value p0 = 0.01 to the tenth iterate on a Casio fx-7000G pocket calculator:

anomalies resulted. Chaos. When these are plotted on a graph, this is what it looks like:

(fractal video sequence)

Chaos is beautiful.

Without modern computers, this view of the universe would be exceedingly difficult to obtain. Consciousness is similarly obscure, perhaps it is the same thing?

(panpsychism) title card

We can only know it intuitively, but once you become aware of it, once your brain knows how to decipher it… so, this is our work.

This section was omitted by the director, who thought it too technical for Dharma Fragments, “It needs to remain in the realm of the metaphysical.” Without the math, the chaos section had no fulcrum, so I emitted this whole concept and wrote something new. Back to the Chaos chapter:

…To paraphrase, chaos, the breakdown of predictability, is the rule in nature, while order, or predictability, is the exception—but chaos follows very stable patterns. The pattern revealed is startling, at once familiar and unknown. In Chaos and Fractals there are many examples of spiral patterns, naturally occurring fractals, in the veins of a kidney, broccoli flowers, the branches of a river, mountain ranges, coastlines, moon craters. The math is very complex—I’m sure I’m glossing over details, but the seeming unpredictability shown through complex math to draw the fractals we know today would be unthinkable without the aid of computers—and I’m no match for that. The underlying symmetry is a beautiful pattern, the harmony of substance. In a way you could say it’s the true form, the face of it. Happiness, bliss, the rapture of existence, is the same. It’s not found on the surface, it’s indiscernible—but once you become aware of it, once your brain knows how to decipher it… so, this is our work. If it were easy there would be geniuses everywhere computing magnificent fractals beyond comprehension. It’s the path of the hero, the rockstar. It’s amazing we’re beginning to understand these things at all, with our limited facilities. It is there—the capability. It must be nurtured, organically grown, but yes… if it’s important to you, you can cultivate a mind that can perceive substance. Funny that in the perception of it there’s a catalyst—the mind heated, forged; the beating core, and peace everywhere. Since we’re striving night and day to reach it, from every conceivable angle, I’m sure we will. It’s not so far. It nearly requires the psyche, the ego, to give way, to be abandoned. Its clumsy mechanisms don’t work here—its faults too conspicuous, the emotional toll too destructive, wasteful. Regardless, the turmoil and suffering of humanity, the cloud of ignorance, is the cure.

“If a monastic still envies a lay person’s wealth and fame, or is lonely and still feels sorrow, this is truly shameful.” –Zen Master Man Gong (1872–1946)

The fog has rolled in this morning. The train beeps and rattles its doors closed. To Watts! Several more trains wait in the distance, the tracks between them rusted, but concrete and steel is what they require. How much thought went into every small detail? That I can pay my hard-won dollar and board this, if slow and clunky, thrill ride to the heart of the city. Most, if not all, faces are besmudged and gloomy. What would they require? Magic? I suppose it’s not so much the vessel, but the troubles they bring onboard: a caustic stew of disappointments, deaths, miscarriages, early and late arrivals, bad teeth, and bad digestion. What a heavy load! I’m surprised the train is not heavily fortified. The wheels squeal as all of our demons weigh in, but before the thing careens into a pitch black tunnel of despair, a few teenagers bound to their seats and it’s all sunshine and good vibes and the smell of candy. Rosa Parks is the crossroads between the green and blue lines, metaphor on top of metaphor. I love the strain of humanity I encounter here. The place is alive with so many deeply worn characters; if I were a painter I would surely be dumbstruck. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to photograph them. The blue line races to the financial district and ends there, under what I remember as a large, ugly building—but I won’t see it today. The financial district, gateway to Broadway—which in LA… they could call it Mexico and no one would question it. Maybe they already have. The grand old buildings there all seem left behind like there was a mass exodus, one of the reasons I like the place. Surely there’s some meaning. Why bother over old texts or count how many stones in the grand gallery of the pyramids? There’s as much meaning here, how we’ve joined these divergent elements: the lay of the streets, the movement of the crowd, the winding flames of my tattooed friend, who’s brought a pillow onboard and, to my knowledge, remained slouched near the door. What’s the rush? We’re forced out at Washington. Some problem ahead. All of us shuffle out and onto waiting buses. The packed conditions have me repeating the great dharani, soaring. Gangsters, thugs, tiny children clinging to their mothers, we again find our ease together. Hands are shaked, wapos congratulated—shrieks and moans, the indiscernible sounds of excited humans. I’m fortunate enough to stand near a sleeping child clinging now to her father. Watching her, it’s the same feeling as the retreat cabin in the heart of the wilderness. It’s too noisy for her to remain asleep, but she’s determined, and quite relaxed. The morning fog has become an urban haze—the best weather for traveling across the grid. As I walk through the nearly deserted streets I’m on the lookout for graffiti, abandoned corners of desolation—suitable places to add my stickers. I’ve been doing it enough that it’s reflexive: finding the right spot, scanning the street for trouble. Today I place several right in front of the cops. The last stop an officer tracked me through the whole process. I didn’t notice who she was until I was on the escalator down. She watched me disappear into the waiting tunnel with a complete lack of interest or concern, but I was so encouraged by the placement of the sticker (I’d seen the red box a block away) that I must’ve looked like I owned the thing. The light in the subway flashes the same code of existence, being, the substance revealed in the intricacies of the form. I enjoy the hypnotic flickering. So much information is conveyed, even here.

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