All things must pass ?

#104 – April 14th – All Things Must Pass Away

All things must pass, none
of life’s dreams can last;
So I must be on my way,
and face another day.
~ George Harrison

Hi Deb

The idea that everything must decline is an illusion.

Certainly all things must have a beginning, but that does not logically require that all things must have an end. The concept of infinity does allow for things to start, and not to end.

Certainly the normal thing for people has been to be born and to die. That is certainly common. History records only one person who doesn’t have a death recorded (Enoch) – and that may be pure story, or it may hold a germ of truth.

Certainly, all life on this planet appears to be part of an unbroken chain of life. Certainly most of the higher life forms (like ourselves) seem to have limited life spans, and that is not the case for the simpler life forms (bacteria and simple algae – they live on indefinitely).

So while death may be common, it is not inevitable.
While decay may be common, it is not inevitable.

The possibility of indefinite life, with full and expanding capacities, exists. It may not yet be a reality, it may not become reality in time for us, and it may.

To me it is a possibility worth working for.

Certainly death is always a possibility, one I have accepted and faced as few have, and it also seems that we have the possibility of life indefinite.

There is so much possibility in life, and so much that is limited by the limits we accept upon ourselves.

Of course economic times are hard. The economic system is based upon scarcity, and cannot survive abundance. The economic system must, in logic, destroy abundance and security in practice, at the same time that it holds out the perpetual illusion of future abundance. The logic of that is just so clear to me, that it is difficult for me to appreciate that others cannot see it, and the reality certainly seems to be that most cannot as yet.

We have the technology to deliver universal abundance, and universal security.
We have the necessary genetic and social preconditioning for it to work.

All that is preventing it from happening is our attachment to ideas from the past – at so many different levels.

And I can get that the past offers the security of the known, the proven, the tested – even if that comes with vast amounts of human misery – for many it seems better the misery of the known than the uncertainty of the untested. There is a weird sort of logic there, and it is more than logic, it is the structure of the human brain, the structure of neurons, the way in which learning and connections and patterns establish.

I am not blindly optimistic.
I am conscious of many levels of pattern at play.
And there is cause for cautious optimism.
There is cause to accept that possibility exists and is attainable, and it will take effort, active choice, active discomfort in moving beyond the known, beyond the accepted, beyond the comfortable.

[followed by]

Hi Deb

You said ” Without decline and decay, there would be no space left for the new” which is only partially true in a limited sense.
There are other ways of making room for the new.
It is possible to continue the process of becoming “new”, continue the process of constant exploration, constant renewal.
Decay does not need to be part of the process, and certainly many of our ecosystems have evolved that way.

In one sense, we can say that death and decay have become limits upon the new. We are now expanding our knowledge base at such a rate that our limited lifespans are becoming a serious limit on the sorts of conceptual realms a human can explore. In this sense, extending lifespans is an absolute requirement if humanity is to continue to discover new things. So far from creating novelty, limited lifespans are now becoming a serious limitation on the sort of novelty that humans can explore.
Even with my limited investigations, I can already map out further explorations that would usefully occupy me for the next few hundred thousand years – and if I can scan that much in a mere 60 years, how much more might appear as possible in the next 100,000 years.

The time of decline due to aging must pass, it is far too limiting on our intellectual development.

If we are to make serious intellectual progress, then indefinite extension of lifespans is an absolute prerequisite.
And some people may prefer the old way, of a short life, of limited development, and it has little or no appeal to me.

You say “forms are not infinite”, yet if you look, life is still living. Life has been around for several billion years, and hasn’t died yet. Sure some individual forms have died, many of them, but not all. Life itself continues, and looks like it may be able to continue indefinitely. Anything not yet ended has the possibility of becoming infinite in time (if not space).

Certainly bacteria can be killed, and many are, and some live on. Life continues, in the face of massive volcanism, massive meteors, supernovas, and every other manner of disaster that has visited this planet over the last 3 billion years, life has lived on. Not all of it, certainly, and some.

The possibility of indefinite life certainly exists, it is undeniable, it is evident in existence.
And the possibility of death also exists.

No guarantees.
Just possibility.

That seems to be the best any of us can get from life – possibility.

And there are some things we can do that move probabilities in our favour. 😉

[followed by]


You’re on a workable path 😉

Once one can see the implicit boundaries of the system, and step outside (beyond) them (as Neo did in The Matrix), then something else entirely becomes possible. And the existing systems will adapt – just like Smith did in The Matrix.
That series of movies provides a profound set of metaphors and analogies at many different levels – I love them !!!

And yes – bottom up definitely – alter the ground of being, the fabric of existence – or at least our perception of it, given that it is rarely (if ever) as we perceive it 😉 .

[followed by]

Hi Torch

So many problems with that approach.
First – what is an asset and how does one value it?
Our market based capitalist system says, put it on the market and see what the market values it at?
But that is such a flawed approach.
How much the market will value it at is a complex function of supply and demand.
If you put just a little bit on the market (like de Beer’s do with diamonds) then the market value will stay high. If you flood the market, the price will drop. Enough diamonds have been found and processed that the market value for them should be about the same as aluminium, but the vast bulk of that supply is kept away from the market in vaults to keep the price high. Same can be seen in a thousand (a million) other examples, of both real and virtual goods.

Another major problem is that the definition of an asset is intimately linked to both technology and expectation.
Our society has a vast repertoire of measures designed specifically for the manipulation of both technologies (intellectual property laws, trade guilds, trade laws,…) and expectations (advertising, politics, fashion, …).

All we really need is matter (we are not short of it, we live on a vast ball of it – planet earth), energy (again not short, we have a vast ball of hydrogen safely 93 million miles away that is converting 600 million tonnes of hydrogen to helium every second {about 4 million tonnes of matter converted to pure energy every second}, supplying 10,000 times as much energy as we currently use to the planet, and vastly more to the space around it – the sun), and ingenuity (again not limited, we have 7 billion of the most intelligent entities we know of, limited only by the environments in which they find themselves and the beliefs they accept about themselves, in their creativity, their empathy, their generosity and their relatedness).

We limit our production of goods and services purely to sustain our monetary systems – with little or no concern for the human misery that results.
Those monetary systems are fundamentally based in scarcity.
Without the tens of thousands of artificial barriers to abundances, created by laws, by customs, by beliefs that had some validity in ages past but are no longer applicable to today’s reality; market based capitalism would fail completely, as there would be no scarcity, of anything significant.

Sure there will always be original art works, and we now have the technology to copy any original art work to a level of detail that no unaided human eye can detect the difference.

Sure, every atom is distinctly what it is, and it is also functionally indistinguishable from all others of its kind.
We will always have originals, and we can now deliver substitutes that work, to anyone who wants one.

We could come very close to eliminating disease, but we never will so long as there is vast profit to be made from it.

Our systems, our monetary systems, our social systems, our political systems, our education systems, our news and entertainment systems, are fundamentally based in scarcity and insecurity.

Our species is evolved for high level cooperation, if it is given an appropriate environment.
Our social systems are not providing that environment.
Our social systems are based upon scarcity and competition, not abundance and cooperation.

It is time for a change, a fundamental change.
Markets are based in scarcity, and at the meta level (a level one level abstracted from the practical), are incentivised to deliver scarcity.

All of us have many more toys than our grandparents, but do we really feel more secure?
Do we feel safe?
Do we experience abundance and security in our daily lives?
Or do we have a suite of constant nagging terrors?

We cannot repair the global money system.
The money system, the very concept of markets, has passed its use by date.
It is time to accept and promote abundance in all things.
Markets cannot deliver abundance to all – only to a small group.
Markets come with inbuilt tendencies to scarcity at too many levels to ever mitigate all of them successfully.

We have the power to deliver universal abundance, universal freedom, universal security.

The biggest thing stopping us is the modes of thinking which we uncritically accept from our cultures, and chief amongst them is the idea of exchange and markets and market value (money).

We have the technology to allow us to automate production of all goods and services, but our market based systems of distribution work against such automation and the universal abundance that it would deliver.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
This entry was posted in Nature, Philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to All things must pass ?

  1. debyemm says:

    Wow, Ted

    What an honor. Thanks for linking my Gazing in the Mirror blog of daily essays here.

    And of course, I am aware of the various conversations and your replies to them as highlighted above.

    I do have a great respect for your thoughtful nature.

    Fondly !!


Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s