The Buddhist Entropy Principle

I have never been able to convince my wife that the unmatched pairs of socks on the floor of our bedroom closet are a result of a natural phenomenon: entropy. Nature has designed everything such that all systems lead to disorderliness or chaos, in scientific term, towards greater entropy in thermodynamic lingo. Things turn into a disorderly state naturally; the cycle is rarely reversed. This is a universal law. The best example of increasing entropy is the endless expansion of universe; for the past five billions years it has been expanding endlessly. With each billion light miles of expansion, the entropy of the universe multiplies several folds. It is going down hill in the spectrum of thermodynamic profile. This is similar to helium gas let out of balloon—it does not stay at one place—the atoms dissipate all around. There are however exceptions. When talking about the theoretical model of universe, one is faced with strange presumptions; if, as predicted, the universe one day collapses then this would be a total reversal of the natural order of thermodynamics, a more structure form out of a totally dissipated system. But then who can challenge nature. On a more corporeal level, the process of evolution from very simple life forms to such complex forms as humans is against the stream of flow that the natural laws should have followed. But just to prove a point, we do end up into infinite number of dust particles; ashes to ashes. And that is pretty much in line with the natural principles of thermodynamics. This may partly explain the orderliness of human body structure since the balance has to be maintained within the closed universe and while entropy decreases in one instance it is compensated by increased entropy elsewhere. When a chemical bond is formed, it always releases heat because that is the only way overall equation of energy can be balanced when entropy decreases. At a more plausible level, a pile of freshly laundered socks will never end up matched in a drawer without effort. Disorderliness is also the cause of chaos, the principle that governs the universe. Randomness, chance events, Gaussian distribution, all point to one direction—any orderly or coordinated event is a result of extensive disorderliness. The best example of this chaos is our neuronal response. Simultaneously and in a chaotic manner billions of nerves in our brain fire randomly; the randomness is so large that it results in an orderly response. What determines the direction of a regulated response is the memory of molecules that is created with each chance factor. Only a moron would touch a hot iron twice. Every experience as a result of our neuronal firings gets registered with memory proteins that force or channel neurotransmitters into a certain directions. This is the dynamic memory process where each event or experience determines the outcome of the next event, all without a predetermined or preordained blue print. Consider an avalanche of lava steered into a specific direction through channels created by the previous lava flow. Now let us examine how chaos plays a role in our daily life. Our belief system is a function of many things, from our social and religious beliefs to the role model displayed by our parents to the group conscience of the community we live in. It is known that our behavior is highly regulated by the behavior of those around us. In mayhem we act out of control—the mob psychology cliché invariably operates. Generally, the fewer factors we have that govern our behavior the less will be the chaos in our behavior. If "y" is a function of "x," then y=kx, wherein "k" is the sum of all those modulating factors. Smaller k values allow smaller gyrations in our behavior. Man is known for adding contributing elements to the value of "k," from religious biases to personal preferences of colors to wear and foods to eat. Both genetic and acquired traits play a significant role in determining the value of "k." The mental chaos also leads to violence that man inflicts on his brethren. And it is this aspect of mental entropy that we are talking about Buddha. In traditionalist Buddhist teaching, the believers are advised to leave their shoes and egos outside of the temple door prior to entry. Shoes represent pride and ego of course is what makes what the human beings are—wild savages at times. In reality, the Buddhist axiom is helping to reduce the "k" value, fewer traits that taint our personality and thus reduced entropy of mind. Reaching a stage of nirvana is an optimal level of lowest mental entropy possible. In Sufism, "tark tark" or "give up, give up," is intended to reach the same state of mind, though through a very different suggestion. Whether one believes in these philosophies or not, everyone has experienced that in meditating, a deliberate effort is made to rid the brain of conscious thought process to yield a peaceful mind. Calming the mind has many beneficial effects. It reduces the randomness or neuronal firings, reducing abrupt thoughts and more importantly it reduces irrationality of human behavior.

Throughout the history of mankind, it has been evident that man has rarely been able to hide his true nature as irrational savage being, brief episodes of civility notwithstanding. Politicians succeed in evoking the public, the religious leaders succeed in exploiting the believers and cult leaders lead the gullible into self immolation because they understand well that it is not difficult to step up the mental entropy—it is a natural thermodynamic phenomenon. Structuring thoughts and behavior requires effort; it is an uphill phenomenon similar to the energy barrier in the transformation of molecular reactions. Oxygen and hydrogen atoms when combined give water molecule but left together for centuries hydrogen and oxygen will not merge to give the water molecule. It requires introducing a certain amount of energy (for us effort) to push the reaction over the hill. Centuries of teachings in writing or the spoken words have tried to enlighten man; Buddhist teachings to Plato's dialog have all tried to instill that rare element of structuring to help man develop the energy needed to move down hill to a lower entropy plateau—a thermodynamic antithesis. Some have succeeded, most have failed because going against the nature of laws and more aptly against the nature of man is a formidable task. It requires introspection and one can not even begin the process unless he leaves his shoes and ego outside of the door to the temple. That is Buddhist Entropy Principle.