The statement I’ll be making today is simple… very simple. Nonetheless, I think it’s of tremendous importance. It’s the type of thing that, if kept sufficiently in mind, can slowly revise your mental universe.
It’s also the type of thing that makes me want to write, “Repeat this every morning, noon, and night for at least one month, then meditate on it for a few years.” And I’m not entirely unserious about this; I think that would be an immensely valuable thing for you to do.
This concept can not only revamp you, but could revamp humanity. And because I believe the three words to be true, I’m convinced that their effects would be almost entirely beneficial.
So, here are those three words:
Life reverses entropy.
If that sounds too simple or not entirely clear, no problem; I’ll continue. (You can find lengthier discourses in the subscription letter, especially in issues #39 and #79.)
Entropy Versus Life
Entropy (a physics term with sometimes complex definitions) is the nature of all inanimate things: rocks, water, air, and so on. These all wind down and wear out eventually. Given enough millennia, the winds and rains will wear down the mountains. Given a few billion years, the sun itself will wear out and collapse, ending our winds and rains with it.
Entropy breaks up concentrations of things; it spreads them out till they are all dispersed and everything is a huge, neutral, homogeneous mass… a useless mass.
All inanimate things eventually wind down and wear out. By themselves, they remain tied to entropy.
Living things, on the other hand, reverse entropy.
A fruit tree, for example, takes in the gasses from our atmosphere, light from the sun, minerals and water from the ground. Then it organizes, concentrates, and harmonizes them… and produces oranges, apples, etc.
The same can be said for all living things. All of them take material from the entropic, inanimate world and concentrate it, making it useful. This is what life does. And more so than the “characteristics of life” that I was forced to memorize and repeat in school, this is the nature of life. And truth be told, I think it should be taught as the central characteristic of life:
Life itself, whatever it may be, is recognized by its reversing of entropy.
Mere matter does not organize itself((There is the apparent exception of certain crystals that seem to “grow.” Properly, however, they accrete, rather than grow.)). Life, on the other hand, continues itself by concentrating, organizing, and productively using mere matter.
Plants and animals reverse entropy very effectively. Each, however, is able to reverse entropy in certain ways, but not others. Mankind is the great exception; we can reverse entropy willfully. We choose how we will reverse entropy, and we can choose more and newer ways seemingly without end… or we can evade such choices.
In this way the old idea of mankind being superior to the beasts is entirely correct; there is nothing on this planet that is remotely like us. We really are the “crown of creation.”
Back to the Three Words
If all of this is true or even just substantially true, there are huge implications:
If life is the thing that lies at the center of usefulness and survival (entropy would eventually erase all usefulness and survival), then the function, growth, and positive evolution of life, especially of human life, is a cardinal value… the cardinal value.
And if this is so, the restraint of life must be considered a cardinal offense.
The subjugation of life and its actions to mere rules – whether sold as “the wisdom of the ancients,” “the voice of the people,” or whatever – becomes a mass transgression against the functions of life and thus a transgression against both survival and thriving.
If the three words are true – or anywhere close to true – a great many things are opened to being questioned, and thus to improvement.
This is a deep rabbit hole. If we take the unimpeded functioning of life as a central value, our examinations of the world will change.
I think this is a concept worth holding in your mind and worth using as a touchstone for further examinations.
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A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:
I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.
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