That eternal beggar theory doesn’t let me sleep, it made me restless and I can’t stop thinking about it, but first about being restless.
Yesterday I mentioned entropy and the second law of thermodynamics. It is fascinating stuff when you get to know it better.
When I studied it for two years I didn’t appreciate it very much, I guess taste for finer things in life develops with age…
It’s hard to define what entropy actually is, standard physics definitions are confusing. Basically, entropy is inertia, indifference, conformity – the essence of tamas, so to speak. While in physics terms entropy is a neutral word when expressed in our everyday terms it has a rather negative connotations.
Wait until you hear the really depressing part – entropy always increases, as if we don’t have enough tamas already. Increasing entropy leads to eternal death.
Okay, enough with scary stuff already. Entropy is a degree of how energy is distributed within a system. If some part of the system has higher level of energy, the energy tends to spread from there and even out, and the entropy increases.
If we drop an ice cube in a glass of hot water we’ll have a system with two extremes – very hot and very cold. As time passes the ice melts, the water cools and before long we’ll have just a glass of evenly tepid liquid. The entropy celebrates a victory.
The process is irreversible – there’s no way the water would heat up again and ice would form a cube. Entropy always grows.
In practical terms it explains things like “you can make an omelet out of eggs but you can’t make eggs out of omelet” wisdom.
This second law of thermodynamics, that entropy always grows, is fundamental to many of interactions in our world and the universe beyond. All engines, for example, transfer energy from one place to another, like converting charged batteries into phone conversations. As everyone knows, batteries die and need to be recharged, and the charger needs to draw electricity from somewhere else, from a system elsewhere with higher energy concentration.
In the long run we come to a conclusion that our sources of energy are limited and eventually will run out. When we find new ones we, by law of thermodynamics, we will drain them, too. Especially evident in case of fossil fuels. Theoretically, however, there’s still plenty of energy in the universe to last us a few lifetimes. The Sun is not going to increase its entropy to a useless state for a few billion years.
Entropy also applies to information theory – gossips tend to spread around until they lose their capacity to excite. Or think of it as syncing with the newly launched iCloud – you got a new picture on your iPhone, pretty soon it will be available on all your other iDevices until they all have exactly the same content.
Well, the question is – where does the initial low entropy come from? That doesn’t sound right but low entropy means good, less tamas. Where does the initial concentration of energy or information come from? Who is the source of all juicy gossip? Who introduces it into a society?
Physicists have managed to talk their way out of supposedly low entropy during Big Bang problem, while there are still plenty of arguments left that Big Bang breaks the law nevertheless. Everybody and his dog enlist entropy to prove their view of the origin of the universe and the world. I’m no different.
In light of my yesterday’s refuse to settle on anything I think of increasing entropy as the force of maya. It makes us accept our false identities and blend us into the environment until we die and enter endless stupor. It kills life, in a way.
When a new political leader is introduced to a society, for example, he thinks he can change everything and he plunges into his work of changing the world. Everybody else is infected with his enthusiasm – entropy, uniformness, starts to grow, and it works both ways. As the rest of the society feels recharged, the leader feels drained of his power. He might last a while, years, decades even, but eventually novelty wears off, he is not unique anymore, people have nothing to take from him and nothing to offer back. The sync has been completed, new leader needs to be brought in to shake up things again.
When we want to learn rock climbing we enthusiastically start changing our environment – buy gear, take some training, start climbing. Pretty soon the environment around us is totally in tune with our new identity and we finally feel at home. That’s it, entropy has no room to grow anymore. Sooner or later we are drained of our interest, perhaps we get a good, encouraging feedback from objects or people we charged before, like old climbing photos or friends, but it won’t last forever, it’s the law of physics.
You see what I’m leading to? When a new idea enters our minds, any new idea, it immediately starts pushing the entropy up. Everybody is expected to appreciate it, everybody is expected to cooperate with us, help and nurture our dream, we want to be at home with it, we want to be safe in our illusion, and maya provides.
From this interpretation it would follow that material energy has unlimited entropy, unlimited inertia, and it’s the living souls that create sparks of interest to drive it. A soul, an alien source of energy not bound by laws of thermodynamics, creates an anomaly in the otherwise dull field of matter. That anomaly, manifested in material forms and shapes, is forced by the law to spread itself and eventually even out.
Sometimes several souls, even several thousands or millions of souls create a huge anomaly in unison, and they attract even more souls, some contributing, some sucking the energy away. Massive force like this has the power to alter massive things, like political structure of an entire country. Eventually, though, the rebellions and revolutions settle down, entropy grows, people settle.
What would it mean in terms of executing devotional service?
By law, whatever we invest our energy in is bound to settle, our energy will be drained, unless we draw it form an inexhaustible source ourselves.
Whatever pops up in our minds is not that source. Whatever pops up in our minds because of our own, separate desire to enjoy, will drain life force of our material bodies in no time. Years, decades at best.
Whatever new position we envision for ourselves in this world is bound to be corrupted by the increasing entropy. If we ever settle on it, we are doomed to oblivion.
Connecting to the higher source, to Krishna, means channeling His energy, His desires to the world around us. That would make a difference, on our own we are not that powerful at all.
Connecting to Krishna also doesn’t mean sucking His energy to build a sweet nest for ourselves, as I said yesterday, settling for anything will never work. The only way to stay connected is to keep directing our desires towards His service.
We shouldn’t think of Krishna as a reservoir of unlimited power we can draw energy from, it won’t work, entropy would swallow us if we direct our interests to living comfortably in this world. The only way for us to escape the entropy is to use our tiny batteries to charge Krishna.
Practically it means we should become restless. If our energy is not flowing towards Krishna, it’s bound to flow someplace else and pretty soon we’ll find ourselves tired and looking for rest.
We need rest because we direct our desires to the world of all-devouring entropy.
That’s why there’s no “peace” for a real devotee. Not when he gets initiated, not when he gets a brahman thread, not when he becomes a temple president, a guru, a sannyasi, a GBC – never. There will never be peace for a devotee.
There’s no stage that you would think you need to achieve to finally find peace. It doesn’t exist.
My constitutional position, the only real choice I have, is to be chasing after Krishna forever and without a pause.
It took me many many years to realize, sadly. Just like with concept of entropy, I didn’t appreciate the restlessness of the devotees I’ve met in my youth. Only now I begin to understand their real motives and their real fears of being swallowed by the entropy of maya.
I didn’t think it was a big deal then and I’m paying dearly for it now.
It better be “been paying until now”, I hope.