How Many Parsecs in a Samadhi?


This post may get a little intense, so you’d best strap seatbelts on your eyes.

I had a philosophy lecturer while I was at uni named Dr. Ronald Laura (whose website can be found here). Ron was quite an enigmatic, insightful man, who looked not dissimilar to an Egyptian pharaoh in appearance, and who taught me a great deal about the innate predilection towards scientific quantification within modern society.

Allow me to elaborate.

You see, when the failings of religion became apparent in post-medieval Western Europe, our society was left without any solid understanding about ourselves or our universe. Luckily, science was eager to rectify this problem. As the church’s influence waned, we marvelled over the many great scientific breakthroughs that began to occur in its absence, courtesy of people like Galileo, Darwin and Einstein. This new, logical manner of hypothesis supported by quantitive fact seemed unstoppable, as it continued to break down the core elements of our universe and explain them through the application of mathematical equation and empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis.

I can’t stress how much I think science is a good thing.

The place where the scientific model starts to lose me is when people refuse to believe in things that can’t be empirically proven. Is it strange to suppose that science may be able to quantify absolutely everything, except for the metaphysical? After all, science is a system based within the confines of physical reality. It’s a system which relies almost exclusively on physical evidence and mathematical quantification. What exactly makes us believe that we can quantify that which defies maintaining a physical quantity?

It was Dr. Laura that first pointed out to me the value placed on quantification within our society. He illustrated this through the example of the modern academic model. Not long ago, liberal faculties within universities were not always expected to provide quantitive results. How does one quantify the value of a piece of art or music, after all? However, two things have become apparent within academic communities over the last 30 years –

1)      Verifiable results are rewarded with accolades and grant money.

2)      It is possible to quantify aspects of even the most liberal academics.

And so, we have seen the subjects of Sociology and Politics become Social Science and Political Science respectively.


Because when something is a science it carries more innate worth to the modern eye. That which is known is seen to be trustworthy, while that which is unknown sounds suspiciously like religion.

Aye, there’s the rub – when religion failed and science succeeded, we were left to believe that science was the answer to the void religion left. We were lead to believe that it could not only mend the hole left by religion, but fill it also.

I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I believe there is more to the world than that which can be quantified, and I believe that the universe is not as simple as we might like it to be.

Allow me to submit a scientific hypothesis that may never be proven –

If perception is a subjective commodity dependant on expectation, we would never realise it unless we expect it as a possibility. Therefore, if we do not open ourself up to the possibility that there is something beyond the physical, we may never have the chance to quantify it.

Discuss. 🙂

I realise this post is a bit heavy, so if anyone’s craving lighter fare, here’s an article I wrote for Warhol’s Children recently about food on television – Movie Food is Bangarang.

Be excellent to each other.

(Image credit to Antifan-Real)


7 thoughts on “How Many Parsecs in a Samadhi?

  1. Arête, Ryan. Well done.
    I think of Science and the Metaphysical as the sugar phosphate backbones of a double helix…with our human experiences random base steps, climbing. To where, I can only imagine, and continue the journey of questioning all, tasting what I can as infinitas dewdrops upon my palette;)

    • Hannah, I want you to know that I love you, and that I want to clone you many times over for the betterment of our species as a whole. 🙂
      And that’s why poets make the best scientists.

      • Thank-you, mea poeta. And I, you!
        Etiam. multique multos, temporibus. cor plenum amoris. 😉

  2. What makes something physical? Do have to touch it and see it with human eyes for it to be physical? I can’t see the air, yet I breath it and I know it has molecules. I know string theory is just a theory and same goes for wave particles in the ether of space, although some scientists would beg to differ. How is something made into form? If everything is energy, including thoughts, which we cannot see, then would that suggest that thoughts are not physical? I think not.

    Am I on the right track here with your desired discussion?

    • You definitely are, CA. 🙂
      Some good points. In the context of my post, I would define that which is governed by the laws of physics as ‘physical’. Anything not quantified by first-hand evidence or mathematical equation is thought not to exist (sort of a ‘guilty until proven innocent’, skeptics approach), based in the confines of the scientific model.
      For me personally, I believe it more advantageous to take an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach, because I don’t believe an absence of quantifiable evidence is the same thing as something not existing. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, as the saying goes. 🙂
      Interesting example in thoughts. I’m not sure I’d define thoughts as purely ‘physical’ personally. Though we can perceive neural synapses firing and chemical shifts in the brain, a thought itself cannot be quantified in the scientific model (at the moment) and cannot be said to be governed by the laws of physics.
      Thought provoking… cheers CA! 🙂

  3. You hit the nail on the head there. There is certainly something beyond the physical, and I’d love to see it proven during my lifetime. I could turn around to some of the people I know and shout ‘I told you so!’ at them.
    I’m actually reading a book right now, which has helped open my mind even farther. I will review it, once I’ve finished it, and I have no doubts it will be a 5-star book.
    It’s taken the concept of research into non-physical exploration and fitted it into a novel pattern – I suppose, for the purposes of facilitating book sales (people would buy a novel, but not a scientific paper). The author is clearly from a scientific background, too, because of the ease she demonstrates in dealing with the scientific concepts and jargon around these ideas.
    If you’re interested, the book is ‘Seven point Eight’ by Marie Harbon. I know there is a sequel to it, too. I have found that sometimes I go through 10-15% of the book in one go, and other times all I manage is 1-2%, because of all the new concepts I have to assimilate and encourage my brain to absorb. It’s a fascinating read, an intelligent read, not a normal novel at all. It probably wouldn’t sell in the millions – certainly not in the US – and that is a great pity.

    • Cheers Ella, I’d love to see that happen, but whatever will be will be I suppose. 🙂
      Thanks for the recommend, sounds like a good book, will definitely add t to my reading list!

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