Science-Earthquake

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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:28 am

Holdsheadinhands emoticon.....Non sequitur after papancic non sequitur. Its a pity that the Tardis is unreal. otherwise an option would be to travel back to ancient India where those who attempt to hold quaint cosmological views would be in the mainstream and would therefore have no dissonance at least in this sphere.
Of course the downside would be placating personifications of thunder and shaking noisy objects to protect themselves from the dragons that eat the sun during eclipses...oh and medicine might be slightly different from what we have come to expect. However as life expectancy would be considerably shorter for most, that might not be an issue.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Laurens » Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:02 pm

At the time of the Buddha they didn't understand how earthquakes happened. You can't blame him for making such an assumption.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Shonin » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:14 am

Laurens wrote:At the time of the Buddha they didn't understand how earthquakes happened. You can't blame him for making such an assumption.


Absolutely. And instead of trying to retrospectively reinterpret him to be saying something that conforms to our modern understanding just focus on the many valuable aspects of what he taught.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 13, 2010 6:07 am

rahula80 wrote:"This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes." (Digha Nikaya 16)

"Ayaṃ, ānanda, mahāpathavī udake patiṭṭhitā, udakaṃ vāte patiṭṭhitaṃ, vāto ākāsaṭṭho. Hoti kho so, ānanda, samayo, yaṃ mahāvātā vāyanti. Mahāvātā vāyantā udakaṃ kampenti. Udakaṃ kampitaṃ pathaviṃ kampeti. Ayaṃ paṭhamo hetu paṭhamo paccayo mahato bhūmicālassa pātubhāvāya."

Note the terms carefully, as English renditions are approximate.

"vāta" (noun) translated as "atmosphere"
"vāyanti" (verb) translated as "disturbances"
Both are from the same root, vā, which is the root for a number of terms involving air, gas, wind as nouns, but the dynamic sense of movement in general. These terms are closely connected in the Indic languages, but not really at all in English.

The general model was that the earth rests on "udaka", which often gets translated as "water". It could just as well be "liquid", in the sense that the mantle of the earth rests on the molten magma below. And this rests on some sort of "air / gas" as a movement. This in turn on space, but considering most Buddhists don't accept "space" as a thing per se, it is more like saying "and this doesn't rest on anything"!

One could also render a sense of "... liquid rests on gas / movement, gas / movement rests on space ...", "... when the moved / gas makes a great movement, the liquid moves ...", etc. In the Indic it is not as far fetched as it seems in English. As has been pointed out earlier, all the English terms such as "earth", "water", "air" or even more abstract "solid", "liquid", "gas", etc. don't quite match up with their meanings in ancient Indian thought. We have to go into that thought world to work with it (in a kind of Schleiermacherian sense).

Movement seems to be movement of the gas, which in turn moves the liquid, which moves the earth. The last two points are basically the same as the seismic model we have today. The first part is not though. But what exactly is this "movement / gas" anyway?

Still not quite the modern model of science, but it is interesting to look into.

Another issue is the idea that the Buddha was just following the world view of his day and age. I ask: Which worldview? There were several different worldviews around that time, some of them match, others do not really. Moreover, have a good look into what period the appropriate worldviews even surfaced. It may be surprising. To paraphrase Gombrich, one best know which comes first and which later in order to ascertain causal relations.

But as I've said elsewhere, just look into other versions of this text, and ask whether or not it is part of the earliest strata of suttas, or one of the later strata, in the first place. The later strata tending to have more content added by the compilers, rather than the straight teachings of the Buddha. That would be a scientific (sic?) way of asking the very question in the first place.

Please compare this to the other versions of the text and have a look. Give some dates for this material. Give some dates for other similar material in non-Buddhist systems. Who made this statement in the first place?
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:23 am

But Pannasikhara, even if it could be shown that the "water" referred to was actually magma..which would be jolly convenient for the literal minded, it still begs the same question...We are still left with the notion that the arising or passing of a Buddha causes a disturbance in the earths subterranean magma... :roll:
This is quite clearly the world view that arises with Indic myth...not a statement that describes an objective event in consensual reality.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:26 am

Sanghamitta wrote:But Pannasikhara, even if it could be shown that the "water" referred to was actually magma..which would be jolly convenient for the literal minded, it still begs the same question...We are still left with the notion that the arising or passing of a Buddha causes a disturbance in the earths subterranean magma... :roll:
This is quite clearly the world view that arises with Indic myth...not a statement that describes an objective event in consensual reality.


Well, did you read the last two paragraphs of my last post?

(And given some of the broader meanings of "air" in Indian thought, it isn't as strange as it sounds in English. But of course, as already mentioned, this would mean actually reading the text in it's own thought-world.)
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:59 am

I did and was ageeing with you...the "but" was for the benefit of other readers. I was being your stooge. :smile:


:anjali:

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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:13 am

Sanghamitta wrote:I did and was ageeing with you...the "but" was for the benefit of other readers. I was being your stooge. :smile:


:anjali:

Valerie.


Okay, gotcha. These sorts of nuances often go amiss in the digital communication realm.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:59 am

They do....they do.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:21 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:"Ayaṃ, ānanda, mahāpathavī udake patiṭṭhitā, udakaṃ vāte patiṭṭhitaṃ, vāto ākāsaṭṭho. Hoti kho so, ānanda, samayo, yaṃ mahāvātā vāyanti. Mahāvātā vāyantā udakaṃ kampenti. Udakaṃ kampitaṃ pathaviṃ kampeti. Ayaṃ paṭhamo hetu paṭhamo paccayo mahato bhūmicālassa pātubhāvāya."

Note the terms carefully, as English renditions are approximate.

"vāta" (noun) translated as "atmosphere"
"vāyanti" (verb) translated as "disturbances"
Both are from the same root, vā, which is the root for a number of terms involving air, gas, wind as nouns, but the dynamic sense of movement in general. These terms are closely connected in the Indic languages, but not really at all in English.


Thanks, Ven. Paññāsikhara. It shows how important it can be in understanding a language, especially within its own terms...

Here's a loose translation:

This Great Earth, Ānanda, has the characteristic of "water" within it (not 100% stable). This "water" has the characteristic of "wind" throughout it (energy). This "wind" is unsupported (existing in space).

And when, Ānanda, this "wind" is manifesting itself as the great "wind," it is manifested through the "water." This "water" in turn, is manifested through the Earth. That is the first explanation for the arising of mighty earthquakes.

See how easy that was? :geek:

The commonly used model of convection current by the way, (to explain the different manifestations of stress within the tectonic plates), is still incomplete... because there are still some inconsistencies when compared to the actual patterns of certain geological features, as observed in nature.

The following is a simplified explanation from http://www.tectonic-forces.org (which seeks to remedy some of the shortcomings with the current model, by including the unstable rotation of the earth in space):

In 2001, the author, R.Maurer (Chartered Engineer, UK) while on a mineral collecting expedition in Bolivia, noted uplifted but undisturbed alluvial sedimentary beds at the top of the Andes near Potosi. Taken together with his finding of new species of fossilised cretaceous fish and stromatolite beds, these observations prompted him to look at the magnitude of the forces involved in lifting the vast Andean mountain range from approx. 3 km below sea level to approx. 8 km above sea- level.

The author (drawing on his engineering expertise) concluded that the forces needed to sustain the unrelenting and uni-directional movements of the continental plates in a conflicting omni directional heated convection current system (based on the Hess Model) was mechanically unsustainable.

The first clue came with the observation that the precession of the equinoxes (Milankovitch Cycles) [Fig.7.], the longer-term cyclical changes in the inclination and obliquity of the central axis of rotation of the Earth taken together with the observed magnetic polar wandering suggested that the Earth was behaving like an unbalanced rotating cylindrical body. A domestic spin dryer with an unbalanced wet load is a good everyday example of an unbalanced rotating system. Vibrations are induced in rotating bodies when the centre of mass is not co-incident with the centre of rotation. In these cases, counterbalance weights are fixed to balance the rotating system. Another simple everyday example is the positioning of balance weight on the wheels of motor vehicles.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:27 pm

Which still avoids the central issue Beeblebrox..which is not the mechanics of earthquakes or the earths structure, but rather having arrived at a consensus at the meaning of that science as seen by the ancients..should we arrive at such a consensus which seems unlikely...whether the mechanics, however described, are modified by the arising or disappearance of a Buddha...Which is the actual context of this passage, Its not an abstract pondering on the arising of earthquakes merely.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:36 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Rahula,

The Buddha was explaining this in accord with cosmology as it was understood at the time.

Whether he did know, or could have known otherwise, are rather speculative and ultimately unrewarding questions, that are neither connected with dukkha nor its cessation.

Metta,
Retro. :)

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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:46 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Which still avoids the central issue Beeblebrox..which is not the mechanics of earthquakes or the earths structure, but rather having arrived at a consensus at the meaning of that science as seen by the ancients..should we arrive at such a consensus which seems unlikely...whether the mechanics, however described, are modified by the arising or disappearance of a Buddha...


Yes, agreed. Their system is different when compared to ours, but it's still cool to see the coincidences when they happen. :tongue:

It could be that what Buddha said is like a horoscope... he's vague enough to be still true in any situation, however you interpret him. Or he said things in a such way, that when things start to make sense via the sammā diṭṭhi, everything in his system will start to fall into their place. I think it's the latter.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:06 am

I think this conversation is going nowhere! If we focus on the fact the Buddha's meanings for the words 'earth' 'air' 'space' etc were used in conjunction to denote their impermanence, we maybe able to get something out of hours of discussion!

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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:14 pm

If there really was an understanding in Buddha's time of how earthquakes were caused, why is fire not mentioned? We now know beyond doubt that the interior of the earth is very hot, the understanding being that this gives rise to the convection currents that are ultimately responsible for shifting the tectonic plates around.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:13 am

Greetings,

Recent non-Theravada posts on the subject of earthquakes have been moved to...

massive earthquake and tsunamis hit japan
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=7671

Please endeavour to keep this topic focused on Theravada/sutta perspectives.

:focus:

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Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:46 pm

dharmagoat wrote:If there really was an understanding in Buddha's time of how earthquakes were caused, why is fire not mentioned? We now know beyond doubt that the interior of the earth is very hot, the understanding being that this gives rise to the convection currents that are ultimately responsible for shifting the tectonic plates around.


The convection currents have nothing to do with fire. The fire would be a combustion, or the burning of a fuel. That isn't the only source of heat... a friction also can give off the heat. No one would call that a fire.

The heat is a form of energy. A convection current is what happens with the heat exchange between the fluids.

The earth's heat came from the gravitational contraction (the compression of the earth when it wasn't compacted at the start), and also radioactive decay of some materials within its mantle and core. The heat builds up because it's trapped within the earth due to high pressure, rocks' poor conductivity, and also the convection currents which keep it down, due to the flow patterns.

Some of the energy from those currents (their motions) ends up trapped at the crust's fault lines, because they're stuck at each other. When there's too much stored, the fault lines basically slip, releasing the energy throughout the crust, causing earthquakes.

The vedic terminology is very different from the ordinary use. Fire refers to consumption, the burning, digestion, and the "fire" that comes from those. Air (or wind) would be motion, or energy. Water is the fluids, and cohesion. I think that the convection "current" basically falls under these latter two... their interplay. Earth is the solidness, or the density. Space is literally the space, ordinary air, nothing, or the unsupportedness.

I don't think that the Buddha was trying to give us a scientific description, anyway... but by trying to view the elements like the above, it might give us a hint of what the Buddha was actually talking about. It could be that the Buddha viewed the nature of earthquake (not physics) as a nice template to give us some hints about what these elements mean, how they work with each other.

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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Nibbida » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:36 am

The Buddha repeatedly said that all he teaches is suffering and the end of suffering. Anything he might have said about earthquakes, pizza, or microwave ovens is not really of concern. It would be like consulting the Bible for advice on organic chemistry. It's missing the point.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:44 am

:goodpost:

:namaste:
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:59 pm

Nibbida wrote:The Buddha repeatedly said that all he teaches is suffering and the end of suffering. Anything he might have said about earthquakes, pizza, or microwave ovens is not really of concern. It would be like consulting the Bible for advice on organic chemistry. It's missing the point.


It's actually relevant... perception and the saṅkhāras that it's based on are part of the paticca-samuppāda, for this dukkha. How a person (such as a brahmin, for example) views these elements would be based on his own saṅkhāra make-up.

Thinking that the convection currents have something to do with fire, is also based on this make-up. It's actually even based on ignorance... which would be the first link.

Contemplating this process is very simple to do, especially when it is done outside the real life, away from things that could distract one from it. That is the reason why we do meditation... to create an ideal environment to try see it from the Dhammic point of view, which is the paticca-samuppāda.

You can see the dukkha that this causes, what causes it, and how that falls away once it's penetrated. When this is understood, the paññā is developed. You then can use this to view the arising and falling away of the dukkha in the ever larger things...

None of the Buddha's teachings were superfluous.

:anjali:
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