Newton & I Ching

Warning: Crude forms of philosophy and physics will be discussed in this post. Philosphers and physicists will be outraged; everyone else will be bored to tears.


Newton’s third law of motion (simplified) states, “to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Now, I’m no physicist, but if I believe anything about the nature of the universe I believe that. I believe nature is designed to keep itself in balance –ying and yang; dark and light, good and evil.

Human beings have always done their best to try to keep that balance tipped forever in their favour, but it hasn’t and never will work that way. For every behaviour there is a consequence. For all the “taming” of nature we have accomplished; for all we have built and wrought; there is, and will continue to be destruction.

Taken down to the level of the individual human this could mean that for every great joy we experience, we will also experience a great sorrow. For every good we do; a good will be done to us in return.

I don’t like the idea that good or bad things happen to people “for a reason”. That there’s any particular higher meaning to stuff we’re hit with on the path of life. I think it’s very much random;  but a randomness according to nature’s rhythm.

Have you ever had a period in your life where everything seemed to be going right? All your loved ones were healthy, happy and safe. You finally landed that dream job or met the love of your life or found the perfect home. Or all three?

And even amid this delirium of happiness, didn’t you feel an ominous churning in your gut that maybe this was all too good to last? Did you turn around frequently to see if you could spot that dark cloud you felt must surely be following you, ready to dump something awful on you?

And, inevitably, it happened. Maybe not in one big dump, but I’ll bet life threw you a curve ball eventually.

And on the other side of the coin (a most apt symbol), I know there have been times in all of your lives where you’ve felt despair. When life was frightening, gloomy, uncertain, or sorrowful. When it was very difficult to see any sort of lining, silver or otherwise, around that black cloud that caught up with you — finally. Or again.

At times like this, whether you believe in God, some other Deity or the laws of nature, I think there’s comfort in knowing that equilibrium will be restored – that as surely as day follows night, all darkness will be illuminated. And that you do have some control; that your actions can help facilitate that reaction.

Everything in nature is ying and yang.


24 responses to “Newton & I Ching

  1. I too believe that things happen in a pretty much random fashion. The whole “they happen for a reason” thing is pretty much hindsight of the “see, because this happened this other thing did”. But the initial thing? Total randomness.

  2. i always say things happen for a reason.. maybe a random coincidental reason but a reason none the less.

    im not bored to tears.. .

  3. As a philosopher I’m bored to tears.
    As a physicist I’m terribly upset at your total lack of reference to quantum theory rather than that old Newtonian dogma.
    I therefore look forward to a wonderful day to balance out the horror you have inflicted on me.

  4. Jazz – Ah, but there is no “initial thing” – it’s all just a series of interconnected things.

    Skylark – I hope so!

    Ellie – It’s nice when philosophy is supported by science and vice versa.

    Jobthingy – I think as rational beings, we try to find reason in everything that happens. That doesn’t mean it actually is.

    Bandobras – Quantum theory was implied throughout. I didn’t think I’d have to spell it out. I’m glad I was able to contribute to your special day.

  5. One thing that seems to be out of balance, is how come we’re all made of MATTER (and not anti-matter?)

    According to the Brainiac physcists, at the creation of the universe, there was matter and anti-matter together. But there was a slight imbalance…

    For every billion particles of anti-matter, there were a billion and ONE particles of matter.

    They all combined and cancelled each other out in big burst of energy.

    What was left over, was the one matter particle in a billion, which makes up the entire universe we see today.

    Why there was that imbalance in the first place is still a question they’re trying to answer.

    (Or so the theory goes…). It just makes my head hurt.

  6. Great post XUP. So, how does karma play into this — if yin and yang is the balancing of energy, does karma influence it?

  7. i’m sort of a life is a mirror kind of person. if i’m negative and ugly, negative and ugly things will happen to me. and vice-versa. i have yet to be proven wrong. i have to say my MIL is also living proof of this – so negative and sometimes downright mean, and, well, guess how she is treated?
    as for the impending sense of doom, i get that all the time with regards to one of my kids for no particular reason and it drive me bananas.
    soooo not boring xup!

  8. I agree with all of this and it certainly seems to apply to people who all live in normal countries and or have normal lives, but it’s hard to find the balance when you think of children of Dharfur or Somalia or even children in the “advanced civilizations” who spent their childhood chained in a dirty closet. Where’s their balance? And as Jazz might say, “Surely that doesn’t happen for a reason?”

  9. Robin – I’m glad you like it Robin.

    Friar – Cool. I’m thinking that’s what happens when there’s no balance. Big bang. From thereon in the universe has been careful to keep in balance. And let’s not forget that we’re just talking about the universe “as we know it”. There may be much more out there we haven’t considered.

    Lola – Oh, good!

    Olivia – Karma is the energy, isn’t it? Like the pebble in the pond thing – it creates ripples which spread until they hit the shore and then ripple back to where the pebble was tossed.

    Meanie – Ah, the reap what you sow theory? Choosing to give out intense negative energy will throw a person off-balance and create chaos in their lives, true. But that’s not to say that everything that happens to you is because of something you have or haven’t done. You certainly have a great deal of control over what happens to you and the people in your life, but you don’t have control over everything.

    Geewits – In the greater scheme of things, I believe these people with their extreme deprivations are balancing out the people in this part of the world with their extreme excesses. We aren’t living “normal” lives here any more than the people in Dharfur or Somalia are living normal lives. The more one part of the world rise the more other parts of the world fall. Balance doesn’t mean beneficence for all. When you drill down from the world view aspect to the individual aspect and talk about the kid in the dirty closet, his balance may be an adulthood of peace and light. And, no there’s no particular reason for any of it.

  10. I just read Zoom’s post about her cancer, and then came here to read your blog, and I don’t know if it’s purposely for her or because of her that you wrote this post, but I think it’s very related. Everything bad has a good side, and/or something great will happen to balance it all out.

  11. I believe there is balance within the entire system but that doesn’t mean that any or every piece of that system, including individual human lives, is in balance itself. Some people will always be more Order than Chaos, more Good than Bad, more yin than yang, and vice versa.

  12. Yup! I believe in Karma, yin/yang and I do think that I am due, any day now, for the next twenty years of peace, prosperity and good things to happen.

  13. Stephanie – There is a relationship between this post and Zoom. It’s something I think about off and on anyway, but have been thinking about a lot this past week. I don’t expect this to make sense of anything for her or anything like that. It was just more or less to let her know that I’m thinking about her and feeling for her.

    Louise – I think if you believe that there is balance in all things then it has to apply equally to everything from the universe as a whole to the Earth to individuals to molecules. Someone may seem chaotic to you, but I believe that chaos is balancing out some extreme order in their universe. I don’t think it’s as black and white as the ying/yang symbol suggests.

    Zoom – I’m not completely convinced of it all either. It’s difficult to make sense of it most of the time because we would expect to see it all working nice and clearly like: good stuff…bad stuff…good stuff…bad stuff… It’s probably way more convoluted than that since it involves philosophy AND physics.

    Sheryl – Well, I hope you’re right! (25 more sleeps until happy fun time, right?)

  14. Oh you are so boring I am crying tears into my tissues. (and I guess we all gravitate to the philosophy that serves us best) cheers – R

  15. I didn’t say I believed there is balance in all things — because I don’t. I said I believe there is balance within the entire system. A system can be balanced without any of its component elements being balanced within themselves.

  16. Robin – Welcome and I’m sorry (I think).

    Louise – I didn’t mean “you” as in you, personally. I meant “if one believes in balance in all things”. And yes, I agree that the not all components are balanced all the time. There are plenty of wobbles.

    Alison – It’s all a matter of perspective, too, eh. Your yang could be someone else’s ying. So while you may be regarding everything as yang, with a shift in viewpoint/mindset/attitude/whatever, it could be ying. Your energies are busy battling the yang instead of being spent inviting the ying. Oh hell, I don’t know what the frack I’m talking about. I guess what I mean to say is: Don’t worry, be happy. Ha ha ha ha ha.

  17. Thank ya XUP, for reminding that equilibrium will be restored.
    That is one of the very soothing things I have heard in a time without much silver lining. I hereby declare XUP as my spiritual guru:-

  18. good job on this post, i especially like “And that you do have some control; that your actions can help facilitate that reaction.”

    it reminds me of how people will allow churches and government rule their lives, not realizing that they do have some control.