Ancient Indian cosmology

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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby viniketa » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:21 pm

I think there is little question that the current global economic model, contingent on the infinity of economic expansion, will eventually self-destruct. Impossible at this point to say whether it will suddenly deflate or grind to a slow halt. Even if we develop new 'extraction industries' based on mining the resources of other planets (or asteroid belts), continual economic expansion of production surplus at the rate needed to sustain ROI expected in current capital markets is impossible. The throes of transitioning to whatever becomes the next energy base will likely be painful and not very pretty. In short, it may not reach the catastrophic proportions of "world's end", but it could be the end of the world as we know it. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, if we can come up with a more workable replacement in the meantime.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Indrajala » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:19 am

catmoon wrote:Your basic premise that we are in some way dependent on oil is incorrect. It's just the fuel of choice at the moment, an arrangement of convenience. It would be pretty straightforward to synthesize fuels and chemical feedstocks directly using power from nuclear plants. The only reason we don't do it right now is that it is not cost effective. Well that and the drawbacks to nuclear power. If the Germans could synthesize fuels in 1945...


Germans were converting coal to petroleum. Coal is also a finite resource. Nobody so far has come up with some synthetic fuel as potent as oil in terms to energy on return. You can convert your food to fuel for your gas tank, but that also requires fossil fuels for production (all the machinery to mass produce the corn which you convert to usable liquid fuel).

So, you could try to operate the present industrial infrastructure on ethanol and nuclear energy, but you won't have the same energy on return as you do with fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are concentrated solar energy and there is nothing else like them. As I pointed out, nuclear has a hidden subsidy of fossil fuels, likewise with synthetic fuels.

We will need to make do with less energy, but our civilization has come to demand vast more amounts of energy that we can possibly produce. Social and technological complexity requires that energy, and if that energy fails to be made available the system unravels.

This is what happened with Rome incidentally. In the 3rd century there are writers lamenting how harvests were decreasing in quantity. This was of course soil depletion. In the Roman civilization the main source of energy was solar energy gained through crops and exploited through animal and human muscle. Over time this meant there was less energy available to support a vast system which required it. This contributed to the currency inflation the later empire was continually plagued with. The Roman state had earlier enjoyed a vast energy subsidy in the form of conquered lands and slaves starting especially under Augustus, but by the 3rd century there wasn't many more peoples they could conquer or land they could exploit. This meant they reached the limits to growth and any further expansion would have been into lands which just weren't worth it at the time (Germania or the Sahara for example). So, they struggled with such problems and it eventually brought Rome to an end.

There are many similar parallels with our current industrial civilization. Instead of relying chiefly on solar energy gained through the soil, we are using oil instead. However, oil is a finite resource and we have reached peak oil already, which curiously corresponds with our economic problems. The same problem occurred in the US and UK in the 80s, though they fixed it for a time by opening up new drilling sites in Alaska and the North Sea. It got the economies back on track for a time. However, now we are have hit global conventional oil production. It will not increase anymore and we can expect it to start decreasing within this decade. The International Energy Association already quietly admitted we've reached peak oil a few years ago.

So, we've reached the limits to growth and now our currencies are clearly being inflated. Like in Rome, we debase our currency to prompt economic activity by borrowing from the future which cannot protest our actions in the present. When the secondary economy of goods and services cannot grow anymore, our financial industry started growing exponentially. Now for all the "money" that is produced in a single year it reflects less than a fraction of actual goods and services in the real world economy. There is vast amounts of hallucinated wealth in the system, which is quite similar to what happened in the later Roman Empire.

As Tainter explains in his work The Collapse of Civilizations with such increased strain on a system the powers that be spend more resources on policing and legitimization of the status quo. This is exactly what is happening in the western world and much of elsewhere. Our rights are being dissolved, though at the same time the bread and circuses keep most people from really caring. This of course solves the problem for a time, though such initiatives require additional resources and put more long-term strain on the system as a whole. Hence it will come to a point where the whole system is unsustainable and just unravels.

When that unravelling happens it is unlikely there will be the means to operate industrial civilization as we currently have it at present. Like Rome, it will happen over time (it has already started by some estimates).

It won't be the end of the world, though in all likelihood we won't have the same standards of living as we enjoy now. A lot of social complexity will be lost, and with it knowledge traditions. Science is likely to take a hit given that it is supported by commercial and state interests, though when those interests are rendered powerless they won't be in a position to support anything. Religion gets away from this because it depends on ordinary people for its support base.

So, with both economic, social and scientific foundations undone, will nuclear energy be feasible? Unlikely.



The end of the world has been prophesied pretty much every year since Jesus was around. Time after time it has been proven wrong, and time after time new prophets have arisen. Always they claim we face circumstances we have never faced before, and each time we find a way through. Always the gloomy extrapolations are produced, and always they are invalidated by simply doing things differently.


I am not proposing it is the end of the world. I'm proposing the end to industrial civilization. Civilizations are impermanent and ours is no exception. Many like to think we are exceptional given our advanced technology, but such exceptionalism is ridiculous when you examine history.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Indrajala » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:44 am

viniketa wrote:I think there is little question that the current global economic model, contingent on the infinity of economic expansion, will eventually self-destruct. Impossible at this point to say whether it will suddenly deflate or grind to a slow halt.


It'll probably be a collapse in stages. Much of the hallucinated wealth will be dumped and the system will more or less reflect actual economic activity. Then in time as the energy supply reduces and wealth does not subsequently reduce with it, a dump of hallucinated wealth will inevitably happen again.

Even if we develop new 'extraction industries' based on mining the resources of other planets (or asteroid belts), continual economic expansion of production surplus at the rate needed to sustain ROI expected in current capital markets is impossible.


It is doubtful such activities could be done with a return on investment. It would cost vast sums of money and resources to get the machinery into space and return with it. It also begs the question what kind of substances are there that we need to mine?

It isn't a matter of money so much as tangible resources in the real world.


The throes of transitioning to whatever becomes the next energy base will likely be painful and not very pretty. In short, it may not reach the catastrophic proportions of "world's end", but it could be the end of the world as we know it. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, if we can come up with a more workable replacement in the meantime.


There are workable replacements, but it means living a 1930's standard of living more or less. Having backyard kitchen gardens, ice boxes and electricity reserved for only a few things. Minimal plastic, reusable milk bottles, no more 24/7 stores or A/C... you get the idea.

Actually this is easy to imagine. Again look at the graph:

Image

Now look at 1930. If we used the same amount of energy per capita as people did in 1930, in 2050 and beyond it wouldn't be a big deal. The whole world would presumably get enough as well.

However, that's unlikely to happen because a voluntary decrease in energy consumption would mean economic contraction, which in turn would mean military power would likewise suffer. There is neither the political nor popular will for such measures. Even in a tyranny it wouldn't work because you need military power to maintain the power of the state. Military power is dependent on economic power.

So, we'll use all the fossil fuels, cook the planet and crash our civilization into a dark age period. This of course will not happen overnight. Humanity will have to revert back to population levels the soil levels can naturally support (the pre-industrial population of one to two billion). From there new technologies not dependent on fossil fuels will inevitably be developed to solve problems. It won't be the end of the world, but just our civilization.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby catmoon » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:20 am

I don't think it will go that way at all. Given a way out of civilization collapse, people will take it. While it is true that currently, oil suppports nuclear energy to a small degree, it does not have to be so. Synthetic fuels can be made from carbon dioxide and water, given a large enough energy input, which would make nuclear power a net producer rather than a net consumer of petroleum fuels. In such a case, you would be solving the power crunch and global warming both. All that is required is a source of carbon. Paper waste, atmospheric carbon dioxide, carbonate rocks all fit the bill.

Will we grasp the nettle of nuclear power and solve the associated problems or simply accept the downsides and learn to live with them, and minimize them? I think we will. The reason is that as global economies start to conk out, it will become increasingly obvious that France is not much affected and continues to enjoy a high energy consumption lifestyle. France will become a sort of new Middle East, perhaps even exporting large amounts of power.

While I agree with Huseng that all civilizations are impermanent, it is possible that impermanence will simply take the form of steady change rather than catastrophe, and we will just morph into a nuclear-based civilization.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Indrajala » Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:41 pm

catmoon wrote:I don't think it will go that way at all. Given a way out of civilization collapse, people will take it. While it is true that currently, oil suppports nuclear energy to a small degree, it does not have to be so. Synthetic fuels can be made from carbon dioxide and water, given a large enough energy input, which would make nuclear power a net producer rather than a net consumer of petroleum fuels. In such a case, you would be solving the power crunch and global warming both. All that is required is a source of carbon. Paper waste, atmospheric carbon dioxide, carbonate rocks all fit the bill.


If this was possible it would already be implemented, or at least the initial stages of implementation would be seen when fuel prices are so high they're willing to tear up the Alberta landscape to suck out tar sands.

It all comes down to energy on return. If you spend more energy then you get back it isn't a source of energy. Our modern lifestyles in the west demand a certain degree of energy on return.

If there were better sources of energy than fossil fuels they'd already be mass produced. This is why wind and solar while nice do not actually produce sufficient amounts of energy to power our energy intensive lifestyles and industries. China is building more and more coal plants, not wind and solar. Same with India.


Will we grasp the nettle of nuclear power and solve the associated problems or simply accept the downsides and learn to live with them, and minimize them? I think we will. The reason is that as global economies start to conk out, it will become increasingly obvious that France is not much affected and continues to enjoy a high energy consumption lifestyle. France will become a sort of new Middle East, perhaps even exporting large amounts of power.


As I outlined above, even if you can keep the lights on, you need fossil fuels to run the industrial and agricultural parts of your society. To say, "Hey let's convert everything to electric!" is neither feasible nor realistic. You probably couldn't build a hoover dam strictly with electric motors and machinery.

Some estimates are pointing to the 2070s as the decade when most of the extractable oil will be out of the ground (note the graph above). So, as fossil fuels become scarce it'll be a question of whether we have the resources to even convert the whole system to alternative energy sources. It won't be possible and when the fossil fuels needed to support the system rapidly become unavailable and crippling expensive you'll see the reverse of industrialization: deindustrialization.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby catmoon » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:27 pm

Huseng wrote:
catmoon wrote:I don't think it will go that way at all. Given a way out of civilization collapse, people will take it. While it is true that currently, oil suppports nuclear energy to a small degree, it does not have to be so. Synthetic fuels can be made from carbon dioxide and water, given a large enough energy input, which would make nuclear power a net producer rather than a net consumer of petroleum fuels. In such a case, you would be solving the power crunch and global warming both. All that is required is a source of carbon. Paper waste, atmospheric carbon dioxide, carbonate rocks all fit the bill.


If this was possible it would already be implemented, or at least the initial stages of implementation would be seen when fuel prices are so high they're willing to tear up the Alberta landscape to suck out tar sands.


Not true. The first reason it hasn't been done is that the price of synthetic fuel would still be higher than tar sands oil. The second reason is the public is not ready to countenance a massive increase in the number of reactors.

It all comes down to energy on return. If you spend more energy then you get back it isn't a source of energy. Our modern lifestyles in the west demand a certain degree of energy on return.


There is nothing that comes even close to nuclear in terms of absolute energy gain. A ton of uranium can produce the same energy as 16,000 tons of coal or 80,000 barrels of oil. How much is a ton of uranium? It a cube about fifteen inches on a side.



Will we grasp the nettle of nuclear power and solve the associated problems or simply accept the downsides and learn to live with them, and minimize them? I think we will. The reason is that as global economies start to conk out, it will become increasingly obvious that France is not much affected and continues to enjoy a high energy consumption lifestyle. France will become a sort of new Middle East, perhaps even exporting large amounts of power.


As I outlined above, even if you can keep the lights on, you need fossil fuels to run the industrial and agricultural parts of your society. To say, "Hey let's convert everything to electric!" is neither feasible nor realistic. You probably couldn't build a hoover dam strictly with electric motors and machinery.

Some estimates are pointing to the 2070s as the decade when most of the extractable oil will be out of the ground (note the graph above). So, as fossil fuels become scarce it'll be a question of whether we have the resources to even convert the whole system to alternative energy sources. It won't be possible and when the fossil fuels needed to support the system rapidly become unavailable and crippling expensive you'll see the reverse of industrialization: deindustrialization.


Let me point out again, electricity can be made into fuel. The way you do it is by using electricity to power a fuel synthesis plant. This takes a lot of power. Nuclear plants are easily capable of supplying power on that scale. By hooking the two together, you can produce synthetic fuels that are chemically identical to gasoline, diesel, crude oil maybe, lubricants and so on. The catch is it isn't free, and the fuels produced will cost more than those we are currently extracting in the tar sands. However, as conventional supplies dwindle and fuel prices rise, nuclear-source fuels will become economically viable.

Then it's just a question of how bad people want the stuff.

Just as a sort of lab example of how easily this is done, imagine setting up an iron tube, electrically heated to red heat. Plug in a kettle and send the steam down the tube. Almost pure hydrogen comes out the end of the tube, while the tube converts to rust inside. When the tube is shot, just melt it and electrolyze it back to iron, again using the huge supply of electricity available from nuclear plants. This not an efficient cycle, but it does demonstrate that such things can be done.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:41 am

Kind of agnostic on the Indian Buddhist cosmology.Buddha lived in India so of course Buddhism would be influenced by Hinduism.That's where I think the Indian Buddhist cosmology came from.However,that's no reason to discard it.So I'd say I'm an agnostic on the whole Indian Buddhist Cosmology.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:53 pm

Red Faced Buddha wrote:Kind of agnostic on the Indian Buddhist cosmology.Buddha lived in India so of course Buddhism would be influenced by Hinduism.That's where I think the Indian Buddhist cosmology came from.However,that's no reason to discard it.So I'd say I'm an agnostic on the whole Indian Buddhist Cosmology.


Hinduism is a creation of western Europeans. A blanket term for Indian polytheism invented in recent centuries.

Brahminism played a minimal role in the initial formation of Buddhism as Magadha was thought of as a demonic and backwards land by the Brahmins to the west.

If anything early Buddhism was influenced by the Jains who were likewise not Brahmins and had minimal influence from Vedic Brahmins.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:43 pm

Huseng wrote:
Red Faced Buddha wrote:Kind of agnostic on the Indian Buddhist cosmology.Buddha lived in India so of course Buddhism would be influenced by Hinduism.That's where I think the Indian Buddhist cosmology came from.However,that's no reason to discard it.So I'd say I'm an agnostic on the whole Indian Buddhist Cosmology.


Hinduism is a creation of western Europeans. A blanket term for Indian polytheism invented in recent centuries.

Brahminism played a minimal role in the initial formation of Buddhism as Magadha was thought of as a demonic and backwards land by the Brahmins to the west.

If anything early Buddhism was influenced by the Jains who were likewise not Brahmins and had minimal influence from Vedic Brahmins.


True but Indra/Sakra,Brahma,the Asuras,etc. all come from Hinduism.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:07 pm

Red Faced Buddha wrote:True but Indra/Sakra,Brahma,the Asuras,etc. all come from Hinduism.


As I just said, Hinduism did not exist until a few centuries ago. You should understand this critical point. "Hinduism" was a European creation. A blanket term for all polytheist religions within India and some other traditions thrown in.

In truth a lot of Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian pantheons share common points because of their ancestral source the proto-Indo-European religion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo ... n_religion

The inhabitants of Magadha and the Brahmins to the west of them in the Buddha's day were largely from the same ancestry and hence the common pantheon. You see similar figures in Persian religions, though fulfilling a different function. For instance, Indra is a demon in Zoroastrianism. This is only natural because the Indo-Iranians descended from the same ancestral people as the Indo-Aryans did: the Indo-Europeans. Modern Farsi and Hindi (and English) all descend from the root language spoken by the original Indo-European people, which is traced back to Anatolia.
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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby viniketa » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:00 pm

One additional note: The "great god" Brahmā (of the Kevala Sutta, et al.) is not considered a "great god" in the pantheon, rather Brahmā is more like a "demiurge", credited with creation of the "world" and living beings in the world. The god Brahmā should not be confused with Brahman, the origin and support of the universe, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit.

See:

http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Brahman

http://www.differencebetween.com/differ ... s-brahman/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman

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Re: Ancient Indian cosmology

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:33 am

viniketa wrote:One additional note: The "great god" Brahmā (of the Kevala Sutta, et al.) is not considered a "great god" in the pantheon, rather Brahmā is more like a "demiurge", credited with creation of the "world" and living beings in the world. The god Brahmā should not be confused with Brahman, the origin and support of the universe, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit.

See:

http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Brahman

http://www.differencebetween.com/differ ... s-brahman/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman

:namaste:


Everyone pretty much knows Brahma and Brahman aren't the same thing.
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"
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