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 Post subject: Extraterrestrial Life
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:36 pm 
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The fascination in recent decades concerning the possibility of life on other planets curiously follows the so-called "Death of God". Instead of widespread interest in the possibility of unseen forces at work in the cosmos and in daily life, we now invest a lot of money and resources into searching for intelligent life on the radio bands via projects like SETI. Plenty of intelligent people are confident we'll find a signal sooner or later, much like how up until recently plenty of intellectuals were certain they could find auspicious signals from above in nature and the stars (the Qing Dynasty had astrologers for that task up until the end).

The chance we would encounter alien radio signals is highly unlikely given the fact we're unlikely to exist in the same chunk of time and space as another civilization elsewhere in the galaxy, and anything too distant would be too distorted to identify. When you think about it, it isn't really useful. Even if we did pick up a signal there might be some rejoicing and surprise for a few weeks, but after that nothing would change. We'd still be stuck on earth and unlikely to ever be able to physically travel to another solar system. We're still on a planet with finite resources and limited room for growth.

Nevertheless, the search for ET goes on. I dare say it is almost religious. There is a conviction that life must exist out there and that it is worthwhile to demonstrate how not-so-unique we humans think we are, almost as a reaction against older world-views which insisted on the uniqueness of humanity and our place in the cosmos (the sun and planets used to revolve around earth not so long ago).

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:54 pm 
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How many different world systems are posited in the Mahayana sutras? equivalent to how many multiples kotis of Ganges-river sand grains?

Samsara is BIG.

Of those uncountable kotis of world-systems, how many of them have Buddhas in or about them?

I bring this up because it seems to me Mahayana not only posits extraterrestrial life, but also extraterrestrial Buddhahood.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:00 pm 
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Jikan wrote:
I bring this up because it seems to me Mahayana not only posits extraterrestrial life, but also extraterrestrial Buddhahood.


No doubt.

Still, we as a civilization spend a lot of resources, both brain-power and money, on searching for ET even though it is really just as valuable as searching for God.

A lot of the activities of mainstream science strike me as alternative versions of what we saw in Christianity. A lot of the justification for such projects is cloaked in terms that sound rather spiritual and religious to me.

"We are star dust."

Nevertheless, they spend taxpayers' money on looking for stardust elsewhere that might want to talk.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:20 pm 
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Huseng wrote:
When you think about it, it isn't really useful. Even if we did pick up a signal there might be some rejoicing and surprise for a few weeks, but after that nothing would change. We'd still be stuck on earth and unlikely to ever be able to physically travel to another solar system. We're still on a planet with finite resources and limited room for growth.


Maybe you're being too pessimistic. Sure we couldn't travel to them but maybe they could travel to us and save us from ourselves... or they might eat us of course.

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Nevertheless, they spend taxpayers' money on looking for stardust elsewhere that might want to talk.

A drop in the bucket compared to the trillion dollar military budget, so if that's the issue...


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:29 pm 
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shel wrote:
A drop in the bucket compared to the trillion dollar military budget, so if that's the issue...


The US military budget (I assume you mean this) has a practical outcome though. It ensures US citizens get about a quarter of the world's resources and industrial output to themselves, plus many subservient nations willing to follow along for a piece of the pie (like Canada).

Spending money on reading radio waves from outer space brings little foreseeable gains. The common folk don't get anything out of it.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:39 pm 
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I don't disagree with your point regarding the funding of such science. I do not think that the multitude in the US, 50 million of whom struggle to get enough calories to survive (no exaggeration), is benefiting much from US military hegemony. A few are doing fine by it, though.

http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commenta ... stribution

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:46 pm 
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I googled "cost of SETI" and immediately found this very interesting graphic:

Image


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:05 pm 
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That image definitely puts some of the current craziness in the world into perspective, thanks shel. SETI really shouldn't have problems with funding when there's so much more money being spent on messed up things all over the place. You'd think some of the ultra-rich would help out too, but they obviously don't seem to care/be interested.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:33 pm 
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Half a billion a year on wrestling entertainment. And it's not even real, is it? :shrug:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:05 pm 
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I think that the search for extraterrestrial life is nothing new. Maybe we see more of that search these days because we have better techology to do it.

Honestly, I believed we are already being visited by ET. There are many well documented cases about UFO sightings, and even their "pilots".


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:46 am 
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Image
The spirit of an alien (sesame seed face) captured on my camera in 2009. The background scene is a dark limestone cave.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:04 am 
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Common folk get some kicks from watching wrestling though. SETI isn't exciting to most people.

In any case, the space age is winding down. There's not only less interest in such things, but the increasing costs of energy will ensure such projects related to space become unaffordable unless there is a profit to be made.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:35 am 
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I think it's a fascinating topic, in fact I wrote a short story on this very topic once. (I'm not a published writer, just thought I'd mention it :smile: .)

I have heard that there are references to 'all the life-bearing orbs of the Cosmos' in certain esoteric Buddhist texts. I haven't ever actually seen a scholarly reference but it is a fascinating idea that such notions were entertained in ancient civlizations.

And I do agree that, for many people, space is indeed 'the final frontier' and something that symbolizes the nearest thing that most modern people understand to immortality. In fact, maybe it is an echo of the ancient idea of heaven being 'up there' or 'out there'.

I would be immensely surprised if anything definite was found through SETI but I have an open mind. It could happen.

But from the viewpoint of traditional philosophy, the manifest or phenomenal realm, whether it's this planet or some other, is only a sliver of a larger reality, which you can't reach via any kind of spacecraft.

//edit// - also check out the Wow signal.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:39 pm 
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jeeprs wrote:
And I do agree that, for many people, space is indeed 'the final frontier' and something that symbolizes the nearest thing that most modern people understand to immortality. In fact, maybe it is an echo of the ancient idea of heaven being 'up there' or 'out there'.


Watch this video on SETI and listen to what they're saying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCdfkvvqKXE

They think alien life might, or probably is, much more advanced than we are and hence we might not be able to detect it. "We would be like ants to them." Again, that sounds rather like religious sentiments where humanity is relegated to such a puny position in the face of God / gods / the ultimate.

The one scientist even takes a pot shot at "religion". "That's not what we're doing here!"

The odd thing is that for people who deal with ghosts, demons, nagas, gods and so on, the out-of-this-world life is already here and need not be sought way out in the cosmos, but then that's not science. For mystics dealing with all the non-corporeal beings in our immediate environment, life on other planets and their possible radio signals are likely going to be less relevant.

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