Natural Processes are Irreversible – “Like Tears in Rain”

Most sentient beings would accept this statement depending upon what natural encompasses. This is why perpetual motion machines do not exist. It does not distinguish man made as natural. No man made process is fully reversible, a partial or apparent reversibility might exist. But time on the macroscopic scale cannot yet be wound back. One might draw a sword and then put it back in the scabbard, the undoing of drawing a sword. You as a person would have changed because you have had the experience of drawing the sword. The process of re-sheathing the sword looks like reversibility only it isn’t. The energetics are different.

People including scientists forget thermodynamics and forget the notion of irreversibility. Once you have done something you cannot undo it. Life is not like a text editing programme. Life does not have an undo button. People do stuff which they think they can subsequently get out of. They may be able to escape the societal consequences of trespass. Whatever way you look at it, if you wrong another being you have changed the entire world, if only a little globally but perhaps significantly locally.

You can’t un-break a leg, you can repair it.

You can’t put sperm back into a testicle once it has been deposited into a vagina.

Stuff ripples out. People who are selfish and self-centred do not see this because of their auto-proctological perspective.

Petty acts of deception and vengeance can have untold and far reaching consequences. They can become epicentres of karma, sometimes high on the Richter scale. A lie told can destroy lives. A truth hidden can require a lifetime of covering up. Problems not addressed in a timely manner can blow up out of all proportion. I have observed situations where lies lead to further lies and more intricate ones. People who believe they can blag their way out of anything can find themselves painting themselves into a corner or digging a hole. People can forget what they blagged and to whom. Student pastoral care offers a glimpse of escalating pork pies {lies} on occasion. Smart kids think they are smarter than old farts, maybe they are, maybe not.

This notion of irreversibility is a corner stone of impermanence.

If you attain both irreversibility and impermanence you are on the way.

Life is short, irreversible and impermanent. Therefore, how you use your allotted time is highly significant. There are only these fleeting moments of the eternal now. Whatever you do you cannot undo, your thoughts, words and actions ripple out into the wider whole. If you lie and scheme you add poison into the world. If you love and care, compassion.

I have met people who are venomous and vampiric. I have met fewer who are genuinely altruistic and compassionate.

Have you ever done something which has caused consequences to ripple out in a way that you never imagined?

Have you ever been able to reverse any act of yours?

If you avoid apparent societal consequences, have you gotten away with it in the eyes of the universe and on the scales of karma?

Can you really fully blag your way out?

How are you going to use your remaining fleeting moments of the eternal now?

Get Even, Score Points or Wish Enlightenment?

I have been reading Shantideva’s bodhisattva vows on and off for well over a decade. It demonstrates his compassion for beings who are suffering and his deep heartfelt wish to be of assistance to them in their times of trouble. It shows his self-less-ness.

For whatever reason it resonates in my core.

I was fortunate enough over a period of several years to act as something of a sanctuary for others amidst the turbulence and stresses of modern life. It is amazing how much difference a willing ear can make. I helped people, even those who were trying to play the system and I got a few out of some tight self-inflicted corners. All of this with confidentiality. I got through quite a few boxes of tissues mopping up the tears. It was not just students I saw, once word got around.

If someone gives him, Shantideva, an imagined slight, does he seek to get even, pursue revenge or score points?

No, he hopes that in time they will learn from their folly and move away from grasping and suffering. He hopes in his being an instrument of their learning, to have served.

He knows that people gossip about those who are different. He wishes that this obsession with trivia and pettiness will pass, and some wisdom is gained, some loosening of binding.

Someone who has started on the path of the bodhisattva, has no interest in scoring points, being better than and finds the entire notion of revenge a primitive anathema. When attacked they may not defend unless that attack is intended to be fatal. People on the bodhisattva path have much less to defend than your common or garden human. They understand impermanence.

What people say is not real, it is impermanent. It might be motivated by a whole bunch of unwholesome motives, but who cares?

Everybody has to learn and sometimes it is only by seeing the damage wrought by our actions that we do learn. Learning can cause suffering for others as well as ourselves.

On this scale, where are you?

Do you seek to score points and get even, or do you wish people a nice journey towards enlightenment?

Physical Plane Reality and Impermanence

The prefecture at St. Brieuc continues to issue draught warnings and we are only allowed to water the garden after 8pm. The pond levels are dropping, and I may have to use the big pump again soon.

This morning started with a dream in which Felix the wild stray cat was lying on the bitumen near the gateway in the South and by the post box.

Traditionally he lies there to soak up the late afternoon heat and to wait for me to come feed him. When I come bearing a bowl, he goes out of the gate circles round through the hole in the Yew hedge and waits watching from under a bush for me to put his bowl down. The moment my back is turned, and I am heading off, he sneaks out of the bush to tuck in. He lets me get within about four metres of him now.

In the dream as I approached, he lay motionless. I made some welcoming noises and knelt down by his side. He allowed me to stroke him for a while. After a while two small black and white kittens, like Felix, came out from under the yew hedge at the other side of the gate and started to play with me climbing all over my back and shoulders. Felix lay still watching. After a while a miniature long maned horse appeared through the gate. The horse was about 40cm at the shoulder and using its head, it beckoned me to follow it. This I did and he led me up a hill to a piece of pasture which was roped off. In that pasture was a huge, thoroughbred white stallion in magnificent condition. The dream ended and I knew that a part of the dream was pointing at the gateway in the South, the place of dreams and the gateway to the nagal’s world. Something is afoot in the unknown.

We never close the gates now, because the gate motor, made in South Africa, has given up the ghost due to old age. Because of this and the pond we have become something of a watering hole of late. The variety of droppings down by the pond has increased and there are several clear runs in the long grass down to the water.

The weather is confusing some of the plants. The beech has started to drop its leaves early and the magnolia is starting to sport purple flowers. This is odd behaviour for early August…

Physical plane reality remains as it currently is. After making the wife a hot chocolate and fetching her breakfast, I have put some washing on and then vacuum cleaned the ground floor ~100 square metres. The washing is now out on the line, and I have checked for new mole sign. There is none so I will lift the 8 mole traps later on. In a while I will do lunch for us both and fill the dishwasher.

So as to mitigate the stir crazy factor we went yesterday to Pontrieux for a walk along the brackish river. The wife has only seen home and hospital since she bust her foot. So there we were, a man with bilateral osteoarthritis in his hips, pushing a chemotherapy patient with not very much hair and a plaster cast in a wheelchair along a path by some nice boats. This picture from Google maps looks to be an autumn one. {Water} There is an X-ray and orthopaedic appointment on Wednesday.

We had a brief conversation the other day. When I am alone it looks like it will be possible for me to move to South Africa and employ someone to look after me and clean the house etc..

It was in the Southern hemisphere that I first learned about impermanence. At the age of five and in possession of a nascent Bristle accent I was transported from a green and pleasant land into the harsh dry red semi-desert of Mount Isa. I moved from red squirrels on the Bristol Downs to goannas in the creek. I never saw my friends from Bristol again. I learned to chameleon and in a short while I was speaking Queensland Strine to fit in. When I was nine, I was taken out of the red and into the bush of Kabwe. Where for a couple of months I attended a convent school. Boys were not allowed after the age of ten. I sat next to Agnes who was fourteen, a woman really. She smelled of kapenta {a kind of freshwater sardine introduced to aid the protein level of the diet} and I helped her with her homework. Then they shipped me off to boarding school in Gloucestershire. I would fly back unaccompanied for school holidays.  I learned to speak posh, no room for Aussies or Afrikaners in that school. Then just after I won the science scholarship to the senior school my parents came back to the UK to avoid the birth pangs and violence associated with the nascence of Zimbabwe. Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines were no longer paying my school fees. I was thrust for a couple of months into a huge comprehensive school. From an all-boys preparatory school to a 1.5k student comprehensive at 13. I was the only boy in the top French set with 26 girls. That was traumatising. I never saw or spoke to any of my classmates from boarding school, or Zambia again. Then I went to my seventh and final school in north Kent, where once again I picked up the local accent.

So, I know that things are impermanent, and I know in some cases it is impossible to go back.  I know how never to return.


As the saying goes you cannot step in the same river twice. At the macroscopic level it might be called Le Jaudy, but every river evolves in time. In science it is the increase in entropy which denotes {conventionally} the direction of time. Time is measured spectroscopically to ultrahigh precision by atomic clocks, its direction by disorder.

For a number of things there is but a fleeting moment of chance. The time window, the time aperture remains open for a short period. During that period something might be possible, when the aperture closes it is no longer possible.

If you think about it every utterance is irreversible, one might say sorry, but the fact of utterance has happened and the opportunity to be silent has been missed. With each utterance the world changes a tad.  People might lie and then subsequent to that they have to prop up that lie. The lie perhaps said flippantly takes on a life of its own. It has a trajectory in time.

In the USA they are up in arms about abortion rights. The abortion does not reverse the consequences of conception it can make it less cumbersome to bear.  Every abortion has some form of emotional and psychological detritus. This may be less than the decades long interaction between parents and offspring. It does not reverse, a string of events caused by the act of conception whether willing, coerced or drunken.

This illusion of putting the genie back in the bottle is simply that, an illusion.  Saying sorry for the brutalities of colonialism and taking down statues, does not alter the effects.  It is too late, the horse has already bolted, so why bother trying to close the door?

People imagine that they have all the time in the world and that they are clever enough to put things “right”. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot does that mean? Do reparations ever repair? Nah. It is a socio-political leger de main for appearance sake alone.

At temporal nodes fates diverge, space-time branches. To use a facile example. I once had a life trajectory based in UK science. Something happened and now my trajectory finds me here as a recluse in rural Brittany. This divergence is irreversible. I cannot be put back into the bottle, I am way too feral for that.

People are complacent, they imagine that they have all the time in the world.

Attaining impermanence informs on irreversibility and it, impermanence, is the very essence of the eternal now. Whatever you are doing right now is causal, you cannot reverse it, effects will follow.

This fleeting instant has gone, never to return.


What a joy: to hear the utterance of a Rasta

Black Uhuru

Dhammapada Verses 277, 278 and 279

Aniccalakkhana Vatthu
Dukkhalakkhana Vatthu
Anattalakkhana Vatthu

“Sabbe sankhara anicca” ti
yada pannaya1 passati
atha nibbindati dukkhe
esa maggo visuddhiya.

“Sabbe sankhara dukkha” ti
yada pannaya passati
atha nibbindati dukkhe
esa maggo visuddhiya.

“Sabbe sankhara anatta” ti
yada pannaya passati
atha nibbindati dukkhe
esa maggo visuddhiya.

Verse 277: “All conditioned phenomena are impermanent”; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas). This is the Path to Purity.

Verse 278: “All conditioned phenomena are dukkha”; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas). This is the Path to Purity.

Verse 279: “All phenomena (dhammas) are without Self”; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas). This is the Path to Purity.

  1. panna: Insight-wisdom (Vipassana panna).

Excerpted from

The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.

Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon, Burma, 1986


My note:

Dukkha is sometimes translated as pain or suffering or dissatisfaction.

I prefer to think of it as dissatisfaction as so very many people are dissatisfied with a myriad of things in their lives. They might be dissatisfied if they don’t get a promotion, they might be dissatisfied if they do. They can ask a doctor to slash them with a scalpel in an attempt to be more attractive. They can self-harm with tattoos and body modification.  They may be dissatisfied that there is a statue of Rhodes…

They may be dissatisfied with the England cricket score…


Permanence and impermanence

Are same thing

Constructs of mind

In absence of mind

There is no per or man

Nor emanation

Thing is not Atma

Mind exists only in matter

And it does not

If can be thought

Then it is not

Thought itself is substance

And must die

Thought is not Atma

Mind is not Atma

The point of

No mind and

No thought

Is close to Atma

Atma is both before thought and mind


… … … Come into being


… … …After they have passed

Progenitor and ineffable

Known but not yet known

Nevertheless aware

Atma is nascence

The urge of nascence

And the awareness of the process of nascence

Being in nascence

Not bliss-full and bearing robes

Or shiny-eyed and haloed

Nor ascended and God like

Atma is creation in the action of manifestation

Peaceful no, dynamic yes

Precursor of the Divine mouse

Clicking being-ness into …