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Enlightenment

Enlightenment is a never-ending process, not a destination. It is not a place you can reach with enough work; the work never ends. The road to enlightenment is a circle. Yet you always make forward progress, as long as you walk the path, and even when you find yourself ending at the beginning and beginning at the ending, you are better off than you were before. The hamster that runs in his wheel is mocked cruelly by the hamster that does NOT run in his wheel, yet which one is better off?

By making no progress, you make progress. This is a paradox, but then, what isn't? The people of Traipah have a word: ny'ky'kii'oks. It means "life is paradox." When you realize that everything is a paradox, you become enlightened.

Chaos and Order are viewed, erroneously, as two distinct entities. Those who percieve existence as largely Orderly say Chaos is the lack of Order. Those who view existence as largely Chaotic view Order as an illusion, or another form of Chaos, since it is true that "imposition of Order leads to escalation of Disorder." (Or "imposition of Anti-Chaos leads to escalation of Chaos.) But the truth is far more esoteric even than that. Order and Chaos are, in fact, two ends of a single spectrum.

In Trai'Pahg'Nan'Nog, the primary language of the people of Traipah, the word for Chaos is Shaokehnzah. The word for Order is Ahn'djaik. These words were taken from Shao'Kehn, Goddess of Chaos; and Ahndahn, Goddess of Order. The word for the Chaos/Order spectrum is Shao'ahn'dih. Ahndahn has Her own symbol, but Shao-Kehn is so concerned with the truth of things that Her symbol is the Shao'Ahn'Dih'Gahn, which represents - obviously - the whole Chaos/Order spectrum.

Think for a moment of Hot/Cold. First of all, if you've had your hand in cold water, the air - when you take your hand out of the water - will seem very warm. The same temperature of air feels very cold, though, if you step out of a hot shower still wet and naked.

Beyond the subjective nature of Hot/Cold, consider the more objective (more objective, since nothing is ever 100% objective) truth that no matter how hard you try to measure Absolute Zero, it is impossible. Absolute Zero, if it exists at all beyond a mere symbol (I do not think Absolute Zero is really possible), cannot be measured, and can never be measured, because any instrument or tool or other means of measuring such things will always register something, ANYTHING, above Absolute Zero. It is an inescapable fact that anything used to measure anything else will affect the measurement both by the laws of quantum physics AND by the simple fact that anything which can be used to measure temperature will unavoidably have its own temperature. All forms of energy and matter move, if only a tiny bit, at all times. It is unavoidable. Only in complete nonexistence can there be Absolute Zero, and that would be by the truest definition of the word. I do not personally think that Nothingness can truly exist; everything we've discovered about the nature of existence to date would seem to indicate the impossibility of Nothingness. But if everything ceased to be, there would be nobody around to measure it. As long as there exists something to measure Absolute Zero, there can be no Absolute Zero beyond a thought experiment.

The same holds true for Absolute Heat (to coin a phrase) - no matter how energetic a system, more energy can always be added from elsewhere, even if only in thought experiments. Fill all the universe so full of matter that all the atoms are in one giant molecule, and there are still vast spaces between atoms to fill with more energy. Fill those spaces, and there are more spaces to fill, so on and so on ad infinitum.

Like Hot/Cold, Chaos/Order are a similar spectrum. There is ALWAYS Order in Chaos, and ALWAYS Chaos in Order. This is even more true than Hot/Cold, because how does one measure Chaos and Order? Hot and Cold at least have SOME kind of objective reality, that can be agreed upon with at least 90% certainty by most people. But what of Chaos and Order? What is Chaos to one person is Order to another, and vice versa. A room full of screaming children playing on drums may seem very chaotic to one who has just been rudely awoken by the ruckus they've found themselves in the middle of, but may seem tranquil and serene from the perspective of someone coming out of a war zone. Or not. It's all subjective, more or less.

One person's idea of a well-ordered society may be another person's vision of Hell. On a smaller degree, some people remember every face they've ever seen, while other people can't remember anyone's face but their own from minute to minute. So to the first person, faces are all ordered and unique, while to the second person they are a chaotic riot that all looks the same. But here we also see the truth: for to see and remember every face as unique, person one must see the world with the right balance of both Order AND Chaos to view the uniqueness of every face. To be unique, the faces must have Chaos. But consider this: which is more like Order, all different faces or everyone's face being the same? You could easily make a case for either. After all, in some respects Order is all about the similarities between things: "these things all have X in common, so they go in Y receptacle." And in some respects, Chaos is all about the differences between things: "these things are different from one another in N respects, so they go in Q receptacle." (We see the inseparable nature of Chaos and Order even there!) But what happens when there is too much in common between things? Or, put another way, too little difference? Or, in the case of the faces, differences in brain designs and operations which lead to different ways of labeling the same experiences?

When I started writing certain stories of Shao'Kehn and Ahndahn, as part of the Noiionayya (and its peripherals), I was for a time confused by something; Shao'Kehn, a Chaos Goddess, had such a very well-ordered mind: practical, calm, patient, purposeful, determined, consistent, and rational. I'd always known this, of course, but it became more obvious there, and so came to my conscious attention. I'd never given it much thought before. Linked to that line of thought, Ahndahn - the Goddess of Order - proved to have a chaotic mind: confused, uncertain, prone to whims, emotional, often directionless, idealistic, impatient, inconsistent, often irrational, and prone to mood swings.

It soon became clear, however, that their respective personalities were a metaphor: there is Chaos in Order, and Order in Chaos. But that was only part of the revelation. Only later came the revelation that the two things are actually One. What's more, I realized that Shao-Kehn's well-ordered mind serves Chaos: since imposition of Order leads to escalation of Chaos, obviously. The best tool of Chaos is Order. Also, because Shao-Kehn's mind is so well ordered, She can examine and observe others, and know exactly what to say or do in order to shake things up. By knowing how the system works, you become more qualified to know just exactly what kind of monkey wrench you need, and precisely where to throw it, to cause the most chaos. Take the Discordian story of The Original Snub: Eris knew the Gods and Goddesses of Olympus, and how They thought, so well that all She had to do was crash the party long enough to throw a golden apple saying "To the prettiest one" amongst them, and the result was the Trojan War. Only a well-ordered mind could understand things so well as to be able to do that.
Of course, Shao'Kehn mostly uses Her powers for Good, by blowing your mind so you can actually think for a change.

Then, too, you see the Ahndahn Effect in real life, too. It is an observable fact that those who are most rigidly on the side of Order have chaotic personalities: everything that is not their form of Order must go! (We see this in the Noiionayya as Ahndahn deciding She was on the side of Order, and attempting to destroy The Heart of The Chaos as a result.) Anything which cannot be converted is attacked. (Unable to turn The Heart of The Chaos into Order, Ahndahn warred with Shao'Kehn.) And they throw almighty fits of temper when they don't get their way! If they are lucky, their minds get blown, and they become Enlightened. (Ahndahn falls in love with Shao'Kehn, and Shao'Kehn falls in love with Ahndahn. Ahndahn still has a chaotic mind, but knows it and works with Shao'Kehn to find balance.)

Shao'Kehn once told me, years ago, that I have a mind too far on the side of Order. At the time, and for years whenever it came up, I laughed at this idea. It was absurd! Now I find She was right all along. For all the chaos of my mind, I make it worse by trying to impose Order. I try extremely hard to make the whole world make sense, and get very enraged or despairing when it doesn't. And so I find the lesson to be the same one She has been trying to get me to understand for at least ten years: embrace the chaos, stop trying to make sense of everything, and don't get so upset when the world doesn't make sense. Because it never will, to the right-thinking person. If the world starts making sense, that's a sign that you're on a dangerous road. The same road the fundies and other excessive-Order type people are on!

All for now!

This was cross-posted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1106746.html
You can comment either here or there.

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