Consciousness - Let life and love rid you of entropy
by Suma Varughese
When we care enough either for ourselves or others or life itself, then we crest the balance between the death impulse (thanatos) and the life impulse (eros)
working on an article for our new sister publication, Life Positive Plus,
on Gaia, the living Earth, I encountered the term entropy as well as a
fascinating description of life. Dr James Lovelock, who first floated
the Gaia Hypothesis,
also had to define life in order to make his theory stick.
According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, everything in the universe
is moving towards decay and breakdown. This process is called entropy.
Life, he says, is the paradoxical contradiction of the Second Law, for
evolution has inevitably moved from complexity to greater complexity,
proceeding from the amoeba to man. Therefore, the presence of life reduces
the entropy in any organism.
Entropy then is the death impulse, the opposite of the life impulse. Surely
this must be the fundamental duality with which the Universe was created?
It is the balance that any organism strikes between entropy and life that
decides its fate.
If the entropy rate is too high, then death triumphs. If it is very low,
then life has the victory. Entropy is the dragging down force that stops
us from evolving. Entropy makes us roll over and sleep instead of going
for that life-enhancing walk. Entropy stops us from reaching out and helping
the blind man cross the road.
Entropy stops us from sitting up at nights and sweating for our exams;
it slips us into habits like taking the same road to work, holidaying
at the same time and place every year, choosing the same restaurant meal
over and over again.
Scott Peck writes about entropy from the human context in his wonderful
book, The Road Less Traveled. All growth involves effort, he says,
because we have to struggle against the force of entropy. We all know
how difficult it is to do the right thing and how easy it is to go with
Even a simple thing as getting up and offering an elderly person a seat
in a bus takes effort, which explains why so few people do it. The Buddha
likened the whole process of inner growth to swimming upstream. One has
to struggle against entrenched habits, against the force of one's likes
and dislikes, against inertia.
Those of us who have a high level of entropy know how difficult it is
to act. Even going for a movie or buying tickets for a play or planning
a holiday can seem strenuous. Perhaps all the laziness and disinclination
in the world comes from the presence of entropy. Or do they create entropy?
It is probably a mutually supporting system where Entropy and laziness
create one another. Certainly the more we give in to entropy, the more
entropy we create. Once we get into negative cycles of taking the easy
way out, of postponing, of doing the wrong thing, it becomes difficult
to get out of the cycle.
So why are some people high on life and others on entropy? What makes
the difference? According to Scott Peck, it is love. When we care enough
either for ourselves or others or life itself, then we crest the balance
between the death impulse (thanatos) and the life impulse (eros).
Caring makes effort worthwhile and puts us on the side of life. It follows
that the more we care the higher the life force within us.
The vitality that we see so vividly in some people is the index of their
ability to love. Indeed, this is how Scott Peck defines love: ''The will
to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's
is the motive behind life, does that mean love makes the trees grow,
flowers bloom, birds sing and the Earth revolve on its axis? Looks like
it, doesn't it? The maxim that God is love is the literal truth. The
Universe was created through love and it is love that keeps it going.
Conversely, entropy creates indifference. When entropy becomes really
high, we stop caring about any aspect of life: how we look, what we
wear, what others are feeling, even about whether to live itself.
It is probably no coincidence that depressives lose interest in living
and that many of them even to succumb to suicide. The scientist-mystic
Teilhard de Chardin had predicted that a time would come when we would
perceive that love was a force in the universe as real as gravity. Makes
sense, doesn't it?