Thursday, September 13, 2012

What about chance?

If there’s no such thing as chance, how come the laws of chance or probability prove very useful in certain situations?

There’s no such thing as absolute randomness or chance.

However, the concept of relative randomness or chance does have a certain validity.

If we toss a coin, for example, the outcome of each individual throw is unpredictable and ‘random’.
Yet we can predict that in a large series of throws each number will come up approximately the same number of times.

This is because the outcome of each throw is the result of a large number of fluctuating factors, and there is no influence.

Barring cheating or the exercise of psychokinetic power – that favours one outcome rather than another.

In such cases the laws of probability apply.

A similar situation occurs in quantum physics, where individual experimental results cannot be predicted, but only the probability of different results.

From a theosophical viewpoint, both tossing a coin and quantum events are entirely causal processes.
If absolute chance or indeterminism were really at work, we would expect utterly crazy results, not statistical regularities.

Even if we grant that every event has a cause (or many causes), we could still say that evolution, for example, is essentially a chance process in the sense that it is not subject to any overall guidance.

And as far as our own lives are concerned, the things that happen to us might still be accidental in the sense that there is no particular reason why they happen to us.

The teaching of karma denies this.

Karma does not just mean that every event has a cause and that every action is followed by a reaction.

It also means that everything that happens to any entity is the result of causes in which that entity was in some way involved.

Often in some previous existence.
And that the impact of an event on any entity is proportional to the contributing causes it originally set in motion
And of the same harmonious or disharmonious quality.

In other words, we reap what we sow, both individually and collectively.

This enables us to slowly ascend the ladder of life by learning from our mistakes.

Assuming that there is some higher part of us that is able to link our present good fortune or misfortune to things we have done in the past.
David Pratt

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