The Only Thing

When I was grade school age, I first heard the riddle, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" I was (and still am) very logical and scientific about the way I saw things. I thought, "Of course it makes a sound! Duh! What kind of riddle is that? Even if no one's around, the moving air and impact on the earth would make a sound!"

I realized after a shift in perspective how things really work. The production of sound requires 3 things: A source, a medium, and a receiver. The source creates a series of pressure waves. These pressure waves travel through various mediums including water, air, and solids. The receiver collects and converts these pressure waves into electrical impulses. If you remove any of the 3 requirements for sound, there is no sound.

In the vacuum of outer space there is no medium for sound wave travel, therefore, no sound. In the absence of a receiver in the woods, the falling tree only produces a series of pressure waves.

This is an issue many scientists, and people in general overlook. There is no science without an observer, and yet the observer is often left out of equations and theories. Everyday people also overlook the fact that they see the world from their eyes alone. People influence what they see by what they think and how they feel about it.

Everything you can possibly conceive of in all creation and even imagination, all have one thing in common. Even more, this one thing is the only thing that is ever really real to us. It is all we experience and allows us to conceive of, and perceive the world the way we do.

This only thing is consciousness. Without consciousness, nothing would be perceived or experienced. Nothing would exist without attention paid to it. If eyes were never part of our anatomy, light would not exist for us. Consciousness gives birth and meaning to all experience. If something can not be experienced, acknowledged, measured, or otherwise observed, how can it possibly exist to us?

It's the only thing that there really is. If you can really appreciate that, life is sweet!

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Mark said...

Very true, it all boils down to experience.

Rizal Affif said...

Ah, a quantum point of view. I myself would not adopt one point of view and reject another. One may say that sound consists of those 3 aspects; sound will not be if any of those are not present. Other may say sound is the wave itself; the physical wave in certain frequency usually perceived as "sound". Yet they are both true; only seen from different light. Truth transcends all polarities.

Yet, the point of view you offered here is not only fascinating, but also important. In a world where people are stuck with so-called scientific way of thinking, this post gave the opportunity to see life from much wider perspective :)

C. Om said...

Indeed! Much appreciated. :-)

@Rizal Affif
I agree that both views you described are true. The physical wave itself is 'sound.' But it can never be realized or experienced as sound, without hearing capability, and even more important, without the awareness to recognize it as such.

In this case, the two views are not opposites. They are the same. One is just more complete than the other. Even the existence of the physical wave can be questioned if there is no observer to confirm it. Consciousness is what allows us to even ponder such a question. It's 'the only thing.' :-)

Unknown said...

Great Post C. Om and very true . . I particularly enjoyed your conversation with Rizal . . .

. . . but tell me please, if my wife speaks, and I'm not there to hear her, does she really say anything at all? Hey, I'm just messing here . . . ;-)

David "Shinzen" Nelson said...

LOL at Doug...He's been up to lots of mischief in the blogosphere lately.

I ditto Doug's comment. Enjoyed the conversation and well thought out post.

Rizal Affif said...

@ Doug: Well thought! Tell this to your wife and see how things turn out *LOL*

C. Om said...


Much appreciated.

And I can't help but enjoy good humor. Doug has the right idea by not taking things too seriously. :-)


Unknown said...

@Rizal . . thanks for the suggestion, but I'd rather stay alive! ;-)