Faith & Quantum Mechanics of a Cup of Coffee

I am on monastic retreat until the weekend, and have scheduled two reposts each day of pieces that some may not have read before. Comments will be off until I return. You might like peeking into last year’s Online Retreat

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This was originally part of that online retreat, one of my 3PM “Wonder” hours.

As this retreat is roughly following the Hours of the Divine Office (very roughly) we’re seeing posts at 9AM, the Noon, 3PM, 6PM and so forth.

3PM is, of course, the hour in which the Christian church pauses to reflect on the events of Good Friday, and the Passion of the Christ. As with the moments of the Annunciation and the Incarnation, this hour is one fraught with wonder and mind-expanding mystery. So at 3PM each day – fair warning – something rather challenging will be posted here. As with everything offered on retreat, take what speaks to you, leave the rest. I hope you can apply these “Wonder Hour” posts interiorly – that we might all grow in understanding and wisdom.

From the blog Dedoimedo, via reader Dick T., some thoughts on Quantum Mechanics in a Cup of Coffee. (No, this is not a plug for Mystic Monk Coffee but you should try that, anyway; it’s superb).

Depending on the mindset you bring to this
, it could be an interesting point of physics, or something deeply spiritual. It’s for you to determine:

The question we want to ask ourselves is: If I press the Drink button (after inserting the coin), I’m supposed to get a drink in a plastic cup. Will the plastic cup actually drop down from its internal holder or will the coffee spill out onto our feet?

It’s a risk we take in our lives every time we insert a coin into any of food-and-drinks automated machines, at least the older, greedy models that does not warn the customer about the lack of necessary ingredients. And it’s a rather linear risk for a person who might spend an hour in front of a machine and drink one cup after another; with each new attempt, the chances for getting the drink contained in a cup drops. However …

Let’s assume that you are in a mood for a nice espresso. You walk up to your coffee machine, insert the coin and select your drink. As a customer without any knowledge about how many people used the machine since the last refilling, you face the crucial issue of yes or no – will the cup drop down? For you, the system is completely unknown. In other words, it’s in a mixed state. It’s a mesh of yes and no, entangled in uncertainty.

To know the answer, you must press the Drink button. You must conduct the experiment. And by doing that, you actually change the environment. Beforehand, the coffee machine was dormant. It just sat there. Now, it’s active, because of your external input. It does things. It starts mixing various powders and heating the water. It changes. It flexes its muscles.

But eventually, it settles down. And you get your drink. And you know for sure, if you have a cup or not.

“Being open” is what exposes us to opportunities, good and bad. Faith – whether it is religious and involves turning to prayer, or is un-religiously-minded and involves simply turning to a friend, in trust – has the element of expectation and unknowing. We throw in the coin and press the button assuming an expectation will be met. But a lot goes into expectation. And a lot goes into meeting one. And yes, “surrender,” which seems to be our developing theme for the day, is involved, too.

Mindfulness is the key. It can turn the mundane into something profound.

You’ll want to read the whole thing and visit Dedoimedo from time to time. Interesting site full of ponderables.

And if all of this gives you a hankering for a great cup of coffee, have I mentioned lately that Mystic Monk Coffee is the greatest coffee in the world?

All Retreat presentations linked here

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