Article 50 (last of the series): As far as we know, it is for the first time in the 13,8 billion years of the history of our universe, that through a Life’s form the Universe is becoming aware of itself and we are that Life’s form.
So, that’s what I did. Studying our cosmos and our Big History and writing “At home in the universe” has been for me what studying physics has been for Richard P. Feynman. This series of 50 articles may be a practical result of this study, but that’s not why I did – and still do – it. It has been and it is just a great joy and an adventure, utterly gratifying in itself.
“… I stand at the seashore, alone, and start to think…”
Yes, wondering and starting to think about what’s out there happened to me too, standing at the shores of the North Sea, of the Mediterranean and of the Atlantic Ocean, and climbing the rocks in the Swiss mountains as well. Like messages in a bottle, the waves and the rocks started to tell me wonderful stories. They whispered of the mysteries of deep time and deep space and introduced me to our own Big History. This glorious ‘Golden Age’ of the natural sciences and technology is able to make these whispers every day more hearable, visible, almost touchable.
Yes, I had to get used to a lot of zero’s, an endless number of 00000000.… This is the result of our human arrogance, as astrophysicist Vincent Icke so charmingly explains in his series of lectures Everything for one little girl. We approach time and space with human standards, with the length of our body in meters, the beat of our hearts in seconds and the content of our skulls in kilograms. But our human standards and concepts are much too small when we approach our Big History and the Universe we are part of. That’s why we have to multiply our human scales so often, ignore them or leave them behind us… or start embracing and loving them!
Yes, as far as we know, it is for the first time in the 13,8 billion years of the history of our universe, that through a Life’s form the Universe is becoming aware of itself and we are that Life’s form.
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
It’s because “We don’t live on a planet isolated from the rest of the Solar System or from the rest of the universe: we live in a place that is intimately connected with everywhere else” – as professor Brian Cox phrases it – that we may utter these, in a way, incredible words: “We are a way for the universe to know itself.” It’s because we are rooted in the Big History of the universe, like a wave in the ocean, at home, incorporated in big bangs and supernovas and stars dying and volcanic eruptions and bacteria cleaning our atmosphere and plates traveling the globe and life evolving and evolving… It’s because we are so intimately and interdependently connected with everything needed for a man, each one of us: a universe of atoms with consciousness, matter with curiosity, flowering to the fullest!
And how precious this moment! Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the ‘present’.
“It is in many ways a miracle that we exist at all,” says Brian Cox. So why not celebrate our existence?
The good news is that Life can be – and is – a festival, and that all the shadows obscuring this celebration are man-made, so, they can be man-unmade, unmade by man. We are facing a choice.
Understanding that we are all living on one planet and are at home in the universe, we can choose to say goodbye to some fossils of the past, like our identification with nations and religions. These little boxes or prisons, plastered upon or palmed to us by those who want us to live and die for their profit and power, kill our unique and ‘original face’, obscure our common humanness and make us strangers to and enemies of each other.
To enter a “Golden Future” for our planet and for mankind in particular, we better stop ‘buying’ these old concepts and behaviors and leave them behind us. If desired, we can save the labels for football teams, but we better wake up, update ourselves and change to new ways of thinking and acting.
Please forgive me to quote Lao Tzu for the second time here in order to remind us again of his simple and most true statement:
We can’t go on using the instruments of the past and still expecting to see the dawn of a new future. Instead of escaping to other planets, we better say goodbye to these relics we are used to and which may be dear to us, because of the simplest of reason that they are killing us and our planet.
Looking at that iconic photo of the Earth, taken by the Apollo Mission and baptized Earthrise, or to that photo taken on February 14, 1990, on request of Carl Sagan by the Voyager 1 Space Probe and baptized Pale Blue Dot, has given me some understanding of our place in the universe. It has also made me think about the precious now of our planet and of ourselves.
On a personal scale, we all are alive and kicking here-now just for a very short while, in between our birth and our death as an individual.
On the scale of mankind, we are a very young offshoot, a young twig and a flower on the tree of Life on this planet. We will live for a short while and there is no doubt that our species will die one day, as all the expressions of Life did before us and will continue to do so.
In one ‘volume’, numbered 25, Life has evolved during 540 million years, from the first complex, multicellular organisms all the way into us. Complex Life on Earth has only a little bit longer than one more volume, numbered 26, to go. Another 60 pages in volume 27 and it will be done! (See Article 15 and Article 16.)
On the scale of our planet, the Earth, we know nowadays her birthday and, give or take a few weeks, we know exactly when the Blue Planet will burn alive and turn into ashes: ashes to ashes.
On the scale of this Universe, we know how far we have to count backwards to reach to its birthday, but we are less sure about how very, very far we have to count forwards to see it ending as a one-off-once-only phenomenon, or, maybe, to see it starting up again in a cyclic process.
On all those scales, Now is the precious moment, the one and only chance to exist, to be, to change, to partake in “Be Here Now.”
It’s a great blessing that all the shadows obscuring this ‘Now’ are man-made: overpopulation, overconsumption, anthropogenic global warming and pollution, war, the unequal distribution of Life’s gifts and pleasures and the unwillingness of the ‘haves’ to share them with the ‘have nots’. Because they are man-made, it is also in the hands of man to change them.
Do we remember Michael Jackson’s song? “There comes a time when we hear a certain call, when the world must come together as one… We can’t go on pretending, day by day, that someone somewhere will soon make a change… And the truth, you know, love is all we need…
WE are the world, WE are the children, WE are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving… There is a choice we are making…”
It may not be the vastness of the universe alone that’s only bearable through love. Love may be as well the conditio sine qua non for the continuation and the flowering of our human existence on our planet. Solidarity and human compassion may not only be the highest form of understanding we can achieve, but also the necessary key-ingredient in the next step in the evolution of our own existence as a human species.
Does our present situation challenge us to reach to “the highest forms of understanding we can achieve,” to open our hearts, “to widen our circle of compassion in order to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty,” as Albert Einstein puts it? I think so.
You have seen – and understood – this picture and Richard Feynman’s insight before in this story, my dear reader?
Then it is time that this series of 50 episodes is coming to an end today.
Thank you, beloved Devi, for encouraging me studying and writing for a couple of years, while you were doing great cooking, and thank you, dear Bhagawati, for supporting me so well during the publishing of this series.
Now it’s time to take our guitar, our piano, our flute or our whistle to play the song the universe is singing.
I have seen a man dancing to this music: I love that man! I dedicate this series of 50 episodes to him.
He has a word for this ‘New Man’ we can all choose to be, because we all share the (maybe dormant) potential to be that new man.
He calls him or her Zorba the Buddha, the celebration of both our aliveness as well as our peacefulness, our outer as well as our inner world.
So, here is the music…
It is high time to dance, to celebrate the mystery that we exist at all.
And here is the ‘last’ picture – called “The end of endless” by the man who drew it, Maarten Toonder – with me symbolized here by the little white cat, called Tom Poes, disappearing, to mark the end of this endless story.
Credit to Maarten Toonder