I often like to look at the night sky, to see the heavens ablaze with the light of distant suns. It provokes a feeling of awe and makes me think of the bigger questions in life, drawing me into the mystery of existence as I stare out into eternity.
The universe and I and you are all undoubtedly one thing. How that thing got started is an enigma, it’s the primordial mystery. If we zoom out to the very largest of cosmic scales we can see that the universe has a structure and is made up of increasingly smaller things like superclusters, galaxies, solar systems and atoms. The smaller make up the larger and the larger is the aggregate of the smaller.
Galaxies are connected together by hot gas into superclusters, at our scale of existence that hot gas might just be one stray hydrogen atom for every cubic meter of space, at the quantum scale there isn’t even an atom, just quarks, leptons, bosons and gluons. We have matter isolated in space but in a relationship with all other matter nevertheless, either through quantum entanglement, superposition, electrical or gravitational attractions and so on. If we change or remove a single particle all others are imperceptibly changed, if not immediately, they will be later on as the effects of the change ripple across the universe at light speed or below. If we change or remove lots of particles the effects are visible much more quickly.
In the most materialistic sense possible, everything is in communication with everything else, changes in one thing affect all others. Events in the nearby Andromeda galaxy that are happening now, will one day have an effect upon events in this galaxy, but we won’t know about it for at least 2.5 million years, because the effects of such interactions are restricted to light speed or slower.
The universe is huge, impossibly huge, beyond comprehension huge and here we are trying to make sense of it, gazing up at the stars at night, just like our primitive ancestors that saw the totality of existence as the creations and playthings of the gods. That’s what it is to be human, to try and make sense of the senseless, to try and place meaning in the meaningless and that’s why transcendent states are so important.
A bit of sophistry!
The mystic position on this is that the truth lies between two opposing states, both of which are equally true. For example, an atheist might claim that the universe is the result of a natural process, the full workings of which we do not quite understand. A theist might claim that God created the universe and no other explanation is necessary or even credible. A synthesis of these two ideas may well be that the universe began and God began with it. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that none of these ideas may be true, accurate or entirely correct, yet we pick one and try our best to support it with evidence or faith, belief and conviction depending upon our inclinations. The philosophical position may well be to that the truth is unknowable because it’s not absolute in the universe. The universe is under no obligation to provide you with any answers because there’s none to be had. We can know everything except our own beginnings. What answers we can find, tell us more about ourselves than the greater universe. To study reality is to study the self, to learn about reality is to uncover knowledge of the self. It’s all self-knowledge that reveals that the grand truth of existence is merely a point of view, a logical consistency that works for you, this is why it’s a cosmic joke, and the last laugh is on you!
All things no matter how small are connected to the larger by fields of force and influence, the larger is made up of the smaller. If we zoom in to the level of the subatomic it’s impossible to see where the atoms that make up your body ends and the rest of the universe begins, at such a scale there’s no divide, you and the universe are one thing. The things that you do today will have an effect albeit imperceptibly on the Andromeda galaxy in another 2.5 million years because we’re all one thing.
The universe is a cloud of atoms and your particular existence is a self-sustaining pattern of atoms within the cloud. You gained some more atoms today, you’ve lost some too, but the pattern persists meaning that the only thing that is real is the pattern, that’s what existence is.
You don’t own your atoms, you cant consciously decide to keep them or to throw them away, they belong to the rest of the universe and as far as your pattern is concerned each one is unimportant, all that matters is that it has enough atoms of the right type in the right locations to sustain the pattern, so that it gets to exist for one more moment, and another and another and another, ad infinitum.
You are a pattern in the cosmos that is part of a much larger pattern, all of which is one thing. Your existence only ends when your pattern is disrupted enough that it no longer works until then you’re more or less immortal. Enjoy and take care to look after the arrangement of your atoms! To Keep the pattern intact is to exist!