Over the last several years, my universe has changed greatly. Actually, the universe hasn’t really changed but the way I see it has and that has changed me immensely. It is easy to forget this as the day to day rush and responsibilities push me down familiar paths but when I can step out at lunch time and take a walk on a beautiful day, reality has a way of taking hold again.
Most religious traditions – and I was raised Christian – tell us myths and legends that have been passed down through thousands of years and when science contradicts those myths it is difficult for people to accept the ‘truth’. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that one prominent politician and personal lawyer of the most powerful climate denier on the planet said with a straight face that “truth isn’t truth”. Whether his logic for this is religious or ideological based I don’t know but it is unfortunate to hear that as science is moving at break-neck speed to uncover truths that are turning the world inside out.
A couple of years ago I stumbled across the lectures of Alan Watts. Initially I found him somewhat difficult to digest and am sure that he must have been labeled the devil incarnate by many. Much of what he lectures on is in agreement with Buddhist philosophy though not all. What really struck me was that he, in the 1960s and 70s was describing a world that is totally alien to what I was taught during the same period. Now, some 40 – 50 years later, the scientific community is proving that much of his world is in fact true and this same science makes a mockery out of much of what I learned as a child…..what people are still teaching their children.
Over centuries, science has taught us that the earth is not the center of the solar system, the sun is not the center of the galaxy and by now, not too surprisingly, our galaxy is not the center of the Universe. The Universe has been in existence for so long that our existence is merely the blink of an eye. If in our greed and selfishness, humans manage to destroy the planet and all life on it, it might not even be mentioned or even noticed in the annals of time.
And yet, just knowing the sheer immensity of the world around me leaves me in complete awe. It is when I look up into the sky and imagine looking back from a cloud that I realize despite all the facts to the contrary, I am at the center of the universe and so are you. What we know is derived from what we experience. If we choose to experience only what our few and limited senses can detect and make sense of, it can be a rather small and mysterious world in which we make up stories to explain the things we can’t understand. If on the other hand we embrace what our intelligence and experience have accumulated over hundreds of thousands of years and remain open minded to what is yet to be discovered, we find ourselves at the center of a truly amazing, powerful and awe inspiring universe…which by the way may be just one of multitudes more, coming and going in an endless process of birth and death. Surely, the center of the universe is in you..and in me.