Thursday, January 5, 2012

On Black Holes, Red Giants, and Incense Burners

LET ME SAY RIGHT AWAY that I’m mentally at work on a column on inquiry that I hope to have up in the next few days.  It’s been a really interesting week in that regard and I want to share it.  It needs a bit more gel-time, however, so I thought I’d pop this up, since it was also on my mind, and promises to be a shorter and easier way to give you an end-of-week hello.

I'M A BOOKSELLER BY TRADE, so it’s sort of like shooting yourself in the head to see how a breeze might feel up there, but I’ve acquired a Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet.  In my defense, I don’t plan to use it much. if at all, as an e-reader.  For me, it’s a bed-sized computer.  My wife, Betsy, wanted more company in bed, and at our age she wisely figured out the only way to get it was to put a computer in there.  Sure enough, I’ve risen to the bait.  I can net-surf, and I can watch Netflix and You Tube from something larger than my iPhone while being stretched out instead of hunched over my PC, which is the way I spend much of the rest of my day.  We don’t own a regular TV, thus we don’t have cable, or satellite, or even an antenna.  We do have a non-signal-receiving monitor and a DVD player, so we’re not totally out of the loop, but we’re playing on the edges of it, that’s for sure.

LIKE ANY GOOD PSEUDO-INTELLECTUAL, I am watching my share of The Office and animation.  “Animation” is what grown-ups call cartoons.  I also read graphic novels.  “Graphic novels” is what grown-ups call comic books.  I find The Office smart as well as funny, and yes, I like cartoons and comic books, particularly of the super-hero variety.  Go X-Men!  I have a thing for mutants.  Who would have guessed it?  Not me, I promise you that, but then again, I’m not the one calling the shots here.  And heck, when I’m dead, what will it matter?  That’s another way of saying, “What does it matter now?”  If you care that I read such stuff it would probably be good to ask yourself why. 

I AM ALSO WATCHING SCIENCE PROGRAMS, and I’m particularly taken by a series called How the Universe Works.  It’s a Discovery Channel offering, and once you swallow the presumptuous title, it’s very good.  The scientific animation is excellent; the astronomers pretend to be on the same playing field that we are, and we get to see and hear about some great stuff.  The Big Bang episode is incredible.  They tell you all about how, “Something the size of a pin head, but with incredible density, held all of the energy that would make all of the matter in the entire universe.” You can no more get your head around that than you can the loftiest aspects of the teaching.  The mind stretches and stretches, and then it stops, dumbfounded.  And then, just like with the teaching, it says, “Okay, let’s play like I understand that.  What next?”  If there’s not an intuitive jump, there’s just a belief-making process.  Which is fine of course, it’s just odd to see its genesis arising from science instead of religion.

SO, IT OCCURS TO ME THAT THERE MAY NOT really be all that much difference between that kind of science and this kind of spirituality.  They are both stories.  They are both pointing toward a higher, weirder thing.  It’s more a matter of language than any fundamental disagreement.  The big tip off for me was when they said, in reference to the Big Bang which animation showed us, “And this is when space and time began.”  That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.  Mine is quite similar.  The last time I heard, they don’t burn incense in astronomical observatories.  I don’t do high math.  Call it a wash.  I like to think that perhaps Nonduality is where science can meet religion and both of them can give up some of the ground of their belief systems for the sake of truth.

THERE ARE A LOT OF SCIENTISTS who end up coming over to this teaching.  That’s serious inquiry.  That’s real honesty and humility, too; I admire that very much.  Quite a few of them end up becoming teachers; they are the driven ones.  They are not into spectator spirituality.  Neither am I.  I wonder if many people leave this teaching to go become scientists?  I doubt it. A lot of people hit the teaching later in life; you can't really reverse that trend. If you don't go all out for science early on in life, it's unlikely you'll ever get far with it.  I’d like to be an astronomer, or a physicist, something like that, but I left off at college algebra; I don’t think I could qualify to do more than sweep and dust around the telescopes and labs.  I could probably skip a small scientific calculator across the top of a still pond, but I don’t think I could do much else with one.  Oh well.  Maybe this DNA will blow in that direction the next time it shows itself around Planet Earth.  I’d like that.

Housekeeping Notes: Let me welcome Nepal, as the latest country to visit our blog.  It joins 53 other countries who are already helping to awaken Clarity via this project.