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Buddhism in the News


Monday, August 24, 2009

Earth: The Pale Blue Dot.

Concerning what Buddhism thinks toward the universe the Buddha has said, It is so large that it has no exterior, and so small that it has no interior.” “It means that at the Tathagata level, in terms of largeness, you can’t see the edge of the universe, and in terms of smallness, you can’t see the smallest microscopic particle of matter."

James: Whenever this perspective comes into focus it always humbles and reassures me that the bigger picture of reality is unfolding as it should. How could it not be unfolding at it should for we don't have much control over anything let alone our fate in the unfathomable totally of the Universe. We have learned a lot as a species but we still probably don't even know a tenth of what the Universe is about and we will most likely never know. Perhaps that's the way it is meant to be because how can something so immense and ever changing ever be pinned down and completely understand by a mind, which we know is flawed to begin with? Catching up to the consciousness of this vast experiment is in my view a glimpse into the state of parinirvana, which in totality is impossible to grasp until, (it seems to this humbled mind) until one no longer longs to grasp at all. Perhaps we'll "know" it when our desire to know is exhausted.

How lucky to have been born on this pale blue dot of dust hurtling through the vast expanse of a living Universe at all? How even luckier is it then to have been born as a human with the ability to understand that we're living on a pale, isolated blue dot of dust hurtling through the vast expanse of a living, breathing Universe!! And that on this pale blue dot once walked a man called Buddha who changed this dot forever. Whole civilizations of ants live and die generation after generation with no knowledge whatsoever that they live on such a miracle of a rock floating and spinning around a bright, giant, star of nuclear reactivity.

We can try to act like we are in control with our super smart, fast computers but in the totality of it all those are just blimps on a inconceivably massive time line. We're along for the ride so while pursuing science and looking beyond our current limitations is something we should always pursue we need to remember the less flashy parts of the puzzle. Black holes, red dwarfs, spiral galaxies and massive, multi-colored planets are enthralling and awe inspiring to be sure but so is the most delicate, humblest blade of grass that we often pass as we rush our way across this pale blue dot. Some of the most amazing moments in existence don't take place in a lab, aren't seen through the lens of a telescope or measured with the most high-tech satellite. As my master Thich Nhat Hanh says:

“I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child--our own two eyes. All is a miracle...

James: I am content to just be apart of it all and to share a few spins around the sun with you all on this miracle rock called, Earth. That makes me smile.

~Peace to all beings~

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smellincoffee said...

When anger stirs in me at being mistreated, I may hear Stoic wisdom in my head reminding me that such things are beyond my control -- but I may also hear Carl Sagan saying, "How frequent their misunderstandings -- how eager they are to kill one another. How fervent they are to kill one another!". He reminds me to keep things in perspective.

Spiv said...

"The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well on the surface of a gas-covered planet going around a nuclear fireball ninety million miles away – and think this to be normal – is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be." -Douglas Adams

Strange of a philosopher as he was, I think he makes a fantastic point. We often become so accustomed to 'the way things are' that we never step outside of this supposed reality enough to notice how very unlike that is compared to how the universe really is. We miss out on a lot just because we're so trained to accept our situation at face value.

Life, like art, is a process of learning to see. To un-train yourself from all presuppositions we've built up since birth.

At least, that's where I'm at right now. I'm sure I'll learn I'm wrong down the road :)

alison said...

hi james, it's alison, formerly from mettagarden blog, how have you been? just droping by to say hi. i love what Thich Nhat Hanh says, and i am loving each day as i walk on earth too, blue sky white clouds and green leaves. enjoying the simple beauty. and to capture them as images. yes, it is a miracle.

Vagabonde said...

Your post is so eloquent and inspiring. I can feel everything you write, but I cannot write like that. English was the 3rd language I was proficient with and it still does not flow out from me the way I wished it did.

Antonio said...

You may enjoy this quote:

"This is indeed the oddest thing about SETI—that we are so plainly surrounded with alien intelligences—bees, whales, porpoises, chimpanzees, DNA molecules, computers, dung beetles, slime mold, even the planet as an ecosystem—but still feel lonely and unable to communicate. How much intelligence and wisdom are found in Chinese civilization, for instance, and how ignorant the West continues to be of it! Why do we seek distant alien intelligence when we hardly know what to do with our own? The huge barrier here is the strangeness that we never see: our faces. We haunt ourselves like aliens. The main ghost that stalks me is my self, the only person whom everyone else knows but I never can... Our failure to recognize ourselves fuels our thirst for confirmation from alien intelligences."

John Durham Peters, Speaking into The Air (p. 256)

They call him James Ure said...

Great comments everyone. Allison, I'm doing o.k. right now but I'm worried about the coming winter and my moods. Hopefully I can prepare early and adjust my medicine accordingly.

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