Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Interstellar Consciousness

In 1969 I laid on my back on the ground and stared up at the stars. I was on the Island of Gan in the Maldive Islands. It was late at night. The sky was clear and the stars sparkled like glistening jewels with the band of the Milky Way dividing the firmament. I was not drunk, but I was more alive, and more conscious than ever.

As I lay, I kept as still as I possibly could and just stared upward, blocking out anything on the fringes of my vision which might distract from the heavenly view. Presently, I began to lose all sensation of the ground underneath me. I felt as if I was floating in space with nothing but the boundless oceans of light years separating me from a billion worlds.

In amongst these worlds, there are, no doubt, planets not so divorced from our own, harbouring life. Of course, the chances of the life forms resembling Terran forms is extremely remote, as our own experience of life on Earth demonstrates the infinity of shape and form and intricacy of what natural selection creates.

Staring straight up I could see towards the heart of the Milky Way, our spiral Galaxy of which we are such a minute speck that if we disappeared the universe would not notice. The interstellar dust clouds block out the view of the actual centre, as much of what is out there is hidden from the unaided gaze. In the centre of the Galaxy is a black hole swallowing up time and space, only to disgorge it again in a kind of plasma at some point billions of years hence. The powers that rule the universe are so great that we could be wiped out in an instant, in the blinking of an eye.

And then, you turn yours eyes from the stars and back onto the home planet. The planet we are systematically destroying. The life forms we are wiping out. The misery and oppression our own species inflicts upon itself. Yet, there will come a time when the universe will swallow us up, and it will be as if we were never here. We are not important. We only think we are. We have yet to grow up.

Reaching out into space and being at one with the cosmos is the ultimate reality check. That is where we will eventually find ourself and the meaning of existance.

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