From earliest times we have wondered about our existence and our connection to the stars. Many myths and stories reveal our longing to return to the skies, as if we are trying to remember how to fly home. We wonder about the return trip after this adventure, our life, is over.
We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff.
~ Carl Sagan ~
This “star stuff” is the stuff of our minds as well as of the natural world. In our art and our philosophy we explore the questions of who we are and from whence we came. This spiritual universe is more personal yet eternal, emotional rather than rational. It is the light in our stars, this comfort from the cosmos when we look to home.
The physical universe is one of rational laws, measurable and impersonal. Essentially, these laws are true throughout the physical universe until proven otherwise. Continual discovery and exploration of the cosmos seems to be what makes or breaks such laws yet in the physical universe constant inquiry is essential for law.
There is room for both a spiritual universe and a physical universe,
just as there is room for both religion and science.
Each universe has its own power.
Each has its own beauty and mystery.
~ Alan Lightman ~
To recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of the physical as well as the spiritual universe is to observe life with a sense of wonder. In wonder, the physical and the spiritual do not contradict but co-exist so we are able to observe both.
In the observer effect, the act of observing influences what is being observed. One of the many marvels of science is that attributes and behaviors invisible to the naked eye are still observable.
We cannot see the law of gravity or the Higgs boson. We are left observing that what goes up comes down, although the law of gravity is much more than that. The Higgs boson may be observed after protons collide about a trillion times but even after all that, its existence lasts less than a billionth of a trillionth of a second. Even so, the boson is observed only because of what it becomes.
In the more personal spiritual universe, belief systems underlie our reactions. Do we observe every event or experience with our complete attention or are we more concerned with how to respond?
My sense is that our observation is obscured. If an event is familiar, we search for a previous and similar response; if an experience is unknown, we search for some kind of familiarity so we can respond. We are not observing fully so our influence is incomplete as well.
The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.
We listen to reply.*
We may be missing the wonder of being alive, of being part of this adventure that is both spiritual and physical, each universe complete in its beauty and mystery. We are star dust, this universal stuff of us. Ours is a guaranteed round-trip. Why not observe this life with wonder?
*This quote seems not to have an attributable source.
Reading Alan Lightman’s The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew is like having your own personal guide to the cosmos. In my post “No Separation of Time and Space Here,” Kay mentioned this Lightman work as well as his novel, Einstein’s Dreams. I enjoyed both immensely. Thank you!
A recent post from Tiramit mentions the observer effect in his thoughtful post, “Responsibility & Mindfulness.” Thank you!