I think of this quite often: it’s mind-boggling that we exist at all! Because if we step back and look deeply enough at ourselves and our universe what we see is particles, waves, and patterns of energy, and space – lots of space. We don’t usually apprehend, let alone appreciate this until some science program or book reminds us. We’re each merely a temporary gathering of particles vibrating at certain speeds which gives us (and everything else) seemingly coherent and distinct shapes that appear to be separate from each other. The fact that all these particles, waves, whatever you want to call them, all came from the original material generated during the Big Bang is even more astonishing!
The universe is, always has been, and always will be vastly powerful and uncontrollable. This is all just too unfathomable and we, at root, feel insecure and vulnerable. So I think we lash out at “issues” and “enemies” that are falsely generated by the irritating throb of our ingrown anxieties. Since we humans operate essentially out of a compulsion to, and an illusion that we can, control things, the dichotomy of this reality causes us to act quite stupidly, irrationally, and often cruelly. (As they say, it’s far easier to deal with a “threat” you can see, hear, smell, and feel than something vast, mostly invisible, and almost incomprehensible.)
And so it is that warring factions hold their “particular” (yup, pun intended) lives and views as precious enough to fight for – even to the death, yet seem not to hold them precious enough to realize how insane it is to constantly threaten and squander such a miraculous existence!
I’d like to propose the following as a potential balm for our anxiety:
Perhaps the electromagnetic expansions and contractions of the universe might alternatively be imagined as great in-breaths and out-breaths. Perhaps the whole thing is actually a living, breathing entity – the enormity of which could be what many people call “god”. But rather than being hidden somewhere in an abstract place called “heaven”, rather than the universe having been created by someone at some highly debatable point in time, the entirety of the universe is it. And all our different and competing versions of “god” are actually about the same thing: the unfathomable, wondrous, boundless contents of the expanse we call space: a macrocosm in which everything is connected and pulses together, charged by the great electromagnetic beat of the universe. Its “terrifying” movements, convulsions, fluctuations and other manifestations merely functions of its being alive.
Many ancient cultures conceived of this as a kind of web or net holding everything together. They saw it reflected in the night sky, in the pattern of a spider’s web, a fishing net etc. It was a supportive matrix to which they were tied/attached, or better put, integral to. Sure, life was still very scary at times, but the idea that everything and everyone was in it together somehow made sense, made it bearable, even made it wondrous. But most of us began to forget this a very long time ago and we now approach everything in a fragmented, often anxious, short-sighted way. We no longer feel deeply connected. Not even “the web” or constant cell-phone contact truly alleviate this sense of separation, and personally I think these merely create a surface illusion of connection for most people, while actually profoundly separating them.
So, in a world that frequently feels like it’s falling apart, with its real web fraying and breaking, maybe those ancient ideas deserve some reconsideration?