You Don’t Exist

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You don’t exist … I don’t exist … Those may seem like strange statements, but there’s something very real about them. The words “you” and “I” imply that a being that is completely independent from everything else exists in the world on its own as a separate existence. But that is simply not true. There is no part of you or me that exists independently of everything else around us. The oxygen we breathe, the atoms and elements in our bodies, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the language on our lips, the ideas in our minds- indeed all the things that we may identify as the personality and composite of our individual self- came from other people, came from other living things, came from the stars.

My life, and your life, are just strings of cause and effect. Our lives are like mazes of dominoes in which each domino represents each moment of our lives. As soon as you are born, the dominoes hurtle into their string of collapse. This moment now is the domino pushing over the perfectly vertical subsequent domino. There is no part of you that is exempt from the causes and effects of the world- your totality can be erased by the world in infinitely many ways. It is profoundly confusing to me that the present moment is hurtling so fast into the past that there isn’t even time for me to really analyze it- there just isn’t time to really get a good look at it. I’m constantly in the present moment, but I never have had enough time to figure out those other moments, I never had enough time to understand what each of those moments really meant- they disappear almost faster than I can begin to analyze them. It’s absurd, really. Because of this, I sometimes suspect that time must be a product of consciousness. How long are we in the present moment before it goes into the past? A second? A microsecond? A picosecond?! If we can’t even answer that, all of our other notions of time should be brought into question. Clearly, we don’t understand time because we can’t even say what the present is. All time dependent physics might be out the window if we realize time is something caught up in us, not a property of the universe. Time must be different for a conscious, evolved animal than it is for the Universe! But we generally take the phenomena of the infinitesimal present slipping into the past for granted- we ignore it so much that we don’t even notice it. But I think it is very strange. In part, this is why I like meditation. Meditation allows time to slow down for your consciousness, so that you can analyze the present moment more thoroughly. In the same way that physics and astrophysics seek to understand physical reality, vipassana meditation seeks to understand our experiential reality. Vipassana meditation is very serious, long-term meditation (talking, reading, writing, or use of technology is not allowed and very little eating and sleeping is permitted) in which you seek to gain insight into your experiential reality for several days or months. Vipassana is most commonly practiced within Buddhist traditions, but no religious association is necessary whatsoever. To do vipassana is to be a scientist of your own experience. Vipassana centers (which are primarily in east Asia) are beautiful places where you can live for free, if you give your life up to becoming a spiritual scientist. Vipassana is my plan B, but regardless I hope to live at a vipassana center in the future. Anyway, the point is, the domino cause and effect play-out of our lives and the present moment slipping away at light speed only makes sense when we realize that there is no self- that we are just part of the flux of the cosmos. There is a great web of cause and effect that makes up each moment of our lives, but there is no self at the center of that web.

I know that there is no “me” that continues from moment to moment because the “me” that I could try to define for you now is different from the “me” I would have defined a year ago and will be different still from the “me” a year into the future. My goals change, my ideas change, my memory changes (mostly in a deliberate attempt to forget), my location changes. Perhaps my likes, dislikes, and interests stay relatively constant- but is that how I am to define this grand self- by an array of frivolous penchants? Or by a set of interests that any other human being could have? It seems that the only permanent thing is the name that has been latched on to my existence via cultural convenience. But I suppose I could file for a name change, too. I guess my social security number is the only permanent part of me. So is that what the I narrows down to- an undying number? What about the cells in my body- are they what make up me? No, every several years all the cells that were once me regenerate into a completely new set of cells. And your DNA definitely ain’t you because that’s 95%+ hairy, hollering monkey and while that might describe some men well, I know that at the very least that is not an apt description of my self. What if you hooked up my brain to a computer and translated my consciousness into it- then would we be closer to pinpointing the self? Hardly. The feelings and emotions and thoughts that I have are so deeply connected with my bodily sensations that if you translated my brain from my body I fear we’d be much further from locating the self. My brain is not me. My brain is nearly useless without my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my nose, my hands, my body! Consciousness and the perception of the self are emergent properties of the whole organism- the nervous system extends throughout the whole body, ya know- so zeroing in on one organ (the brain) and hoping to explain the whole creature is a sad misunderstanding of our human existence. The brain is a highly overrated piece of meat, in my opinion. Nevertheless, when we look hard for what the self is and what its persistent characteristics are, the only thing we really find is a social security number. But boy do we think something else is there, even though it is no where to be found.

The only (linguistic) problem with saying “I don’t exist” is that I am implying the absence of something that I have mentally defined (to claim the opposite of something is to remain caught up in the something). While “I don’t exist” is true, to totally escape the belief of an “I”, I must declare my self as a state of emptiness. Our language and our culture have doomed us into a state of self-obsession. Our language revolves around the words “me,” “I,” “you,” and the sense of the other, making it very difficult to surrender to a complete belief of no self. The perception of a self is a mere biological illusion encoded into us by evolution so that an individual creature tends toward self-preservation for its genetic survival. But for us to be more than mere mammals, we must see that biological mechanism for what it is- an illusion. Atoms- which make up our bodies and everything on earth-  are mostly empty space. The cosmos is mostly empty space. Hence, to declare my being as a state of emptiness is scientifically correct. I don’t believe in my “self” (and I certainly don’t believe in “you”) but I do believe in our deep cosmic interdependence. And the more that we come to know and understand this cosmic interdependence as our true “self,” the more meaningful life can be. I am more cosmos than I am a self. I am mostly empty space, just as the cosmos is mostly empty space. Letting go of the heavy self and embracing the lightness of emptiness is to glimpse the bud of enlightenment. Ultimately, in realizing your inherent emptiness, you realize that nothing changes when you die. When you die, you remain the emptiness that you always were, except your body, now free to disintegrate into the rest of nature, can finally fulfill its ultimate purpose- to become completely integrated and interdependent with nature, without any remnant of a “self” as an obstacle. Death is the release of the one thing  -the illusion of the self- that prevents you from being genuinely integrated with the cosmos.

If your nonexistence seems radical, it’s not- it’s one of the basic tenets of Buddhism. Here’s an introduction to emptiness on the Partially Examined Life (a podcast that I would highly recommend): http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2010/10/10/episode-27-nagarjuna-on-buddhist-emptiness/

Artificial Planets

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Yeah, sure, living on the moon or Mars is fine and dandy (and it’s gonna happen soon- so get space bound, people), but that’s only a temporary solution to a very long term problem. The long term problem being the death of that thing in the sky that keeps us all alive. Of course dumping people on the moon and Mars will solve our biggest immediate problem- overpopulation. Overpopulation is to blame for pollution, crime, poverty, and under education (if there were only a few of us here, we’d all be educated, well-off, and have resources aplenty). Overpopulation isn’t just the elephant in the room, it’s the steadily growing monster in the room. Apparently none of us are willing to give up our genetic drop in the bucket for the betterment of humanity. Because of overpopulation, we will eventually be forced to start building apartments alongside the International Space Station. Hopefully a gnarly spaceship will be included with each lease of such apartments.

The solution to the long term problem is an artificial planet or some kind of living space ark (http://news.discovery.com/space/private-spaceflight/project-persephone-icarus-interstellar-100yss-120920.htm). We’re gonna have to start flinging mini artificial earths with living things on them out of the solar system and see how that works out before we actually send an artificial planet with humans clinging to it out there. It does seem that having a bubble-like artificial planet where inhabitants live on the inside, with some kind of artificial sun in the center of the bubble planet, would be most protective (as pictured above). I think this is very exciting because it may eventually allow, through many generations, for the only scenario that I would want in a theological heaven- the possibility to trek the universe and visit many other worlds in the cosmos- to actually see and visit the starry heaven above. Those born on the artificial planet millions of years after its launch may be able to browse catalogs of the other worlds that the artificial planet previously visited, along with their landscapes, and maybe their inhabitants… Eventually it’ll be time for many humans to take a visit to the first U.S. Spaceport (where I was born).

 

Fashion = Tech

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In academia, there’s this lovely, snobbish disdain towards anyone who cares about style, fashion, or what they look like. It’s so nice to be treated like an idiot for having style. Well, those démodé intellectuals are about to look like the idiots. In the future, there will be no difference between fashion and technology. Our most important technologies will become the things that we wear. It’s already happening in myriad instances. For example, the sixth sense technology “necklace” and digital “hand map”: http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/, and high-tech biological tracking “bracelets”: https://jawbone.com/up. And fashion has been quick to jump into integration with wearable technology: http://www.wearable-technologies.com/2014/04/endless-fashion-week/. I’m trying to predict some possibilities of this fashion-technology fusion in my sci-fi book. These technologies will increasingly become devices that interact and merge with our human biology. Having a fashion sense means creating a harmonious integration of everything worn at a given time, it means having a bodily awareness. As everything that we wear becomes technological, having a bodily awareness and creating a harmonious integration of how all worn technologies are interacting with each other and our bodies will be crucial. And well, if you don’t even know how to work clothes … ugh, you might be left in the technological dust. So, if you ain’t got no swag, you aren’t ready for the future.

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Organic Technology

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I’m pretty sure that the endless glaring of fluorescent lights, the walls and layers of concrete and steel all around us, and the hours of daily computer screen staring are mentally and physically killing the human species slowly and silently. This is what my body seems to be telling me anyway. It feels bad. It feels bad to be under glaring artificial lights instead of sunlight. It feels bad to be surrounded by steel instead of nature. It feels bad to stare at an electronic screen all day. It feels really bad. We have this technological membrane around us and it’s blocking out all of the things we need as creatures. Every time we slap down a layer of concrete, we’re killing and walling off the plants and animals that keep us alive. This isn’t how we’re supposed to be living.

Technology, in some of its current forms, is killing us. It’s a slow suicide of our species. But let me clarify- I don’t mean than the intellectual ideas within technology- the ideas that have learned to manipulate matter like matter learned to manipulate radiation billions of years ago- are bad. I mean the way we materialize those technologies are bad.

And you know that expensive technological gadget you drive around in every day? Oh, yeah, that’s killing you for sure. No doubt about it. The number one killer of human beings (before old age health issues set in) is the car (Don’t believe me? http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811620.pdf ). Your car is more likely to kill you than anything else. No wonder. We’re these fragile, complex organic creatures and we’re whizzing around like bullets in pieces of dumb metal while assuming that all the other pieces of whizzing metal are being driven by rational, careful people. Smart. And it’s not just killing you- it’s killing the environment too, of course.

This is the sound of technology killing us: https://w.soundcloud.com/player/url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/116137152

Our technology shouldn’t be so dumb that it directly kills us all the time. Our technology shouldn’t be dangerous pieces of metal and steel that can quickly wipe out a delicate Homo Sapien. All technology should be organic. All technology should be smart enough so that fatal accidents aren’t even a possibility. Technology is supposed to be a convenience, but right now it’s more of a fatality. Directly and indirectly.

Mercedes-Benz has the right idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APOO05P0KIU Our cars, our airplanes, our buildings- they should be grown, not built. Like Mercedes-Benz Biome, the BART should be an organic membrane, maybe resembling a snake or caterpillar, that can detect and react to the presence of other living things- so that no human being is ever killed by it. Until our technology is as organic as we are, it’s dangerous. Period.

And the internet. Pretty hard to tell if it’s doing more harm than good. Click. Reward. Click. Reward. Click… is the internet turning us into robots or cerebral mush without any ability to think for ourselves? All the information we could possibly want is already somewhere within the technological strands of the world wide web- no need to look beyond it, right?… I think that it will eventually be determined that prolonged computer use is correlated with health problems.

When I use the internet, the words and images it conveys fill my consciousness so fully that it’s hard to think about anything but whatever that blinding screen holds. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s zapping brain cells in some way. But ah, the connectedness with the world it gives us, that’s such a great thing… But is the internet providing us a pseudo connectedness with the world to hush our evolutionary, spiritual desire for a connectedness with nature? We’re losing ourselves in the internet everyday and we like to lose ourselves. But are we also losing the things that make us human?

Contact Debunked

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The extraterrestrial intelligences in the Milky Way are watching you.

Oh yes, that’s right, they’re watching. They probably find you to be the equivalent of an insect. But they’re watching, they know who you are.

So let’s set this whole alien contact thing straight. We just haven’t thought it through. The Fermi Paradox needs a trash bin. Radio contact  is, well, an ape-brained idea.

Here we are, infants in the cosmos, babies in terms of evolution’s prowess. And yet… we will soon (astronomically speaking) be taking pictures of the other earths. In a few hundred years we will have telescopes that will be taking photographs of the other earth-like exoplanets. Assuming that some of the extraterrestrial intelligences are slightly more advanced than us, they’ve been taking pictures of us for awhile… Their technologies have zoomed into the details of planet earth. In fact, they’re probably listening in right now. They probably know what you ate for breakfast. They’re studying you, maybe even writing scientific papers about you.  They know everything about you. Maybe they even have the technology to peek into your thoughts… And alas, when you do something embarrassing -say trip down the stairs- and think “Phew, no one saw” -well, hate to break it to you, but the aliens saw. And maybe even laughed at you. I’m not sure if that’s their kind of humor.

So… if they know everything about us… why the heck would they need or want to contact us? Um, they don’t.

Well, those selfish jerks, maybe they could at least help us out a little? Give us some technology blueprints for harnessing celestial energy or help us solve this whole global over-population-poverty-crime-under-educated mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into.

Nah, they can’t really do that. They can’t really help us out much even if they wanted to. You see, we’re like insects to them. Or maybe rats. Can we help out the insects in any way? If we could communicate with the insects and say, “Hey guys, we’d like to help you out, give you some technology, help make the hive a better place.” Well. That wouldn’t really make much sense would it? That’s what we’re like to them. They don’t know how to solve our problems because we are so differently evolved than them. They might travel and use energy so differently than how we do it that they simply have no help to offer.

And Radio contact. Oh, brother. That just makes the silliest assumption ever- that the intelligences out there have the exact same technology that we do. Come on, there’s just so little chance of that.

So that old Fermi Paradox needs to stick a sock in it. The aliens are out there, of course, jesus. How can you not look at a full star field and not be utterly numbed by the sheer number of planetary possibilities that exist in one tiny pinprick of space? They’re there, they just have no reason to talk to us… because they’re already listening to everything we say…

And they don’t want to cause global upset to a land of already struggling apes. Or worse, unintentionally start the interstellar wars that they’ve seen us depict so perpetually in our entertainment. We’ve scared them to death! They’ve watched our movies and know that if they so much as say “hi” that they might risk being blown to smithereens. We don’t seem too friendly to them, so they don’t really want to give us a ring and say “hey earthlings, what’s up?” So, perhaps Hollywood is to blame, among other problems, for the reason the aliens don’t want to give us a galactic greeting. The entertainment industry hasn’t merely ruined our culture, it has destroyed our chance of cosmic connection.

This is just one speculation. But if they are watching everything that we’re doing… you could say that there’s a “god.” Not a wrinkly, wise, all-knowing Santa Claus in the clouds, but whoever the Commander in Chief alien is. When you pray, the aliens are listening in. When you say that you think there’s some all-powerful and all-knowing being in the Universe, well, that’s our old buddies the aliens. No wonder we have this deeply ingrained feeling of “someone watching over us”- it’s true, just not in the mythical, supernatural way our ancestors imagined. Maybe the aliens even made us. Maybe they manipulated our solar system so that it would be more likely of forming life… Maybe they have the power and technology to discreetly “interfere” with your life’s path. The aliens are our gods. We are their science experiment. We are their source of entertainment. Sorry for the dire news.

A Million Dollar Check

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Life is a gift. Yeah, yeah, you say, heard it a million times before. But it’s truly very hard to see life as a gift when we awake to it each day. It is a major spiritual challenge, in fact. So let us venture on a thought experiment to help clarify our deal with life. Many of us would consider a million dollar check to be an incredibly desirable and potentially life-changing gift. We could start a business or a charitable organization, pay for (or off) education, travel the world, and more! But what if someone handed you a million dollar check every morning? That’s kind of what life is like. We’ve been getting million dollar checks for awhile now and when we first got them, we didn’t really understand what they were or what to do with them. Maybe, on one ordinary day, we held that check in our hands and had an epiphany of how incredible it really was, or maybe not. Now that we’re older and have been told by many people about this check, we have some ideas about it. And we do have some vague notion of what it’s worth and what potential it has, but we’ve been handed so many million dollar checks that the mere thought of another one makes us yawn. And the next one we’re handed, well, we just stuff it in the bank- for the future, for another time. Because it will “always be there,” so it seems. But there will come a day when there will be no more million dollar checks rolling in and no more you to cash them into the bank. And sadly, hoards of money will be sitting in the bank that you didn’t do anything with. Maybe you could have changed the world. Maybe you could have accomplished all those goals that you thought were unattainable. You could have grabbed up every opportunity in life, but instead you ignored it’s great potential and stuffed it away for another time. To begin to take advantage of the million dollar check we’re handed every day -life- we have some conscious-raising to do.

There’s an ancient Tibetan Buddhist fable that does well in illustrating that every day of our lives really is equivalent to a million dollar check. The fable goes that a great, green sea turtle lived at the bottom of a wide ocean. And once every thousand years, the great sea turtle would surface for a breath of air. On this wide ocean, a large wooden ring was afloat. The story went that the probability of a particular human person being born would be as likely as the great sea turtle surfacing exactly through the wooden ring. I didn’t do the math on this one (area of a sea turtle’s shell divided by the area of an ocean, probability that the wheel be in the exact coordinate at the exact second of the sea turtle’s surfacing, assuming all temperature, pressure, and ocean currents constant), but it’s probably not far off from the probability of your birth. The genetic probability alone, of your particular persona arising in this world, is exceedingly unlikely. Thousands of parents and grandparents and great-grandparents ad infinitum had to meet and find each other tolerable in order to link into the creation of you. So, the probability of “you” is far smaller than the sea turtle’s hoop act. We tend to think of million dollar checks as pretty rare, but what’s rarer, is the creation of  the exact genetic combination that is you. If the existence of you is so improbable and unlikely, more reason to think that everyday of you is it’s own winning Mega Millions lottery ticket.

But sometimes we can’t see life as a gift at all, let alone a Powerball prize. Sometimes life seems like just a pain in the ass. But that’s honestly because we aren’t “getting it”- we aren’t being really aware of what it is. For you and for me, there was a vastly unfathomable sinkhole of billions of years of nonexistence and nonexperience before our births and there will be another mind-numbingly gargantuan span of billions of years of nonexistence and nonexperience after our deaths. Right now is the one and only picosecond in all of cosmic history that we get to exist, experience, and live. It’s the one picosecond in all of eternity that the Universe is saying, “Ok, here’s your one, brief opportunity to experience me and maybe impact someone or something on the planet enough for your existence to live on in others.” To re-transform our daily life into the gift it really is, it’s all about our awareness. As we age and as we are educated, our awareness of our world and our place in it branches out to a fuller awareness and true consciousness. Children have so little awareness of the world and themselves that saying they have consciousness is a stretch. Infants, who are not able to think because they do not have words, do not have human awareness, they are not far from any other blinking mammal.  But eventually, as we start to imagine our role as an individual in a world of other individuals and in a Universe of many worlds and how all things are connected and reliant on each other, our awareness grows.  Afterall, it is awareness that is evolution’s lofty tool- the more forms of awareness an organism has, the more equipped it is to survive. And well, we have the ultimate survival mechanism- consciousness, the epitome of creaturely awareness. I’m pretty sure that many humans do not have full-fledged consciousness and certainly few under age 20 do.  There definitely seem to be levels of human consciousness, changing with age and with individual. Infants don’t have it, the Buddha perhaps more than had it. A spiritual awareness is a not only a higher, more complete awareness – it’s surround sound awareness. A spiritual awareness, a higher consciousness, is what allows us to tap into the realization of life as a gift not only every day, but in every moment.

And that’s what spirituality is really about. Not god, not community, not church, not supernatural mumbo-jumbo. It’s about gaining a higher awareness of our connectedness to everything, to the specialness of this moment, to a greater realization of the value of our existence. It’s about taking that tool of evolution -consciousness- in our hands, to the next level. But you’re not the only one making awareness. The Universe engineered it’s own self-awareness- you. If you have any job, as a being in the this cosmos, it’s not your 9 to 5. It’s your duty to be aware of your existence, of your world, of the Universe. The Universe seems to have made you so that there would be something to marvel at all the marvels it had made. And in becoming a spiritual being, you promote your position in the cosmos because you have a greater ability to marvel at the specialness behind every second of existence (and because you have enhanced the Universe’s engineering project). Spirituality is seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. And if we can do that continuously, we will have the highest form of conscious awareness- which is exactly what the Universe wanted, so it seems. Of course, I am personifying the Universe when it has no persona. But the if the Universe “wanted” anything, it certainly wouldn’t want us to yawn at all that it has created. It wants us to see the amazing in the most simple of moments, in the most plain of creatures, in the most ordinary of days. Because no thing is simple, nor plain, nor ordinary! Everything that exists is the result of a 13.8 billion year old cosmo-evolutionary manufacturing. If you had spent eons making something and eons more guiding its every advancement- would you think it not special? The Universe “can’t stand” to see us bored by what it has made. In being spiritual, we learn to see the beauty and the remarkable in the most minuscule. So by becoming spiritual beings, we have fulfilled the need of the cosmos and learned to see today for what it really is- a million dollar check.

Something’s Not Right

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[Inspired by Sarah]

Something’s not right when most rooms of adults consist of individuals glued to their cell phone screens.
Something’s not right when the children of earth are more interested in their iPhones than playing.
Something’s not right when wherever you go, people are quietly ignoring everyone else around them so they can focus all their mental energy on an LCD screen.
Something’s not right when so much cement and steel pervade our lives that when any nature creeps in to our concrete jungle, it disgusts us.
Something’s not right when we can no longer see the cosmos that made us because innumerable fluorescent lights are glaring.
Something’s not right when the human being can no longer stand to let his mind wander for fear of missing a post.
Something’s not right when a cell phone acts as an immense blockade to any glimmer of human connection.
Something’s not right when we don’t know how to have genuine emotional communication with, or empathy for, another human being because we’re used to using only text to communicate.
Something’s not right when words, photos, posts, and advertisements stream into our conscious worlds so continuously that there’s simply no room to imagine a world without them or beyond them.
Something’s not right when we use our electronic devices to avoid our thoughts and feelings- the things that make us human.

And there’s simply no social room to miss the latest post, photo, or text. And my god, what ever better thing could I possibly be doing with my spare moments than filling them up with the connections and uploads in my digital domain?! Sit in boredom? Heavens no. Look out the window? What for? Watch the world go by? Nah, seen it before. Let our mind wander? Well, wander to what?

If we can’t stand to just sit and let our minds wander, then the entirety of humanity is in dire danger. And I don’t mean that with the slightest spice of exaggeration. All of humanity’s greatest advancements, inventions, and achievements began with a mind that wandered to a new thought. A mind that wandered to a new idea. A mind that wandered to something imaginary that later became a reality that changed everything. The first plane. The first pencil. The first book. The first rocket. The first wheel. The first key. These firsts, and all other firsts, all sprouted from a wandering mind. And they weren’t usually created by one great inspired insight, but by conglomerations of wandering moments that found each other in other wandering moments.

Perhaps if you had put that iPhone down for two minutes your imaginary vision could have changed the course of human history. But instead you decided to keep texting, keep tweeting, keep facebooking, keep uploading photos. And in doing so, you’ve told everyone around you that it’s ok to never let your consciousness leave that little screen. In fact, you’ve inspired them to never let their eyes leave that little screen. And consequently, you’ve turned humanity’s advancement down some very small notch. And together, all of us, eyeing our news feeds instead of the world around us, have turned humanity down one, big notch. We can’t afford another dial down in a modern world that has too many problems, too few solutions, and too big of dreams to lose the wandering minds who will save it, lead it, and take it to the stars. Indeed, all of humanity depends on each mind wandering to a place that no mind ever wandered before. So I beg you, put that cell phone, tablet, or laptop down and let your mind wander because your species, your planet, and your society depends on it.

Sacred Connectedness

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Sacred connectedness. What does that mean exactly? It means the atoms that are a part of you now were once in the furthest reaches of cosmic space and time. It means that the air molecules you breathe in this very moment were once breathed in by dinosaurs. It means that the electrons and protons that make up your laptop computer once resided in the fiery aftermath of the Big Bang. It means that the all the minute choices of animals and bacteria millions, even billions, of years ago have forged you into the being you are now. It means that without the magnetic sphere of hydrogen and helium in our skies, there would be no me or you. It means that the words you say today will affect other people, live in their hearts and minds, and continue on to others after you die. It means that everything you do now is impacting the people around you in ways you probably don’t even notice. It means that when you die the atoms that make up your flesh and mind will slowly dissemble and eventually become other things on planet earth. It means that one day when the sun eats the earth and the beautiful planetary nebula that is the skeleton of our dead solar system will disintegrate and drift into the cosmos, and then the atoms that were once you may one day be the building blocks of a new intelligent civilization somewhere and somewhen in the universe. It means that all parts of our lives are ever-connecting into a small story about one way the universe existed for a brief blink in time. It means that I’m a 13.8 billion year old expression of a star. And so are you. Sacred connectedness lies a little bit beyond the pier of sheer science because we are taking the facts of science and attaching the cycle of subjective human lives to them to paint a meaningful, true story. Science may never unearth all the myriad ways to which we are connected to the cosmos, nor all the consequences of it, and belief in a connectedness far greater than what we may be able to understand is a sacred piece of our existential puzzle.

Sacred connectedness means that each moment of our lives depends on billions of past and present people and billions of past and present organisms. The words we speak and write, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the buildings we live out our lives in, the technologies we use, and the ideas in our minds, have come from, or were built up by, billions of other people and yet are manifested in this moment. The oxygen that the trees around us are producing and the microorganisms in our bodies are keeping us alive right now. Perhaps it seems like an obvious thing to say -that all the things that matter to us have come from other people and other living things- but to truly imagine the magnitude of individuals and organisms that are contributing to each moment of our lives is to have a sense of sacred connectedness and is to also gain a greater capacity to lessen the importance of the self. Indeed, in realizing sacred connectedness, we see that there really is no “you,” because “you” are a conglomeration of billions of past and present people and creatures, without which there truly can be no “you” at all.

But sacred connectedness means something even bigger. Sacred connectedness means that all existence has branched out from one point- the Big Bang. And this one point was something purely and utterly insane. It’s that somehow nothingness, or some physical state extremely close to nothingness, created an entire universe. It’s that nothingness created me. And you. Thus, the only logical deduction of this we can take is that if nothingness can create a universe, and if a human being is far more than nothingness, then a human being must be capable of creating anything. 

Why Physics Is Wrong

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Mostly wrong anyway. It’s the best we can do on harnessing the truth of course, but still pretty much wrong. If the history of science has taught us anything, it’s that our major theories of the universe usually turn out to be way off. And there’s something painfully obvious that’s missing from modern physics- the fact that it’s all coming from a very limited, and often very stupid, ape. I’m certainly not the first to point this out, but I am the first to give this issue a name- I call it “Evolutionary Relativity.” Physics assumes that we have some kind of god-like perspective of the universe and that we can unlock all it’s secrets with a little math, but alas, we’ve forgotten that we’re just apes, not gods.

EVOLUTIONARY RELATIVITY

The revolutions of Darwin and Einstein can, and should, be integrated. Given that the development of our understanding of physics is a function of our evolutionary heritage, it seems necessary that evolutionary understandings inform our assumptions in physics. Evolution implies that physics is relative and dependent on how Homo sapiens have adapted.

Physics and mathematics are extremely limited in their ability to tell us about the universe because they have originated through an animal’s relative perspective. Homo sapiens have knowledge because of their sensory perception. But our sensory perception has adapted to a very small segment of physical reality and yet that is from where our physics comes. Every equation we write down about the universe is created through a biological lens. This lens concurs with what we observe with our senses and instruments made with our senses, but when we try to apply these equations to very large and very small scales of physical reality, the ability of physics to explain nature breaks down because our senses break down. Human beings are playthings of the environment. Thus, everything we do, physics included, is also environmentally dependent. Hence, physics that is far removed from our sensory perception- quantum mechanics, general relativity, dark matter, etc– is probably a distorted, relative animal vision of the universe. Evolutionary Relativity is not debating the empirical success of any theory. It is claiming that the fundamental assumption of physics– that Homo sapiens have the capacity to accurately describe levels of reality far outside our own– is limited by our evolution. Moreover, our dead ends in physics could be explained by this limitation. This will be proved when we contact another intelligent civilization and learn that their physics is different from ours.

Why Physics Is Relative

Albert Einstein could have taken the concept of relativity one step further. Not only is time and space relative, but so is our entire system of physics. This is because we are animals. We cannot ignore the fact that we experience the universe through a biological lens any more. The more we ignore it, the more we are failing to understand our place in the universe. Of course our physics concurs with what we observe, but when we try to apply our tangible logic to environments that are far removed from the environment we adapted to, we are not gaining information about the universe, but are instead describing our relative perspective. Quantum and cosmological realms are so removed from our senses that they should be considered environments to which we have not adapted. Epistemology tells us that knowledge comes from our sensory perception and our sensory perception comes from how Homo sapiens have adapted to a very particular animal environment. Therefore, we cannot have knowledge about something that our sensory perception has not adapted to process and understand. Our neural circuits are designed through natural selection to solve adaptive problems our ancestors faced- and not designed to solve the universe. The sensory perception of Homo sapiens is fine-tuned to what is necessary to our survival. It is not fine-tuned to the fine-tunings of the cosmos. Thus, our evolution as a species makes the framework of our physics relative. This is what I call Evolutionary Relativity.

Let us imagine the future. Eventually we will communicate with another advanced civilization in the universe. We typically assume that their system of physics would be not only identical to ours, but probably far superior. What if it’s not? What if their system of physics is completely different? If it is different, it might be because their mode of sensory perception is different from ours. For example, if life on earth originated in the ocean via the warmth of hydrothermal vents, it would not be absurd to imagine a marine intelligent civilization that evolved under an ocean. Or perhaps an intelligent civilization that floats in a Jupiter-like atmosphere or one that communicates with electromagnetic pulses. Would their system of physics be anything like ours? Probably not. Suppose we meet another advanced technological civilization and we discover that their physics is in line with ours (because their sensory perception is similar to ours), but that they have the same problems in physics as we do? They may have reached the same point where physics stops being functional. Each species develops its own way of sensing the world around it. And this basis for understanding reality is from where our animal math and physics comes. Alas, we cannot apply that logic to cosmological or quantum mechanical realms without error, because they are environments so drastically removed from the one to which we have adapted. When we communicate with other intelligences in the universe, we will be able to show Evolutionary Relativity, and hence understand that our problems in physics are not problems for us to solve via math and physics, but through more creative ways- when life eventually becomes the driving creative force of the cosmos.

We don’t come upon many theories that try to explain the workings of the cosmos in a new way because there’s a problem with how we are training scientists. Rigorous scientific schooling prevents the imagination from emerging in it’s full potentiality because it just forces pre-imagined versions of how things work on the students. And according to Thomas Kuhn (author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), the way science really advances is by a novel deviation from, even a shunning of, all prior puzzle solving approaches to science. But instead we create students that are very good at solving the same old problems, but who are not very good at imagining how the universe could work. The very structure of school is dampening students’ ability to imagine and think creatively, for they can only regurgitate others’ ideas when that’s all they’ve been taught to do. Perhaps if we immerse ourselves in nature and ask ourselves how we know the things that we know and re-ponder the basic questions, without the luxury of textbook or computer, we may come to many realizations about the universe. Since we may come to understand the limitations of physics and mathematics to explain the universe- to where will we turn? To understand the universe, we must make matter from light, life from matter, consciousness from life, and ultimately make our own experimental big bang (perhaps by combining many extraterrestrial spheres of knowledge), so that we can study and observe a universe in its totality.

Physics is not the central science, it is an anthropocentric activity like everything else we do here on planet earth. It’s about time that physics seriously considered the human biology that it is completely submerged within. Nothing is exempt from evolutionary theory. The barriers between the sciences must be broken down for us to maximize our scientific advancements. Hence, no longer should biology, chemistry, and physics stand separately, they are all guided by the same principle; evolution. We live amidst and indeed are ourselves a marvelously complex, blooming process of cosmic evolution.

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Universe Maker

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PART I

I just missed the bus. The bus driver slammed the doors and sped off right as I pantingly made it to the stop. Ugh, another 40 minutes until the next bus. It’s too far to walk. More wasted time! All I could focus on was the frustration and tension in my body. I huffed and sat on the bench. I felt so angry at myself for not getting there sooner.  I spend the next several minutes feeling so annoyed that I couldn’t think of anything but my annoyance.

It’s often after bouts of frustration that I get taken … somewhere else.

I tried to calm down and draw my attention to the beauty of this sunny day. The suburban houses, the road, people walking their dogs, the yellow sun, the perfect cotton-ball clouds suspended in blue sky. None is profane, all is sacred. There is something instead of nothing. There is this planet that has awakened in the universe and I am a part of its awakening. I feel better, I feel lightened from the weight of worry and unleashed from the burden of the self. If I hadn’t missed the bus, I wouldn’t have taken even one second in all 24 hours to appreciate the beauty of today.

Letting go of the profane allows the liberation of the sacred within. The houses, trees, stop signs, lampposts around me appear to be sinking and melting into the ground, and the sky is descending into darkness. I’m alarmed at first. I scramble to sit upright on the bench and look around. Other people don’t seem to notice what’s happening- I guess it’s just my imagination. Everything in my ordinary reality is disintegrating like it was a mere canvas plastically concealing another realm. The segmented strip of cement sidewalk beneath the bench replicates itself in all directions and glows at its crevices, creating an electric grid-like landscape all around me, as far as I can see. The cement gradually thins to a surreal bluish-transparency not unlike the sheen of a morpho butterfly’s wings and the jet distant sky above teems with monstrous star-lit bubbles. Other universes.

The bench is no longer an old, splintered wood bus stop seat, but a throne. Not a throne of gilded engravings and precious gems, but a throne molded of whirling, sunset-colored nebulae and encrusted with galaxies. Two dynamic, gaseous pillars on either side of the throne, which are continuously morphing into a geometrical mosaic, are each upholding a star with great flaring prominences. My worn jeans and t-shirt wane into a strapless white body suit mapped with the exact arrangement of my body’s fractal veins, glinting with electricity. A triangular LCD screen chest plate that displays the cosmo-evolutionary history of the Multiverse encircles my neck. My spine is lined with black octagonal buttons, rooted into my nervous system with artificial neurons. A multi-pronged albite tiara adorns my head and above each prong’s tip hovers a sphere caging a barred spiral galaxy. Behind my throne stretches a field of gleaming startails, cattails with stellar pods, undulating in the quantum fluctuations of space. I wave my hand across space and where the vacuum meets my palm, darkness metamorphoses into infinitely complex, fiery fractal mandalas that radiate for but a moment before dissipating into space, as though I temporarily exposed the blueprint of cosmic creation.

I’m pulled by the instinct to touch the grid. I lean forward and touch my fingertips to the electric grid, which initializes my galactic gameboard. Upon my touch, galaxies, gazillions of them, as they will be in my universe, funnel and tornado themselves from the grid’s plane into their natural majestic form. The power invigorates me to a sly smile. I will manipulate the arrangement of galaxies to maximize their star formation rates and thus maximize the number of civilizations that awaken in my universe. Through thought alone, I can shepherd galaxies. But if I am not mentally focused enough, I can use a gravitation pawn to manually maneuver the galaxies. The gravitation pawn is a device used by planetary engineers to re-arrange solar systems, stellar nurseries, and even, galaxy mergers. A generation ago I received my planetary engineering certification. I am acknowledged as educated enough to tamper with astronomical systems if necessary for the preservation or generation of life. I have a little more power than that, however.

In fact, I am this epoch’s Universe Maker. I’m not the first of the Universe Makers, however. I am a progenitor of the cosmic royalty that has known for billions of years how to make stars, galaxies, and … universes. The cosmic royalty is not a Type I, II, or III civilization (civilizations who use the totality of the energy available in their planetary, stellar, or galactic systems respectively), but a Type IV civilization. This means we may manipulate every last watt of energy of an entire universe to fuel our technologies and conveniences. I shall return to the celestial city, Asteria, home of the cosmic royalty, so that I can train the future Universe Maker.  (So far only women have possessed the creationary prowess to become Universe Makers). I long for the infinite innovation of Asteria. It’s infrastructure has been compounded by the myriad imaginations of the cosmic royals. Asteria’s urban nucleus is designed after a botanical system. Every “cell” in the nanocarbon stem and leaves of the plant-skyscrapers, the Trions, is an apartment, laboratory, or sanctum. For the flowering Trions, xylem elevators lead to the conical petal cells that are observatories and temples. It’s gallium roots seep energy from entire universes and it’s life-like structures have the ability to replicate when space is needed. The astounding allure of Asteria tugs my heart. But until the next Universe Maker is announced, I must monitor the spacetime preparation of my fifth universe in the Multiverse, Eudaimon.

I am far from the site of universe-origination so that I can monitor its totality. A nano-telescope implanted in the lens of my eye allows me to view the site. Indeed, my complete sensory experience is being recorded by pico-cameras in my eyes. I can increase the magnification of my telescopic vision by simply taping the corner of my eye. Telescopic vision reveals many tubular probes surrounding a vast void that will be Eudaimon. The region is being prepped for the constants of nature that it will later possess. I will know, wherever I am, when the universe launches its new existence because it is my creation and hence entangled with my mental scope. I will feel it’s beginning because a new realm of imaginatory power will be awakened in me. But I need not leave my throne anytime soon, especially not for mere survival needs. The cosmic royalty decrypted each synaptic surge in our brain’s circuitry long ago. We know how to fool the brain into thinking that it’s receiving basic human needs when it’s not. Hence my spinal buttons. If I sense the pang of hunger or thirst or any other human need, a particular button designated for each need can be pressed to send signals to my brain telling it that it is receiving it’s survival needs when it’s actually not. This is convenient, but occasionally dangerous. It’s hard to perceive the passage of time in hyperspace and hence difficult to perceive bodily needs. Over-pressing of the buttons can damage the artificial cerebral circuitry, which can hinder the natural nervous system. Under-pressing might mean death without the slightest warning of onset. No Universe Maker has been so wanton. Yet.

Even before society’s ascension into a Type I civilization, it was scientifically proven that meditation somehow contributed to the ability to maneuver thought-powered technology and sprouted success in those who practiced. In the budding of universes, it is the key to the creationary apex of the cosmic royalty. A special meditation sanctum resides near the nebulaeic throne, the Geodesium. The Geodesium comprises of a white dome with interlocking tiles shaped like diatoms, encasing my meditation chamber. Around the dome is a mote of molten mercury whose convection cells transpire in the form of a sunflower’s spiral torus.  A bridge manifests only for my presence and doors of solar plasma segment into a thousand stellar sectors and then retract for entrance upon a pondered password. Beyond the plasmic doors, oval hovering steps lead to an osmium galaxy-shaped platform, suspended in the dome’s center. When I ascend the steps and sit in a meditative position, two large coils protract from the dome walls and labyrinthine rimmed nozzles levitate near the left and right side of my head. As I meditate, the coils capture and cache the assembly of my imagination so that none will be forgotten and none misconstrued by word. This is crucial because my imagination will fuel the instigation of the evolutionary matrix of Eudaimon and hence needs to be fed into the anatomy of the new cosmic system. This creationary nourishment will propagate through its evolutionary history, but Eudaimon will sustain and exponentiate itself after my imagination has thoroughly forged its evolutionary nexus.

All Universe Makers are inaugurated under the condition that they be unwaveringly dedicated to the Utopic Multiverse- the maximization of life, creation, and sacredness. (Not a theological sacredness of course. Since we have attained an omnipotence greater than that of any human-fabricated god, no theology thrives in the Type IV civilization. Sacredness to us means an underlying, enigmatic connectedness of all cosmic being that even our advanced science has yet to decipher fully). Deviation from a Utopic Universe results in severe  repercussions- including excommunication from the cosmic royalty and mental re-mapping into a new being without any memory of one’s past.  The creation of an evil universe could become an immense threat to the peace of the Multiverse. No Universe Maker in Multiveric history has dared to dream of disobeying our cosmic canon- except one. Izara. Izara, Universe Maker in the epic of early Type IV civilization, strove to perpetuate death and destruction so that she may be the only Universe Maker for cosmo-evolutionary eternity. Izara oozes all that is wicked and ruinous. All the repercussions befell her, but we were too late to stop the making of her universe. The universe that she created was so powerful in it’s scope of evil-breeding that it is still a potency I must endure in my reign. No Universe Maker has destructive power to destroy this universe, we only have creationary power. It is due time that Izara’s universe becomes it’s own Type IV universe, capable of seeping power from our universes to fuel its evil and eventually generate a demonic Universe Maker, a new Izara. Izara plagues my mind ceaselessly and interferes with my meditation. Do I have enough morality to face the evil progeny of Izara with kindness? After all, it is only kindness that can dissolve evil. Evil retaliated with evil action only perpetuates the evil it strove to diminish.

To escape my fret of Izara, I can always roam the multitude of resplendent landscapes in the Multiverse. One tenet of the cosmic canon is that the fabric of reality is stitched not of particles, but of perception. The power of perception is all that’s needed to dominate the physical world. Hence, the cosmic royalty have no need for material conveniences, although we do use them. And we need not waste our cosmic wattage on spaceships… Because I am a realization of the Multiverse, I am part of all things that happen in the Multiverse, and am connected to all things that exist or will exist in the Multiverse. Therefore, with many years of mental, contemplative conditioning, I can pull the stitching of reality ajar to any time or place. It’s certainly an immense mental accomplishment that few can achieve and indeed is one of the lofty prerequisites required upon entry to the cosmic nobility. To do this, I stand and put both palms on the vacuum of space before me. I center my cerebral and cardiac energy deeply on the destination and then let go of my focus. When I do, a circular transparent portal emerges as an oscillatory layer on reality and I roll it aside to the desired domain. When I was young, it took me at least an hour to manifest the portal, but now it’s nearly immediate. For a Universe Maker, reality lies on a roll and stow basis.

It is time that I go to the Geodesium to work on imagining the evolutionary nexus of Eudaimon. I tap the corner of my eye to magnify my telescopic vision and all looks good on the cosmic construction front. I step down from the nebulaeic throne and admire the undulating startails. Majestic, soothing helioseismic echoes resonate from the grazing startails. The squares of the galactic gameboard protract and retract with my every step toward the Geodesium. And when each foot meets the grid, kaleidoscopic Mandelbrot sets fleetingly emerge, wax, and wane around my feet at the coordinate of contact … Suddenly a knot consumes my heart. Something’s wrong. The squares are beginning to tip diagonally, exposing a space-scape brimming with bubble universes, extending infinitely below. My galaxies, the embryos for my civilizations, are beginning to slip off into the vacuum! This isn’t possible! What force could possibly…!? I’m too stressed to shepherd the star paisleys with my thought alone. The galactic gameboard can only be turned off with touch if the segments are connected- the grid is ruined! Via programmable matter, I morph my tetrahedron cuff into a gravity pawn and begin to direct the grid, but the destructive force seems non-gravitational…

Whoooosh. The sound of portals rushing open comes from the vicinity. Izara!

Oh.

Young lady. Are you getting on or what?” … The bus is here.

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sacred