On Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Cosmic Perspective” and More…

Photo by Tiago Ribeiro

Photo by Tiago Ribeiro

I’m 70 now. That is a time of life when one reflects on this miraculous journey that we take, and, hopefully, comes to some informed conclusions about what it is all about. I recall many years ago reading the late Dag Hammarskjold’s “Markings”, in which he jotted down his thoughts on this life. I’m not nearly as original as he was, so have to rely on the thoughts of others for my markings to guide me along the rocky road of life. One such marking that has had a marked impact on me is this one from Albert Einstein:

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. (My emphasis) Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”

I think it is true that looking at life from the human perspective is a kind of prison. We are so absorbed in the day to day problems of survival that we close our eyes to the marvels around us. If we are to avoid Thoreau’s fear that “when the time comes to die, discover that we have not lived” then we have to embrace Einstein’s “all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”.

And we find that by looking at life from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s wonderful Cosmic Perspective, we enrich our view of life from our human perspective. By acknowledging that we are part of a stupendous universe, and our kinship with fellow creatures, we come to a calmness that eludes us otherwise; a feeling that indeed “the universe is unfolding as it should” envelops us. The view of Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot teaches us that our petty differences are infinitesimally smaller than that dot, and allows us to place our troubles in their true perspective.

We are one with the universe, and each other. Why is it so difficult for us to comprehend that? I think it is because we haven’t learnt to view life from that cosmic perspective. I think it’s time that the world did. I’m more than a little tired of this infantile bickering that passes for meaningful life for so many, and results in the deaths of millions. Is that really what life was meant to be?

I recall my own education. It prepared me for physical survival, but little else. Maybe it’s better these days, but looking around me, I doubt it. I don’t see anyone singing the praises of the miracle of life. I look at the newspapers that are intent on informing us of all the disasters in this world, and the foolishness of men. Governments occupy themselves with matters of physical survival. Who nurtures the soul? Is it the the churches? I don’t think so. Any organisation so preoccupied with man’s real or imagined sins does not uplift the spirit.

No, cosmic consciousness is the only path to that. And I have enough faith in mankind to know that sooner or later we will see that. After all, it isn’t so difficult, is it? Einstein had said we are in a prison. The only thing stopping us from opening the door of that prison is our fear of discovering what’s outside.

And who wants to spend the only life we’ll ever have locked in a prison?


Last 5 posts by Con Carlyon

Last 5 posts by Con Carlyon