Page 2, The Essence of Wisdom-
Novalis: “We are close to waking up when we dream that we are dreaming.”
Let’s begin with baby pictures. Here’s one of me, and of you, too:
From the Keck Observatory, photo images were released today of the most distant galaxies ever seen. This is a picture of light from these galaxies which has been traveling at the speed of light for over 13 billion years, which puts these galaxies within 500 million years from the birthplace of the universe.
They really are pictures of the very stuff- the starstuff- of which everything in the universe is composed. Before the stars and the suns, before planets and moons and asteroids, there was rushing, always cooling gases. Collapsing on itself, gathering in on itself in trillions of stars, the gas burned, sending photons (light) into the cosmos. The photons in this picture have been traveling a long, long time.
What follows from this point will offend every person who continues to construct a God crippled by their own human capacity to imagine and believe the data collected by telescopes like Hubble, Keck, and Cassini. Stop reading now, if you don’t want to know about a God who is larger than your doctrines about God.
Really, I’m serious.
As the photons of our star, the Sun,were absorbed by the dust of exploding galaxies and the cooled hydrogen which had become Earth, a new something began to emerge. A life form which consumed the dust, then reproduced, then changed over billions of years into a nucleus centered, cilia propelled bacteria, began to emerge. The by-product of its eating was one of the harshest gases found anywhere in the universe: oxygen. Yet new bacteria adapted even to that poisonous environment. Those bacteria cooperated, became communities of bacteria, became mobile, adapted sensing appendages, and over much much much time became the wiggly, scaly, winged, swimming, flying, crawling, seeing, hearing, many-legged, few-legged things which today fill the earth along with their many and distant cousins, the things that grow from the earth.
To make a very long story a little shorter, and to get more quickly to the quote which began this essay, one day, once upon a time..
One of the animals, (almost certainly a furry one, with a backbone, and probably moving most of the time in a two-legged manner), looked at the hill he was near, or the ground she was standing on, and perceived the hill or the ground to be something that was not a part of themselves. It was “other” and that “other” could be thought about. At that moment, whenever it was, human consciousness began. That animal could think about an object, and know that the thoughts were coming from within itself- not from the wind, or the water, or the food they ate, but from within themselves, somewhere.
It will always be impossible to definitively verbalize the specifics of those first moments of conscious thought, but I find it to be delicious contemplative food! For these were the moments when the frontal lobes of our brains began to develop. Those two halves of our brain in front of the ear and above the eyes, where our abilities to remember, plan, imagine, and think abstractly, now had a reason to expand, and indeed they did! That ancient animal- a bonomo? a chimp? A lemur?- set in motion our human ability to take pictures of 13 billion year old galaxial explosions, and everything else, good and bad, that we do so well. On that ancient of days began the universe’s ability to think about itself.
Us! You, me, and the other 8 billion of our fellow thinkers on earth today- we are the entire universe’s ability to think about and begin to understand itself!
Each person has the occasional opportunity to experience at least a little of what it was like for that first conscious thinker. We relegate our dreams to dry psychological definitions sometimes and miss the substantive and, I think, important insights they can give us about the nature of our consciousness. We swim through our dreams; the persons and objects of our illogical and unable-to-be-controlled consciousness are one with us, very much like water surrounds us when are swimming. They are projections of ourselves into the day’s events, or reflections of our DNA-fueled “memories,” or even our bodily reaction to food we have eaten. Whatever their source, we are “in” them, much as our ancient ancestor was “in” her or his world.
We literally are close to waking up, when our conscious mind begins to interact with our unconscious, dreaming mind. We try to make things we want have happen in our dream, happen; or we try to escape the hole that is opening up in our dream or the dark and hairy something that is gaining on us, but we can’t. And then, the cursed or blessed alarm clock drags us back up into our developed frontal lobes again. Time to get up!
Dreaming about dreaming; feeling and experiencing the awareness of the universe within ourselves; waking up to our abilities to see, hear, and feel more deeply; becoming more fully awake to the encompassing God, who connects us with the stars, the bonomos, and each other in our dreams about dreaming.