Philosopher Alan Watts compared our planet to an apple tree in one of his deep, yet entertaining talks. It’s a 50-plus year old lecture in which he says we are not born into the world but born out of it. The lesson is simple and enlightening. You can search YouTube and hear it for yourself.
“Look, here is a tree in the garden and every summer is produces apples, and we call it an apple tree because the tree “apples.” That’s what it does. Alright, now here is a solar system inside a galaxy, and one of the peculiarities of this solar system is that at least on the planet Earth, the thing peoples! In just the same way that an apple tree apples!”
Yesterday was solstice. It’s on the solstices and equinoxes that our planetary home comes to mind as a specific topic for many of us inhabitants. These planetary events have been celebrated as cultural holidays by we humans for millennia. The relationship between Earth and our parent star has fascinated us because we are affected by this relationship to our very core.
I like to sit outside in an informal meditative, contemplative state of mind and simply take in my surroundings. When I notice that I’m analyzing the world around me, I pause, acknowledge the thoughts, then continue observing the surroundings.
There is the ground, the atmosphere, the bodies of water that we largely take for granted until we purposely stop to ponder the ecosystem. The lack of any one or more of these elemental ingredients would mean that we could not develop nor continue to exist.
“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.”–Swami Sivananda
While pondering the sky, I sometimes think of the vastness of the Universe and contrast such immensity with the tininess of atomic particles. We can only guess at how many gazillions of atoms make up the Universe. When we observe the sky on a cloudless night, we notice the billions and billions of galaxies that, in turn, contain billions and billions of stars. It boggles the mind to remember that our planet is an insignificant part of just one beautiful, yet inhospitable galaxy.
We learn about atoms and the Universe in school, through reading about them, hearing lectures about them, or watching scientific documentaries. So, when we take the time to pay attention to our planet and closely observe its features, we might feel a sense of deep wordless wonder and gratitude. In turns, we may feel small and insignificant yet a moment later realize that we are integral with the greatness of everything. The resulting emotions can range from restrictive fear to boundless joy.
Sometimes we people play the mental game of subjectivity when thinking about the Earth. The Earth can seem huge in size and potential. Then, comparing it to stars, the Earth seems puny. Comparing the Sun to the galaxy we note that our star is just a speck. We also know that our galaxy is just another one of the other billions of galaxies in the known Universe. These observations are easy to intellectually comprehend, yet to fully contemplate the implications of them can trigger a more spiritual way of thinking.
Of course, this information is nothing new nor exclusive, but I love to think about these things when sitting or walking alone outdoors. I like to meet people who also like to contemplate the Earth and the Universe. One doesn’t need to be wonkish about such matters. One of the benefits of living on the Earth is that everyone has the capability and the right to ponder this planet.
It can take a lifetime just to scratch the surface of the world of information about the Earth. We have a very interesting home.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the ancient Roman philosopher/statesman Lucius Annaeus Seneca.”Life is the fire that burns and the Sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is Earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.”