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Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Wonder of Existence

"The world is still full of divinity and strangeness, Mr. Shawnessy said. The scientist stops, where all men do, at the doors of birth and death. He knows no more than you and I why a seed remembers the oak of 20 million years ago, why dust acquires the form of a woman, why we behold the earth in space and time. He hasn’t yet solved the secret of a single name upon the earth. We may pluck the nymph from the river, but we won’t pluck the river from ourselves: this coiled divinity is still all murmurous and strange. There are sacred places everywhere. The world is still man’s druid grove, where he wanders hunting for the Tree of Life.” - Ross Lockridge

God, the great Spirit who breathes through existence, who expresses Himself through a reality that manifests beauty and love and meaning. 

God penetrates, enables, and sustains, this whole reality.

"Our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in... But even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence?" - Stephen Hawkings

Here Hawkings is entertaining the most wonderful existential contemplation. In other words, what is the life-giving factor that enables the very concept or necessity that something should exist? Much more a rationally perceiving reality?

There is a vibrancy and life-giving factor to that infinite mind-boggler that is exploding with divine miracle and mystery: the glorious positive that there was not a chance or reason in all of nothingness that anything should ever exist, but then that it DOES, and this reality BECAME, not out of nothingness, but because this all-encompassing eternal Truth, 'I AM', this principle Being called "God" exists. Exuding out of the Infinite comes an expression, a reality. This is beautiful to me. When my mind goes to this place I can only say, "Wow."

What common people take for granted, that is, to be, is a wonderful, ineffable miracle that is exploding with mystery and life.

Once I was not, but now I am.

Existence exists.

When I look around and touch and hear, I am astounded. What is it to be? What is existence?

“The most unfathomable schools and sages have never attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes of a baby of three months old. It is the gravity of astonishment at the universe, and astonishment at the universe is not mysticism, but a transcendent common sense. - GK Chesterton 

I think what Chesterton was getting at was more than just astonishment at the universe, but astonishment at being. Once you were not, and now you are. And the utter fascination with suddenly perceiving, fascinated with reality. Seeing, hearing, touching, a universe. It is a return to truth, a return to a most primal truth, a return to a certain innocence, and for some it might border on the ridiculous. But it is a basic necessity. To never leave this truth of the wonder of being, and all that it means.

Think of the miracle of human consciousness coming into being. A man and a woman engage in a passionate and ecstatic union of body and soul, and out of this a fusion of the man and woman begins and a new conscious being is conceived into the universe.

Locked in the dark womb, it pushes and struggles out into... a universe. Imagine the wonder.

Now, it must awaken to God.

The more I ponder the nature of existence, the more I become a child. I am sent flying into a wonder I never knew was possible. Life is magical, and so the reality of existence. As Einstein related, there is a deep, inextenguishable wonder that can be awakened within us that makes us children forever. "We never cease to stand like children before this great Mystery into which we were born" (Einstein). And Einstein was right when he said that it is  mystery, wonder, beauty that the spirit of man thrives on and that is at the center of the spiritual life:

"The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms -- this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness." - Albert Einstein

It is the reality of the Infinite, the Ineffable, which allows for a reality to be. And this God simply is. This God revealed His name as "I AM", the simple reality of Being, the reality that He IS. He is all and in all. The peak of wonder is when the mind entertains this highest existential pondering of the "Is-ness" of pure and necessary transcendent Being, the One whom we call God. This is what is sought to be captured in the ideas of the otherness, the holiness, the divine transcendence. But no finite words can ever describe what can finally only be wondered at. The highest state of the souls rapture of awe is awakening to this Being. In this we are always children, and we will be forever. In awe of the magical world that God breathes into life, that God Himself streams through.

We must be continually fascinated with the miracle of existence. If you ponder existence long enough, you will be dumbfounded by the mystery into which you born.

First, that something rather than nothing exists and the miracle of all which that fact entails.

Furthermore, earth, water, wind, fire. Dirt that is a perfect substance for fertilization and the growth of plants, grass, trees, fruit, vegetables, enlivening the earth with wild, living vibrancy. The gigantic burning ball of fire suspended in space, its energy outpouring in every direction for lightyears, which we on this planet spin around in such a way that its light touches nearly every part of this sphere. As the sun rises, do you ever think that it is not rising, but that we are sitting on this massive ball floating through space and revolving into view of this huge cosmic light?

We are in a cosmos. 

It's spectacular. 

There are endless wonders of this existence. The beginning of wonder is the miracle that anything should exist at all. From there, we are dazzled with the endless miracles which make up our earth, life, consciousness, the sun and stars, space, time, and the universe.

What is the principle upon which existence finds it reason and source for existing?

What most people do is just go along in life, conditioned into the normality of existing, accept reality as a given, try to get by, and do as their told, never stopping to wonder at their existence. But nothing should be seen as a given. The existence of existence is not necessary, unless for a purpose behind it all. 

What gives existence the right and necessity to exist? That's the point I am trying to make. To attempt to rip the blinds off to show that existence is not a given, it's not "natural". When you begin to entertain this way of thinking, you begin to be in constant wonder of it all, and I think wonder is a deep truth to existence. You feel most alive when you wonder. Nature is not ultimately natural. Nature has no basis in itself. There is not a natural state of things. What we see as nature has its source wholly in something supernatural and transcendent.

Now, sit back and ponder this. Existence. Look around. What do you perceive? Reality. Is it really just a given? Is there any reason at all why anything should be?  You’ve grown up in existence. You’re use to it. You go day in and day out, working, going to school, going to sleep, existing, and you’re use to it. But what is it all and what makes anything necessary?

Now put your fingers on something and touch it. Go ahead, touch something. Why does existence exist? There is a divine ultimate that fuels existence for a purpose. Existence is a miracle, completely unnecessary, except for God.

Think about Isaac Newton. Before him we just thought it was a given that we were walking around on earth. Things stayed on the ground. It was a given. People sat, laid, stood, and walked without giving it a thought. Surely there were curious souls who pondered why things were drawn to the earth in this way instead of flying off into the sky. But it’s just life that things are bound to the ground. What goes up must come down. We knew nothing else. Things on the earth stay on the earth, and why should the question arise of why?

Then one day, as tradition has it, Newton observed an apple falling from a tree.

A sudden moment of realization hit him, “The apple is accelerated. Its velocity goes from zero as it hangs motionless on the tree and then is accelerated as it moves towards the ground. There must be a force that acts upon the apple to cause this acceleration.“ And by pondering what was normally a given, he discovered the law of gravity.

It is this way of thinking that we can apply to existence itself. It is not just a given that things are bound to the ground, it is because of the law of gravity, a force that pulls them. But wait, is the law of gravity itself a given? Why does the law of gravity exist? This question could be applied to everything until we arrive at existence itself.

We are accustomed to gravity, and it took a brilliant mind to think out of the box as to why things moved towards the earth. But we can apply this same thinking to existence. We are accustomed to existing, many times bored with it. We don’t regularly ponder the great strange wonder of existence. And so we go about our lives as if existence is a given, chasing money, and possessions, and power, and influence, and fame. Sometimes in the back of our minds there might be a faint whisper, “There is more to this.” But rarely ever does it make us arrive at the breathtaking wonder of existence and the deep-seated longing for the truth of our existence. 

God, the Beauty of all, eternal life-force that enables every atom in the universe, allowing the existence of something rather than nothing, animating it into the reality which we perceive, birthing rational human being out of these atoms, making possible every movement of wonder in our hearts. Eternal Necessity in all, yet transcending all. He is All in all and beyond. Stand in awe. Thank Him for existence. GOD forever. 

The presence of ineffable beauty within reality is the echo of eternal truth. 

This is when life makes sense.

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