The Cosmic Dance

The Choreography

The cosmic dance is not random motion but is beautifully choreographed, and the movements obey the laws of nature. The most fundamental laws of physics are the conservation laws–conservation of mass, conservation of energy, and conservation of momentum. These laws control all movement, interactions, and transformations in the universe. The laws are inviolate regardless of where in the universe one looks.

Nothing new in the universe has been created since the Big Bang, but only transformed from one form to another. What appears as creation or destruction is only a transformation from one state to another by physical laws. The laws are fixed, but the dancers and the dancing change. The dance never stops.

Since Newton, four hundred years of scientific progress have led us to understand that our universe is not capricious or ruled by demons and monsters of nature; instead, it is an elegant universe governed by laws. Thanks to science, we do not fear thunderstorms or cure diseases through exorcisms. We do not believe that the earth is flat or that we are at the center of the universe.

Science has unmasked nature to reveal that behind the many forms, everything is alike. Every electron, proton, or neutron is the same as every other electron, proton, and neutron. All forms are made of the same building blocks connected and interact through forces. “We ourselves are a mere collection of fundamental particles of the universe” Stephen Hawking.[i]

At a fundamental level (particles), there is no separation between us and what is outside us. It only seems this way because of the limitations of our senses. If we had X-ray vision, we would see no separation between a chair and the person sitting on the chair.

“About 99 percent of your body is made up of atoms of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. We also contain much smaller amounts of the other essential elements for life.

While most cells in your body regenerate every seven to 15 years, many of the particles that make up those cells have existed for millions of millennia. The hydrogen atoms in you were produced in the big bang, and the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms were made in burning stars. The very heavy elements in you were made in exploding stars.

The size of an atom is governed by the average location of its electrons. Nuclei are around 100,000 times smaller than the atoms they’re housed in. If the nucleus were the size of a peanut, the atom would be about the size of a baseball stadium. If we lost all the dead space inside our atoms, we would each be able to fit into a particle of lead dust, and the entire human race would fit into the volume of a sugar cube.

⦗….⦘

As you might guess, these spaced-out particles make up only a tiny portion of your mass. The protons and neutrons inside of an atom’s nucleus are each made up of three quarks. The mass of the quarks, which comes from their interaction with the Higgs field, accounts for just a few percent of the mass of a proton or neutron. Gluons, carriers of the strong nuclear force that holds these quarks together, are entirely massless.”

If our mass doesn’t come from these particles, where does it come from? Scientists believe that almost all of our body’s mass comes from the kinetic energy of the quarks and the binding energy of the gluons. We are not this solid, substantial-looking mass; we are empty space and particles in motion. In reality, instead of being made of flesh, muscles, and bones, as our senses have us believe, we are primarily empty space and particles engaged in cosmic dance. In this dance, there is no separation between what is inside of us and what is outside. Our skin which separates us from the outside, is itself particles interacting with particles on the outside or dancing with the particles outside itself. The particles do not “know” what is inside and what is outside. Only our senses make the distinction between inside and out.”[ii]

We are entangled with everything around us in a cosmic tango. Every atom in every cell in our body is entangled with atoms in other bodies and objects in the universe.

The dance is fluid, the movement continuous, the partners (atoms) changing positions at every opportunity. The dance is endless, and the music never stops.

When I look up at the sky and see the stars against a dark sky and imagine that my body is not solid as it appears but is full of “twinkling” atoms, buzzing around and dancing in the vast empty space inside and outside of me, I am Nataraja, the dancer.

My body is not separate from all that is outside it. It only seems so to my senses. I am entrained with everything around me in a cosmic dance. The ups and downs in my life are just the high and low notes of the song that I was born to dance to.


[i] (http://www.hawking.org.uk/, n.d.)

[ii] (https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/the-particle-physics-of-you, n.d.)

Dharma or Drama?

The journey of self-discovery is a journey inward. The journey starts at the outer layer- the body- and goes deeper inward and deeper still (Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate-Heart Sutra) only to discover that there is nothing there except emptiness. The body is made of atoms and atoms are mostly empty spaces; the atoms themselves are made of elementary particles which have no independent existence, they exist only when an observer is there to observe them. If elementary particles are not real then the atoms are not real and the body that appears solid is just empty space. This is undeniably so, it is what modern physics tells us. We also know from neuroscience that “I”, the self, that I identify with is a figment of my mind and does not exist. The body does not exist, I do not exist. So, what exists? What remains is the mind.

What then is the mind? The mind is pure consciousness say the Vedas. Physicist Donald Hoffman has a radical theory that the most elemental unit of existence is consciousness and that each of us is a conscious agent. We are not our body, we are not our mind, we are a conscious agent. The concept of conscious agent can be likened to Atman in Hinduism and soul in Christianity. The conscious agent gives rise to our mind which creates our reality. What makes each of us different and special according to the Vedas is our dharma. Dharma and Karma are concepts in Hinduism[i]that have found currency in the west. Dharma is an idea that I was dismissive of, at first, because I misunderstood it to mean one’s destiny. It means a lot more than one’s destiny.

Dharma, as I understand it now, means one’s essence. Our dharma is what makes us unique and special. Every living thing has its essence or dharma, which is unique to it. This is why an apple seed cannot grow into an orange tree. The closest thing in science to the idea of dharma is one’s genes. Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Selfish Gene, makes an assertion that is revolutionary-our genes are immortal, that is, they carry information that makes each of us unique, and this information is never destroyed, not even at death. This idea aligns with the concept in Buddhism that “we are never born and we never die.”

Our dharma is our essence. It is what makes us “us”. Our genes are about self- preservation and procreation, which is our animal nature, but our dharma is more than our genes. Our Dharma is our essence, it is who we are, beyond our animal nature. Our dharma includes our genes but is not proscribed by them. It is often said that dharma is our destiny and that our dharma is set by our karma(acts) in past lives and how we act in this life. This too is a limited view of what dharma is, in my opinion.

My dharma is my Truth. It is my religion, that is, it is who I am meant to be. Dharma is also understood to mean one’s duty, but, in my view, it is much more than that. Dharma is the seed in me from which emerged my mind. Self-discovery is about getting in touch with this essence in us. Our dharma is our Truth.

Either we live our Truth or are swept up in the drama of daily life. It is either Dharma or drama. When we live our Truth, we are in harmony with nature and all of existence. When we are living our dharma, we know it. It is a feeling.

 

[i] (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/dharma, n.d.)