I am a T'ai-Chi Teacher and Singer/Songwriter living in Ashland, OR. Please visit my site: www.GeneBurnett.com for more info about my teaching and music. At my site I have over 20 albums of songs available for downloading free or with a donation. This blog is dedicated to musings about what I like to call "The Unforced Life".
Sunday, January 31, 2010
All Is One
I find lots of scientific evidence as well as direct experience that there is some kind of "intelligence" or "movement" or "order" to the Universe.
I don't mean this as some kind of God or personality or being that is apart from Nature. I mean that Nature is not completely random, there are laws that govern how things work at different levels of being, like the everyday physical world as well as the quantum level.
These laws are what they are, not something different. If any of these laws like the "conservation of momentum", or "an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by another force", or even more basically "the law of gravity", was even a little bit different, the whole Universe would be completely different.
Why is it this way and not another? I don't think we can ever answer this question. It's just a mystery. And these laws at whatever level you look at them are embedded in everything at that level. It's not like some planets have gravity and others don't. (At least it sure looks that way. I'm not ruling out other dimensions but we haven't found them if they're there.)
It's really science that convinced me of "the oneness of everything", since scientifically it's impossible to argue for the existence of separate objects. Separate objects seem to exist only in our minds. Outside of our minds, there's no way to show where the border between any two things really is. Where does the tree end and the air or soil begin exactly? And what is a tree without water, sunlight, gravity, food, millions of micro-organisms and a person to call it a tree?
According to science, everything is interdependent and is made of the same mysterious stuff. Even the "space" between "things" is made of the same stuff. So to me, separateness is a convenience of the mind to help us sort out this "oneness" of the Universe. And yes, of course, from the everyday life standpoint, I'm here and you're there. This is my book, that is yours. But there is another dimension where there's no difference between my book, your book and apparent space between the books.
I think of a metaphysical teeter totter. I like to stand with one foot on the everyday separateness of things and people, and the other on the ultimate oneness of everything. I try to keep my balance between these too points of view without denying either. To deny either, in my view, contradicts all kinds of evidence, scientific and personal. If "all is one", nothing can be excluded, not even separateness.
A big problem I have with so many religions is the concept of "the sacred" and it's inevitable opposite, "the not sacred". It seems to me that as soon as you have a "sacred" and "not sacred" the Universe is split and trouble follows (usually wars of some kind). I prefer to think of everything as being sacred, as in, awesome and worth worshipping. When people say, "This is sacred", I just hear, "I like this."
The beauty and balance of the Universe at every level is awe inspiring to me. The more I find out about anything, either personally or through science, the more of this awe I feel. I mean Chickadees have a language with many variations, each signifying a specific thing or concept. Electrons under certain circumstances behave exactly as if they "know" what other electrons are doing. Circles seem to be Nature's favorite shape all over the known Universe. Not one spec of the Universe can be created or destroyed, only transformed into something else. Just looking at the night sky fills me with awe. If it's all a dream, it's a great one.
The whole Shee-bang is sacred to me, not just the parts I like. And it seems to be moving somewhere, always becoming something else. I chose to see if there was a way for me to harmonize with this motion by listening to my body, which was created by this Universe itself (and made of the exact same stuff as everything else), and then doing what felt most deeply right within it.
T'ai-Chi, which is a Taoist martial art, is not mystical "chi" bullshit. It is based on the physics of this planet. The main principles can be applied to any physical activity. Using no more than the force needed to get a result is a principle obeyed by many people in all kinds of disciplines. Even Evangelicals building a creationist museum don't want to waste energy. Contrary to what most New Agers believe, T'ai-Chi is based more on science than religion.
I came to this "Taoist" point of view by experimenting, with my life as the "lab". It was not a conversion experience or a blind faith thing. I decided to try living this way and see what happened. With time I got better at telling which feelings came from the deepest place in me. I gradually stopped doing things that I had to force myself to do and focused on the things that felt right and that I felt impelled to do.
When I did this, my life felt better, with less pain, more pleasure, more peace of mind, more of a feeling of connection and community with the world. And yes, more of a sense of the ultimate "oneness" of the Universe. Sometimes this "right feeling" tells me to do things that really seem irrational and contrary to my best interests, but it hasn't steered me wrong yet. I now trust this feeling completely, even if what it wants me to do is at times disconcerting or mystifying.
You can call it intuition, but where does that come from? To me, it's me, a conscious little chunk of the whole, listening for a right feeling that seems to come from a source of information that is beyond my sphere. I can call it the Tao, or the intelligence of the Universe or whatever, but I have no idea if it's real or what it is. All I know is that this is the point of view that I like, and that works for me. It's not my only one mind you, but it's my favorite point of view.
(Sometimes I'm alone in an impersonal mechanistic world simply unfolding as it does. Sometimes I'm in awe of the mysterious nature of existence and can't help but assign some kind of purpose to it. Sometimes I "feel" that purpose without understanding it or being able to describe it. Sometimes the Universe feels absolutely alive and responsive to my state of mind and heart. Sometimes the Universe "speaks" to me. Sometimes the only voice I hear is my own. Each is a point of view with value and benefits. To paraphrase Werner Heisenberg, "What I observe is not Nature, but Nature exposed to my line of questioning.")
I just like this particular point of view best. But that's all it is really. I have no idea what's "really" true about anything. I experience that there's something inside worth listening to and encourage others who are inclined this way to listen to it too. It helps if I think it's something bigger than my little head and it sure feels like it is, but I don't really know what it is...it sure doesn't seem "transcendent" though, it's seems like it's an inside out thing that is embedded in every single thing in Nature.
I do have some "religious" feelings in all of this and yes, in conventional everyday life, I call it my "religion", but mostly it's just my favorite point of view, and if and when it is a religion, it's probably the most scientific of all them. It states as science does that there are mysterious laws and "ways" of the Universe that are best aligned with if one wants to live harmoniously.
In practical terms, my religion boils down to "Flow More~Force Less". Anyone can benefit from that regardless of why it seems to work...