Tag Archives: Spirituality

Life, The Cosmos And Everything

“How much would you pay for the Universe?”, was the question asked by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. What is the universe worth? There is a curious school of thought which makes some regard themselves as above and beyond the world. They seem to look at the Cosmos with a strange detachment – as if they can divine it without discovering anything about themselves.

But we are part of the Cosmos. Inextricably so. To know the Cosmos is to know ourselves.

There are some who would rather not think of such things. Some who question those whose business it is to question. “Why do you want to know?”, they ask. Some want to give up even before they begin. Should we let sleeping dogs lie?

Yet, our curiosity has long been the hallmark of our species. We want to know. Is there any evolutionary advantage to this? Perhaps. I will leave that to the biologists. But what is certain is that this curiosity has served us well over the millenia.

There are some traits which we have not been able to shake off. We tend to group ourselves within clusters without realizing that we are connected to everyone else. Before we are black or white or brown; before we are Indians, Americans or Chinese; before we are Hindus, Muslims and Christians, we are human. We are the descendants of a tribe of bushmen who migrated from Africa more than 50000 years ago. Will we ever appreciate that?

Going back even further, we are connected to every living thing on this planet. From the humblest bacterium to the most gigantic mammal, we share the essential building blocks of life. We are nothing but combinations of chemicals which, for an unknown reason, gained consciousness and populated the planet in an explosion of life. Will we look at a chimpanzee and realize that our DNA differs by around 2%; that we share a common ancestor?

And finally, the most poetic fact about the Cosmos. We are connected to literally everything we see. Every bit of matter is made of atoms, atoms that were spewed from the explosions of entire stars billions of years in the past. When you die, your body disintegrates and the atoms that make you, go back to the Cosmos. Parts of you will end up as other people, parts of you as a rock, you will end up in the ocean, in trees, in grass, in the air and a part of you will reach the stars. When you consider this, you realize how small minded you are when you worry about the little things. And you realize how absurd it is to fear death or to imagine a heaven where you spend an eternity in boredom.

The Cosmos made you, you are part of it. It is all that is within and without. Enjoy your moment under the sun and live your life free because really, there is nothing to fear. The Cosmos will take care of you.




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Filed under Astronomy, Atheism, Life


Do I believe in spirituality?

That depends on what you mean by spirituality.

Death Valley National Park is just a two hour drive away from Las Vegas. In between the nights of bacchanalian revelry, we decide to spend one late afternoon driving as far as we can towards the national park.

On our way back, the sky begins to darken and by the time it is 7, it is pitch black. We decide to pull over on to the shoulder of the deserted road.

We step out into the chilly air and kill the lights and we look up towards the sky.

The desert sky is unaffected by light pollution. It is a cloudless night and the perfect time to be out looking at the skies. Even so, the sight almost knocks me off my feet.

I have never seen a more beautiful sight. There are more stars than I have ever seen before. They fill the entire sky. There are so many of them that the constellations that we can barely make out in our urban skies have all but disappeared. I can just discern Cassiopeia and Cepheus.

But the stars themselves. One needs no patterns to be awed by their beauty. And we can make out the individual stars that are relatively close to us. But in the distance, the stars are far away and so numerous that their light blends and they are blurred in the shape of a band. A great band that stretches from the north to the south of the entire night sky with a great rift in the middle. That is no ordinary band. It is the great spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy.

It is a sight I have waited 14 years to see. I am speechless with emotion. It is perhaps the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. I look at all those stars and I think about our universe. About everything that it has gone through in almost 14 billion years. I think of the births and deaths of entire clusters of stars. The sheer scale of it all boggles the mind.

The immense stars of eons past that exploded spectacularly scattering their insides through the universe, seeding the creation of the sun and the solar system. All that matter from dying stars came together to form everything we know and see and feel and touch and breathe and eat. The sun, the earth, the moon, the trees, the rocks, the grass and us.

I look the all those stars and think about the civilizations that perhaps exist there, far beyond our detection. I think of those that might have already been destroyed and those that might still be created.

All the problems that we have ever faced seem to fade away. It’s beauty is indescribable. It is truly one of those sights that has to be seen to be believed. I stare silently for the better part of an hour.

As we reluctantly get back into the car, I realize that if that spectacular sight is what spirituality means, then I do believe in it.








Filed under Questions, Random