- Education and Science
I am the Universe
I am the universe. A bold statement upon first appearance, but allow me to explain my reasoning as to how I come to this conclusion. Most people when meta-cognizing only focus on their fleshy physical selves. They limit their scope to what is immediate, and are satisfied with who they are and what they accomplish. Let me be clear, I am not saying that I am better than others because I am able to realize my body's insignificance in the grand scheme. My purpose is not greater because I realize my full form.
When contemplating I prefer to find a quiet place where my mind can relax and wander aimlessly. I find that by thinking about seemingly unconnected topics and parallel processing by allowing the mind to make loose connections between ideas I discover more. These connections then build upon each other to eventually realize a greater idea, a revelation in my mind that leaves me staggering to breathe. Recently, laying in a hammock in the shade of a tree staring up at the evening sky, I had the chance to wander in a pensive mood. Previously that week I had been discussing the grand scheme of the cosmos with my brother and decided to bring those thoughts into the mix. Putting that on the back burner, I opened my self to a libertarian view of intellectual property rights. Lastly, I started a general metacognition to keep the thoughts moving and to fill in the blank periods of absent thought. This is a regular occurrence in my brain and thought process.
Sitting back rocking in my hammock I let my thoughts flow languidly in my mind. I mainly focused on the intellectual property rights, wondering how it could be lawful for a corporation to take the copyright from a worker and claim an idea as their own. Why can a company require that its workers invent and innovate, yet after the hard work the corporation then takes all credit for the invention and gains total copyright over it? And then my ideas began to gather together. I related a corporation to a society or a country, it is a collection of beings working together to achieve a common goal. The corporation is not stealing an individual's idea, but is instead the worker is like a cell in a body. Just as an individual defines itself as one entity with many individual cells working independently, a company contains many workers who work for the greater good of the company.
All at once I began to see how we are all connected. We may be individual entities in the universe, yet together we form a collective, altogether we create a consciousness. This is not to say that we have some deep spiritual consciousness or there is a transcendental oversoul. It solely means that in the grand system we are conscious. When all is taken into account, one can see that the universe and all that is is conscious. This may seem fallacious, but let us analyze from our own perspective what it is to be conscious. No one would doubt that an average human being is conscious, we are sentient beings who can take in information and process. But what causes this consciousness? I would say that it is the chemical reactions between the cells of our bodies that causes us to become conscious. We only say that an individual is conscious because the cells its body react in such a way to cause consciousness. The appendix of my body is not conscious. My liver is not conscious. My kidney is not conscious. Similarly, my brain is not conscious on its own. It is necessarily part of the system of my body. This is not to say that the brain is a form of irreducible complexity. It can exist and survive separately of the body, but it cannot be conscious separately of the body. Conclusively, we can see that the whole system together must be taken as one to describe it as conscious. Individually they are not sentient, but also we cannot exclude parts that are seemingly unimportant to the consciousness. All parts must be accounted for in the system in order to fully understand.
Now extrapolating to a macrocosm, I decide to include everything in my system: the grand cosmos. A company represents itself with the individual contributions of its employees, but we call the company brilliant; no credit is given to the individuals who toiled to make it great. In the same thread we can see that the universe is a conscious entity because of its member parts. Allow me to present this logically. First, I am a conscious being. Second, I live and work in a society with other conscious beings, making it a necessarily conscious society. Third, because this is a planet that contains conscious beings, we consider it a conscious planet; not that the rock of Earth is conscious, but rather that the cosm of Earth is conscious, please note the distinction. Expanding further, it is easy to realize that the macrocosm is conscious; the universe as a whole is alive. When taken piecemeal the parts do not fit together and are not conscious, but holistically we are an alive system.
After realizing this, the thoughts on the consequences of my philosophy began to cascade in my mind. We are all connected. As one conscious entity, all ideas and resources available are at my disposal. All things, all matter, joins together in a grand, awesome reaction to which I am awestruck to be a part of. A heavy feeling of power and knowledge beyond measure wrapped around and crushed me. There lay before me the purpose of all. I had discovered before that all was for nothing save the perpetuation of physical reactions, but this was new for me. I had not before contemplated my place in the universe, and this was a truly inspiring revelation.
Of everything in the grand system, what am I? A speck of dust on the head of a pin in a haystack of nothingness? I truly am insignificant in the totality. My existence is minimally important in the mechanism of the universe, yet my absence has infinite consequences. My presence here is not necessary, but if I were to disappear suddenly and instantly the movement of the system would change permanently. Everything that is is necessary for what is in existence now and how everything interacts with everything else. My mass is an infinitesimal compared to the universe and my actions in the cosmos are minute like the pull of a grain of sand on the earth. Nonetheless, my presence in the microcosm of Earth leads to a place in the universe that sets the path for the future of everything.
My body is a node in the universe where a collection of atoms has formed an entity. This collection is me, my self, everything that makes up the definition of my body. Also at this point is a condensation of cells whose sole purpose is to exist in my head. There they react to form my thoughts, feelings and emotions, and my (re)actions. This collection of atoms and what they form as an entity is unique in the universe. Although it is entirely possible that there could be an exact copy of my atomic makeup, it is a very, very, extraordinarily small probability that this would happen. My brain is the center of my consciousness, but all parts of my body are necessary for the consciousness to arise. Drawing further out, one could say that my environment is equally responsible for the rise of my current self: how I am today and how I think and act. Going even further, one might conclude that all actions past are the reason for me. Reality today is necessarily the way it is because of the past cosmos. There is only one way for our current system to be because of what has occurred to make it so. I am because of what has been.
Now comes the point for an uncomfortable stretch. My body and mind are the incidental condensation of the universe's consciousness. I am the brain cell of the universe, the thinking part of the cosmos. Taking from before that I can define my body as the totality of the universe, I can add that the universe has now evolved to form me: its conscious self. My body is not the fleshy corpse that can be seen on this earth. Rather it is everything in the universe and my body is simply the thinking part of it. A parallel can be seen to the traditional sense of a body. The corpse is the body, but the brain is the thinking part of the system.
Carl Sagan tells us “we are a way for the cosmos to know itself”. All things are made of the same basic components. The atoms in my body could very easily have been a blade of grass in the Cretaceous period. From this perspective one can see the partial truth in the belief in reincarnation or in the Christian thought of dust. We may be different in appearance now, but in the end we will return to the same basic from. Similarly, when our bodies degrade our atoms are separated and recombined into new forms. Although they may not appear the same, our atoms are always still there. Here is where Sagan's insight comes into play: as one whole cosmic system, we are all part of the same set of particles that have been combined and recombined over billions and billions of years. This current combination is infinitesimally temporary. For simplicity, let us examine digestion. I have a steak, juicy and cooked to perfection. I eat the steak, it is digested, the molecules are separated from each other so that my body can use them. The molecules from the steak then become combined together to form different parts of my body. In the steak-body system, all atoms are conserved, simply recombined. There is no more steak, but I am successfully nourished. It is easy to see how we are all connected. Our atoms have been together before and their combination is arbitrary at this point.
I recognize that my body is not important, it is simply an accident in the cosmos. However, in the cosmos I am the conscious entity who is defined as the whole. It is only at this point that the universe has evolved to a point of developing consciousness. It took these past billions of years to have the conditions necessary to bring my consciousness into being. This has no consequences aside from my knowledge of how all things exist. I can only show that since all things are part of the same conscious system all things connect together in a grand system.