"A Vast Expanse"
- Sunset at the Desert Retreat House -
Although my wife and I live in the vast expanse of a wide open desert, the houses in our neighborhood are all pretty self-contained. As I sat in my outdoor garden this morning I thought about the many walls that surround me- the walls of my room, the four walls of my house, and then on top of that there is a courtyard wall that encloses the entire house allowing for privacy in our pool and garden area. We are surrounded by walls.
This morning as I sat within the comfort of these walls I suddenly realized how familiar I have become with my little piece of territory out here in the desert. I know each plant within these walls, every bush and every tree, my fountains on my stone patios and the color of the paint. My space is very familiar and exceptionally comfortable. In fact I would guess that, as long as we had food and water, we would never have to leave this space and could live here for an indefinite period of time, essentially oblivious to that vast desert wilderness outside the walls.
It struck me this morning that the walls that enclose me are a powerful icon of the everyday life of so many everyday people living in this culture at this particular time in history. My guess is that, to some extent, all of us are somewhat trapped within our own myopia - unaware of life's bigger picture, secure in and comfortable with our own little knowable and well-defined territory.
Back several centuries ago, with the dawn of the Age of Reason, people in Western society convinced themselves that, with the proper scientific methodology, they could pretty much figure everything out. And, as a matter of fact, over the past few centuries there were lots of questions for which we have been able to find answers - antibiotics, cures from disease, planes that could fly in the air, rockets that could land on the moon, and a computer at every desk giving each of us access to a world of knowledge at the click of a key.
The problem in all this is that we may have erroneously come to the conclusion that this is all there is. Locked within the myopia of a four-walled existence we may think that we have (or soon will) come up with all the answers to all life's questions.
It's so easy to forget that what we have discovered through our microscopes, telescopes and advanced computer technologies is just a tiny speck of the much bigger picture. It's so easy to forget that the way we have come to understand and see our own world and our own personal lives is so very limited and that there is a much bigger world beyond us all.
The "quantum" scientists of our own day tell us that we know just a tiny little bit about how this world works - we have a handle on just a minute portion of that vast, bigger picture. In fact we have been able to "figure" out about 5% of the vast mysteries of time and space, a cosmos of multiple and complex universes - everything else is "dark energy," an incomprehensible mystery that defies imagination.
More than that, the scientists of today have concluded that each and every atom in this vast, expansive big picture is related to one another, a common energy flows in and through it all. It's almost too much to think about.
It makes me think of something that the ancient Taoist, Chuang Tzu, said long ago, far before the dawn of the Age of Reason, well before the sophisticated advances of contemporary quantum physics and quantum mechanics:
The Universe and I came into being together
and I and everything therein, are One.
As I sit within my own little four walls this morning, I am reminded to be careful about not being trapped within my own myopia as I live within my comfortable and familiar everyday life.
Imagine it - I am part of the Universe and the Universe is part of me.
I and everything therein are One.
And another name for the "One" is "God."
Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"