Last week, astronomers discovered in outer space the biggest object ever known. This “large quasar group” measuring 4 billion light-years across is “a collection of extremely luminous galactic nuclei powered by supermassive central black holes,” they say.
“Quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe,” announced lead researcher Roger Clowes of the University of Central Lancashire in England.
Let’s put this — and all of us — in perspective.
Our earth compared to the size of the sun is like a fleck of dust next to a basketball. The sun, in turn, looks like a grain of sand next to a beach ball when compared to Anteres, one of our smallest neighboring stars. Anteres is just one of trillions of stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, which is one of trillions of galaxies and is “only” 100,000 light-years wide.
This makes me wonder, Does our world — let alone our country, our state, or our town — really matter? Furthermore, if each person is but one in 7 billion living on Earth, do any of us individually really matter? What about our so-called problems, fears, and grievances? Do they stack up against such astronomical scale?
Equally as immense is the “inner universe” of the human body, which contains about 100 trillion cells. Do any of them alone matter?
The answer to these questions is yes, if and only if we recognize that all of those entities — atoms, cells, people, towns, states, countries, planets, stars, galaxies, quasars, black holes, and beyond — are not only connected and working together collectively but are also part of the same one thing from the same one source.
This recognition is crucial; otherwise these questions may cause bewilderment, depression, or even despair, because if each of us is “just a drop of water in an endless sea,” then why go on? What’s the point?
The fact that so many people struggle to recognize their connected-ness to all things has its root in a basic human flaw called the “ego,” the self-defined “self” that derives its identity from attachment to “things” like labels, thoughts and emotions. We believe we “are” those things.
The ego’s sole function is to survive. It does so by making itself feel superior, and that isn’t possible without the existence of an “other” that is inferior. This “otherization,” even within our own intimate relationships and circles of friends, is what creates the feeling of separation that’s so prevalent among us, often to tragic extremes. To make matters worse, advertisers love it. So do ego-controlled politicians who care more about their own superiority than the greater good.
It makes us easy targets, with our implicit support. The false idea that we are “separate” is promoted and reinforced from all sides. It’s easy to feel disconnected and alone.
The way out of this dilemma is simply to return back toward that recognition of one-ness, of being from the same source. How? By allowing it, by practicing it, through devoted attention, even if only for a moment at a time. Take a deep breath. Look around. There’s miraculous-ness in everything from quasars to pebbles, from oceans to earthworms and from one of us to another. It’s not the things themselves but their essence that you will recognize. Peace, love, beauty, stillness, and aliveness are everywhere to be found.
That recognition aligns us with the force of life. Then why are we here? For the enjoyment that that recognition brings. Day by day, this is how we make a difference. Everyone wants to be part of something big, but many forget that we already are.
Claude Johnson is a local business owner, an author and a former Democratic candidate for the Connecticut General Assembly. You may follow him online on Twitter at @claudejohnson.