earth

Flat, Round, or Wavy

"Take your finger and draw this line: summer, fall, winter, spring...noon, dusk, dark, dawn...

Have you ever seen those stratus clouds that go on parallel stripes across the sky? Did you know that's a continuous sheet of cloud that's dipping in and out of the condensation layer?

What if every seemingly isolated object was actually just where the continuous wave of that object poked through into our world? The Earth is neither flat nor round; it's wavy."

~ Reuben Margolin

More videos of Reuben Margolin's waves.

The Most Powerful Integrators of Information

"Because the data volumes that we get from space now are astronomical, the only way that we can really handle this anymore is to visualize it. And no matter what computers we may build, the human mind and the human eye [are] still the most powerful integrators of information."

~ Gene Feldman, Oceanographer at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, from "Creating Earth," Science Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

Caring for the Quality of All Life

Excerpts from "The Future Doesn't Hurt. Yet," by Matthiew Ricard, The New York Times, June 23, 2011:

The debate about climate change is mostly conducted by people who live in cities, where everything is artificial. They don’t actually experience the changes that are taking place in the real world. The vast majority of Tibetans, Nepalese and Bhutanese who live on both sides of the Himalayas have never heard of global warming, as they have little or no access to the news media. Yet they all say that the ice is not forming as thickly as before on lakes and rivers, that winter temperatures are getting warmer and the spring blossoms are coming earlier. What they may not know is that these are symptoms of far greater dangers.

...Imagine a ship that is sinking and needs all the available power to run the pumps to drain out the rising waters. The first class passengers refuse to cooperate because they feel hot and want to use the air-conditioner and other electrical appliances. The second-class passengers spend all their time trying to be upgraded to first-class status. The boat sinks and the passengers all drown. That is where the present approach to climate change is leading.

Whether people realize it or not, their actions can have disastrous effects — as the environmental changes in the Himalayas, the Arctic circle and many other places are showing us. The unbridled consumerism of our planet’s richest 5 percent is the greatest contributor to the climate change that will bring the greatest suffering to the most destitute 25 percent, who will face the worst consequences. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, on average an Afghan produces 0.02 tons of CO2 per year, a Nepalese and a Tanzanian 0.1, a Briton 10 tons, an American 19 and a Qatari 51 tons, which is 2,500 times more than an Afghan.

Unchecked consumerism operates on the premise that others are only instruments to be used and that the environment is a commodity. This attitude fosters unhappiness, selfishness and contempt upon other living beings and upon our environment. People are rarely motivated to change on behalf of something for their future and that of the next generation. They imagine, “Well, we’ll deal with that when it comes.” They resist the idea of giving up what they enjoy just for the sake of avoiding disastrous long-term effects. The future doesn’t hurt — yet.

An altruistic society is one in which we do not care only for ourselves and our close relatives, but for the quality of life of all present members of society, while being mindfully concerned as well by the fate of coming generations.

Read the entire essay...

Searching for Heaven

"Heaven and earth don’t exist anymore. The earth is round. The cosmos has no up and down. It is moving constantly. We can no longer fix the stars to create an ideal place. This is our dilemma.

It is natural to search for our beginnings, but not to assume it has one direction. We live in a scientific future that early philosophers and alchemists could not foresee, but they understood very fundamental relationships between heaven and earth, that we have forgotten…North, south, east, and west, up and down are not issues. For me, this also relates to time. Past, present, and future are essentially the same direction. It is about finding symbols that move in all directions.

My spirituality is not New Age. It has been with me since I was a child. I know that in the last few decades religion has been made shiny and new. It’s like a business creating a new product. They are selling salvation. I’m not interested in being saved. I’m interested in reconstructing symbols. It’s about connecting with an older knowledge and trying to discover continuities in why we search for heaven."

~ Anselm Kiefer, from “History of Our World

Three Lilies
by Brooks Haxton, from Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in
            the morning. Psalm 30

Before dawn, under a thin moon disappearing
east, the planet Mercury, the messenger
and healer, came up vanishingly
into the blue beyond the garden where
three lilies at the bottom of the yard
arrayed white trumpets on iron stalks
under a slow, slow lightning from the sun.
I stood on a rotten step myself,
and smelled them from a hundred feet away.

No Less Beautiful

From Waiting for God, by Simone Weil:

Where the Wild Things Are, Warner Bros.

The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes because we know that sometimes ships are wrecked by it. On the contrary, this adds to its beauty. If it altered the movement of its waves to spare a boat, it would be a creature gifted with discernment and choice and not this fluid, perfectly obedient to every external pressure. It is this perfect obedience that constitutes the sea's beauty.

All the horrors produced in this world are like the folds imposed upon the waves by gravity. That is why they contain an element of beauty. Sometimes a poem, such as The Iliad, brings this beauty to light.

The Full Flowering of Humanity

Coming Home “Enlightenment is the awakening to our primal harmony or, in another mystical language, to our rootedness in the Divine. From Enlightenment radiate the insight, compassion, and power needed to resolve individual and collective human problems as they continue to rise endlessly. Enlightenment is not a magical transcendence of the human condition but the full flowering of humanity, disclosing unity and equilibrium at the heart of the love and suffering we call life.

All existence is revealed to the Enlightened human being as a seamless whole, as Divine Life. Some taste of this Enlightenment which consciously touches the Ultimate is possible for each of us. It need not be deferred to any future existence in heaven or on earth.

Enlightenment is the secret essence of our consciousness, and the gradual revelation of this essence is the process of spiritual growth in which everyone is involved.”

~ Lex Hixon, from Coming Home: The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions

A Glorious Squandering of Motion

Planetary Matters,” by Verlyn Klinkenborg, The New York Times, September 29, 2009:

The Flint Hills of Kansas as photographed by my friend Pez Owen during her recent trek across the county with her partner Jean Rukkila.Not long ago, I found myself driving east across Kansas at dawn, cutting across the north/south band of the Flint Hills. Venus was riding bright above the horizon. And as I drove, I began to think about the morning star’s orbit around the sun.

Everything felt oddly stationary — the stars fixed overhead — except for my car humming along the blacktop and the grasses on the stone outcrops bending under a southern wind. Yet Venus was roaring along in its path, rotating clockwise on its axis while orbiting counterclockwise around the sun. Earth was roaring around the sun, too, except that our planet happens to rotate clockwise on its axis. In the grand scheme of astronomical motions — imagine, too, the rotation of the Milky Way and the overall expansion of the universe — my car had come to a virtual standstill, though I was doing 80.

KansasI cannot do the calculations to sum up all those motions, to figure out how fast and in what direction I was really moving as I drove across the prairie. It’s no easier sitting at my desk, watching October roll across the landscape, a bright day following a warm, wet night when the falling leaves adhere to every surface. Somehow, I can’t help imagining my life as a vector with a velocity and direction I cannot calculate.

Kansas

A day isn’t just a standard measure, all the same size so each fits on a calendar page. A day is a period of light, an astronomical event. I felt that on the road that Kansas dawn. The broad swath of the sun’s light rolls upward from the darkness, morning after morning, and then we roll outward into the ocean of stars at night. It seems extravagant, a glorious squandering of motion to give light, and life, to the grasses bending under the breeze, slowly retracting their shadows as the sun begins to climb.

Kansas

[Thanks Kit and Pez!]

Everything is Never as it Seems

I heard this song on the way to the airport this afternoon and it reminded me of these notions from the beginning of the week.

Owl_CityFireflies
Owl City

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
'Cause they fill the open air,
And leave teardrops everywhere
You'd think me rude, but I would just stand and... stare

[chorus] I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
'Cause everything is never as it seems

'Cause I get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they try to teach me how to dance
A foxtrot above my head,
A sock hop beneath my bed,
A disco ball is just hanging by a thread

[chorus]

Leave my door open just a crack
'Cause I feel like such an insomniac
Why do I tire of counting sheep?
When I'm far too tired to fall asleep

To ten million fireflies
I'm weird 'cause I hate good-byes
I got misty eyes as they said farewell
But I'll know where several are
If my dreams get real bizarre
'Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar

[chorus]

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
Because my dreams are bursting at the seams

Pale Blue Dot

From The Writer's Almanac today:

It's the birthday of Carl Sagan, born in Brooklyn, New York (1934), who did more to promote space exploration than almost any other single person. He was a young astronomer advising NASA on a mission to send remote-controlled spacecrafts to Venus, when he learned that the spacecrafts would carry no cameras, because the other scientists considered cameras to be excess weight. Sagan couldn't believe they would give up the chance to see an alien planet up close. He lost the argument that time, but it's largely thanks to him that cameras were used on the Viking, Voyager, and Galileo missions, giving us the first real photographs of planets like Jupiter and Saturn and their moons.

Sagan also persuaded NASA engineers to turn the Voyager I spacecraft around on Valentine's Day in 1990, so that it could take a picture of Earth from the very edge of our solar system, about 4 billion miles away. In the photograph, Earth appears as a tiny bluish speck.

Sagan later wrote of the photograph, "Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives... [on] a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."


[Thanks Kit!]