I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Moving into February

John T. Rus capture

I am again snagging a photo from the Seeing Bellingham group on Facebook, since the pictures I've taken recently just aren't as beautiful or inspiring. John Rus has lately been taking and posting lots of pictures of owls, which we have so many of around these parts. I often hear one hooting from the trees on my walks, not sure what kind it is, but I know the call very well. In this shot, I love the intense bead of the owl's laser-like focus on capturing its next meal.

We have such incredible birds around here, not just owls, but eagles, hawks, crows and ravens, sparrows, hummingbirds, and more. Just yesterday morning I saw my first-of-the-season robin! There were four of us ladies walking yesterday, and although we only covered around four miles, we had a really good time together. The bitter cold has receded for awhile at least, and in just a short time I was able to take off my gloves. And for a few moments, we actually had some sunshine! It left quickly, but it was sure pleasant to enjoy while we had it. 

What to write about this morning? Well, I've recently started to read another book on quantum mechanics, published just last month, by Heinrich Päs: The One: How an Ancient Idea Holds the Future of Physics. I read an article about the recent release of this book, which holds many fascinating ideas to ponder. It's interesting to consider that what Päs is postulating is exactly what the Ancients have been teaching for thousands of years: that all is one, everything that makes us think otherwise is an illusion. And I do think that, even though I'm only part way through the book, I am beginning to have more of an understanding of the concept of quantum entanglement a little better than before I began to read it. 
Since everything is an illusion, perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, One may burst into laughter. —Longchenpa, Zen Master, 1350 AD

Heinrich explains the relation between the quantum world and our classical world by using the example of the film projector: is reality the film seen on the screen or is this simply derived from the roll of film in the projector? If everything really is just One Thing, and we are creating all the rest of reality through projection, we're doing a pretty good job of making it all look fantastic and mind-blowing. The concept of monism has been around for as long as human have been. It's the idea that All is One.

I don't know why I've become so fascinated with quantum physics, but everything I have learned tends to bring me a sense of hope that perhaps we can consider another and better reality than the one we wake up to every day. That perhaps even time and space are illusions. Even so, we need to find a alternate way of thinking about life and our place in the Universe that makes more sense than what we accept as reality today.

Heinrich is a mere youth who was born in 1971 and garnered many different degrees at prestigious universities before starting to write books about what he has learned as a particle physicist. He spent years learning to surf in Hawaii, with his first book being called "The Perfect Wave,"about neutrinos, which he says are some of the most puzzling particles in the universe. Not to mention his passion for surfing being part of his story. 

In this new book he says that, once quantum mechanics is applied to the entire cosmos, it uncovers a three-thousand-year-old idea: that underlying everything we experience there is only one single, all-encompassing thing —that everything else we see around us is some kind of illusion. I found an excellent article about all this on a website called "The Big Think," interviewing people in the news. Check this out, written by Heinrich:

The One is the story of both a serious crisis in physics and the half-forgotten concept that has the potential to resolve it. It explores the idea that “all is One,” that matter, space, time, and mind are all just artifacts of our coarse-grained perspective onto the universe. Along the way it narrates how the concept evolved and shaped the course of history, from ancient times to modern physics. Not only did monism inspire the art of Botticelli, Mozart, and Goethe, but it also informed the science of Newton, Faraday, and Einstein. Even now, monism is becoming a tacit assumption underlying our most advanced theories about space and time. This is a story full of love and devotion, fear and violence—and cutting-edge science. In no small way, this is the story of how humanity became what it is.

He writes about stuff in ways that pull me right in, and as I'm immersed in his book, his worldview, I am feeling quite happy to be alive in this moment, when we have people like Heinrich discovering new avenues to discover in quantum physics, and when the James Webb telescope is showing us what the universe was like at its beginning, and much, much more. How can anybody take a look around and not be excited about what we have already uncovered?

With all that, I think I will need to bring myself back down to earth and consider that you might not be all that interested in what I'm learning. But I'll bet that you, along with many of us, want to find a way to appreciate the natural world and enjoy some peace and serenity in your everyday life. It might seem unproductive to sit and follow one's breath for a few minutes every day, but I have to tell you that it seems to be working for me. I have carved out a small amount of time from my morning routine to include it, and now I think I am beginning to reap the benefits. I feel more centered and am often filled with awe when I look at the world around me.

Of course that thought sent me to the internet to discover ways to have more awe in my life, and I'll share these tips with you. These are taken from another interesting website. Here are six ways to incorporate awe into your daily life:

Linger. When you catch yourself in awe, sit with that feeling for as long as possible. Though you may be tempted to move quickly onto the next thing, such as taking a photo or responding to a notification, try pausing first to soak in the surroundings for a bit longer.

Slow down. Create space for awe to emerge in the mundane. While you water your plants, tenderly check for new leaves and buds. While eating, consider the time and energy that went into the food in front of you.

Appreciate your senses. Tune in deeply to your awareness of color, texture, scent, and sound. What do you hear? What do you see? While on a walk, stretching, or taking deep breaths, allow yourself to sink into the senses that connect us to the world, and be in awe of what we find.

Unplug. While many of us are dependent on technology for work or for communicating with others, it’s good to intentionally step away from the screen and give yourself the opportunity to connect with yourself. 

Awe walks. Numerous studies have shown that spending time in nature lowers stress and improves our physical and mental health by decreasing blood pressure, enhancing focus, and strengthening our immune system. 

Awe journaling. Think back to our most awe-inspiring vacations, events, and moments, and take the time to document them. Where were you? Who was there? How did you feel? This simple practice may decrease your sense of time pressure, and make you more generous, as well.

Well, I'd better start wrapping up this long post, and find my way into the rest of my day. My sweet partner still sleeps next to me, my tea is gone, and I've spent altogether too much time in my head! Time to jump out of bed and get ready for what's next in my day. John will be here soon to take me to breakfast, so I'd better get started. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I hope you will find a way to spend part of your day awestruck! Until then, I wish you all good things.


Rita said...

Lovely post! Have a great day. :)

ApacheDug said...

It is certainly a very thoughtful one, I liken it to that Chinese balloon sailing right over my head! I hope your week ahead is full of awesome things DJan.

gigi-hawaii said...

This is a nice, sweet post. I am awestruck while listening to classical music such as a Brahms' symphony or Puccini's opera. Sometimes, music is more awesome than the calls of birds or the barking of dogs. So, I understand what you mean about awe. Have a good, awesome week, DJan.

Rian said...

DJan, I love this. So much of it also 'goes over my head' but I checked out both articles and although my mind isn't quite awake enough this morning to assimilate all that info, I did find it fascinating... especially the 'all is one'. And although I don't meditate, I do believe that it's beneficial. I used to go on silent retreats and the silence alone brought peace, awareness, and awesome moments. Thanks for this intriguing post. Enjoy your day!

Elephant's Child said...

I am with Linda. Awe and wonder are a regular part of my life, and nature so often provides them both.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Quantum Physics hurts my head...I must be too old! I barely passed regular Physics in College I got a D probably because I had it Winter Quarter and it was an 8 AM class. Hope you have a good week!

Gigi said...

Thanks for the list - for sure, I need to learn to slow down and linger! Have a great week!!

John's Island said...

Lots of inspiration in this post. Now, one thing you said really made me smile. “… Ancients have been teaching for thousands of years: that all is one, everything that makes us think otherwise is an illusion.” Back when I was teaching, I had a colleague on staff who, occasionally would say, “Reality doesn’t have to be real.” At the time, we chided him about that being foolish. Now I’m starting to wonder if he was right. 😊

Marie Smith said...

A number of years ago, I was feeling down and started a gratitude journal. Every day I focussed on what I was grateful for that day. No matter how miserable a day might feel, there was always something to be grateful for. I don’t need to journal every day now but I always appreciate the little things. Nature never disappoints!

Red said...

You've got yourself into a very upbeat mood to start the day. Physics was one of my worst subjects so I try to ignore it at my peril. I like your accounts of what quantum physics is.

aurora said...

Very interesting food for thought! All in one, is a curious concept. I've been giving a fair amount of thought to being connected, in unexplainable ways. All us humans would benefit with more focus on awe. Finding clarity among the not so little things, is time well spent.

Galen Pearl said...

I, for one, am fascinated by what you are learning. Whether approached via physics, ancient teachings, or spirituality, all roads seem to lead to Oneness. I'm rereading The Way of Mastery, which teaches this concept as well. Definitely changes your perspective to realize that all perception of separation is mistaken. Great post -- thanks for sharing with us what you are reading and learning. As well as the delightful reflections on life in general.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for your ever-searching, curious mind that brings into your postings most often a book that has intrigued and fascinated you and your first instinct is always to share. I'll look at our library website to see if the 23-library system here has the book--as an e-book or an audio.

Also, a young friend-she's 19--called today because she'd heard me say "the Holy Oneness of All Creation" and wondered what I meant by that. She has a truly scientific mind and like you, was intrigued by the concept of the phrase I used. We talked about Oneness and what it means to me, and also about her realization that she needs to go outside and walk hither and yon so as to discover the healing beauty of nature and embrace it.

So your posting just speaks to where she is right now and I'm going to text her the URL for it. I so wish the two of you knew one another. You'd have so much to talk about--a true meeting of beautiful minds. Peace from Dee and the cats.