Archive for the ‘Our apparent world’ Category

The Wandering stones of Racetrack Playa

On a flat plain nestled 1,731 meters above sea level, stones mysteriously wander across the landscape.

This occurs at Racetrack Playa; a dry, vegetation free, desert basin area. Located in the Western part of the United States (Death Valley), it’s about 4 kilometers long, and 2 kilometers wide. The bed is composed of stratified clay, silt, sand, and other commonly soluble salts.

No one has ever seen them move, but the trails that they leave are ample evidence that rocks as heavy as 115 kg scoot across the surface like sailing vessels. Flat bottom rocks move in arcs and straight lines. Some move in one direction for awhile, and then another. Round bottom boulders travel more toward the right or left, in haphazard manner, as they tumble across the dry lake.

The dancing rocks are thought to move every 2-3 years. The trails last about 5 years. Stones with jagged bottoms leave grooved tracks as they travel. Sometimes stones turn over and the trail takes a sudden turn.

These rolling stones inspire our imagination.

Scientists have many theories to explain what propels these stones on their mysterious adventure. High winds are certainly involved, and the dry lake bed needs to be wetted (or iced) in order for the winds to be able to overcome the coefficient of static friction and start moving the heavy stones. High winds and a slick surface make movements across the plain possible.

As with an enlightened person, these stones remain in silence (do not move) until prompted by nature. When the right conditions exist, the sailing stones move. When the need of the environment requires it, an enlightened person is moved to action.

Death Valley

Death Valley is the lowest point in the United States, at 86 meters (282 feet) below sea level.
It is almost completely flat and holds the record for the second highest temperature ever recorded on Earth, a blistering 58oC (136.4o F).

Death Valley spans 3.4 million acres. Its flat plains and towering mountains are home to over 600 plant species; and 17 mammal, fish, and snail species that exist nowhere else in the world. The desert tortoise, coyote, ringtail cat, bighorn sheep, lizards, snakes and birds, call this their home.

How did Death Valley get this way?

• 1.4 billion years ago this area was covered by a shallow sea. Then the metamorphosed Precambrian basement rocks began to uplift. (These rocks are still visible today at Badwater).
• 550 million years ago the sandy mud flats gave way to harder carbonate rocks.
• 270 millions years ago – the Death Valley region was near the Earth’s equator.
• 250 million years ago the Sea began its withdrawal.
• 225 million years ago tectonic collisions from the west caused erupting volcanoes, mountain building, and further bed compression.
• 65 million years ago the withdrawal of the Sea is complete; after 160 million years of volcanism, thrust/faulting and mountain building.
• 30 million years ago the Pacific and Farallon plates intersected at the subduction zone, dividing the Farallon plate in two. The Death Valley basin was born. The Black Mountains began to rise, and the Panamint/Cottonwood Mountains moved westward.
• 24 million years ago river and lake deposits continue.
• 186,000 years ago the area filled with glacial fresh water. Lakes and rivers (Amargosa River, Lake Trcopa, Lake Manly, Panamint Lake and Searles Lake) became a part of the landscape. As faulting continued, Lake Manly grew to be 160 km in length and 183 meters (600 feet) deep.
• 10,000 years ago all the lakes were gone and dry land reigned supreme.

Geologists tell us that subduction continues. The Valley is sinking and the mountains move further apart. At some point in the future the Valley will open to the Sea and once again fill with salt water. As the mountains move further westward that area of California will separate from continental North America and become an island unto itself.

Modern day Death Valley features include:

Badwater Basin
This is lowest point in North America. Fault scarps and salt pans are still visible.

Death Valley dunes
The beautify Desert sands

Devil’s Golf Course
Ample Salt deposits

Furnace Creek
Water

Harmony Borax works
Early mining (20 Mule Team Borax) in Death Valley

Racetrack Playa
The mysterious wandering rocks

Saratoga Springs
The Desert oasis

Ubehebe Crater
The Maar volcanoes

Death Valley Sand Dunes

As human beings we desire, think, and act. We direct our will toward the fulfillment of personal satisfaction.

For the deluded, pleasure and pain appear to be different. A lifetime is spent avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure.

But pleasure and pain are just two aspects of our relative life. It’s far better to transcend both. Reach for truly lasting happiness – the eternal bliss of enlightened consciousness. Unfettered by time and space, you become truthfully free.

Be like the wandering stones of Racetrack Playa. Act when propelled by nature. Act for the betterment of all mankind.

Meditate every day to develop your full potential.

Posted by on April 8th, 2012 Comments Off on The Wandering stones of Racetrack Playa

Rendezvous with Ceres

Asteroid mission

Sixty one days out from lunar orbit and monotony still had not set in. The thrill and excitement of travel to new realms still occupied my mind.

The sun was riding up nicely; the stars glistened like jewels against the heavenly canopy. They were blue, red and white; sparkling with a clarity never seen from the surface of the Earth.

Our radiant home (the Earth) lay in the distance, a small circular blue orb hanging out the port side window. Its oceans and forests, mountains and streams, are a breath of fresh air to the body, mind and soul. Yet today, as we navigate through turbulent times, the well being of that globe balanced upon the success of our mission to Ceres. So I approached this task with all the eagerness begotten of a final chance.

Serving as 1st officer for this mission, I was also interested in exploring the epitome of this marvelous undiscovered world.

The smaller asteroids look like potatoes and other odd irregular shapes tumbling through the silent firmament. Thousands had been discovered and were deemed innocuous. But ever since the implosion of the planet Jupiter in 2418, the asteroid belt became unstable and began to hurl an ever increasing number of objects toward the inner planets.

The resulting redistribution of mass in the solar system had started to affect the Earth’s orbit. Becoming less circular, the Earth now traveled greater distances away from the sun. The 100,000 year and 25,000 year glacial cycles would became more pronounced. The Earth’s surface temperature was decreasing, after four centuries of global warming.

The multiple eruptions of Mt Vesuvius in 2123 and 2131 ejected over 400,000 cubic kilometers of ash, along with water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and a cocktail of other deadly gasses.  Portions of Europe were without summer for three years and global temperatures decreased by 3.5 degrees Celsius.  Although many lives were lost, the resulting decrease in temperature gave us a temporary respite, helping to secure the survival of the human race.

I wanted my children, and my children’s children, to be able to witness the glorious gold and crimson sunrises on the Earth. The soft scented flowers of the countryside and the amphitheater of mountains in the western states. The rolling hills, frolicking rivers, estuaries, sea beds and volcanic islands circled by glorious reefs, filled my vision of days gone past.

At first I thought the mission would be to Vesta. Discovered in 1807 and about the size of the state of Ohio (USA), I was looking forward to visiting its heavily impacted southern polar region. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around Vesta in 2011 and beamed back some astounding pictures. But that undertaking was on hold for now.

My ship the “Jericho” was assembled in lunar orbit in record setting time; 62 days. Although it did not have all the accoutrements and comforts of home, our cargos of sixteen ion engines were the tapestry of hope that was to be placed on the surface of Ceres.

That asteroid’s current trajectory was a harbinger to a meeting that was destined to take place with the upper Earth’s atmosphere. Friction would slow the projectile and plunge it down to the surface. All manner of calamities could take place. That needed to be avoided. Although time fluttered away there were still weeks left to plant these engines near the dwarf planet’s equator, initiate propulsion, and thereby nudge the rock’s orbit just enough to bypass even the moon.

Our lunar base at the foothills of the crater Cabeus was always surrounded by eerie silence. No matter how many days I spent there, and how many Earth rises I observed, desolation and stillness was a stark reminder of that lifeless world. If not for the presence of free flowing surface water our base would have been built elsewhere. But even at another crater, or at the Sea of Mare Tranquilitatis, or at the mountains of Haemus; or at escarpments, valleys, ridges and plains, the scenery would still be lacking. I would always long for the precious Earth.

But now on the Jericho, I and the remaining crew left that secluded oasis of human energy, yearning and hope, for the prospect of securing safety on Earth for generations to come.

The asteroid belt

After the discovery of Ceres in 1801 the list of solar system wanderers quickly grew. By 1850 it was thought that our solar system had dozens of planets, in part because the sizes of all of the asteroids were not yet that well know. At first blush many passed the test.

But as a civilization we had our first serious scare in 2029 when the asteroid Apophis (270 meters) passed within 28,000 km of the Earth. So in 2032 a mission to Apophis was launched, that planted ion engines on the wobbling rock, which in turn successfully altered its orbit. As intended, it bypassed the Earth completely in 2036.

The sighting of star Capella at right ascension 5h 16m, and declination +45o 59′, confirmed that our craft was dead on course.

Before we started our Ceres landing maneuver I retired to my ships quarters to spend 30-minutes in meditation. Since I was now drowsy, meditation would give me relief from stress and help to clear my mind. Both were essential for the immediate task ahead.

Some years ago I started with guided meditation sessions offered by the Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Centre in Australia. I then progressed to breathing (Pranayama) techniques, walking meditation, mindfulness, and my current Dzogchen practice. In the six years that I have been practicing meditation I can truly say that my mind is more clear, my heart more soft, and my yearning to love humanity blossoming.

In my six short years of meditation I found that …

It’s not important what everyone else has.
Don’t be concerned about things you can’t control.
Care about yourself, not everyone else’s opinion of you.
Discovery of the Self is more important than fancy clothes, academic titles and accolades
Don’t adhere to boundaries set for you by others.
There is no longer the need to be forcibly right all the time.
Making mistakes is fine, so long as I learn from them.
Be patiently content.

While living at the lunar base I found these quotes, which have helped me …

Author, unknown:
“Life is what you make it,” this is very true.
Find beauty and magic in all things,
and the Love that sees you through.
When you look at the world where you live,
seek not your gain, but what you can give.
When a man is poor, and hungers, and thirsts,
serve not yourself til you serve this man first.
When a man is down and seeks shelter from cold, give him shelter.
You’ll receive blessings untold.
Live by the Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you’d have done unto you.
And always remember:
When you destroy, you destroy a part of you, too.
Life is what you make of it!

By Gautama Buddha:
Do not believe anything
because it is said by an authority,
or if it is said to come from angels,
or from Gods,
or from an inspired source.
Believe it only if you have explored it
in your own heart
and mind and body
and found it to be true.
Work out your own path,
through diligence.

After meditation I was wide eyed and ready to initiate orbital deceleration to make our appointment with Ceres. I was now confident that our mission would be successful.

Meditation has helped me, and I’m sure that it will help you also.

But now it’s time to get back to the cockpit, and land on the asteroid Ceres to change the destiny of time for the human race.

§§

Although this story is science fiction, its premise is based on current scientific fact. It represents one of many possible futures yet to play out.

Here is a brief list of the larger asteroids:

Name Diameter (km) Mean Distance from the Sun (in AU) Date Discovered Discoverer
Ceres 952 2.766 1801, January 1 G. Piazzi
Pallas 544 2.773 1802, March 28 H. W. Olbers
Vesta 529 2.362 1807, March 29 H. W. Olbers
Hygiea 431 3.139 1849, April 12 A de Gasparis
Interamnia 326 3.062 1910, October 2 V. Cerulli
Europa 301 3.095 1858, February 4 H. Goldschmidt.
Davida 289 3.168 1903, May 30 R.S. Dugan.
Sylvia 286 3.485 1866, May 16 Norman Robert Pogson
Cybele 273 3.439 1861, March 8 E. W. Tempel
Eunomia 268 2.643 1851, July 29 A de Gasparis
Juno 258 2.672 1804, September 1 K. L. Harding.
Chariklo 258 15.79 1997, February 15 James V. Scotti
Euphrosyn 256 3.149 1854, September 1 J. Ferguson
Hektor 241 5.235 1854, February 10 A Kopff

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99942_Apophis
http://www.space.com/5587-strange-asteroid-shapes-explained.html
http://www.astronomy.com/en/News-Observing/News/2009/11/Water%20in%20Moon%20crater%20LCROSS%20impact%20reveals.aspx

Posted by on October 23rd, 2011 Comments Off on Rendezvous with Ceres

Breath and thought; two paths for discovery of your true Self

Kiruna Sweden

“I’ve got that math exam later today and I hope I will do well.  What’s that quadratic equation again … ??? … something squared … ??? … and then there is that isosceles triangle equation … that’s the one that has two equal sides … and the area of a pentagon is ½ times the base times the height time five … and … the surface area of a sphere is four times pie times the radius squared and ………….

Oh, where is my mantra …

Oh my God, I’m not breathing anymore!”

Bjorn was sitting with his eyes closed and meditating in his favorite room.  His attention shifted to his breathing and he just got startled.  For a second (which seemed to be hours) he noticed not a single breath was taken.

But in actuality he was still breathing, albeit at a more refined and subtle level.  That naturally happens during meditation.

Bjorn took a deep breath.  Oh yes, now he remembered his meditation instructor talking about the “sudden deep breath.”  You’re always breathing. But sometimes the breath becomes so soft that when your attention shifts back to it, it momentarily seems like you are not breathing at all.  But, that’s just another normal experience in meditation.  We just take it as it comes, with no anticipation, preconception or judgment.

The Ericsson’s live in Kiruna Sweden.  It’s a northern city situated above the Arctic Circle.  That means that residents in that city experience a day and a night longer that 24-hours.  In Kiruna the suns shines from June 2nd until July 7th without ever setting; constant daylight.  And the sun goes down on December 4th and does not return above the horizon into the sky again until January 7th.

It’s a different type of life here but that is all Bjorn and his family had ever known.

One of the most notable effects of meditation is the softening of breath.  That feature is easily observable.

Reduction of breath signifies a profound state of physiological rest.  During meditation we breathe less, simply because our bodies require less oxygen as we are in a refined metabolic state.

There are meditation practices that purposely control the breath, others that use passive observation, and some that do not intentionally observe or manipulate the breath at all:

* Breath control techniques, such as Pranayama
* Breath awareness techniques, such as Mindfulness Meditation
* Natural reduction of breath, such as Transcendental Meditation

Why is there so much emphasis on breath control/observation within meditation and philosophical circles?

Prana is the life source of the universe.  It is responsible for the animation of all thought and action.  The human ego was born and individuality became a concrete reality due to its functioning.  Without its counterpart on the physical level of creation, which is human breath, this world would cease to be for us.

Breath is an important path toward Self Realization and Enlightenment.  Watching the breath allows the mind to disengage from distractive thoughts (its normal practice) which as a byproduct influences the functioning of the mind.

The mind distracted from other activities becomes engaged in watching the breath…
… and that controls the breath
… and in its turn the mind is controlled.

Breath and mind (thought) are intimately related.  Influencing one manipulates the other.

As we engage in meditation our breath becomes more refined, and our thoughts becomes more subtle and intelligent.  A natural expansion of our individual awareness (self) to the level of universal cosmic awareness (Self) takes place.  Our ego grows in stature, confidence and fearlessness, until it recognizes itself (merges) with the universal unbounded reality.

What is the ego?

The ego is our identity and individuality. It is who we believe ourselves to be. It is our reference point from which we observe and act in the world.  It perpetuates the illusion of separateness from everyone and everything else.

If the human ego is born through the play of Prana, where can it be located and how can we break the bounds of egoism?

Where is the ego?

1) The ego identifies with the subtle mind.

2) Dream perceptions are subtle.

3) But in sleep there are no perceptions.  Is there no ego?

4) Unless it was, there cannot be the memory of having slept.

5) Who was it that slept? You did not say in your sleep that you slept. You say it now in your wakeful state.

6) The ego therefore is the same in wakefulness, dream and sleep.

Trace the ego to its source and reach that undifferentiated happy state which is sleepless sleep.

The ego is referred to the small self.  The realized ego in enlightenment is referred to the large Self.

The Self is and always has been.  Nothing has been lost and there is nothing to gain.  Only the illusion of separateness (ignorance) needs to be dispelled.

Ignorance of the Self causes misery.  The removal of that ignorance leads to eternal bliss.

Virtually every religion, philosophy and world teacher has recognized that it’s the small personal ego that needs to be overcome – transformed into the Self:

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

“The wise man who, by means of concentration on the Self, realizes that ancient, effulgent One, who is hard to be seen, unmanifest, hidden and who dwells in the buddhi and rests in the body—he, indeed, leaves joy and sorrow far behind.”
(Chapter 2, Katha Upanishad)

“The knowing Self is not born; It does not die. It has not sprung from anything; nothing has sprung from it.  Birthless, eternal, everlasting and ancient, It is not killed when the body is killed.”
(Chapter 2, Katha Upanishad)

“One wielding royal authority from egoism acts; like the parrot bound in illusion of the trap is he too bound.”
(Guru Granth)

“From egoism and avarice arise caste arrogance, violent wrath and pride.”
(Guru Granth)

“This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan — the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside.”
(Abdu’l-Baha)

“Urwan (ego, soul), bearing the responsibility of all the deeds done on earth. Urwan is the reincarnating constituent of man (though immortal, yet immature in wisdom). Fravashi does not incarnate, but remains as a Guiding Angel on a higher spiritual level.”
(Zoroastrian Tradition)

“In Ch’an Buddhism the idea of ego revolves around the idea of attachment or clinging. The ego originally does not exist. It is created as a result of attachment to the body and attachment to one’s ideas or one’s own viewpoint. But because both the body and the mind are impermanent and constantly changing over time, our attachments to them are always changing as well. And as these attachments change, the ego also changes. So from the perspective of Ch’an, the ego does not exist in the sense of being a permanent, unchanging entity. The ego does not exist independent of one’s changing attachments to one’s body and one’s ideas.”
(Master Sheng-yen)

“The ego is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. According to Freud, the ego develops from the id and ensures that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world. The ego functions in both the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious mind.”
(Kendra Cherry, on Psychology)

“At the feast of ego, everyone leaves hungry.”
“It is the nature of the ego to take, and the nature of the spirit to share.”
“Big egos are big shields for lots of empty space.”
(Chinese proverbs)

“Give up all bad qualities in you, banish the ego and develop the spirit of surrender. You will then experience Bliss.”
(Sri Sathya Sai Baba)

“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”
(Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama)

“Look for intelligence and judgment and, most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego and the drive to get things done.”
(Colin Powell)

“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires… The church needs to withstand the tides of trends and the latest novelties…. We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith.”
(Pope Benedict XVI)

“The ego is not master in its own house.”
(Sigmund Freud)

“You proceed from a false assumption: I have no ego to bruise”
(Leonard Nimoy)

“Goals must never be from your ego, but problems that cry for a solution”
(Robert H. Schuller)

“The world is burning in the fire of desire, in greed, arrogance and excessive ego.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib)

“The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being.”
(Eckhart Tolle)

§§

There are hundreds of research papers and studies that document reduction in breathing and other benefits of meditation.  I would urge you to investigate this further on your own.

* Long pranayama breathing caused a statistically significant lowering (19%) of the oxygen consumption (and metabolic rate).
* Oxygen consumption decreased by 19.3 percent below baseline values after Cyclic Meditation stimulating’ and ‘calming’ practices, based on a statement in ancient yoga texts.
(Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana, http://svyasa.org/research_papers/)

* We have measured forearm oxygen consumption and blood flow changes during two wakeful rest behaviors. We have observed acute reduction of forearm respiration (28%) during an acute stylized rest state (TM) and a non significant small decline (11%) during unstylized ordinary eyes-closed rest. These changes were not associated with significant change of forearm blood flow or glycolytic metabolism. Hence, forearm oxygen consumption decline was due almost solely to decreased rate of oxygen extraction.
(National Center for Biotechnology Information, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6869572)

* The study evaluated three key indicators of relaxation and found that meditation provides a far deeper state of relaxation than does simple eyes-closed rest. The research showed that breath rate and plasma lactate decrease, the basal skin resistance increases, significantly more during meditation than during eyes-closed rest. Interestingly, immediately prior to the meditation sessions, meditating subjects had lower levels of breath rate, plasma lactate, spontaneous skin conductance, and heart rate than did the controls. This deeper level of relaxation before starting the practice suggests that reduced physiological stress through meditation is cumulative.
(American Psychologist, 42: 879-881, 1987).

§§

A central theme of meditation is allowing the mind to point inward and to pursuit its natural quest for more and more.

By opening up our awareness to more subtle fields of thought, the mind becomes more gratified.   We can employ practices that utilize breathing and/or thinking techniques.  There are also a host of other avenues available (i.e., yoga, Kundalini, Shaktipat, etc.) but those will be discussed at another time.

The ego leads us into believing that man/women are the thinker and doer.  But that is a mistake. It is the higher powers of creation (the three gunas; sattva, rajas and tamas) buoyed by the Self, which thinks and acts.  We are but the tool.  If we realize that, we are free from troubles; otherwise we continue to court them.

Posted by on July 24th, 2011 Comments Off on Breath and thought; two paths for discovery of your true Self

What if?

The alarm goes off and we can hardly open our eyes.  We reflexively hit the snooze button, hoping for another few minutes of sleep as we rationalize in our semi-conscious state that we still have plenty of time to make it to work.  We stretch, and then roll over.  Slowly close the eyes then open again, as our awareness returns to the physical realm.

“Six thirty in the morning already?” we exclaim.

As human beings we are conscious of the shifting sands of awareness.  Either in deep sleep, dream or waking, we forge our identity as individuals.  We learn, grow and expand our field of knowledge and influence.   Some things seem to be out of our control, but each and every day we choose how to spend our time and focus our work.

Each foray into time (the consciousness of day) we gain experience and then return again to our ego’s base, the unconsciousness of deep sleep.  We repeat this pattern day after day, until we become eternally awake (in Enlightenment) even as the mind/body sleeps.

The human race is the progeny of the Sun and Earth.  We are unique among the galaxies of life, yet an integral part of the whole cosmos.

But what would life be like if the history of our Earth had been different?  Would there even be anyone here to ask these questions today?

Spotted Milky Way over Canada

What if – the Sun and Earth were at the center of our Galaxy?

Viewed from above our Milky Way galaxy looks somewhat like a pinwheel.

Today our Sun is about 28,000 light years from the center of the Milky Way.   Nestled between two major spiral arms (Sagittarius and Perseus), we are traveling at the speed of 230 kilometers per second (1/2-million miles per hour) orbiting around the center.  At that speed it takes about 230 million years to complete one trip.

A super massive black hole of about 1,000,000 solar masses may exist at the center.  Our Galaxy contains about 200 billion stars.

The first appearance of the bright star Sirius in the morning twilight sky (in spring) was used by the ancient Egyptian people to mark the time to start planting crops.  Often called Canis Major the Greater Dog star, it is among the brightest in our sky.   If our Earth was at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, we would see a million stars as bright as Sirius in our night sky.  Their light would be equivalent to that of 200 full moons, and darkness would never fall upon the face of the Earth.

What if – the Sun were 50% bigger?

The Earth’s distance from the Sun puts us into the “Goldilocks zone,” where it is not so hot that water boils away or so cold that it is remains always frozen.  Instead, the temperature is just right.

In order to satisfy Kepler’s 3rd law of motion the Earth would have to revolve in orbit around this new Sun once every 298 days.  So one year would no longer be 365 ¼ days, instead it would be somewhat shorter.

The surface temperature of our new Sun would be 8,400o Kelvin, rather than 5,800 o Kelvin as it is today.  Accordingly, the new Sun would appear blue white in the sky.  Its dimensional radius would be 20% larger.

The new Sun would emit more infrared radiation than our present one, causing the average surface temperature on Earth to be 20o hotter.  That is enough to evaporate substantially more water into the atmosphere, causing an increased green house effect, which would make life on the Earth’s surface uninhabitable for humans and most other creatures.

Orbiting around this new Sun the Earth would have to be 2.6 times further away to once again be in the Goldilocks zone.  But this new Sun would be giving off a lot more ultraviolet radiation that our current star.  The ozone layer would be inundated and not be able to protect us from this lethal radiation.

And unfortunately, a 1.5 solar mass star evolves much more quickly than our own Sun.  So much so that after 4.5 billion years, the current age of our Sun, this new Sun would now be in the Red Giant stage and we would be orbiting inside its atmosphere – and the Earth would be no more.

What if – we were born on the Earth 1 billion years ago?

Our Earth’s atmosphere is a 4 to 1 mix of nitrogen to oxygen.  It was not always that way.

When the Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago its original atmosphere consisted mostly of small amounts of hydrogen and helium.  Because these are light gases they were quickly lost into space.

Trace constituents of water, hydrogen cyanide, methane, sulfur and chlorine were also present.

The next atmosphere, about 3 billion years ago, came from inside the Earth and was composed primarily of carbon dioxide with some nitrogen.   This atmosphere contained about 100 times more gas than our current one.  The oceans absorbed about half of this new atmosphere.   As life developed water soluble carbon dioxide was used to create shells and other carbon based life by products.

Plant life in the oceans and on the Earth’s surface converted much of the remaining carbon dioxide into oxygen and other nutrients.  Photosynthesis powers this wonderful transformation.

Most of our current oxygen was created 2.1 to 1.5 billion years ago by these living plants.  By about 450 million years ago there was enough oxygen in the atmosphere to create an ozone layer, thick enough to protect life from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, so that a migration from ocean to land creatures could begin. That led to the accelerated rapid development of life on the Earth.

Organisms Time of origin
Marine Invertebrates 570 million years ago
Fish 505 million years ago
Land plants 438 million years ago
Amphibians 408 million years ago
Reptiles 320 million years ago
Mammals 208 million years ago

Today we live in a symbiotic relationship with plant life on this beautiful planet.  Don’t upset this delicate balance.

So to answer the question if we lived on the Earth 1 billion years ago, we would all have to be vegetarians (a good thing) but the ultraviolet radiation and other environmental factors would have prevented us from existing as a human race.

We are here now at the right time in the right place. 

Moon

What if – the Earth had no Moon?

Consider life on Earth without our Moon.  What would it be like?

Well for starters, we could do away with the various myths that our civilizations have developed over the years, such as werewolves that come out at full moon, and peoples mental psyche (being lunatic) being disturbed by a full moon.  There would also be a major dent in how astrologers predicted the future as the Moon’s celestial influence would no longer be present. No eclipses of the Sun either.

Animals that use the Moon for navigational purposes or for timing reproductive cycles would have to evolve other mechanisms.

We would still have tides on the Earth produced by the Sun’s influence, but they would be radically smaller.  Their cycle would be much easier to calculate; once every 12-hours (half of a solar day), rather than every 12-hours and 25-minutes as it is today.

About 4 billion years ago the Earth was rotating on its axes about once every 12 hours.  That’s twice the speed that it is today. So a day and night were 6-hours each. According to current astronomical thinking, if the Moon were created shortly after that time via the Earth being hit by a large (say the size of Mars) planetary body,  the Moon was 10 times closer to the Earth than it is today, and ocean tides were thousands of feet high.  These mammoth tides washed land nutrients into the seas enabling marine life to begin and flourish much earlier.  So without the Moon, the appearance of life on the earth would have occurred much later.

Without the Moon the Earth today would be rotating about once every 16-hours, so day and night would be 8-hours each.  This higher speed of rotation would cause violent winds that would wear down and prevent any tall mountain from developing.  If biological rhythms could develop, it would be based on this different 16-hour cycle.

Life on the Earth would not exist as we know it today.  Advanced human physiological structures (the body) would most likely not have been built by this time.  The human race would be naught, still a flicker for some distant future time.

Milky Way

What if – we could live free from suffering in harmony with all of creation?

In the epic poem “Paradise Lost” by John Milton (17th century England) he writes that … “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven.”

What’s between our ears dictates how we see and interpret the world.  Do we see the beautiful sunrise and the promise of our children’s lives, or do we see another day of drudgery work, pain, and scrimping to meet our survival needs?  The world is as you are.

We have within ourselves the capability of transforming our apparent life from suffering to bliss.  As we grow we gain greater mastery over our destiny.  More possibilities open up as our vision becomes more intelligent and clear.  Nature supports our activities more and more, and there is less resistance to our desire.

In this blog posting we have seen that different events (the “what if” scenarios) occurring on the Earth would have shaped the appearance of intelligent life on this planet with a radically different outcome.

But we are here today, now.  We have appeared on this wondrous speck of dust at the right time.  We are in the right place.

So take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and meditate every day.  Help steer the human race onto ever greater heights of love, harmony and bliss.

As the summer of life blossoms cease the opportunity to share earthly resources with your neighbor, in the sublime spirit of friendship.  Break down cultural, religious and mental barriers to see the world as it is, operating free from human judgment and misconception. Transcend the realm of mind, and open up to the eternal present value of life.

Namaste (good day).

Posted by on May 29th, 2011 Comments Off on What if?

A short history of flowers

Flowers are a delight to behold. They are colorful, have delicate petals, and come in a variety of wonderful fragrances.  We adore and use them to celebrate special occasions.  From flower girls in a wedding party, to bouquets that express our love to that special person, we use flowers to touch other hearts and highlight our feelings.

All of the wondrous and beautiful qualities of flowers spring from a single source, their colorless sap.  So to, the colorless and formless value of absolute life gives rise to the multiplicity of creation.

The color of flowers are based upon genetic/DNA instructions within the colorless sap of the plant.  Anthocyanin pigments are responsible for the red and blue colors.  Shades of yellow come from carotenoid pigments, and various other hues come from combinations of anthoxanthins and anthochlors pigments.

While land plants have existed for about 425 million years, blooming flowers first appeared on the Earth’s surface about 145 million years ago.  That’s when flowering plants known as angiosperms diverged from the non-flowering seed plants known as gymnosperms.  145 million years is a scant time span when compared to the 4.5 billion year evolutionary history of our planet.

Flowers are the reproductive constitution of plants (angiosperms).  They are the most varied and diverse among biological systems.  They developed different colors and fragrances to attract insects, which became a primary means and aid for pollination, thus ensuring the continuation of the species.  Botanists have catalogued over 270,000 different species of flowers.

Recently the fossil of a 125 million year old angiosperm (Archaefructus liaoningensis) was discovered in China.  Woody magnolia-like plants dating back 93 million years and tiny herb-like flower fossils dating back 120 million years have been found by Paleobotanists.  It is believed that the diversification of flowers was well underway by the middle of the Cretaceous Period, the dinosaur-dominated period.

Because of their beauty and delicate structure flowers have become a key part of human civilization.

In ancient Egypt flowers were used for decoration, burials, and processions as early as 2,500 BCE.  In Europe flowers and plants adorned monasteries (1,000 BCE).  They became an important part of religious teachings and used in medicines during the Han dynasty in China (200 BCE).  In Buddhist teachings the tiger lily, the pomegranate, and the orchid symbolized fertility, while the Peony stands for wealth and good fortune.  The Greeks and the Romans used flowers garlands and wreaths.

The Aster

There are over 600 species of this beautiful flower.  Thought to have healing powers, ancient peoples believed that the odor given off by its burning leaves would drive away evil spirits.

The Carnation

Cultivated for the last 2,000 years they hail from the Near East and Mediterranean region.  Used as Greek ceremonial crowns, in colors of red, white, purple and pink, today they are the national flower of Spain and Slovenia.

Chrysanthemums

Raised in Chinese nobility gardens for more than 2,500 years, they were once considered part of the privileged class. The ancient Chinese city province of Xiaolan was named Ju-Xian, meaning “chrysanthemum city”.  They were brought to England in 1795, and quickly spread throughout the western world.   They are often just called mums and have recently been found to have possible medicinal properties – including anti-HIV, antibacterial and antimycotic.

The Dahlia

The Aztec culture of Central America used dahlias in their treatment of epilepsy.  Also native to Mexico and Colombia, the plant was first introduced to Europe around 1800.  Before the invention of insulin, sugar extraction from dahlia tubers was used to treat diabetes.  Today ingredients of the plant are used for testing liver and kidney function.

The Daisy

The images of Daisies have been found on gold hairpin ornaments in the Minoan palace excavated on the Island of Crete. They are believed to be more than 4000 years old. Egyptian ceramics are also decorated with daisies.  This flower’s English name was day’s eye, referring to the way it opens and closes with the sun.  There are over 23,600 species of the Daisy family.

The Gladiolus

Although sometimes called the “sword lily,” this perennial plant which grows abundantly in sub-Sahara and South Africa, instills peace and serenity.  There are over 260 species of this plant.  In the 18th century they were imported to Europe.

Holly flowers

This gracious plant had been dubbed “Holy Tree” and is believed to provide a house with protection against lightening.  Often used to signify eternal life, it has come to represent the crown of thorns worn by Jesus, the red berries his drops of blood.  Although the berries are somewhat toxic to humans, birds and other animals use the pointed leafed plant for shelter, food, and protection from predators.

The Orchid

Greek women once believed that if their husbands ate large tubers before consummation, they would give birth to boys.  There are over 25,000 recognized species of Orchids.   Those living in northern climates have evolved to be self pollinating, since in the colder environment there are few pollinators available.  Others have adopted cross pollination which involve complex means.  That drew the attention of Charles Darwin who in 1962 wrote a book (Fertilization of Orchids.) about the subject.   Since the chances for pollination are not that great, these Orchids remain receptive to pollination for a longer time period, and once pollination does occur they often release pollen in a large single mass, so that thousands of ovules can be fertilized at once.

The Poinsettia

The first Poinsettia was brought to the United States from Mexico in 1928.  They are large shrubs or trees, growing as tall as 16-feet in height.  The plant has large dark green leaves and colored bracts (modified leaves that carry the reproductive structure) that can be flaming red, orange, pale green, cream, pink, white or marble.  Today Poinsettias grow very nicely in other subtropical climates, such as in northern Australia.

Roses

Often considered the goddess of flowers, it is said that Aphrodite herself presented a rose to her son Eros, the god of love.  Roses appeared in Asian gardens more than 5,000 years ago.  Confucius (551 – 479 BCE) wrote that the Emperor of China owned over 600 books about the culture of Roses. They were introduced to ancient Mesopotamia by Sargon the 1st.  Since the stem of a rose has thorns, they have come to symbolize both the joy and sorrow that accompanies human life.

Sunflowers

These magnificent flowers always turn toward the sun as they grow skyward.  Originally from Central and South America, they have been spread to other parts of the world.  For the Chinese they symbolize longevity.  North American Indians placed sunflower seeds on the graves of their dead to promote a speedy journey to the afterlife.  They were worshiped by ancient Peruvian Incan society.

Tulips

Tulips are native to Southern Europe, North Africa, Iran and Northwest China.  Tulips were once thought to be the symbol of the Ottoman Empire.  They are spring blooming perennial flowers grown from bulbs.  In 1634 their popularity spread so quickly that European people abandoned businesses and jobs to become tulip growers.  After World War II the Dutch imported hundreds of thousands of Tulip bulbs into Ottawa Canada and other countries.  Tulip festivals are held every year in Holland, Michigan USA, and in other worldwide cities.

Violets

There are about 500 species of this beautiful purple flower, which are found in temperate northern climates, Hawaii and the Andes Mountains of South America.  They are both perennial and annual, most have heart shaped scalloped leaves, with flowers forming 5 petals.

**

The formless absolute value of life gives rise to our world of multiplicity.  The colorless sap in flowers does the same for angiosperms.  Their beautiful colors and texture light up our lives.  Every human civilization has found a special place and meaning for these ambassadors of nature.

In the garden of my earthly dreams grow many blossoms.  As the petals open to greet the morning sun I delight in the bouquet of life.  Audacious colors bless our lives and quicken our spirit with love and unity.  Daily meditation awakens us to that same eternal reality that pulses through the veins of every flower and sentient being.   Let us all behold that silent germ of color which manifests the abundance of life.

Posted by on May 23rd, 2011 Comments Off on A short history of flowers

The Tao, taking advantage of nature’s duality to create computers

Today computers and electronic media/communication devices have become everyday tools.  We can hardly live without them.

Children grow up with cell phones and laptop computers, digital music, and streaming video.  Texting and surfing the internet have transformed our lives.  Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, keep family and friends in touch.  Instant communication with loved ones is a blessing, while the Blackberry needs to be shut off while on vacation so that coworkers cannot reach you.

The creation and development of computers is a beautiful history, featuring human ingenuity and scientific cross-cultural advancement.

1936: The first programmable computer was invented by Konrad Zuse
1944: Eckert & Mauchly put together 20,000 vacuum tubes to create the ENIAC 1 Computer
1947: The transistor was invented by Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley
1951: The first Univac computer
1953: The first IBM computer
1954: John Backus and IBM created the Fortran programming language
1958: Invention of the integrated circuit by Jack Kilby & Robert Noyce
1969: The US government created ARPAnet, the first internet
1971: The first Intel micro-processor created by Faggin, Hoff and Mazor
1971: The first floppy disk to store data was created by Alan Shugart at IBM
1976: Apple created the first consumer computers
1976: Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston created the VisiCalc Spreadsheet Software
1984: Apple created the first MacIntosh computer with windows/mouse capability

.. and much more.

Although computer hardware consists of electronic processors, buses, motherboards and integrated circuits, all data storage and the software needed to run programs are based on the principle of Yin and Yang; either the magnetic storage disk bit is magnetized (on) or not (off).

Computer Storage Disk

Information is stored on disk drives, but how and by what method?

A computer storage drive is a round rigid platter; a plastic base material coated with iron oxide.  The oxide is a ferromagnetic material that can store (retain) a magnetic charge once it is placed on this material. A read/write head moves over the disk, locating the intended data on a certain track and sector, and read if the spot is magnetized or not.

———————————————————————————————————————

This is strictly the principle of Yin and Yang.  An area on disk is either:

Yang – on and magnetized

OR

Yin – off and not magnetized

This dualistic principle of nature is used to store computer information; data as well as program instructions.

But how is an “on” or “off” area/switch used to contain information? We simple need to establish a standard, an on/off sequence that everyone aggress to use.  

ASCII

Eight consecutive BIT’s (Binary digIT), either “on” or “off”, is read as 1 byte.  The unique sequence of bits in a byte are assigned the specific letters, numbers, and other characters used in our language.

The ASCII character set consists of 128 decimal numbers ranging from zero through 127 assigned to letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and the most common special characters.

The Extended ASCII Character Set also consists of 128 decimal numbers and ranges from 128 through 255 representing additional special, mathematical, graphic, and foreign characters.

The letter “A” is represented by binary number 065 = 01000001
The letter “B” is represented by binary number 066 = 01000010
The letter “C” is represented by binary number 067 = 01000011

… and the small letters

The letter “a” is represented by binary number 097 = 01100001
The letter “b” is represented by binary number 098 = 01100010
The letter “c” is represented by binary number 099 = 01100011

… and special characters, html, and other.

A 32-byte processor accesses 32 bytes at once, while a 64 byte processor access 64 bytes at once.

Picture or images (i.e., jpg) are stored using the “True Color” 24 or 32 bit sequence.

Red – 8 bits Green – 8 bits Blue – 8 bits

… which allows for 256 x 256 x 256 =  16+ million combinations of colors/shades.

———————————————————————————————————————

This is all based on the Tao, and principles Yin and Yang. As written by Chinese sage Lao Tzu, the Tao is explained in the manuscript “The Tao-Te Ching,” as …

The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled.
Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!
Blunt the sharpness,
Untangle the knot,
Soften the glare,
Merge with dust.
Oh, hidden deep but ever present!
I do not know from whence it comes.
It is the forefather of the gods.
(Verse 4)

Look, it cannot be seen – it is beyond form.
Listen, it cannot be heard – it is beyond sound.
Grasp, it cannot be held – it is intangible.
These three are indefinable;

Therefore they are joined in one.
From above it is not bright;
From below it is not dark:
An unbroken thread beyond description.
It returns to nothingness.
The form of the formless,
The image of the imageless,
It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.

Stand before it and there is no beginning.
Follow it and there is no end.
Stay with the ancient Tao,
Move with the present.
Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao.
(Verse 14)

The greatest Virtue is to follow Tao and Tao alone.
The Tao is elusive and intangible.
Oh, it is intangible and elusive, and yet within is image.
Oh, it is elusive and intangible, and yet within is form.
Oh, it is dim and dark, and yet within is essence.
This essence is very real, and therein lies faith.
From the very beginning until now its name has never been forgotten.
Thus I perceive the creation.
How do I know the ways of creation?
Because of this.
(Verse 21)

Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self needs strength.
He who knows he has enough is rich.
Perseverance is a sign of willpower.
He who stays where he is endures.
To die but not to perish is to be eternally present.
(Verse 33)

The great Tao flows everywhere, both to the left and to the right.
The ten thousand things depend upon it; it holds nothing back.
It fulfills its purpose silently and makes no claim.
It nourishes the ten thousand things, and yet is not their lord.
It has no aim; it is very small.
The ten thousand things return to it,
Yet it is not their lord.
It is very great.
It does not show greatness, and is therefore truly great.
(Verse 34)

Tao abides in non-action,
Yet nothing is left undone.
If kings and lords observed this,
The ten thousand things would develop naturally.
If they still desired to act,
They would return to the simplicity of formless substance.
Without for there is no desire.
Without desire there is.
And in this way all things would be at peace.
(Verse 37)

The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.
The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.
They achieve harmony by combining these forces.
Men hate to be “orphaned,” “widowed,” or “worthless,”
But this is how kings and lords describe themselves.
For one gains by losing and loses by gaining.
What others teach, I also teach; that is:
“A violent man will die a violent death!”
This will be the essence of my teaching.
(Verse 42)

The sage has no mind of his own.
He is aware of the needs of others.

I am good to people who are good.
I am also good to people who are not good.
Because Virtue is goodness.
I have faith in people who are faithful.
I also have faith in people who are not faithful.
Because Virtue is faithfulness.

The sage is shy and humble – to the world he seems confusing.
Others look to him and listen.
He behaves like a little child.
(Verse 49)

Tao is source of the ten thousand things.
It is the treasure of the good man, and the refuge of the bad.
Sweet words can buy honor;
Good deeds can gain respect.
If a man is bad, do not abandon him.
Therefore on the day the emperor is crowned,
Or the three officers of state installed,
Do not send a gift of jade and a team of four horses,
But remain still and offer the Tao.
Why does everyone like the Tao so much at first?
Isn’t it because you find what you seek and are forgiven when you sin?
Therefore this is the greatest treasure of the universe.
(Verse 62)

The Tao is hidden, unchanging, and has no name.  Ying and Yang are one, but appear as polar opposites in the relative world.  That’s only because we classify them in relationship to ourselves (the small ego).

Our perceived world of duality consists of opposites …

abundant – scarce despair – hope king – subject powerful – weak
after – before easy – difficult lazy – energetic rich – poor
always – never fail – succeed likely – unlikely safe – dangerous
ascend – descend foolish – wise live – die speaker – listener
big – little full – empty man – woman true – false
black – white happy – sad nice – mean valuable – valueless
build – destroy healthy – diseased on – off victory – defeat
correct – incorrect hope – despair old – young warm – cool
cruel – kind hot – cold optimist – pessimist within – without
dark – light inside – outside possible – impossible young – old

… but only because our individual consciousness is ego centric.

Through the regular practice of meditation our consciousness expands to the universal level, upon Enlightenment.  The facade of duality is then shattered and the underlying absolute timeless eternal value of creation comes to the forefront.  We can then truly see the world as it is.

Eventually all things merge into one.  Continue your meditation practice every day, morning and evening, to hasten the arrival of bliss consciousness.

Posted by on April 17th, 2011 Comments Off on The Tao, taking advantage of nature’s duality to create computers