"The View from a Distant Star"

By I. M. Oderberg
Mankind is made of star stuff, ruled by universal laws. The thread of cosmic evolution runs through his history, as through all phases of the universe — the microcosmos of atomic structures, molecular forms, and microscopic organisms, and the macrocosmos of higher organisms, of planets, stars, and galaxies. Evolution is still proceeding in galaxies and man — to what end, we can only vaguely surmise. — Harlow Shapley, The View from a Distant Star, p. v

Whether we consider the world of the very small as Inner Space, or the vast cosmos traversed by the stars and their planets as Outer Space, both are fields of the operations of intelligence in action. Might we not say that the study of consciousness, whether of atom, man, or celestial body, is truly the exploration of the innermost reaches of Space?

We can find signs of intelligence at work in the universe in many nooks and crannies of nature. If an adaptive response to phenomena is any indication, plant behavior surely betokens something more than an automatic or unfeeling machine at work, for it involves responses and lightning-like decisions of however unself-conscious a kind. We must surmise that the plant kingdom displays its own kind of intelligence, or the operations of a much larger consciousness which lies behind plants generally.

Looking in the other direction, can there be a break between the human species and the earth which seems to have produced us? Gustav Theodor Fechner, a 19th-century German philosopher and psychologist, re-expressed the concept that life is everywhere, "in plants, earth, stars, the total universe," and that the hard immetalized world we live on is not only the envelope of tremendous energies but is likewise the physical encasement of an intelligence that, relative to us, is vast beyond our measurement or understanding. He revived the ancient idea that the visible heavenly bodies are the outer aspects of living beings of whom we have grown unaware because of the "sophistication" we have cocooned around ourselves, limiting our sensitivity and ability to respond.

To go forward, we must begin to recognize that the whole universe is one vast communion of living beings, from the infinitesimal to the supergalactic. We may well ask, if cells can operate together to make eyes, hearts, and all the other components of an embryo human body, why cannot we humans too, in time, realize the urge to collaborate with nature? Perhaps we would bring out of the potential state qualities still awaiting their day of expression.

As we look around, life seems to have all the intricacy of an endless screen painted with mountains and valleys, deserts, wilderness, rivers, and waterfalls, all with their appropriate inhabitants. Yet the design holds everything together in a unity. Outwardly there may seem to be great differences between the working of the life-force in the many forms we see, but the same principles and promptings animate the world of nature, however gradual may be the evolution of attributes from within, or however slowly these changes may become visible without.

As K. C. Cole, science writer for the Los Angeles Times, recently wrote, not only do we recycle used materials, but the stars have been doing so with molecules and their components for incalculable ages. Atomic particles have been ingested into the solar "fires" and regurgitated to flow among the planets as bearers of energy — and of what else? This process brings to mind the term "cosmic kitchens," used by Goethe in his Prologue to the second part of Faust.

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NGC 4013 Edge-on Galaxy (NASA/Hubble Heritage Team, J. C. Howk, B. D. Savage)

That the speed of light may not be a constant, as formulated in Einstein's famous equation E = mc2, has caused a sensation. It has been related to the idea of physical "non-locality" — that is, that instant communication is possible between photons traveling in different directions from a common point of ejection. Interpretations of physics experiments with light particles are compatible with the ancient concept of the permeation of the physical cosmos by consciousness which is the dynamo or driving urge "inciting" cosmic processes, as thought bestrides and guides the symbolic horse of energy. (See The Non-Local Universe by Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos, 1999.)

When searching for proof of intelligent life on planets such as Mars or Venus, some look for various signs of "technology." But such systems are far from the only indications of the presence of intelligent beings. We might pause and reflect upon the remarkable periodicity evident throughout the universe, from the oscillations in and of the galaxies, through the regularity of the solar "heart-beat" suggested by the sunspot cycles, the expansion and contraction of the earth, and the heartbeats of men and animals, down through the rhythmic cycles of cells and the vibrations of atoms and their emissions of force — all appear to be the expressions of one great pulsation throughout nature. Or perhaps they all throb with the beat of the cosmic, all permeating Energy that is their very foundation and sustenance. For this ebb and flow is a pattern which itself is the sign of intelligence, and points, indeed, to the oneness of all life.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2001; copyright © 2001 Theosophical University Press)


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