Apr 13, 2013

Made of Stars

When I'm asked about my religious beliefs, it's hard for me to answer.  Simply because I don't know that there's an existing label that fits, nor do I find the vague answer of "I'm spiritual", satisfying or informative.  I can claim New Age more than anything, as I don't dig dogma.  I can tell you I lean toward Eastern Philosophy.  That I find a lot about Hinduism and Buddhism both beautiful and sensical. That maybe a part of me deep down feels like we can't be anything other than agnostic.  That I believe all religions are true, because they are all someone's truth, meaning it's their reality and their right to believe what they need to believe to guide and comfort them through their human experience.  That "if there is only one nation in the sky, shouldn't all passports be valid for it?" That "we are all just walking each other home".

But maybe the pairing of words that ring truest for me are a combination I came up with myself back when I was writing my speech for the funeral for my uncle Chuck, last May.  I called myself a Spiritual Scientist.  I feel the most comfort and the deepest sense of truth in my Scientific Spirituality leanings and learnings.

Funny enough, my deepest sense of home, truth, soul, magic, absolute wonder, view of humanity, and comfort have come from science.

Some people come to Earth with minds so ahead of their time.  We are so lucky that sometimes they not only choose to share their thoughts and knowledge, but find themselves with a vocation or status to do so.  Like Carl Sagan.  Nothing has opened me up quite like his influence of understanding the universe, or of finding and trying to endlessly understand our origins.

So much so, I recently tattooed "star stuff" on my arm to serve as a reminder that we are so much more than these physical bodies and will be so much more again when they expire.  Literally.  As much as I'd love to think our consciousness goes on, and I'll wake up time and time again as something else (and even feel as if that's what I've always done) right now the literal is comfort enough.  The thought of recycling.  Reincarnation in the most literal sense.

It's enough that I can look into the sky and know I'm looking into my origins.
My future.

Nothing else has ever brought me a deeper feeling of complete and total spirituality.

We are Literally Made from Stars

by Gerald Grow

I was moved by an editorial about how the Hubble telescope is showing us the immensity of the universe. With our sun one among 50 billion stars in our galaxy, among more than 50 billion galaxies, it is easy to think of ourselves as lost on a speck in space. 

Indeed, one common outcome of modern education is the widespread feeling that we humans are forever separated from the rest of the universe by unimaginable distances, and that the forces operating in the universe are utterly alien to us. 

Spiritual traditions give us ways of feeling connected with the universe. I want to remind you of another, scientific, way of feeling connected to the stars. 

The same science that reveals to us the vastness of the universe also tells us another story: Astronomers explain that all the elements heavier than hydrogen originated inside stars. The carbon in the ink on a page, and the silicon in glass and microchips, were created in the heart of a star, long ago, as that star shined by fusing hydrogen. The iron that carries the oxygen in your blood as you read this, was created when a star, in its dying phase, exploded. 

You and I are not merely separated from the galaxies by unimaginable immensities of space; we are also connected to them by unimaginable immensities of time. We are literally made from stars. We are their descendants. The only difference between us and stars is time. 

I don't know how this way of looking at things strikes you, but it raises in me an absurdly wonderful sense of celebration, and I look at the night sky not with a sense of hopeless separateness, but with a feeling of kinship: There shine the origins of every element in our bodies. Because stars exist, I exist. The processes that created those billions of unimaginably distant galaxies also created us. 

We human beings are not separate from the universe. Those galaxies are not merely distant--they are distant cousins. 

With this in mind, I urge you not to miss the nightly wintertime rising of Orion in the Southeastern sky, followed by the star, Sirius, flashing red, blue, and golden light. Or the summer rising of Scorpio across the Southern sky, with red Antares burning at its heart. 

That is a kinship worth celebrating. 

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