It is a Thursday afternoon, at the beginning of my Environmental Biology class, and we are shown something I’ve seen more times than I can count: a picture of the history of our planet compiled into the 24 hour day on Earth.
From midnight to 3am there is nothing but the bombardment of meteorites. At hour 4, there is a glimpse of the first moments of what we currently consider to be life. From 6am to 1pm is nothing but the formation of iron, and the eventual accumulation of oxygen. Single celled algae is present and sexual reproduction begins. Cascading through the rest of the evening hours is the appearance of seaweeds, jellyfish, trilobites, land plants, the formation of coal swamps, dinosaurs, and eventually mammals, all leading to the emergence of Humans at 11:58:43 pm.
This mere minute is obnoxiously emphasized in any science class I’ve ever taken, a token of our severe insignificance in the midst of everything around and beyond us.
My mind drifts, as it always has, as a result of my contrasting perspective of science which peers through a lens of poetry rather than one of facts and knowledge. I am reminded of a quote by Nisargadatta Maharaj, which states “Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, Love is knowing I am everything, and in between the two my life moves”.
From the observations I’ve made repeatedly in my science classes, it seems that the world I am living in knows a great deal about this statement “I am nothing”. Could this be a time of wisdom, amongst other things? Wisdom brought on by a wealth of knowledge thanks to science, a reliable, enlightened way to understand our world?
Come to think of it, “I am everything” is not completely left out of our technical understanding of the universe either. The case in point: Star dust.
Delving into the inner world, we are able to see that everything within is also everything without, merely organized in a different way to house the existence we know. It is one of many parallels that can be found between science and spirituality, or philosophy.
Since the dawn of their existence, humans have been intertwined with the exploration of the inner world versus their outer world, and as time passes, confusion of where to draw the line between the two is furthered.