“What kind of beast is your salamander?” asked the Prince. “It is hard to tell their kind, your Honor,” said Golg. “For they are too…
On a moonless night, up on Eagle Rock, an intrepid hiker can see Sagittarius sprawled over the Pacific Ocean. The constellation has 32 stars with planets, at least two of which are 27,710 light years from earth. That means light from these planets takes 27,710 years to reach us. The odd thing about space is that the further out you look, the further back in time you see. You can never “be here now.”
The vastness of space and time imposes on us a perspective that can help us address the comparatively little problems that plague our lives. The idea is there is a lot going on in the universe and we can choose what part of it we want to focus on. We can choose to see the goodness and beauty around us. Worrying about the tragedies of the world won’t change evil into good. Arguing with our neighbors will not help. Fostering a grumpy mood will not improve anything.
There is a way to address the countless conundrums that we face, and it begins with perspective. The perspective that dawns when we ponder the immensity of the universe. The perspective that comes when we see the reach of the past and the uncertainty of the future.
Feeling stuck and weighed down? Put yourself in neutral, a shift that can allow more compassion, more empathy, and thereby more freedom. It is liberating to realize that while we do not always have the power to control others we do have the power to control our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. When we make a conscious choice to change our perspective, we take control over our lives.
See yourself in all things. Recognize the oneness of the universe, and recognize that the ‘opposite’ is simply a yin to your yang. The nature of the universe is dualistic in the sense that there are always opposing forces; light and dark, good and evil, happiness and despair. And so it is with us. If we can rise above the constant flux of nature, we see ourselves in everything and everyone, we gain insight.
See the big picture. Instead of choosing to narrow our focus on the ills of the world, we can broaden our vision and see that helping others is a way forward. We can start with our families. How can we be of better service? Are we creating an uplifting home life? Just as we want to eat healthy food, we can imbibe positive thoughts. The more goodness we drink in, the more we can share those vibrations with others.
Back to the stars. Have you seen those photos taken with space telescopes that display countless galaxies? Because they are so far away, we are seeing those galaxies very close to the beginning of time, when everything as we know it was created. Every element that makes up our bodies was made in that explosion. The carbon that makes up every cell, every plant, and every animal was created in that one massive outpouring of existence. Out of that carbon came the sentient beings who inhabit this planet. Those sentient beings have choices to one degree or another. Most of us are fortunate in that we can choose where our energy is focused. Where attention goes, energy flows.
We can fill our lives with the beauty and joy around us. Music, dance, art, nature, and happy people are all around us. We find meaning in life by filling it with beauty. Topanga is beautiful. We can enjoy it by hiking, gardening, and swimming. We have theater, art, and music nearby. We can keep our perspective by remembering that in the vastness of this universe, we have choices. Let’s choose wisely by educating, forgiving, loving, and remembering that all change comes from within.
The western view is that to address the problems of the world one needs to effect change in politics and the external environment. The eastern view is that to effect change, we must change ourselves. A balance between the two will free us to advocate change without letting it affect our well-being.
The lyrics of a sixties anthem written by Joni Mitchell and oft-performed by Crosby Stills Nash & Young are apt here.
We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion-year-old carbon
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.
This article is a collaboration between Jill Cotu and Peter Walzer. Peter and Jill are neighbors in Topanga. Jill is a massage therapist and energy worker. Peter is a lawyer and a longtime member of the Self-Realization Fellowship. They co-authored this piece, and are working on a series of “the power of” articles.