We now have scientific concensus that the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with the Big Bang.
Supernovas – cosmic explosions caused by stars running out of nuclear fuel – created nearly every element in the periodic table.
Scientists call this galactic chemical evolution. The process by which luminous stellar explosions distributed matter throughout the universe creating planet earth, all life as we know it, and the human body.
“We are stardust,” Joni Mitchell famously sang in “Woodstock.” It turns out she was right.
Thus our bodies, and the present moment, originated 13.8 billion years ago during the Big Bang, when the entire manifest universe expanded from a single point.
This means the moments we were are living, and often suffering, are absolutely 100% inevitable. Inevitable, meaning completely unavoidable, couldn’t have happened any other way.
The birth of one Adolf Hitler in a modest guest house in Braunau am Inn, Austria on 20th April 1889.
The genetic mutation that causes one of our cells to grow and divide into a tumour.
The way that tabby cat leapt out in front of your car this morning, sending your heart rate soaring.
And when you got to work there was no coffee left because the last person hadn’t refilled the machine. (Selfish bastard)
And so on.
All of it, the whole calamity – to use U.G Krishnamurti’s phrase – is 100% absolutely complete, unavoidably perfect, the end point of the most complex series of cause and effect that it’s possible to conceive of in a human mind.
And we are not apart from this process, we are it.
We are not victims of the empty coffee machine, or the Hitler, or the cancer, but a facet of the living totality which contains these events and is not limited by them.
As the bird sings, as one car slams into another, as an apple falls in the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor, Grantham onto the head of Isaac Newton when he is 22 years old.
Or the words of a loved one, spoken in anger, directed towards us and which hurt so much.
Or the loving glance of the old woman, driving her mobility scooter, as she passes you in the rain with emptiness dancing on her wrinked cheeks.
And if the mind says ‘No!’, ‘I don’t like this’, ‘This is wrong,’ ‘It shouldn’t be happening like this’ then that too is a movement of the universe.
As humans, living our lives, what use is all this cosmic history? What practical implications does this have for my existence?
It means we have 2 choices, and these represent the difference between heaven or hell. Between resistance or flow.
If we are identified as an individual, a timebound human body with a mind that offers accurate commentary on reality, then suffering is 100% inevitable.
Since the mind is only capable of processing very simple binary information via a positive or negative response the inherent limitations in which it operates means we are going to find ourselves in conflict with reality.
What’s the alternative?
That is to realise our true position which is as a point in the unfolding of the cosmic totality. A point no more or less important than the infinite others and which is completely impersonal.
Whether ‘I’ like this or ‘I’ don’t is absolutely inconsequential.
Because the river keeps on flowing.