Light is where we experience living. We see and create, we observe and learn. The absence of light is darkness. We carry light metaphors around with us, light is good, light is safe, light is understanding while darkness is spooky, darkness brings life and danger and is filled with scary unknowns, darkness is not safe. And yet the rising of the sun can bring life and death, and darkness can bring rest and healing.
Awareness is like that. Awareness says we are conscious of what is going, it is our light into ourselves and others, but awareness is only the flashlight to see into the darkness, to observe the unconscious. Other tools are needed to transform awareness from an observer to a participant. Our unconscious, our darkness, is not the bad side of us, it is the invisible side of us. It is the unknown driver of many of our actions, beliefs, feelings and thoughts.
In honoring our ability to invoke the observer in our lives we take care to pay attention to what we are witnessing and how we can respond to what we are witnessing.
There are four levels of awareness: Our body, our intellect, our emotions, our spirit. When we recognize each of these as they are and apply ourselves to their energies then we approach a wholeness that is what it means to be truly human.
Our body: the energy of action, muscle strength, speed, agility, lightness of touch, our senses visual, hearing, touch, smell, taste. Graceful forms, gentleness, defensive response, sexual energy, heightened senses and the thrill of physical challenges. Playful behavior and the pure joy of physical play, intense focus and the challenges of precision effort.
Our Intellect: thought, imagination, problem solving, inventing, creating
Our emotions: The driving energy of our lives, Joy, sadness, anger, love, the full range of everything we feel about everything we experience.
Our spirit: Our connection to the source. The transformative relationship we experience as we go beyond ourselves and connect with the Divine nature of all that is not us.
We will be exploring each of these and we will honor each as we discover what it means to be fully aware.
Light, the foundation of our existence. The bandwidth (different frequencies) of light from the Sun is our lifeblood. The higher frequencies pack more energy than the lower frequencies. Some of these are dangerous, more so at the shorter wave-lengths, but also at the longer wave-lengths. Frequency is the number of times a wave occurs in one time frame. The shorter wave-lengths (higher frequencies) pack more energy than the longer wave-lengths. Their names in order of shorter wavelength and higher to lower energy levels are Gamma Rays, X-rays, Ultraviolet, Visible light 380 to 740 nanometers(1 billionth of a meter), infrared, micro waves, radio waves.
Light is presented to us as packets of energy, electromagnetic radiation, called photons. When an electron absorbs a specific packet of energy it gets excited and "jumps" to a higher energy state. Since the rules say it cannot stay at that level the electron gives back the packet of energy in the form of a photon when it returns to its normal (stable) energy level. This photon speeds off at 186,000 miles per second.
Pause: awesome point 1, 186,000 miles per second. No acceleration, no gradual increase, just instant speed. Awesome point 2, our eyes capture all wave-lengths in the visible spectrum from violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red (still at 186,000 miles per second). Picture a baseball thrown at you at 186,000 miles per second and you tried to catch it. Ignore the physics that would make this impossible with our current level of knowledge. Aren't you glad the photon does not have the mass of a baseball, not even a tiny portion of it. Awesome point 3, the molecules (pigments) that capture photons are in plants and animals. The structures in our eyes translate the "light" into form and color so that the rest of our brains can interpret the world we live in. The structures in plants and some bacteria capture the photons of light and through complex biological processes transfer the energy of the photons to electrons which get excited and that energy is converted to chemical energy to create food for the plants and the animals that eat them (carbohydrates, glucose). This is Photosynthesis.
All of this implies that I understand photons. I do not. For example, E=MC squared. Energy= mass times the speed of light times itself. If mass is "0" there is no energy. If mass is anything at all, in theory, it cannot achieve the speed of light instantly but must accelerate over time. If a pigment molecule in a tree leaf (chlorophyll) tried to capture a photon with mass, I imagine bad things happening. If the pigment molecules in my eyes tried to capture anything with mass my life would be a little bit blurry,if I had one at all.
And yet our eyes do capture photons of visible light, chlorophyll molecules in leaves do capture the photon energy and translate that energy into food for the plants and thus all the way up the food chain to us.
How then do we interpret photons. They exist, we use them, we avoid some of them. Is a photon a wave or a particle (something with mass)? Is it both. How does a molecule capture the energy of a wave? What form does the photon take that would allow a part of a molecule (atoms and electrons, in the case of chlorophyll a ring with magnesium at its center, all pigments have the ring concept with a different element at its center) to transfer the energy of something traveling at 186,000 miles per second to an electron and to then move that higher energized electron through a process to see, to live, to create food. Awesome.
Are we done, not by a long shot.
If we stay just with physics then I should probably stop right here. While I can repeat everything I have learned (some of this will still occur), you can get everything I know (a drop) and a whole bucket full more by doing a search for (photons wave particle light).
If I enter into the arena of philosophy or theology, there are infinite metaphors for light and dark and the why of it all.
So, for now I shall talk about the unanswered questions, the unknown, the unsolved. We can then enter and leave all of these areas of thought and spirit at will. The only criteria? A curious mind, unfettered and unbound.
Questions about light and our relationship to it. Light speed. Is light a wave or a particle or is it both. When does a photon become a particle, upon emission or upon absorption. Why during the double slit experiment does the photon appear to go through both openings but appears to select only one opening if we measure its passage through one of the openings. How does an electron that drops to a lower energy level emit a photon with that exact energy level at the immediate speed of 186,000 miles per second.
How can my eyes (ultra small opening to let light through) see the entire Sun a million miles across, 93 million miles away. That would imply enough photons from the entire Sun would reach my eyes so that my brain could complete the image. Look out at a forest scene with frosted mountains in the far distance. You see everything at once, trillions upon trillions of photons being emitted or reflected, which you see in total, amazing.
We are not done here yet but I would like to wander a bit to establish a framework for this segment on Light.
There are significant holes in our knowledge of evolution if we begin with a molten Earth and arrive at our present Earthly EcoSystem. The early Earth had lots of elements surrendered to the cosmos by dying stars. Basically 92 of them in different quantities and concentrations. Life did not exist. There were no bacteria, the entire ball of rock was hot and molten. Kind of like the early Universe, Super hot plasma, cool down period, lots of hydrogen gas, Galaxies emerge out of the clouds of gas, stars form, get old and die in super explosions, new stars form and with them the planets birth from the elements created by the dying stars.
Everything new emerged from the old, although it is not obvious that the new could have been understood to have been "caused" by the old. Emergence transcends everything that exists before and is the sum of the past plus 1. It is the plus one, one after the other that makes us possible. But, I get ahead of myself. .
This cauldron of hot rock and elements that formed into a ball was mixed and stirred for eons. Chemistry, the bonding of some elements to others had to occur. The rules for this bonding were already a part of the atomic structure of the elements. They just needed the right proximity, heat and pressure to get these bonds to form. The variety of bonds was huge but not all would contribute to the creation of life. The basics turned out to be Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, potassium, Sulfur, Iron, and several others. When two or more atomic structures bond together we have molecules. This is interesting, even amazing, but what purpose did all this getting together serve? Well we have to move forward a little and get these molecule to do some work. However, the foundation rule is you must have a supply of energy to perform work. So molecules by themselves was only the very beginning. We needed something to happen. Replication (copies) and the source of energy that would allow the idea of copies to progress, to evolve. In this case evolve means to become more than you initially were, the plus 1 idea.
Copying by itself is a non event, millions of copies can exist but they exist without a purpose or driving force. Amazing in a sense and yet it is not enough. To form more complex bonds molecules needed a continuous and plentiful source of energy and a way to use it. While the order may not be correct the following bridged early molecules and later more complex organic molecules, structures and cells.
The idea of food. The need for outside energy to allow me to make my own food or take it from somewhere and replicate myself. The idea of cooperation where different groups of molecules joined together, one set providing something the other set needed. From the point of view of several different molecules this was a serious paradigm shift (change in thinking). This idea of cooperation and/or symbiosis grew and grew until the concept of a membrane appeared (another paradigm shift). That is where all the stuff I need to survive and replicate is somewhat safely encased in a membrane. Then we moved up to a membrane within a membrane( a nucleus) where different processes could do their job on an input, do stuff, output concept without getting all of my stuff mingled with all of your stuff. This is where a single cell could perform many different processes without getting all confused. Then groups of cells managed to cooperate to perform even more complex functions. This could go on and on for a bit so lets stop here and consider the idea of evolution.
We think of evolution as a Charles Darwin survival of the species concept. Adaptation, ECO System pressures, small changes. I prey on you and you figure out how to make my preying harder and less successful which gives you breathing room to replicate yourself while I in turn get more sophisticated in preying so that I also get to replicate myself and as long as nothing changes this cycle of improvement continues in small steps for a long time. Or from an environmental view the climate that I am used to makes a drastic change and puts me in danger (from hot to cold maybe). Not immediately if I don't freeze to death right away, I change. Maybe I grow a thick layer of fat or a fine downy layer of hair or maybe I learn to hide deep underground and sleep until it warms up. Whatever I do in response to a prolonged life threat is an adaptation that I did not do before. I have gone that small plus one step that did not exist before the threat became a part of my life.
Evolution then is a response of a living organism to change, or, an adaptation that make the quality of life of a living organism better, More safety, better or more food, greater possibilities for survival of offspring. The ability of a living organism to change, to adapt, can be considered a characteristic of evolution, the ability to evolve beyond what you were to something new, even if that newness is a very small step toward survival.
We have not talked yet about DNA, the paradigm shift of all paradigm shifts. The brains behind all life. The greatest survival expert in all of creation. The boss of bosses, up till now.
When did groups of molecules decide that floating around was not enough, or that a membrane was a good idea, or that the ability to transport from here to there was essential for survival. When did the idea of survival become a part of existence?
In the old days replication meant I divide myself and make a copy just like me. Then the idea came along that change was a good thing. How could we guarantee change with some hope that the change was beneficial to our survival. When did the first cell join with another cell to form a new cell that was the sum of both cells, but different. When did the molecules form the early, maybe primitive, DNA or RNA chain. When did the record keeping start where molecules in a group (we call them Genes) hung around even if they were not going to be useful for some time, maybe never.
Now I realize we have moved through 4 Billion years rather fast. But by asking these questions we begin to get a picture of how we got to where we are today. We are not finished asking questions, but lets take another pause and try to put a perspective in place, the idea that evolution and the emergence of "Plus 1" are really concepts not just mechanical acts of nature.
If we can allow that life started small (minute, tiny, super small, microscopic) and advanced toward greater and greater complexity we might also allow that something we do not yet understand is at work here. A long time ago very large creatures roamed the planet. Even today a few creatures still grow to great size. But for most species the instructions for becoming large are either dormant or gone forever. We can speculate that a great catastrophe killed everything except the small creatures that were able to survive by hiding underground or deep in the ocean. This might have wiped out the "growth gene(s) and allowed the idea of small to become dominate.
Genomic information and fossil evidence plus a lot of geological detective work has our human origins at the dna level 60 million years ago. This pairs with the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and the survival of small mammals.
Today DNA both male and female, mitochondrial DNA which is passed on from the female to male and female offspring but only the daughter can pass it on, Y chromosome passed on from father to son, allows a mixing and shuffling of the DNA to form a unique and ever so slightly different offspring. The process of change is slow as some of the mutations or changes in the DNA sequence do not cause a direct impact to the survival of offspring, some drift along being passed on with no impact at all, some die out immediately. What is left is where Darwin comes in. The survival question is always answered, do the changes passed on to the offspring offer a better chance for survival. If the offspring die before reproduction that dna thread dies, if the offspring find it difficult to mate only a little of the offspring's DNA gets passed on.
Arguments for evolution are the fossil records and DNA information and the tracing of mitochondrial DNA back through several species. Chimps and humans have 98.8% same DNA (about 3 billion base pairs). The differences are determined by about 35 million base pairs (1.2%). A base pair is the pairing of 4 protein sequences A,C,G,T or AT,TA,GC,CG in long chains (reference: the DNA chart for all combinations). It is clear that only 1.2 % still makes a huge difference between humans and Chimps.
Yet, even though the DNA evidence indicates that life itself has common connections all the way back in time and the fossil records point to complex life before humans, the cause of significant changes (a nervous system, a brain, consciousness) is still to be answered. For example the idea of mobility needs appendages and the idea of appendages needs signals, signals need pathways, and direction/purpose needs feedback, analysis, and instructions. Is evolution a progression of ideas or an incremental series of random changes. Are copying errors sufficient to account for life's diversity. Is there a cyclical source for massive DNA alterations such as Gamma Ray bursts or Magnetic shifts that expose the earth to greater radiation. This points to, but does not confirm, the need to find answers that help us move from a mechanistic view of evolution to a more fluid view of evolution. Isolated Eco Systems do produce different species. Separation of a single species does produce different variations (Asian, African, Indian,.....). And, removal of barriers to mingling smooths out those variations. But does incremental change account for the really significant advances in life's complexity.
But all of this does not answer all of the questions. Are we still evolving and if so how can we tell. Is compassion a survival trait, is greater awareness and the observer within us a survival trait or will the violent and angry ones dominate our species evolutionary direction? If we take charge of our genetic future who will dominate, the holistic humans or the self interest of the power class. Will we move into space and leave the mess behind or will we clean up our mess and move into space?
The complexity of a single human boggles my mind, 200 Trillion cells with millions of different functions all integrated and cooperating (even with beneficial bacteria) to allow purpose, awareness, consciousness and self directed creativity. Each cell performing thousands of manufacturing, signaling, responding, and replacement processes to insure that that one cell does its job to keep the entire human organism alive and functioning. Genetics will continue and we will make every effort to try to build better humans. However the introductory genetic efforts to alter our food chain (seeds, fish, bacteria, ???) do not bode well for our immediate future. Private companies have been allowed to invade and alter our biodiversity without consequence. We do have watch dog groups that blow the whistle, but the big guys (EPA, FDA) on the hill have yet to step up and set stricter standards for genetic manipulation of our environment.
Setting aside the good or bad of it all, the focus of this piece is not a value judgement but a mystery inquiry. Is life a concept or an idea? Is evolution an extension of the concept of life? Lets pursue this line of thinking for just a bit. While it is easy to get caught up in the amazing details of life and evolution, lets step back a bit and look at it through a different lens.
The scientists want to progress not with assumptions but with proof. The intelligent design people want to discredit parts of the science of evolution and assign the critical changes to a creator (I designed it this way from the beginning, it did not evolve, it was built). I am not taking sides because it would be exhausting flipping back and forth between who was right or wrong on such and such a point. Besides, the volume of words would consume me for many years. Darwin published in 1859 after years and years of work.
That does not mean we cannot explore here some of the great wonders of our past, 3.5 to 3.8 Billion years ago).
Our Last Universal Common Ancestor(LUCA), our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). Prokarotic and Eukarotic cells. Early, simple bacteria. Mobility, sensory capability and Decisions beginning with my most favorite structural combination in all of life, the Microtubule and Tubule Dimmers. The concept of pumps to drive flagella and ion channels to establish voltage differences across membranes and allow transport through membranes. The simple was already complex.
Flagella provide mobility to a cell. These are whip like appendages formed by microtubules. Cilia, cytoskeletan, Centrioles made up of microtubules. The skeletal structure is made up of microtubules, the boss of cell division (Centrioles) is made up of microtubules, The cell transport system is made up of microtubules.