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 Star Stuff 


As a child I used to ride my bike at night to Onondaga hill and lie on the hillside staring up at the Milky Way. Back then there were not so many lights blocking out the night sky, so you could see deep into our galaxy. Also I was quite safe alone on the hillside, unlike today I believe.

I didn't think any great thoughts but just lay there in total wonder. Sometimes I fell asleep and dreamed of all the life that surly must be out there, what made it all? Were we really just an insignificant speck in an immense Universe? Why was I here? What could I do with my puny mind except dream of great things beyond my abilities?

But a child does not dwell on the negatives, only on the wonder of it all, only on the possibilities.

A child learns to live in a box, because we do not teach the child the box is not necessary. The box is false security, the box is limiting. But the child does not know the box is closing in and the "self" is being created, both by what we teach, and what we do not teach. by our internal development and by the plasticity of our brains.  This box is our self image, our Ego.  We spend a lifetime learning to deal with what the box contains and another lifetime trying to look outside the box. A lifetime in pursuit of freedom though is not necessary. A simple shift in our perspective, our way of paying attention, will give us a lifetime of living, in freedom, in the present. This is our present condition, but an overview of how we got here will help put our own self images in perspective.   

Far into the distant past, billions of years ago, something amazing happened. From out of nowhere an immense ball of fire bloomed in the total emptiness. For those purest the origin of our initial bloom might not have been empty at all but the actual creation of space and time.  For millions upon millions, upon millions of years this unbelievable hot mass of elementary particles, this plasma, swept over the nearby space, expanding and cooling.

The energy became quarks, the quarks aligned themselves into a more stable structure, particles. Plasma became protons and electrons and the hydrogen atom was born.

As the mass extended its reach ever outward and cooled some more, Billions of Galaxies dropped out of the great cloud. Brian Swimme called them "snowflakes". Whether each galaxy started with a super massive black hole or some other mechanism, whether the beginning is as we guess it to be or something entirely different makes no real difference. After the fact, the Universe unfolded to this present moment. And here we are, self aware consciousness which has the potential to guide the future for good or bad, probably in ways I cannot yet imagine. For good or bad, this is our great choice.

Within these enormous clouds, pockets of gas condensed even further, creating hot boiling balls of fire. The early stars were born.

And from them, the primal stars, in their fiery furnace, Helium was born.

Each "Snowflake" hatched millions, upon millions, upon millions of stars. Gravity sometimes took over and compressed the interior of the star so much, it raised the temperature and pressure so high, more and more stable elements appeared.

Carbon was Born. Other stable elements were born.

Sometimes these stars exploded in death to create heavier elements and to spread these elements throughout the Galaxy. More stars were formed and the cycle repeated over and over again.

From these our Sun was born along with our Solar System, and especially this Planet Earth, a ball of molten rock with all of these elements flowing around and around in a very hot liquid form. Whether the comets or asteroids or our moon, or the mixtures deep within, began the process it doesn't really matter.

Approximately 10 Billion years in the making.  10 Billion years to collect in one place all of the essential ingredients for life as we know it. 

The crust began to form. Chunks of it bumped into each other and mountains rose up high above the surface.

Water appeared, lots of it. Within this churning pot of opportunity atoms came together to form molecules and life was born.  It is even possible that the first molecules came from space.  Either way the complex interactions of atoms and molecules began the process of diversity that still goes on today.

Eleven Billion years in the making.

As life became more complex it began to branch. One of those branches was the worms.

Thirteen Billion Three Hundred Million years in the making. Approximately!

The worms developed a backbone and a nervous system and somewhere six hundred million and some years later humans appeared.

Fourteen and a half Billion years in the making. Approximately!

Over a vast span of time, from a cloud of hot plasma consisting only of energy and undefined matter, there emerges not only a whole Universe but a nurturing and caring mother for her child, love, and self awareness (Swimme).

Now that is an incredible transformation. All done without human intervention, without a human plan. From unbelievable hot plasma the Universe gave birth to self awareness.  As each atom, molecule, and complex form appeared (DNA) the memory of the past was recorded and the potential for the future explosively present.

In a manner of speaking the Universe found a way to look back on itself through the eyes and brains of intelligent life. Life may after all be necessary for the Universe to complete its journey.

It was not all fun and frivolity. Not at all. It was sometimes a delicate balancing act to have just the right Density of particles and gas, just enough Gravity, for the emergence of something new but very critical to our existence. We are talking a trillionth of a trillionth degree of difference. I can't even fathom such a small number.

And, we are not yet done with this amazing transformation!

Without the big hot fiery ball at the start that expanded and cooled, if the mix of gravity and hydrogen gas had not been balanced precisely, the galaxies would not have been created.  That was a one time possibility.  Only one set of conditions could have caused the snowflakes to assemble.

If the stars had not performed their role, carbon the basis of all life, would not have been created.

If the stars had not blown apart in death and spread their elements all over the Galaxy our sun and this planet would not have been created. Their death gave birth to our potential.

If the "Power of Synergy" (Swimme) had not been at work the atoms and molecules would not have come together to form the early life form... Procaryotic cells.

A couple of Billion years later Oxygen became the dominate threat to early life. Very corrosive that Oxygen was. Life found a way and Eucaryotic cells were born. Multicellular life began.

If the Sun had been a little hotter or cooler, life as we know it would not have been sustained.

If the Earth's atmosphere did not achieve the correct balance, the rays of the Sun would have eliminated all life long ago, if, it even appeared.

We are all in a delicate balance of temperature, energy, reproduction and natural selection. Brian Swimme called natural selection " the life process of achieving excellence of form".

Still, the Universe is continuing its journey. The Earth's biosphere continues to function. The life forms on this planet continue to evolve.

There is now, however, a big difference. We humans have become a major power in the flow and balance of things. We are rapidly changing the normal course of natural selection, of the evolution of life itself, as all segments of the Earth's bio-sphere interact with us. Mass extinctions, elimination of large habitats, deforestation of the major watersheds of the world, poisons, over crowding, seriously impact other life forms. Many times to their and our detriment.

When other life interacts with us, our actions determine whether that life will continue as it was destined to, or more likely, be diverted into a new evolutionary path, or eliminated all together.

Other species have died out in the past. The alarming thing is a huge number are dying out every year due to their interaction with us. This is not necessarily a good thing. While we are aware of this dying out, we are not aware of the significance to us in the future or to the future health of the Planet.

We have arrived at this time in the life of the Universe through no fault of our own. Yet through the gift of self awareness we can feel the significance of our presence.

We can choose to feel insignificant, a speck of nothing in the vastness around us and act accordingly, or, we can understand all of the critical emergent events culminating in us, and appreciate our significance. That awareness alone gives us and all life a special place, a unique moment in time.

We are a Child of the Stars, we are the real Stuff of the Stars, and we have a responsibility. There is an urgency we all get it - this special moment in time, this unique manifestation of self awareness, and the knowledge that we have an incredible responsibility to continue our journey not as an uncompassionate plunderer of life and resources, but as a Guardian, a compassionate Guardian, of ourselves and this Planet which gave us life.

Our decisions and actions matter, and will continue to matter for millions of lives far into the future.

Feeling a sense of community with Planet Earth is not a trivial experience. Nor is it idle mysticism or spiritualism.

It is the most important paradigm shift in human consciousness since the discovery of fire.

When an individual experiences Enlightenment, that individual feels an incredible unity with everything. This individual has the ability to be both a participant and an observer, of their deep selves and all that goes on around them. Choosing becomes an integral part of their existence, meditation a way of maintaining and deepening their conscious self awareness.

Becoming whole, becoming responsible, remaining compassionate and caring sometimes takes a lifetime. One or a few however, is not enough. While our individual journeys continue, The great mass of humanity must reach for the common bond, our genetic kinship with all life, our origins from the stars, and stand together to nurture our planet, and each other. We must learn to pay attention, to take each step with awareness, to honor our gift of life.

As more and more of us accept this paradigm shift from Me to Us to the Universe as our home, our spirits will lighten, our hope will expand and our compassion will encompass all that is around us. Serious change will occur.

We will truly deserve to be the Children of the Stars.

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