The Great Equalizer

Normally my thoughts keep churning: “Why did they do that? What should I do? I am right, they are wrong. I am wrong, they are right. Life is hard. Boring. Hopeless. Wonderful. Unfair…”

As this happens, the world feels big, much bigger than me. Populated in the first instance by the hundreds of people I interact with, or feel directly impact my life: family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, atheletes, politicans, celebrities, scientists, artists, philosophers, etc. It is my village, filled with the dozens who live in that village with me, and bigger-than-my-village beings – the famous people – who live in the castle on the distant hill controlling what happens in my and other villages.

Sometimes I realize this is not the truth. It is my perception only, created by my limited awareness. The way parents seem larger than life to a child.

And then I see my struggles in my village are not the ultimate reality either. Beyond the distant mountain where the rich, famous, powerful people live, there is a vast world. In which what happens in my house and in my village, and even in the famous people’s houses, is but a passing occurrence, a drop in a much bigger ocean.

I have an admin job and live my middle, lower- middle class life. What I do affects a dozen close family and friends at most. If I don’t show up at work, I will be replaced in a week. The city, state, country, politics, entertainment, industries, science and arts move on unaware of, and irrespective of, me.

Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Bill Gates, Brad Pitt, Einstein, Picasso – they are in the pantheon of culture, seemingly controlling things I only see from a distance. My doctor makes 5 or 10 times what I make, and Brad Pitt makes 10 or 100 times what my doctor makes. And Bill Gates makes 100 times what Brad Pitt makes. This is the hierarchy of human life.

But beyond Earth, beyond human life, me and Brad Pitt and Bill Gates and Donald Trump are not that different. We are all specks. What difference there is between me and Bill Gates is infinitesimally small – to the point of no difference – from the perspective of space.

This is a truth. At root, I am a speck in the universe. So are my family and neighbors. So are the most rich or most intelligent or most powerful people on Earth. This truth is the great equalizer.

We all know this truth. It is not a surpise to anyone. Yet: we live as if it wasn’t the case, as if the hierarchies in human life, the relative advantages and disadvantages between humans, are the reality of life.

Wisdom is to live in continual awareness of this simple truth. To not be caught in the as if reality of social hierarchies intrinsic to the human perspective.

Hence a farmer in a village can be as wise as, or wiser than, a philosophy professor in a big city. Wisdom is not a matter of knowledge that some can acquire and some don’t. It is not itself another hierarchy in human life. It is instead to see the minuteness of human life and to live with that awareness constantly.

The wise person doesn’t acquire the God’s eye perspective. Nor does he stay mired within the ordinary human perspective. He hovers in between, continually aware of the vast gulf between the human and the God’s eye perspective.

Freed thus from the grip of human hierarchies, he acts without being caught in the mental cacophony of blame, doubt, guilt, possessiveness. He acts more in light of the deeper reality, without the as if fantasy. Like an adult in a land of children.

To an infant, the mother is the center of the world. To a child, his home is the center. To a teenager, his budding social circle beyond the home is the center. To an adult, human life is the center, which defines his role and aim in life. To the wise person, the universe is the center, with an awareness of one’s own, and humanity’s, cosmic insignificance.

3 thoughts on “The Great Equalizer

  1. …Did you–in writing this kind of intension mean to equalize existence with non existence…
    “I am a speck in the universe” and “Yet: we live as if it wasn’t the case, as if the hierarchies in human life, the relative advantages and disadvantages between humans, are the reality of life.”.
    …Doesn’t life need energy–haven’t you very well describe sources of energy for us to see and make do with–while non existence is nothing for us…

    …That singularities and dualities are not true limits for us, that we need to experience-interact through more tension for more presence more balance …

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  2. Suppose that you are someone who is interested in making a difference in the world, say on the issue of racism. The perspective above (of living between the human space and the God’s eye perspective) can allow one to cope with the disappointments that are likely to arise when one is working on a long-term goal like racial justice. But the kind of grit that it takes to stick with such a long-term project seems, to me, to be undermined by the God’s eye perspective. A jesuit might work for the poor in conditions that appear as if they will never improve, but the jesuit’s type of faith can sustain him. The God’s eye perspective (or Point of View of the universe) described above instead seems to be in tension with such projects, in that it reminds us that we are mere specks in the universe, in the fullness of both space and time.

    This raises another question: what does it mean to talk about the *perspective* of space or time? I understand taking the perspective of another sentient being (like another human, or a dog, or even a fish), but we can’t, for example, take the “perspective” of a rock. So how does it make sense to talk about the cosmic perspective? Is the suggestion that the cosmos possesses a sentience of its own? What might be the reasons to believe this? And why should we privilege the perspective of this cosmic sentience over our own–is the only reason that doing so might make us happier?

    Thanks.

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    • When I am hungry, I look for food to eat. If I feel I am someone important, better than others, then when I am hungry I will also be belligerent and haughty. If I remember I am a speck, I don’t stop looking for food when hungry. I just look for food without being so belligerent.

      Same with racism. That I am a speck is no reason to be ok with racism or to not fight it. For the racist is also a speck, and he is wrong to think he is more important, better than me. And vice versa. If I keep in mind I am a speck, I am prone to fight with confidence but without being belligerent or self important.

      Also, not talking about perspective of the cosmos, as in the cosmos’ perspective. Rather, the cosmic perspective is my perspective of seeing how much of a speck I am in relation to the cosmos. This is common sense. Often that is hardest to hold onto.

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