Present theories of the universe are interesting to explore. Since the speed of space expansion is faster than the speed of light, according to general relativity, we can never be sure what exactly our universe is, or where it is, or where its boundaries lie.
Some theorize that there is only one, eternally infinite universe; that all which we see in the heavens goes on forever. Of course, we must be wary of these kinds of generalities because they are limited by a perception and knowledge that works out to be a restricted perspective here on earth. After all, even the savvy Greeks of old thought that the earth was the center of the universe with everything rotating around it. Why not? It was logical and made sense from every perspective of observation and conclusion based on sensory input at the time, as limited as it was.
One clue from ancient Buddhist texts is that there are “one hundred-thousand-crores of universes,” (one “crore” being a Hindu mathematical term translated as ten million), or one trillion universes.
One trillion is a big number.
If you had ½ inch packets of $100 dollar bills (one hundred, $100 bills in a packet), $10,000 would fit easily into a purse.
A million dollars would fit into a large shopping bag.
One hundred million would fit on a pallet about four feet square. A billion dollars would take ten pallets.
And a trillion dollars? – ten thousand pallets of stacks of one hundred dollar bills four feet square. Or to put it in terms of one dollar bills; one million pallets of stacks of one dollar bills four feet square.
That’s a lot of universes.
“So what?” would be the typical reply of us earthlings who need only a few of those pallets to make us happy. “What does this have to do with making a living, or anything else relevant in my life?”
Everything, actually, because life slips away from us almost imperceptibly, little by little, until one day we look in the mirror and wonder how we got so old so fast. The immortality of youth doesn’t ebb slowly; it falls off a cliff, persisting seemingly forever until that one fateful day when we seem to age 20 years in just one moment of time. It happens to all us that survive into old age.
Life on earth is very temporary. Very. Ask any old timer how quickly their life has gone . . . Whoosh! And people instinctively, unconsciously know that this is true; life is short. So isn’t it natural, almost a human ritual for those not completely caught up in all the terrestrial nonsense that terminates as quickly as a flash of lightening, to gaze at the stars, this great mystical universe of ours, and wonder what it’s all about?
If we can resist fearfully running to our holy books for answers, and just gaze for awhile, saying that we don‘t know, then there is a humbleness that takes the place of our knowing it all. This is where humility lies, where we admit to ourselves that we are but nothing.
This is a big step towards everything, because when we think that we are really something, that is what we call the delusion that keeps us from seeing. Only when we see the nothingness and emptiness in everything, including our universe and ourselves, is there a possibility of experiencing eternity.
Can’t you feel it when you gaze at the Milky Way? That insignificance that in some strange way is liberating? If you are at all sensitive, you will feel it. And when you feel it, if you don’t rationalize it or become afraid, your mind will begin to open it‘s shuttered existence for only a moment, more than enough time to change your entire perspective of life and the real meaning of life.
Have you ever noticed the behavior of saints and authentic holy people? They are compassionate, not haughty or proud of their achievements. If you ever meet one, you will go away thinking well of yourself, because in their presence, there is no occurrence of contention or conflict. They have no persuasion for those kinds of things.
They left that all behind one night in a flash, perhaps while they were gazing at a trillion universes.
E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at:
http://www.dhammarocksprings.org and author of “A Year to Enlightenment: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Enlightenment-Steps-Enriching-Living/dp/1564148912
His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.
He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.
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