From the Archive – Midwinter: Inspired by Guy Murchies fine work – The Seven Mysteries of Life.
Here I sit in the early hours of a dawning sunrise, gazing at the expansive sight of the returning sun. Helios is cloaked in a fabric of cirrus clouds and in this moment playfully hiding behind the mountains yet to reveal his intensity, it appears as though he is reaching out towards me.
I am wondering how to crystallize these thoughts on my interpretation of beauty. It is winter now. I see mountains covered in snow, I see the sun rising, I see the trees barren with branches stretching in all directions. The creeks freeze and thaw. The hardy wintering birds sing their songs. It is a time of rest and for some, the deep sleep of hibernation.
A thought arises, I should be doing this in springtime… where beauty abounds. But this cannot wait, I am inspired at this moment and there is beauty all around me now.
I wonder, if Gaia Sophia is the source intelligence of the biosphere, then could it be possible that we are living in her dream? Her imagined reality?
Then I envision the power of attention required of her to sustain this dream.
I try and see my role in it as a human child endowed with my own power of attention and my own power of imagination.
Exploring the Source of Beauty
Soaring above the earth beyond the atmosphere, I witness her diverse weather patterns and atmospheric systems, I see a super-organism drifting through the darkness of space in a state of deep stillness while her surface teems with life.
Realm after realm born from her void.
Oceans and jungles in a perpetual state of creation… birthing grounds for some vast experiment?
If so, then none of this would be possible without her partner and ally Helios, who provides the light, heat, and solar winds that nurture her life force. Same goes for her sister Luna, her mysterious satellite orbiting in synchronous harmony.
Diving down into the earths center, one might find a solid nickle-iron core bigger than a moon bathing in a molten outer core, and above this a thick mantle consisting of superheated olivine and rocks that churn and twist and turn slow and heavy – not unlike the faster and lighter atmospheric jet-streams on her surface.
Above this mantle we find the massive crustal tectonic plates, perhaps 60 miles thick, containing continents and seas. Included herein, a thin film of earth skin approximately fifteen miles thick, we find the ideal foundation for creating habitats for her oxygen breathing lifeforms.
Upon her surface the fluid dynamics are even more pronounced with her oceans, lakes, rivers, glaciers and atmosphere circulating in various cycles. There are energy cycles of radiation and heat. There are basic elemental cycles moving oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. All influenced by the sun, the moon, and the cosmos.
Let’s not discount the subtle resonances of mystical and spiritual energies interwoven like golden filaments of light in a mysterious tapestry, blazing away on their own unique frequencies… perhaps this is were Gaia Sophia’s divine consciousness dwells, patiently waiting to be experienced.
As I stand on her verdant soil and feel the earth between my toes I lean forward holding a magnifying glass. I zoom in close and examine the ground. Here I see the microcosm in a new light. It could be said this vast world of animalcules is a proving ground for Gaia’s basic inventions – growth, metabolism, sense, response, locomotion, sex, reproduction, death and so forth.
It’s all happening right here. From the barely visible single cell amoebas to the nano-sized viruses. This primordial mass of microbes is estimated to be 20x greater than the mass of all earthly animals.
There is a lot going on down here. If it passes a ruthless test of survival here, then up the chain it goes.
Into the vegetal realms.
Feet firmly planted on the ground I look up and around, gazing through a canopy of giant redwoods surrounded at their base by majestic ferns glittering with wet dew drops, I breathe the freshest air a man can breathe. It fills me with vigor and I wonder aloud how this primary organ of Gaia’s biosphere evolved?
The forest, her beloved trees absorbing rainfall from clouds and evaporating back into the sky, while inhaling excess carbon dioxide and exhaling precious oxygen. It appears, like all terrestrial life, to have evolved from sea organisms.
Within the tree lie many secrets, her trunk, branches, leaves, bark, roots and seed. They tell a fine story, but this must wait for another day. It is, in essence, the wisdom of the tree.
Onward to the insect and animal kingdom.
Running, leaping, and gliding, I see all form of animal life eeking out a living. Surviving on a tenuous promise – the promise of an experience. The sheer volume of earths organisms are staggering enough and well into the millions.
As for animals and insects, a brief survey suggests: close to 9000 species of birds, with at least one new specie discovered each week, 100,000 species of flies, a whopping 400,000 species of beetles and a scant 7000 species of mammals including man.
All evolving and adapting to changes in her biosphere at any given moment. To say she is prolific would be a gross understatement. In her creations I notice an extraordinary capacity in design, function, and variety, some expressed with a sublime sense of humor.
“Just about everything imaginable has been, is being, or may yet be tried out somewhere, somehow, in this extraordinary world we live in. In evidence in which I testify that the recognized nonlegendary animal kingdom has long since adopted and perfected: movement without muscles, sight without eyes, hearing without ears, smelling without a nose, eating without a mouth, digestion without a stomach or excretion, reproduction without sex, thinking without a brain and life without rest, sleep or death.” Guy Murchie
The Human Animal
The biology of the human animal is a fine example of Gaia’s ingenuity and her apparent love of systems design. The body being made up of 70+ organs, 200+ bones, 600+ muscles and trillions of cells – a veritable human factory that adapts to changes with extraordinary efficiency. All guided and orchestrated by an invisible intelligence that seems to prefer anonymity.
When all is well within the body, dozens of systems operate in unison. The skeleton wrapped with a muscular covering held together by a magical connective tissue consisting mainly of collagen – found in skin, ligament, tendon, gristle and bone, also forms the fascia tissue, a web-like netting that holds everything in place with the tensile strength of steel.
Under a microscope, the bones take form with the precision of a top flight engineering project, no different than bridge or tunnel building where new cells take position in the next spot in line bonding with the collagen molecules as mortar and stone.
The muscles surrounding bone are striated and at molecular levels some of these striations are seen to be crystalline in nature. The muscles tensing and relaxing appear as layers of thin filaments brushing against each other via protein reactions – very much like a ratchet effect.
Then we have a network of nerves, spanning the whole body, found in every organ, and above all, the brain. Their numbers surpassing the hundred billion mark, these nerves transmit electrical impulses like lightening through the entire living system.
Within the system that pumps and transports blood cells we see another remarkable example of fluid dynamics. Where the main function of the blood is to transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body via her network of arteries and the smaller tributary capillaries estimated to add up to an avg of 60,000 miles per person. All the while, the heart gently beats to a natural rhythm pumping on average six quarts of blood with a circulatory round trip of about 60 seconds.
As my thoughts drift from these astonishing observations of human physiology, I notice how I tend to take it all for granted, as if it were my own little creation, or my birthright. Perhaps it is my birthright, I am here now… for some reason. But now I find a deeper reverence welling up within me. A reverence for this shared experience with a living, breathing biosphere and her creations.
And what of the source of these thoughts of mine? Surely there is more than biology and physics at work here. What about the mind, and the subtle energies that emerge as thoughts?
It is no easy task to define how the mind relates to body, simply because no one can agree on the definition. There are perhaps dozens of internal senses that the mind interprets at any given moment… but are they really senses or are they intuition? As an example, a person may have a heightened sense of psychic abilities with clairvoyance, clairaudience, or animal communications.
Is it instinct, intuition or sensory ability? Either way, we could safely conclude that there is a broad and complex nature within the inner-workings of how mind relates to the physical world.
In fact, I’m beginning to see that the physical world around me is not really solid at all, it is composed of infinitely subtle energies that create the illusion of solidity. It’s all in motion. Still, even knowing this, there is a need to function in this physical world and play the game of ‘knowing the illusion’, else-wise we may find ourselves on the slippery slope that leads into the deepest waters of the unknown where duality and non-duality dance their little dance.
Returning to the body-mind connection. The brain acting as the super-computer of the body takes up 2% of body weight yet consumes about 20% of the body’s oxygen and blood. All the while acting as the exchange center of the nervous system where sensations form ideas, and ideas become actions. Within the brain there is a massive network of nerves or neuron cells that are
‘in a sense, the threads of our intelligence, impalpable threads that collectively weave themselves into the tapestry of thought.’ (G.Murchie)
In other words, this is where the electrical impulses generate the energies of thought which take form in feelings, images and words. In addition, the brain interprets these thoughts and censors or filters accordingly through a highly sensitive and complex interpretation of conscious, subconscious and physiological signals.
Ultimately, we believe what we want to believe, and this would be a natural opportunity to segue into the current state of the human condition. But not this day, I’ll stay focused on beauty and try to identify how the earths intelligence generates her beauty. Could there be a formula? It appears so…
The Golden Ratio
While the definition of beauty is different for everyone, I tend to look for symmetry. I feel for the attraction. I sense if it is in harmony and balance with nature. The ancient Greeks identified a strong connection with mathematics and beauty. They noticed that objects proportioned according the golden ratio appeared more attractive.
“A distinctive feature of this shape is that when a square section is removed, the remainder is another golden rectangle; that is, with the same aspect ratio as the first. Square removal can be repeated infinitely, in which case corresponding corners of the squares form an infinite sequence of points on the golden spiral, the unique logarithmic spiral with this property.” wiki
This golden ratio can be found in music, architecture, design and in the very building blocks of nature.
As I come full circle with what has been written, I step back outside and gaze at the colorful mountains around me. I feel a deep gratitude. I feel appreciation for the opportunity to perceive this beauty, not just with my eyes, but my whole being. I feel myself stretching outward and upward, breathing in the potential of what I am becoming…
True, I am but a tiny particle within this vastness, yet I am the entire vastness.
Onward and Inward!
Notes and References on this article: This article would not have been possible without outside references and inspiration. Many of the stats came from a fantastic book: Seven Mysteries of Life – written by the late Guy Murchie. This is an encyclopedic book on science and philosophy, 17+ years in the writing. Guy Murchie had a passion for life and a profound grasp of the interrelatedness of earths life forms and her biosphere. This was written for you Guy, thanks for being a teacher of beauty.