• John Turnquist

My Enchanted Cosmos

This should knock the wind out of you: the universe -- including all sentient life forms -- exist on the thinnest-of-thin tighttopes between order and disorder, existence and non-existence. Lee Smolin, a renowned theoretical physicist-philosopher, theorized that if the universe were "off" from its present state by 1 in one thousand trillion trillion, it would cease to exist. And, of course, so would we -- blinked out into true nothingness. (Additionally, let's not forget the plethora of variables/laws that give rise to and sustain complex sentient life forms.)

Either the universe, including human existence, is nothing but an incomprehensibly impossible cosmic accident -- intrinsically random, impersonal, meaningless, pointless, non-conscious. We're just confused and delusional travelers drifting through an endless void. There is likely no free will. Your life is what you make of it, a motivating/comforting story that gets you through until the end. And then it's all over. Nothingness; it was "all for naught." This is the disenchanted view of the cosmos.

Conversely, there's the enchanted view of the cosmos: the universe is conscious and has an evolutionary, participatory, creative, and Self-expressive purpose. Consciousness (i.e., I am aware of myself writing this post, and of my flow of ideas and feelings) isn't a freak accident; it was intended to manifest itself, so that the universe could "know itself" from a human vantage point (and beyond). We are truly the universe experiencing itself in human form, for reasons of which we are not fully conscious, or conscious at all. Everything is interconnected and interdependent, on all levels of reality, as quantum physics has been proving. We "swim" in a veritable cosmic ocean of conscious energy, suffused with meaning and aliveness and creative intention. The human mind somehow affects the very reality we observe, and what we observe affects our beliefs/perceptions. We create our own reality, on both individual and collective levels. We have expanding or contracting degrees of free will, based on levels of knowledge and consciousness.

I've lived in both universes -- disenchanted and enchanted -- at different phases in my life. I can't tell you which universe to live in, or prove that reality is enchanted or disenchanted. As it stands right now, you can make a case for both. It's a deeply personal choice; for some of us (at least initially), it's a proverbial leap of faith into the cosmic unknown.

I'm conscious of writing this stirring homage to the universe -- a universe that, for all intents and purposes, shouldn't exist. Consciousness shouldn't exist ... but it does. It's truly mind-blowing. I'm so much more myself, the being I'm truly meant to be, when I choose to live in a meaningful, spiritual, enchanted universe.

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