Posted in Extempore

How Studying Galaxies Teaches Us That We Are Never Present!

We are never present. We never see the present. We are always looking at something that was in the past. Because in the act of seeing, there is always a loss of time.

This simple awareness of the lacking in our human consciousness can be witnessed in the study of the cosmos. Every grand imagery we have of the solar system or the galaxy or the galaxies beyond – is a view that occurred millions of years ago. It is never in the moment.

Cyg X, a star-forming region in Cygnus. (source

There it is so because the act of seeing requires for us to receive light. And such greater are the distances, that light itself takes years and years to reach us. The moment of occurrence has already passed. But we come to witness it only in retrospection.

Oh, what a tragic thought. We are never in the present, not even on the earth. We are always seeing the past, thinking about the past, reacting to the past. The act of seeing, thinking, reacting itself takes up time that we miss out on the present.

It is one of the greatest and subtlest losses we incur nearly every moment of everyday.

Oh, just think about the possibilities of seeing the present. The possibility of looking at gases and dust assembling, coalescing to give birth to a star. A star that would brn for years and years. It would shine and give life. But in the moment, we could witness its birth, its inception.

The weird and powerful star G79.29+0.46, surrounded by shells of expanding gas. Estimated occurrence, about 4000 light years. (source)

It would require us to not see the even though. For the simple reason that the act of seeing, takes time. And this time is only time lost. When we are trying to see we are losing time. We cannot try to see. Then how do we live in the present?

By being aware? Bearing witness to the present as it is happening? Not when it is gone in the past, not when it is about to occur – but right now. Right now, with all its nuances, leaving nothing seen, yet everything, unseen.

It is one of the most satisfying experiences to witness an occurence in the present. To see a process unfolding, a cocoon breaking to release a butterfly, a river changing courses over decades, a child growing from a two inch egg. To not see the butterfly after it is a butterfly but as it is transforming. To not see a river after decades without realising any change in its position. To not see a grown baby come out of a mother but see it transform. 

It is this witnessing the transformation that is the root of all satisfaction. A detached observance of what many men have called Flow of Life, Deep Play, Interconnectedness, Universally Stable Chaos.



2 thoughts on “How Studying Galaxies Teaches Us That We Are Never Present!

  1. Quite confusing, I must say. You are mixing two schools of thoughts which don’t go hand in hand. Broadly speaking, science and zen!
    Interesting read though 🙂


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