I purposefully stumbled on a YouTube about one of my five favorite subjects to watch (Korean Walking Tours in the Snow, Science Shows about the universe, Blue Bloods, Cowlin Cowherd on The Herd, FS1, and surgical procedures of total knee or brain tumor removal). I know it is a rather eclectic group in which I run, but at least I still wobble down the rocky path of daily living. One of several of these programs I had occasion to link with my Lectio Divina meditations, which is why I bring it up at all.
Here is the program I watched, followed by some of my reflections on the center of the universe in the view of a Lay Cistercian. You can make your own conclusions.
One of the habits I have developed during the past four or five years is viewing questions in three dimensions or universes. These three universes are part of a larger equation called The Divine Equation that I am constantly solving. This notion of three universes answers me how science, philosophy, psychology, and everything else can play well together without jealousy, envy, and excessive ego. As applied to the center of the universe, these three distinct universes each have their own characteristics and measurements. One is not the other, yet all three are only one. Sound familiar?
THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE IN THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE This is the universe of matter, energy, time, space, all the properties of matter, and the periodic table. They exist independent of our ability to know anything at all about them. This is the universe of what is and its physical compositions and laws. The norm is to follow the properties of its composition. Gases exist, so do atomic structures, and when they combine, something new happens, quite independent of human intervention. They do what they do because of their nature. In this physical universe, everything corrupts (not sinful corruption) but is natural to its purpose. There is a beginning and an ending for everything in this universe. All life we know of living in this universe has this base or platform for existence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYyIon_JEC0&t=6s
MY FRACTURED THOUGHTS
The information I read about the center of the physical universe is varied. One idea is that there is no center to the universe. Another idea is that the universe is expanding at such a rate (the speed of light) that we have no way of locating any center.
The physical universe is the one that we can see and measure with tools. One hundred years ago, we had fewer tools (computer enhancements) and one hundred years ago, we might have exponentially more sophistocated tools with which to know more.
It does not matter what the center of the physical universe is. I think there is a center of the universe, but it exists perhaps like the population shifts in the middle of the United States. Who knows? It does not affect my search for the Divine Equation and its correct answers.
The physical universe is all matter, including black holes, nebulae, gases, Stephenson 2-18, the Sun, the earth, all living things on the earth, including humans. Humans are the stuff that populates the cosmos, but with one difference. We know that we know, and we have the freedom to choose what we think is good for us.
The physical universe is the base for human existence. Humans shared it with all other species, especially humans, before they became rational.
THE CENTER OF THE MENTAL UNIVERSE The physical universe, it would seem to my limited understanding of the totality of all that exists, does not have the energy to self-create itself. Likewise, the mental universe does not seem to have the energy of the physical universe to bubble over (a term used by Teilhard de Chardin to describe how one sphere of evolution morphed into another one– The Phenomenon of Man) into the next universe. To this Lay Cistercian trying to unscramble the broken egg of Humpty Dumpty’s fall, there is atomic structure, the periodic table, there is physics and the four forces of Quantum Mechanics. I don’t see how reality makes the jump from inanimate objects and things to living cells and the more complex compilation of those cells into a self-sustaining organism. The quandary for me is that I know that they exist and that all living things mature (evolve) over time.
The question about “What is the center of the Mental Universe?” is more complicated, as it should be. The mental universe is where only humans exist. We use the physical universe as our base (actually the only base for life that we know) and have something no other living entity has, the ability to reason and choose what is good for us, even though it goes against our nature. In this universe, the freed of choice is key. Humans are good in our nature but prone to be enslaved by our emotions and false choices.
Our humanness can be so noble at times and so self and destructive at other times. Like all physical reality, human nature is good, but it is corrupt, meaning we can choose bad behaviors that lead to the death of our spirit.
We have reason to make choices that affect how we live now and in the future. To ask and answer the question “What is the purpose of life?” comes from two distinct sources, based on human reasoning and the freedom to choose something good for me without repercussions. 1) There is a power outside ourselves, beyond us, that has both the questions and the authentic answers to the Divine Equation. 2) There is a power within ourselves, our center that we choose to make the truth, the way, and the life.
The center of the mental universe is whatever we choose to place there and maintain its stability. Revolving centers do not make for stable morality and social behaviors that do not hurt others.
The center of the physical universe is a thing or a place that does not depend upon human intervention. The center of the mental universe is not a thing but a value, a principle of behavior, a product of our human reasoning and making authentic choices.
The problem with the center of the mental universe is that everything is invisible. As you might guess, the problem with invisibility is that you can’t see it. This is the universe of the human mind, of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Seven Deadly Sins. Humans must choose each day which set of values is real for them. If the center of the mental universe is you, you can never make a mistake or be considered wrong.
In looking at where the physical and mental universes are headed (each has a beginning and an end), a missing element (the spiritual universe) fulfills the other two. It
WHAT IS THE CENTER OF THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE?
The spiritual universe is the end result or conclusion of the physical and mental universes. By themselves, the physical and mental universes do not possess the energy to move to the spiritual universe’s next level of development.
The spiritual universe does not depend upon what humans think it is but rather takes its properties from this outside force (we call this God, for lack of a better word). Not all spiritual universes are correct; some come from what the individual person thinks it should be; others think it is the power to force others to believe in their truth.
The spiritual universe began with the Incarnation moment when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary to …forever. Everyone has an invitation to join this universe, but not everyone does so. Baptism is the way Jesus came to teach us to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father. All we need to do is to love others as He loved us. Sounds easy but takes a lifetime of daily struggle. For those not Baptized, they cast themselves on the mercy of God, as do we all.
The spiritual universe is the playground where God lives. To go there, we must follow His rules, not our own.
The spiritual universe begins with my personal Baptism and acceptance by God as his adopted son (daughter). It ends for me in the heart and mind of God (heaven).
The spiritual universe has the energy to lift up and sustain itself because this power comes from God, not the physical or mental universes.
The spiritual universe is a sign of contradiction to the world’s logic. To go there, we must empty ourselves of all that is unauthentic love and seek to replace it with the love of Christ.
Strangely, I am the center of my universe of seventy or eighty years, but with my reasoning and freedom to choose what is good for me, I get to say, “Not my will but yours be done,” to God. My prayer is one of gratitude, undeserving as I am to even be in the presence of Christ. He loves me enough to call me a friend and prepare a place for me in Heaven.
The Christ Principle is the Word Made Flesh, the center of not only the spiritual universe but of all three universes. The Christ Principle makes sense out of the corruption of the physical universe and the flawed behaviors of humans to choose consequences that are not authentic to their purpose.
The Christ Principle explains both the correct questions for humans to ask and the answers that come from divine nature. This spiritual universe, entered into only by free choice, is the fulfillment of human evolution, one that makes sense only in the light of The Christ Principle.
My Faith, informed by reason and with the correct answers that come from the Holy Spirit, allows me the privilege of taking up my cross daily to follow Christ.
Each human must choose an authentic center. There are false centers out there, such as power, unauthentic sex, alcohol, money, the Church, Mary, and the Saints, doing good works for show, and asking forgiveness without forgiving others, to name a few.
Each center we choose is bombarded daily by the effects of Original Sin (like iron exposed to the corrosive effects of oxygen). We must struggle daily to keep our center anchored in the Christ Principle.
Love is the purpose of life.
God loved me so much that all reality in all universes is designed to allow me to choose to love others as Christ loved me. I am the center of reality, but unlike Adam and Eve, I have reason to figure out the six questions of The Divine Equation:
What is the purpose of life?
What is the purpose of my life?
What does reality look like?
How does it all fit together?
How to love fiercely?
You know you are going to die, now what?
This is the purpose of the Incarnation.