Our Place in the Universe - How to Navigate Life from a Cosmic Perspective
We live our lives absorbed in dealing with what is right in front of us: work, family, and what needs to get done. We worry, stress out, get sick and feel frustrated because we have so much to do.
A few of us stop every now and then to take stock and think of the big picture. What do we want to accomplish in the next year, five years or even in a life time? This is large scale thinking of living to our potential and making the best of life.
Even this grand view of our life is still myopic in the larger—much larger scheme of things. Every now and then, I start thinking about this view that is unfathomable to my tiny human brain… what is out there…where do we fit in the universe.
We are lucky to be living in times where science and technology have advanced so much. We have unprecedented access to the vast, insurmountable cosmos.
Where does our earth fit into the equation of the universe?
The list below might give you an idea of how vast our universe is.
Earth is one of the smaller planets in our solar system with only one moon(Jupiter and Saturn have 62 moons each).
Our star (the sun) is huge compared to the size of earth. About one million (1,000,000) earths would fit inside the sun.
Our galaxy (the Milky Way) which includes our solar system is comprised of at least 200 billion stars like our sun (more recent estimates put the number close to 400 billion). So our entire solar system is 1/200 billionth of our galaxy. Our sun cannot be seen when looking at the Milky Way.
The universe has 100 billion galaxies. So our galaxy is 1/100 billionth of the universe. If we would look at the universe, each galaxy would look like a small bright object (image below enlarged). The estimated number of stars in the universe would be 20 billion trillion (or 20 sextillion) stars.
Where we fit into this equation: if our sun represents 1/20 sextillion, we can estimate that planet earth would be 1/million of that which would make our share of the universe to be …drum roll… 0.000000000000000000000000005%.
In effect from the universe perspective, earth almost amounts to nothing. Each human being is 1/6 billion of this nothing!
How does this view impact our lives?
Okay now we know we really don’t matter much in the largest scheme of things. So how is it going to change how we live? Below are a few reminders that I hope can make your living a bit easier. Feel free to share your views and insights.
We are one. Everything in existence, as we know it, originated from the same source of energy. We all came from mother big bang and what followed. Nothing is better or worse. Everything just is. This unifying view can help us in leading lives with understanding and appreciation, no judgment or use of force against anything or anyone.
Keep things in perspective. At the end of the day, considering the much grander scheme of things, nothing that we do or don’t do really matters. We can just be and take it easy. If we get things done or not, life still goes on as intended.
The universe does not revolve around us. We are a tiny part of a universe that is much larger than we can comprehend. The universe goes on and what unfolds is part of the cosmic evolution. Whether we like and accept what happens or not, it is going to happen. The only wise course of action for us it to accept what is happening and move on. And not to take things personally!
The universe is not perfect, nor should we be. The imperfection in the universe is what allowed creation and life to materialize in the first place. We can view our own imperfections as ways to express our uniqueness and creativity.
Every form of existence grows, contracts and eventually dies. From the big bang to the immeasurable size of the universe, every physical form has a beginning and an end. Our planet will die at one point and so will our sun. This is part of the evolution of the cosmos. Death from a cosmic view is not the end of life but rather the transformation of energy; the end of one form can be the beginning of another. Fearing death or fighting it is futile.
We don’t and can’t know everything. We are only a small, invisible, almost nonexistent, blip on the radar of the universe. As we continue to evolve and grow, we will gain more knowledge and understanding of the cosmos. This growth should come with the understanding that we may never know the real purpose of our evolution and life. We are here for a brief moment in time and space; all that matters is that we enjoy the ride and let the rest unfold in due course.
There is also the non-material element of existence that we may never be able to fully understand. How consciousness fits into the equation of creation is another matter.
All things considered I think it is wise to lighten up and not take things too seriously. We are part of an ever expanding carnival of energy; we are fortunate to be able to experience and participate in this magnificent cosmic dance.