[Want to simultaneously feel overwhelmingly tiny and insignificant, while also mind-bogglingly, fee-fi-fo-fum gigantic? This site puts the entire universe in scale and allows you to explore it with just the click of a mouse.]

(The website won't embed, so click here: http://htwins.net/scale2/scale2.swf?bordercolor=white. Major hat-tip to +Rob Grega for sending it to me.)

One of the most intense, life-altering experiences I had was meditating one day using a technique that mirrors this website. I started by first focusing inward and being observant of my physical body and all the processes that were occurring. I paid attention to my breathing- how this was moving through my body, and honed in on the incredible amount of activity happening within me that I am so often unaware of (macrophages ingesting foreign invaders, amylase hard at work breaking down the sourdough roll I just ate, cells replicating themselves while others die...). It was its own microuniverse contained within the walls of my body.

Borders of the universe: Passport not required.
And as I moved outward toward the external world, I thought about this and realized just how foolish it was to assume that I am the center of the universe, and everything is relative to this: either part of me, or not; either inside me, or outside me; within the physical confines of my skin and hair (defined as "me"), or external to this (defined as "not me"). My consciousness is what delineates this field, but who is to say that a macrophage patrolling my body doesn't also have this same sense of scale and relativity? The sense that it is a whole, independent, functioning unit, and my body is just the universe within which it resides, and beyond which there is an even more expansive universe? How is the way I view myself and the space around me ,and within me, any different than that of a macrophage? The macrophage is fundamentally made up of the very same things as I am made up of- quarks, neutrinos, and all those other fun doodads of particle physics- so why is the boundary of my body considered the point of reference for where the wider universe begins?


But wait, there's more! Lettuce know!
Then when you consider that my body is in constant flux, continually exchanging matter with the environment both in and out, the line blurs even more. When I ingest a leaf of lettuce to be broken into the components my cells (like the macrophages) will use for fuel, for example, when does the lettuce stop being lettuce and start being me? And when I expel this matter back into the soil for plants like lettuce to take up, when does it stop being me and start being the lettuce?

And the fact is, on a very, very micro level, you really can't distinguish where I end and the external begins. There is no definitive border. So in that sense, the line literally is blurred.


Are we just the cells of Earth? The land, the tissues? The oceans, the blood streams?
When you expand this concept out, the same applies. I am just a spec in the universe. I am giving and taking from my environment, much like the macrophage. I am an independently functioning unit, but I am also very much dependent on and influencing the world around me within which I live (again, no different than the macrophage dependent on me for survival, but also influencing my own livelihood, since it attacks the infectious microorganisms and other bad guys that enter my body). I have this sense that I am the smallest, self-contained unit on the planet and the rest of the universe surrounds me, but who is to say that you and I are not just macrophages (or worse, viruses!) crawling on the earth's surface doing our thing, and the earth is its own contained unit/body we live within, and the wider universe begins beyond the planet?

Do you see where I am going with this? It is all relative. The scale of the universe can be adjusted as simply as it can with the click of your mouse on this website. The universe is contained both within and without me, just as it is for the macrophage, just as it for planet earth.

For the first time, I tangibly understood the Buddhist philosophy that we are all interconnected.

Do you feel the same?
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