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[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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71 comments
 
mind = blown. we complain about the simplest of things and it really shouldn't matter.
 
Fantastic depiction of how small we really are... Great picture, by the way!
 
protect the continuity of life on earth woman ... nice
 
P.S. very nice commentary.
 
Oh my! In a short story I wrote years ago, the main character has purchased a gift for a young woman in her "family" for the girl's "womaning". It's a statue of the a beautiful woman with the Earth as her belly and the Earth rotates. . .this made me think of that.
 
Ugh. I was hoping you wouldn't notice the time stamp, +Rob Grega. ;) It was actually the last time I edited it, not when I originally posted it. I'm tempted to edit it again just to change it from that time. ;D
 
+Sebastian P.: +Rob Grega's old roommate was obsessed with the time 11:34 and swore the number followed him everywhere. He, of course, got +Rob Grega fixated on it too, so of course I notice it now, as well. *grumble grumble*
 
Excellent piece +Alida Brandenburg. It goes so well with the attached website. And you're right, we get so lost in our daily activities that we don't ever stop to look around and inside us.
 
If the earth is in this situation now, i think it is really adorable.......more than today's...
 
Oh great post, +Alida Brandenburg. I struggle with trying to communicate this same interconnectedness / blurring between self and non-self concept. Saving this one for future use. And future meditation.
I always imagine life to be like a single piece of fabric, wherein each living thing is a single thread, snagged and pulled up from the weave, only to be pulled tight when the time comes. It's comforting to me.
 
+Joe Garrett: I struggle with it, too. It helped finally writing it out. :) And yay, happy to be of service. You are welcome to print and flyer your entire city with it, if it pleases you so! ;)

I like your analogy, too. That's beautiful.
 
Dios sembró una semilla que creció de la misma manera en que nosotros crecemos, para que ayudemos a formar un pensamiento, los ninos son cono la luz que iluminan nuestros días que son como un relámpago de felicidad y alegría como la primavera con sus bellas flores, NUESTROS PENSAMIENTOS SON HECJOS CON EL SONIDO, ENSAMBLADOS CON NUESTRAS PROPIAS ESPERANZAS,
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ow thats what our universe should look like
 
i can see the belly button ( .)
 
I wonder if she inside farts (farts you hold in) if it pollutes her belly.
 
That looks really cool! It reminds me of an email I got. It was pictures of a bike race where everyone is naked but painted!
 
makes you remember how fragile life really is
 
omg wow get some thing on lady
 
what a gift like a pumpkin haha ha
 
you know that u can see her breasts in that pic?
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its tru that whol world in..girl. . ..:p 
 
Alida find the world??????????????/
 
I think if you have all the rason but something bigger conosco
 
it's very good, i like an abstract work of art
 
In Germany, Brandenburg is mostly boring. You are not.
 
Not really. Not all connected. We Are Not One Body. The Freedom and Health of our individuated puwitr true family form children, requires it. Do Not Donate Your Blood to Anybody. The specific puwitr, virtue-hereditary-form/family form child; HRH Rana and then Raja Siddartha; was not and is not the property of Buddhism. You void the Truth, you make the Felony parasite sadism Hysteria Crime, being specifically directed against an individual innocent child in its' own infants' bed.
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