“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual … “
Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
Hold up your hand for just a second. Feel anything?
At any given second 100 trillion neutrinos are passing through your body . . .RIGHT NOW.
The majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. The solar neutrino flux for us on Earth is about 65 billion neutrinos, passing through just one square centimeter of area on earth, every second. That’s a lot of neutrinos and we are not able to see them, sense them nor understand them.
There is so much, too much, that is not perceivable to our limited senses nor explainable by our reason.
I was a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years. Not only did people share their fears and sorrows but unexplainable encounters with spirits, near death experiences and life altering experiences with the divine. I admit I was sometimes skeptical. Over time it became impossible, to dismiss what intelligent, discerning people shared.
I now think of science as one wing and religion as the other wing of a bird; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless . . .
. . . and I circled back to my study of faith and my belief we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed. I discovered two faiths I’d not originally studied – Unitarian Universalism and Baha’i. They not only complemented each other but each offered something a bit different.
Baha’is believe in and share all the UU principles:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
. . . and most importantly the 7th UU principle –
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The Baha’i World Faith brought me full circle back to childhood and to God but it wasn’t the God of fear but of love.
When I read the three core principles which are the basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. From these stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers: Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh. It was an “ah-ha moment for me that all establishers of religion. the great religions of the world, represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. That religion is seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age unexpectedly resonated.
Through decades of trials and tribulations I realize the magical thinking in my childhood, that the world revolved around me, wasn’t quite accurate . . . however,
. . . perhaps some magical thinking persists 60+ years later. Every morning I say a Baha’i prayer for family, friends, acquaintances, past clients and a prayer for those who have passed. The recitation of all the people grows longer each day and takes longer than the prayers . . . The difference between then and now is my prayers are steeped in love, not terror.
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I’m attending a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.
To read Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE
Read Part II, Head & Heart click HERE
Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE
Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, says it best . . .
“So you’re made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”
Not only are we synchronizing our heads and hearts, one with another, (Part II) we are interconnected with the Universe. All is from the same matter.
We are made of stardust. It’s like a line from a song, but there is some solid science behind this : Almost every element on earth, including you and me, was formed from the heart of a star.
Next time you’re out gazing at the stars, (all 5 stars we can actually see in a city) twinkling in the night sky, you are looking at the energy released by nuclear fusion reactions at their cores.
When a massive star explodes at the end of its life, the resulting high energy enables the creation of oxygen, carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements – the building blocks which make up the world around us and in us.
The explosion disperses these elements across the universe, scattering the stardust through stellar winds which makes up planets including Earth, eventually some of it finds its way into our bodies.
There is so much we are not able to perceive through our senses: The Earth’s electromagnetic fields that guide animals engaged in long-distance migrations, sea turtles and Monarch butterflies, birds, use Earth’s magnetic field as a navigational system; smells which compel my dog Freddie to lift his leg; dreams that portend the future.
I admit I don’t understand science.
How do liver cells know how to make more liver cells and new heart cells know how to take up the beat? We’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process, a transient body, cells continually dying and rebuilding all the time, and a continual flow of energy and matter being created . . . without my awareness . . .
Not only are our hearts synchronizing, our brain waves vibrating in unison but the very atoms of our cells are dying, being reborn and quivering in recognition we are all made of stardust.
Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.
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As you read on my last Mini-Sermon post – I didn’t pray again for 50 years*. During those decades I studied or was exposed to the tenants of many faiths and beliefs: Buddhist, Greek Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Baptist and even atheist.
I discovered two things: First, the bedrock of all religions is love, compassion, unity and the interconnectedness of all beings. Second, no matter what belief I studied something was amiss to me. It just didn’t make sense (if belief could ever make rational sense) how each could claim to be the only truth, the true spiritual path.
So scientific research became my focus and bolstered my belief in the interconnectedness of all humans (and animals). With newer and newer technology the science continues to be even more fascinating and compelling. Here’s just a small sample**:
- Mirror Neurons – These are a type of brain cell that respond equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action. This neural mechanism is involuntary and automatic and with it we don’t have to think about what other people are doing or feeling, we simply know. When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, initiating a cascade of neural activity that evokes the feeling we typically associate with a smile.
- Touch – When you hug another person, brains release oxytocin and causes secretions of endorphins.You don’t have to be in love, have sex, or give birth to get a boost of oxytocin (although these experiences certainly do that). Cuddling, hugging, making eye contact, and even shaking hands gets oxytocin, the bonding hormone, flowing
- Epigenetics – Scientists have long-known that parents pass genetic traits down to their children, current research suggests that life experiences like famine, trauma, stress can also produce chemical effects in DNA which shorten life-spans, appear as anxiety, depression and fear, inherited through generations and generations down the line.
- Neural synchrony – Singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and synchronizes our heart beats. When we pet an animal our blood pressure lowers and even more astounding their blood pressure lowers too. Studies of 3-month-old infants and their mothers have determined their heartbeats synchronize to mere milliseconds.
The electrical neuronal activity of two people involved in an act of communication “synchronize” in order to allow for a “connection” between both subjects. The rhythms of the brainwaves corresponding to the speaker and the listener adjust according to the physical properties of the sound of the verbal messages expressed in a conversation. This creates a connection between the two brains, which begin to work together towards a common goal: communication.
Scientists can find out if two people are having a conversation solely by analyzing their brain waves.
There is more research but just these four areas alone reinforce my belief in the interconnectedness of all beings. Next . . . our inter-glactic connection on Mini Sermon, Part III.
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To read Part I, Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE
Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE
Part III – Stardusted, click HERE
Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE
My brother and sister-in-law’s wonderful dogs have recently passed. This is dedicated to Duffy & Ozzy and all the wonderful critters who bless us.
“To blessed animals the utmost kindness must be shown, the more the better. Tenderness and loving-kindness are basic principles of God’s heavenly Kingdom. Ye should most carefully bear this matter in mind.”
I have no words – which happens, as you know, infrequently. It is so worth taking 40 minutes of your time to watch, listen and admire this remarkable film, remarkable woman and creative expression at its most powerful
Watch: Oscar Nominee ‘Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405’ Short Film
“One of the categories that gets very little attention at the Academy Awards is Best Documentary Short, usually featuring an impressive selection of international short films that are not always easy to watch. One of the films nominated as a Best Documentary Short from 2017 is one called Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, directed by Frank Stiefel. If you live in Los Angeles, you know the 405 is one of the worst highways to drive and almost always has traffic. The film examines the life of LA-based artist Mindy Alper, who has struggled her entire life with mental disorders and depression, even though she produces remarkably deep, honest work. This short runs 40 minutes, but it’s worth a watch to get an inspiring look inside the mind of a tortured artist. You can find out more about Alper on the film’s official site after you’ve watched this. Enjoy.”
Thanks you Becky Grant for sending this to me.
“One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship”
“How noble and good everyone could be, if every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the while day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realising it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn’t know it must learn and find by experience that: “A quiet conscience makes one strong!”
Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition
“Prayer is like the spirit and material means are like the human hand. The spirit operateth through the instrumentality of the hand.
The conviction that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. The principle of the oneness of humankind is “the pivot round which the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve…”
During the month of November, Baha’i Blogging is hosting a post-a-day-or-so something related to or inspired by Faith. Because so many of you follow both this blog and CATNIPblog Peggy & I will post our “dailies” here and Sunday “retrospectives” on CATNIPblog.com
The hashtag is #bahaiblogging.