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Energy and mass, the equation states, are different forms of the same thing—another validation of what has become nearly indisputable: Everything in the universe is connected to everything else in the universe.
But what had never occurred to me before is another implication of Einstein’s equation: Matter is just energy that has been slowed way, way down (M=E/C2).
Which led me to wonder, why would the universe want to slow energy down? What function or purpose would that serve? (Yes, I subscribe to the theory that ours is an intelligent and intentional universe.)
Well, what happens when we slow down? For one thing, we tend to become more reflective… to assess, to ask questions, and to ponder and think more deeply.
Then it occurred to me that perhaps that is exactly what the universe intended. The universe slowed down energy so that it could develop for
itself the capacity for reflective thought, a capacity that is of course the
defining attribute of the human species. We are not only conscious, we are conscious
that we are conscious. We know that we know.
Now, for most of human history we have turned our universe-given capacity for reflective thought outward. We have used it to investigate, understand and
manipulate our physical world, resulting in creations both wondrous and
frightening—including the ability to annihilate ourselves in the blink of an
For anyone truly interested in human survival, our task now must be to turn our reflective capacity inward—to better understand the mind and
psyche of a species willing to bring itself to the edge of extinction, yet also
capable of choosing a much different path, one leading to a more just and
sustainable world for all.
Which brings me, briefly, to the famous Swiss psychiatrist and mystic, Carl Jung.
One of Jung’s great contributions was to make explicit the connection between our inner state and our outer world…to show that being split and at war on the outside, is a manifestation of being split and at war on the inside.
The role of the peacemaker—what I would prefer to call the new warrior—is to heal the split within. And it requires as much energy, courage, commitment
and sacrifice as that old kind of warrior of whom we have seen and know too
In wars between peoples, we break things down so that, hopefully, we may build them up again anew. We tear down barriers, annihilate resistance and, in the words of one veteran of the Vietnam War, “destroy villages to save them.”
The war within has a similar energy (just as Einstein’s equation says it must!). But the barriers we are breaking down are the mental barriers we place
between ourselves and another. The resistance we are annihilating is our own
resistance to the reality of the world before us. And the village we are
destroying is that of an obsolete and limited identity, so that a new, more
expanded identity may arise, one that is more inclusive of those with whom we
share a common home.
None of these thoughts are new. For ages the wisest among us have called humankind to this inner adventure, so that we may birth a more mature, more loving human species.
But even today, too few are heeding the call. We need to make the call louder, so that those with ears to hear, may hear.