Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Expanding Universe


This morning I read the attached article in the NY Times, which to me, is simply an amazing piece...conjecturing what human beings or other future inhabitants will be able to determine about the universe billions of years from now. What folly, what arrogance, what blindness we suffer. The author is saddened because humans will not be able to tell that the universe is expanding. He thinks we "know something" that other astronomers will miss in 100 billion years.

There is a great line: James Peebles, a Princeton cosmologist, said there are more pressing worries. We might be headed toward a universe that is “asymptotically empty,” he said, “But I have the uneasy feeling that the U.S.A. is headed into asymptotic futility well before that.” (like a couple billion years before that, perhaps, like now maybe???)

As my practice seems stifled and even withering, this article brings me to a new level of incomprehension. How we fill our lives with "knowing", "understanding", and "teaching", in order to escape the reality of the emptiness we are faced with- not 100 billion years from now, not tomorrow, but right now, this very moment (and which is indeed our birthright and our “redemption”). How desperately I try to convey what I know, what I’ve seen, what I’ve experienced. How I strive to create something that expresses “who I am”. How I search for someone who “understands” or “recognizes” me. And how I nod in appreciation when Nancy says, “The apple never falls far from the tree!” when she is commenting on how much my son is like me (and she is usually not applauding my “better” attributes!)

It's funny, really, that I should read this Times article now, after i've spent the morning with an issue of Aperture magazine (number 95 Summer 1984) called “Minor White, A Living Remembrance”. He stressed concentration and awareness in his movement through life and in the creative process- returning to right now, this present moment. Connecting to Minor White's ideas of photography- the capturing of surfaces but then using the resulting image to delve deeply inward, beyond the surface, leading ultimately (if the photo is good and the viewer receptive) to evoke the unity or the co-arising nature of our lives. I hope this is exactly what my images of people in Lebanon, Palestine, and the Gulf Coast are useful for- to evoke an physical, visceral response, to feel it in your bones or muscles or organs and then to step beyond the feeling of the emotional state that is aroused into what I would dare call the “soul” or “spirit” of our lives. But does this, in fact, bring us closer to any "truth"? When the search for this truth or the attempt to express it reaffirms how “smart” we are, how "in tune" we are, or how deep our "deep understanding" flows, (whether this reaffirmation is consciously or unconsciously manifested), we just delve so much further into our own ignorance and delusion. For some, this trap is never recognized. Perhaps, at least, they die happy, feeling they have "achieved" something. For me, the ache just deepens.

The Buddha said he taught just one thing, that there is suffering and an end to suffering. How I hope to learn that lesson well!

Love, JB

NY Times article can be found here: