Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Before we speculate on the future of the Internet, let us go back deep in time, very deep indeed, just close to the beginning of the universe itself. I came across this amazing video from YouTube about the “Hubble Ultra Deep Field:”

It makes us wonder about what it is all about and why things are what they are right now, doesn’t it? The Hubble was pointed to an area in the sky where there was apparently nothing, but in the end it found out that this area was full of very distant galaxies, and as they are very distant they look very old from our perspective, so old that the light traveling from them shifted the wavelengths and they appear reddish to us. This phenomenon also corroborates the theory that the universe is expanding at a very fast rate, and they say in the video that it is faster than the speed of light itself.

This naturally makes us wonder. On the one hand we realize that we are just a tiny speck in the universe, but on the other, does the light from these distant galaxies are traveling toward “us”? It surely seems to be because we are the ones who are watching this video right now and are reflecting on the meaning of it all. So even if we are a tiny speck, we seem to be at the center of it all because we are thinking about it. The fact that we are conscious makes all the difference.

So what does the Buddhist say about this issue? The message of the Buddha is nothing if not directed toward the mind, toward realization of how to become one with reality such that we are released from the bondage of suffering. There is always a human dimension in the teaching. So it is well and good that we are perceive all these distant galaxies but the really important message  should be how these images point to our own realization inside ourselves. We are looking deeper and deeper at the outside, but are we beginning to look any deeper into the inside? Are we looking at our minds?

After all, it is our minds that comprehend the vastness of the univese and marvel at it. But what is more marvellous is our mind itself. In the end, however, there is not much difference between the two. Hubble ultra deep field may satisfy our curiosity, in the same way as vistas of unseen geographical regions satisfied the curiosity of our forefathers a century ago. We want to know what is out there. That is why we went to the North Pole and sent out subs to explore the ocean floor. But all these explorations would come to nothing if we do not explore the mind. If we keep on searching the outside, some part of ourselves will always be missing. Before long these images from Hubble will cease to be exciting and then we will crave more and more. More images, deeper resolution, going deeper in space and time, build a large telescope, and so on.

This is not a bad thing in itself. But if we do not accompany these yearnings by looking deeper at our mind, then we won’t be any different from what we are right now. We will still be yearning, suffering creatures we used to be even with much more powerful telescopes than the Hubble.

So the feeling we have, the sense of spirituality we feel through looking at these deep space images perhaps shows that there is a connection between the outside and the inside. We need to stop and reflect more and be more sensitive to what this feeling tells us. If we keep on doing so, perhaps one day we may arrive at a deja vu, things we have been yearning to see turning out to be what is already there in us all along.