Newton’s first law of motion: “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
We are here. We find ourselves here on this rock in space, spinning, whirring, gazing outward into the distance with minds full of questions, hearts full of hope and fear, and this plaguing curiosity. What is it all about? What is it for? We look more closely into the eternity of ever smaller particle of matter for answers, and all that is found is more space.
I am not going to be able to satiate this kind of curiosity in my lifetime. Many have tried. Many claim they know the answers to these questions. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.
For now, let’s revel in that curiosity. I mean, what if you and I, together, combine that curiosity into a focused beam or thought and active seeking. What if we gather others with us and bear down together into a blazing beam of curiosity, focused on poking through the opaque mysteries and darkness that we are surrounded by?
One of my favorite Philosophers is Baruch de Spinoza. He was a curious fellow who also gazed with intensity into the ether. He ground lenses for both microscopes and telescopes. In his day, he was the best. Tragically, his lens grinding led to his death. He breathed in too much glass dust.
I pose the question: instead of asking, “What does it all mean?” we should be asking the question, “What does it all mean, to ME?” In other words, how does my understanding of all of this affect my life and the way I conduct myself through it. Spinoza thought this way. His brain was a beautiful lens through which to see existence. Luckily for us, he wrote many of his thoughts down in his most masterful work called, “Ethics.” Ha! Can you believe that?!? A physicist philosopher who focuses his attention on the minute details of the microscopic world and the grandiose magnitude of our universe wrote a book on how you and I should conduct ourselves through life.
What if our emotional world, our mental world, even our spiritual world were run on the same kind of rules and laws as the physical world? Spinoza believed this was this case. He believed that our mental world and our physical world were connected and sprung from the same source. He believed that similar invisible forces were at play in our daily interactions with one another as were at play when physical bodies of matter interact.
We call this interaction of bodies of mass inertia. Without inertia all things would cease movement. Without movement we have no time. Time is the interaction of matter through space. It is by this interaction that time not only exists but is also measured.
Ok…. I’m kind of traveling out there a bit. Apologies…
What am I getting at?
What I do affects you. There is no mystery here. Of all of the curiosities in nature, none are more naturally known than our relational pains and joys. The pain of loss, rejection, when someone you care for acts out angrily… these are real. They are more real to us than the stars. The joy of birth, love, acceptance. Nothing puts fire in our bellies like these.
Spinoza believed in a kind of first mover God. This God did not participate in the day-to-day inter-workings of what happened within its universe. This God just caused it to start. Once started, the clockwork of creation began to unfold. Some things were chaotic, others were in sync. Eventually, we humans popped up. In this framework, we are just effects of that initial cause. What happens in our lives is just a domino effect of that initial starting point. This is called “determinism.”
This is where I begin to deviate. I don’t want to waste a bunch of your time with a build up and a punch line. So, here early in this blog I am going to kind of let you into my personal thoughts on this.
I do think that Spinoza is onto something. Our inner workings and our relational existences are certainly parallels to the physical world. If my actions are negative toward a person, their response is negative. If my action is positive, same.
Here is the meat of this, friends. How you act impacts the world around you, which impacts you back. There are naturals laws to how this thing clicks along. In religion we find good vs. evil. In ethical philosophy we state right vs. wrong. In aesthetics we discover harmony vs. dissonance. In physics we encounter chaos vs. order.
I believe that this is the core of what makes us human. I DO believe that we have a Choice in how things play out, at least to a small extent, and at least in our own lives. That Choice is determined by all of the little choices we make. Those are of course influenced by the inertia received by others.
Newton’s Second Law of Motion: “The force acting on an object is equal to the mass of that object times its acceleration.”
This simply means that there is a relationship between the body impacting and the body being impacted upon. For me, the parallel this draws to the way we go about living our lives is, if we allow the bad things that happen to impact us be bigger than us, they will push us to moving in alignment with them. If good, the same, I believe that choice plays a role here. It is IMPOSSIBLE to not be impacted by what comes at us. It is impossible to control the mass and velocity of the things heading our way. We cannot dodge them, but we can prepare for them. We must be followers of the good. We must be instruments of order, and working toward harmony. This has to be a thoughtful goal and one that we are entrenched in for life. When we get knocked around and out of sync from that we have to create good and build our own inertia. I think we have that power, because I have seen this power at work.
Small people can gather large amounts of inertia behind them and move incredibly large masses toward order from chaos. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and the list goes on. These were people who were hit hard by massive social inertia that was big and traveling at them fast! But, they took the blow and they moved contrary to what physics would deem they should have. They gathered that momentum and converted the negative energy into a positive movement. How is that possible?
This is where we begin to tap into what it all means “to me.” How things interact affect our understanding an thus our knowledge of how we should act.
I do believe in a spiritual force. We will get into more of this later.
I hope this was clear and not too drawn out. I hope it satisfied some curiosity, replacing it with more, and more aligned and focused curiosity to my own. I hope the direction this is going in is intriguing to you and that you stick around. I think you will be glad you did later on. My next blog will be titled, “Gravity” I believe. I can’t wait to start on it!
I am writing this free-form. I started this blog about an hour ago, did not edit much, and had no one else read it. I hope it was coherent enough to follow, If not: COMMENT SECTION FTW!
July 9, 2015 at 5:21 am
This is very well written and easy to follow. I totally agree with Spinoza’s concept of a first mover God, but like you, do think we have control over at least our own lives. It is clear we are capable of making positive or negative decisions. Your entry really hit a point that I am personally working on right now, which is consciously putting positive energy into all I do. It’s not as easy as it seems and certainly does not come naturally for me. I am just interested to see how my own efforts might affect my life. Thanks for the additional push and information!
July 9, 2015 at 2:08 pm
It seems to me that life boils down to relationships – in one form or another – and not just animal life. Plant life requires relationships too. It’s all relevant.
If life cannot exist without relationships then our primary objective (besides producing turds) is gaining acceptance. For me it becomes a balancing act between maintaining those relationships I deem crucial, or even helpful, and serving my own needs as an individual.
In that sense “God” is truly (for me) that cause an effect produced by the relationships I nurture (knowingly or otherwise)
July 9, 2015 at 2:51 pm
I very much agree with you in many ways. Relationship is at the core of this. I still think that even here, relationship is not the end, but a means to an end. I don’t think that meaning stops there, is what I am getting at.
July 9, 2015 at 6:07 pm
Ok so its probably safe to assume that you’re thinking beyond the obvious need to survive, so we’ll have to explore the way(s) in which our presence serves a need. Kinda hard to imagine earth’s ecosystem requires our presence, unless it just needs us to balance out all of the beauty that surrounds us. What about the universe? If we are flees to the earth, what does that make us to the universe?
July 9, 2015 at 8:56 pm
Here I am not yet hashing out “why we are” or “what we are” but rather “how we are since we are.”
Stay tuned for more, and hopefully we can work our way through the how we are acting, and lead ourselves toward why.