(Published in Spiritually Speaking The Daily Guardian August 31, 2020)
“The cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.” —Carl Sagan, US astrophysicist and creator of the hit TV show ‘Cosmos’.
A lot has been discovered since the time Carl Sagan passed away in 1996. We now know that there it most likely at least one planet around every star in the universe. That is a lot of planets and stars. For us to understand our cosmos and our role in it, we should start by looking inside our own selves. Is the material cosmos a smaller part of a larger energetic and spiritual cosmos? It could be. But first, let us look at some mind-boggling numbers.
There are over 7.8 billion human beings on planet Earth, as per August 2020. Let us take that number as 8 billion. That seems like a lot of people, doesn’t it? But it is insignificant compared to the number of stars in our Milky Way galaxy. There are 400 billion stars in our galaxy. Divide 400 by 8 and you get 50. That means there are 50 stars in our galaxy for every human being on planet Earth! That is right. Imagine the size and vastness of the galaxy. Imagine how many places and things there are and how many intelligent forms of life must be out there.
Macrocosm and microcosm
The good news is that the Milky Way is not the only galaxy. Latest estimates by astronomers put the number of galaxies in the ‘known’ universe at about 2 trillion i.e. 2,000,000,000,000 and on an average each galaxy has a few hundred billion stars. And according to what we know now, each one of those stars should have at least one planet.
The way the universe is made is orderly. All of these 2 trillion odd galaxies are not just randomly floating in space. They are arranged into clusters and superclusters. Our own Milky Way galaxy is a part of the Laniakea supercluster of galaxies. It is mind boggling to think of the immensity of the universe outside the earth.
But wait a minute! This immensity of the macrocosm of the universe is mind boggling but equally mind boggling is the fact that the microcosm is equally if not even vaster. Did you know that an average 70 kg human being is made up of about 7×1027 (7,000,0 00,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000) (that is 7 Octillion) atoms! In each breath, there are trillions of atoms exchanged. Also it is estimated that we have about 10 trillion cells inside of us.
That is way more than the estimated number of stars in the known universe which if you take 2 trillion galaxies and the average number of stars as 100 billion per galaxy comes to 2 x 1023 or 200 sextillion stars! To give you an idea of the sheer magnitude of these numbers — there are more stars in the known universe than the total number of grains of sand on every beach on planet earth.
But the number of atoms in one single human being is much more. In fact it is 35,000 (7 octillion divided by 200 sextillion) times more than the estimated number of stars in the known universe! So our bodies are grander universes in themselves.
About 96 per cent of the universe is either dark matter or dark energy. Now we all know that we live in a universe of energy. There is something beyond the material seeable universe. There is an entire energetic and spiritual plane of existence. But where is this? Can we actually know it and can it be discovered or at least do we have a hint of this huge colossal spiritual universe?
Actually, we do. It is now known that despite the hugeness of the whole universe with all its trillions of galaxies, stars, planets and all — all of this so-called ‘material’ universe comprises only 4 percent of the universe’s mass. Approximately, 23 percent is ‘dark matter’ and 73 percent is ‘dark energy’. Here ‘dark’ refers to unseeable, undetectable and unknown. The nature of these two things is unknown to scientists at the moment but they know that these things not only exist but that together they comprise 96 per cent of the known universe. Imagine that!
The same applies to the microcosm as well. If you look at the atomic structure, most of the mass is inside the nucleus but that comprises a tiny percent of the atom’s size. Plus there is a huge distance between each atom in terms of the tiny atomic scale. You can say that most of the atomic world consists of ‘emptiness’.
What if even all of this is just one large part of something much bigger? Well, modern science says that this entire universe itself could be just one out of possibly infinity of other universes which collectively can be called the ‘multiverse’. So the cosmos (remember the quote by Carl Sagan in the beginning of this article) could be way bigger than what we originally thought.
We are Godstuff
“The Kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 17:21 of the Bible. When the creation of the Cosmos took place, the raw materials had to come from somewhere. It is too simplistic to say that they “just came” out of nowhere. The basic building blocks of the entire Universe are the same three subatomic particles — protons, neutrons and electrons. There is absolutely no difference between the protons, neutrons and electrons in you and the chair you sit on. They are the same. There is fundamentally no difference between anything when it comes to the basic building blocks that make everything. This is important to note because it immediately makes you feel the “oneness” of all things throughout the cosmos.
So, the creative power that made the entire cosmos had to have used “itself” as the basic “stuff” that made the protons, neutrons and electrons as well as the almost unimaginable energy that goes into every single atom of creation. So not only are we (as the late astronomer Carl Sagan loved to say) “starstuff”, but we are all “Godstuff” that has been mixed and matched in different permutations and combinations and is made to interact with each other amidst the delusion that we are actually separate.
We are as separate as the individual drops in the ocean — which still retain their existence in some stretch of imagination, but at the same time, have merged with the larger entity called ocean. They still exist, but now as a part of a larger, more powerful being. Like the cells in your bodies are individual beings in their own sense — they have a fixed boundary or body, they are born, they reproduce, they absorb oxygen (so they breathe in a sense) and then they die. They may even have consciousness, but miniscule compared to the consciousness of a human being. Yet, our physical bodies are nothing more than a conglomerate of trillions of cells. Are we the single body or the sum total of trillions of cells?
So, what is 96% of reality?
Most of reality is unseen and unknown currently. Let us propose a theory. But first a quick reference to the world famous book written by Paramahansa Yogananda — Autobiography of a Yogi. In the chapter ‘The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar’, Yogananda tells us about the physical, astral and causal universes. The physical is the material universe, the astral (energetic) is more subtle and is the place the souls go to after leaving earth and the causal (spiritual) is even more subtle and more refined, this is where more advanced souls go and ultimately the highest plane of existence is the merging with God. Each one of these universes has its own sets of planets, stars, solar systems and galaxies.
I feel that this could be the answer to what is 96 percent of reality. Maybe ‘dark matter’ is the astral universe and ‘dark energy’ is the causal universe. Yogananda did also mention in the book that the physical is smaller than the astral and the astral is smaller than the causal.
If so then 96 per cent of the cosmos is spiritual and divine in nature and just waiting for us to explore it. The best part is we are our own spaceships in this regard. Meditation can give us glimpses into these vast energetic and spiritual realms. Go deep inside you, take a deep breath and explore the vastness of the glorious infinite realms within you!