This morning while riding my bike, I stopped to admire the morning sun breaking through clouds and thought, “How spontaneous the sun is in the streaming of its own life! I wish I could do that.”
Then it occurred to me that I was doing that. The atoms in my skull were doing what the atoms in the sun were doing, but they were bounding forth with a different sort of light–the light of consciousness.
My neurons were firing, making me not just aware, but aware of my desires. They were driving me forward at the same time that the sun’s core was driving the sun’s light outward. It was all part of the same dance.
Then I thought of this passage from Don DeLillo’s novel, White Noise:
Who knows what I want to do? Who knows what anyone wants to do? How can you be sure about something like that? Isn’t it all a question of brain chemistry, signals going back and forth, electrical energy in the cortex? How do you know whether something is really what you want to do or just some kind of nerve impulse in the brain? Some minor little activity takes place somewhere in this unimportant place in one of the brain hemispheres and suddenly I want to go to Montana or I don’t want to go to Montana.
But what is making my neurons fire? Being made of atoms–and therefore connected to the other atoms in my head and to all the atoms outside my head in what Buddhists call each moment’s “mutually interdependent arising”–doesn’t it follow that the whole cosmos is making them fire–making me fire–and making the sun fire?
This is more than just saying, as Carl Sagan used to, that I am “star stuff” (the evolved product of carbon atoms sloughed off from long dead stars). No. I am that, but I’m also more than that. I am the cosmos on fire. I am an identifiable star radiating awareness like the sun radiates light.
And it’s not just me. You too have neurons that are firing away because of the activity of atoms (which are in turn connected to other jostling atoms, and so on). You and I are two of the emergent properties of the whole cosmos, exactly as a star is. When you look at the sun, you’re seeing what the cosmos is doing. And when you look in the mirror, you’re seeing the same thing.
Each moment of time is a flash of interconnected cosmic sunlight spanning all of creation. You see a part of it–this current iteration of passing energy–from one point-of view, and you yourself are an expression of it as well. We are all part of the spontaneous “bop prosody” (to hijack a phrase from Kerouac). “All the world’s a stage” and we’re on it. The sun. You. Me. We’re all playing jazz and being played by jazz; an interdependent, mutual arising; a hippie happening; the collective atomic friblibop of now.
And now. And now. And even now. (To echo Iago in Othello).
We are the Suns–our family name. “Good morning, brother Sun. Hello, sister Cloud. I too am out today.” St. Francis had the right intuition. Everyone and everything is family and shining. The Big Bang is now. Suns are everywhere. Creation is as fresh at this moment as at the first. At the end of Kubrick’s 2001, the tripped-out astronaut peering into the monolith says, “It’s full of stars.” Wow-we.
I have heard quite a bit about Don DeLio. I haven’t picked up any of his books. Would you recommend White Noise, another or none at all?
White Noise is a thinner book than, say, Underworld, and so is the best place to probably start with him.