The Universe in One Flower, Bodhi With One Thought
Translation and Rewriting by Lan Ma
Reflections on the Interconnectedness of the Universe
A flower contains the complete Universe. Any one of us is only a compassionate thought away from being Buddha.
The Universe is one. We are all equally important parts of it. Whether you are aware of it or not, all parts of the Universe interact constantly. The seemingly most insignificant movement in the Universe exerts impact on all of us. Likewise, the most fleeting flicker of the mind can change our lives and the entire Universe. Want a world that’s more beautiful? Beautify your own actions, words and thoughts. A more pleasing world will result.
The Cell Nucleus
The world we live in is blessed with many wonders, one of the most marvelous being the regenerative abilities of certain animals and plants. Some primitive animals, like the earthworm, flatworm, hydra, starfish and sponge, after being torn apart are able to grow into a complete individual from a fragment if conditions are suitable. Similar capability abounds in the plant world. Break a healthy branch off a willow tree. Plant it. You will have a beautiful willow sapling next year.
This sort of regenerative phenomenon had not existed in mammals – until the cloning birth of a sheep named Dolly. The cloning of Dolly from a single adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer, broke the taboo of natural regeneration of mammals. The cell used as the donor for the cloning of Dolly was taken from a mammary gland, and the production of a healthy clone therefore proved that a cell taken from a specific part of the body could recreate a whole individual. The reason that such re-creation is possible is because a small cell nucleus preserves the complete genetic information of an entire mammal, like the embryo cell does.
From Parts, A Whole: The Whole Is Alive in all Parts.
Indeed, it is wondrous that a single cell nucleus, about seven microns in size, can actually preserve the complete genetic information of an entire organism, and grow into a whole, individual being under suitable conditions. From parts, a whole: The whole is alive in all parts. This is the fundamental truth of our Universe.
The same applies to human bodies. Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.), fondly called “the Father of Western Medicine,” asserted more than 2,000 years ago that observing specific aspects of the appearance of patients could serve to forecast disease. An ancient Chinese medical text, The Inner Canon of Yellow Emperor, also pointed out that the five senses and five internal organs (heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney) have corresponding relationships.
Two forms of widely used alternative medicine, reflexology and acupuncture, advocate that the hands, feet, ears, upper arms, calves and even tongue contain certain echo areas of corresponding internal organs. When these internal organs fall ill, massaging or applying acupuncture to the corresponding echo areas can treat or alleviate the illness.
The relationship between human beings and our world is interactive. One affects the other. Hippocrates believed that the natural environment exerts significant influence on human health. A city’s physical position, soil, climate, wind direction and water source are closely related to the health and disease of a person. On top of that, a patient’s diet and lifestyle are also very important in the prevention and treatment of diseases. This happens to be the same view held by ancient Eastern wisdom. The Inner Canon of Yellow Emperor stressed that the human body and Nature are closely related and inalienable. To maintain good health one should not only pay attention to diet, but also live harmoniously with Nature.
Furthermore, all living things on Earth share extremely interesting similarities. For example, the chemical structure of chlorophyll in plants and hemoglobin in animals is very similar. The chemical principles of the breathing process in animals and plants are basically the same. The brain, heart, liver, stomach, kidney and other corresponding organs of human beings and other animals share similar biological characteristics, thus rendering hetero-transplantation possible. All animals on Earth have a “biological clock” that circulates once every 24 hours, corresponding with the Earth’s rotation. These examples are only the tips of the iceberg. Modern science has already proven that humanity and Nature are interdependent, mutually influential parts of an integral whole: our Universe.
A Holographic Rose
Now let’s examine the vast cosmos again. Our present cosmos encompasses multiple revolving structures. The solar system centers on the Sun. Nine planets revolve around it, each planet also maintaining its own rotation. The Milky Way centers on its silvery nucleus for its own rotation, but the whole Milky Way – including its nucleus – also revolves around a central core. This reminds us of the atom: Although the atom is small, in its interior, electrons revolve around the central atomic nucleus, which amazingly resembles the way the solar system operates around the Sun.
Meteorite research pointed out that organic matter that led to the formation of life existed before the Earth came about. The discovery that organic molecules exist in interplanetary space indicates that the chemical potential for life – or life itself – may exist throughout the cosmos. This discovery points to the fact that life is not unique to Earth and that we just simply have not yet been able to find it in outer space.
All of these phenomena keep reminding us that everything is interconnected and intertwined. Scientists have proposed many hypotheses to explain this, one of which is the “Holographic Hypothesis.” It is a key principle of quantum gravity which speculates that it is possible to obtain information about the bulk of a system, such as a black hole, from the surface of that system.
The “Holographic Hypothesis” originated from holography. Holography is a technique enabling three-dimensional images to be created. It involves the use of a laser, interference, diffraction, light intensity recording, and suitable illumination of the recording. The image changes as the position and orientation of the viewing system change in exactly the same way as if the actual object were still present, thus making the image appear three-dimensional.
Assume that we utilized holography to photograph a rose. If we were to cut this holographic rose in half, we would discover with amazement that the image of the rose is complete in either half. From either half, the original 3-D image of the rose can be recreated. Divide these images again and again, infinitely. Each fragment can still recreate the complete 3-D image of the original rose.
Let us ponder this phenomenon: The whole can be divided into infinite, seemingly unrelated parts, yet each part still contains the total information of the whole. It is not difficult to associate this with the fact that the human body is comprised of innumerable cells, yet each cell contains the complete information of the entire human body.
We can also apply this phenomenon to the cosmos. According to the “Big Bang Theory,” our cosmos originated from one singular point of time and spatial dimension. About 14 billion years ago, this internally blazing singular point started the accelerated expansion, the resulting explosion of which formed our galaxy. It is hard to imagine that myriad objects originated from this single point in time and space, but when you ponder the seemingly unfathomable interconnectedness and similarity of our cosmos as depicted throughout this article, all of a sudden, it seems to be the only possible explanation. Therefore, some scientists have boldly postulated that our Universe is holographic, meaning that any fragment of any of its elements contains the total information to recreate the whole. Any object, although seemingly independent and self-contained, is actually interconnected and intertwined with everything else. Each atom contains the totality of the history of the entire Universe’s evolution. Simply put, the rose foretells our entire world. The holographic image of a single, long-stemmed flower reminds us of the “total informational” nature of our cosmos.
Two Particles, One Butterfly
The interdependency, and interconnected nature, of the components of any constructs of the cosmos exist not only at the macroscopic level. It manifests at the microscopic level which evades the naked eye.
Approximately 40 years ago, scientists discovered an interesting fact: After certain interactions with each other, two particles travel in opposite directions. But no matter how far away they get, they can still sense each other’s state of being. If one changes direction, the other will follow suit.
Scientists are figuring out ways to utilize this telepathic ability of particles to achieve the high-speed transmission of information. High-speed information transmission has been successfully conducted between single particles within 100 kilometers of each other. With the leaps and bounds being achieved in the application of quantum physics, transporting material objects, even human beings, instantaneously through space and time could become reality in the foreseeable future.
Although such research is still limited at the microscopic level, the telepathic connection between particles is not foreign to us. Similar connections happen regularly among people, animals and Nature. Cases in point: a lover’s spontaneous utterance of the same words as you were just thinking; people prophetically dreaming of their parents’ passing; a mother’s agitation while at work at the exact moment her baby fell out of bed; one twin being hurt physically, while the other twin felt the same pain at the corresponding place on their body; animals’ anxiety right before a major earthquake, possibly leading to massive migration. Maybe the fact that all things contained in our galaxy came from the same source, and that all the particles making up the cosmos are intrinsically intertwined, underlie such telepathic connection. Maybe all things are enabled with high-speed information transmission. When one element changes, the message is transmitted instantly, catalyzing changes in all things connected.
Subtle connections between myriad objects define the nature of our cosmos. This is figuratively described as the “Butterfly Effect.” A butterfly’s wings create minute impact on the air current, causing the air around the creature to change. A series of chain reactions ensue, eventually causing momentous, far-reaching transformations.
Let’s look at a human example of the ‘Butterfly Effect’. One person started to dislike a man named Joe. Through gossip or other means of bullying, this dislike spread, and more and more people detested him. Pretty soon, Joe could do no right in the eyes of all around him. He promptly developed depression then fell seriously ill. He could no longer support his family. His son could no longer afford to go to school. He led a hard life and resorted to bitterness and violence, eventually committing a heinous crime. Remember, this destruction of a person’s life all started with a seemingly harmless “dislike” for trivial reasons.
On the contrary, if we face the world with compassion and empathy, it not only helps to bring us peace, but also a little beauty to the world. When legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was little, he fell into a bog. A farmer saved him, but refused to accept any reward. Churchill’s father was greatly touched. He offered the farmer’s son the opportunity to have a great education. The son later invented the miracle drug penicillin, which contributed significantly to improving the life expectancy of human beings. Penicillin eventually saved Churchill’s life when he contracted pneumonia. Churchill then proceeded to play a pivotal, world-altering role during WWII, making a great contribution to world peace.
No matter how seemingly insignificant our intentions are, through the “Butterfly Effect” they might go on to produce extremely auspicious or ruinous consequences. Regardless of how inconsequential we believe our actions to be, they form the heartaches and headaches of human existence. The Universe is interconnected and mutually influential. By staying constantly conscious and mindful of our every thought and action, we inevitably influence people and the outcomes around us, altering our own fate in the process.
The Present’s Impact on the Future and the Past
There is another interesting fact about two particles that have had interactions: If the exchange of information between them were intercepted, both of them would immediately change the form of their interaction. The interference in the state of their interaction affects the state of information exchange.
Quantum physics posits that when an object is being observed, some aspect of it will change. The presence of the observer, or even the instrument performing or recording the observation, will alter the result of the observation. The so-called “reality” that the observer was trying to establish always bears the impact of the observation itself. Therefore, there is no such thing as static or absolute objective “reality.” The presence of the observer and the observation itself makes such a concept impossible.
From here, it is not difficult to arrive at the conclusion that we can only exist in the context of interaction with our environment and our world. The perspective we choose to hold while we observe or interact inevitably determines, at least to a certain degree, the outcome.
What’s more incredible is the famous quantum physics experiment called the “Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment.” It proved that, at the microcosmic level, it is possible for the observer to alter the present, and to influence the outcome of both the future and the past.
This paradigm-shifting experiment resulted in many interpretations. One of them was the concept of the parallel Universe, which posits that every time we make a decision, we create our own parallel Universe with its unique past and future. Another theorem stemming from this famous experiment, the “Interference Universe,” states that every time we insert ourselves into the affairs of our environment, either by observing or actively participating, we are altering not only the present and the future, but also influencing how we arrived at the present: our past.
It is hard to comprehend the magical power of intention. Why don’t we choose to treat the world with compassion and sincerity in order to change ourselves, and therefore the world around us? When we internalize the fact that we are only a single compassionate thought away from being Buddha, the world will be filled with more joy and contentment.