Thornton Wilder, in his classic work, “Our Town,” anticipated this larger consciousness long ago when he wrote about Grover’s Corners being in North America, Western Hemisphere, Plant Earth, Solar System, and ultimately, The Mind of God. But the best Wilder could do in his time was to paint the picture for us in words. Still, I have always found this particular passage transportative. It never fails to take me off planet, into the Big Picture of my place in the Universe, as part of a wholeness, a holiness of such scope and scale as to transcend words. But, we all know how we feel when we just stand outside on a chill, clear winter night and fall in love with the stars all over again. At these moments, we transcend local, regional, national and international boundaries. We simply are part of a larger whole that we recognize with all our senses.
A friend just returned from a trip to India to attend the 80th birthday party for the great teacher, Sai Baba. He mentioned that there were people there of all races, all nationalities, all languages, a million plus, converging in a small Indian country town. He spoke of the complete unity, the friendship, the fellowship. A million plus Travelers and Seekers bound by a common faith and practice. No limits. No boundaries. And he also spoke of what it was like to be in a British Airways jet, flying over Iraq and Iran, realizing that there was a terrible struggle going on just 35,000 feet below, where human beings were fighting to protect their homeland. He said it was a very strange feeling, like looking in on history in the making.
A few years ago, I flew down to Panama on a business trip. Airplane travel always fills me with awe. It is a modern day magic carpet as far as I am concerned, and I will never lose my innocence about the miracle of being whisked over continents and oceans to the earth’s remotest bounds, in mere hours. It was a peaceful morning as we flew south from Dallas over Mexico, and then the pilot announced in passing that we were flying over Nicaragua. Nicaragua! Having at one time immersed myself in a study of the horrendous struggles that have shaken these Central American countries, I felt a sense of awe. Nicaragua! But as I looked out the airplane window, I realized that I could not tell where Nicaragua began or ended. There was just an endless green carpet of rain forest and jungle. No superimposed lines marking national boundaries. Instead, there was just primeval forest, rolling out for miles and miles. I began to wonder how we got so caught up in all of our boundaries, after all? Who drew these maps that said a country begins here and ends there, and if the people’s of each country disagree on boundaries, they feel they have grounds to kill each other? How very strange this all is!
I often think of a comment made by one of the early Earth Astronauts (literally “Star Sailors”) who said how moved to tears he was when they flew around and around the Earth. He said that there were just “no boundaries, no boundaries at all.” And he realized that it is only humans who have drawn national lines and divided things up according to often arbitrary and quite unreasonable standards. He said he just couldn’t get over the beauty and unity of our home planet, and wanted to share this message with the world, as a plea for peace, and more cooperation between nations and peoples. Because in truth, all of our boundaries are man-made, ultimately, in the larger scheme of the Universe, signifying nothing.
Our recent access to Google.Earth is of great significance, because in a virtual environment we now have at our fingertips the ability to fly our Virtual Vimanas far and wide over the planet. We can visit Everest, soar over the rain forests of Brazil, skim the Coral Sea, look down on the Pyramids. We can fly like the gods described in the ancient Vedas, the Old Testament, and the Greek myths. Technology has put us into space ships, where like the ancient travelers and explorers, we can experience an opening of consciousness that is truly evolutionary. We can look down on the home planet, and discover that… it is us!
The famous photograph of Earth as seen from the moon took us off planet for a sense of our place in the planetary and universal scheme of things. The wondrous Hubble Space Telescope photos take us even further out into space, for glorious glimpses of territory we will travel in future centuries. But Google.Earth brings us back in for some close ups, that we may perhaps come to see what the American Astronaut saw: No boundaries. And maybe this will provide useful meditations on the great need for unity and peaceful cooperation, to save and protect Earth’s peoples and its ecosystems. I can think of no more perception-changing experience than getting into this new space-chip, and traveling anywhere we want to go, with a goal of discovering Earth as she was intended to be seen: without boundaries, without borders. One planet. One people.
And perhaps in this “new seeing,” we will lose our fear enough to reach out to our fellow space travelers, and have the courage to break down some of those ancient boundaries of thought and prejudice. Isn’t that what we really want these Holy Days to do for us, as the Sun King symbolically dies into the Southern Hemisphere, and is resurrected in Light? Isn’t this what the Christ-Mass, in its essence, celebrates? This is the time of year that we embrace the idea of peace for all mankind. And now we have Google Earth as a prayer-tool, to take us up into the heavens, so we can look down to earth, and out to space, to refresh out love for our planet, and renew our commitment to become a Guardian and Protector of her well-being and success. This is the time of year when we have traditions, passed down through thousands of years, to affirm earth’s beauty and our own high potential.
In her book, "The Art Experience," Artist Vicci Sperry shares this thought on the power of beauty: “The power of beauty is revealed in the words of the great Russian astronaut, Leonov, the first man who stepped out into space:’How bright it is – how incredibly beautiful! When he was asked if he had been afraid, he replied that he was so enthralled by the radiant beauty of color that there was no place for any other feelings – that it was so ‘incredibly beautiful’ he forgot to be afraid."