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Borderline Mystics

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#1 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:28 PM

I think some of us, stargazers and scopists, suffer (enjoy) a condition I am going to call Borderline Mysticism.

Tonight, in the space of an hour I saw a blazing Draconoid and then saw an LBV (luminous blue variable) in a galaxy (NGC 7259) flaring some 60 million years ago.

This LBV is a star whose heat, luminosity, and size can only be represented by the expressions of size-language (numbers) around which our imaginations can not be stretched.

This star exploded in a repetitive outburst of energy when dinosaurs walked the earth.

This star's existence perhaps ended long before our kind became conscious.

And now after the object ceases to exist, and even longer after it did exist in all of its alien behavior...only now does a creature (us) come into existence who can be aware of being aware of the unimaginable immensity and loneliness of this event when it happened in its own time.

Not up there with the experience of the birth of my two children.

Not up there with the experience I had only a couple days ago on the feast day celebrating the death (birth into eternity)of St. Francis of Assisi. At the moment I read that witnesses reported larks began to sing just outside the room in which he died at the moment of his death; I became aware of larks singing outside the windown of my office; something I had never noticed or become aware of before.

Not quite up there with that photo on spaceweather.com today from Norway of a moonlit background, bioluminescent microbes in the foreground, and aurora in the background.

Not among these.

But pretty close.

#2 killdabuddha

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:57 PM

And now after the object ceases to exist, and even longer after it did exist in all of its alien behavior...only now does a creature (us) come into existence who can be aware of being aware of the unimaginable immensity and loneliness of this event when it happened in its own time.


Safe to say, then, that if we're determined to imprint upon "existence" some "purpose" or "aim," self-awareness is as good as any? But as mystics are generally understood as transcendentalists seeking blissful union, maybe it's enuf that we're transcendin spacetime toward reunification, or simply participatin in a cosmic dance as a variant of "ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny?" We know that we're not really separable from the universe, and sumtimes at the eyepiece I can forget that I think that I am distinct in any way.

#3 sg6

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:53 AM

Am I the only one that just feels cold? :roflmao: :roflmao:

#4 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 11:04 AM

No, I do too. It was freezing outside lastnight. I was out in it for four hours. Took me three hours in bed to finally warm up.

But, that's not what you meant. Was it?

Otto

#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 08:45 PM

Am I the only one that just feels cold? :roflmao: :roflmao:


Sometimes it's cold and tired... :)

But I find there is certainly a meditative aspect to viewing an the night sky through a telescope... It's not so much the wonder of it all or how long ago/far away it is but just that it is... How many times can I look at M7 and still find wonder in it...

Jon

#6 Dennis_S253

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:53 PM

Otto, what size scope you got? Or where you looking at hubble pics? It is amazing how we are just a grain of sand on a beach in the grand skeem of things.

#7 killdabuddha

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:03 PM

It is amazing how we are just a grain of sand on a beach in the grand skeem of things.


But we're not. We're the beach inasmuch as we're anything at all. How not? I often wonder how it is that we've come to think similarly of life in the universe. How far out of our way have we had to go to arrive at a place where we think that we're it, that we're all that there is of "intelligent life" failing sum further proof to the contrary. And even tho knowing what we do now about the physical processes by which the universe is producing us, we still insist that we're here, all alone, and the rest of "it" is out there sumwhere, removed. Sorry, but of that there neither is nor can be any evidence. Trouble is, we really believe or think that a grain of sand and its beach are separable. LOL. Even if you carry that grain away in yer shoe when you go home, how you gonna leave the universe?

#8 tecmage

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:43 PM

Carl Sagan used to say we are made of the stuff of stars.

#9 killdabuddha

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 09:12 AM

Carl Sagan used to say we are made of the stuff of stars.


Yes, and a lotta people before him did, too, even tho they didn't have the "scientific evidence/proof" to have been "correct" as we judge that today. But for our ancestors to have said, "We come from the stars," and for us to say, "We are made of dust," well, these can be two very different things. The first suggests a continuing process and an identification with it, an intimacy of belonging to this and of coming and going, but the second smacks of sum strange, sterile, "simple-past-completed tense" finality, cut off or far removed from those stars or from anything other than ourselves and maybe our parents. Both may be inevitable, but only the first can be correct, logically, scientifically or otherwise, as well as "psychologically welcoming" or "digestible," in its "present-continuous tense" form. I make the distinction not to be critical, but to be more accurate/precise about the profundity that confronts us and for our mutual edification. My apologies to those who may otherwise see the unlimited or present-continuous aspects of "being" in the confusing phrasing of Sagan's "are made."

#10 Steve Daniel

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 12:49 PM

For me, it's the feeling that matters, the feeling arising from me, in awareness, thinking about what I know of distances and sizes and times and structures, while at the same time perceiving beauty with senses, and coming up with awe, wonder, clarity, fear, hope, and love... and the realization that just one more eyepiece, one more piece of kit, another inch of diameter might lead to ... who knows what feeling! LOL

#11 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 02:05 PM

Hi Dennis,

I have three well-spaced optical tools; an 11X56 binocular, a 90mm F5 refractor, and a 12 inch dob. Nothing great. All good. The scopes 2nd hand.

Otto

#12 jrbarnett

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 04:08 PM

I don't think there's anything "borderline" about it.

There is no greater mystery than the how and why of the vast Universe around us. There is no more genuinely spiritual pursuit than applying one's consciousness and sentience, the great gift of the Cosmos to us alone on this rock, to contemplation of the nature of the Universe and our place and role within it.

Regards,

Jim

#13 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 05:15 PM

Your words were beautifully articulated, Jim.

Otto

P.S. An idea....what do you think of you/me/us starting a new thread here called, say "Mystical Moments", and invite people to share those observing/stargazing/scoping/experiences that touch their spirits?

#14 mountain monk

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:25 PM

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon...

Joni Mitchell

For me it is about wonder and beauty--even the science is derived from them, or rather the experience of them. What you pay attention to is what you experience, and what you experience becomes your life. Choose carefully.

Dark skies.

Jack

#15 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 09:24 AM

I like your words, Jack, that science is derived from wonder and beauty.

Otto

#16 csrlice12

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 09:30 AM


And now after the object ceases to exist, and even longer after it did exist in all of its alien behavior...only now does a creature (us) come into existence who can be aware of being aware of the unimaginable immensity and loneliness of this event when it happened in its own time.


Safe to say, then, that if we're determined to imprint upon "existence" some "purpose" or "aim," self-awareness is as good as any? But as mystics are generally understood as transcendentalists seeking blissful union, maybe it's enuf that we're transcendin spacetime toward reunification, or simply participatin in a cosmic dance as a variant of "ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny?" We know that we're not really separable from the universe, and sumtimes at the eyepiece I can forget that I think that I am distinct in any way.


Ah, but it has not ceased to exist, it has merely changed its form...Everything that was that sun still exists; it just doesn't exist in the same relationship it had before.

#17 Dennis_S253

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 09:43 AM

Wow, this is beginning to sound like a great song, lol.

#18 csrlice12

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 09:52 AM

More like a "Rain Dance", we're talking astronomy here....and the clouds are already forming at just spelling the word......

#19 cadfour

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:23 AM

I felt a drop, but I am not here to feel it.

#20 Stargazer2012

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 11:03 AM

For me it is the Wonder. It is the child within peering upward, wide-eyed and speechless beholding the majesty of all that Is.

When life presses in with concerns, it is the stars that put all things in perspective. They remind me that life is bigger than bills or the stress of everyday life. Many say we are nothing compared to such majesty, yet I am reminded that each of us have an important role to play, and that worth is not determined by size. Just look at the lowly ant.

When I consider the vast expanse of this limitless creation, I sense my soul being drawn into a dance older than time itself.

#21 killdabuddha

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 11:29 AM

I felt a drop, but I am not here to feel it.


Ah, the impermanence and illusoriness of all...reminds me of my other favorite joke...

The Buddha found himself really hungry after gaining enlightenment in a NYC cab, so he got out at the nearest hot dog vendor...

"Make me one with everything," said the Buddha to the vendor. The vendor piled everything on, but the Buddha's play on words wasn't lost on him either.

"Eight dollars," said the vendor. The Buddha handed him a $20. "Next" shouted the vendor.

"Wait," said the Buddha. "What about my change?"

"True change comes from within," said the vendor. Still, it was a great hot dog.

#22 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 04:57 PM

Not all mystical experiences are pleasant. Some are confusing. Some overwhelming. Some frightening. And some, depressing. Such experiences are often referred to in the writings of mystics, auto-biographical and biographical narratives of the lives of mystics, and in the instruction given by teachers of spiritual theology, spiritual direction, and counseling.

The same is true for me as regards stargazing. In addition to the many warm, humbling, pleasureable experiences, that accompany stargazing, scoping, an astronomy club-meeting, a public-observing event, the star party, the purchase of a new piece of equipment, watching a particularly well done program on astronomy, or attending an astronomy convention; there are these other experiences as well.

Sometimes, early into a planned evening of stargazing I find myself having a vague feeling of physical nausea.

On a few occasions, when alone gazing at a clear transparent sky saturated with stars, I have chosen to imagine there is no creator of all that I see. When I do this, each and every time I immediately feel a deep uncomfortable loneliness.

And sometimes, the hours of a night of ongoing observing are attended by no feeling whatsoever. Expecting to revisit the frequently experienced pleasureable feeling of a night of observing, I am aware I feel nothing other than the ennui attendant to just-going-through-the-motions; not unlike the experience of which addicts speak when they discover the substance or behavior to which they are addicted no longer gives pleasure regardless of the amount of increased indulgence.

#23 killdabuddha

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 09:23 PM

You're not alone, Otto. Blaise Pascal said in his Pensees, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me." He examines therein such paradoxes as infinity and nothing, faith and reason, soul and matter, death and life, and meaning and vanity. In the end he seems to conclude that the only things he can know are humility, ignorance, and grace. I've sometimes wondered exactly what it is I'm doing and why, and whether I'm not just being indulgent, especially if I'm not able to fully appreciate what it is I'm seeing. And by what right do I so feebly use an instrument that Newton or Galileo woulda given their eye teeth for? I've just begun a study of ancient astronomy, but otherwise I'm pretty much just thrown back on what Pascal was able to resolve for himself.

#24 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:22 PM

Pascal certainly has powerful things to say. None I've read more articulate, fluid, candid as your words.

My favorite of his [paraphrased]: "Man is neither angel nor beast. However, should he be so foolish as to attempt to act the angel, he most certainly will become the beast."

#25 Dennis_S253

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:30 PM

It always makes me wonder about the mayans and ancient civalizations being able to predict eclipes and all. They knew a lot. I sometimes wonder when looking at a galaxy if there isn't someone there looking at ours. What happen to mathematicians? Computers have taken over. Hubble has taken over. I remember making my first sun dial. That was so cool, it worked. Who needs it anymore, we all have watches. There trying to prove everything they want to prove.






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