There are an estimated 300 billion stars in our galaxy.
Seriously, take a moment, take a few conscious breaths and really ponder it.
Now ask yourself: what are you doing? What are we doing?
Most of us live in a culture that no longer sees the stars. We get enough of the sun — it is hard to miss, no matter where you are. Yet oddly enough we do miss it — so much so that we fill our darkened streets with a far inferior form of light, one that keeps us from ever having to truly face the dark. We can’t stand to be away from the sun, even for one night. In so doing, however, we are paying a very grave price — we are masking ourselves from the light of the endless ancient suns that make up our galaxy.
How different would our understanding of life be if we, all of us, sat under those stars night after night? The seeming contrast is so vast it is impossible to fathom. The mere contemplation of the milky way, even over the course of a few minutes — let alone an entire night, week, year, lifetime — is enough to engender deep rumination on the all-important matters of meaning and existence.
But what assuredly vast differences exist between us and those rare and steadily disappearing cultures whose individual members are born into such an existence? There is no way of telling, truly. They are absolute phantoms to us, as we must be to them — although we may appear more the likeness of demons, singing the song of a trance so deep that it is bringing our two cultures together through the steady beat of the war drum, carrying the very destruction of the world we all live in in its wake...
The first world knows very little of what it means to be alive. Our behaviour dictates this clearly. What are we chasing? What is it that we just can't seem to grasp? Our inability to face the darkness of our collective night has brought it instead moving through us, inflicting itself on the land that gave birth to us, that continues to sustain us, that wants for nothing more than to have us move in conjunction with it, to find our way finally into conscious surrender to it and learn again the ancient pulse of the cosmos from which we sprang, and from which we are currently so disconnected.
You cannot ponder the vastness of the night sky and believe in your own greatness. It is impossible. In the face of that Deep Time, that Inconceivable Immensity, it becomes painfully obvious that individual 'greatness' does not even exist. Never in the course of human history has there been one act of greatness. Never have we seen any action born of any person amount to even a mote of dust in the cosmic cosplay that we flicker so briefly within. Mountains have been scaled, surely. Impossible wars have been won. Miracles — as we’ve so labeled them – have been performed for all with eyes to see.
All of it, nothing.
The promise of greatness is the greatest lie we have ever sold ourselves, and we've done so because we are not mature enough to handle the truth. We are so unable to stand the stark reality of our utter unimportance that we are willing to destroy the very earth that gave us life just in order to prove it. Yet the terrible, sardonic truth of it all, the tragedy as we have written it into existence is this: only those who act out of the understanding that greatness does not exist are truly capable of achieving that which we label ‘great’.
Those who have managed the feats we collectively declare as awesome have surrendered themselves to the bigger picture — one so vast they know that nothing they could ever do will begin to make even the slightest mark on it — and so they move mountains. They change the world. They become the message.
Do you understand this? The greatest obstacle has been removed – the attempt at achieving greatness itself – and thus is it accomplished. This is what it means to have faith. This is what it means to surrender. This is what it means to move in true 'service of'.
Those who have done so throughout history are also those who were undoubtedly familiar with the night sky, just as they were almost as assuredly familiar with their own darkness. Only in the true and slow contemplation of the shadow side as it falls upon the earth, and the self, can the stars be then felt to shine. Only in honest surrender to the inescapable darkness of our lives can we then come to know ourselves well enough that we too may shine.
I will tell you this: a lifetime lived under the stars would inform any soul of their individual connection to the cosmos. A life lived under the stars would ensure that the child that felt their light, every night, would come to be filled with the ancient wisdom those distant suns are undoubtedly transmitting.
We are missing it, over here. And it is killing us all.