Do you think just because today you can see the stars above your head it means it will be always so? An article written by Vlad Moraru, astrophysics teacher and an answer-article written by me after the silent retreat at Vladeasa, Carpathian Mountains. Hope to wake me up. Hope to wake you up. Till it is not too late. “If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Of Stars A few years ago, I lived in a very polluted city in Asia. The water was not drinkable, and the air was not breathable. During the three years I lived there, not even once did I saw the stars during the night. The pollution erased the stars from the sky. At the university I was teaching to a small group of enthusiastic students a course on astrophysics. I was telling them about the stars, about galaxies, about Einstein’s theory of relativity etc. The blackboard was full of equations, and on a screen I was projecting images with stars and galaxies. Some of the images were famous ones, like the ones taken by Hubble space telescope. The students recognized most of the images; they saw them on the internet and television. Then, just out of curiosity, I asked them: ”Did you ever saw the stars through a telescope?” Not only did neither of my students saw the stars through a telescope; but none of them saw the stars whatsoever! They were all born and raised in this over-populated, over-polluted city; in this deprived-of-night-sky city and, to my amazement, none of these few students ever travelled outside the city. All their life they studied and worked obsessively, day and night, for a successful future. They were dreaming at diplomas; dreaming at emigration in the West; dreaming at well-payed jobs in US or Germany. But neither of them stood, not even once, under a starry night sky. Just as for the children from this city was already ”normal” to go outside and play wearing anti-pollution mask, for my students it was already normal that the night sky should reveal no stars during the night. For them, the stars in the sky were no longer something real; it has become abstract. Never in my life had I such a strong feeling that we are all asleep. Moving and breathing, with our eyes open, yet asleep; obsessed with always moving ahead, without ever asking ourselves whereto and why. I had such a strong desire to tell something to my students, something to awake them, at least for a second; to tell them that Nature is not abstract, but the very source of life and beauty; to tell them that the equations and images from the blackboard are not abstract, but they refer to Nature and, hence, to ourselves. But their sleep was too deep and none of my words had any effect. Retreats as the one at Vlădeasa are small, yet important, steps towards awakening. Vlad Moraru, Cluj, 2019 „As above, so below.” Hermes Trismegistus The opening circle at the silent retreat at Vladeasa I started by saying, that I am at a crossroad. I feel many things changing in the way and in the dynamic of how I used to work in the last six-seven years. That this might be the last retreat of this sort. I cannot do all the things alone, to take care both of the administrative stuff and to lead the programs. I didn’t find the appropriate form yet, but I trust that everything will be revealed and settled down. Then we sank into the silence. In the moment we stop talking, and thus we give up the control, the time and space changes. What is supporting us from the depths is manifesting much easier, finding its way through us, harmonising the coexistence, just as it is harmonising the flight of the birds, the petals of the flowers, the streams of the waters and the paths of the stars on the sky. Vlădeasa has offered us a sky filled so rich with millions of diamonds as rarely can be seen even in the mountains. At the closing circle Vlad has told us about his experience in the city in Asia. I cried. I have been touched in a very unexpected way and moment. One of my crutches is the sky with stars. Already as a child it has been something magic, wonderful, obvious, natural for me. When I was afraid, but even nowadays, when I feel lost, troubled, worried it is enough to remember to look up. No matter when do I do this, at daytime or at night, by looking up, seeing the sky with the sun, the moon, the stars, the dawn and the sunset, the colours and the dance of the clouds, I connect with the present moment, which is rooted in the mystery of existence. It is my source of awareness, my source of inspiration, of consciousness. How is it possible to exist people who don’t know this source? How is possible such a life? What kind of life is this and how is a person who has never seen the sky full of stars? Vlad’s problem was, that for these students the fact, that they have never seen the starts, is not a problem. This is their reality. This is what is normal and known and usual for them. How do we know that something is in the danger of disappearing or of being destroyed? From the fact, that it becomes natural, its existence becomes obvious. From that moment we stop to see its value and we do not appreciate it any more. And we loose it. We loose the state of wakening. Or maybe we don’t even have it, yet.
Buddha has seen the stars. The same with Jesus and Lao Ce and all those, who tried to awake people, they have all seen the stars. But their teachings seem as impossible for those captured under the heavy layers of their thoughts as Vlad’s thoughts toward these young people, who have never seen the sky (at least not in the same way as we do, people from other corners of the world, who have the chance to see it without realising, how lucky we are): ”I had such a strong desire to tell something to my students, something to awake them, at least for a second; to tell them that Nature is not abstract, but the very source of life and beauty; to tell them that the equations and images from the blackboard are not abstract, but they refer to Nature and, hence, to ourselves. But their sleep was too deep and none of my words had any effect.” Vlădeasa in Hungarian is called Vigyázó, it means, the lookout, the vigil one. Maybe the course of evolution is forcing us to look for the sacred mountain - from where one can see the starts, and experience the pure consciousness - only within ourselves. It seems it is in vain at our disposal outside, in the Nature, in every moment, we are blinds toward it and we cross through life as sleepwalkers.
photo: Gregoire Jeanneau, Unsplash.