What the World Is, and what to do about It
Jay Michaelson

1.        What the world is

The universe is a vast field of matter/energy, sometimes referred to as 'spacetime.' Sometimes spacetime manifests itself as matter (substance) and sometimes as energy (which is not substance, but rather forces which may act upon substance), although these two are ultimately the same, and may be changed one into the other. This single, incomprehensibly large, and ancient field of matter-energy is not uniform: matter has coalesced in some places into galaxies, stars, and so forth, and in other places is relatively absent. All bodies of matter are formed according to certain rules and principles, some of which we know and others of which we do not. These laws determine the shape of Being, causing it to manifest as matter or energy in particular formations all across spacetime, from the cosmic level (galaxy clusters, for example) to the biological (human genetic makeup) to the sub-microscopic (subatomic particles).

In one galaxy that we know of, matter coalesced around a certain star and formed planets, one of which became the site for a manifestation of Being called "life," an organization of matter/energy governed by the relationships among certain molecules (DNA), and between such molecules and a very large number of environmental factors. Life forms, most of which exist for only brief periods of time, replicate their organizational patterns by reproducing their DNA, and thus take in more and more matter-energy and organizing it according to DNA's patterns, which may often change over time as DNA itself is combined with other DNA, mutated, or changed in some other way. Some genetic patterns, and their resultant traits or behaviors, tend to lead to more reproduction than others; over time, they are "selected" as more life forms with their patterns reproduce than life forms with other patterns.

Human beings evolved in this way, and apparently alone among life forms have evolved an ability to think conceptually, as you are doing as you read these words right now. Because of this unique ability, human beings have created enormously complex cultures, artefacts, and even explanations for how the universe came into being.

One such explanation is that God created the universe with Wisdom. Although the term 'God' has frequently meant a sort of super-human personality, for which evidence is lacking, if the term is applied to Being itself, then this explanation has the same meaning as the narrative in the first paragraph.

Next page: what enlightenment is

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Image: Hoag's Object, photographed by the
Hubble Space Telescope
Courtesy NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team

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