The Other I

April 27, 2011

Sacred stones

Filed under: Intriguing Science — theotheri @ 8:32 pm

I’ve just read a blog post on cairns and other stone monuments and messages in Japan.  They focus on earthquakes and tsunamis, both as a memorial to the thousands of people who have died in these recurring disasters  in Japan, and advice to those now living – sometimes centuries later.

Ever since I was introduced to them in the hills and mountains of Britain, I have been fascinated by these stone monuments, some of which are probably as old as ten thousand years.

Sometimes they are piles of small stones piled together as markers along the way to other travelers.  Sometimes they are carvings, often representing religious symbols.   Sometimes the stones are very big arranged in circles where the community gathered.  Sometimes, even as they are today in our cemeteries, they are markers of burial grounds.   I understand from personal experience how awe-inspiring standing amidst some of these stones and circles can be.

We now recognize that some of the stone arrangements are extraordinarily sophisticated.  Stonehenge, for instance, works like a huge computer, predicting eclipses and other crucial events in the astronomical calendar.

Until now, I thought these stone monuments were concentrated in Britain and western Europe.  Now that I have discovered that they are as far-flung as Japan, I have begun to wonder again about stones.

Where does the sense of awe so often displayed by these stones come from?  Why is there this sense that stones possess some kind of sacredness?  Where does it come from?

The more I learn about modern science, especially about astrophysics on the one side, and quantum mechanics on the other, the more I realize just how profound is the mystery of this universe in which we live.   I realize that if I were as smart as some of the scientists working in these fields, the mystery would be even greater, not smaller.  It is they who talk about completely revolutionizing physics in order to make sense of what they are observing.  One example among many, for instance, is the difficulty of explaining in any reasonable way how particles thousands of miles apart are able to influence each other at speeds more than a trillion times the speed of light.

When I read these things, I feel less worried that my own hunches or hypotheses are whacky.  They aren’t nearly  whacky enough to explain what scientists are discovering.

And so without further apology, I offer my hypothesis that ancient people sensed something legitimate about stone – some potential for life that modern science lost when it separated the universe into inert matter which belongs to the domain of science and living spirit, which belongs to the domain of philosophy and religion.

What if matter itself is dynamic?  Einstein’s theory suggests that it is – that matter and energy are interchangeable forms of the same thing.  It suggests that life does not belong to another world but is part and parcel of this one.

What if stones in their very substance really do represent the quivering potential of life?


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