The Uniqueness of Earth
Over the last few centuries, as the Ptolemaic geocentric model became obsolete, we have grown accustomed to regarding the Earth as a smallish, common planet orbiting our sun, in the same way that other innumerable planets orbit other countless suns, which likewise orbit the center of the Milky Way... Gone are the days when our planet was believed to be the center of the universe and all other countless planets a mere cohort which, circling in an orderly cosmic dance, revolved around it.
Or are they? I am not so sure about that.
Earth from Space
(from Earth and Moon Viewer
In order to keep it simple, I will ignore the possibility of other countless universes orbiting the center of something inconceivably big which, following the ancient Greeks, we may call “cosmos” – which, in fact, means order. I will overlook as well all beliefs by extant groups that the Earth is the center of the universe as per the Ptolemaic geocentric model, and will instead present my own case for its uniqueness.
In one way at least, the Earth may be regarded as central: that of its essentiality for the countless lives that it hosts and nurtures. In some other ways, many native peoples still regard the Earth as the center of the universe. Both in the Old and the New World, they adhere to their ancestors’ belief that the whole universe revolves around it – or more precisely around its axis, which traverses the Earth through the poles and constitutes its center and, and the same time, the center of the universe. For in an unexplained, mysterious way, it traverses in succession all the other countless worlds – as pearls strung on a thread – constituting that which the ancients used to call the “chain of worlds.”
Milky Way Galaxy (Reconstructed) (Nasa/JPL-Caltech)
From The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System
by Richard Deem)
So the idea of a central axis around which the cosmos revolves should not be taken in the astronomical sense only, but also to express the interlinkage among all cosmic levels and orders from the infinite universe to an atom, and from the whole cosmos to man. And here, with man as a reflection of the universe, we are touching the metaphysical area.
Says Nicholas of Cusa (1401-64): “God is a sphere whose circumference is nowhere and whose center is everywhere…” and in all of the ancients’ thought, God, though a separate entity Himself, is the universe and the whole cosmos and everything – including us.
In the ancients’ view, the center of the world is actually wherever God – or any of his infinite attributes – is at any given moment. The Ark of the Covenant was for the old Israelites where God Himself dwelt, as He communicated with Moses “from between the two cherubim” on the Ark’s cover. (Exodus 25:22) So wherever the Ark of the Covenant was carried by the priests, the center of the world moved with it.
When the Buddha attained Nirvana, he is said to have been celebrated by a host of gods, goddesses and heavenly musicians who, like guests at a gala theatre, descended in their vimanas to witness the drama of his Enlightenment – the implication being that the center of the universe was, at that transcendental cosmic juncture, there and then because of him. According to Buddhism, moreover, whenever we attain Nirvana, we ourselves are individually immersed in the very center of the cosmos. So wherever we may be at that moment, then and there we are the center of the universe.
Buddha tempted by Mara and other demons before attaining Enlightenment
under the Boddi Tree (a representation of the world axis)
(From “The Live of Siddhartha Gautama…”
If for the western world there is an instance of a circumstantial center of the universe as emblematic as the one I have just described, it is certainly that of Jesus Christ turning down Satan’s offering of riches and power after his forty day-and forty night long fasting in the wilderness had ended. Indeed, I cannot think of a better example of a momentous cosmic juncture than such earth-shattering confrontation culminating in the Tempter’s defeat, with angels showing up and ministering the Savior as an aftermath.
Of course, not all instances of a center are just as circumstantial. At the root of all major traditions are portentous examples of concrete centers, and among them perhaps the most emblematic, together with the Garden of Eden of the Judeo-Christian tradition, is the one occupied by the paradise of Brahma, located at the beginning of the Satya-Yuga –the Golden Age of Hinduism – at the top of Mount Meru, which more or less is for the Hindus what Mount Olympus was for the ancient Greeks. Located in turn, according to sacred texts, in the North Pole, which at the same time is the center of the Earth, the Milky Way and the whole universe, Mount Meru is actually the world axis. And here too we find the arcane belief that when a Hindu devotee is reciting his mantras by passing the 108 beads of his mala, or rosary, between his fingers, he is not only re-creating the cosmic manifestation and the “chain of worlds,” but he himself is at that moment the world axis and the center of the universe.
The Earth of the Hindus (or more exactly its upper hemisphere)
with the paradise of Brahma atop of Mount Meru, which raises its head to
the highest heavens (From Paradise Found by William F. Warren
More examples of this conception of a center – or navel – of the universe abound particularly in Taoism, Confucianism and Islamism, where they are especially prominent. They are also remarkable in the majority of the European traditions, from Asgard of the Nordic peoples to the ideal Arcadia and the Hyperboreas of the old Greeks – this one located, like the paradise of Brahma, in the North Pole. And they are as well emblematic of the great native cultures of the American continent, like the Inca, with its great capital Cuzco regarded as the navel of the world, and the Maya and Aztec civilizations where Aztlan, obviously the New World version of Plato’s immortal Atlantis, is notorious. In fact, it would take a whole volume to just begin reviewing them.
The Scandinavian tree of life (Yggdrasil) growing on the cosmic mountain.
The pillar, mountain, or tree forming the world axis links our own
'middle earth' with the upper and lower worlds
(Image in "'The Ash Yggdrasil' (1886)
by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine,
Were these conceptions of the world center, both circumstantial and concrete, mere attempts by traditional societies to affirm or exaggerate their own importance? Or can they be explained by the fact that one’s home is the original center of one’s known universe, from which one may venture in any of the four cardinal directions, make discoveries, and establish new centers, as some psychologists contend? More simply: Were they the inventions of ignorant people?
And going to the biggest picture, that of the Earth as the center of the universe: Is there any truth in all this?
Can it really be said that all the stars, planets and comets, and all other matter in the universe somehow revolve around the Earth – and ultimately around us? In our current daily experience, backed by the weight of scientific evidence, it is the Earth, together with all the other planets of the solar system, which orbits the Sun, and it is the whole solar system, comprising the Sun, the Earth and all the other planets, which orbit the center of the Milky Way, etcetera. However, there is something called “general relativity” that says that it is all the way round at the same time, so that the whole universe can be said to orbit our insignificant planet even if in order to do so, and at the same time orbit the Sun, the other planets in the solar system find themselves forced to do some awkward somersaulting while they are retrograde…
Map of the Square and Stationary Earth, by Orlando Ferguson (1893)
And there is something else which, at least from the point of view of us humans, adds a lot of weight to this relativity. It is the Earth’s uniqueness.
Do you know, for example, why the “dark side of the Moon” always remains dark, i.e. never faces the Earth when it is illuminated by the Sun? Well, that is an easy one: the moon rotates once in the same time that it takes to orbit the Earth, so it rotates enough to always keep one face towards the Earth. At least, that is what has been occurring over the last few millions of years.
Also in our current experience, the gravitational influence of the Earth slows down the Moon’s rotation, in the same way that the much smaller gravitational influence of the Moon creates the Earth’s tides and other interesting cycles, both on a daily and on an approximately monthly basis, and affecting humans, animals and plants alike.
Now for a not-so-easy one: did you know the distance from the Earth to the Sun is very approximately 108 times the Sun’s diameter? And that the distance from the Earth to the Moon is – also very approximately – 108 times the diameter of the Moon?
A view of the Earth with the Sun behind taken from the Moon
(From “Our Sun, Moon and the Hoary 108”
This incredible coincidence would be actually no wonder, were it not for the fact that it makes the Sun and Moon appear to a human observer as if they are the same size. And there is the additional fact that this number 108, which among other things is most sacred among Hindus and Buddhists, multiplied by certain factors produces interesting magnitudes which particularly involve the great cosmic cycles and ages.
The old Tibetan diagram above combines the 9 heavenly bodies with the 12 houses of the Zodiac
(9 x 12 = 108). The tortoise is a well-known symbolic representation of the Earth
in all Eastern traditions (From Ken Holmes and Tibetan Buddhism
Most important among these magnitudes is the length of the cycle of precession of the equinoxes, traditionally calculated as 25,920 common years (108 x 240), and the period of time required for the Earth’s axis projection to describe, responding to the motions of rotation and wobbling of the planet while orbiting the Sun, a full circle and return to its exact point of departure so that the equinoctial point, one of the two times of the year in which the night and the day are of identical length, turns out to be the same as it was at the beginning of the period.
So it is this cycle of precession of the equinoxes, and the seasonal variations it creates, which ultimately facilitated the development of agriculture over the years and centuries. This explains the importance it had for the ancient priestly castes – not to mention its gravitation in the development of astronomy – who would make it a point of predicting the exact yearly dates of both the solstices and equinoxes.
Beyond the yearly cycle, that which makes the precession of the equinoxes particularly important as a trigger of the human phenomenon in our planet is the fact that when one half of it has elapsed, i.e. after 12,960 common years (108 x 120), the seasons become reversed. For example, 10,000 years ago, when the Earth was at its farthest from the Sun, in the northern hemisphere it was summer and not winter, as is today; and vice versa, when the Earth was at its nearest from the Sun, in the same hemisphere it was winter and not summer as today.
The cycle of precession of the equinoxes
Over the past millennia, the cycle of precession of the equinoxes, acting coordinately with (1) the earth’s eccentricity cycle, which is caused by the lengthening of its orbit around the sun, which in turn produces the ice ages in the course of approximately 90,000 – 100,000 years; and (2) the cycle of variation of the earth axis’ tilt in the course of approximately 40,000 years, has been subjecting the Earth to a very complex astronomical pattern which has caused the ice fluctuations throughout the ages. More precisely, it has played a crucial role in the economy and the cultural development of the present humanity. For example, it is known that 40,000 – 50,000 years ago, when the southern hemisphere was the nearer one from the Sun and ice gravitated on the North, there emerged in certain areas of Central Asia tribes united by the need to face the prevailing hard geophysical conditions; and thirteen thousand years later, when the northern and southern hemispheres had exchanged their positions before the Sun, some tribes appeared in the southern hemisphere as well. Since then there would have been a slow, painful material progress of mankind toward the present-day civilization, which does not remember a thing about it, and whose decline and imminent disappearance are predicted in turn by many scholars.
The three great astronomical cycles (Archive)
Do I need to add that in times of profound, total global crisis as we are living now, and as dreadful events follow each other in an unheard-of number but at an ever accelerating speed on the whole planet, ominous prophesies related to the end time stipulated in the Maya Calendar and prophesied by all of the world major religions and esoteric traditions begin at last to make sense?
I am afraid this one question is not exactly far-fetched.
Back to the world axis and the center of the universe, we find among the Hindu doctrines the notion that it is only from this planet that God and the supreme destination can be attained. That is, only those perfected humans who are at last born on this “intermediate” planet Earth, after countless re-incarnations in both the heavenly and the hellish planets, and either as a reward or a punishment for their good or bad past actions, are entitled to reach God and his supreme abode in the highest heavens. For their part, the inhabitants of both the higher and the lower planets, angels and demons alike, must be reborn on this Earth and build enough merit before they can become again eligible for such supreme goal.
As the third age or yuga was coming to an end and the fourth and worst age, the Age of Kali (which, in the descriptions from the Hindu scriptures, corresponds exactly to the Iron Age of the classical tradition) was about to start, virtuous beings from the higher and more advanced planets of the universe are said to have come to witness the ages’ shift. They apparently were not so much interested in watching the ominous signs, visible everywhere, of the incoming era, but rather in assessing how the Earth was likely to perform in the course of it – perhaps even help us see the end of it. And since they considered the Earth’s position, according to what has just been mentioned, to be central with regard to the possibilities of promotion to the supreme destination, their interest was quite understandable.
Even in the light of all the above information, I am afraid this time that the following few highly speculative questions will seem a little bit crazy – if not totally mind-boggling – to many.
For example, can it be that the Earth is at this moment the center of the universe because of the reasons expounded and of the unprecedented situation it is in with regard to its own survival?
Note that the Earth’s survival is at the same time our own survival and that of the other life it nurtures and fosters, a fact that is at the root of that great ancient notion of it as a huge living organism we are all a part of. Common to all of the world’s traditional cultures, this awesome conception allows one to think of the Earth as a unique and irreplaceable mother for us, human beings, and for a vast majority of the animals and plants who thrive on it, who would just perish in any other environment without survival devices; it also supports my personal disbelief at the possibility of any human-like extraterrestrial life. In other words, the fact that we are one with the Earth as our mother, together with the fact that our own survival and cultural development as both individuals and human race have been made possible by the fatherly influence of the three great astronomical cycles just mentioned, also makes us unique in the universe.
Is there any possibility that our having brought the Earth and ourselves to the brink of disaster is more and more attracting attention from all quarters of the universe, particularly among good-willed extraterrestrials desirous to witness the outcome of such a big inconsideration and eventually help us find our way out? This one is certainly not new, and according to many celebrated authors, Hindu and Buddhist instructors, New Age adepts and channelers, UFO sighters, millions of ordinary people, and a long etcetera, that is more or less exactly the case.
UFO sighting recorded and reported by Gary Heseltine,
a British Police officer. Photo: GAIL SHUMWAY
I have alluded above to highly advanced beings visiting our planet to witness the shift from the third to the forth, and current, Age of Kali, as well as to their interest in helping us out of a possible disaster at the end of it. Let us take, for a moment, the Hindu scriptures’ statement to be true. Now that such end appears to be at hand their interest must have increased, and beyond that, it is even possible that they could be acting out of pure love and concern with our well-being and salvation, which I sincerely hope. Are they not supposed to be angelic beings?
Maitreya appears, “out of the blue”, to people everywhere…
(Photo Share International.org)
But, what if the people attracted to our skies from the outer space are not good but ill-willed extraterrestrials – maybe downright evil aliens? This apocalyptic possibility, contemplated in the Book of Revelation and other eschatological literature, is indeed most sinister; and for all we know it might already be occurring, as some pessimistic contend. In the face of it, we only have the promise in those holy texts and other written and oral traditions that such an awful event will be easily dealt with by the Lord and his divine forces, the good extraterrestrials, in the very end of the cycle, just before the new age, the Golden Age, begins. So there is light at the end of the tunnel, and if the promise holds true, then – at any rate – we are saved.
After all, our Earth is unique, is it not?