On Earth, stars are not abstract symbols.
They are particular.
They are also less than individual.
It is the human eye that sees a star, or shall we say “recognizes it”.
This abstraction is not abstract.
It is particular.
It is individual.
It has a body.
It follows mathematical principles, which we claim, slyly, are not expressions of human minds and bodies. Listen to me! “Human minds and bodies.” That’s an abstraction from a relationship with a deeper expression all in itself.
This physical seeing, recognition and naming of abstraction is a human signature.
Because our history on earth is what it is, we claim that stars are a form of the world that we can observe and draw abstract principles from, which is true enough. It’s even an expression of the Earth. However, this abstraction misses its life.
And the wisdom of our ancestors.
Which is nothing other than language, but a very different one from what we call human language. Yet it’s still human language, although not one we make alone.
This business with the stars suggests that we will go to great length to recognize stars. The finding of one is instantly recognized as beauty and balance. That suggests a great need within us, and by “us” I mean the millions, if not billions, of years of biological experience that are expressed through, well, let’s say, your consciousness right now. For example. And mine. In that time frame, with that biological signature, they’re hardly different, and yet, like stars manifest on earth, we are individual. Well, hardly, except in the sense of human social groups.
Look how abstract the mind can get at recognizing stars and human society in the things of the earth, even in an oriole’s nest:
Very abstract. Even when it’s a spray and not a star, it’s a star if we say: it’s a star.
Something deep and ancient within us sees pattern opening from a central point. The human fist that opens into five fingers that becomes a reach that becomes a mouth that becomes a haw. For instance. The haw that invites us. The haw that fits into the same pattern we do. That is the same pattern we are.
Miraculous! This ancient pattern within us draws us to background the environment of time and place. So many people I know denigrate spirituality or turn from it because they see the human social pattern called religion denigrate their individuality and the individual life of others. These are strong charges, and very real ones, and speak to real human social breakages and violence. Yet, the stars that we recognize around us all exist within a background, as human consciousness sees it, and this background is as social as the star, or the opening, reaching hand, in the foreground, and the distinction between them, even the relationship between them, is created by human social conditioning. It is also very particular.
This particularity is our signature, too, one we share with many creatures. Birds and spiders, for one.
Insects for another.
Mathematically it is an efficient shape. It is also spirit. One can deny it, for very real social reasons, yet that denial is also social. That doesn’t reduce the hold that being embedded within the Earth has on us, how ever-present it is, or how very different it is from the world of artificial intelligence: how particular it is, for example, or how deeply it is written with the world.
How the world, for example, speaks. One language that has been developed to speak neutrally and respectfully of these relationships is that of mathematical sequencing and the mathematical structures of energy, matter and their relationships. It is a strong language, but does not express anything we do not all innately know by living. These tendencies give us all a language made of singular items embedded in flow and syntax — in which the singular items become flow and syntax and then material again, continually transforming, continually in movement. It is a language which is the earth — one in which we are not the only speakers, words or expressions.
It is a human tendency to concentrate on the embedded objects within this language. It is an expression of modern Western human consciousness to see ourselves as separate from the language — to see ourselves as other than words in it. Then we try to put it all back together to get a complete view.
It can’t be done. It’s best to start with the complete view.
It was not always so among us. Even this language, English, used in its modern, abstract, material iteration, was not always an expression of this abstracted set of relationships.
It is also the language of flow. Call that the stars in the night sky, viewed through the Hubble Telescope even, or call it asparagus in the snow. It’s not just the stars or other moments of stasis along the lines of flow but the lines of flow that connect them. That our language moves in these patterns is an expression of more than human pattern.
We see it also in the tree of stars some of us set up in our houses at this time of year, where it makes a pattern of repeated honouring through time and generations. Each ball below stretches back through two families and three generations, with the trust of many generations before that.
It does not develop. It holds and deepens in place. And for all that, that social memory above is stylized, abstracted, polished, honoured and made of glass, in comparison to the recognition that stops you in your tracks in the wild clematis and makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
And among the sumacs.
One beautiful thing about this language is that it does not lead to meaning. That is because one is within it, living.
It is at that point that we are present.