Upon strong recommendation, I am reading Lonely Planets, the Natural Philosophy of Alien Life by David Grindspoon. I'm finding it interesting and engaging. Of course, I'm fascinated by this sort of thing. I do believe the prospect of life in the universe beyond this world is not only possible, but probable.
Reading this tome, along with John Muir, and my walkabouts in general has lead me to finding aspects of Pantheism filtering into my Buddhism. This does not bother me in the slightest. After all, I've always been a little syncretic in my practice, and Buddhism is, at its heart, a philosophy. A system of thought. Such a thing can evolve and change. Whereas with religion, one finds themselves kind of stuck in an obstinate dogmatic theme.
I am fascinated and humbled when I look up at the stars. There is an aspect of time travel, seeing objects as they were millions, if not billions, of years ago. It seems to me to be an act of ignorance, as well as arrogance, to believe this is the only world that harbors life. Although, I realize contact might still be a very long time in coming.
Something I truly believe in is the exploration of space. In fact, I think humanity's next evolutionary leap is to step off world, and begin to live amongst the stars. Much like that first group of hominids who went on walkabout out of Africa, some hundreds of thousands of years ago, and proceeded to colonize the rest of the world.
That wasn't too long ago, on a cosmic scale. When it comes to brass tacks and bedposts, Homo sapiens are but a baby step out of the stone age, and but a crawl from when they were still more quadrupedal and still hanging about in trees.
If I could live for an infinite amount of time, I would like to witness those first permanent steps off-world. To see the species expand throughout the solar system and out into others. The idea of what kind of civilization that would create is, in the here and now, the providence of science fiction writers, but I think it is no more fantastic than those first steps out of Africa.
Sometimes, I can get lost in the looking up at the stars. When I hear of the wars or political pettiness, I catch myself thinking this world is but a very small island in a very vast ocean, and no one should be pissing about over lines that were drawn in the sand back in a time when everyone was ignorant enough to think this was the center of the universe. It goes beyond being American or Muslim or Socialist. Every single lifeform on this planet is Terran, and that's that.
Or, to simplify, as a bumper sticker I once saw read; "Oh, evolve!"
Hundreds of thousands of years from now, but a baby step from the here and now, I hold out hope that the great evolutionary leap into the cosmos has been made. That the species pulled its collective head from its collective ass. I wonder about the civilization that will be spawned from that and how it will view its history. Whether they'll see the Homo sapiens of this timeframe in much the same way those early hominids who went on walkabout out of Africa are viewed here and now. I wonder if the motherworld, the planet Africa, will still be inhabited, or if it'll be some far-flung myth of some futuristic religion.