Buddhist teaching shows us nothing is ever what it seems to be and that change is all there is. I tend to agree but I have a funny feeling that matter and “objective reality” are not what is changing. Rather it is our constructs of reality that are forever changing.
This minor epiphany came to me as I was reading an article in the New York Times Style section that discussed the way language is changing to accommodate transgender individuals. “They” as a pronoun and the term Mx. (Mix) as an additional honorific to accompany Mr. and Mrs. – err, I mean Ms.. Language shapes our reality to a large extent as many psychological studies can attest. I am a man in my early fifties and I try to keep up with things but I can start to see how an older individual could fall behind the times and cling to a reality most younger people do not share. I can wake up one day and be in a world where I can no longer function satisfactorily. That thought will keep me up at night (and hopefully keep my curiosity up).
I don’t think it ends there though. The more knowledge you have about everything (Cosmology anyone?) the fuller and grander your particular construct of reality will be. I also hope, as a side benefit, that your particular construct of reality might align a little more closely with objective reality. Case in point, this beautiful diagram from NASA that maps all of the natural objects in our solar system. This is new to me and just being cognizant of this view expands and alters my reality construct. It makes you think and wonder and rebuild your constuctions. Who knows where your thoughts might lead. Hopefully to the ends of the Universe.
By the way, The James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch in 2018. The Webb Space Telescope is the next generation of Space Telescope optimized for infrared. Among other things it will enable us to capture light from the very first stars 13.9 billion years ago. That would be like peering back to the “Beginning”. And whether you believe that the beginning was the work of a deity or an event governed by the laws of science and nature it is still awesome to contemplate that ray of light traveling all that time to reach us, like the hand of god (if you are inclined to such beliefs).
Here is something to contemplate as you go to bed tonight, the light that will be captured by the Webb Telescope is at the edge of the knowable. Because the Universe is only about 14 Billion years old there is nothing beyond that light that will ever be knowable by humanity. The Universe has not been around long enough for anymore information to reach us. There is a limit to knowing.