Saturday, 6 February 2010

My Life as an Atom

I recently read Deepak Chopra’s latest book Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul and came away with an unshakeable image of myself as an atom.  Or more precisely, I picture myself as the nucleus of an atom, with all the bits and pieces of my life rotating around me like electrons.  This is not as loony as it sounds.  Apparently those on the leading edge of science view the human body as nothing less than a hologram for the entire universe.  (More on this next week.) So if my body is a hologram of the universe, can’t an atom be a hologram of my life?

Atoms are the smallest basic unit of matter and are like tiny solar systems with a nucleus instead of a central sun.  The nucleus is actually a cluster of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons bound together by an extremely powerful nuclear force.  Around the nucleus, whirling at fantastic speeds, is a cloud of negatively charged electrons held in place by electromagnetic force.  Thus my soul is the nucleus of me, and all the events and circumstances of my life are the electrons

My interpretation of Chopra’s work is that we can choose to view life either from the perspective of the nucleus/soul - allowing life to spin around us trusting that everything is in perfect balance, or we can live from the ego’s perspective  - jumping on any number of negatively charged electrons and getting caught in the cycle of worry and the need to control.  He advocates the former and suggests adopting a type of “soft focus” awareness as the key to achieving it.  An example:

  • Your mind is calm and not overworked. You enjoy being in its presence.
  • You don’t feel haunted by guilty and shameful thoughts.
  • You don’t try to control your thoughts.  The more freely they come, the better.
  • When you make a mistake, you accept it and quickly move on.
  • Not every idea can be perfect or brilliant, and mistakes are often the best teachers.
  • There’s a contrast between good and bad impulses, but you take both in stride.  (In fact, sometimes you take secret delight in so-called bad thoughts, knowing that they’re just another part of your experience.)
  • Unpleasant mental images don’t make you afraid or disgusted.  You can adapt to the mind’s darker side.
  • You aren’t plagued by a judgmental voice telling you that you’re bad or unworthy.
  • You aren’t braced for the next disaster around the corner.

Meditation is one way to cultivate this awareness, as it seems the brain instinctively goes to the default soul/nucleus position when given half a chance.  Personally I don’t often sit still long enough to meditate.  But when I find myself getting swept out into electron territory, it is often enough just to remind myself that life keeps spinning on and on whether I worry about it or not.

The beauty of this philosophy is that we learn to welcome all thoughts, and indeed all of life, with equanimity - no need to condemn negativity as is so popular in some circles.  Besides, with its equal number of protons and neutrons, an atom is inherently neutral (as I believe the soul is) while an atom that is positively or negatively charged is not an atom at all, but an ion, which must go forth and find something to bond with to become balanced.  It is a “quest-ion.” (Get it?)

The ego hates this type of thinking because it thrives on drama – it loves all the to-ing and fro-ing of electrons.  But with the soul in the drivers seat instead of the ego, it’s a much smoother ride in the atom of life.  



  1. These are powerful words packed with such great wisdom I had to read them two times. I like this type of sharing. I stumbled into your blog and really I am glad that I did.

    Best regards,
    Tom Bailey

  2. Yep. Learning to disengage the ego has to be the way forward. I too suffer from 'Shiny Thing Syndrome' and have a small child, so the opportunity to meditate does not present itself often. However, I have found that when one accepts life's events big and small and you "use the force", a situation that can feel daunting to the ego, feels completely surmountable to the soul.

  3. "But with the soul in the drivers seat instead of the ego, it’s a much smoother ride in the atom of life."
    I've once read something that has to be told using Spanish words to be understood: the razón (reason) is the pilot, while the co-razón (heart) has to be the co-pilot. Thay make a perfect symbiosis, but they both have to work together.