TRAVELING THE EARTH, daring the unknown, climbing the highest mountains, exploring the oceanic depths takes bravery; it takes determination, fearlessness and, at times, a near reckless attitude to one’s own precious mortality.
Still, those who are given to great adventure, who love novelty and are willing to risk life and limb in an effort to explore the countless possibilities of this world are precisely those people who end up living the most exciting lives.
This particular truth, I believe, goes a hundredfold for those who are presently considering the possibility of exploring another world.
I am speaking about Mars, of course, for just as many a climate change activist now carries a sign reading: “There is no Planet B”, Mars it seems is the sole “other world” in the whole of our solar system that we humans can reasonably hope to colonize.
The very idea of that, I believe, is a genuine enchantment on more fronts than one.
While most of us wouldn’t for a second entertain the notion of going to the Red Planet, thousands have already volunteered to boldly go forth with the many organizations that are currently competing to launch the first mission to Mars. Each volunteer, no doubt, has his or her own sense of what requirements, stresses and dangers such a pioneering excursion will entail, but above and beyond that they undoubtedly each have a sense of what personal fulfilment they believe might come of it.
For starters, it would be an incomparable experience, one that only a handful of people out of the billions and billions on this planet will ever come to know. In terms of sheer novelty and unparalleled excitement, there is surely nothing else like it at present.
Then there is the historic first that this initial mission will create and, let’s face it, going down in history has its appeal to all of us. Who wants to bite the proverbial dust, after all, and have that dust simply blow away into nothingness? We all imagine ourselves as mattering in this world, as being “somebody”, as being a person of value.
We should remember here, however, that history has as many villains as it has heroes and to simply “go down in history” may be of questionable value in certain respects. Far better, the sages and wisdom masters of the world say, to find your worth within, as a spiritual being, rather than in the realm of gross materiality.
Scientific materialists, of course, insist that there is no such thing as spirituality. They insist that what cannot be measured, seen, touched nor sensed in any form is unreal. These are the masters of rocket science, of course, the science that will one day get humanity to Mars, so who are we to argue with them, right?
Millions of us would and for good reason: one ignores one’s inherent spirituality at one’s peril. Why? Because our essential humanity hinges on intuitive sensitivity at every level of life, most especially in the way we humans interact with each other and ultimately view our worth. We are not mere animals nor automatons, after all. We have a sublime side and it is ineffably important.
This is a major point that is made in my novel, Crimson Firestorm Mars, and why I propose here once more that the entire notion of a Martian odyssey can be seen as an ideal meditative form of contemplation or, if you will, as “magic theater”.
Why? Because those who will one day blast off for Mars will never, ever, return to this Earth. At present, the journey is one-way. In other words, the technology does not exist at present to allow our initial colonizers to blast off from the Martian surface once they land, which means, quite simply, that they are there for good.
And that is the end of it until further advances are made in our various technologies.
Leaving the Earth forever is what happens when we die, of course. With the demise of our physical bodies, we exit this planet never to return. (Never to return in precisely the same form, I might add, though the possibility does seem to exist that we may indeed reincarnate and come back in another form!)
The point is this: contemplating one’s mortality is a profoundly effective way to focus the mind. It virtually forces one to consider what is or isn’t important in life. With months and years of meditative contemplation one can arrive at insights into life that would otherwise elude. By concentrating on our spiritual natures, we become more empathetic and compassionate. We come to realize that all people are equal no matter their race, religion nor nationality. We understand that to harm another is to harm ourselves (which holds true for the planet, as well. To harm it is to harm ourselves).
Above all, with meditation we can discover that each and every one of us has an essential self and that that essential self is a psychospiritual entity which inhabits a physical body for the express purpose of navigating its way about on a planetary surface. When that physical body ceases to function the essential self does not. The essential self simply moves on and continues to spiritually evolve elsewhere in ever more subtle dimensions.
To believe or not believe the above is a choice, but meditation is an activity which anyone can pursue at no cost, save for an hour or so of one’s time on a daily or at least regular basis. Just as one cannot become a rocket scientist by not attending a university for four to eight years, so one cannot become a proficient meditator without making a similar effort and putting in the time.
As one of the characters in my novel, Crimson Firestorm Mars, explains as the plot unfolds… The idea of going to Mars on a one-way journey is very much like what Buddhists call a “death meditation”. It brief, a death meditation concerns itself with leaving the Earth forever when we “pass away”. It is not a notion that one can take lightly, for the question is where do we go if we survive and what happens once we arrive there?
This is something to which one must give tremendous levels of thought if an answer is genuinely sought, for it is only by ruminating deeply on what is to be gained and what will be lost upon one’s death that we can discover what is really of value in life.
The exact same thing is true for those who want to go to Mars, for it is only by giving these issues deep levels of contemplation that one can possibly become a qualified candidate for a seat on any spacecraft that is bound for the Red Planet.
Yes, I know that hardcore scientific materialists will argue with this, but I am predicting that once our hardest of the hardcore astronauts arrive safely on Mars and the first flush and excitement of settling in has passed that the humdrum business of living in a freezing cold environment, breathing manufactured air (due to the atmosphere of Mars being toxic to humans), eating “space food” all of the time (i.e. having to subsist on retortable pouches of processed comestibles and tubes of semiliquids fortified with vitamins and minerals) and just being generally confined to very small living quarters and workstations will eventually take a toll. Imagine years going by and you are only around a very small number of people. Imagine further the fact of never having access to any of the activities that most of us take utterly for granted: dining on delicious cuisine or junk food even, imbibing fine wine, beer, whiskey, cola, fruit juices and so on, going to movie theaters, sports facilities, orchestral, rock and pop concerts, wandering for hours on end through fabulous art museums or going to ultra-sophisticated fashion shows. Or how about just cruising around in our cars, trucks or motorcycles wherever we want, or taking walks on beautiful golden beaches with the mesmerizing sound of thunderous surf cresting and ebbing, or diving into the cool blue waters of a surging sea or, above all, visiting with our beloved friends and family.
These are all genuine concerns which any volunteer who wishes to be taken seriously as a candidate for any mission to Mars must give extremely earnest thought. At the end of the day, we are all human; we are not robots. We have an inner life which cannot be ignored.
In short, we are psychospiritual beings and that is a truism even if we define that complex term in a strictly humanist manner.
By the way, our Martian colonizers are going to be sitting on their backsides a lot, especially while en route to the Red Planet, which can take upwards to a year before arrival. A spacefarer must therefore be inclined toward the inevitability of sitting in meditative repose for hours on end, day in and day out, if he or she wishes to make this great journey. One would be well advised, therefore, to cultivate deep states of meditation sooner rather than later if wishing to be a part of any excursion to Mars!
And humanity will go to the Red Planet. This is a certainty. Viewing the journey as magic theater now, therefore, can make us all wiser as we collectively set out on this our greatest space adventure yet!