The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth
A View by Richard Lang
MY GALACTIC IDENTITY - THE MILKY WAY
Viewed from a neighbouring galaxy I who am nothing but capacity here at centre, manifest over there as a spiral galaxy - the Milky Way. Spinning majestically like a slow Catherine wheel I am composed of perhaps 100 billion stars and am about 13.6 billion years old, give or take 800 million years! I am a fairly large spiral galaxy some 120,000 light years across and 3000 light years thick in my centre. I live in a cluster of about 30 galaxies known as the Local Group, the other large galaxy in this group, the Andromeda Nebula, being about 2 million light years away (from the Earth). Currently I am colliding with a small neighbouring galaxy, the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, but not for the first time. It will probably pass through me without causing any serious damage. The most distant group of galaxies I've so far discovered is 13.5 billion light years away. I am one among 100 billion or more galaxies (who knows?) rushing outwards from some mysterious primal explosion.
Looking up on a clear night from my central emptiness I see a small number of the 100 billion stars that make up my immense galactic body.
The Milky Way
If I am able to see the Milky Way, a concentration of stars forming a long white pathway across the sky, then I am looking in towards the centre of my disk-like galactic body where stars are most numerous. This is the equivalent, at the human level, of looking down at the torso of my own (headless) body. In both instances I am looking out of my central emptiness at my body, but at the galactic level I am simply looking further.
Capacity For Other Galaxies
Looking beyond all the stars in my galactic body (looking beyond my own galactic limbs) I am capacity for other galaxies. The Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy is about 75,000 light years away. It's on the other side of my galactic body (from the Earth), so to detect it I must look more or less through my own galactic core.
The Sombrero galaxy is some 50 million light years away.
At the galactic level I cannot see my face (just as I cannot see my face at the human level). It is only by observing my galactic neighbours that I can build up an idea of my own galactic shape, size, age, behaviour and so on, as if I were seeing myself through their eyes. Thus I enjoy not only my view of them but their view of me. This galaxy on the right is called the Pinwheel Galaxy. It is 27 million light-years away and is a spiral galaxy like myself. Looking at it is like looking in a mirror - except the Pinwheel Galaxy is twice my size, so in a photograph it took of me I would be smaller. The stars in the foreground are part of my
galactic body - I am looking through them
at my galactic neighbour. This is the equivalent at the human level of looking at a friend, but seeing my nose at the same time. In both instances I am looking out of aware nothingness, past my own body, at a friend, but at the galactic level I am looking millions of light-years whereas at the human level I'm looking only a few feet.
By observing my galactic neighbours I come to know myself as a galaxy. I am member of an extraordinary, practically angelic society.