Power of the equation

The equation that shook the foundations of science and changed the world 112 years ago can be a platform on which to build a philosophy of life today.

Albert Einstein peeled away the layers of the universe in 1905 and peered into the nature or reality with the Special Theory of Relativity and summed it up in E=MC squared.

The equation shows that energy and mass are one. We don’t see it because there are so many variations. We need a conversion factor, a shift in perspective to see one buried in the other.

The Internet can show how to convert Imperial into metric and Fahrenheit into Celsius, but not how to use Einstein’s equation to turn our excess poundage into power for the TV, or our negative thoughts into positive ones.

Multiplying mass – whether it’s a rock, a mountain or a plant ­— by the square of the speed of light shows how much energy has been frozen into matter, into us. (Light, in a vacuum, hums along at 670 million miles an hour, which, when squared, is 448,900 quadrillion miles an hour.)

It took a lot of time, money, manpower and brainpower to build that first atomic bomb, to turn that little bit of uranium into raw, explosive energy that destroyed a city and killed thousands of people.

We convert mass into energy every day. That steak and potatoes, fish and chips, soup and salad, bran flakes, and chocolate sundae fuel the muscles and the brain that can send a man to the store or to the moon.

Fortunately, life takes care of those details; our sub-conscious runs the little things we might forget to do ­such as breathe and beat our heart. But we can also use the equation consciously.

How we use our energy matters — as those of us who have spoken when we should have remained silent know. We can put it into what really matters, into the positive instead of the negative, into building up people — especially ourselves — instead of putting them down.

We must each decide what really matters, whether it’s who won the last election, who won Survivor or The Amazing Race, or how we run our own race.

That decision — like fission inside an atomic bomb — can build to a critical mass and release constructive power: we can re-invent ourselves, change our own view, find what we’re searching for, achieve our potential.

To do that, we need to change our thinking. Einstein said a problem can’t be solved with the same thinking that created it. We have to change how we see ourselves and reclaim time we spend in our daydreams — and nightmares.

We know this moment is the only one we have. Yet, we spend it thinking about moments that have happened or dreaming about ones we hope will happen.

We’ve all had those sublime moments when we were totally connected to the present, the creative cradle in which great athletes, great dancers, great composers, great artists and great scientists produce great works of art.

We’ve been in that flow, that zone, that now, that place where mass and energy flow together. But then “our reality” snaps back into place and the light of understanding is again filtered through the prism of our mind and we see the constituent colours rather than the wholeness.

E=MC squared is the ticket back there. Eternity and this moment are the same thing, but we need the power of comprehension squared to live that fact. Knowledge is power when it’s fuelled by action.

“Our true home is the present moment,” Thich Nhat Hahn writes in Touching Peace. “To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.”

No matter where we go, Aristotle said, there we are. Life is here now, not in a Mexican vacation, not when the kids leave home, not when the mortgage is paid or when we retire.

It’s when the car won’t start, the water tank bursts, it’s the bills, the kids, the parents and the in-laws, the spouse and the noisy neighbour. It's accepting reality as it is.

But with that equation, with observation, attention, discipline and a commitment to live here now, we can control our attitude but not be controlled by our thoughts.

Aristotle also said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an action, but a habit.”

So is mediocrity when we are fuelled by frozen patterns of thoughts, when we re-act instead of observing, when we argue the same point instead of evaluating, when we allow our life situations to take over our life.

Einstein was using E=MC squared to peer into nature, to discover the secrets of the “Old One,” the creative process behind the universe. We can use it to peer into our own nature and unveil the secrets we keep from ourselves.

We can endeavour to make every act conscious, to use reminders – such as passing through a doorway or stopping at a red light – to ask ourselves where our mind is, to pull ourselves back from whatever illusion, delusion or drama we’re exploring.

“We learn in our guts, not just in our brain, that a life of joy is not in seeking happiness, but in experiencing and simply being the circumstances of life as they are; not in fulfilling personal wants, but in fulfilling the needs of life; not in avoiding pain, but in being pain when it is necessary to do so,” Joko Beck wrote in Everyday Zen.

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About the Author

Ross Freake, a former managing editor of The Daily Courier, has worked at 11 newspapers from St. John's to Kamloops. He is the author of three books and the editor and ghost writer of many others.

He can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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