Introduction – The Twin Perspective
We are identical twins, and co-authors of The Landscape of Reality. Experiencing life from the perspective of identical twins is fairly unique. Statistics show that only about 3 in 1,000 births are identical twins. From the moment of birth, we were destined to experience life a little differently than most people. In the early years of our lives, our sense of identity was just as much a unity of two individuals, as that of completely separate individuals. It was reinforced by every relationship that surrounded and nourished us. This was neither good nor bad—it just was. It is only as we aged a little, and matured a little that we developed a stronger sense of individual identity, however, the bond was never completely severed.
We share identical genes, and as a result, many common traits. We share common thoughts, feelings, mannerisms, behaviors and interests. Although we are different, our common traits give us a stronger bond than almost any other human relationship. Aside from sharing many aspects of our lives, we also share a uniquely common perspective of life. It is similar to having a second self, with whom we can relay information back and forth. This gives us more than just a second opinion on issues. It gives us a second opinion from practically the same frame of reference. Although there are situations that require a different perspective from someone very different from us, having a common perspective has been invaluable for writing this book. We were able to share ideas, and critique each other’s work, with a common vision for the finished product in mind.
For simplicity, the book is narrated in the first person (I). When we describe personal experiences, we do not specify who is having the experience—it could be either of us. When we present information, provide comments and opinions, it implies that we have agreed on its contents. Although we have individually written separate parts of the book, we have agreed on the ideas, concepts and conclusions. For you, the reader, you can either assume that it was written by one or two persons. Both assumptions would be partly correct. With that cleared up, let’s get started.
The typical human journey towards understanding the world begins from within the individual, and gradually expands outward with time. For instance, an infant is aware only of his or her immediate surroundings. As a child grows, the knowledge of his world expands outward. This process continues throughout adult life. Although this is a natural and understandable process, it usually leads to an egocentric viewpoint. Life is observed and experienced as it relates to the individual. In this book I take a different approach. I reverse the order of the typical learning process—I begin with the outer world (nature), and work my way inward. I believe that this viewpoint provides a wider and more objective view of reality—at least as much as it is humanly possible.
I am a landscape gardener, an occupation I share with my twin brother. As an operator of a family landscaping business I spend a considerable amount of time in close contact with nature. My work teaches me a great deal about nature, but even more so, it gives me the opportunity to witness the subtle activities of nature. These experiences have imprinted a sense of appreciation and wonder for the complex interactions of the natural world. These are mostly unexpected experiences, like seeing a butterfly gracefully fly overhead, hearing the soothing songs of the birds in the background, and noticing the changes in the plants as the seasons change. And perhaps even more remarkable is the functioning of the insect world. A world far removed from the human experience, and yet just as real. Nature has taught me that there are powerful forces at work outside of human concerns.
Science has been a lifelong interest of mine, and along with the experience of nature, it forms the foundation for this book. After all, what is science but the study of nature? Science, with its devices can probe deep into the heart of reality. It can detect radio waves, microwaves, light spectrums, electrical charges and chemical reactions, just to name a few. Science can reveal aspects of the world that lies beyond the direct reach of our senses. Simply put, science has the most effective tools for describing reality.
From a layman’s point of view, I present an overall picture of what science is saying about reality. When I refer to science, I am not talking about medicine, machines or technology; or how humankind manipulates nature. I focus on the physical and natural sciences—how nature works at its purest level. I rely on the expertise of several past and present leaders in the field. I look at science from different perspectives, focusing mainly on four areas. 1) Cosmology: the study of the origin and evolution of the universe. 2) The microscopic world: the world of atoms, molecules, bacteria and genetics. 3) Evolution and life on earth. 4) Physics: some of the laws that govern the motion and interactions of matter and energy.
If you are not keen on science, please bear with me. It is necessary for the direction this book takes; however, once I cover my bases I will move on. For those who are scientifically inclined, I apologize if you find any notable omissions. Keep in mind that my goal is to present an overall picture from various fields of science, somewhat like connecting the dots, and seeing what picture emerges. By no means is it a complete picture, more like an outline, which the imagination can visualize. More than providing factual scientific information, I also interpret that information. I periodically break away from science with observations from nature, or sometimes with a philosophical angle, which are related to the facts I have covered. If one goes by traditional scientific language, what I present is not a scientific model or theory, but rather, a perspective that is derived from evidence.
Although this book is grounded in science and observations from nature, a portion of Part One is devoted to examining concepts of God and spirituality. I do so for a few reasons. 1) The content of this book will at times lead readers to their own thoughts about God. 2) Traditional religion was an influential part of my personal journey. 3) There is an unavoidable overlap between science and religion on some of life’s fundamental questions. As the book progresses, I leave religious ideas behind. In Part Two, I turn my attention to science and nature. In Parts Three and Four, I apply what I discover to the human experience, and see how it all fits together.
A substantial portion of this book deals with exploring the nature of reality. It examines the world that exists beyond human perceptions, but also includes human perceptions. People experience reality differently, a product of our individual and subjective perceptions. Although it is impossible to completely remove our subjective perceptions, I propose that the closer we come to identifying the true nature of reality, the better chance we have to align our lives with it. A closer alignment with reality can give us a better understanding of our lives, and will aid us to find more peace and fulfillment. It is similar to determining what direction the water is flowing in a river, and then deciding to row our boat with the current. How often do we struggle in life simply because we are rowing against the current? As the song goes: “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.”
In many ways, this book represents my journey of discovery. It has been a life-long journey towards exploring the nature of reality, and finding my place in it. I invite you to come along for the ride. But before we depart, I have a few words of caution. This journey is not for the faint of heart. Some parts of the journey challenge conventional thinking and it may lead you to re-examine some basic assumptions. I ask that you travel light, and as much as it is humanly possible, leave your preconceived notions of reality behind. All that is required for the journey is a curious and open mind. So fasten your seat belt, and get ready for a wild ride through The Landscape of Reality.