where are we? is it tortoises all the way down?

So, where are we? It is a common enough question. It can refer to where we are in the process of a discussion or analysis of an issue or problem. It can refer to where we are geographically (especially if I am the navigator). It can refer to the status of a relationship in the process of flux, growth or some developmental junction. It can refer to most anything in the process of change.

So, ‘where are we’ is worth thinking about as we think about change for social justice and human rights, yes?

Where are we? Maybe one of the more famous responses to that simple poses, where ever you go, there you are!  Most area maps will clearly demarcate ‘You are here.’ But … where is that? Ah, I feel a story coming on ….

Well, Steven Hawking, in a Brief History of Time credits this story to Bertrand Russell.  Hawking says Russell was giving a lecture on astronomy, and was discussing how the earth orbits around a vast collection of stars called the galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a woman stood up and said, “what you have told us is rubbish. The world is a flat plate supported on the back of four elephants, who stand on a great tortoise.”  Russell is said to have smiled, and asked what the tortoise stands on. The woman very calmly replied, “very clever, but of course it is tortoises all the way down.” [of course the earth is round and not flat, but the elephants could just as easily be holding up a giant globe, no?]

Ken Wilber is a fairly prolific author. He writes about integral theory. Wilber tells a very similar story that he attributes to Hindu mythology/cosmology.

And, so I ask: Where are we? And what is at the base of it all? What ground do we really stand on? Or is there any? Are we really just floating/flying through space?

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