Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.

The ferryman starts with a thought experiment. “Let’s take a broad look at the reality of space and time. The big picture. We are going to look at the entire universe across all time. But first, take a step back and look at your life. Look at your life from your birth all the way up to today. That’s your entire past. Now imagine the rest of your life from today into the future until your dust has settled back into the earth.”

Peace jokes, “It’s all a big blur.”

The ferryman adds, “Push the picture way out in front of you so you can get a good look at it. Put the beginning of your life far off to your left and the future far off to your right.”

Peace says, “Oh, OK. Putting it away from me, it’s not so crowded that way.”

The ferryman asks, “Qaren, out there in front of you, can you see time marching on from the past on your left to the future off to your right?”

Qaren says, “Sure. I can see my birth on the left end and some ending off to the right.”

The ferryman says, “Expand that picture and imagine the entire past of the entire universe stretches off to your left. The entire future of the entire universe stretches off to your right.”

Peace says, “Wow, that’s a stretch! I need to push it out further.”

The ferryman says, “You are still in the universe but imagine it is stretched out in front of you with the past on the left and the future on the right. What do you see now in front of you?”

Qaren says, “I see thirteen point eight billion years of time across the whole universe on my left. I see nothing in the future because it has not arrived yet.”

The ferryman says, “I see that you don’t see. What if you could?”

Peace says, “Say Qaren? You work with scientists who study the universe and its beginning. Don’t they agree that the universe is expanding and spreading out?”

Qaren says, “That is the current thinking, yes.”

Peace is curious, “So, what does that mean?”

The ferryman says, “It means that as you see the universe over time from past to future, from your left to your right, the universe is smaller on your left and bigger on your right. As you travel farther to your left and further back in time with the universe, you see it getting smaller and smaller.”

Peace says, “I’m looking off to the left. Uh Oh! Call the authorities, the universe has disappeared!”

Qaren says, “Ha ha! That’s a good one!”

The ferryman says, “OK, now picture that entire universe over all time in the shape of a cone on its side. The tip of the cone, the beginning of time, is on your left. The open part of the cone, the future, is on your right.

Qaren says, “Our time today is somewhere in the middle of that cone then, right?”

The ferryman says, “Right. Now pick it up. Imagine you are holding up the entire universe. You can look at it from all directions. You see the universe from its beginning at the bottom point of the cone spreading out over time and expanding as the cone gets bigger.”

Peace says, “The entire universe, all space and time is in my hands. Wow!”

The ferryman says, “Imagine this thing was your idea.”

Peace says, “The entire universe, over all time, is my idea? That’s a stretch.”

The ferryman says, “Breathe on that for a moment. It is a big idea. Get used to it.”

Peace says, “All right, I’m holding up the ice cream cone and feeling awesome.”

The ferryman asks, “What’s there before the ice cream cone?

Qaren is quick with her answer, “Actually, it’s unknown. We can’t prove there was a beginning, but there is evidence the universe is expanding.”

Peace says, “No universe. Nothing. The ancient texts call it the void.”

The ferryman says, “Let’s say it’s completely empty. It was a time when reality did not exist. A time before matter. A time before atoms. It was a time when there was no space. A time when there was no time.”

Peace says, “Is there really absolutely no there there?”

Qaren says, “You are there.”

Peace says, “Right, this universe was my idea. But there must be something else, right? Otherwise, how did our everything, our reality, our world, our universe get started?”

The ferryman says, “Here we must ask a more useful question. Where did the energy of the universe come from?”

Qaren says, “That is the big mystery, isn’t it? Energy from nothing? How did that happen?”

The ferryman continues, “What shall we call this no thing? It must be something. It started everything! It’s your universe. It was your idea, right?”

Peace says, Right! I need a name for myself. Who am I?

The ferryman says, Lucky for you, there is a perfect word. That word is ‘origin’. Origin means “the point where something begins”.

Peace says, Right, like the point at the end of my honeycomb ice cream cone.

The ferryman says,  The origin is where our world, our reality, our universe, our everything begins. You, sitting there with your ice cream cone, are the origin.

Qaren adds, “You are outside of the realm of science now, but if you insist on one word, origin is good. You could also use the word source. The origin is the source of the energy.”

Peace says, I am the origin, the source of all energy in the universe. I’m excited now. When do I get to take this thing out for a test drive?

Next, Omnipotent.

You must not let your life run in the ordinary way; do something that nobody else has done, something that will dazzle the world. Show that God’s creative principle works in you.
Paramahansa Yogananda


  1. 0900, Wed, 09/11/2019:
    This question has confounded me for decades: “How can an individual know, how can an individual be certain that he actually understands a concept, idea, principle which he believes he understands? In other words, what, in any given context, constitutes a valid, ineluctable and incontrovertible “test,” “benchmark,” “certification” of understanding?

  2. Definitions of understanding do not address your question nor do they address direct experience. What is your experience of understanding? Isn’t it a felt sense? There seems to be a gauge inside that lets you know when you have understanding. There’s no proof, just an internal subjective knowing that you have an understanding when you didn’t before.

  3. This erotetic approach, Socratic, is helpful, pragmatic.
    My experience of “understanding” is, as you suggest, a feeling, a sensation, a sense, empirical.
    However, proof, as the result of a formal reasoning procedure, deductive or inductive; that conveys, ineluctably, conviction; is what’s confounding me.
    Without such “proof” it’s sufficient to assert that I believe I understand but that doesn’t strike me as sufficient to indicate “certainty” that I understand with its implicit, attendant “provability.”
    I’m at risk of impalement on the horns of a dilemma as I’ve also raised the issue now of “certainty,” thereby compounding my quandary.
    I have to conclude whether such “certainty” AND “provability” are necessary, sufficient, even desirable.

    1. A “Context” for Understanding is just that. It’s a story, as are all attempts at explaining the origin and nature of the universe. The understanding is up to you.
      Scientific provability is not available when it comes to theories of origin. However, subjective proof is an extension of understanding.
      Certainty, like understanding, is also an inner feeling. But certainty does not guarantee truth. I can think of more than one person of late who speaks with certainty yet infrequently with any truth.
      Every attempt was made by the author to assure that the words of the ferryman are truthful in order to minimize deniability by the reader’s mind so as to increase the chances for a feeling of understanding.

      1. I agree that certainty doesn’t guarantee truth and understanding something doesn’t mean that what one understands is true.

        But what one understands is not determined by whether it’s true or not.

        The truth value of a thesis, statement, proposition, which is provable, remains the same whether one understands the proposition or not.

        However, it feels like we’re digressing, which I started with my questions of “Provability” and “Certainty,” which are feeling irrelevant and immaterial now.

        I’ll go with your implicit proposition that “understanding” is more subjective than objective AND defer, indefinitely, the introduction of such extraneous extravagances as “certainty” and “provability” in the interest of keeping our colloquy simple, though not necessarily easy.

        Given your thesis and your narrative for its exposition, I see the importance of “truth” and we’re on firmer ground with its exploration in this context.

        I’ve tarried here longer than I’d planned so I have to return sometime hence.

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