Lessons from Nature: the Earth’s Perpetual Movement

by Stephen Lampe

The earth looks flat. But it is not; it is shaped rather like a ball. The earth appears to stand still; it seems motionless. The truth, of course, is that the earth is in a state of perpetual movement. Not only does the earth move constantly, its motions are of different types, and they give rise to many physical phenomena, some of which are apparent to our physical senses. But not all the consequences of the motions of the earth are physically observable or even knowable to the human intellect. Some of the consequences are of a spiritual nature and bring about conditions that have incisive impacts on the course of human development. The apparent flatness and motionlessness of the earth illustrate the fact that appearances can be quite different from realities and confirm the severe limitations of our sense organs. And these facts have important implications. If appearances and realities are not always the same, and if our sense organs are quite limited, we ought not to be dogmatic or arrogant regarding our points of view. We should at all times be prepared to learn, to examine objectively, and to listen to different points of view.

Let me first remind readers of the different motions in which the earth is engaged as established by science. The most easily understood motion of the earth is that of rotation around its own axis, in a direction opposite to that in which the sun, the moon, and the stars appear to move. Even though we do not have any sensation of the rotation, the speed is in fact quite considerable, almost twice the cruising speed of modern long-distance commercial jet planes. Close to the Equator, the speed of rotation is 1,050 miles per hour (or 1,680 kilometres per hour). A full rotation is completed every 24 hours (or more precisely, 23 hours 56 minutes). This means that, as a consequence of the rotation of the earth, people living in the Tropics travel a distance of more than 25,000 miles (more than 40,000 kilometres) every day through space. The rotation brings us alternately into and out of the reach of sunlight, resulting in day and night.

As the earth rotates, it simultaneously revolves around the sun. The motion around the sun, the revolution, takes place at a much faster rate than the rotation; the speed of revolution is 67,275 miles per hour (or 107,640 kilometres per hour), which is about 64 times as fast as the speed of rotation. Thus, in a single hour, while perhaps sitting down in one place chatting or enjoying a meal, we have actually traveled more than 107 thousand kilometres in one direction and another 1,680 kilometres in another direction, as a consequence of two different motions of our planet earth. And we are, of course, completely unaware that we are travelling in space. The revolution around the sun is completed in one year (365 days, 6 hours, and 9 minutes) and it brings about the change of seasons. In the course of the earth’s movement around the sun, its distance from the sun varies. It is closest to the sun (91.5 million miles or about 146.4 million kilometers) around the 3rd of January and furthest from it (94.5 million miles or about 151.2 million kilometers) around the 4th of July (the national day of the United States of America).

The earth is directly involved in yet another motion, which is called a precession. Because of the pull of the moon, the earth spins imperceptibly around its axis of rotation. While the rotation of the earth gives rise to day and night, and the revolution results in the succession of seasons, the precession or gyratory movement of the earth results in the change of Ages. In addition to these three movements, the earth is indirectly involved in other movements. I might illustrate what I mean by this indirect movement by analogy with a person in a moving train. The train passenger may move around inside the train; that would be his/her direct movement. However, moving or sitting, he/she is being moved because of the movement of the train; thus he/she is moving indirectly by the mere fact of being a passenger in a moving train.

The earth with all its inhabitants is like a passenger in the cosmic system. The earth is a part of the solar system, which is itself a part of a group of star systems known as the Milky Way Galaxy. And the Milky Way Galaxy is only one of billions of galaxies. The size of the physical universe is so vast that it is beyond human imagination, much less comprehension. Anyone who takes time to reflect on this vastness should know a great measure of humility; for the earth and its inhabitants are an infinitesimally small speck in God’s Creation. Abysmal ignorance is the only explanation for human arrogance and vanity.

Our solar system as a whole is also in perpetual movement. It moves around its orbit at a tremendous speed of nearly half a million miles per hour (495,000 mph or 792,000 km per hour). Our Milky Way Galaxy is similarly moving around the center of the Local Group of Galaxies whose relative speed of movement is estimated at 600 kilometres (or 375 miles) per second or more than two million kilometres per hour. Thus, despite what our physical senses may indicate, we are all great, perpetual travelers, traversing the cosmos at tremendous speeds. It should be noted that the earth, similar celestial bodies, and cosmic systems are not the only objects in perpetual movement. As with the largest bodies, so it is with the smallest atomic particles; everything is in constant and uninterrupted movement. Consider a solid rock. The stationary rock is composed of chemical compounds which are themselves made up of protons, neutrons, electrons, etc., all of which are in constant movement, quite apart from the fact that the rock is being carried along in all the motions of the earth. Indeed, it can be said that all the Laws that manifest the Will of God in Creation operate within the framework of one basic Law --- the Law of Movement. Motion is a fundamental principle throughout Creation. Progress, preservation, and restoration are achieved only through movement of the right kind.

Even the most casual observation on earth must indicate to us the utmost significance of motion. If a portion of a fresh, rapidly-flowing river is diverted to form a stagnant pool, the pool soon loses its freshness, and may begin to smell. The river maintains its freshness through movement. The hands of a boxer get bigger and stronger on account of their use. A human body that is exercised stays healthier than one that does not receive any exercise. In general, any ability that is used improves; one that is not used atrophies. All these are effects of the Law of Movement. The biological principle of adaptation is a consequence of the Law of Movement. There are birds which can no longer fly because their wings have deteriorated on account of failure to use them over thousands of years, and some fishes are obliged to stay at the bottom of the ocean because they have lost the ability to withstand the currents as a result of failure to exert themselves over a long period.

The principle that “practice makes perfect” derives from the Law of Movement. This Law, of course, applies in large as well as in small things. Thus, by this same principle, some people have lost the ability to work for an honest living. This is because they have not done so for many years, having lived exclusively on government hand-outs, political patronage, or financial resources that were corruptly obtained. Society has a duty to create an environment in which such indolence and parasitism will become impossible. This can be achieved by, among other actions, strictly enforcing the laws against embezzlement and corrupt practices and ensuring that all able-bodied persons work for their livelihood.

The human being is subject to the Law of Movement in body, soul, and spirit. Our cultural and traditional practices are also subject to the Law of Movement; they must continually advance and adapt to changing circumstances. It is not sufficient to obey the Law only in so far as the body and earthly matters are concerned. We must also move spiritually. This implies a purposeful re-examination of our religious and spiritual beliefs and the courage to discard those that belong to an age and period of relative ignorance. It implies practicing what we profess to be the truth. And spiritual movement necessitates making spiritual pursuits our primarily goals, with earthly goals being only secondary. In this connection, we may remind ourselves about the meaning of a spiritual goal. A spiritual goal always has furthering values; furthering in the sense of promoting the Will of God on earth. Such values are imbued with love and compassion and promote justice, freedom and responsibility.

With human beings on earth today, the spiritually receptive part of the brain (the cerebellum) has become stunted relative to the intellectual part (the cerebrum). This is because we human beings have busied ourselves almost exclusively with earthly and intellectual pursuits. Thus, we have lost most of our spiritual abilities and hardly appreciate a spiritual outlook on life. This condition is responsible for many of the problems confronting the human race today, such as corruption and greed, abuse of human rights, violence and needless wars, and lack of consideration for other individuals, other races and ethnic groups as well as other creatures. Today, on account of this lack of genuine spirituality, we find that many people who claim to be truth-seekers (as manifested by their membership of spiritual movements and religious organizations) are not genuine. They are, in fact pre-occupied with position, power, and material wealth and not with the Will of God they profess.