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greg dahlen

Alumnus, academy of achievement

TEDCRED 50+

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What is it about the desert?

It seems to me the desert is rather a special place. For example, I often think about the fact that most of the world's great religions, vastly influential systems, were born in the desert, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, and I don't think it's an accident. I remember too when I was eighteen I was invited to apply to Deep Springs College, possibly the most unique college in the world (you can read about it on the web at http://www.deepsprings.edu/home), and it is also in the desert. I wonder what it is about the desert that has this influence?

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    Jun 24 2013: Good thoughts !!!
    Abrahamic religions originated from desert. Buddhism , Hinduism , Jainism from India which is full of forests !!! Points to ponder really .
    Until I saw a desert I knew it to be lifeless boring place. Later when I spent 2 years in a oil rich country full of deserts , I saw its beauty !!! Realized deserts also have colors. Starry desert night under the endless sky just wonderful .....that might have influenced thought processes of people since ancient time .
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      Jun 24 2013: Salim, can you put into words why seeing those stars is nice? My uncle said the same thing.
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        Jun 25 2013: Hi Greg, thanks for your interest.
        Alas !!! I don't have that creative / artistic ability to express my true feelings in writing as I felt ...even then I am trying

        Any new experience we get we possibly try to compare or associate it with our earlier experience. In my country where I was born and brought up , watching a clear sky is a rare or almost impossible thing as it's in a zone where always there are some cloud in the sky. Being highly populated and lots of vegetation around it's really difficult to find an open huge open space. In terms of sound , getting a soundless also a challenge.

        So once I went desert .....I felt emptiness around me... no tree...no building...no car ...ts just empty place miles after miles ......I felt I am in ocean with no water but only sands and sand....

        Quietness is astounding.....even I couldn't hear the sound of air as there was nothing standing high to block the way of air ....(even then there were sound of air , as those were hitting one or other small scanty cactuses in the ground or sand dunes....so if one wants one can get dissolve in it and be part of it....

        Looking up in to the sky.....!!! It's crystal clear.....all stars are visible. I haven't seen so many stars in one look in my life......It's so clear and clean seems you can connect with stars easily.....now Challenge comes whether one want to be dissolve into quiet emptiness of majestic desert ? Or connect with starry beautiful sky and connect with stars.....that's why it's nice

        That's my naive explanation....
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          Jul 4 2013: I would say that stars represent warmth since they are the suns of other galaxies, and of course, to us, warmth means life.

          My mother pointed out that all those stars are beautiful, that they glitter and sparkle.

          My friend Scott Slovic, who is a professor of ecological literature at the university of Idaho, agreed with you, that seeing all those stars gives you a feeling of primal connection to the universe.

          Probably it all reminds you how big and grand the universe is, because we know each of those stars is a big sun.

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