How the Goldilocks Effect Affects You

by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Dec 25, 2007

Not knowing the reason you are here is the reason you are here. - stonepeace

Singapore -- "The Goldilocks Effect" refers to the idea that the Earth must be "just right" in size and temperature for it to sustain life. Yes, the term was inspired by the tale of Goldilocks, who found a chair and bed sized "just right" for her, after eating porridge that was "just right" - which was neither too hot nor too cold.

This effect hints that we had struck "divine" or "cosmic lottery" to be able to exist, since the rest of the vast universe has infinitely more conditions that don't seem "just right" for us.

However, this assumes that all alien life requires the same conditions as us, and that there is no other world with conditions as equally habitable as ours. It is shocking but true that there are lifeforms living on our planet from -15 up to 121 degress Celsius. Surely, it is extremely likely that there are similar conditions out there, among other conditions necessary for life to exist. With its broadly scientific outlook on astronomy and cosmology, Buddhism is open to the existence of "alien" life - both terrestrial and celestial - even in terms of the "other-dimensional" or sublter planes of existence.

Why is the Earth just right for us? At least, this part of the universe seems smack on the "Middle Path" - between otherwise extreme environmental conditions. If we recall the story of Goldilocks, she tried other beds and bowls before arriving at the ones "just right" for her.

This prompts a good question - "Does life adapt to the environment, or does the environment adapt to life?" The answer is true both ways simultaneously - lifeforms can evolve with the environment, and the environment can "evolve" with lifeforms interacting with it.

Just think of the current climate crisis. The drastic truth is, the Earth is not really "just right" for all of us here. Global warming is causing the death and extinction of many plants and animals. Even humans are continually perishing due to extreme weather conditions. The world conditions life, but in the "inter-net" of life, we condition the world with our karmic actions too. Humans are not particularly favoured for existence by the universe, while some even favour destroying one another! However, we are generally favourable for enlightenment due to our sense of wonder and enquiry.

Isn't it wonderful and a mystery that we wonder about the universe? Well, conditions have to be just right for us to wonder about the universe - or we simply wouldn't. Sounds like circular logic, but it's perfectly rational. There are many others, such as animals (and humans!), who don't wonder wisely though. And life is not "wonderful" to all, for many suffer much. Like science, Buddhism doesn't say that our existence is by chance. Neither does it teach that it is governed by anyone who looks after all perfectly. None created life; while we "re-invent" ourselves karmically.

Sentient life is possible only when there are appropriate conditions (including karma) for it to arise. So long as there is delusion, karma will propel beings to be reborn and "re-deathed", in one form (or world) or another. If this seems existentially cold, it isn't - for there are countless enlightened beings who manifest myriad ways to awaken the deluded when conditions are ripe. Meanwhile, we are all urged to be Bodhisattvas to one another too. Earthwise, we need to be green Bodhisattvas too!