The universe is the way it is at the beginning because its future form demands that it be that way so that it can develop into complexity and consciousness.It was Sheldon’s turn to present, and though I and others had made the odd insights here and there, he was in command, which was common in our power dynamics.With his surprisingly nimble fingers he filled five blackboards with chalky equations before slacking off.His original idea had begun to run out of steam.The scientists scattered about the amphitheater stared at the equations, and a few of us tossed out suggestions for how his idea might be developed.Sheldon stamped out each of them.Soon there was only silence.Sheldon stood at stage left, his right hand on his chin, staring.He said nothing, but we knew he would soon enough.His mind was always teeming with ideas from some secret inner fountain.After more than fifteen minutes of silent staring, my own mind began to roam.I found myself reflecting on the encompassing event itself.I realized that this moment was what I had dreamt of for so long.I was actually working with the mathematics of cosmic evolution.That’s what we were doing, right here, each of us absorbed in the equations of Einstein and Hawking, prowling around inside them to see what we could find.This was a moment involving the lineage of mathematics going back through Einstein and Hawking to Newton and Pythagoras.It was this entire mathematical lineage that enabled us to think these mathematical equations.It came to me that these equations as they existed now in my mind were the mathematical form of the early universe itself.I had been thinking of the universe’s birth as something that took place a long time ago.Which was certainly true.But here I was, fourteen billion years later, thinking the equations of the expanding primordial plasma.From the perspective of the brain, this meant that the complex flow of electricity in my nervous system, in complicated ways, was somehow related to the equations of the early universe.If, instead of thinking these equations, I had been sleeping or running, the flow of electricity would be different.It was an obvious conclusion.I suddenly realized that the nature of the early universe was shaping the flow of electricity in my nervous system because I happened to be reflecting on the mathematics of the beginning.I could not contain my excitement.Shel Shel Shel! I extended my arms to both sides.Even though I was loath to break his concentration, it bubbled out.The instability of the beginning.What it really means is that we are deeply enmeshed in that moment.The slightest alteration of the initial dynamics and the whole thing blows up.That means that in a sense we are right there at the beginning.It did not have to be that way, but it is that way.Those conditions then were profoundly necessary for the universe to cause our conditions now.Then and now coalesce.We are that intimately tied together.And we now know it.The words roared out of me.Theoretically it could have been different, but it’s not different.We live in a universe where the mathematical equations of the beginning are alive in us.If you altered them in any way, we wouldn’t even be here.We would never have come forth.For those few instants, I had become a node where the mathematical equations of the beginning became aware of themselves.Why wasn’t Shel saying anything?Another idea for explaining myself surfaced.Using my index finger and thumb, I surrounded my lips in a small circle.Holding the skin in a small hole, I squeaked out the words.I couldn’t move my lips if our universe had a different origin.There would be no lips.Whenever my lips move, the dynamics of the fireball are there.My lips are right there in the initial explosion.The fireball is in my lips.Sheldon looked at me with dead eyes.When I finished he turned to his equations.Even then, even when it was completely obvious I should clam up, I couldn’t stop myself.Do you agree with anything I’ve said?He spoke without turning from the board.You haven’t said anything.The silence that followed made my embarrassment worse.I tried to dispel the awkwardness.Like this is just philosophy? I said.You’re always telling us we need philosophy, Sheldon said.As he continued to stare at the equations, he spoke his final words.Here’s the only philosophy I care to hear about. With his outstretched hand, he touched the blackboard, his thumb slightly smudging the Riemann curvature tensor.When Newton’s Equations Fused with GravityShel’s rejection crushed my enthusiasm.After several failed attempts to convince him that what I had experienced was important, I abandoned my efforts altogether.It was not his fault.I myself hardly understood what had happened.Our main difference was the stature of mathematical equations.Shel regarded these as the only things worth talking about.My excitement was nothing more than a subjective blip.That blip, he said, had nothing to do with ultimate reality.But from my perspective, my feelings did in fact pertain to ultimate reality.For instance, I was certain the feelings suffusing me in the amphitheater would change my life.And maybe this was a metaphysical orientation.Maybe the experience of sunshine was just as real as sunshine itself.At least that is how the archetypal scientists expressed themselves when they reflected upon their work.In this ability to discern divine presence, they regarded themselves at the level of the biblical prophets.Both Newton and Kepler arrived at such radical conclusions from the ecstasy of beholding, in a direct way, these hidden harmonies.In such moments, mathematics can unsettle the mind as profoundly as alcohol or psychedelics.Frances Cabrini school.Rita Maria, standing at full attention less than five feet tall, announced to us fifty pupils that there were more trees on Earth than the number of leaves on any one tree.What this meant, she said in a loud voice, is that, At least two trees have the exact same number of leaves. She stopped to let this sink in.We stared back, confused.If there are more trees than the number of leaves on any tree, there must be two trees with exactly the same number of leaves. She told us we needed to think hard.If we did so, we would come to understand.