Thoughts & Insights

The Metabolism of Being

Everything that exists in the cosmos will pass away eventually. Yet nothing that passes away will cease to exist. Our life on Earth is the result of extremely fortunate exceptional circumstances and was first made possible by the dust of dead stars. It was the dust of dead stars that gave birth to our chemical periodic system. A one-of-a-kind metabolism of absolutely vital importance.

Metabolic processes run through everything that exists in the cosmos and thus also on this Earth. This is no new finding but it is illuminating. And as a finding it is by no means as widely known as its importance might suggest. The first time I came across this subject was in 2003 when OUBEY and I visited the Metabolism exhibition at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe ( And ever since then I have read and thought about it.

Everything that we humans consume is broken down and processed by the metabolism of our bodies. What we cannot use we finally excrete. This is what happens to everything that lives and exists. We feed on plants and animals which in turn feed on plants, animals and nutrients which themselves are the result of metabolic processes. Such is the cycle of physical existence.

This cycle brings forth life and death, connecting the two organically in a way of which we are generally not conscious in our everyday lives. Yet given our evolutionary history, it is probable clear to all live forms on an unconscious level. And the unconscious is a powerful force.

From a metabolic perspective there is no beginning and no end but rather an uninterrupted process of becoming and passing away, life and death. Death is a necessary condition for the metabolism because it makes life possible. Acknowledgement of the co-existence of life and death is a key to understanding the whole interconnectivity of our being – if we consider it from a purely bodily material perspective. The outward manifestation of an existence – be it a leaf, the flower of a plant, a fish, a bird, a mammal or a human being – is transient. Yet its spirit is not.

Because the spirit is free of time. “The spirit cannot be destroyed by time” said Erwin Schrödinger. And according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics no energy is lost in space. Spirit is energy. But if energy cannot be lost in space, does it then exist over and beyond all forms of metabolism? Is there such a thing as a spiritual metabolism in the universe? This is an intriguing question whose answer we will only know – if we get to know it at all – when our eternal sprit has separated itself from our ephemeral bodies.


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