LIFE–AND THE VEIL OF DEATH (part 4)

Having now given you my picture of life on earth, for those of you who are willing, I want to take you to the veil of death, which just happens to correspond with preparing you for the time of birth. What? Am I sure I didn’t write that backwards? I am sure. Due to extraordinary experiences, I have witnesssed a process the likes of which conjures up one of the oldest philosophical questions ever asked, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

I still cannot answer that, I hope I did not get your hopes up. But having said that, I need to ask what happened to the chicken that emerged from the first egg? She died. And humans have been eating chickens and eggs ever since…

Yes, I am joking, but not completely. The first living beings on earth reproduceded, and were born again. I bet you’ve heard that phrase before, and where do you suppose it came from? Christ? Wrong! It came from Buddha. And he actually took it from the Hindus, who probably took it from the Jains–but nobody is counting.

So let’s get back to life. One of the primary components of life, according to the definition of life I quoted at the start of this series of posts, is death. Why do you think that is? If we somehow became immortal, would we not still be alive? Technically, if life can be considered technical, I think we would still be considered alive, but immortality might challenge another requirement of life, continuous change. How long could someone or something exist before it became so bored with life it would stop changing? One hundred years?  500 years? 10,000 years? 1,000,000 years? There is, of course, no way to answer this question, but if a body could last 1,000,000 years, would a mind last that long? Again no one can know, but I’m betting at some point change would cease. And when it did, that would at the very least be the equivalent of death. So, in my pinion, death is a necessary part of life.

Why? Because it allows us go go through a totally different kind of change, one which cannot happen here in this physical realm. If you will allow me to digress again for a moment, let us look at the concept of reincarnation. Exactly where it started, or who started it, we cannot say. The oldest concept I can find of it is in the Sanskrit language, often considered as related to some of the oldest languages on earth. But this is taking us into pre-history, so unlike Abrahamic religions, Indian religions such as Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism all have some basis in the continuity of life after death. And I see to reason to disavow life of this wonderful, and necessary, process of life.

Jainism is apparently older than Hinduism, definitely older than Buddhism, and similarly older than all Abrahamic religions. Having said that, I cannot find how reincarnation in Jainism works, but in Hinduism it is believed that individual souls reincarnate over and over again. Buddhism takes that idea and changes it to take away the vagaries of continual rebirth and gives the individual some power of how or when or where they will reincarnate.

In all three above religions, karma plays a big part in the reincarnation process. Many people in the west think they understand the concept of karma, and use the word in ways it was never intended. Yet, they have it basically right, if you hurt others you will be hurt in this life or a following life. Karma is a kind of universal system of vengeance, and in Hinduism your past will catch up with you, though probably not in your present incarnation. Buddhists allow you to manipulate your karma, so you can atone for things you have done in hour past. It is not exactly like Catholic confession, yet Catholic confession is highly based on a manipulated form of karma. All in all, though, each stage of life in the process of reincarnation is more or less predicated on previous behaviour.

My own belief is quite different, yet it did grow out of the eastern idea of reincarnation. For me, though, karma is not a factor. In fact, I do not believe karma can exist in whatever form one might think it could. Still, the western concept of sin is based on the eastern concept of karma, so I think it needs to be looked at. For karma to come into play in life, one must have either done something good for someone (creating good karma) or something hurtful (creating bad karma). Think of it as god writing all your good deeds and sins in a ledger, and counting them up at some point and either rewarding you or condemning you. This is the state Christ* supposedly found religion in when he returned from his travels in the desert. (See part 2 of this series.) If Christ had studied in India, he would have brought a lot of these concepts home with him, including sin (karma), and rebirth or being born again (reincarnation). But as I also said in part 2, he could not explain these concepts to the people he tried to teach because the concepts had no basis in their languages. Hebrew, Greek, Latin, none of them could cope with reincarnation or karma. So he winged it, and thus brought himself down to the level of his followers, and nothing came out the way it was intended.

Life on the earthly plane, as I believe it to be, is a spiritual journey before anything else. It is a process of the sparks inside our cells being reincarnated over and over into earthly life forms in order to learn how to be good, compassionate living beings. We, the group minds for those sparks, are not here to suffer, nor are we here to overindulge ourselves. We are here to understand how to be “godly,” but not to be gods. Each of us has inside of us a vision of what a good life might look like, and the more lives we live the better that vision generally becomes. Individual beings are not reincarnated, though if you are a reader of my past posts you will know I have been struggling with this concept. In writing this account of life I think I have come to envision (remember) how reincarnation does work. So, to Sha’Tara goes a big thank you for suggesting this post which turned into a whole series of posts. Thank you. And to you, dear readers, I hope you will read this treatise,  think about it, take what you want from it, leave behind what you do not want.

I have not finished yet everything I want to say, and I haven’t yet drawn you a complete picture of what I believe. I don’t even know that I can do either of those tasks, but I think now I have laid the groundwork for future posts.

Please felt free to leave your comments, pro, con, or otherwise. It is by being challenged that I am able to strengthen my understanding of life. And I am ready to move on to the next step in this journey I am on.

But, as I try to do, I want to remind you that these beliefs are my beliefs,  and I do not want anyone to believe me because I say so. Life is about looking inside yourself to find out what is true for you. Not everyone is ready to do that,  but they will be. If you aren’t ready now, you will be. It is all part of the process that we call life. And when you come right down to it, life is all we have. Without life, we have nothing.

Until next time…

*-Just a reminder that I still think Christ is a character in a fiction, but after writing this post I am a little more able to see he might have been real, if he actually did study in India. The beliefs of Christianity are definitely based in Buddhism, but twisted to point in other directions. This is a critical error, but an understandable one. If the man Christ existed, he certainly was human.

On Capitalism, and the RC Church

In my opinion, the Spirit of Capitalism is greed, no matter how you cut it. Exactly where it came from I cannot say, but certainly one of its roots was Ancient Greece, and another was Christianity. Neither of these roots started out as greed-obsessed qualities, but it did not take long, historically-speaking, for either one to honour the possession of goods and money above all else. Ancient Greece started with a polity, an organized society with a structured form of civil government, where all male citizens could vote, while women, children, slaves, and foreigners living in the polity could not. Christianity, which at the time was defined only as Roman Catholicism, started as an underground political rebellion in Judea, where supposedly the religious teacher Jesus Christ was co-opted to be the real King of the Jews instead of Herod. According to ancient history the rebellion was put down and Christ was killed. His followers spread out across parts of the Roman Empire, since the Jewish people did not believe Christ was a prophet from god, and spread his teachings among the poor and unhealthy. From these humble beginnings Christianity grew to overtake almost the whole of the European-influenced world. The Roman Catholic Church became the richest single entity in the Western sphere of influence, and capitalism, the pursuit of land, goods, and money, became its creed. Government and religion came together to make a centuries-long unbreakable union, with the rulers being (almost exclusively) male members of the aristocracy and the priesthood (clergy), working together to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Laws that were made fairly arbitrarily still reflected the ten commandments of Moses (a biblical character from the Old Testament). The lines between political ethics and religious morals blurred until they were virtually indistinguishable.
Money, otherwise useless bits of metal, was made to represent value, all of it owned by the nobility and the Church for the longest time, represented power, and until a middle class started to develop in the Middle Ages, only the most exceptional, and/or vicious, of men could raise up from the lower classes to the upper classes. Women were chattel, belonging to the men, as were their children, and they took their position in life from their fathers and husbands.
Capitalism was still suffering its growth pains at this time, and was not yet a factor in the Western world, or anywhere else, for that matter. But as craftsmen began to join guilds, more money was leaving the coffers of the rich, and being transferred into the hands of certain groups of society. The middle class was emerging from poverty to monied. It was a slow process, almost invisible to the aristocracy. As for the Church, as long as the money kept coming in, they did not care where it was coming from.
At this point in time, though there was infighting and bickering between members of the aristocracy, and between certain levels of the clergy, society was still mainly group-centered. People were individuals, surely, but they were treated as communities, so-to-speak. Killing a peasant was meaningless to aristocrats, they made no real distinction between members of the lower classes. As for those peasants, or even slaves, there was little difference between members of the ruling classes. Some nobles or monarchs might be less vicious than others, but all in all the poor lived at the mercy or vanity of the rich. Who killed them, or stole their few belongings and food, did not matter. There was little to choose between one ruler and the next.
But those in the middle class were not only gaining in money owned, they were also gaining in distinctiveness. First came pride in being a craftsman, second came pride in how much they were earning as opposed to what their fellow guild-members were making. And certain guilds were earning more money than other guilds, and all these things started to distinguish one group from another, and one person from another. Thus individuals were gaining fame and or notoriety, and capitalism had the foothold it had been looking for to grow and take over our society. Individuality blossomed, and the groups or classes became less important, while the individual grew in importance. And the Church, no longer a monopoly, but still the most powerful single entity in the world, praised the individual. Its monetary base grew exponentially, from classes of people, to groups of people, and now to people themselves, apart from almost all others. (Families, as in the nuclear family, would give as a group, but the group was small, and was guaranteed to create more individuals, and then more family groups. Jumping ahead for a moment, when the Church saw that planned family size was looming on the horizon, when it became possible to actively prevent pregnancies, and then to stop pregnancies, the Church responded quickly by preaching against the preventing of lives, or the ending of lives before birth, so that the number of their adherents would continue to increase, thus keeping the money flowing in. What the Church did not foresee was that ultimately this move would drive more people away from the Church than it provided, but in for an ounce, in for a ton. The Church cannot suddenly break faith with their adherents by proclaiming the advisability of planned families, of the use of contraceptives, or the legalizing of abortions within the religious laws. What was done can never be undone!)
I quote, “capitalism was ‘the most fateful power in our modern life’. More specifically, it controlled and generated modern [culture], the code of values by which people lived in the 20th-century [European-based world]–some ideas of Max Weber. I can agree with these ideas to a point, capitalism certainly had a huge effect on our present Western culture. But when he says something like “public behaviour was cool, reserved, hard and sober, governed by strict personal self-control” I think he goes too far. There are so many laws, secular and religious, that govern self-control that few individuals have the opportunity, or desire, to decide what personal self-control is. There are those (whom we call criminals) who deliberately break such laws of conduct, and there are those, whom we call mentally ill, whose inability to cope with the life required of them by capitalism literally cause them to lose their self-control, and then there are the few, known in psychological circles as self-empowered or self-actualized (see Abraham Maslow), who demonstrate self-control totally on their terms without advice from any laws, but I don’t see any of these groups or quasi-groups exercising hard and sober personal self-control, except possibly the self-empowered.
Capitalism is a lot of things, few of them good for humanity or for life itself, but it is not a power to itself, not in my mind. But, I could be wrong…

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE ULTIMATE IMPASSE

Hello Friends, It’s been awhile, which if I was a Canadian I might spend the next half-hour apologizing for, but while I was born and still live in Canada, I am a Child of the Universe, and for so-being I will not apologize for putting certain other activities ahead of this blog.

Also, I am going to start at the end of a conversation that took place today between myself, a spiritual atheist, and my friend named Peter who is a confirmed Deist. To make things even weirder, Peter is my mechanic, and I am his supplier of almost-free-of-THC medical marijuana. Sometimes when we meet to do business, we get into discussions between his religion and my philosophy.

Weirdest of all is that I am finding it necessary to start this blog, my first in what seems like months, with Peter’s and mine final sentences before saying “Good-bye,” for the afternoon. He, the deist, said to me, “Knowing that life exists proves to me [Peter] that God exists.” I on the other hand, restate my final declaration: “Knowing that Life exists allows me the freedom to think for myself, which tells me that no living being exists that can call itself God, or that we can call god.”

We are at that ultimate impasse where the person who was brought up to believe in a god-creator cannot see life without a god-creator. Meanwhile, though I was brought up to believe there was a god, creator or not, I learned to reject everything that was taught to me as a belief, and go with what I find within myself. There is no room for a god within me. There is only room for life. And life is eternal… And life is forever changing… Peter’s god is never-changing….

And yet we are so close together in thought it almost scares me. But he cannot make the leap from being a mostly-free-thinker to being a totally free thinker, whereas being a totally free thinker gives me the power to believe only that which I can find inside me, inside my mind, inside my spirit. This is like being in that proverbial place between a rock and a hard place–for both of us. Yet I cannot go back to believing in a god, nor do I want to, while he, Peter, cannot take that final step that makes him completely free.

The question, therefore, becomes does one of us need to change in order to co-exist, or is it sufficiently acceptable for both of us to accept the other as he is and allow life to go on, each of us in our own way. My gut tells me I can go on, because that is part of who I am. Accept everyone for who they are at this time, knowing they cannot escape the inescapable, when the time is right to move on, Peter will make that final step to totally free thinking and realize god cannot exist, and I for my turn will continue to search for what comes after accepting atheism as reality. This, I believe, is what upsets me so much about people who declare themselves atheists yet spend all their time still denying the existence of god. I see them as stuck, unable to move on, even when that too must change when it is time to make the change. I think I must be angry at myself, frustrated with myself for not being able to envision what comes next. Becoming atheist cannot be the be-all and end-all of life. Humanity is too inquisitive to allow that to be the ultimate goal. It contradicts my third condition of life, that need to keep on evolving. There was once a time I was satisfied having freed myself from the control of others, from taking complete responsibility for who and what I am and do. I am no longer satisfied with that position. I needed a rest after getting there, but now it is time to move again. But where?

But where?