reverence for life & death

refugees 001.

A couple days ago, one of my readers sent me this heartbreaking image of an unfolding tragedy on a Turkish beach, an image which had gone viral in Europe and elsewhere in the world. The image has now hit the American social media.

The Kurdish boy who washed up on the beach was identified  by officials as 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi. He was in one of two boats carrying 23 people that set off separately from the Akyarlar area of Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula, apparently headed to the Greek island of Kos, where the passengers would have attempted to enter the European Union. Reports suggested that his family’s ultimate destination was Canada.

Instead, officials said, the boat capsized, and Aylan drowned and washed up a few miles to the northeast in Turkey, not far from a beach resort. The dead included five other children—among them Aylan’s 5-year-old brother—and his 35-year-old mother. The father is devastated.

I was reminded of a quote by Albert Camus: “They had not lived enough, never having lived at all.”

The photo was released on the Internet, doubtlessly to fuel outrage at the fates of migrants and political refugees looking for a better life. But it had a different effect on me. I felt no rage.

I have been reflecting for some time about how crowded our world has become.

Human population has been growing continuously since the end of the Black Death, although the most significant increase has been in the last 50 years (due to medical advancements, agricultural productivity, and abundant cheap energy). Mankind’s presence can be seen over 80% of the Earth’s land mass; we are now impacting the natural cycles and processes which govern our planet.

Most estimates for the carrying capacity of the Earth under existing conditions are between 4 billion and 16 billion. The human population of the world was recently 7 billion. By 2025 the world population is expected to grow by an additional 1 billion. By 2050, there is expected to be another 1 billion people beyond that. Depending on which estimate you use, overpopulation has likely already occurred.

How does this affect the value we place on human life, even the life of a single human child?

I have also been reflecting on death and what it really means. I am not as unfamiliar with it as most people are. I have provided hospice care for three people—two friends and my wife—and I have witnessed (directly or indirectly) the deaths of numerous other family members, friends, and strangers. I’ve learned to face it unflinchingly, to be unafraid.

Moreover, my work on behalf of parricides has led me to look on the bright side of some people exiting this world—people who were so cruel, violent, selfish, and sick of spirit that they had no business parenting kids.

My belief in reincarnation has led me to conclude that death is not as big a deal as made out by our society and most conventional religions. Life and death are not absolute experiences belonging to separate categories, but are just two sides of the same reality, seemingly polar-opposites that are but parts of a single, larger whole, two aspects of the same thing. A good death, a happy one at that, is a crowning glory to a good, happy life.

Death of the body is but a transition that affects less than 5% of who and what we are in total. As you may surmise from my last couple posts, I am attempting to develop a personal philosophy that is more accepting and embracing of this final act of life.

I have been much impressed by a statement I heard recently that we survivors owe it to those who have died not to grieve excessively, because it causes the dead to be bound to this plane and prevents them from moving on.

I wonder if I have been guilty of this transgression, this act of self-absorption? I wonder also if I have been unavailable to love others as fully as I might have done? Over the last 21 years, have I to some degree closed myself off from the wonders of the living world?

The grand unity of life manifests itself through the intriguing similarities exhibited by all living forms. Life implores and deserves reverence. Reverence for life, Albert Schweitzer’s legacy to mankind, deserves a balancing opposite, a reverence for death. In its manifold sense, this dual focus is a way towards still further reaches of human nature and human soul.

Only when we embrace death can we fully experience life.


refugees 002 - cropped.


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dark matter


Current ideas of cosmology posit that matter accounts for 31.7% of the mass-energy content of the universe, and that 84.5% is invisible dark matter. In other words, most of the universe is not directly observable; it must be inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, on radiation, and on the large-scale structure of the universe.

I don’t profess to understand it, but belief in dark matter and energy sounds a lot like the idea from ancient and medieval science of “aether” or “ether,” which was thought to be the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere. The concept of aether was used in several theories to explain natural phenomena such as the traveling of light and gravity. In the late 19th century, physicists postulated that aether permeated all space, providing a medium through which light could travel in a vacuum.

For reasons that (again) I don’t understand, dark energy and aether are not the same thing; in fact, the website from NPR’s Science Friday says that most popular discussions confuse dark matter and dark energy with the discredited idea of the aether, which are not the same. In fact, says the website, they are precisely the opposite.

Yet this is not a scientific blog and I know when I am out of my depth. However, what fascinates me about dark matter is that current science accepts its existence despite the fact that it cannot be directly observed. If you accept the fact that the human eye is capable of observing only certain wave-lengths, it is a small leap to accept that scientific instruments, as human imperfect inventions, may likewise be capable of observing only a limited number of wave lengths. If you were to picture the known spectrum of wave lengths as a line extending from New York to Los Angeles, the portion that can be observed by the human eye is only the size of a dime. Yet we cannot claim that this imaginary line of electromagnetic waves, infinite though it may be, is all there is. From thence it is yet another small leap to posit that the souls of departed personalities may exist in a dimension which, like dark energy, we are unable to observe or measure.

Yesterday I watched a video in which a British engineer and mathematician, Ronald Pearson, says that invisible consciousness preceded the creation of visible matter and that it interpenetrates the visible universe. He maintains that the mind (or consciousness) and the brain are not the same, that the brain is only the visible “tip of the iceberg”—the raiment of clothing that reincarnationists say is shed upon death and and replaced at rebirth. He reminds us that the atoms of this physical, observable world are not solid, and is thus also occupied by the invisible universe of consciousness. He says when someone dies, he does not pass into another dimension, but remains in this one, only becoming invisible to others’ senses.

Says Pearson: “It’s like, if you’re tuned into BBC One, you can’t see BBC Two. The radio waves which are coming in from the station are still there in the same space, but you’re not tuned in to them.”

“Heaven” isn’t ‘up there,’ just as “hell” isn’t ‘down there.’ They’re right here, just as is the consciousness of those we love who have passed from our view.



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l’d have survived

reincarnation 5.

My apologies for dwelling on this subject, but I find it so important and fascinating.

Over the last several days, I have been indulging in a couple of my research passions: historical documentaries and reincarnation. Whether reviewing accounts of natural and man-made disasters, battles and wars, crimes and accidents, and other existential threats, I have found myself asking: “If I were there, would I have survived?”

The answer is “yes,” but not necessarily in the way you might think. My mortal self may have died in such an historical event, but my eternal self would have survived. I am sure of it.

According to data released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a quarter of Americans believe in reincarnation—so I am not alone in my conviction. Interestingly, says Pew, women are more likely to believe in reincarnation, and Democrats are more likely to believe than Republicans… but those facts are beside the point. Besides, I am none of the above.

This emerging belief in reincarnation is a steep departure from the traditional Judaeo-Christian-Muslim narrative with which most Americans are familiar. In religious terms, the contemporary narrative—birth, life, death and rebirth—has for millennia been relatively unchallenged in the West. You were born. You lived. You died. After a judgment you went to heaven or hell forever and ever. Eternity was the final word: no appeals allowed.

But nearly a billion Hindus and a half-billion Buddhists—not to mention the ancient Greeks, certain Jews and a few Christians—have for thousands of years believed something entirely different. Theirs is, as both theologians and scientists say, a cyclical view. You are born. You live. You die. And because nobody’s perfect, your soul is born again—not in another location or sphere, and not in any metaphorical sense, but right here on earth. This view makes sense to me because my own studies have led me to the conclusion that cycles order everything else in the Universe—so why not the human soul, as well?

A couple days ago, I listened to a speech delivered by Hugh Lynn Cayce, the son of mystic Edgar Cayce, on reincarnation. In that speech, Cayce asserted that time—past, present, and future—is an illusion, that everything is actually happening at once. Souls can reincarnate, he says, into the past as well as the future.

In a August 2010 New York Times article by Lisa Miller, the religion editor for Newsweek, the Cornell-trained New York City-based psychiatrist Dr. Paul DeBell is quoted as saying that a belief in reincarnation “allows you to experience history as yours. It gives you a different sense of what it means to be human.”

When I encounter people—or stories about people—who say they are disinterested in history because they do not perceive its relevance to their lives, I know I am seeing people who are extremely undeveloped in their souls’ journeys. On August 23, it was reported that ISIS had blown up the 1st-century temple of Baalshamin at Palmyra in Syria, and on August 30 they demolished the Temple of Bel with explosives. Satellite imagery of the site taken shortly after showed almost nothing remained.

These fanatics will be remembered by history—along with the Taliban who destroyed so many Buddhist sites—as some of the most primitive ideologues of all time. If reincarnation is indeed the way that human beings achieve higher states of consciousness, one can only surmise they will eventually experience the rudest of awakenings when, upon death, they are confronted with the depths of their ignorance and greed.


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In my descriptions of the runes, I have been using the term “fortnight,” without appreciating that it is an archaic word not much used in America. Sorry ’bout that.

A fortnight is a unit of time equal to 14 days (2 weeks). The word derives from the Old English fēowertyne niht, meaning “fourteen nights“.

Fortnight and fortnightly are commonly-used words elsewhere in the English-speaking world, where some wages, salaries and social security benefits are paid on a fortnightly basis—except in North America, where it is rare outside of some Canadian regions and insular traditional communities such as the Amish in the US.

In astronomy, a fortnight is half a synodic month, the mean average time between a full moon and a new moon (and vice versa). This is equal to 14.77 days.

In the Hindu calendar this period is called a Paksha and consists of 15 Tithi, or lunar days of 18 to 26 hours.


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end-of-the-world update

Delphic Sibyl by Michelangelo


According to web-based prophets of doom, we have only two or three weeks before the next anticipated collapse of everything we regard as normalcy. How many alerts have we been through before? At least four dates predicted by Harold Camping. Y2K. The “end” of the Mayan calendar in 2012. A firestorm was even predicted for 2013 by Grigori Rasputin (yes, the same guy who brought down the Romanov dynasty) in which most life on earth was to have been destroyed. Now, according to John Hagee and others, we’re supposed to be terrified by four “blood moons” in 2014-2015.

I’m not too worried. I have a full water supply and a two year-subsistence food supply… though I don’t really expect I’ll have to use it. As I have said with every prior apocalyptic prophesy: if living out here has taught me anything, it is that the sun will always rise the morning-after. The greatest danger of disaster exists between our ears and in places where there is a cacophony of mindless panic—in cities, schools, and on the Internet.

This isn’t to say that something bad won’t happen—bad stuff happens every day—but it is not a foregone conclusion that the bad stuff will defeat us. In fact, any coming adversity may just be the making of our world.

There is no education like adversity. Good things, new things, are often birthed from adversity. In fact, innovation is typically the only means of overcoming adversity. A spiritual rebirth out of adversity causes us to become new creatures. The ultimate function of prophecy is not to tell the future, but to imagine and make it. A better future would be impossible without adversity, otherwise we would be stuck in the past forever.

But more than likely, we will have to continue to muddle on as before. That second shoe never seems to drop.


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l told you so

Darren GoforthIn my post “The People Against the Police,” I predicted instances of the public lashing out against police officers such as occurred Friday night, when sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth, 47, was shot dead in a “cold-blooded execution” by an assailant while gassing his vehicle near Houston TX.

At a press conference Saturday afternoon, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman announced that Shannon J. Miles, 30, a person who had been in custody since early Saturday morning, is charged with capital murder.

Shannon J milesInvestigators say Goforth had worked an accident scene at around 8:30 pm, then went to a gas station. As he was pumping gas, detectives say Miles approached Goforth from behind, said nothing and fired multiple shots. The Houston Chronicle says: “Even after Goforth fell to the ground, the man continued firing shot after shot into his body before fleeing in a red or maroon Ford Ranger pickup.

Goforth was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a news conference early Saturday afternoon, a visibly angry Hickman said that “the working motive for this at this point is absolute madness.” Hickman lashed out at what he called “incendiary rhetoric” about law enforcement.

Hickman said the motive for the killing had not been determined but investigators would look at whether Miles, who is black, was motivated by anger over recent killings elsewhere of black men by police that have spawned the “Black Lives Matter” protest movement. Officials say Goforth had no previous interaction with Miles.

An angry and shaken District Attorney Devon Anderson said while there will always be “a few bad apples” that “vast majority of police officers are good,” she said. That’s true, but it sidesteps the fact that a police culture has evolved nationally which views the police officer as warrior and the average citizen as the enemy. Think of an apple crate in which rot has been steadily spreading to even the good apples.

Goforth was apparently guilty of nothing more than wearing his deputy’s uniform. His murder appears to be a purely opportunistic crime. This type of incident will likely become a more common thing until the police do something to reform their culture and redeem themselves in the eyes of the people.



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cops killed



monument valley road 2.

This is the first day of the fortnight (August 29 – September 12) governed by the rune Rad or Raidho. It has a phonetic value of “R.” Its meaning is variously described as “road,” “riding” (as on horseback), “wagon,” and “wheel” (as on a wagon or chariot). In fact, the German word “Rad” does translate as “wheel.” It is referred to as the “travelers rune.” However, my preference of meaning is “road,” as I have devoted so many years to driving and understand the road as a unifying metaphor.

raidhoIn its essence, Rad signifies the channeling of your life-force along the right road leading to the right result. The “right road” traces a particular path leading to your particular destiny. Everyone’s pathways reflect the natural laws of Karma and Dharma. Your “right” path illuminates the way forward and gives you the means to get there. This dynamic is reinforced by the Rad’s position opposite Tyr (meaning “arrow”) on the Runic Compass. I think of this pairing as representing the arrow of eternal time.

The relationship of Rad and Tyr along a single axis also has special significance to me because it was within the fortnight of Rad that Holly died. Somehow the timing of her death seemed appropriate: it was an auspicious time for her to be traveling the road on her soul journey. That the rune on the other end of the axis is Tyr reminded me that her journey through time would ultimately result in spiritual triumph. It was a strange comfort to me that her death seemed to come at the appropriate time.

I have since come to understand this soul journey we take at a deep level that I know as truth. We are eternal spirits who have serial human experiences. We each come into this lifetime with a spiritual “learning assignment.” We are born into particular families and circumstances in order to experience certain lessons which can be framed within an overarching theme—and probably several stacked themes as you think into it more deeply.

One of the major themes in my present lifetime has been “Learning from Illness and Death.” From the time since I was a young boy, most of the significant people in my life have had chronic illnesses and disabilities. Many of the most important lessons in my life have resulted from my observation of, and participation in, the challenges and choices that have accompanied the mental and physical maladies of people I love. The greatest emotional landmarks in my life history have included standing in for my mother at the commitment of my father to a VA hospital when I was twelve years old and Holly using my finger as a bite-stick when a surgical tube was being removed from her abdomen without anesthetic. Now that I am older and experiencing irreversible changes in my own health, it is clear that I have been learning and preparing my whole life to live well and wisely in this present moment.

When it is my time to die, I know there will a review of my life and a summation of what it has taught me and what I have learned before I am given my next assignment and continue down the road of spiritual progress. I am blessed that I have had glimpses of my immediate past life, and through them, have gained a sense of the continuity of experience which exists from one lifetime to the next. This continuity is for me the deepest meaning of Rad and the “road” it represents.

In esoteric terms, Rad also represents the “vehicle” which must be employed in order to achieve anything, but most important, to achieve spiritual development. Rad signifies the necessity to appropriately channel our energies and attention if we wish to achieve the results we desire. The emphasis of Rad is being in the right place at the right time to perform the right act.

But the main emphasis is on personal transformation. It signifies seeking and striving, a quest and search for spiritual wisdom. Rad symbolizes our conscious attempts at controlling the facts which affect our fate and well-being. Rad also symbolizes the wheel of the year, with which we must come into harmony if we are to live a reasonably successful life. This is reinforced by observation of such natural phenomena as the daily path of the sun and the cycles of nature and humanity. Good advice and judgment according to right order are ascribed to Rad.

Materially, Rad can mean physical travel, a change of address, or forced relocation.

Magically, Rad can be used to explore the unknown. Applied to another person, it arouses restlessness and dissatisfaction, and causes changes in life which may be good or bad depending on which runes accompany it.


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