Spirituality * Culture * Self-Expression

Category: Self-Expression

Don’t Know Much

Awhile ago, my feline friend, Bella, wasn’t feeling well, so I took her to see the veterinarian. The Vet did a full exam – blood tests, x-rays – even kept her overnight to work on her symptoms. In the end, the Vet didn’t know what was wrong with her, how she got sick or how to treat her – and could not explain how Bella got better all on her own.

I recently read about a tomb uncovered on the island of Cyprus – my ancestral home. The tomb was 9,500 years old and contained a human and a cat laid out side by side surrounded by decorative jewels and artifacts. The cat died of natural causes and was clearly a beloved member of the family. Cats are not native to Cyprus so someone deliberately brought her to the island with them. This is the oldest evidence of cat / human fellowship ever found – far older than even Egyptian sources where cats were deified. Since it is unlikely that this is the actual first human / cat pairing, our relationship with domesticated cats must go back several hundred years before the internment. I think it is safe to say that humans and cats have closely interacted for more than 10,000 years.

10,000 years of cats living with us in society, in our homes, even sleeping in our beds – and yet, what do we know about them? Not very much. We can make guesses about their behavior but, who knows what’s really going on in the mind of a cat?

For that matter, what’s going on in the mind of a human? After a million years or more of history, what do we know about ourselves? Not very much.

There are dozens of competing scientific theories of personality and human psychology as well as many more theories in the realms of philosophy, religion and spirituality – but, nothing really definitive. Why do people do the things they do? It’s all just guesswork and speculation. After a million years of being human we still can’t say for sure what it means to be human. Why do people seek power over others? Why do people kill? Why do people adhere to fanatical belief system? Why do people fall in love? The are no clear answers.

Yet, there are many people who will tell you that they know the exact reasons why spirits, angels, demons, deities and extraterrestrials do the things they do: what their motives are, why they are on Earth, what they want for and from humanity. How could anyone know such things when they can’t tell you why one human prefers strawberry to pistachio ice cream? THEY CAN’T. It’s at best well thought out speculation and at worst self-delusion or deliberate attempts to deceive.

In reality, we don’t know much about cats and dogs; we don’t know much about humans; and we, certainly, don’t know much about other worldly beings. We just don’t know much about anything at all.

My Birthday

Today, April the 8th, is my birthday and I think I’ve finally accepted the idea of being middle aged. However, I still think I’m far from being mature.

Today I will do all my favorite things: meditate, exercise, study, sing, dance and …

Oh yeah …

… eat copious amounts of junk food and drink alcohol until I pass out.

Strange as it seems, some of us treat celebrations, especially of birth, as an excuse to over indulge in self-destructive behavior. We eat too much, drink too much, stay up too late, and, maybe, try to get into some trouble all in the name of having a good time.

It’s almost like we’re saying to Death “come and get me, you bastard, I’m not afraid of you.”

Yes, it is very strange. But then, life itself is strange. We find ourselves, year after year, perpetually spinning around our little star wondering what life on Earth is all about and what, if anything, awaits us after we leave our earthly bodies.

Well, that’s a different discussion.

Today, as I celebrate the occasion of my birth, I humbly offer you, my faithful readers, these words:

 Love and Blessings and all good wishes for Peace Profound.

Alone

One of my favorite poems also happens to have been written by one of my favorite authors. I’ve always found a strange connection with Edgar Allen Poe, even though our lives have little in common. Perhaps it’s that weird sense of spiritual connection that mystics often have with each other. Poe’s stories and poems, both in terms of the rhythm of the language as well as the subject matter and content seem to vibrate with my own consciousness.

Edgar Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809 and died October 7, 1849 at age 40. He was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of American literature in general and was one of the first American writers to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. He was one of the country’s earliest practitioners of the short story, considered the inventor of detective fiction, a key contributor to early science fiction, and an influence on the fields of cosmology and cryptography.  

His father, an actor, abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother, also an actor, died the following year. Thus orphaned, Poe was taken in by an unrelated couple, John and Frances Allan, who never officially adopted him but raised him and gave him the middle name “Allan.”  There was financial conflict in the family due to Poe’s gambling and alcohol addictions and young Edgar never finished school. He tried different careers including the military before publishing a collection of poems in 1827 with some success – after which he separated from John Allan.

For a time, Poe focused on prose writing and worked with several literary journals. He got married in 1836 to his 13-year-old cousin. Life was a struggle. In 1845 he published perhaps his best-known poem “the Raven” and things should have gone well after that – however, in 1847, his young wife died of tuberculosis. Career problems, gambling debts, alcoholism, melancholy and spiritual angst led to a strange incident that could have been drawn from one of his own stories. On October 3, 1849 Poe was found wondering the streets, delirious and in great distress. He was never able to explain what happened to him – especially why he was found wearing a stranger’s clothing. He was taken to a hospital and died October 7, 1849, at age 40. The cause of his death is still unknown. Was it due to syphilis, cholera, epilepsy, heart disease, alcoholism, substance abuse, suicide – even rabies? No one knows. All medical records associated with his death have been lost: including his death certificate.  

This poem was written in 1829 but remained unpublished until 1875.

ALONE

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

Will Oil Run Out?

The German chemist Caspar Neumann coined the term “fossil fuel” in 1759, and opened the door for the false belief that petroleum was formed from the remains of dinosaurs. Today, the consensus is that petroleum and natural gas are actually formed from biomass – mostly plankton, decaying marine organisms and single celled bacteria. Petroleum was around for billions of years before the age of dinosaurs and, probably, continues to be formed today.

When oil began to be heavily used, particularly to power automobiles, predictions began to appear that oil supplies would soon be depleted. Every few years some government agency, chemist, geologist, Nobel laureate or other intellectual would conclude that the age of “fossil fuels” was at an end – that within a few decades, there would be no more petroleum. All the predictions have proven to be false as new oil deposits and more efficient techniques for the discovery and uses for oil are continually developed.

Petroleum is abundant on multiple continents. The issue today is that the deposits are difficult to access. But technology continues to make advances in location and extraction processes ensuring a constant supply. The reason so many predictions of depletion have failed to come to pass is that they are mostly based on calculations of known deposits. Its like people looking at a giant apple tree and assuming that once all the apples that have already fallen to ground are collected, there will be no more fruit. They fail to take into account that the tree itself is filled to the top with apples.  

Scientists are mostly atheists and, thus, don’t acknowledge a profound spiritual truth – we live in an abundant Universe, on a planet of abundance.

Once people started looking at the sky with telescopes it did not take them long to start calculating just how many stars there were in the universe. They eventually concluded that there were about 100 billion stars. A big number, but still limited. Then in 1924 with a more advanced telescope, Edwin Hubble came to the astounding conclusion that many of the so-called stars out there were actually entire OTHER galaxies. It soon became apparent that the Universe was far larger than anyone had ever believed possible. Current estimates are of 400 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone, with, perhaps, hundreds of billions of other galaxies filled with billions of stars of their own. There are possibly trillions of stars in the Universe.

The Universe is abundant.

Until recently, people thought the Earth was unique in the Universe. Today, however, we believe that almost all the stars in the Universe have planetary systems of their own. And based on the vast number of stars, there could be billions and billions of Earth-like planets.

The Universe is abundant.

We also used to believe that water and a breathable atmosphere were unique to the Earth. It now appears that some form of air and water and other natural resources exist not just throughout our solar system but throughout the whole Universe. And with so many Earth-like planets out there, the possibility of life – even intelligent life – might also exist on millions of worlds.

The Universe is abundant.

We live on a planet of abundance. Our Earth will continue to supply all the needs of life as long as we manage our resources. While we require them, oil and petroleum products will continue to be found and found in profusion. Oil will not run out. Perhaps, there will come a time when we simply no longer need oil or want to use it – that, however, is a different issue.

A Vow

A Buddha is an individual who has attained full Enlightenment – a person who is fully Awakened. Someone in this state is free of the Wheel of Birth, Death and Re-birth. In other words, a Buddha is able, once and for all, to leave behind the material world and enter Nirvana – the state of ultimate Liberation.

A Bodhisattva is someone who is on the path to Buddhahood. This person has taken a vow to do everything possible to attain the fully Enlightened state. A Bodhisattva lives only to become Awakened no matter how many lifetimes it takes or how difficult the struggle.  

Some Bodhisattvas also make a further vow – a vow that they will refuse to move onto Nirvana, even after becoming fully Awake, until all other sentient beings have entered before them.

Perhaps the most well known such person in the Dalai Lama. The current Dalai Lama (the one in exile) is the 14th incarnation of a Bodhisattva who made this vow hundreds of years ago. He continues to be reborn in the material world to help everyone else become liberated from the Wheel.

Now, I do not claim to be a Buddha. Neither am I a Bodhisattva. However, in this time of Covid, I have taken a similar type of vow.

My vow is this: I will not, willingly, take the Covid vaccine until everyone else who might want it has had the chance to take it before me. I will do all in my power to fulfill this vow. In this way, I will put all my fellow sentient beings ahead of me and assume the least and lowest position in the line. Only after all others have been inoculated will I take the vaccine myself.

It is important to understand that I make this vow in full humility and as a result of my concern for the well being of other people. This vow I take has nothing whatsoever to do with the possibility that the vaccine doesn’t actually work; that it doesn’t actually cure the virus; that it doesn’t actually protect anyone from getting the virus; that, even after taking the vaccine, it is still necessary to wear a mask and practice social distancing; that any resistance to the virus provided by the vaccine is likely only temporary and may require further inoculations in the future; or that, after taking the vaccine, many people display strange allergic reactions to it and some even die as a result.

No. I am not concerned with these trivial issues. My motives are honorable. I will not take the Covid vaccine until everyone else has had the chance to be inoculated and experiences restored good health.

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