UNDISCOVERED GENIUS

A commentary on the history, contexts, and meanings of the word "genius."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

19 Death I

19 Death I


The subject of today's sermon is death. There are many signs of death, and there are many TIMES of death. Death is a single moment of separation from earthly life, but death is also an attitude that pervades our daily lives, as a background vibration that hums in our ears from the very beginning of life. We will hear many comments, in this sermon, about life after death, but I confess that I am not that interested in that whole life-after-death scenario: we will talk about that next week.

Today, I'm not that interested in thinking about heaven. There are SO many different pictures given to us by people who have had near-death experiences, by people who soul travel, by people who channel visions, that I am sure that everybody's heaven is somewhat different; this not because existence after death is is different for everybody, but because, like on the earth plane, I'm sure there are many levels of heaven which attract birds of a feather, including some very high abstract levels, some comfortable medium levels that look kind of like Leave It To Beaver's middle America, and some hellish levels.

The world is filled with people who have a very specific idea of exactly what happens after death, and what their heaven will be like; but I don't have a good picture in mind, so it's not of interest to me even to attempt to paint one. However the moment of death, the significance of death in our daily lives, and the preparation for death is of extreme interest to me, and that is the focus of the quotes that I have assembled here to present and discuss. We begin with an assortment of Biblical  quotations including Old Testament prophetic statements, and some of New Testament comments on death.

Daniel 12:1-3-And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 - For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Psalms 115:17-18 - The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.  
[Sidebar: Interesting expression, "The dead praise not the LORD"--does this resonate with predestination?, i.e., are the living, praising the Lord ALREADY living life eternal? Are those pre-destined for death, ALREADY dead? Can those who live outside the radiance of divine consciousness someday partake of it, or is the silence, in which they live, destined to overtake them utterly?]
Proverbs 12:28 - In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

[Sidebar: One of the salient points of this sermon is that: to the righteous man there is no death, so why even talk about it?]
Luke 23:43 - And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

[Sidebar: I love this: this criminal seems to be the first of Jesus' guests in His heavenly mansion. Of course, I have heard the argument that there is a misplaced comma, and the scripture really reads: "Verily I say unto thee Today, (comma) thou shalt be with me in paradise.", that is to say, SOMEDAY you will be with me in Paradise. In this timeless spiritual universe, some people will quibble about anything.]


1 Corinthians 15:26 - The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

[Sidebar: we have heard Carlos Castaneda speak of death stalking us, as if death were our only true enemy. Perhaps facing death is the strategy by which we emasculate all of death's fearsome power to rob us of the vitality for living a righteous life.]

1 Corinthians 15:42-44
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

[Sidebar: we will hear this idea reiterated many times in the next few minutes.]
1 Corinthians 15:51 - Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

2 Corinthians 5:8 - We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 
Revelation 14:13
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."

[Sidebar: Again, we are told that our deeds will follow us into eternity. Is this not an argument in favor of the interpretation of here and now as an eternal moment? because: if our deeds follow us into eternity, they must have partaken of eternity all along!]

Now we have a group of quotations from various historical figures on the subject of death. There are several poetic romanticizations of death, but I have chosen many others that point to a moral imperative suggested by death:

---Mark Twain
"Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow."
 
Edgar Allan Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum
“In death - no! even in the grave all is not lost. Else there is no immortality for man. Arousing from the most profound slumbers, we break the gossamer web of some dream. Yet in a second afterward, (so frail may that web have been) we remember not that we have dreamed.” 

[Sidebar: Many philosophers have referred to this earthly life as the dream, and to the awakening into the spiritual life as the reality. In a timeless universe, must we, ought we, or even CAN we, tell the difference?]

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Psalm of Life
“Life is real! Life is earnest!
 
And the grave is not its goal;
 
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest, 
Was not spoken of the soul.” 


Kahlil Gibran
On Death
"Then Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death." 
And he said: 
You would know the secret of death. 
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light. 
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. 
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; 
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring. 
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. 
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour. 
Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? 
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling? 
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? 
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? 
Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing. 
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. 
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance."

[Sidebar: Again and again we hear, life and death are one, life and death are one! Is this a truism, or the actual truth?  The C.S. Lewis and Castaneda quotes below suggest the opposite--that life and death are NOT one, and that it is precisely the not-lifeness of death that endows it with such tremendous significance.]

C. S. Lewis
"It is hard to have patience with people who say "There is no death" or "Death doesn't matter." There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and the consequences of death are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn't matter."

Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan
“Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you're about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you're wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, 'I haven't touched you yet.”

[Sidebar: The following extensive quotes from C.G. Jung touch on several important issues. not the least of which is the question of "belief".]

---C. G. Jung:
"I have often been asked what I believe about death, that unproblematical ending of individual existence. Death is known to us simply as the end. It is the period, often placed before the close of the sentence and followed only by memories of aftereffects in others. For the person concerned, however, the sand has run out of the glass; the rolling stone has come to rest. When death confronts us, life always seems like a downward flow or like a clock that has been wound up and whose eventual “running down” is taken for granted. We are never more convinced of this “running down” than when a human life comes to its end before our eyes, and the question of the meaning and worth of life never becomes more urgent or more agonizing than when we see the final breath leave a body which a moment before was living.

How different does the meaning of life seem to us when we see a young person striving for distant goals and shaping the future, and compare this with an incurable invalid, or with an old man who is sinking reluctantly and without strength to resist into the grave! Youth — we should like to think — has purpose, future, meaning, and value, whereas the coming to an end is only a meaningless cessation. If a young man is afraid of the world, of life and the future, then everyone finds it regrettable, senseless, neurotic; he is considered a cowardly shirker.

But when an aging person secretly shudders and is even mortally afraid at the thought that his reasonable expectation of life now amounts to only so many years, then we are painfully reminded of certain feelings within our own breast; we look away and turn the conversation to some other topic. The optimism with which we judge the young man fails us here. Naturally we have on hand for every eventuality one or two suitable banalities about life which we occasionally hand out to the other fellow, such as “everyone must die sometime,” “one doesn’t live forever,” etc. But when one is alone and it is night and so dark and still that one hears nothing and sees nothing but the thoughts which add and subtract the years, and the long row of disagreeable facts which remorselessly indicate how far the hand of the clock has moved forward, and the slow, irresistible approach of the wall of darkness which will eventually engulf everything you love, possess, wish, strive, and hope for — then all our profundities about life slink off to some undiscoverable hiding place, and fear envelops the sleepless one like a smothering blanket. . . . ."

[Sidebar: HOWEVER:]

"There are these peculiar faculties of the psyche that are not entirely confined to space and time. You can have dreams or visions of the future … only ignorance will deny these facts…These facts show that the psyche, in part at least, is not dependent upon these confinements. Then what? When the psyche is not under that obligation to live in time and space, alone, and obviously it doesn't, then, to that extent, the psyche is not subject to those rules; and that means a practical continuation of life, of a sort of psychical existence beyond time and space.

Belief is a difficult thing for me--I don't believe--I must have a reason for a certain hypothesis, if I know a thing; and if I know it, I don't need to believe it. But when there are certain reasons for accepting certain hypothesis, I shall accept it naturally.

For, seen in correct psychological perspective, death is not an end but a goal, and life's inclination towards death begins as soon as the meridian is past."

[Continuing, on the subject of belief, Rudolf Steiner makes this contribution:]

---Rudolf Steiner: Metamorphoses of the Soul, Vol 1: Lecture 6: Asceticism and Illness – Berlin, 11th November 1909:

"We must not assume that everything which looks like blind faith is so. For example, we are told that in the old Pythagorean Mystery Schools  there was a familiar phrase: The Master has said. But this never meant: The Master has said, therefore we believe it! For his students it meant something like this: The Master has said; therefore it demands that we should reflect on it and see how far we can get with it if we bring all our forces to bear upon it. To “believe” need not always imply a blind belief springing from a desire for self-annihilation. It need not be blind belief if you accept communications springing from spiritual research because you trust the researcher. You may have learnt that his statements are in strictly logical form, and that in other realms, where his utterances can be tested, he is logical and does not talk nonsense. On this verifiable ground the student can hold a well-founded belief that the speaker, when he is talking about things not yet known to the student, has an equally sure basis for his statements."

[Below, Joseph Campbell poo-poos the whole idea of life after death (although, elsewhere, I have heard him speak affirmatively on the subject). The point here, once again, is that an overly intense interest in death can only compromise the intensity with which we live our lives, and an overly hysterical fear of death negates the whole acceptance of the eternal moment that we may enjoy in the here and now.]

Joseph Campbell
"I think the idea of life after death is a bad idea. It distracts you from appreciating the uniqueness of the here and now, the moment at which you are living. For example, if you think that when you die, your parents will be there and you'll live with them forever, you may no longer appreciate the significant moments that you share with them on earth.
Every moment is unique and will not be continued in eternity. This fact gives life its poignancy and should concentrate your attention on what you are experiencing now. I think that that is washed out a bit by the notion that everyone will be happy in heaven. You had better be happy here and now. You'd better experience the eternal here and now.....
If you concretize the symbol of heaven, the whole situation disintegrates. You think for example, that eternity is there and your life is here. You believe that God, the source of energy, is there and you are here and that he may come into your life or he may not. No No - that source of eternal energy is here - in you - now"

[I'm not sure if the following Aldous Huxley quote has any point to it, but it is definitely funny:]

---Aldous Huxley
"A belief in hell, and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the hands of a skeleton, have never prevented the majority of human beings from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumor."

The following article proposes some realistic strategies for dealing with the prospect of death in the here and now:

Steve Pavlina.com
LIFE AFTER DEATH
What can we reasonably say does NOT happen after death?
Obviously what's "reasonable" will differ a bit from person to person based on his/her context and beliefs, but I think most of us can agree on some fairly basic observations.
First, you can't take it with you. All your physical stuff stays here. Whenever someone dies, we notice that their stuff remains in the physical world. It doesn't suddenly vanish.
Another thing we notice is that our physical bodies stay here. That includes our heart, lungs, brain, hemp tattoos, etc. 
Also, it's fair to say that because the physical stuff stays here, then any knowledge and skills you've developed which are rooted in the physical world will become obsolete when you die. Your knowledge of HTML probably won't be of much use in the afterlife, unless of course there are dead computers in the afterlife too, such as my old Atari 800. I hope you still know BASIC. 
If we can take anything with us after death, then, it would have to be something non-physical in nature. And the non-physical part of ourselves is our consciousness. You can call it other names if you wish -- soul, spirit, etc. The exact term you use doesn't really matter. I'll use the term consciousness.

So we have a couple alternatives that seem reasonable to me:
1.    After we die we retain some part of our consciousness, but all the physical parts of our existence are lost.

[Sidebar: We really need to think about the scope of the word "physical" here. Our senses are able to detect certain frequencies of light, color, and sound, certain levels of pressure, and certain intensities of smell; but it is well-understood (from evidence provided by our huge arsenal of electronic gadgets) that there are frequencies of light that we cannot see, frequencies of sound that only dogs can hear, etc. If we can discern such fine gradations of matter in a photon, why is it so far-fetched to suggest that the soul, though invisible to our eyes, is still not, in some sense, a PHYSICAL entity?

Consider the neutrino, as described in Wikipedia:
"A neutrino (/nuːˈtriːnoʊ/ or /njuːˈtriːnoʊ/) is an electrically neutral, weakly interacting elementary subatomic particle with half-integer spin. The neutrino (meaning "small neutral one" in Italian) is denoted by the Greek letter ν (nu). All evidence suggests that neutrinos have mass but that their mass is tiny even by the standards of subatomic particles. Their mass has never been measured accurately.
Neutrinos do not carry electric charge, which means that they are not affected by the electromagnetic forces that act on charged particles such as electrons and protons. Neutrinos are affected only by the weak sub-atomic force, of much shorter range than electromagnetism, and gravity, which is relatively weak on the subatomic scale. Therefore a typical neutrino passes through normal matter unimpeded."
[Therefore a typical neutrino passes through normal matter unimpeded.]
"Neutrinos are created as a result of certain types of radioactive decay, or nuclear reactions such as those that take place in the Sun, in nuclear reactors, or when cosmic rays hit atoms. There are three types, or "flavors", of neutrinos: electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos. Each type is associated with an antiparticle, called an "antineutrino", which also has neutral electric charge and half-integer spin. Whether or not the neutrino and its corresponding antineutrino are identical particles has not yet been resolved, even though the antineutrino has an opposite chirality to the neutrino.
Most neutrinos passing through the Earth emanate from the Sun. About 65 billion (6.5×1010) solar neutrinos per second pass through every square centimeter perpendicular to the direction of the Sun in the region of the Earth.

In 1942 Wang Ganchang first proposed the use of beta-capture to experimentally detect neutrinos. In the 20 July 1956 issue of Science, Clyde Cowan, Frederick Reines, F. B. Harrison, H. W. Kruse, and A. D. McGuire published confirmation that they had detected the neutrino, a result that was rewarded almost forty years later with the 1995 Nobel Prize.
In this experiment, now known as the Cowan–Reines neutrino experiment, antineutrinos created in a nuclear reactor by beta decay reacted with protons producing neutrons and positrons:
ν
e + p+ → n0 + e+
The positron quickly finds an electron, and they annihilate each other. The two resulting gamma rays (γ) are detectable. The neutron can be detected by its capture on an appropriate nucleus, releasing a gamma ray. The coincidence of both events – positron annihilation and neutron capture – gives a unique signature of an antineutrino interaction."
The bottom line concerning neutrinos is that we cannot see them, we can just see where they have been. It's a lot like faith. It's also a lot like ghosts.

If science can detect and manipulate a particle as invisible as a neutrino, what might it someday accomplish on the frontier of spiritual reality? I am not suggesting that spirituality is merely or ONLY a finer grade of physical reality--no, I am convinced that spiritual entities like the will and consciousness exist in a completely other, higher, abstract dimension of existence-- I AM suggesting that there are gradations along a continuum of interlocking dimensions about the scope of which we still have not the slightest clue.

Back to Pavlina:]
"So we have a couple alternatives that seem reasonable to me:
1.    After we die we retain some part of our consciousness, but all the physical parts of our existence are lost.
2.    After we die we cease to exist. Our consciousness gets wiped out along with the physical. Dead and gone forever.

Life After Death
I can think of many other options which are variations on these two. You can twist and reword these basic ideas into different forms, and you can speculate endlessly about what it would be like to experience option 1 (such as a precursor to reincarnation), but I think this is what death basically boils down to. Either we continue to exist in some non-physical state of consciousness, or we don't. 
Now which one of these general options is most likely true and correct?
Certainly we can unearth pieces of evidence that may favor one side or the other. We can look externally and examine things like near-death experiences and those who claim to channel dead people and so on. We can look to ancient texts and other people (living or dead) for guidance. Or we can look within ourselves and attempt to intuit the truth.
Personally I've done plenty of both looking within and looking without, and so far it hasn't really given me a satisfying answer. I found enough evidence to partially convince me that option 1 is more likely correct than option 2, but there are still a number of holes that leave me with doubt. Given what I know about beliefs, I always have to wonder to what degree I may be finding what I expect to find at any given time.
This uncertainty about death presents a serious problem though. In order to live my life in a manner I feel is intelligent, I'd really prefer a clear answer here. If I know that option 1 is correct, (after we die we retain some part of our consciousness) I'm going to live my life very differently than if I know option 2 is correct (after we die we cease to exist). I can't do both at the same time because they seem incompatible. I'd set different goals on one side vs. the other. 
Living in a state of uncertainty doesn't quite work either. Uncertainty in this particular area gives me a poor basis for making intelligent lifelong decisions. It's fine that I'm uncertain about what the weather will be like next week. But uncertainty about death itself makes long-term planning nearly impossible unless I lower my consciousness, watch a lot of TV, and subscribe to the social context without thinking for myself. Think about it -- if you knew with absolute and total certainty what will happen to you after death, would it change how you're living your life today?

[Sidebar: Faith and the Cloud of Unknowing enter the picture at this point. This author goes on to say (in a certain sense) that the certainty of faith is a necessary component in a healthy, positive attitude toward death; and this is the point that we are wending toward: the mind's attention is more powerful than any other force in the universe when it comes to creating reality.]

"Remaining uncertain in this area is a suboptimal choice -- it's better to decide one way or the other and be wrong than it is to remain uncertain and do nothing. Too much doubt in this area will produce the worst outcome of all. In order to intelligently decide how to live, we need to have a reasonable understanding of where we're headed. We can still live OK without this certainty, but we couldn't really say that we're living intelligently, since we'd have no basis for knowing if our decisions would ultimately turn out to be smart or foolish in the long run. . . . 
I think the main reason I found it so difficult to understand the possibilities beyond death is that I was coming at it from the wrong perspective. I was trying to understand certainty from the perspective of doubt and skepticism. And that turned out to be a mistake because doubt cannot create certainty -- it can only perpetuate doubt."
[Sidebar: We have spoken elsewhere of the purpose and benefits of doubt, so it would be easy to get into a quarrel with that last sentence—but, for now we will let it go, because this next argument is extremely clever, and justifies cutting the guy some slack:]
"So I had to change my perspective to experience these options from the inside looking out. I considered the perspective of option 1 (after we die we retain some part of our consciousness)  looking at option 2 (after we die we cease to exist) and vice versa. So I put myself into a state of certainty looking at another state of certainty. As another analogy, you'll gain more information by looking at Catholicism from the perspective of atheism (and vice versa) than you will by looking at both of them from the perspective of agnosticism. Those side views are the key to discovering what is true for your consciousness."
[Sidebar: I find this argument extremely imaginative, and pregnant with potent possibilities. Identifying with an argument is the next best thing to BEING the argument--and from the perspective of BEING, all doubts are dispelled; this is a proper definition of faith: living within the confines of a proposition such that, regardless of all external realities, the inner reality is true. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Voila! Instant faith!]

"Ultimately, I realized that the simple truth here was that of free will. Once I understood the perspectives of both options 1 and 2, I had all the information I needed to make a choice. But it wasn't really a choice between which option was provably correct from an external point of view. None of the options were externally provable because consciousness is not subject to the scientific method. Consciousness works on an entirely different level. So at this level, the real "truth" was to apply my own free will to decide what I wanted to be true for me... what I wanted to make a part of my own consciousness. Did I want to choose to live in accordance with option 1 or option 2? There was no externally right or wrong answer. It was simply a matter of choice.
[Sidebar: Is it really true that there is no right or wrong answer? Is not the simple matter of choice rather the simple matter of accepting who you are, and allowing predestination to fill in the blanks? By that I mean, this author is offering to subject his attention to the machinations of the Cloud of Unknowing, and we know that within that cloud all paradoxes are resolved, and the simple truth sets us free. The choice is not between right and wrong, it is between faith and reason.]
"So I chose option 1, the branch which suggests that conscious action and growth continue even after death. And part of the reason I chose this to be my own truth was that I realized that it's the most intelligent choice I can make no matter what the reality of death turns out to be. Even if we all go to oblivion when we die, it's still the most intelligent choice to live with the belief that we are immortal conscious beings. That belief will actually yield a more intelligently lived life, one that is dedicated to the greatest good of all. It will promote and enhance the survival of all humans. Where the scientific method fails, choice must fill in the gap. And that choice can be either certainty or doubt. But in order to understand this great choice, we must experience both the certainty and the doubt to know what we're really choosing.
[Sidebar: recall my previous comments on the virtue of doubt. This sentence, "we must experience both the certainty and the doubt to know what we're really choosing", is practically word for word what C. S. Lewis AND Kierkegaard said; as I recall, the sense was that the DOUBT is necessary to make the FAITH real.]
"It is entirely up to us to choose a life of greatness or to choose a life of nothingness. I think this is what Helen Keller meant by the quote, "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." It is our personal choice that makes it so. Choose doubt and get nothing. Choose certainty and greatness results.
To sum it all up for you, here's why holding the development of your own consciousness as your highest priority in life makes sense:
1.    Developing your consciousness will give you the tools to understand life and death much better, which will help you decide how to live as intelligently as possible.
2.    Developing your consciousness will help you escape pain and create tremendous pleasure for yourself, so if you ultimately go to oblivion, at least you'll fully enjoy your life along the way. It will also help you transcend the fear of death.
3.    If you die and find yourself frozen in a certain state of consciousness, it probably won't be so bad because you'll have developed your consciousness as much as possible while you lived. You'll have done the best you can to prepare for this possibility.
[Sidebar: This is, of course, the same as the Hindu philosophy, and the direction of Jesus to "pray unceasingly".]
4.    If you die and find that you're able to continue developing your consciousness after death, then your human existence will have given you a great head start. And if I get there first, you'll immediately be able to subscribe to the feed for "Personal Development for Dead People," and we'll continue growing together as spirits in the ether. Won't that be fun?
5.    Developing your consciousness will ultimately cause you to live in such a manner that raises the awareness of other people around you, helping to transform the world into a better place for everyone. So this is in fact the best way to live if you wish to be of service to all of humanity."
[Sidebar: Raising the consciousness of people around you would not necessarily be a "service to all of humanity" if there is no life after death, but we can let that go.]
"For these and other reasons, I believe the most intelligent thing we can do with our human lives is to pursue the development of our own consciousness. Now perhaps we can't take our consciousness with us either, but at the very least, it's the only thing that even has the potential to continue with us after death. . . . 
My highest priorities as a human being are rooted in what I feel is permanent. If I'm able to continue on after I die, my to-do list would essentially remain the same. I would only need to change the form of the most important items but not the intention behind them. Whether I'm dead or alive, my purpose remains the same: to grow and to help others grow in consciousness. Only the manner in which that purpose manifests would change. To me the service of the highest good is to devote my life to the service of consciousness itself, regardless of whether I exist as a physical or an etheric being.
To me this is the highest degree of personal productivity -- to adopt a context for living that even makes sense from the perspective of beyond the grave, to live here on earth as a timeless being instead of a mortal one. How many of your current goals and dreams seem shallow and lifeless when viewed from this perspective? Do you live for what is permanent or for what is ephemeral? Is your human existence devoted to the servicing of dust or the realization of destiny?

I like this piece quite a bit; in spite of the the author's sometimes weak powers of reasoning, he still manages to express some crucial arguments in support of spiritual reality, in a quasi-scientific language. Next week we will hear more of this kind of thing going all the way back to Plato, and up to David Bohm.

In the meantime, let us remind ourselves that our character is largely a by-product of the attitudes we bring to the table of reason when all things spiritual are under discussion. Death may be a final reality for some, but to the the devotee on the spiritual path, it is just one more idea we must incorporate into out attention on the infinitude of God.

Let us pray: Jesus, thank you for your invitation to join you in a place of many mansions. Let us see heaven with enlightened eyes, and let the centerpiece of all our horizons be your loving face. Amen