The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “Meaning of Life”

The Reality of False Realities

Originally published Oct 27, 2014
M.C. Escher: Relativity

M.C. Escher: Relativity

 

Ipo (again)

All humans are looking for The Truth. They seek one practical unified theory which will miraculously make sense of their lives. They believe that when they find it, they will be happy.

But no such Truth is knowable to living man. He may understand enough to give him peace in his life, but he will not, cannot, know everything.

Imagine the soul as a vast, deep cave, and at the bottom is the Door to the Universe.   Many of the answers to important questions are to be found through that door, but to reach it requires difficult and terrifying navigation, a lifetime of work and complete commitment to the quest.

The main room, itself, is filled with much perceived danger (notice I said perceived because in fact, nothing can hurt you here) and it is with riddled with side shafts leading to other rooms of various sizes.   It is difficult not to become lost in this labyrinth.

These tunnels and hallways lead to rooms of various sizes. Once you find yourself within such a room, your mind perceives what you are experiencing as absolute truth even though this sense of reality is actually illusion.

These are Rooms of False Reality, which are countless in their number.

Some False Realities are shared by millions, all unified by the same delusion. The sense of “living in truth” is reinforced and reflected back by the shared false beliefs of others.

Some False Realities are perceived by only one.   This may take the form of a single delusion, paranoia, insanity, euphoria, monomania, self-aggrandizement, even depression, low self-esteem, self-loathing.

By definition, it is impossible to know when one is inside a Room of False Reality because all experience is perceived as real. The worst kind of trap is one that is not recognized as a trap because one then one remains caught, with no reason to attempt escape. Escape to what? They already believe they are living in reality. From where their perspective, it is other realities which are false. Those so obliviously imprisoned don’t look for an exit. (And there is always an exit. If there is a way in, there is a way out.)

A great general leads legions to death based on his reality. The murderous dictator believes he is the hand of God; that is his reality and he will not be swayed from it. Dogma, too, is False Reality, catching believers in its insidious net. Those who believe they are incapable or unworthy or unlovable cannot conceive of alternate realities, and so remain in their own prison.

Plumbing the depths of one’s own soul is so difficult, only a very few are able to keep to the path. Only those with enough commitment and faith in themselves to give up blindly following the rules or beliefs set out by others, will ever find the Door. The only Truth is found within.

Sometimes, while searching with all good intentions, people simply get lost, and end up in a Room of False Reality. Others, lacking the courage to face the perceived dangers, duck into the first available passage to take cover in the imagined safety and ready answers of a Room of False Reality. Some simply lack the required emotional fortitude for such a journey.

Once a human mind is trapped in a Room of False Reality (which most are), in order to escape, it would first be necessary to recognize that it is perceiving a false reality. This is nearly impossible for the human mind to comprehend. And if one could recognizes a false reality, the moment they did, they would be propelled into a new reality, which is also likely to be false.

But there is always the choice: Do you remain in your current false reality? Or do you continue to seek and question, accepting as a matter of faith, that you have not yet found the Truth, and will likely never know it in your human lifetime?

This paradox is the prison into which humans are born, but without it, there would be no reason for human life.

 

(There was much more on this subject, channeled over a couple of weeks – and still coming. It’s very complex and honestly, I don’t really understand all of it, myself.   It’s making my head spin! I am going to parse it out because I’m sure readers will need just as much time as I do to digest it.

An aside here: Those who know me personally would agree that I tend to think about things in deep ways and see things from a unique perspective.

My thought processes usually work like this: I am faced with a question/issue/problem/dilemma/situation. I start to mull it over. I try to consider it from as many angles as my mind can embrace.   It begins with the initial question, which leads to HOW and WHY and WHAT IF. If I’m lucky, the answers [at least MY answers] eventually come to me –sometimes in weeks, sometimes not for years, sometimes not for decades. And some answers haven’t come yet.

These conversations with Ipo (or, if you believe I’m making this all up, my own thoughts) are coming to me whole. I did not inquire. I did not ponder a Big Question. In fact, for the most part, these are subjects I have given much thought to – some not ever. And yet answers and solutions and explanations – at least what seem to be answers, solutions and explanations – are filling my head.

To my rational mind, these “truths” do not seem insane or illogical.   If Ipo spoke of a race of Frogmen from the Planet X7hkn who colonized earth 10 million years ago, I would agree I was losing my mind. At least I HOPE I’d still retain enough sanity to agree!

But then, let’s assume that this post DOES contain Truth. Let’s say that most of us CANNOT perceive True Reality. How, then, could we know that we’re not perceiving false reality in believing this post contains The Truth?

 

Aghghgh! My head is going to explode!)

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.
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Free Will and Its Repercussions

Originally posted November 8, 2014

repercussions

Gat

My greatest sin was not that I beat her. Those wounds would have healed. No, my sin was that I sucked all the love and trust from her so that she was never able to love or trust again. She stayed with me, because she had no choice. But in the end she became cold and hard and bitter and angry. I stole her joy. She never got it back. I made her path hard, and directed her away from more fulfilling paths she could have followed.

If she had managed to save herself from the disaster of being married to me, this weight would not be so heavy upon me now. It’s true, she had free choice. And I suppose it’s also true that we were put together to torment each other in this way; to gain the lessons therein.

We are each always free to choose our own path, but we are never free of obligation to those who cross our paths.

While we are not responsible for the feelings and expectations of others, our treatment of others and how they respond to us reflects positively or negatively upon our own journey. It colors how we perceive and are perceived by the world. This shapes our character which in turn influences our behavior. Our behavior defines our path.

We have free will. We are free to change our behavior. We are free to choose how to treat others. We are free to behave nobly or selfishly.   These choices, for better or worse, have repercussions across many lifetimes. Pain inflicted upon others is not a debt quickly worked off.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

End of the World

New!

Ipo

If current conditions prevail, within a generation or two, the earth will no longer be able to sustain human life. The reasons should be obvious to you by now.  Vast swaths of the planet will become uninhabitable and barren.   The population will press into the shrinking habitable areas.  There will be war over resources — water and food and light.   The privileged few – the wealthiest and most ruthless – will retreat into protected habitats, while the rest are left to fend for themselves. The elite will not waste precious resources on human labor.  There will be automatons to do their bidding. These humans will become culturally and genetically cruel, for that will be the evolutionary trait most responsible for their survival.

But eventually, even these victors will be losers, too, for what is it to win if it means being the last humans alive on the planet?

The question is, will you humans buy yourselves enough time to find new ways to adapt to the changing environment before every one of you has perished?  Will you be able to buy enough tme to find a home elsewhere?  Will you buy enough time to find ways of undoing the damage you have done?  Or will you destroy each other first?

Human beings have always been equally resourceful and bellicose. Society can only exists when the balance weighs heavier on the former.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

War, Ugh, What Is It Good For?

Originally published October 30, 2014

armytank-watercolor

 To

I was a tool of history. I was a soldier. I followed orders, which I believed to be righteous in their intent. I never doubted that I was on the side of God; that our mission was His.

I killed without ever looking the enemy in the eye. Modern weaponry allows a certain moral remove. Vanquishing those who do not believe as you do becomes purely theoretical. From the air, from afar, one does not feel as if they are extinguishing a human life. Deaths are merely numbers, calculated and displayed on graphs and charts.

Soldiers are not encouraged to think about such philosophical matters; or to consider that the lives taken likely belonged to a father, a son, a husband or lover. Such consideration would render a fighting force impotent.

There is no such thing as a killing machine with morality.

But, then, what is morality? It is so much more complex than the way humans, in their limited understanding, define it. It is easy to say, simply, that killing is always wrong. Or that killing to defend oneself or one’s loved ones is justified. Or that destroying your enemy — an enemy who would destroy your very way of life if given the opportunity —   is a righteous cause. Anyone can find justification for any of these positions, but in the end, these are human justifications.

War is built into the human experience.   It has always existed and always will, despite naïve calls for world peace.   Peace might be achieved in a limited arena for a limited time, but it will always erupt again somewhere else. Always. War is human emotion and relationships, writ large; the personal human condition, played out on a grand scale;

People call for peace and understanding yet cannot even get along with their own neighbors or stand to be within the bosom of their own family.

War and conflict are part of the fabric of worldly existence. They create  the shadows in the pattern, and it is this darkness which defines the edge of the light.

Pure light is only knowable in this realm.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

The Art of Control

First published January  19, 2016

fox.2

 

Wol

I always understood that I was going to have to fight for every advantage, every precious moment of peace, every scrap of comfort. This much was obvious to me, even as a child. Neither my family nor the world was going to give me anything, and so I decided that whatever rules the rest of the world lived by did not apply to me. I never had any fear of or respect for authority. Why should I?   The world only took away; it never gave back.

And so, early on, I learned the art of manipulation. I learned to pit one against the other; while they were arguing, I would move in to steal what was no longer being guarded. I knew how to set others off balance – maybe with a half-truth or perhaps a few well-crafted words to sow the seeds of doubt. Like a hawk, I learned to play with and tire my prey until they lost focus and became confused. And then I would swoop in for the kill.

I was no evil genius. More precisely, I was a feral animal who could sniff out fear and uncertainty, and magnify it,  until I had my opening.

I was very good and very successful at what I did. I gained valuable knowledge about the human heart but at great cost to others. To learn these lessons well, I had to push my hypotheses to the limits. If I hadn’t used my talents to cause a happy couple to divorce or a mother to abandon her child or old friends to turn on each other, how could I examine the edges of human nature? How could I know the breadth of my power?

I held myself apart from other humans, feeling simultaneously superior and inferior. Any relationships I had were superficial, struck only for advantage.   These choices were not a sacrifice.  These lessons greatly advanced my understanding of the world.

 

Note from me:  It seems as if the world is being taken over by these types!

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

Bound

NEW!

 

Ipo

When will you understand that all your pain and suffering is the result of you being bound to your ego?   It swaddles and smothers and imprisons you so you cannot escape outside yourself;  you cannot view the bigger, more beautiful, more meaningful story.\

 

 

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

One Truth

First published Oct 16, 2015
truth2
listen to One Truth/Omar Faruk Tekbilek
Ipo

Whoever believes without question and adheres most closely to dogma is not the holiest among you. There are no answers without questions, rejected answers, and more questions.

There is only one truth and it is this: You will never know the Truth.

To settle on understanding is delusion, but to cease questioning is to shackle the soul’s ascent.

 


Omar Faruk Tekbilek,  an amazing and deeply spiritual musician whom I’ve had the privilege to meet, interview and chat with many times.  If you don’t know his work,  I encourage you to search him out.  His first solo album, Whirling,  is still one of my very favorites,  even 25 years after I first heard it.  Absolutely hypnotic.  If you’re looking for one album to listen to when you’re in “that mood” — that’s the one!  He is a virtuoso on many instruments and his voice is like buttah.  Or honey.  Or honey buttah.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is
If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is

 

 

photo from http://www.ruthlera.com/

Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional

First published July 11, 2015
suffering

Ipo  (it’s been a while!)

Every living thing — human beings, animals, plants — does what it must to avoid deprivation, injury and pain. This is their biological imperative.

When pain cannot be avoided, it must be numbed or ameliorated as best as possible, with whatever means available. This too, is a biological imperative.

Since there is no life without pain, part of each human journey is to develop one’s own methods for avoiding as much of it as possible. This defines life’s path.

Even those humans who harm themselves or invite others to inflict physical pain, do it to supplant/ protect themselves against/ distract themselves from an even deeper, psychic pain.

If the pain, whether physical or psychic, is ongoing and considerable and cannot be avoided,  the method used to numb that pain becomes an addiction.

Some quiet their pain with excessive drink or inebriates. Perhaps they court danger by taking unnecessary risks.  Perhaps they lie naked, too often, with strangers. Or attempt dominion over everything around them. They may eat or starve themselves until they lose their health; or acquire too many things they do not need; or alter their physical form in the hope their monster will not recognize them.

But these methods merely mask the pain; they do not destroy it.   Until it is vanquished, there can be no release from addiction.

Much pain can be eliminated once the source is found. In order to find it, however,  one must stop running from it. It must be allowed to manifest itself completely in order to ascertain its full shape and size. It must be studied so its weaknesses are revealed. Confronting such a formidable enemy demands extraordinary bravery; it requires cutting a new path across uncharted territory.

Depression and anger are side effects of the belief that one is powerless against the pain.


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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

One Hand Clapping

New!

sad-couple

Car

For many years — far longer than it should have — it mattered to me if he loved me. I gave a lot of thought and put much effort into pleasing him, into being a good and caring wife.  I believed my own success was measured by how happy I could make my husband.

It was difficult to know if he was happy.  He was not much for casual conversation. He hoarded his words the way a miser hoards his silver.  I looked for signs that he was satisfied. When other women complained that their husbands criticized or tried to control them,  I felt lucky to be married to a man who let me be; who never said harsh words or pointed out my faults.   However,  he never praised me, either.  He did not recoil from my touch, but neither did he seek it out.

When my father passed,  it was a time to take stock of my life, of my marriage.  I stopped acting out of habit and paid close attention to any change in our dynamic. I suppose I always suspected the truth, but it was at this time that I finally came to terms with it:  I was in our marriage alone.    He was physically present but emotionally absent.

He was never purposely cruel, but neither was he particularly loving, and there was a kind of cruelty in that.  He made few demands of me, but neither did he notice or appreciate my efforts for him.  Whether I made him his favorite dinner or let him fend for himself, it mattered to him not at all. He could be just as happy eating something small and simple, just enough to satisfy his hunger, as to eat a meal that took me hours to prepare.

If I attended to the small things for his comfort and convenience or if I was lazy and selfish, he cared not one whit.  If I made our home nice and cozy, or did not bother to clean or neaten up for days, he didn’t seem to notice. If he wanted to sit and read but there was something on his chair, he wordlessly moved it.  He asked for nothing and did not complain when he didn’t get it.  Sometimes, he’d say or do something to please me because it seemed expected of him.  Initially, I took these small scraps as appreciation but I came to understand he was simply making the minimum effort he felt he could get away with. We coexisted civilly, politely, but without intimacy.

In the early years, my duties as a wife and homemaker defined me, gave my life focus and purpose.  I played my role, day after day, putting one foot in front of the other, not paying much attention to where I was going. Or why.

But eventually I realized that he neither saw or understood my feelings, and that any effort on my part in that direction were for naught.  He moved through life without engaging.  He was quite happy to exist inside his own head.  Emotionally, I was superfluous.

It was then I began to consider if there weren’t more fulfilling ways to spend my life.

And that was the beginning of learning to love myself.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

An Uphill Battle, One Step at a Time

New

rock-uphill

*

Ruf

We were the same age, but she was so much older than I was. She always seemed to to know what she wanted, and what was right for her, and even what was right for others.

She inspired me to be a better man. To do the right thing. To take the high road. To push my limits. To do the things that made me uncomfortable so I could get past my discomfort. She never asked me to do anything that she wouldn’t do, herself. She held herself to a high standard and expected me to hold myself to that same standard.

I knew she was right and for long time, I worked hard.  I wanted to become that man she wanted me to be because I knew it would be an expression of my best self. But I was lazy and fearful and I didn’t trust my own instincts.

Eventually, I had to acknowledge to myself that I was never going to get beyond my limitations.   I was never going to be the kind of man who was truly worthy of her.  Trying and not succeeding made me feel like a failure, although she, herself, never suggested such a thing. For her it was enough that I remained dedicated to trying.

I started to resent her moral and spiritual superiority. I resented her certainty in always knowing right from wrong. I resented the way she was always sure of herself. It made me feel less certain of who I was and who I should be. I felt I was losing myself in her image of who she thought I could be. And so I stopped trying to live in the world as she saw it. That was her world. I needed to live in mine. I didn’t want to have to think about things so deeply. I lost my drive to see how good I could be. I simply wanted to be left alone, unchallenged. And so, eventually she obliged me.

Four years of marriage ended in acrimony. It took me many, many years to understand that love.

We had no children to hold us together and so we went our separate ways. Eventually we both married other people. I heard from mutual acquaintances that she married happily, to a man who saw life as she did. I married a woman who was easy and kind, undemanding and simple in her outlook. She didn’t require much more than casual kindness and some basic respect, which is as much as I gave her. I appreciated her but there was no deep love.  Her most endearing quality was that she let me be.

In the end, that was no good for me, either.  I reverted to my lazy ways; no longer pushed myself uphill.   Instead I remained down at the bottom where no effort was required, surrounded by those who were as lazy as I was.

In my life, I never accomplished anything without being challenged by someone else, yet when challenged, I grew resentful, angry; I backed away so as not to drown in the secret humiliation of inevitable failure.

I understand now that my first wife was right.  She wasn’t pushing so much as encouraging me to create my own challenges.  Positive changes are positive changes, even if they are small and incremental.    It’s the not size of the change but the direction.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

*Artist: Janusz Kapusta

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