Sunday, August 27, 2006

Searching Our Souls

August 27

I didn't post on the blog yesterday. I didn't have to; the post from the day before was so busy there wasn't time. Lots of back and forth on the subject of the soul, although we did get sidetracked into the meaning of art and the definition of God, and a few little inconsequential subjects like that. With a total of 23 comments, Finding Fair Hope has established a record; mind you, it was not 23 people making comments as most of the commenters came back two or three times, and I myself posted once under an old alias ("oldphilosopher") just for good measure. That being said, it was a lot of fun to read all that response to one day's blogpost. What to do as an encore might pose a problem.

I'll start with a couple of the questions the man identifying himself as "Officious Oaf" posed on the Lost Souls blog. I presume everyone has heard the old cliché, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Well, here goes.

Why were some miraculously saved while other died in catastrophes, natural and otherwise?

It is unfortunate for us worldly beings that natural catastrophes happen in an apparently random manner. Our minds are wired to expect linear behavior to achieve linear results: We are good, working toward getting better, therefore we should expect that rewards will come to us in the same way. The better people should have more of what they want, whether it be material goods or spiritual enlightenment. Otherwise, why even try to be better?

This kind of thinking leads us to believe that hurricanes are sent to punish the wicked; for example, the city of New Orleans, long known as a haven for decadents, artists, and hedonists, received a catastrophic blow of Biblical proportions a year ago, in order to get the attention of decadent artistic hedonists everywhere. By the same token, if we believe homosexuality to be a sin, the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic makes it clear that there is a God somewhere who wants people to stop having physical same-sex relations. People who believe this must ignore that innocent people died by the hundreds in New Orleans because of Katrina, and that not all homosexuals contract AIDS. Surely an all-knowing Punisher would have better aim than this one does. A lot of innocent, well-meaning churchgoers must die as collateral damage in this holocaustal purge. What kind of god would do this?

The simple answer is that if we believe we are going to be punished by God for our sins on this earth, we are mistaken. It's childish thinking put in our brains when we are children. It's fear of the razor strop, kept alive in many cases by our churches who have their own agenda of keeping their own coffers filled and keeping buns in the pews for generations. A hurricane is not a disaster unless you have a house on the beach. It is a natural phenomenon about which man has known since the beginning of time. If you hear that volcano rumbling, you get out of the way. If you miss the cue, it may be a tragedy for your family, but it's really your own fault as much as the volcano's. If a bad guy gets swallowed up in an earthquake, it's because he did not heed the physical science, not because the Almighty chose to eliminate him for going too far.

When someone dies, we say, "God decided it was his time." That's a poetic way to put it, but it has nothing to do with reality. There are any number of reasons that we die: Old age, disease, accident. Some of them we have a certain amount of control over. But we are not going to beat the odds and not die at all. With the many man-made methods of dying at everyone's disposal, including the automobile, the airplane, cigarettes, alcohol, living on the Coast, we can speed the process without thinking about it. A friend of mine was killed when struck by a car a few weeks ago. This man had gone jogging just about every day for 30 years or more. On this particular morning he was hit by a car. He was jogging, presumably, to prolong his life span. Unfortunately, since automobiles have been invented, there is a chance that one might kill you if you venture into traffic at the wrong moment. This was not God's decision, nor my friend's. It was just a possibility that tragically worked against him. As much as we "love" God, and feel connected to Him, we are not in control of the natural laws. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and, depending on how you feel about death, you may assume he is in a better place now. That's a subject for another post.

The original question was "Why?" Again, we're back to childhood. Why did my big brother get spanked for what I did? It is our fate to ask "why" all our lives, sometimes at the moment when a clear answer will come, sometimes not. Daddy didn't know all the answers. Neither did the minister, the professor, the philosopher in the books one might read. We shall ask why about all kinds of things, as we must. To demand that there is someone who can give us all the answers is to be unsatisfied for a lifetime.

Why do young persons or babies die, when some crotchety, blind, lame, useless persons live into their 90s?

This is one of those wouldn't-it-be-nice-if questions. Another "why." This one presumes a situation abnormal on this plane -- that there be only kind, loving, whole, worthwhile and healthy persons on earth. It also suggests that death is some kind of a punishment for misbehavior or reward for the suffering. It is neither. It is simply a fact of life. It is those who live who suffer when one dies, and when we live we have to put up with crotchety, blind, lame and useless persons as well as beautiful, generous, bright and healthy ones.

It is not our job to judge, but to work with the reality we have. The question "why" may come up in prayer in meditation, and if we are in the right place to receive it, the answer may come too. But a life without questions is not even something to wish for.


John Sweden said...

Leave it to you to take the easy one's.

Benedict S. said...

Are you sure you haven't been reading Spinoza?

Yeah, as John says, this one is simple. So ... why are so many people inclined to disagree with what you said?

Hmmm. Another "why?".

Finding Fair Hope said...

I'm getting ready to duck!

Okay, why are so many people inclined to disagree with what I said on this blogpost? Because it is not easy to overcome the programming of a lifetime. A real and deep examining of our own thoughts beats reading Spinoza or anyone else, and Spinoza would agree. Let us hope more people will do it in the future.

Anonymous said...

We have no individual souls. To think that we do is immensely species-centric, and separates us from the vast weight of life on our planet. How dare we assume that we, as humans, are somehow designated as different from all other lifeforms that have evolved here, and perhaps elsewhere? "Soul" is that bit of us that is part of every living thing.

Finding Fair Hope said...

Species-centric? That's a new one on me. I suppose I must plead guilty here although I have great respect for plants and animals.

My center is probably human, and I hope it is close to my concept of a soul, but this idea that we are not (or may not be) different from all other life forms is news. How dare me. I must think on this a while.

Robin said...

There is only one source and that is the Universal Consciousness.Anon is correct, we are not indivual souls, we are interconnected through intelligent evolution and the one source.

We appear to be seperate but we aren't, we are just bleeps occuring in the universal dream.

When the body dies but spirit does not.If we are the spirit not the body.
Then as spirit we cannot die.
The body being physical can and does.As spirit we have no birth nor death Existing beyond that which would deem it to be.
The body we are taught lasts but once. We as spirit are beyond life and death so in essense it has no life that we understand.

Am I who I was or who I will be?
Is the body I inhabited at 5 yrs of age still here?
Do I see different things or the same things differently?
Are my ears and eyes recognising situations I used to judge as
Do I now acknowledge a process at work?
Was it there before I recognised it?
Am I unfolding?


Robin said...

To be species-centric is to believe humans are higher on the ladder than all other animals. Most people
eat animals every day so they don't have such a strong affection
for them. I am a vegaterian for this very reason.

Most people feel stronger about fellow humans than animals.Animals have no rights according to species-centric people. Those of use who believe in animal rights go a step further and state that species have a right to exist unmolested by
humans simply because they exist here, ie their rights are not
dependant upon their value to humans. The concept that human
interests define rights for other species is very narrow minded and
species-centric. Animals have inherant rights also, it is we humans who have this weird need to "grant" them rights or not.

Children 100 years from now for a social studies project may delve
into our debates. We will look as backward and cruel as slave owners
with our attitude that humans are lord of the earth and have the
rights kill any creatures they please, even for barbaric religious
motives. We will look as primitive as Aztecs sacrificing virgins.

John Sweden said...

Well Robin, our little budding herbivore, this one’s for you.

115: It was not clear from the information retrieved whether or not the plants were asking for the volume to be turned up or down for a Mr. Jones or a Mr. Sinatra. What was clear was that world was astounded that plants could speak English with a slight Jamaican accent.

116: It was the beginning of the “ALTERnative life forms war”. It occurred in 858 BI in one dementia and 50 years of Ike in the other.

117: The evidence of its beginnings are fragmented, but it is now believed that the seeds for the “ALTERnative Life Forms War” (ALFW I)” were sown by a ecoartist a Johnny B. in one of his first films titled “A Last of a Wild Whole Grain Wheat.” In this film, very last seeds of a very rare, and now very extinct, wild, whole grain, wheat were withdrawn from a seed bank. A Johnny B. destroyed the seeds by grinding them into a very last wild, whole grain wheat flour and baking them into a single slice of the very last wild, whole grain wheat bread. Just before doing this however, he had a very last, of his very last of a wild, whole grain wheat seeds cloned, just before brutally milling it with others of very last kind. The newly cloned seeds were then planted in a field that measured one kilometer by about 10 meters or width of his eco-harvester and just about its range on a 10 liter tank of gasohol. The gasohol was made from the very last beans of another very rare, and now very extinct, very wild, species of soybean. 200 migraint farm workers (RE: note 11) who spaced 10 meters apart lined its edges for six months to provide food of thought.

When a field was at its full maturity and ready to release its now wildly infertile cloned seeds, migraint workers bid farewell and eco-artist a Johnny B fired up his harvester in order to commit what is kNOw, kNEW and kNOWn as vegocide. Before this filmed event, it was just known as a harvest, which generated, a harvest moons, and harvest moon balls, when a people ate their victims.

120: There is only one known review of “A Last of a Wild Whole Grain Wheat.” in existence. It appears in a “Farmers Almanac” of a second dementia. A part time farmer and part time film reviewer at the premier of the film wrote the review. He was kNOWn as a last of “Family Farmers”, from a place called Indiana, where art, some dogs and a few neighbors did die.

“A filmmaker, ecoartist a Johnny B, and his film, “A Last of A Wild Whole Grain Wheat” moved this reviewer to revulsion and tears of remorse over my own past crimes against innocent vegetation. As a former farmer and 4H member, the time-lapsed, sight of helpless blades of wheat bending and stretching for their lives as they struggled to become rootless in order to run away from the blades of a grim reaper, made me squirm in my seat. Chlorophyll curdling, identical screams, made by millions of genetically identical wheat sisters, being cut down in a prime of their Asexual awakening, (recorded in “ultra surround sound” by special patented greentooth arrays of electromagnetic fields and mobile phones recently invented by a late George Washington Carver) literally made me and a audience ill. We wept over our sins and tears of remorse fell into our GM artificially buttered popcorn.”

The reviewer went on to describe how, due to a miscalculation, ecoartist a Johnny B’s harvester ran out of gasohol about 50 meters from the end of the field. “At this point, believing that they were actually saved from a twirling blades of extinction, the last of remaining blades, of the last of the cloned, wild, whole grained, wheat, breathed a genetically identical audible sigh of genetically identical audible relief. They stopped running and stood upright, only to be confronted by a heard of free-range herbivorous cloned cows. They were herded into a position to finish the job unnaturally. A munching, a chomping and a chewing of a cud was now mixed with screams of horror and death from a munched wheat. The horror took on a new twist as the sight and smells of identically mangled undigested remains of the their once identical sisters, emerged as perfect symmetrical, identical cow pies, each hitting the earth with a dully, a genetically, a identically, a repetitively, a rhythmically, and a finality of a thud. At one point, eerie silence descended on scene, as sterile wheat sisters seemed to accept fate. For a moment, all that could be heard was a relentless a rhythmical, a chewing of cloned cows, mixed sobs of a empathic audience and audibly numbing rhythmical thuds. It was short moment, because as fate or a artist would have it, cloned cows were driven from the field, 20 meters from a end, by a swarm of cloned locusts. It was to much for the cloned, last of a last wild whole wheat sisters as they panicked, started to wildly thrash about as they tried to a void a tortuous whirlwind of a death, by a thousand identical tiny bites. It was over quickly. All that remained of a once unified beautiful, kilometer long, amber wave of a identically cloned, a formally wild, whole grain, amber wheat, was a silence, a 950 meters of identically and perfectly cut amber stalks (6 centimeters high), a 30 meters of identical cow pies (20 centimeters across), a 20 meters of identical locust pies, (.005 mm across), an enraged audience and a part-time farmer, now part-time movie reviewer, with a irreversible commitment, to creating a full time, vegetable rights movement. It was a recipe for unlikely things to come.”

121: “Vegetarian restaurant blown-up”.

Notes are fragmented information recovered from the disk “Wild Hairs”.

John Sweden said...

Hej ff,

If we could only get them to stop reading that other book we might have a little more insight and certainly more fun here.

I'm with you it's all about human begings. Let those monkeys dolphins, dogs, cats and trees old and new growth, etc., come to their own conclusions as to fate and nature of their place in the world. Who are we to determine What is the law.

RE: "Island of Lost Souls" 1933 version, still the best, with Charles Laughten even better here than as Bligh.

Dr. Moreau: What is the law?

Sayer of the Law: Not to eat meat, that is the law. Are we not men?

Beasts (in unison): Are we not men?

Dr. Moreau: What is the law?

Sayer of the Law: Not to go on all fours, that is the law. Are we not men?

Beasts (in unison): Are we not men?

Dr. Moreau: What is the law?

Sayer of the Law: Not to spill blood, that is the law. Are we not men?

Beasts (in unison): Are we not men?

officious oaf said...

It is essential to point out that none of the ten questions can be answered using orthodox religious paradigms, and that is why, right after the Katrina tragedy, pastors, rabbis and other orthodox religion dispensers were caught with their wheels spinning for explanations when asked by their followers the very same question the Oaf proposed. Their paradigms simply didn't allow them to come with an answer that "made sense" -rationality was not to be found- so they were forced to take refuge in the often used and safe blanket response of: "Because God ordained it. Now shut up or ask me something I can answer." You know that the Oaf would not have raised the questions if he did not have answers that "made sense" him, anyway, and the ability to explain them in a rational way. For the listener or reader to grasp these explanations requires opening their doors to new concepts, new paradigms, if you will, and letting their freed up rational minds examine the issue. Contrary to what many have been taught, this can be done without closing the valve of intuitional, divine spark, into the flow. In fact it is vital, if a true understanding is to emerge, that this valve remain open. At the comprehension level we ought to be trying to reach, the spirit and mind elements must be part of the equation, otherwise we simply come up short about reality.And that is what has happened for thousands of years.

While Anonymous' and Robin's remarks have something in common: a belief in the "oneness" of the cosmos, a belief ages old yet arriving to our times quite mutilated. Quantum physics is scientifically returning us in that direction. A species-centric idea reminds me of someone trying to overcompensate for man's cruelty to animals by lowering our status and throwing us all into the pot of animals rather than chastise for the dumb things human does. Yes, we are animals, but very specially endowed ones. Robin's assertion that there is a One Source behind our existence is certainly something to which I would ascribe, but to say that all the cookies that come out the cookie factory necessarily have to be the same is where we part way. Truthfully, I can't imagine any reason for such a thing. Is not diversity one of the many aspects that leave us in awe of the workings of the Cosmos?

Chocolate chip,please. You can have all the oatmeal ones you want.

Finding Fair Hope said...

Anonymous, I really don't think it's all about human beings. (It all depends on what your definition of "it" is.) And your take on the word "soul" sounds to me like a lot of people's take on the word "god." I could accept that.

Whether is is moral to kill animals -- or plants for that matter -- for food or anything else, I really don't know. It seems to me that Robin is painting herself into a corner here.

Benedict S. said...

Miss FF: Anyone who has an opinion that is not same-o, same-o "paints herself into a corner." Of course, the meaning of that phrase includes the suggestion that the corner will become uncomfortable as the (majority) others start taking shots at her. Which leads to, "If you can't stand the heat, don't have an opinion that's radically different from the majority's.

Oaf was was right on. Out of the oneness of the "all" arises difference, but I think he has misread the young lady, Robin, if he believes that she thinks we are in all respects alike. She seems to have made a distinction between what we are as "bodies" and what we are as "mind." Our differences are manifest in our bodies, and Oaf makes that distinction clear in his choice of cookies.

I would, however, argue with Robin by suggesting that individual minds are as different as individual bodies. There may indeed be a universal "mind of God" that is one-and-only-one, within which it would be absurd to suggest that differences might exist. But if there is a "God" then She cannot be "measured" with the same yardstick we use to take the measure of things that are in fact different. All "things" are different and they are all finite, but God (if there is one) is not "different (since, if there is a "God," nothing exists other than Her to which Her difference might be compared) and God, not being a "thing," is not finite.

Now, evolutuon theory suggests that all things (finite) came into being because Nature would have it no other way. That is, in the "conflict" of things among themselves, those things that actually exist remain in existence only to the extent they actively sustain themselves (as organisms might) or they are passively sustained by Nature's "business-as-usual." But to "God," if there is a "God," the idea that She might cease to exist would be meaningless. Hence, a significant difference exists between "things" and "God," especially those things that become aware of their existence and its finitude: the minds of finite things are typically concerned with maintaining themselves in being. No such thought would ever enter the mind of God, or at least, it need not. God simply exists and nothing that happens can possibly threaten that existence.

So, when Robin speaks of all minds returning into "Source" (or "God") perhaps she has missed the point that, to Source, it doesn't matter a hill-a-shit whether those "returning" minds are all different or all alike. When they cease their finite existence they all become the same again. So God is essentially unconcerned.

BUT, to the individual minds themselves, it might be fair to say that everything matters, since their existence depends on their ability to sustain themselves in a Nature that could not care less whether they exist or not. And a large part of what makes those finite organisms different emerges out of their understanding of what will work to further the ends of their existence. Hence, chocolate chip and oatmeal, hence vegetarians, carnivores, and don't-give-a-shits.

In the spirit of John Sweden's story, so-called animal rightists are very unpopular in the vegetable kingdom, since the fewer animals we eat the more vegetables we're going to be forced to eat. The vegetable lobby has not yet found well-heeled backers for its campaign, but my understanding is that George Bush -- closer to vegetable than animal in any case -- is working to arrange financing for a Spring Campaign.

Officious Oaf said...

The only morality involved with killing animals is man's. No one seems to raise the morality issue when a lion rips apart gnu or a shark gobbles up a cute little seal. With that observation it becomes apparent that morality is solely is a concern for man, which when peeling another layer off the onion, we arrive at man's soul as the crux of the earthly considerations on morality. Of course, there are more layers under that.

John Sweden said...

Benedict, if you remember it was his father who was repulsed by the idea eating of broccoli.

John Sweden said...

While we are on the subject of agriculture and souls (RE: First comment of last blog) think this article would be a refreshing reminder of how there are those souls who live the answer we are all seem to be looking for.

Turkey’s Born Again Farmer

Isadora2 said...

I love it!

In my head, as I read the comments on this blog, was the refrain from an ancient song: "And the music goes round and round and it comes out
here", about the early Victrolas I believe.

I am not "casting asparagus" at any comments, (to keep the vegetable theme going)-- one believes what one believes -- but most of your commenters are still only
contemplating their own navels and will not "look up."

Our recordings WERE set as children, (even as we decide not to believe what we were given and assume that what we believe now was through epiphany) and we hold these beliefs as close, for comfort, as a favorite teddy bear or "bankie."

Finding Fair Hope said...

So, as your namesake would say, "Let's keep dancin'!"

Robin said...

officious oaf quote:No one seems to raise the morality issue when a lion rips apart gnu or a shark gobbles up a cute little seal.

Simple answer, that's their nature to do so, the quote reminds me of radical christians that hate evolution.

I believe there is a physical world around me that actually exists and is not a figment of my imagination. I believe the physical world extends beyond what I can see.
Just as my physical body is part of the larger world, I believe my mind
is part of a larger mind.
I am in contact with the physical world with my physical senses and I am in contact with the larger mind with my own mind.Most of the time my mind is engaged with the everyday problems of food, shelter, clothing etc. to the exclusion of looking toward the larger mind.
When I want to turn toward this larger mind I must quiet down the part that is engaged with the physical world.

I call the combined totality of the physical universe and the universal
mind God/Goddess and sometimes just God. (I use the term God so as not to confuse the issue in discussion but I do not like the connotation that God is male.)

Man has always likened our human qualities to other beings, namely our pets and wild creatures.

Soul is not energy, nor is it information. Indeed,soul is the essence of all-that-is which pervades all sectors of the
All apparent phenomenal existence is an expression and emanation of
soul, all-that-is is indeed soul, spirit, god, but only in it's
essence, not in it's appearance. Nothing "gives" or allows soul, spirit.
Spirit or soul is That, It is I Am That Am.

benedict s.quote:So, when Robin speaks of all minds returning into "Source" (or "God") perhaps she has missed the point that, to Source, it doesn't matter a hill-a-shit whether those "returning" minds are all different or all alike. When they cease their finite existence they all become the same again. So God is essentially unconcerned.

God is unconcerned, god doesn't care, benedict is right.

John S. you lost me with the first sentence.

Robin said...

Miss FF quote: Whether is is moral to kill animals -- or plants for that matter -- for food or anything else, I really don't know. It seems to me that Robin is painting herself into a corner here.

My point wasn't about morals but about eating dead meat.It's a personal choice for me. If humans are animals then why don't we eat dead humans?

It all goes back to anon's comment about humans being species-centric.And it's not about "it" it's about life, all life, from the lowest form to the highest form. Life needs to be respected no matter what form it come in.s

Officious Oaf said...

Stick in there, stand your ground, my fine intelligent young lady. Your comments are refreshing. Don't let a little buffeting from the winds of others bother you; we don't know what we are talking about either, although we write like we do.

The words of advice about painting yourself into a corner was well given. A little looking down the logic road before putting your words in gear can avoid embarrasing dead ends.

By the way, humans do eat other humans, usually dead at the time and we call them savages. Eating live ones is called criminally insane. Killing innocent humans in bombing raids could also be called savagery, but I would consider it worse: a complete waste of a body. Bear in mind that in some cultures leaving the corpse in a place where it can be devoured by the vultures is a high act of reverence in the recognition of the oneness of it all. So you can see, coming down on the right side of morality is not an easy thing, but let's all keep trying.

John Sweden said...

Hej Isadora2, thanks for joining the party. Now if we can get Salome join us along with a few more lurkers of a more ironic bent, we can really crank up the Victrolas and dance. Yes! they do seem to be contemplating their navels and from the looks of it getting a little hungry.

I’m getting a little worried here, ”officious”, between the mythical stranger in the truck, with a mysterious briefcase chock full of the complete crib sheet of questions and answers to life and death, and your last blog, I’m beginning wonder if you’re not traveling down the “Mayan” road to “Lehcterville” with a truck stop at the “Dhalmer Diner”. By the way, how is Enrique? Was he the “catch of the day”?

Robin… Robin… Robin…Dead Meat?…Dead Cellulous?…seems like we’re splitting Wild phylo-genetic hairs. Not much difference between the two, especially at McDonalds. Now “White Castle” that’s where the unholy tasteful balance of dead meat, dead cellulous, over consumption, and taste, had real soul.

Bendict…Benedict…Benedict….what’s one to say?…that hasn’t already been said by you know who but I’ll say a little “Wild Hair” of a prayer for you”

37: ”God give me,

The strength to change the things I can,
The inability to accept the things I can’t
& The incapacity to tell the difference.”

Quote taken from a cartoon strip titled ”Calvin and Hobbs”, in which Hobbs replied “You should lead an interesting life” and Calvin said, “I already do”. It was tattooed on A ”Ice Man’s” chest. It was the ultimate mantra and inspiration of a great spiritual awaking known as a Second Becoming.

FF: How about sending a batch of those cookies my way and I’ll send you a framed and signed work of soul based on the above “Wild Hair” of a Prayer. I do hope the ingredients are organic. After all isn’t that the way you were brought-up.

After rereading all the comments of the last two blogs sure I miss comforting ancient knowledge of miss “Hester“. Now she knew! She was "species concentric". I wonder if “Snowball” knows. Maybe its time to take a deep look into those mismatched eyes and seek the truth.

Officious Oaf said...

Morbid is as morbid thinks, as Forrest Gump woul probably remind us, John. Let us not focus on what is ingested, but why; the same for our mental and spiritual intake. Therein lays the answer to our corporal or mental obesity, scrawniness or robustness.

Enrique is fine; he thanks you for asking about him. He is a bit concerned about the backlash he is seeing caused by all his illegal compatriots in the country, but hopes reason will prevail, even if it is only an economic one. By the way, he's an innate fisherman -knows where those hungry brim hide out- and has an interesting take on life after having seen so much poverty where he comes from. A great fishing buddy and a wise friend. I'm lucky to have him around.

I wouldn't let a mythical stranger, with even stranger messages, bother me. It seems much of what we believe is based on myths, a lot of which delivered by strangers. It's up to us to separate the chaff to get at an often times unrecognizable grain, regardless who brings in the harvest.