~~ Edward Gibbon ~~
Thirty-five years ago today, I began the fulfillment of what I view as my primary duty in this life. At approximately 8 PM on this date in 1979, my son was born…. The legacy my father gave to me was thus passed on to a new generation, in the ages-old traditional way, by the birth of its next legatee. It has been the most fulfilling duty I have assumed, as well as the most challenging. It also is one that will not end until the day I pass on to the next adventure, escorted by Death, who awaits us all on the other side of life…
I now have the great pleasure, and poignant appreciation, of watching my son pass this legacy on to his own children; his own son is now four years old, and his lady is expecting a daughter this coming February. Since she also has two girls from a previous relationship, I am now the proud, if bemused, grandfather of four, with a Christmas budget blown out of the water by the news…. Good news, to be sure, but, a bit of a surprise, financially…. a point my son is, no doubt, experiencing for himself….
Life goes on, doesn’t it? Even if we are not paying close attention, the universe keeps trundling along, willy-nilly, playing havoc with any plans we might make, by the simple expedient of altering misconceptions to match the vagaries of reality…. In short, we may as well just sit back, and watch events with an attitude of amused appreciation, rather than one of frustrated angst; it saves a lot of wear and tear on the old emotions, and, in the long run, is a much more comfortable method of dealing with the alterations than trying to make reality fit our misguided expectations…
I suppose it’s easy to philosophize on such a day; births, deaths, and the legacy we leave are easy subjects when one casts one’s mind back in time to a specific event, especially a birth…. In addition, if I am not mistaken, (and, I almost never am….), talking about this has given us a clear path to the rest of today’s Pearl…. See it? Right over there, next to that field of rutabagas, the one with the feathered turnstile…. Yes, it does look a bit small, but, we’ve got a good pilot, and should make it through without a hitch…. Fasten your belts, anyway, ffolkes, it looks like there might be some turbulence…
Shall we Pearl?
“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.” — Buddha
Below you will find a discussion of mortality, which I first posted in 2013. I’ve gone over it, correcting where necessary, and polishing up the ideas and language to add clarity…. It’s been ‘punched up’, as we authors like to say…. when we’re feeling all smug and smarmy about our profession…. It’s still a good discussion, though…. Feel free to comment, should any of it strike you as questionable, or worthy of note….
“As a draft-animal is yoked in a wagon, even so the spirit is yoked in this body.” — Upanishads (c. B.C. 800)
Each of us is faced at times with the consciousness of our own approaching encounter with Death, that moment in time when our yoke is removed, and our spirit is freed, once more joining the rest of the conscious minds in the universe, in roaming through realms of Reality we cannot see in this form. This Reality we cannot see is much larger, in one sense, than the one we can now perceive; it has to be, to be able to accommodate all the souls that have gone before, and all that are now present on Earth, that will someday join the rest of them, when they die…..
Every human being alive must face their own Death (I am capitalizing the word to give it the proper respect, as one of the most important concepts we have as humans….); this is a truism no one can deny, or refute. Many people have banded together, to assume the belief that our universe was created this way by a supernatural being, who, for some unknown, and unknowable (self-explanatory, I think….) reason, decided that we are “special”, giving us, and only us, the knowledge we have, and our very lives. This, of course, is rather hard to believe, as it doesn’t really account for much of what is observable truth in Reality…. In truth, it is, patently, complete speculation, devoid of any concrete evidence to support it…..
“There is no conclusive evidence that there is life after death. There is also no real evidence to the contrary. Soon enough, you will know. So, why fret about it?” — Lazarus Long, aka Robert A. Heinlein
I first read this aphorism when I was in my early teens; it codified, and made succinct, what I had already concluded about the major religions of the world, i.e., they’re a collection of unwarranted, and unproven, assumptions. What’s more, they are all highly unlikely, given the observable parameters of the real world. It became obvious to me, as it is to many, that what the religious folks were trying to get me to believe was intended merely to soften my mind, making it more amenable to suggestion, of which they have an endless supply. Preachers, priests, imams, nuns, all are quite willing to give other people advice and suggestions on how they should live, in exhaustive detail, for as long as they are allowed to do so….
Since I had very little desire to have other people decide for me how I should think, or live my life, I rejected the dogma they tried to force into my head, turning instead to other sources of thought about Life, Death, and Reality. I found an endless supply of folks who had thought long and deeply about all of these ideas, and gladly did I read all I could of everything I could find on the subject. In addition, I read science fiction, during the years when its popularity had just begun to climb to the heights it now occupies; sci-fi has always been literature that explored, and continues to explore, the very limits of thought, both in the real world, and the world of the mind.
As is seen by the first pearl above, these thoughts and ideas are not new with me; mankind has been thinking about these concepts since we first sat around the campfires, wondering at the beauty of the heavens we saw above our heads, and all around us. In all that time, no conclusions have been reached that seem to cover ALL of the questions we have about the universe. We still don’t have a clue as to “what is the mind”, or “what is thought”…. and if we cannot understand ourselves, what chance do we have of unraveling the secrets of the universe around us? Not much, would be my guess…
That, fortunately, does not mean it is impossible to know the truth, nor does it mean we are condemned to die in ignorance and fear…. I know this because I have learned in my time that our fear is a direct outgrowth of our ignorance; we fear what we do not understand. Now, if I were a God, why would I make people that way, unless for some ulterior motive, having to do with motivations that are human, not divine? No, it just doesn’t make sense to me to assume that we were put here with a deliberate handicap, just to see how we dealt with it; that seems more like an evil scientist at work than a compassionate deity.
“One must marry one’s feelings to one’s beliefs and ideas. That is probably the only way to achieve a measure of harmony in one’s life.” — Etty Hilsum
Since I believe firmly in the Law of Conservation of Energy (proven true in this universe, to all our knowledge), I must, logically, also believe that our minds/souls are a form of energy we currently don’t fully understand, and cannot perceive directly. Thus, we see the concept of Death is nothing to fear, as it merely means that my current state of energy will be replaced with another state, one I don’t currently have the ability to perceive. What that state may be like may be unknown, but that doesn’t mean it is something of which I should be afraid…. I prefer to look at it as the next great adventure….
When my father died, I asked him to leave me some trail-sign, to let me know how to find him in the next reality; he smiled at me, and said he would do that… and I was much comforted by that, knowing that our connection as family can never be severed, and that, someday, I would once more have the pleasure, and comfort, of his presence…. Now that’s something to look forward to, don’t you think?…. Much better than worrying that what I do now is going to determine what happens to me after I die, a silly proposition, at best……
“Do not think that man is but flesh, skin, bones and veins; far from it! What really makes man is his soul; and the things we call skin, flesh, bones and veins are but a garment, a cloak; they do not constitute man. When man departs this earth, he divests himself of all the veils that conceal him.” — Zohar
I’ve been inundating y’all with my old poems, so, as a reward for your patience, here is a fairly appropriate choice to go with today’s apparent theme…. Metaphor is always nice and stretchable, y’know?…. Gotta love that…. Enjoy, ffolkes….
Will a moon so bright ever arise again?
Drink a cupful of wine and ask of the sky.
I don’t know where the palace gate of heaven is,
Or even the year in which tonight slips by.
I want to return riding the whirl-wind! But I
Feel afraid that this heaven of jasper and jade
Lets in the cold, its palaces rear so high.
I shall get up and dance with my own shadow.
From life endured among men how far a cry!
Round the red pavilion
Slanting through the lattices
Onto every wakeful eye,
Moon, why should you bear a grudge, O why
Insist in time of separation so th fill the sky?
Men know joy and sorow, parting and reunion;
The moon lacks lustre, brightly shines; is al, is less.
Perfection was never easily come by.
Though miles apart, could men but live for ever
Dreaming they shared this moonlight endlessly!
~~ Su Tung-p’o ~~
Today’s final section will be the freshest of the lot; picked from the deepest levels of Smart Bee’s nearly unlimited database, these quotes form a picture in the mind, which leads to a point of living we all need to acknowledge now and again…. What that point may be was left entirely up to Smart Bee, so, your guess is as good as mine as to what it might be…. I’d advise y’all to keep your minds well lubricated from this point onward…. The relative potency of your lubrication is entirely up to you; adult beverages may be purchased in the lounge….
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light,
And with no language but a cry.
~~ Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) ~~
~~ In Memoriam, liv, Stanza 5 ~~
“Have you clubbed an ignorant human today?” — Smart Bee
“He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.” — Kahlil Gibran
“Freedom begins between the ears.’ — Edward Abbey
“What awful irony is this? We are as gods, but know it not.” — Smart Bee
“Didn’t I buy a 1951 Packard from you last March in Cairo?” — Zippy the Pinhead
To haud the wretch in order;
But where ye feel your honour grip,
Let that aye be your border.
~~ Robert Burns (1759-1796) ~~
~~ Epistle to a Young Friend ~~
Hmm…. Don’t ask…. I couldn’t tell you, even if I could….
I’m up later than usual, at least, the usual of late…. and, if you got that, you’re Gunga Din. That’s okay, though, because, I’m outta here…. See y’all tomorrow, ffolkes, if I can’t think of a reason to blow it off…
and May the Metaphorse be with you;
Blessed Be, dearest Carole, Mark, and Theresa…
and everyone else, too…
When I works, I works hard.
When I sits, I sits loose.
When I thinks, I falls asleep.
Which is Why….
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.
gigoid, the dubious
PLEASE STOP READING THIS MESSAGE NOW.
À bientôt, mon cherí….