I haven’t done a “J’s Second Act” post in a bit and since this is all I yammer about IRL, I thought a quick blog on the subject would be better than trying to post this as a status update in the book of faces. Though indeed spiritual, I’ve been predominantly “openly clueless and willing to wonder” when it came to the afterlife — though trusting something was there.
I’m getting more into Peter Russell’s work (and eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of his books from Amazon — From Science to God). Here’s the first video I watched from him and it’s pluperfect:
There is a beautiful synchronicity to checking out the SCIENCE with Peter’s videos (here is another one from Peter that goes deeper into physics and consciousness) and other scientists such as Dr. Allan Hamiliton (for example, this is The Neuroscience of Transcendence)…
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… the SPIRITUALITY aspect with Dr. Wayne Dyer. I’ve been into him for years and he has a gianormous body of work. If you never heard or him & are curious… There is sooOoooo much amazingness to choose from (peek at YouTube). If you want, here’s one to start with (though don’t be fooled by the title: it’s not a meditation). He is big on acknowledging that spirit is whatever you call it: The Universe, Source, God, etc. (So if you are worried about your ego getting offended, I am fairly certain Dr. Wayne will not offend you. He is literally love, embodied.)
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… the DIRECT EXPERIENCE via Nondual Awareness Meditation Series from Michael Taft, which I shared the other day over Facebook. These are roughly 1 hour long meditations, but I find myself sticking — like eagerly and committedly — to these more so than another (15-20 min) practice I was doing. Incidentally Michael Taft also has an excellent book called The Mindful Geek: Secular Meditation for Smart Skeptics.)
Sigh. A beautiful synchronicity indeed. (Plus then, in the days I am checking this all out I have my yoga teacher talking about the “wisdom in the quiet…” so there is even more to this synchronicity.. Like wondering about something and then it appears in my life… It’s been pretty magical. One might say “aligned.”)
Automagically aligned. I wasn’t planning to be looking at these four guys at the same time — or science and spirituality at the same time for that matter — but that’s the beauty of life, isn’t it? I’ve been in this blissful indirect and direct experience. Reading about “water” from different vantage points and feeling “wet,” if you will.
I am also thinking of buying Dr. Leo Galland’s Already Here. Dr. Galland lost his son and then communicated with his spirit. It ends with his son saying he will see him soon, because he is “already here.” I’m curious. (We heard him on the Urban Monk Podcast.)
In addition to being lit up about all of this, a big, life long, challenge for me has been getting a grip on the horrifying (like terrible deaths and deeds). After forsaking Catholicism in the fourth grade when my baby brother died, I became atheist and was cool with thinking “Arcana awaits.” Like, I thought there must be something.
It was my sciency training “with unlimited time, the impossible becomes possible” (AP Bio) combined with (Iron Maiden quoting) H.P. Lovecraft’s “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die,” I realized that with infinite time, all the atoms in my body may reassemble again (amidst the rings of Saturn) — and went down the whole revelation rabbit hole that humans have gone down since the beginning.
Patañjali, for example called out the confusion between the world of form and formless in the B.C. era. Scientists have also put this well, for example, David Bohm:
“The field of the finite is all that we can see, hear, touch, remember, and describe. This field is basically that which is manifest, or tangible.
The essential quality of the infinite, by contrast, is its subtlety, its intangibility. This quality is conveyed in the word ‘spirit’, whose root meaning is ‘wind or breath.’ This suggests an invisible but pervasive energy, to which the manifest world of the finite responds.
This energy, or spirit, infuses all living things, and without it any organism must fall apart into its constituent elements. That which is truly alive in living systems is this energy of spirit, and this is never born and never dies.”
(I suppose that Bohm quote was too big to put on a tombstone. Bad joke.)
In college, we were required to take a course in religion. I studied Buddhism and it resonated with me. I became a Buddhist, though one in overarching belief and practice. Though I had gotten an A in class, being a Buddhist wasn’t about memorizing a million things or pronouncing myself a particular sub-type of Buddhist. It was a way of being for me.
The greatest lessons I learned in college came from Buddhism:
- Give myself the same compassion I extend to others
- Non-judgment: we are all learning
- We are all “Buddha” (so it doesn’t matter what label we put on ourselves — this speaks to that essence of “am-ness,” awareness, energy, divinity, etc)
Back to my lifelong struggle with wrapping my (yes, ego-ic) head around horrid deeds and deaths. Recently I have found solace in the second video I mentioned from Peter Russell (he answered a question at the end — I won’t spoil it) as well as from this letter (though there are aspects to this letter that I don’t (yes ego-cially) agree with, I especially found comfort, hope, and truth in “[pain] must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable…”
One of the horrifying deaths that springs to mind was covered by Brand New — and the mom had said she wanted everyone to know her pain, and my god — I can’t even listen to that song without being a WRECK for days and days and days on end. That pain truly burns through me and I guess it is not done burning through me because I hadn’t listened to (don’t listen to it unless you fall even remotely into the “batch” of people I describe below) Limousine for about decade after finding out what it was about and collapsing, and I recently found myself thinking ‘I can listen to this now.’ NO. But I imagine I am a better human for feeling it, and I know that if a particular batch* of others let that pain burn through them, they would come out the other side a changed and better person. (*This particular batch of people would be anyone who stands by while someone chooses to drive drunk, etc.) Other losses and pains that have burned through me, left the remains of a quantum-leap-better human. (And I even earned a new name. After Jake, the dog, of course.)
I find truth and take comfort in the words of Gail Caldwell:
“I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.”
I choose to believe that we live in a friendly (a decision we need to make, supposedly according to Einstein) and aware universe, where the immateriality, the “no-thing-ness,” is ever in play… where bad things happen — not because it is part of a plan or “it had to happen that way” but — merely because if the universe is aware and evolving, with everything springing forth from it, the evolving forms (material) also notice their am-ness, awakening first to Ego (Dr. Wayne Dyer calls this “Earth Guide Only”), and then fully awakening to their true essence.
Perhaps it’s as simple as: Ego is what makes all the messes. And bad things happen due to bad ego-ic intentions or simply bad luck. In becoming a form from the formless, let’s roll the dice and see how sound your genes are, how you do when you walk to the market, and so forth. Mathematically, bad shit is going to happen in a world of form, even if that world has sprung forth from a kind universe. And even all the pain, etc, is just an illusion to the (fundamentally perfect) formless, it’s still some sucky shit from this (yes ego-ic) vantage point. And maybe some bad shit can be avoided by spending more time as our Higher Self versus our Ego-ic self. There’s a strong maybe there.
That is real is what cannot be changed (not sure who said that first, but it wasn’t me)… so my focus is connecting with that soul energy — that immateriallness within me, connecting to the immateriality of all. I chose to call this awareness divinity. Sometimes I choose the word spirit or awareness. It is within and without.
I have had direct experience with vast spacious awareness both in meditating and almost choking to death (on an appetizer at a networking event). I can describe “the place” I “went to” as stillness, peace, safe, compelling.. with a sense of warmth and timelessness… and I had no desire to get back to ego-ic slumber. I have had other direct experiences during meditation that were pretty “nuts” as well.
Additionally, when I was 21, I knew my grandfather was dead when my mom told us he was still alive** because he visited me in my sleep when he passed. Though it was so intense in the moment (and I told him “Go back to the hospital”), I later said “Well, if this kid comes out with blue eyes, I’ll know it was him.” She came out with one blue eye and one brown one — heterochromia. Way to keep me guessing and full of wonder.
**This is how my mom famously lies. She said “He’s the same as last night,” wanting us to believe he was still alive so that she could give her mom a quaalude before telling the actual truth.
I had left him that night making him PROMISE to see me tomorrow. He kept his promise to “see me tomorrow.” Hahahahaha, I just now realized they both were “truthful” in the same way…. This is why I am blunt folks. I didn’t like the “truths” that were technically true but meant to deceive.
Well, my “Second Act” continues… Here’s the mental map I have been framing this all in (all “3 circles” actually within that field of being — the circles are just there for meEeeeeEee).
Thoughts & recommendations are welcomed.