More Questions

It’s not so much that human beings are limited in their ability to comprehend the non-material or spiritual realm: the brain is unable to think (reason) without limits. That’s why it’s just as hard to imagine having an immortal soul as it is to imagine NOT having one–or just as impossible to prove that there is a God as it is to prove that there is NO God. Finding limits or placing them is the foundation of analytical, rational, deductive, logical reasoning. Anything outside the limits of reason is a matter of conjecture or faith.

MORE QUESTIONS

Experience (noun):

    1. a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something.
    2. the process of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something.
    3. the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time.
    4. knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone (as opposed to what one has read about, been taught, or has heard from someone else.)
  •      5. Philosophy: the totality of the cognitions given by perception; all that is perceived, understood, and remembered.

 

(Courtesy of Dictionary.com)

Author’s observation: an experience is a concept, not a thing. It is a set of thoughts, sensations, emotions, and beliefs that is individual to (from the point of view of) each person who has observed, encountered, or undergone (something).

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Illogical
Illogical

Approaching the end of our lifetime as the identity we have come to know and love, and having no memory or premonition of any other, we tend to dwell on the question, “What will happen to ‘me’ when the body wears out and ceases to function?”  Also, we wonder where we were before we took residence in this body.

I experience an “I” in the physical form that I find myself at birth. The limitations and strengths of the body are the first things to be dealt with, and if others do not feed me, I will die. The culture, resources, and institutions of the society in which I mature have all been built up by others as part of their experience. Physical monuments, books, legends, and skills learned and passed on, are now shapers and teachers of the “I” that experiences life in this physical interface.

Is consciousness a property of life, as primitive in the bacterium as its physical form, hardly aware of anything beyond its own needs, but creative and imaginative in the human form, where it reaches out to the depths of life beneath it, and to the known universe beyond?

If so, where does conscious awareness go when the body is no longer functional?  Back to where it came from before we were born?  Does it have an existence of its own? Does it break off in pieces (fractals) to inhabit new bodies as they are formed and separated (shed or peeled off) from the “mother?” And does it rejoin the universal fractal after the body no longer functions as its sensory interface? Where and what is “home?”

Is there any continuity that any of us can be personally aware of? Can consciousness survive the absence of a physical interface? Is physical form the only form that can support conscious awareness and experience? It is the only one we know of, though we imagine others. And life in this form is often difficult.

Truth: I am conscious while I am awake and aware of this body’s sensations and this brain’s impressions. I am not conscious of the sensations or impressions of any other body, although I can imagine them, and [a trained technician] can sometimes measure them with instruments that make electronic images of their waveforms.

When I am asleep, I am not unconscious, since I can still react to discomfort and external stimuli, and my brain is sorting thoughts and building habits, as well as replacing cells and keeping the body systems functioning in equilibrium. These are things that I can’t do consciously (intentionally).  They are electro-chemical in nature and marvelous to observe.

But when I am unconscious, I am not aware of anything (and the electro-chemical processes will still go on.) If the body dies in an unconscious state, I will be unaware that death has occurred—or of anything else, since my conscious awareness is unsupported by a functioning physical interface. What am I and where am I then? Do the effects–all that “I” have experienced, enjoyed, suffered, appreciated, loved, hated, feared, wondered, built, achieved, destroyed, learned, and created—including offspring—go away and become someone else’s experience, because “I” as the experiencer, no longer have a means of experiencing anything? I cannot actually experience my own death!

IN OTHER WORDS, WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME? Life goes on for those I leave behind, and they will remember me for a while. But DO I THEN EVEN EXIST AS “I”? I only know that none of us can conceive of not existing—nor of a beginning or end of time, the universe, infinity, eternity, or the nature of God. It’s not so much that human beings are limited in their ability to comprehend the non-material or spiritual realm: the brain is unable to think (reason) without limits. That’s why it’s just as hard to imagine having an immortal soul as it is to imagine NOT having one–or just as impossible to prove that there is a God as it is to prove that there is NO God. Finding limits or placing them is the foundation of analytical, rational, deductive, logical reasoning. Anything outside the limits of reason is a matter of conjecture or faith. This would include such things as Near Death Experiences, Out of Body Experiences, visions, ghosts, prophetic dreams, extrasensory perception, alien abduction, channeling, laying- on of hands, and intuitive suggestions. (Yet there are documented claims of these.)

We can never know, by exercising the intellect, the answers to the questions I have posed here. Why do I care? Can I do anything about it? Should I believe a book or tradition because my parents did, or out of fear of execution or Hell if I don’t? There is only relative truth in the realm of experience, and there is no such thing as Absolute Truth: anything that has an opposite is relative, so “Absolute Truth” has no meaning and cannot be defined. It is that which is.

“I think; therefore I am” (at this moment.) What I believe about the next moment is a matter of choice. Perhaps I will survive the chasm of death by taking a leap of faith, by loosening my grip on this world and turning with expectation to whatever awaits me. It can’t be worse than clinging to physical life, however painful, out of fear of the unknown. Perhaps what awaits me is only a long… dreamless… sleep, as I dissolve into the dark matter of the universe, waiting to become.

THE ONE-WEEK TV DIARY

This is the second time since I have been living in this area that I have been asked to do a one-week TV diary. Along with the little book that arrived in the mail came a larger book full of survey questions from the company that has been hired to do this thing. Why am I spending time filling these things out? Well, it is about the only way I might be able to influence what is available to me on TV, since writing or emailing the cable company gets a generic letter explaining why they are doing whatever you are complaining about.

These people are going to see that an old lady doesn’t necessarily want to watch soaps, chick flicks, sit-coms, and reality shows. They  may be surprised to find out that I almost never watch network TV, and that I don’t even turn on the TV during the daytime hours unless there is a breaking news situation that is being covered by cable news. I listen to the radio instead. And I don’t have a DVR. If I miss a show I like, I watch it later on Hulu.com.

They are going to learn that I think the best original programming is on TNT and USA, that I loved the SYFY “Stargate” series, that I don’t like vampire and horror shows, and I don’t think “WWE Smackdown Wrestling” belongs on the SYFY channel, unless they classify that as Fantasy. They will learn that I am among those who were very disappointed when NBC finally put a serious scifi series (“The Event”) on in prime time, and then cancelled it at the end of one season. I thought it had potential.

They will learn that, although I don’t believe the Earth was created in six days, I DO think there is entirely too much sex/crime/obscenity everywhere on TV. There is also entirely too much “reality”, which in my opinion is certainly bogus and contrived.

So if I watch the “Falling Skies” Marathon all evening on Sunday, it’s because it’s a well-acted story that takes watching a couple of times to “get” what is going on in the story, and  it’s because there is nothing else better to watch.

Now, about that other survey booklet, I got about 2/3 through the questions what I started finding some that I did not think I should answer–or should be answered by anyone, frankly–and I wrote “None of your business”, and refused. Strangely enough, I got a call that day from the company to ask if I had received the materials and whether I was going to do the survey. The caller voluntarily told me that I did not have to answer any question that I did not want to, and I told her that I had found some of those, and I didn’t think they needed to know those things.

I will finish my diary on Sunday, and I will seal the booklets up and put them in the mail. It won’t cost me anything–and they paid me $7 for my effort. 🙂

The November of Life (or Just Call Me “Grumpy!”)

So, at long last, here I am with two of my friends, performing a song I wrote 18 months ago, and had to wait this long to get the people I needed to provide the male voices. It is a simple ballad with a reggae beat, about a little girl, a young mother, and an old woman asking questions of God, and the answers they get. The man standing in the center of the photo is also a singer-songwriter, and one on the left has a beautiful baritone voice. It was fun, and was very well received by the church congregation.

Performing My Latest Song
Performing My Latest Song

 

 What is not fun, is enduring hours of shopping in crowded stores, looking for parking spaces, and standing in line. So I have ordered online all the items on my Christmas shopping list (except one for an elderly aunt who already *has everything*.) Also no longer fun, was riding my stationary bike this morning for a whole 20 minutes. I do it because it helps my knees. It will probably be fun to have Thanksgiving dinner at the home of friends, since all I need to bring is cranberry sauce—mostly for me. And these folks have a houseful of cats (and a few dogs, too), so I will get my fill of kitty-cuddling.

 

 You really don’t want to know how the rest of my life is going. From now until the end of the first week of January, I have come to realize that I cannot expect to relax, and know that things I think I have handled are going to stay handled, that nothing out of the blue is going to pop up, and I won’t wake up in The Twilight Zone. In short, life has become unruly, and I feel that I am too old for that. Just call me “Grumpy!”

 

 It’s not fun to challenge the unknown at my age. It doesn’t keep me young, and it can for darned sure keep me from getting any older! I think I have done well enough by starting to use the freeway to get to some places when it saves time. I’ve done well enough by fashioning a new hanger out of plastic-covered 14-gauge electrical wire and crimped pull-chain connectors for the birdfeeder, instead of buying a whole new feeder. And I have been known to download a new program for my computer now and again.

 

 But mostly I do the same things every day/week and buy the same things at the grocery store for my meals—last time I tried something really new, I bought prickly pear fruit, 6 for $1, and asked a clerk if I had to cook them. She said with a straight face, “No, but they have a lot of seeds.” Took them home, peeled one and cut it open. There was nothing but seeds, and didn’t taste good, either. How do people use these for food, I wondered? And if they don’t, why are they sold in the grocery store? Well, so much for adventurous eating. I’ll stick with my good old American favorites.

 

 I have been craving a large hand-tossed thin-crust pepperoni pizza, though! May have to get it delivered…