“Life” after “Death”: What do you believe?

My mind often has wandered back to that night years ago when my wife transcended, slipping “over.”  She passed with me on her bedside holding her hands, as we held eye contact.  We were alone, as she was terminal and there was nothing any doctor or nurse could do, except turn up her oxygen feed, which had max’d out.  I won’t bother you with the poignant hours leading up to this moment, but I want to share her very last words with you:  “I see God.  I am God.”  A few minutes later her heart stopped, and she left me, eyes wide, with a beautiful relaxed smile on her face, and with Venus shining into our room.

That moment set me off on what was a year long journey of mourning, and searching for what I could believe in.  The night she passed we were visited by a chaplain, who was Christian.  He asked us a few basic questions, and to the one regarding if we had an affiliation with a religion, we both replied “No,” after looking at one another, answering’ “We are spiritual but not religious.”  She had grown up in an African American CME church, and I had some exposure within a Southern Baptist church as a child, but neither of us had been to church except for funerals since.  Yet she was a studious seeker of guidance from many sources.  She practiced fasting with a Muslim friend during Ramadan, read from her Bible, read many books on African-centered spiritual paths, and Theosophy; however, her real path was her love, “Jazz.”  Her music was everything to her, the voice of the Muses singing the Alpha Omega.

For the year after she passed I was a devout student of world religions and spirituality, reading everything I could get my hands on, studying from the beginning, the Bibles, their history, religious archaeology, Judaism, the beliefs of KMT (Kemit….Egypt), Mayans, Christianity with all its twists and turns, Islam with its own twist and turns, Eastern religions, and finally I found a growing affinity for Buddhism.  One day I saw that a Buddhist monk was giving a talk, and the location was three blocks from where my wife’s grandmother’s home had been where we had spent many fun hours visiting.  I saw it as a sign, and went.  I accepted Buddhism that very day, and through Buddhism arrived at my beliefs of today.  My journey and quest is far from over, but I know I have a path to walk on.

When my wife died, a close lady friend, younger, became pregnant.  I had never known the lady well, just at a distance, but some months after becoming a widower, I found myself interested in this lady, even though she was pregnant.  A few weeks before she was to give birth, one morning at the crack of dawn, I was sound asleep, when BAM, there was an electric shock that went through my body, following the route of kundalini, and i suddenly was just sitting straight up in bed, seeing in my mind a marquee across my third eye, that read: “_______’s baby is Shirley(my late wife’s name).”  I kid you not! This happened exactly as I state.

So I became very friendly and helpful to this lady, and while I wasn’t there for the moment of birth, I was there just a few hours later, the two of us in her recovery room, when the baby was brought to her for her first nursing.  That baby and I just connected, I mean to tell you!  I became her Godfather (along with her siblings and even another wonderful girl), and today that baby is a beautiful 24 year old pursuing her music career.  Oddly it may seem, but the girl is so very much like my wife was, even physically, her own mother has remarked so many times about all the similarities.  Of course we believe in reincarnation, but the mother and I do have differing views to a large extent.  That is the joy of spirituality in my way of thinking, that it truly is personal.  I truly believe that which my wife saw clearly at her transcending, that we each are the manifestation of our own God.  Every religion that seeks to bind people to one belief system to me is nothing more than slavery of the Mind.

For myself, God is unknowable, but definitely not an old white guy with a beard.  God to me is the Void from which all emanates, the great Mind of which each of our minds is a part in the grand scheme.  We must remember the enormity of life as we know it, in all its varieties on Earth, and at the same time know that we are infinitely small in the overall scheme of the Universe, its space, gravity, constituency, energy and dynamics.  God to me is a vast information store, and our own minds are part of the processor.  What we think is brought into “reality” (samsara).  Buddha is said to have said, “All is Mind.”  As our telescopes and probes go further into space itself, perhaps that space  manifest only in our Mind, because we observe it, just like quantum experiments are affected by the observation of the physicists conducting the experiment (this is true if you don’t know).

So I ask you what you believe?  Do you believe you go to “Heaven,” and if so what will it be like?  What body will you have, the body you die with, or one 16 years old? and what mind will you have?  Will you not have any sexuality?  Or will you enjoy 16 virgins if you are a man, or hopefully 16 young men if a woman?  Or do you believe the bodies will be resurrected from the soil?  What about those that are cremated or otherwise vaporized over millennia?

I think it is important to use the mind that your God gave you, and not merely be a religious pawn, blindly following stuff written by monks or holy men who were as lost and confused as most of us. Know the real history of any religion you follow, do not just blindly accept it.  Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Set You Free.  Someone said, I think the musical artist George Clinton, “free your mind, and your ass will follow.”  I take those words literally.

It is very important that we live in the moment, savoring each moment, and doing our best to practice what sages have taught going back to early Judaism, Confucius, the Greek philosophers, the Kemetian principles of Ma’at (which cover everything in the Ten Commandments, and all other “good books.”), and the spiritual realizations of all tribal and “pagan” religions.  The only one I ascribe to is the One that is the Totality of All.

My wife’s mother and I became great friends after she lost her only child.  She was a Christian woman, and I never attempted to argue religion with her, but made it clear to her I was a Buddhist.  But she was not interested in that, and one day said to me, “Well Joe, you are a good man, you do good things…….so, you are a Christian.”  To her that was what Christianity was, simply living life as the Jew who was crucified lived it.  I miss her.

Musings on Life.

Life is a funny thing.  Poetically, life is like the tides at the shore, each tide rising and ebbing, each full of thousands of waves doing their thing, one by one, more or less sequentially, each totally unique in furry, pattern, sound and gifts deposited on the sand or rocks.  Many of these gifts are beautiful, shells and little creatures of nature’s design, and some are “ugly,” dead fish or even mammal carcasses stolen from the sharks and given to the birds, dead seaweed or jellyfish splayed on an alien surface.

Life is like this, life is the sea itself, but we are each a beach, molded a little with every wave, changing day by day but yet still there the next day.  We receive life’s gifts also, some with happiness, some with sadness, but mostly we just take these for granted, unfortunately.  If we could truly grasp the meaning of life, and embrace the false dichotomy of having both an infinite life but for now, a limited lifespan, we could live differently. As it is, most do not want to think of their present mortality, and have little concept of the infinite aspect of their being.

Aging is the play of life.  We model the format of plays after that of life itself.  Aging can be cruel.  I have sometimes thought that, “Heh, it would be nice to be born fully grown as an old person, then as we ‘age,’ become younger and younger and then die in the form of a new born babe?” Not sure how we could be born, obviously not the conventional way.  But just think, if one had the knowledge of an older person at the beginning of life, would it be possible to avoid doing things that later one regrets?  So you could actually live a wonderful life with minimal difficulties?  I don’t know.  Likely the wisdom of the universal Mind feels differently.

How we come into this world is even a strangely little understood phenomenon in itself:  we understand it biologically of course, but how our human life comes to be conscious of itself it not understood.  Does the new born babe come from “nothing?” Is it then just a successive product of its environment as it grows daily? This seems highly illogical to me.  So I ask, how can so many of Western religions in this “magic” (something from nothing) rather than belief as in Eastern and many other religions such as Ifa, that humans are reincarnated (of course, interpretations of this view differ across the spectrum of such believers), so “not something from nothing, but rather a continuation of something.”  The latter corresponds to all know physical properties of the universe as to energy and matter, whereas being born from just an egg and sperm doing a dance does not.

The aging process is naturally conducive to what we humans need and require to live our lives of course.  When young we are energetic, do wild things and learn from these; when in our 20’s-30’s we began to grasp adulthood and the responsibilities (whether or not we fully accept these is another story), and moving through our 40’s and 50’s we feel like we are much more in control and if we have lived our earlier years fairly well, we can enjoy the fruits of life in all ways.  Then comes the 60’s and by then we begin to sense that most of our life has been lived, and begin to wonder about what’s left.

I am nearing my mid-70’s now, and find it both interesting and strange.  In many ways mentally I feel much younger, and although my eyesight is not very sharp I feel what I see is through the eyes of someone younger in a lot of ways.  Yet, when those same eyes see myself in the mirror or camera selfie, I can only marvel at the power of nature to change us physically, but in exchange is the wisdom I know nature has given in return, a wisdom that will coach me on through my remaining days, each day trading another wrinkle for a bit of wisdom.  A fair trade I would say.

The point of this posting is just to say, live each day to the fullest, sincerely, not just figuratively.  But never despair, because your life is truly infinite, your energy and your essence was never born and will never die, so just relax ok.

Have a great day!


Golden years.

So I went looking for a photo to best illustrate today’s topic, typed in “golden years” and got lots of photos of cute golden retrievers and the Golden Gate bridge.  Apparently “golden years” are quite illusive.  My message to the younger generations (I am a retired Boomer) today is just that, if you have any vestige notion remaining, of working toward the “golden years” in the latter years of your lives, after you have already experienced a bit of today’s reality, please sit and reconsider.

My advice is to find your internal “holy man” and listen to his advice (or, if you prefer, holy woman…..I think I prefer).  Likely he will inform you, perhaps told as a parable, that the “golden years” are right now, son or daughter.

Like the American Dream – the neat house with green lawn and white fence – Golden Years in the traditional sense should no longer even be a faint aspiration.  The odds of you attaining sufficient private wealth to live in an upscale lifestyle are very small indeed. Of course many will, those who have by selected the right field of endeavor that reflects the spending power of mass consumption and who have managed their finances “wisely” and often selfishly, may live in modest or resplendent luxury one day, but that’s just a small fraction of your generations.

Your holy man probably will advise, “live your best life today, right now.”  Only you can decide what is your personalized “best life,” but I will second the holy guy’s advice.  There are absolutely no guarantees about “work hard and you will succeed.”  Not in today’s world.  So, to counter these odds, you merely have to live each day enjoying all the small things that are in your life, whether it is a smile from a boss,  a hug from your child, or the light in the eyes of your lover.  Sure, have your goals and work hard, but working toward something must not gloss over what you already have to enjoy right here and now.  Let you golden years be like golden butter mixed with honey, spread over all the slices of your life.

If you are making huge sacrifices right now to get to something “better,” I would urge you to rethink that:  all this does is set up a condition for the next big sacrifice for that which is even larger, and before long your life is a litany of sacrifices for those far off golden years, during which you may have many regrets about what you “could have done” if you had just slowed your thinking and recalibrated your wish list.

So, at least give what I say a little thought today, ok?

I also would say that it is better to share what you have, not just collect.  The returns on such investments in others’ joy will stock your pantry of blessings and help them along through their golden years of their lives.