Archive for April, 2011

The Soul

I just watched a British movie called “Never Let Me Go.” It was an alternative universe story, in the same type of vein as “The Handmaiden’s Tale.” It concerns the ethics of cloning humans.

Disease has been conquered in this timeline, but the organs of the human body still degrade. The cloned people are set up to replace these organs. The heroine of the movie is one of these clones, and the school they attend, unbeknownst to them, is trying to prove that the clones should be considered people too, and that they should be granted the same dignities and rights as other humans. In other words, they were trying to prove that they had souls.

But at some unseen point in the movie’s timeline, the rest of “humanity” made up its mind. To serve their own purposes they decided to ignore the question. If they could live years longer, and the clones could help them do it, than treating them like non-entities was justifiable.They rationalized away their inner conflict. It was obvious in the movie that the clones had emotions.

But did they have an inner self? Did they have a soul? The viewer is left to decide that on their own. Whether or not the inner self is our connection to the divine, or another piece of our soul, it is for us to decide how we view it, and more importantly, how we act on it.

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The Center of Spirit

Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and hold it in for a count of two. When you release your breath, let it all out. Do this one more time.

Picture yourself walking on a path through an open field on a twilight evening. The air is chilled but not cold. To your right you notice a fog beginning to roll in; emanating from an unseen body of water on the far side of the field. Think about what created the fog; the chill in the air combines with the water vapor and the warmth of the ground to produce it.

You know that you should be hurrying home, but you stand fascinated by the sight. Soon it rolls over you, and while you can see your hand if you hold it out in your line of sight, you cannot see much beyond it.

With your index finger, trace a figure eight in the fog. See how the fog roils away from it, and then fills it back in? Now close your eyes tightly and imagine yourself writing in the fog. Trace a figure eight again, and open your eyes. Much to your amazement, the figure eight is still there, glowing with soft phosphorescence.

Now, below it, trace the figure eight lying on its side; the standard symbol for infinity. It too hangs in the fog glowing softly. Write your name in the fog, and it too will remain in the fog. This process reminds you of something, but the memory is just out of reach. It is as if the memory is not from this life, but a previous one in a more magical time.

Close your eyes and compose a short wish for yourself; one that is for you only and that will not affect others negatively.  Make it no more than a dozen words. Once you have composed it, open your eyes and write it in the fog. Now look at the glowing words. Are they what you wanted to say? You can make corrections if you wish to. Use the tip of your finger to erase what you need to, and re-write in that space.

Now wave your hands in a brushing motion at the words, as if pushing them out into the Universe. The words dissipate and you know, in your heart, that they will carry your intent out with them.

As quickly as the fog rolled in, it rolls away, and you are surprised that it is now morning. You wonder for a second where the time went, but you know intuitively that the human concept of time does not apply here. And so, under the warming morning sun, you stroll on down the path towards home.

Let the path lead you back to your physical body; to this place and this time. Let yourself become aware of your surroundings, and stretch your muscles before opening your eyes and moving.

Dogma

From the Air section of my forthcoming book The Elemental Path:

I am never going to say that this is how it is and should always be, and neither should you. That path leads only to obsession and dogma. While I am a firm believer in the scientific method, I also believe that there is no one right answer to everything. Of course, I may be wrong about that too.

In his short story, “The Nine Billion Names of God,” the late Arthur C. Clarke writes about a lama from Tibet who approaches a computer company to design a machine to finish the task his lamasery has been working on for hundreds of years: completing a list of all the names of God.

The scientists in question look at the project as a challenge, never considering what may happen if the program succeeds in finding all the names. The lamas looked at it in an entirely different way, and they eagerly look forward to the outcome they are expecting. All of them looked at it as a mystery to be solved. Neither group would admit to the other that they were both seeking the same thing: meaning and fulfillment. They were stuck in their own viewpoints and paradigms.

The next time you watch a sporting event coming to you from a country halfway across the globe, transmitted via communications satellites (and communication is one of the generally accepted aspects of Air), you can thank Arthur C. Clarke. While he insisted that he did not come up with the idea, he certainly pushed it forward. He had a great scientific mind and, as his writing proves, he had a spiritual side as well. The resultant melding of the two different philosophies resulted in some of the greatest works of science fiction literature ever written.

I’m not going to tell you how the story ends (read it yourself if you’re curious), because that is not the point of my mentioning it. The point is that when you cease believing in the fluidity and the dynamic nature of the worlds around you, and surrender to a single point of view, you also lose part of the core of what it means to be human: the wonder and curiosity about the world around you.

Reclaiming the Water in me

From my forthcoming book “The Elemental Path”:

One of the few things that I miss living in a land-locked, and relatively dry, state is the connection to water.

On a recent business trip to the coast of Florida, I wandered out of my hotel room one night and walked down to the beach adjacent to it. I stood on the beach, under a full moon that turned the sand white in its light, and gazed out at the water. I really don’t know how long I stood there because time stood still for me. I was awestruck by the beauty of it.

Even though I had seen it often when I was young, as Florida was an occasional second home in my childhood, the rhythm of the sea reclaimed me. I felt joy at the beauty of it, wonder at the majesty of it, and sadness at the thought that I would have to leave it once more to return to Colorado.

As the waves gently washed onto the beach, I reclaimed a piece of me that I had occasionally felt was lost. I touched the emotional heart of myself, and I felt the rhythm of the tides of humanity.

The one lone coherent thought that ran through my mind was a question: Was there, somewhere else in the world, on a distant beach, another soul gazing out at the ocean and feeling the same sense of wonder at it all?

Words and power

The other day I commented on a neo-pagan social site, referring to the beautiful graphics which people have adorned their pages with, that all I have are my words when reaching out to others. That got me started thinking: what happens when words fail to convey the meaning? How do I know that, when my book is published, that it will be read and intrepreted as I intended.

Obviously, as an author, that is a very important question to me. So I also twitted the question about words failing, which automatically posts it to FB (isn’t technology wonderful? More on that in a future post.)

Immediately after posting, the first thing that came to my mind was an old song by Missing Persons: “What are words for, when no one listens anymore?”

And what was the first response on FB? “The universe is always listening.” Talk about a self-proving statement! Some would call it coincidence, but I find the synchronicity of that very comforting. With all the effort, monetary and mental, that has gone into my first book, not to mention the money that has yet to be spent to get it out in the marketplace, it is good to know that it will be received and considered by someone even if it’s only the Universe in general.

But that also brings me to the second response which came from a very dear friend: “You have much more than your words when reaching out to others…you have the gift of will and intention to follow your words.”