Excerpts

Little Friend

Brief chronological excerpts from each of the 77 Thotpods:

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COSMIC FATHER

            During the younger years of my life, and throughout my teen age, my dad and I would oftentimes go camping out in the vast Mojave Desert of southern California. He didn’t use a tent because the desert was dry and the sky was clear at night. We just pitched our cots and sleeping bags right out there on the arid desert floor, among millions of sweet smelling creosote bushes and a few crickets, out where hardly any people ever ventured. The nights were absolutely quiet and pleasantly warm, and the vast skies were absolutely breathtaking, and just waiting to be questioned. Looking straight up into outer space while on the cot, seeing “falling stars” every few minutes, was inspiring for my dad, so he enjoyed talking about the view.

            I was informed this was our universe, an infinite space devoid of air, a realm without end, where unimaginable numbers of stars and planets existed, some of which we could see with our own eyes. I learned that a particular star I might be gazing at may not even exist anymore, and what I was seeing might just be the light from what once was, due to the immense distances the light must travel to reach my eyes. He talked about light years, and how that star may have exploded more than a thousand years ago, even though I could still see it from my cot. I came to understand that stars were many times larger than my home planet Earth, yet every one of them was made up of things so minutely small that no human could see them, tiny building blocks of matter called atoms. In fact, the finite carbon and oxygen atoms in my body originally found their source in the seemingly infinite stars of space, I was told. My beginnings were brewed in the stellar cauldron.

OUR WALK TOGETHER

            So now I share! We are going to take a little walk, just the two of us, and although we may have never met one another, you and I have already been on a journey together before you even began reading these thoughts from my head. We are an integral part of an infinitely unknowable existence, a living entity traditionally called life, the biggest decision of which we had absolutely no control over … namely our birth. Here we are, like it or not. Even if we do not understand, all is just as it is. Our understanding of life, or lack thereof, is immaterial.

            We just show up on Planet Earth one day, perhaps replicating a few more of ourselves during our allotted time here, which certainly seems to be the ordained game plan, and wonder if that’s all there really is. We came, we reproduced, we left. Time to ponder. We have thinking minds, capable of brilliant learning, and our brains tell us it can’t be that basic and meaningless. Are these brains a blessing or a curse? Gorillas spend time on this planet just like we do, and they don’t contemplate all this sort of thing, or at least we doubt they do.

SELECTIVE SEEING

            It has been my lifelong observation that most of the populace in America, the political container that finds me currently living within its imaginary political boundaries, see what they expect or want to see in their world. In other words, we see precisely what supports our comfortable life paradigms, our established ways of living, so that our boat does not get rocked. If it’s working, after all, why mess with a good thing? Well, the truth is, much of it may not be a good thing, but we remain oblivious to the inconvenient aspects of our thoughts and actions so we can carry on each day with minimal mental discomfort.

            The seeker of truth questions everything, even that which he believes to be true, going far beyond all that was taught – there are no inviolable edicts to a genuine truth seeker. Of course, the downside to this, if we could call it such, is that if we find what we thought to be truth is not absolute, but only relative based on our personal perception, our own ways of seeing and existing during our corporeal time here will be dramatically altered, sometimes to the point of initially uncomfortable suffering as our ego has to construct a new model of existence. I found this the case in my own search for God.

DAY 22,415

            My writings thus far are based on 22,415 day’s worth of experience, and as a book requires many days to write, that number will necessarily be larger by the time we reach the conclusion. For most all of my days, once I had a contemplative mind, I’ve felt inclined to do what is right in life, at least right by my own definitions of truth, which have been largely based on what I was taught by others. For several hundred days thus far, my personal enlightenment from independent thinking and intellectualizing has shown me that discovering life beyond self, and actually attempting to live that life, is of the highest virtue, for it appears that life beyond one’s self is a life that flows in harmony with certain higher truths. I am not the center of the universe. I know people who believe they are however.

            This book is not about me, yet as it must be written by me, I will have more to say about my imagined self later, so let’s get on with our walk now, and begin investigating some aspects of our shared situation as humans. I’ll throw in enough tidbits about my self along the way so that you will have a fair idea of this fellow you’ve chosen to walk with today. By the way, I often write “my self” rather than “myself” to emphasize the self or ego aspect of the human form, which we will be discussing at length as we go. My self is not who or what I originally thought it to be

MYSTERY AND FEAR

            Of few things in this world are we as human beings absolutely sure. At the most rudimentary level, life is an intriguing and unknowable mystery, a limitless sea that tosses us about in our fragile vessels of fear as we search for solid ground on which we might dock, climb from the battered craft, and rest our weary minds. Our collective and individual anxieties are sufficiently intense that we have created frameworks of existence since the beginning of our species, allowing us to experience a welcomed shore of reprieve, thus vanquishing the ultimate apparition of finite mortality, or at least, permitting us to believe we have done so, while defending our tenuous selves. Perception may be a convenient abstraction, leading to mindsets of temporary serenity, yet it commonly crosses into the turbid and fertile domain of deception in a frequently ineffectual effort to understand life and calm the uneasy spirit.

            If life is the question, where is the answer? Why are we here? Where do we go next? What initiated life in the first place? How do we live to best maximize our time in these physical bodies? Our attempts to satisfy these insatiable curiosities are ageless, providing the basis for analytic investigation by the intellectually elite, both secular and religious, who forever rationalize that the answers are knowable and ultimately discoverable, as well as the teeming masses, who seek a way to simply survive on a more concrete level, while allowing the gifted to unravel the answers for them. The mystery and unanswered questions of life beckon us all, while simultaneously keeping the embers of fear burning hot, fires that many of us may claim have long since been forever cooled, but then again, maybe it’s only narrow and selective vision at work. Fear is often grounded in mystery, an unsettled uncertainty of what we see as life. Humans seem to intuitively seek a cognitive state of absolute truth, sure things upon which we can always depend, our rock. We must have faith in something.

LIFE IS A JOURNEY

            Our sentient life is indeed a journey on multiple levels. Not only do we travel for years from place to physical place, as one might envisage a typical journey across distant lands, but we also travel in our psychological bodies during that time, all the while experiencing the outside world, developing inner, or personal, opinions of our experiences, and applying those principles to our daily living and interactions with other sentient and non-sentient life forms. A journey is not static, but rather a dynamic and ever changing melding with what we perceive reality to be. Life, as the journey, is an odyssey, an adventure filled with unexpected events at every turn, where no thing is certain, regardless of how much we may crave certainty, and where our thoughts judge events as good or bad, putting our own spins on the world in which we feel most comfortable.

            It is common for many to simply react to the events of life’s journey, a consequence of not sufficiently charting out a higher level methodology for living. We are often reactive rather than proactive, likely the result of tending to the tedious necessities of everyday commonalities, simply surviving from moment to moment, where precious little time for formulation of solid ideologies is found, if even one is wise enough to prethink such things. Our reactions are usually based upon self survival in a hostile and competitive world where all our actions must be centered on preservation and advancement of the organism, lest others advance before us or take advantage of us. The journey is perceived as long and tough, followed by the permanence of death, or, if our thoughts have convinced us of a better life after passing, then the journey is followed by either reward and joy, a realm of eternal punishment, or a higher level of life in a new form as we progress to a state of nirvana. Do we create our own realities? We will contemplate reality at various levels later.

THE EYES OF A CHILD

            Identifying truth, and living one’s life according to it, may be the ultimate goal of any human capable of understanding it. Yes! It’s so simple really, quite elementary in fact, perhaps a fundamental truth in its own right. So basic is the concept of truth, the right and wrong of our perceived world of existence, children in their early years seem to intrinsically grasp the core ideas, as if in their yet unspoiled innocence, basic models of munificent reality come naturally. Ask very young people to express their wishes for the human condition or life in general, and many will commonly respond with some heartfelt variant of the need for world peace, a notion that people ought to get along with one another, help all who need it, and share a joyful exuberance of just being alive. Many children believe this is possible!

            Could this childish ideal point to the potential that there may be certain irrefutable laws of humanity, part of our essence from birth, that govern the central thinking of all human beings, much in the same way the laws of mathematics or physics administer the mechanisms of the natural world, and that by our discovery and investigation of those laws, we could actually establish the dream of so many of the planet’s youngsters, as well as untold millions of compassionate thinking adults who have long since witnessed enough of the unending mistreatment amongst fellow humans and the resulting global insanity? Could there be a law of altruism, for instance, a need to put others ahead of ourselves in our daily actions, an essential component of our individual and collective spirit that is quantifiable? Are there timeless truths? If so, might we be able to create utopia? Could such a benign social order replace destructive human behaviors like intolerance, prejudice, hatred, harm, greed, and the ruthless pursuit of national, personal, and corporate power?

UTOPIAN VISION

            Let us contemplate for a moment what might be meant through the words of utopia and reality, concepts that, on their surface, surely seem predisposed to do eternal battle – utopia being the brave knight in glistening armor astride a magnificent white steed, sword drawn, while facing down the colossal reptilian dragon, searing fire belching from its grotesquely distorted face, the reality of what certainly appears to be the ugly way of the world throughout all of our recorded history. After all, even the animal kingdom of Earth is ever locked in a constant combat of predator versus prey, of kill or be killed, of male dominance ever asserting itself in an unstoppable struggle to perpetuate the species, control other males, and to destroy others so that “self” may be maintained a little longer in the din of life.

            Everywhere we look, apparent injustices plentifully paint the landscape of the living, suffering and death the ever present apparitions lurking just beyond our imagined veils of personal and societal safety. Protecting self, regardless of cost, has proven to be our model of existence, maintaining an iron grip on us, an ignoble reality to endure as we march relentlessly to the grave. Need this be the case? Are there other paths? Must we contemplate all this in detail if we wish to escape it?

REALITY SPINS

            A few paragraphs prior I mentioned the investigation of what is meant by reality, the perceived antagonist of utopia, so let us now briefly offer it some thought. Reality is a state of being real, something that may be verifiable to people scrutinizing its possible existence, whether it be a scientific fact, natural law, or human condition. Reality is, of course, subject to opinion if the human assertion of it lacks a factual basis, if a presenter is unable to differentiate well between fact and opinion, but true reality, absolute reality, is always real regardless of what any individual human mind perceives of it. Well, that explanation certainly seems to allow for some gaps in understanding, so let us expand further, for actually, it is quite elementary.

            Reality is the actual state of the universe and the life within it, regardless of what humans perceive of it, or in fact, regardless of whether humans even exist. Reality is as it is, and no thought about it has any effect upon it. For example, the seemingly eternal human debate about whether or not there is a deity, a supernatural force or God that created all we call life, provides an intriguing study, which we will explore in depth later. Regardless of what any of us believe to be the case regarding Gods, the reality of it is as it is. In other words, our fervent thinking, arguing, or suffering about the topic has no bearing whatsoever as to its absolute truth. It’s hard on us though.

UTOPIA AND REALITY

            But what if the self could be suitably quelled so that a sufficiently motivated quantity of people did actually begin the psychological and physical construction of an initially small social order, committed to showing the rest of the world that it really would be possible to overcome all that we have never yet been able to overcome? How does this praiseworthy group go about seeking their solutions, and how will the authorities of the group be determined, those with the insight to know the best path on which their theory might become sustainable practice? The chosen few will undoubtedly be elected based on their demonstrated awareness and compassion of the traditional human condition, traits that shine through when authentically embodied within an individual.

            Of course, at the outset, there may be an issue. Would it not be possible that equally gifted individuals of genuinely deeply felt compassion and altruism might see paths at odds with one another? What if some of those chosen to lead see the true answers in sacred religious texts, while others visualize those same answers not in sanctified revelations, but rather in the laboratory of the natural world, looking to demonstrable reality instead of matters of faith found in ancient books. Reality is based on absolute truths, not affected by human perceptions, thus how could each of these paths be genuine? Would there not be conflict between them? Would this not destroy the group’s lofty goals and core integrity?

FUTURE HELL

            The documented pitfalls of utopian social attempts, and the potential for human degradation perhaps equaling or exceeding those in our “life as usual” way of living, have been the fertile fields of many an imaginative author, their fictional stories of future societies constructed to achieve utopian ethics being chilling reminders of what could happen if we are not careful.

            The popular terminology for a utopia gone awry is dystopia, a social order cloaked in utopian veils, but where those in authoritarian power have become all-controlling, vanquishing true liberty from the populace. Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World, set in 2450 CE, where human embryos are manipulated in ways that produce nearly identical people, thus ensuring the desired national mindset and the stability of the social order. Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, set in the near future, where a totalitarian theocracy, a Christian regime inspired by the Old Testament, comes to power in the former United States to spread its vision of proper human living, where nearly all women are forbidden to read. George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, set in 1984 CE, where a totalitarian state, headed by Big Brother, forbids all independent thinking and individualism in the name of the greater good, and where people are under constant surveillance to ensure the control of their minds.

FROM THE ASHES

            What, then, remains after dismantling the hopes and dreams of children all over the Earth? After all, are we not saying to the child who innocently asks for world peace and happiness that it will never happen? Is the absolute reality of the picture so dim that we lose hope in our desires to aspire towards human accord? No, it is not. Reality is as it is. This we must accept. To not accept the reality of the present moment is to suffer needlessly, a concept we will probe in greater detail later. We cannot change what is. We can, however, change what will be, by proceeding nobly and honorably in the present moment, the time we call now, the only moment we ever have as a human.

            From a collective viewpoint, that of the greater social orders of the world, the goal must be reconciliation through an equilibrium, where we respect the differences of different thinking people, and if all groups and individuals do this, then a mutual tolerance emerges that allows us all to see the good in others, to see that we are all part of the same life power, and we all seek peace and happiness. Clearly, my use of the word “all” does not include those unfortunate individuals with significant medically diagnosable brain dysfunctions that predispose them to criminal or unconscionable actions that are viewed as socially destructive, as might be found in those who senselessly harm others, or those who murder innocents in the name of a cause. Insanity and evil do exist. It’s all part of the game, the play, the journey.

I AM CALLED STEVE

            My name is Steve Greene (that’s pretty simple), but I wasn’t born Steve Greene. I was just born as a human being. I am but an insignificant speck of self-replicating matter, living on an insignificant planet of an insignificant solar system, contained within an insignificant galaxy amongst unfathomable numbers of other solar systems and galaxies of a seemingly infinite universe.

            I am not the center of anything except for the life sustaining processes that occur within my minuscule physical body. I used to see myself as separate, my life as my life, different from others, and capable of wisdom and insight not possessed by those others; in other words, my way, more often than not, was the right way, while all those around me were doing it all the wrong way, or at least not in a fashion I thought was prudent, efficient, or logical. More succinctly, I was arrogant, self righteous, and felt a need to gain control over situations in which I found myself. This seems a human tendency.

THE UNTOUCHABLES

            We usually avoid such discussions of politics, religion, and sex because these topics have a high potential for getting loads of people really stirred up emotionally. Occasionally we breach the political aspect of things, but venturing into the divine is asking for considerable trouble because at least 79% of the world’s human population expresses a belief, or faith, in a deity, which amounts to a few billion people, and of course, to question the unquestionable is not recommended if you want to win friends and influence people. Venturing into the sexual is also taboo in a world where at least one very popular religion, which has been around in one form or another for roughly 20 centuries, places austere limitations on it, leading to feelings of unnatural embarrassment regarding human intimacy.

            We will indeed venture into these untouchables within these pages, as any seeker of truth must, by definition, ultimately do, a necessary path in order to live authentically. Subject matter that determines our path should not be ignored. The sections where I talk about myself are included because I wish to reveal the path my life has taken that has led to my current viewpoints and direction. Even if one’s goal is to transcend self, due to the nature of our beingness self must be utilized to discuss the transformation. Besides, if you are going to take a walk with someone, such as we are doing here, it’s good to know why they think as they do. It helps to be friends.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

            My upbringing could be described as well-to-do and morally sound. I was never at want for anything, although as a child of course, I may not have always received the latest toy I desired. We lived in a nice house, ate at fine restaurants regularly, and generally contributed towards the quintessential American ideal of the “Father Knows Best” television show of yore – a mom, dad, sister, and brother, all living in pleasant familial bliss during the McCarthy, hippy, civil rights, and Vietnam era of national unrest and fear. Truth, justice, and the American Way were our guideposts, shining a strong light in an otherwise darkened world.

            God was protecting the American way, and the Republican Party made sure that the governmental issues of the day remained true to the founding fathers of this young country. Had I been old enough to vote during the 1964 election year when Barry Goldwater ran for president against incumbent Lyndon Johnson, not long after John Kennedy’s assassination, the controversial Arizona candidate would have automatically received my first endorsement. I came to believe that the Democratic Party espoused ideals of subversion, undermining our national rights and freedoms. I was not interested in their views.

WILDERNESS & NATURE

            Since my early years growing up, I have been an avid hiker and wilderness explorer. This has remained a constant thread in my physical existence, and therefore instilled within a deep appreciation and love of the natural world. Through this melding with my planet and universe, I receive strength at times when the workings of modern human activity conspire to overwhelm my inner serenity. I do not tire of the beauty and order to be found in the wilds. They speak to me.

            I am a naturalist at heart, a worldview that certainly was initially fostered by my father who is in heaven, or at least somewhere other than here in some form other than how I knew him. Those days of yore under the splendid Mojave night sky clearly had a lasting impact on a young mind. My dad would be 92 now had he lived.

EARTH AND HUMANS

            The planet we are standing, sitting, or lying on was formed a little more than 4.5 billion years ago, from the random accumulation of elements of solar clouds, or nebula. Not quite three quarters of our home is covered by the planet’s salt water ocean. Our moon formed not long, geologically speaking, after Earth did, when it is believed an object the size of Mars smacked our home with a glancing impact, and resulted in enough matter being separated from the two objects to form an orbiting sphere. Everything seems pretty calm right now though.

            Humans are relatively new arrivals here, but we have quickly achieved, with the use of our large brain, the unnerving ability to bring about worldwide changes that are beginning to threaten our ongoing domination of this tiny planetary sphere. We enjoy challenging our minds to make life easier and more convenient, yet in doing so, we have unwittingly plunged headlong into scenarios that are clearly altering the natural planetary balance while emptying finite resources. The primary reason we are not standing down from many of our very detrimental actions is that there exist massive financial infrastructures developed for such things as petroleum usage and nuclear living, for but one example, and the companies involved must remain committed to their shareholders, thereby opposing clean solutions as a result.

THE AIR WE BREATHE

            As a thinking man, my intellect has taken me on many journeys of the mind, and ultimately I have realized that perhaps my path was not one of harmony with the natural primal environment that surrounds me. My body inhales an invisible substance many times every minute I am alive, a component of our biocosm we humans refer to as air. Without air, the essence of who I am would immediately expire. If the planet I call home had no breathable atmosphere, little of the life here could exist. Viewed from the dark void of space, it becomes apparent that the air we breathe is but a minuscule and fragile shield that separates you, me, and all life forms from instant annihilation. Observe the thin blue aura around Earth on the cover.

            I consider myself a naturalist, one who champions the natural world that sustains my existence. Having finally reached a place in my life where I understood that talk is cheap, my mind became conflicted with my actions. My ideological stance on life and the natural world was in conflict with certain aspects of my daily human activities. Paramount among them was my ownership and regular usage of huge and mechanically intricate vehicles that destroyed the air I breathe every time I would get behind the steering wheel, turn the key, and use those thousands of pounds of steel, glass, plastic, and rubber to move my little body from here to there. Nobody ever questioned me though, as everyone else was doing it. It was expected behavior of affluent societies on Planet Earth. Serving my self with rapid and convenient transportation used to be permissible.

FREEDOM’S HYPOCRISY

            My place of Earthly residence exists in a governmental region commonly known as the United States of America, a country formed not too long ago, about 86,197 days prior to the creation of this written paragraph. That is only 236 years ago, a span of existence far shorter than that of the Roman Empire, especially if we consider the Roman Republic that preceded it and the Byzantine Empire that followed the collapse of the western portion in the fifth century CE.

            The third president of the U.S. was Thomas Jefferson, and he sought the fabled northwest passage through the country to the ocean on the western edge of the continent. Humans had already been living on the land being claimed by Jefferson’s nation for thousands of years prior to 1776. Jefferson’s message to them was that the American government had a right to the land upon which they had long lived. Thomas reportedly owned about 50 slaves, and then took possession of 135 more from his wife’s father’s estate. How could a man of such moral strength, leading a nation into a great new future, own slaves, own real live human beings, and still trumpet the principles of human freedom? He was participating in keeping 185 people in bondage, none of whom he released during his lifetime. How real was the liberty he helped build in America? It was liberty for certain people who met his criteria for citizenship, but not for those of some chosen heritages.

ARROGANCE OR AWARENESS

            Who am I to suggest that one of the most renowned American champions for personal liberty was openly and indefensibly guilty of a monstrous double standard? The publicly noteworthy things I might accomplish during my life will not remotely approach those of Thomas Jefferson, a man who was a national and world leader, so is this not a case of personal ego run amok, a writer and independent thinker who is merely out to glorify his own self at the expense of the image of those greater than he will ever be? It might easily seem so initially.

PREJUDICE DIES HARD  

            The handing down of stories from one generation to another is the prime manner in which humanity has made sense of its world. First, it was all oral, and then with the advent of writing and printing it also expanded into the written word, just as I am doing here. An excellent example of this is found in religious accounts of life itself, where stories have grown to global acceptance by literally billions of people. Acceptance begins as a little child, and much is firmly set in place once that child reaches an age where independent thinking is ripe to take over the task of unquestionably accepting that which has been. The teachers are eventually phased out, replaced by self thought.

CHALLENGES OF LIBERTY

            I wish to now look at three groups of people, the first of which has been traditionally marginalized by society, the second of which has been dehumanized by society, and the third of which has been vilified by society. The society I speak of consists of the majority who follow the path of least resistance, adhering to the sanctioned, or even unofficial, views of the country’s leaders at any given time of history.

            The women of America have been marginalized and treated as second class citizens from the beginning. African Americans have been dehumanized and treated as property in times past, or third class citizens in modern times. Gay women and men have been vilified to the point that some religious groups feel they should be put to death if they fail to behave normally. Of course, there are other minorities and segments of society that are also the tormented victims of ignorance, intolerance, and psychological cruelty, but we cannot in a book of this brevity pay due respect to the totality of injustice, and therefore shall briefly use women, blacks, and gays to demonstrate how one’s inner self has perpetuated blind prejudices. These groups certainly are on the short list of people who have commonly come up short on equality.

MARGINALIZATION

            As difficult as it is for us to believe now, it was not until 1920 that the nineteenth amendment to the US constitution announced that it was now illegal for the federal government or any state government to prohibit citizens from voting in elections or governance issues due to their biological sex. This battle, called women’s suffrage, started long ago, and the 1920 amendment was the culmination of efforts that began in earnest during the 1800s, although sex based voting prohibitions had been in place here during the 1700s. Sex based essentially means that women could not vote. Of course, for someone seeking the truth of things, the reasons for this have always been conspicuously present, but typically ignored, especially by males, because it did not directly seem of personal concern.

 DEHUMANIZATION

            From the dehumanizing acts of slavery to school segregation, from job discrimination to hostile beatings and murders by white supremacy collectives, black people have suffered more than I can accurately comprehend. No amount of academia on my part can truly put me into the pain of people of color. Had I been born black of African descent, I would understand more completely, no doubt, but I am a white skinned male in a country predominantly operated by white skinned males, thus I can only intellectualize my emotions. We live in a world where ego, our self, tells us that those fundamentally different from us are to be feared, and that which we fear, we usually end up hating, and that which we hate, we usually end up destroying.

VILIFICATION

            This third group of people, while already accepted as folks deserving of respect and human rights by a rapidly growing number of people, both in this country and worldwide, may present more of an inner challenge of one’s ego however than the other two groups. Their plight seems even more intractable than that of females and African Americans, and has silently remained festering due to grievous and unwarranted misconceptions originating naturally in the minds of most people, even those who are themselves part of the vilified group.

            It is normal human response to realize that women had no control over their biological sex, and that blacks had no control over their color of skin or ancestry. These presumptions are unassailable. The difference with this third group is that the majority of people, most of whom are heterosexual themselves, have traditionally been led to believe that homosexual people were not born into their situation, as were women and blacks, but rather have made deliberate and unwise choices to pursue personal intimate relationships that were commonly condemned throughout history and in mid twentieth century America.

HERMES AND APHRODITE

            Long ago, as rumor has it, a Greek God named Zeus had a son he called Hermes, the God of transitions and boundaries. At some point during his existence, Hermes sexually united with Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and beauty, who was born from the ocean, of sea foam. Of this union, Hermaphroditus then emerged into the Greek mythological scene, his name a combination of his two parents.

            The reason for telling this tale is that his name is the basis for the modern word hermaphrodite, which has been used to describe humans born with both male and female sexual organs. More recently however, the word intersex has seen increasing usage due to typical negative associations with the older terminology. The point being stressed is that human infants do not always emerge into readily determinable male or female identifications, contrary to layperson understanding, thus the need to move beyond ancient belief.

CHAOS AND DEATH

            The human mind seeks order in that which it sees without order. Chaos is a lack of understandable order in things. Humans have always sought to make sense of their world from the earliest times. This is expressed by Nobel laureate Francois Jacob when he suggests that the human brain has the inherent need to make order out of chaos. Chaos terrifies us because if we cannot control the cause and effect of all that we experience, we have no hope of controlling the powers of life around us. Humans strive for conquest and control, and will go to any means to acquire them, regardless of whether the solutions are based in absolute reality, and regardless of who or what is harmed in the process. Chaos is unacceptable to the average brain.

            Who does not wonder these things at some point along the journey? The mind demands exploration of the unknown depths of life as it attempts to know all. Each one of us has at one time, or will at some time, ponder the question of God. It is inevitable. The mind will demand order to free itself of chaos. Order, in the form of an unending future, must be found to retain our sanity. How can the spirit that makes each of us unique come to an end? Can we know eternal life in some form? How does absolute reality play into this performance? Is it different than relative reality? Do minds create that which they need?

THE SEARCH FOR GOD

            The power of life is ultimately unknowable for the limited human mind, yet we never cease searching for its origin and how we fit into the big picture. Theologians continue sharing the stories about their Gods. Scientists continue seeking knowledge of the universe and the life in it. Ordinary people continue pondering which path reveals truth for their belief models, or initiate quests on alternative paths. The search is on, and has been since the first bursts of sentient neural pathways lit up primitive brains more than four million years ago.

            Absolute reality is precisely as it is, regardless of what my own thoughts may make of it. What goes on inside my little head has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the big questions of life typically asked by folks down through the ages. How life began, while certainly a fascinating topic for intellectual study and discussion, was not on my shortlist of must-know items while I was growing up. I just figured that whatever got me here is old history, so I busied myself with more important aspects of existence like getting a fine education, entering the work world, earning a lot of money, and setting myself up for a comfortable retirement. The usual itinerary from cradle to grave.

MEMBER OF THE FLOCK

            I felt like I finally had life all figured out, had found my niche and was set for the long haul. I was pleased to be a devout Christian, one of the flock of believers who had assured a place next to God once my corporeal existence came to an end. Through the years I made new Christian friends here and there, but it seemed like I found myself more and more in a world of nonbelievers, and thus my outer and inner demonstrations of faith slowly waned. I still held true, yet without structured support at the same level as I had previously experienced, my faith was unwittingly placed in a more precarious position. I had not rejected my faith, but I was no longer actively pursuing it at high levels as I once had.

            Looking back, I had entered a period of satisfying ego based needs, a time of simply going with the flow of traditional life, a place where my inquisitive powers of thought were taking a holiday from the unique dreams that once were. I was just caught up in the conventional ordinariness of human existence, my mind dulling, unaware of what the next great abstract adventure might be. Beyond reading necessary for pursuit of my professional goals, books were fading from my life.

CANDLE IN THE DARK

            Wandering has a way of extinguishing itself after a while for a person possessing an inquisitive mind. Essentially what happens is the unsettled head enters into a state of boredom and self disgust, and of course knowing the finiteness of the physical body, it dawns on the thinker of thoughts that time is wasting away, never to be recovered. There are only a certain number of tomorrows, or more precisely, a limited number of present moments, for in reality tomorrow never will arrive, no matter how long we wait around for it.

            Just when the caterpillar thought the world was coming to an end, it turned into a butterfly. From the most challenging of times often emerge new directions and a fresh spark. Just as with my health and longevity practices, where I base the entirety of how I live on modern factual science, where my goal is to preserve my mind and body in a fully functional state for as long as possible, my aim was now to search the borders of reality so that my life would be grounded in sound living. In matters of diet and exercise, whenever I discovered that something I had been doing was not such a good thing after all, I would change my direction; I had no agenda other than maximizing my health, no loyalties that came before my physical wellness. Reality and reason guided me, not fad diets and the latest fitness craze. My belief in God had to follow this example now.

WHICH GOD IS TRUE

            During my years of Bible and religious study, I was aware of other religions, and how some were commonly considered cults, haven to people who had moved beyond the mainstream into ways that the church seemed to consider unwise, wrong, heretical, or perhaps even blasphemous. Having been raised in a predominantly Christian nation I did not question whether it was the only true way to lasting life. At my dad’s passing, it was just natural to adopt the dogma of America’s history for myself. Who would question it? In fact, if you did actually question it, you were viewed as lost or even dangerous. During my younger years, you could even be considered communist if you did not fall in line with the majority of church going citizens. At least the era of witch torture, burning, and hanging had finally come to an end. To doubt Christianity in modern times usually only meant that one would be shunned by the pious segment of society, perhaps an emotional hell, but it sure beat the insanity of being torched at the stake.

            As a Christian, people would occasionally ask inquiring questions of me, and I did my best to answer them, with the assistance of several Christian themed books designed to help the faithful counter thoughts that challenged the logic, common sense, or contradictions of Christianity. So I had long been aware of traditional notions of what some term the secular side of life, and to be honest, those same concerns wafted in and out of my own head, but, as any rational thinking person must do, disbelief had to be suspended on the grounds that only faith could do what logic could not. It was the way.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

            Religions, at least the leading organized ones, were initially formed with the idea that supernatural forces or entities could provide us things that cannot be found in the natural world, namely justice, comfort, and eternal life for all humans in spite of the forces of evil and suffering. Of course, this is considered vital for humans, as is evidenced by the reports that more than five billion of us on this planet claim belief in one of the four remaining major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. We are very frightened indeed.

            What gets these things started anyway? The faithful will tell us that God inspired certain humans to write it down, and it was God’s power that was the fire behind the momentum. Having just visited some disturbing aspects of this philosophy, a mere minuscule portion of all that exist, it became evident to me that further study was needed. I waded through volumes of information in my search for truth, and now must separate out the essential elements that provide a glimpse into my thought processes for you to hear. Over time, I had discovered more than sufficient evidence to convince me that other forces were at play in the grand scheme of religious life, and thus I was ultimately led away from what I had once believed was absolute truth. Living life in the shadow of a pseudotruth, a thorny path, is not my way.

CHRISTIANITY’S HISTORY

            A very brief background of the Roman Empire is needed here, as it played the starring role in the popularization of Christianity. If the empire had not intervened, this religion would not be what it is today, if it would have survived at all. The modern Roman Catholic church found its roots in the seeds of a new religion embraced by an emperor, thus its leading world status in modern day life as the major sect of Christianity. First though, some thoughts are in order about the empire in general, and then on to how it ignited the believers like few other instances of recorded history.

            Beginning around 500 years prior to the Common Era, which is denoted as BCE, also still popularly regarded as 500 BC, a small city-state known as Rome began reaching out for power and control, a necessary path in the days where warring forces were the norm. Rome continued to expand, exerting its influence, for several centuries of diverse rule. There were periods of this empire that were quite disturbing, and one of those occurred in 132 CE as the Roman Empire crushed a Jewish uprising in Judaea. It was a long murderous campaign that led to the deaths of about half a million Jews. The empire renamed the Jewish battle area Syria-Palaestina to remove any former notions of the people who had lived there.

EMPEROR CONSTANTINE

            A Roman general named Constantine is one of the most significant players in the startling rise and success of Christianity, yet until I began studying history in earnest to discover whether my path to enlightenment was legitimate, I never realized this. The man was in line to become emperor based in part on his successful military experiences. He was the son of a successful general, and the head of the western army. When an influential religious leader interpreted a vision Constantine had, the emperor moved to endorse the particular sect of Christianity that held a belief both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, which also included a model for government and religious interactions through the kings of Israel. He charted a course of using theology of government to advance his secular power, in a manner he hoped would unite many of the religious people of his vast realm, both Jews and Christians, which he viewed as powerful forces.

            At the onset, Constantine initiated an internal cleansing of all Christians of other sects, those who did not hold out both testaments as legitimate doctrine. He wanted a single Christian theology to prevail in his new vision for the empire. In an enlightened vision to serve his needs, he rebuilt Jerusalem, concentrating on key locations where Jesus was said to have made history, making tourist attractions of them so that elite Romans and other citizens of the empire would want to make pilgrimages to this holy land, all of which placed him as a great religious man in the eyes of the multitudes.

JESUS AND THE GOSPELS

            Jesus of Nazareth, known also as Jesus Christ, is the central figure about which the Christian religion is based. In most Christian religions, he is God himself, part of a holy trinity, where he is the son of God. As such, Jesus is worshipped as God in much of the Christian world, and the writings of the Bible are said to have been divinely inspired by him. Thus, those who follow Jesus as part of their life paradigm need only the writings of this book to justify their beliefs. In Islam, Jesus is considered a prophet of God, one who delivered critical information to humans. Judaism does not believe Jesus to be God.

            Interestingly, there exists strong divergence in opinion on how the words of the Bible should be interpreted and followed. Often they are shrouded in mystery and metaphor by the very nature of the language and translation processes, and thus important tenets may be misunderstood. Just as in the early years of the movement during the empire, agreement is not to be found uniformly among the faithful. The disagreements, if one is willing to pursue study of this topic, are significant and disturbing. This all seems rather odd if we accept the premise that they came directly from the deity who wishes to save us from eternal suffering. If humans are engaged in arguing what was meant, that seems to me counter productive when they should be putting the ideological principles into actual practice. Major disputes over the ambiguous message itself derail any hopes that the message is understood as it was originally intended, and thus truly lived.

CREATION STORIES

            From the beginning of human existence, there has been a need to understand the world around the mind. We all feel this need in ourselves even today. How did I come to exist? How is it that I became what I perceive as me? Where did the world of which I am part come from originally? What started it all? Curiously, attempting to discover answers to such abstract questions requires peering deeply into past times. We must leave the present moment in such a voyage, for if we lived completely in the now moment, as do animals, we would not find a need to explore the unknowable realms of beginnings.

            Since our minds are finite, severely limited in comparison to the infinite universe of which we are but a minuscule part, we attempt to mentally redraw that infinity so that we might comprehend it. Of course we began somewhere and somehow, but those answers will not be forthcoming for quite some time, if ever. Pondering such things just keeps us awake at night or sets us up to battle other humans who have divergent viewpoints. Things are as they are, regardless of how human minds perceive them, and thoughts will not change this, but alas, we cannot help ourselves because our brains are just barely advanced enough that they do insist on getting to the bottom of it all. Our brains also have the nasty trait of periodic arrogance, so we are fighters.

A FRIEND IN JESUS

            When I was a Christian, in tune with all the latest talk in the community of believers, and a reader of many Christian themed books, I came to be aware of a poplar phraseology that the charismatic leaders of the religion used to help us maintain our strong beliefs. You may have read or heard something like this: Jesus was either a lunatic, liar, or Lord. For truly, as the ideological construct went, any man who walked around the land saying he was the son of God either had to be that which he claimed, or he had to be a lunatic or liar. The clincher was that if we simply believed in Jesus as a wise teacher and nothing more, believed him to be but a mortal man with deep spiritual insight that few people had, we were believing in the supposed wisdom, or more precisely, the rantings, of a lunatic or a liar.

            This held powerful sway with the faithful, and our logic demanded that, yes, he must then be God as he says, because surely Jesus was not a lunatic or liar, two “L” words by the way that are deliberately inflammatory to evoke the desired response in believers, as a compassionate writer or speaker would more likely use verbiage such as emotionally disturbed or suffering from delusions of self importance. Even if Jesus was mentally troubled, it seems from most accounts that his heart was in the right place, so why paint him as a possible lunatic or liar, in such a debased and insulting light? Because that light serves the purpose of accepting him as God. It is the typical “either/or” or “if/then” model of diverting people’s attention from the actual questions at hand, based on immediate emotional response rather than studied deep thought. Works almost every time.

CONTEMPORARY CREATIVITY

            Humans perceive life and its happenings based on their own lifespans, frames of time that are exceptionally brief. When compared with the big pictures of geologic time, or universal existence, a human lifetime is so utterly insignificant that only the selfish ego maintains its importance. We are nothing more or less important than a microbe, just another part of life, here whether we like it or not. When pondered in those unwelcomed terms, it is somewhat preposterous how we get so engrossed in things we believe are crucial to success and power. Anyway, what we consider ancient, such as occurrences from the eras of Plato or Copernicus, we may wish to reframe as only a moment ago.

            We have visited ancient creation stories, how they got their start, and their connection to ancient religions that have evolved into modern religions. For humans, religions are ancient in origin, coming from times when scientific knowledge was nonexistent, except perhaps in the minds of a tiny handful of intellectually brilliant minds. For all intent and purposes, little factual knowledge of the world around us existed, so we made up all sorts of bizarre paranormal or supernatural things to calm our fears of what we were experiencing, except that during ancient times, we thought these things were normal or natural.

HU-MAN CHIMPANZEE

          We have examined in this book the human compared to other species with regard to the need for religions and Gods. My belief is that religions and Gods were created by humans out of a profound fear of death and the need to preserve the self, in other words, to attain immortality. The human bioform has a brain that allows for abstraction, and allows for our ability to know in advance that we will all die sooner or later, a troubling understanding leading to a lifetime devoted to either ignoring the chilling conclusion of what we typically consider our life, or to a lifetime of participation in psychological abstractions designed wholly to assure us that upon our physical demise we shall attain some sort of a metaphysical form for all eternity, either on streets paved with gold, in the depths of a fiery hell, or a vision we do not comprehend.

          Without any discussion about gold (a metal found on this planet), its imagined value exclusively for humans, or our desire for streets paved with it, let us look at a theoretical scenario that may further enlighten us as to the need for finding a God. We will take a short journey in our minds, a world of make-believe for sure, but one that presents fascinating logic that the churches devised by human bioforms will clearly not consider, for it offers questions that are not at all convenient for their paradigms. Challenge to pious dogma is intolerable. People, after all, did not evolve from lesser endowed animals – we were fully formed by our God of choice. Of course, being a naturalist, one who finds his answers in the physical laws of the natural world rather than the ethereal realm of the supernatural, I see things a tad bit differently, thus this ThotPod.

You may read this ThotPod, which does not appear in the paper version of the book, or the initial electronic version, by clicking this PDF file link:

Hu-man Chimpanzee

TWO CENTS FROM SCIENCE

            If we assume that religion has not answered the big questions of life, such as how we got here, why we are here, what our purpose is, and where we go when finished, then who has the answers? Well, this question assumes of course that the answers are necessary for a truly meaningful life, which may or may not be the case, but if we are to reach closure with the limitless need to know that our brain demands of us, how do we achieve it? The quick answers are that we cannot arrive at closure because there is more than we can know, and to attain closure is not needed, at least not for most of us, who are immersed within our own little worlds of daily activity. Fulfillment without solid answers is indeed possible for all but the most intellectually gifted of us, those with curiosity and needs beyond mere mortals, people whose brains know no bounds – in other words, scientists.

            Scientists use the scientific method. No surprise there. They look at something, propose a hypothesis, and then test their ideas to see if their conclusions will hold up to the intense scrutiny within their scholarly community. Next, they get their findings published in peer reviewed scientific journals so that all the scientists of Earth can look upon their intellectual baby, retest it all, and either accept as true, or reject as false, what the original hypothesis stated. This is a process known generally as falsifiability, which is the cornerstone of authentic scientific endeavors. Falsifiability sets apart science from realms of human thinking such as religion and other supernatural models of life.

HAND OF THE CREATOR

            As we have talked earlier, people have throughout time established many varied belief systems with a divine God creator at their center, a perfect being with the ability to do anything, a deity that does not make mistakes. In addition to the obvious fear based reasons we have discussed, many were those who looked at life around them and thought that surely all this exquisite perfection of the biosphere could not have happened in any other way. Everything was just right for humans. If just one little aspect were a wee bit off, we could not have evolved, thus God of course created us in the perfect biologic conditions that he also created to sustain us. This notion was workable until the understanding of life was skyrocketed forward by the Darwin model in the 1800s, when the divinely faithful realized that the fossil record had to count for something. It could not just be ignored.

            Returning to Creation Science and Evolutionary Creation paradigms just briefly, which attempt to reconcile the Bible’s version of life with scientific findings, it sounds good to think that God set up the evolutionary process, and there is no conflict, however, since the fossil evidence reveals scores of extinct species over the course of Earth-bound life, what does that say about a God with the ability to produce perfection right from the start? God would not have had to guess which species would work, or would not have had to try a few thousand out to see how they did. The evidence would suggest that this God made many errors as he tried to create the perfect blend of species equilibrium.

EARTH CONDENSATION

            The nice thing about science is that it is a self healing entity, in that if it makes a mistake in its judgment, eventually through an endless sequence of study and experiment, it arrives at, or valiantly attempts to arrive at, the correct conclusion based on all available evidence, something religion shows no apparent interest in doing. So, if the Big Bang one day proves to be the Big Error, at least scientists will self-correct once new evidence is discovered. Science does not perpetuate a known error, nor does it attempt to justify that which is proven false. This is due to the fact that science is a collective of individuals, so even if there are a few with unsavory and unethical motives, like perhaps funding from large corporations and thus substantial personal salaries, there will be scores of other scientists who will provide a trustworthy checks and balances system to keep the objective of truth in sight. The collective motive is truth and reality regardless of emotion, ritual, or tradition, thus their trustworthiness.

            Okay, so here we have the orb of Earth coalescing in space, a very primitive place in which we could not have survived if we were theoretically just tossed into the mix. As water formed into oceans and ponds, at around four billion years ago, life slowly emerged as the sun provided ultraviolet light, which, included with lightning, split apart the hydrogen rich molecules of the early atmosphere. These molecules would then recombine with others, and this primordial soup that we hear of began forming in the waters of the ocean. Of course, this is but highly educated speculation based on available evidence, as obviously no human was around to witness a thing. There were no automobiles to be found. It was silent chaos with no brain to contemplate it.

REVOLUTIONARY THINKERS

            I would like to speak briefly of a few intellectual giants who have initiated profound visions that have impacted this thing we call humanity, perhaps providing additional background material that may prove useful for those pursuing knowledge and truth. There are many more folks than I shall introduce here, this being but a very few people of significance who have altered the course of our unique history.

            We humans have a tendency, or perhaps more precisely, a self ingrained habit, of looking at life and our situation in anthropocentric ways, in other words, we interpret life as centered around us. I suppose this is a natural way of seeing, certainly normal if nothing else, as the brain that perceives is at the center of perception. This is the self, and it is so strong that our anthropocentric thoughts flow outward from us, like ripples in a pond, to include a geocentric view of the universe. The sun revolves around our planet, and, as everyone certainly knows, this planet upon which we live is flat. To suggest otherwise is utter foolishness, because even fools inherently realize that were it not flat, perhaps round, for instance, all the people and animals would fall off.

ALEXANDRIAN LIBRARY

            Once upon a time, there existed a place that was the center for worldly wisdom and knowledge, where the greatest thinking minds of Earth came to study and share, a place so respected that only now in the age of the internet has it been surpassed as a storehouse of human knowledge. In a city founded by famous Alexander the Great in Egypt, called, not surprisingly, Alexandria, was to be found the Library of Alexandria and its museum, the seat of leading knowledge for seven centuries. The Alexandrian Library we might consider the first serious attempt at cataloging all the knowledge of the world in one place, an ancient internet one might say, that began in the third century BCE.

            As a brief background, Alexander was a king in northern Greece, and a student of Aristotle. By the age of thirty, he had created a kingdom that spanned from the Aegean Sea to the Himalayas. He was an undefeated military commander who established around twenty cities with his name (a phenomenon we might now consider quite ego centered) the most famous of which was Alexandria on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt, across the expanse of water from his homeland of Greece. This is where the Nile River enters the eastern Mediterranean, a region known as the Fertile Crescent. As much as Alexander’s ego-self ruled him, he did allow for an open environment that supported various cultures and scholarly learning.

COLLECTING MY THOUGHTS

            My belief is that the tenets of how to live life, while usually found in most religions, are actually inborn human attributes, and can be followed with equal enthusiasm whether they are associated with a religious movement or not. As an example, Kung Fu Tse, commonly known as Confucius, was the key individual of Chinese philosophy, often quoted throughout the ages. Centuries before the maverick Jewish rogues who planted the seeds of the Christian religion, this idealistic man, similar to Plato, proposed principles of which you may well be familiar. Confucius said: “What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others.” – “Acknowledge benefits by the return of benefits, but refrain from revenging injuries.” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This wise philosopher was not offering these ideological gems as part of a religion or in the realm of mysticism. He was instead a rational thinker, and came about his beliefs from logical, compassionate, and altruistic deliberation. Theology is not necessary.

            How to live morally comes standard in humans, and was then incorporated into religion, rather than the other way around. I do not believe we must be religious to live an altruistic and morally sound life respectful of others. I often have heard a typical Christian argument, one that assumes the righteousness of that particular religion over other religions of course, that were it not for the Biblical teachings and the potential for eternal suffering and damnation, humans would have no reason to be of high integrity and compassion, and that we would just run amok and do any number of really nasty things. This is not at all my belief based on the people I know or have witnessed.

LIFE’S CONCUSSION

            Yesterday morning, as I was finishing up washing my plate and silverware, I heard a thud behind me, as if something had fallen to the floor in the dining room. I turned around to scan the area, but saw nothing out of the ordinary in that portion of the house. Then, outside the sliding glass door, I visually beheld a small dark object on the worn wooden deck. About thirty inches from the glass, a tiny black and gray bird was sprawled on the deck, its left wing splayed wide, its left leg protruding at an odd angle towards the front, its body canted towards the left at a noticeable angle, its lungs heaving rapidly and violently for air, and its sentient abilities no longer able to function so as to protect itself from danger.

            I just stood there at the glass, realizing that there was nothing I could effectively do to assist this fellow bioform in its helpless state. Whether it lived or perished was not within my domain of control, except that I felt determined to make sure no marauding neighborhood cat, seeking a morning meal, would take advantage of the little bird’s helpless condition. There was no warning on the glass for a flying being to discern, and as far as I was concerned, the concussion this bird had just suffered was a result of my lack of action to make sure no invisible barrier stood lurking. My wild friends do not know glass.

ACTIONS OF GOVERNMENTS

            58,220 soldiers were killed. 150,000 were wounded. 21,000 were permanently disabled. 50,000 deserted. 830,000 suffered post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 125,000 citizens fled to Canada. The figures reflect the reported reality of Americans associated with the Vietnam war. These numbers do not reflect the death and carnage of people who were citizens of the country where the war took place. The total number of murdered humans is reported to have exceeded 3,000,000 sentient forms. If we study the entire picture, which is most difficult to do, as the number of countries involved and the number of years consumed have a way of complicating understanding, the totality of humans who were adversely affected is staggering. Of all the people mentioned, there are countless others called family and friends who must continue living with the nightmare even today. Was it worth it?

            I will not enter into the discussion regarding the justifications of the Vietnam conflict, or lack thereof, but will say that all this has occurred as the result of actions taken by governments. You are not a murderer, and neither am I, yet the soldiers from all the countries that participated in this utter disrespect for life were forced, at least in their minds, to become murderers of their own species, not to mention all the other species with innocent members in the jungle who were instantly incinerated in the fiery explosions and sticky flames so generously spread across the land. If any one of us carried out actions like these on an individual basis in our home towns, we would be tried for murder and duly sentenced to death, but when carried out by large numbers of government sanctioned warriors, they become heroes, not criminals. The more one kills, the more one is honored. Are we blind?

WHO NEEDS AN ENEMY

            The scientific mind, driven by knowledge, discovered how to split the atom, and the military mind, driven by things like conquest or fear of others, discovered how to militarize the project and use a split atom to annihilate humans and other bioforms in massive numbers all at once. In a peaceful land known as America, a lethal device was invented called an atom bomb, a tribute to the deepest insanity of humankind. The bomb had but one purpose, and that was to destroy the thing we call life. Downwinders is a term that refers to people and towns that were exposed to large doses of radioactive fallout from atom bomb explosions, innocent people who personally became, and still become, infected with nuclear contamination from the actions of the American government. In our country’s fear of others, and the collective need to use force to destroy other civilizations, the powers in control see it as a necessity to maintain many nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Of course, when the government was first militarizing the splitting of the atom in the 1940s, they had to test their new invention to make sure it could indeed destroy an entire city and all the innocent people within.

THE UNIVERSAL SOLDIER

            In 1964, a Canadian singer named Buffy Sainte-Marie offered a song to the public on how governing bodies of nations perpetuate their power by sending their citizenry off to kill and die. The men at the top play the game, and the men at the bottom sacrifice their lives in turn. The essence of Buffy’s song is that if the men ceased to go to war, then the leaders, whether they be dictators, kings, or elected presidents, could no longer wage those wars. War would end.

            She properly notices in her song how the universal soldier is always fighting for what is right, regardless of whether it be for America, Russia, or any other country who presses him to murder life. His government has him believing his heroic efforts and sacrifices are for peace of his people. But as he is doing the deed, it never occurs to him that it is wrong.

CORPORATE SELF GREED

            One might find it odd to talk about Charles Darwin on a subject of corporate greed, but interestingly, one of the top executives of an infamous company, one man of a trio that some were calling the “unholy trinity”, was a firm believer in Darwin’s tenets. He believed that survival of the fittest in the business world was the pathway to success, a credo he put into practice by yearly dismissing the people of his company who ranked, according to aggressive company interviews, in the bottom 20% of ability to move the company forward. A macho culture led to the corporate crime of the century. The mindset remains.

            In a capitalistic form of existence, which is how the American business model is operated, there is nearly unlimited opportunity for people with the knowledge, ability, and money to creatively produce items and services that other human beings want and are willing to pay to obtain. The driving force in a capitalistic society is, as one may well guess, money, or financial wealth. This form of business is called free enterprise, with a supposedly level playing field. But, and this is certainly no secret to anyone who follows current news reports with an unbiased mindset, the field is anything but level, and the rules open enough that abuse is possible, and indeed rampant. It is a disease.

CULTURAL SELF NEED

            Like religious differences that lead to human fear, hatred, and violence, cultural divisions split emotional people from human beings who have more in common with them than differences. The old primitive ways of small social clans keep humans at war. Now we grow together at long last, but many folks perpetuate cultural divisions and partitioning out of pride and custom. While it is respectful to remember our tribal roots, they should not be a point of contention and continued hatred. The blaming must stop, and the power is in those who rise above cultural self pride.

            As the rapid expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century pushed ever westward on a continent of seemingly limitless opportunity, and citizens enticed to seek new lives in the unknown lands migrated in large numbers, people from other cultures began to feel the negative effects. Social collectives had been living across the American countryside for thousands of years, from times that predated recorded history, and existed in ways foreign to the new wave of folks eager to become owners of land and possessors of the earth’s mineral resources. Human history is replete with examples of what occurs at the convergence of differing cultural ideologies, and the course of events in America follows this common trend of ethnic turbulence.

AN UNEXPECTED SAVIOR

            The new savior has seen to it that order has arrived to halt the spread of chaotic misbeliefs and unfortunate lack of knowledge – and this unexpected savior is changing the way the world works. Gone are the days where we believe everything a privileged few financially wealthy power magnates dish out through the airwaves and publishing world. Welcome to the now, which we shall get to momentarily!

            Let us examine this new salvation that will finally unite the human species after millennia of separation. The beautiful results are already apparent, and the emergence is yet young. I have heard many times folks complaining that in today’s society of affluence, people are spending all their time on computers, surfing the internet, writing emails, and just sitting in isolation staring at their electronic screens. I hear these same folks fondly remembering the “good old days” when we all got together in physical reality, not some bizarre virtual reality. What is the world coming to, they wonder. Surely, they believe, this cannot be a good thing for humanity, for we are losing touch with our culture’s precious traditions and interactions. Not good at all they say.

FOR THE RECORD

            I know a wife and husband who follow the Christian religion, and spend their summers deep in Mexico through a Christian outreach program to help poor people get educated and build schools. The man is a teacher and the wife is a nurse, and they have two small girls. These folks are as genuine, profoundly humble, and loving as any people you could wish to meet, and both have been very successful at not allowing their ego selves to override the good things that need to be accomplished in the world. I highly respect this couple.

            One might ask whether I believe that such people helping others through religious organizations were the same as people helping others through non religious organizations. I suppose the non-theistic group probably has no goal other than to simply help those in need, while the theistic group likely has not only that goal, but one to also introduce Jesus, or their God, to those being helped by their efforts. This answer, which of course is very shallow, may lead one to believe that my feelings must be that religious helpers are less pure than non religions helpers, which could lead to the conclusion that I think all followers of religions are of lesser stature somehow.

LAYERS OF ARMOR

            During the Middle Ages in Europe, warriors were beginning to wear steel or iron plates of armor on their bodies to gain advantage over the enemy forces. Imagine slipping into a suit of armor after you get dressed in the morning, a full metal clothing array to keep you safe from swords and arrows piercing your body. As warriors and knights began relying on this type of protection during the 1400s and 1500s, strategies of piercing the armor were developed. With new weapons in production that could penetrate the plating, even heavier armor came into being. During these times, it was discovered that jousting might be fun, a sport of sorts, where two armor clad warriors would clash on horseback, attempting to unseat the opponent. Jousting armor could weigh up to 100 pounds. Clearly, a knight had decreased mobility.

            What does this have to do with us, you might ask? Surely, we do not wear armor, as we have no need for it. Well, I believe we surely do wear it, and are so heavily encumbered by it that we suffer daily as we attempt to manage our way in life. Of course, the armor we wear is not quite the same bulky steel plates of yore, but it still is designed to accomplish the same ends in a manner of speaking. We are born naked, and absent intervention and protection by those present at our birth, we would perish in short order. We lack any ability to protect ourselves from this life into which we had been born. As soon as we are cleaned up, weighed, and have our footprints taken, people wrap us in some cloth to protect us from the elements, while simultaneously protecting us from the adults’ learned need to maintain human modesty. Our first suit of armor was placed upon us, but we have no memories of it, other than photographs of some little weird looking human lifeform taken by an emotionally jubilant parent.

ANYTHING YOU CAN DO

            Ego is a mixed bag. On the one hand, my self protects me in all the aspects of life that might cause me harm, yet on the other hand, it alienates me from other sentient beings and the grand power of life by making me feel as though I am separate. I have read words by a few enlightened masters that indicate we should strive to abandon the self as much as is possible, but then I realize that ego is very much a part of what we all are as human beings. Can we move beyond it?

            An even more probing question is whether we would want to move beyond it if we could. The fact that we come equipped from the factory with a powerful sense of self surely must indicate that we must need this ego thing so we can survive and perpetuate the species, the elemental aim of life in this universe of ours. Self protects, but for human beings, it can also devour and destroy life quite easily.

 OUR GALACTIC HOME

            If I were to state that the banded cluster of immensely distant light visible from Earth each night was breast milk squeezed forth from the Goddess Hera, one of the Greek Gods, who would really believe me? Or what if I proclaimed with certainty that it was the road to Mount Olympus? I would think it doubtful anyone would accept my tale, and probably many a laugh would result. Why so? Would it be because such stories are nothing but unfounded superstition, only supernatural narratives made up to explain to the ancient Greeks how life and their universe worked, like so many other chronicles created by the curious minds of countless cultures through the ages? But then, the same people who think me quite odd for not understanding the Milky Way galaxy will go to church to worship an equally incredulous belief this coming Sunday. They will not see the parallel. The mind works in mysterious ways, a deeper mystery than even the universe.

RUNNING ON AUTOPILOT

            Of everything constantly occurring in the cosmos, here I am as me. Just little me. How is it that I am me? I mean, there have been billions of our species for a very long time, but here, right now, there is a consciousness in a sentient life form that I consider to be me. How did it happen like this, at this time in the continuum of life? My thoughts are all hooked up to a highly complex functioning system that sustains the life I call my own, but am I a lone being, this creature I call me, or am I part of a much more grand production that includes everything I see around me? Maybe others wonder about this too.

            No one who has preceded you and me, including the greatest minds of all human history, has been able to figure it all out, so what ends up happening is that we accept what we were told and taught during our upbringings, from people who were just as confused as we are now, and they learned it all from their predecessors who likewise did not know. And on and on it goes, back through the times of the calendar, and the farther back it goes, the less enlightened it becomes. People back then knew much less! We are running on autopilot, going through the cultural motions of expected life to the grave, on roads that were carved by others who did not know where they were heading.

A GREATER POWER

            There is a greater power, a concept so universal in the group mindset of the human species that evidence of seeking it is prevalent across all social boundaries on Earth. There is no doubt in the mind of most any thinking person a greater power exists, but the form of this power is indisputably in profound dispute. The need for a power that is greater than one’s self is so powerful that people have resorted to the murder of others in order to defend their belief model.

            As children, our idea of a greater power was innocently found in our parents, the wise folks who sheltered us, protected us, and saw to it that we were provided all the answers of life as necessary for our limited conceptualization of happiness. But then, we grew up, realized there was more to life than we previously understood, and surely faced the corporeal demise of the parent as protector. At some point, most of us felt alone, unprotected, and fearful of an uncertain future with death the only certainty. That was unacceptable, so we invented Gods, and amazingly, the greater power was back, and we were again safe.

PARALLEL UNIVERSE

            The realm beyond the self is not for the faint of heart. It will challenge anyone who dares enter, and it will cause one to pause and ponder whether the journey will help or make things harder. There is no doubt, based on my experience thus far, life becomes much more difficult, at least for a time, but then the horizon grows bright as I see life in new ways that those around me are missing completely. It is as if I had traveled through a hypothetical wormhole, into a region of the universe light years distant, or, perhaps more analogous, as if I had slipped into a parallel universe, where I could still interact with all the old characters of humanity I had come to know, but was existing in a separate mental construct. What used to be important to me, the things that are important to most of my society, has simply lost its allure.

EAT DRINK AND BE MERRY

            If we think about life in general, the entire diversity from the most simple celled organism all the way to humans and the stars, then it seems the purpose of life, the end goal or function, is to perpetuate itself, a task at which life has certainly become quite adept at doing. That is indeed a unifying purpose of life. Women seek out men with whom they unite to form new people, populating the Earth rapidly, in fact, overpopulating the planet with regards to the sustainability of the environmental front. There is rarely any thought about whether this home of ours needs more people, therefore we breed and perpetuate in a heedless manner, to the tune of 490,000 new people daily, which is six new human beings every second nonstop. The drive to love and nurture the new little people, as well as admire their miniature cuteness, is perpetual. Humans act on a blind instinct that is somehow part of life itself, just like all the other bioforms on this planet do. Few of us put logic before sexual desire. We just set about populating.

WORLD WITHOUT BOUNDARIES

            There are no borders on this planet. When we observe Earth from the vantage point of space, we see land masses, water, and cloud cover. We do not see people or buildings or roads. Our planet appears like a tranquil orb of swirling white designs over a blue background. As seen from the distant void above, all the hatreds, murders, and destructive actions towards the environment are not visible. Is it not sheer madness what we do down here, when held against the backdrop of where we are, and how little separates us from instant obliteration without air? We are space travelers, flying around on our galactic vehicle called Earth. Even though we are moving at a speed of nearly 67,000 miles per hour, we feel nothing. It was very easy for our ancestors to believe the planet was flat and stationary, the central core of all that existed in what they knew. From that vantage point arose all their divergent mythologies of Gods and creation.

OUT OF MY CONTROL

            Few of us can sit down to a radio broadcast of presidential debates without having opinions on what is being said. There is always vast disagreement among our species. We watch in horror as we hear about and see the endless brutality and violence of humans upon all they presume to manage. Which will come first, our enlightenment as a collective species or our extinction as beings who let the individual and group self bring it down? Mohandas Gandhi was a truly inspired man and through his thoughts, influence, and actions, was able to lead his people through unbelievable change, albeit with great hardship and suffering along the way. Yet, people like him are very few, rarely seen on the human scene, thus we suffer as a common bioform that is often controlled by self centered actions of governments and religions.

THE HUMAN BIGOT

            Are you a bigot? I am guessing that your silent mental answer is a resounding no, I am certainly not a bigot. Just the sound of the word is repulsive to the human ear. It rhymes with spigot. Bigots and spigots both need to be turned off. Spigots provide something useful like water when they are turned on, or perhaps a distilled brew if you find yourself in the local pub, so spigots serve a useful purpose. What comes out of a spigot is supportive to life. But on the other hand, what do bigots provide? More often than not, bigots provide rigid intolerant worldviews that are not respectful of life or supportive of peace. You either agree with a bigot, or, if you seek inner serenity, simply distance yourself and avoid contact, as there is little chance of meaningful idea exchange, regardless of what the facts might reveal. Bigots never see themselves as bigots, which is an interesting conundrum. Why is this? It is because they already know their views are right, and any views not in accordance to their views are … yes, wrong. They are asleep.

MINDFUL AWARENESS

            Most folks I have ever known are continually engaged in blaming, complaining, and the judgment of others, while they do not pause to contemplate their own shortcoming. I used to be that way, and still am to a much lesser extent, yet I have decided that I was not content with my existence in that mindless loop of pitiful wallowing and proving myself right and others wrong. Some might advance the logic that my discussion of God could fall within those parameters, yet I answer it was but an evolution to living in the present moment in a genuine manner as a naturalist. It’s just my story.

            The self, or ego, is at the bottom of all the negativity. The self is necessary for survival, so it may not be advisable to attempt a move totally beyond it, but what is a positive step is mindfully assessing the self on an ongoing basis to regulate its excesses. The tool I use to do this is mindful awareness, a phrase now popular in the realm of those who wish to evolve into a higher state of spiritual enlightenment – I am speaking of spirit in the sense of an inner essence of who I am, not in a supernatural or mystical manner of any sort. Mindful awareness is very simple to explain. It means that one is aware of what the mind is thinking at every moment of wakeful time, and uses that awareness in the service of achieving a better state of existence, both for the thinker and for those with whom the thinker has interaction. It is a like having an impartial committee overseeing one’s thoughts and actions, and providing feedback with no lapses in time. You are the committee.

THREE BASIC PRINCIPLES

            We will now discuss three beliefs, which are the keys to an inner universe of true fulfillment. As we have seen repeatedly through many examples in this book thus far, humans as a collective do not understand these principles, much less follow them. The three tenets are overshadowed by the fearful thoughts that maintain the fortress we believe protects us daily. Many of us yearn for more virtuous manners of living our lives, but alas, the ego’s protection mechanisms are so forceful that we are not able to successfully adhere to them, assuming we were able to identify them in the first place, which necessitates the utilization of mindful awareness and thinking independently.

            As we examined in the beginning portions of this book, the wishful notion of utopia is just that – wishful. Such models of breaking through all our petty disagreements and overcoming the evil actions of the psychologically deranged among us are not possible in a world of absolute reality. Our thoughts cannot change certain things, but they can change other aspects of life. To journey beyond the self is to know that dedicated ongoing action is required on the part of the traveler. A quick fix does not exist. Compromises must be made, sometimes of a significantly distressful magnitude. One who wishes to follow these tenets has the power to do so – sufficient motivation is another matter.

LIVE NOW

            Most people I know and come in contact with do not live in the present moment. When I say this, I mean their thoughts are not in the present moment. Their bodies are, but their minds are not. Their bodies have no choice but to exist now. Their thoughts have the choice although an observer might conclude otherwise based on what they say in their conversations. How do I know if people mentally exist at other times? I make myself mindfully aware of what I hear. Rather than just listening and conversing as I used to, I conduct research in my head continually, measuring what they say to the present moment. Are they here with me now? Or are they elsewhere? Where might that be?

            It is not uncommon to hear folks complain about moments of their lives that have long since gone. The moments no longer exist, but the thoughts keep them alive. Just as frequently, people typically fear aspects of some future time, things that have not happened, but are only imagined in their minds as possibilities. My experience has been that most of the future events I used to worry about never came to pass, thus all that mental energy was wasted on something that never did exist in reality, only in my private brain of fear. This disrespects life.

SHARE PEACE

            Sharing peace is something that any human being on a true path of mindful awareness and loving enlightenment is spiritually led to do with each now moment. Spirituality is not a religious experience, as was once thought and taught in times gone by, but a personal way of being within one’s head. I could say within one’s heart, which is the commonly accepted way of expressing things, but being the logical guy that I am, and realizing the heart muscle pumps blood through our circulatory systems and does not feel emotion, I will stick with the head or mind model instead. Sorry – no sentimentalism here today.

            Spirit is an aspect of the human existence that can not be the subject of scientific observation. It exists in a realm of total freedom, and is uncontrollable by others. It manifests itself in the formless void outside of self, in the arena I call mindful awareness. This reality is the essence of being human, which religions have always translated into the God paradigm. Spirit allows us to move towards that which we can and should be as a person and a civilization. Spirit allows us to break the cycles that hold us captive, allows us to transcend the all too human tendency to act out on others the pain that has been acted out on us. This then allows us to become the embodiment of generosity, goodness, and love, which then becomes sharing peace with all we meet each now moment of life. Our life meaning emerges from this embodiment of love and peace, which is an element of transcendent consciousness of the universe. Sounds lofty, yet it is essentially basic.

RESPECT LIFE

            Here is a thought. Your life began on the heels of everything that has ever occurred in the history of everything. That is to say, all that has happened in the cosmos, or universe, or whatever you wish to call it, led up to your birth as a human being. At your time of arrival here, you were the latest, and hopefully, the greatest creation in the entire universe. Of course, from a purely human standpoint, with six babies arriving every second of every day in this world of ours, your exclusivity did not last but a sixth of a second. Things happen rapidly on Earth. Maybe it is time to slow down, smell the roses, and respect more fully the awesome power and existence of life. Time to honor.

            We have talked at length about the unity of all life, how life is one power that includes human beings. We have seen many examples of this in action, and we shall soon contemplate how this paradigm of thought will assist us in transcending that ultimate specter of corporeal demise, or death. Just like the universe is made up of an unknowable number of entities of all descriptions, our bodies are composed of 100 trillion cells that work cooperatively to sustain what we know as self. Life is a series of universes within universes, shrinking inwardly to incomprehensible depths of cells, molecules, atoms, protons, electrons, neutrons, and beyond, while at the same time expanding outwardly to the stars, planets, galaxies, and perhaps even other universes. There is more than we can discover. The connections are staggering for human conceptualization. The unity of life is to be respected.

SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE

            There is a sage wisdom that goes like this: Live simply, so that others may simply live. To do so implies a responsibility that we have seen so grossly lacking in the workings of affluent societies. In our numbed state of complacency, secure and comfortable in our costly homes with all our gadgets, we live far in excess of what would actually sustain us, while also sustaining the world’s bioform entities, which of course, includes us, the self-centered and driven humans. I have always lived comfortably, had some nice homes, fancy cars, good food, and more than enough of everything. I have been one of the elite on this planet, far from what anyone would call wealthy, but having that which is necessary so I do not face things like starvation. Much of the human population, on the other hand, lives in poverty and starves. If one educates oneself on these conditions we blindly chose not to see, it would be difficult to imagine anyone not caring enough to deeply contemplate the divergence between self and the invisible other. Self says to us: You can’t help everyone – it’s their problem – forget it.

            During my time as a public educator, I attended a financial seminar, sponsored by the state employees association, which was set up to educate state employees about aspects of retirement planning. The presenter, a financial expert with his own business, was under contract with the state to assist its employees in these meetings, and as a perk, would get a few new clients along the way. One of his stories, geared to reveal the importance of proactive financial planning, was about one of his clients, a medical doctor with a yearly income slightly exceeding $400,000. In spite of this amount of money, which would be considered by most of us in the first world countries of Earth to be the mark of the super wealthy, the doctor told the adviser that he was barely making it month to month – he was having a difficult time making ends meet, and needed help in managing his money so times would not be so tough. Imagine only earning four hundred thousand!

THE NATURE CONNECTION

            From childhood, I have been an avid explorer of the natural world that surrounds me. It is below my feet. It is above my head. It is all around my body in every direction. The natural world is naturally awesome. Many of us forget this, or, perhaps more typically, many of us never have learned this. How could this be? In affluent societies, the platform from which I speak because that is my only experience, it is common for the multitude to live in large urban areas of a sprawling metropolitan city. Large cities form the basis for large civilizations and for their governments. People are cut off from the natural world, a psychological state of deprivation that leads to an easy acceptance of the revered status quo. Pavement, high rises, and cars are the norm.

            Climbing to the tops of mountains has always been an activity I have enjoyed. Reaching the pinnacle and scanning the world from a high vantage point is exhilarating to my spirit. I feel as though I am soaring with the eagles up there. Standing on the top of a mountain is as close as I can get to viewing this planet from a distance, which is precisely the ambiance I wished to set in place with the design of this cover. Looking at Earth from a distance puts life and self into profound perspective for me. Atop these mountains, I see no political border lines, no fearful humans who hate those different from themselves, no bigots running around pointing a finger at inferior beings who are not as superior as they are. I see none of the ego centered human downfalls that keep my species in eternal turmoil as it agonizingly slides downward towards it own extinction, courtesy of its shortsighted self. No! Up here, I see that I am but a tiny bioform in the immensity and grandeur of life on a small planet.

REALM OF SLEEP AND DREAMS

            A large percentage of a human life span is spent sleeping. We sleep for about a third of our life. As social and business pressures are on the rise for many in affluent cultures, many are those who attempt to minimize sleep in the ill-conceived name of productivity, thereby shortchanging the body’s health and longevity, disrespectful of life.

            For our thinking minds, sleep is a return to the formless, as we were before our sentient self, and as we shall be after our bioform transcendence. Sleep is a comforting time that we long for each day, similar to the eternal sleep we shall inhabit upon our corporeal demise – this allows us a nightly window to hopefully comprehend in some small measure what we used to be, and will again one day become.

BIOFORM TRANSCENDENCE

            Beyond the intellectual need to comprehend life lies the very unique human need to feel comfort with death of the physical body. This need is undeniably strong and out of control in our species, and we continue to live in superstition to quiet all our horrific fears. Our brain is capable of knowing our fate, something we believe animals probably do not see. It is akin to knowing the circus ride will come to an end, but having a whopping good time while on the way. Animals survive day to day in what we might well consider a monotonous existence, but in return, they live each moment fully in the present and have no fear of an end. Humans can replace all that monotony with thrills and chills, but have the thinking brain to offset the extra benefits. If we want the exciting ride, with its multitude of flashing lights and pretty sounds, we have a price to pay in exchange. The discussion is moot in reality however, for we are here as we are, and have no ability to change even the slightest aspect of it, except as we might be able to delude ourselves inwardly, to outsmart the very brain that brings us so much agony of a future demise. If enough people believe it, and if I can convince myself of it sufficiently, then my mind will have been successful at masking my corporeal demise in a grand illusion that vanquishes death and leaves me in peace.

A VOICE FOR PEACE

            There once was a woman with great spiritual insight who influenced thousands of people and several governments. Although she left the world of sentience on July 7, 1981, her influence continues in the minds of those who share her philosophy. Perhaps you already know of her, but if you do not, allow me to introduce you to her now. She is the epitome of one who has truly transcended the self. Freedom.

            She is known simply as Peace Pilgrim, and although you can use the modern internet to locate the name given her by her parents long ago, she felt strongly that to leave her named identity behind was necessary to remain true to her calling of spreading world peace. So in accordance with her loving wishes, I shall refer to her as she referred to herself, simply and humbly as Peace Pilgrim, or Peace.

OTHER HIDDEN WORLDS

            We are going to take a mindful trip in our heads, beyond what we know and take for granted each day. We are going to imagine three scenarios, two of which will be only inner adventures that will appear slightly different to each of us, and one of which will be doable for all of us in our physical world right now. All three scenarios, however, point to paradigms of our living world that are similar in construct, that is to say, we may readily transfer the lessons from one to the next to help us comprehend how human interactions come to influence life.

            One of the mental journeys will be from the past, one will be from the present, and the final one will be from the future. Neither the past nor future exist except in our heads, but at one time, the past was someone’s present moment, and at some time in yet unknown future of present moments, those times will be present for someone else. Even the example from today will include billions of present moments for all the human inhabitants of this tiny planet. We can experience today’s example to emphasize the point offered here. In this intellectual exercise, we will visit other worlds, usually hidden from our view by the incessant demands of our daily survival, demands that we believe are monumental to life based on our limited picture of personal existence. We will enter the visionary realm of the philosopher, contemplating life in order to construct more life-friendly ways of behaving.

BREAKING FREE

            We have covered considerable ground on our walk together in these pages. We have pondered many aspects of the human existence. I have related a few relevant points of my own life, and how they have influenced my thinking about the greater picture of life. Writing about these things presents a supreme challenge for an author, not only from the standpoint of clarifying the concepts in my own mind and coming to definitive understandings, but also realizing the strong resistance that will arise as a result, from readers who have either not been able to conceptualize mindful awareness and the seeking of truth, or have not yet mastered the concepts sufficiently to understand that my words are not verbal weapons of attack against them. I have no doubt that the egos of many have been playing defense throughout these pages. It is the natural state of the human mind, and the prime focus of this book.

            We have spoken of the purpose of life, the primary one being to make sure the species continues and multiplies. That is a species-wide purpose, but humans are eager for more, as always. The ultimate purpose of human life is to use our thinking brain to move beyond the survival and perpetuation paradigm that holds other species under its reign. We are destined to become mindfully aware of ourselves for the betterment of life, the ultimate honor in respecting life. Earlier in this book I spoke of universal human traits, behaviors, and thoughts that drive our species. I spoke of compassion, altruism, fear, hatred, and many other aspects that appear to be hardwired into all that we are as human beings. The diversity is so great that one certainly wonders how we can find order in all the chaos. This diversity brings conflict.

SELF EVOLVED

            Clearly, we need the self within us. Evolving beyond self is a process of identifying the negative aspects of it, as we have done in the pages here, and transcending those characteristics that do not respect life. There is a place for self, and that place is discovered only through steadfast application of mindful awareness, as we assess our thoughts, actions, and intentions in the light of peace and love for all life.

            Our independent minds now grant us fresh panoramas of life, taking us on philosophical journeys into a new level of enlightenment, a world where all we knew is exposed for what it is, and therefore falls away to be replaced by wonderful things few ever know, concepts that are too far removed from the venerable altar of comfort, convenience, and convention. Boundaries are shattered, and our minds are free. We have broken away from civilization as dictated. We have chosen to live on the edge, at least for a time, in the alternative world called reality.

Two Medicine Sunrise

Two Medicine Lake, in the remote eastern regions of Glacier National Park, provides a stunning morning vista looking west. Sitting here on the lake’s shore, intrusions of thought about governments, nations, wars, religions, politicians, cultures, or any of the other seemingly limitless woes of the human self, melt away. In their place comes the blissful serenity of the natural world, at least for a time, during our brief cosmic visit to Earth.