“Bennett, I thought you were – “
“Dead? You thought wrong.”
The above is part of the dialogue between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vernon Wells in the 1985 action film, Commando. What was noteworthy about this film was that both the supporting actress, a young Rae Dawn Chong, and the supporting actor, Vernon Wells of Australia, did a better job of acting than Arnold S. did.
No, I am not dead. I am still alive, at least for now. And, will share these sundry and rambling thoughts with you now.
First, here is an image that is representative of many of the 2 lane state highways in my home state of Nevada. There is some of the most barren and rugged American scenery in this state. Yet, there is a beauty to such desolate terrain, especially early in the morning with a low angle sun. The land is not without life – mammal, reptile, bird and insect life.
In Voltaire’s book, Candide, there is a character that asserts that this earth is the “best of all possible worlds”. This may have been the character Pangloss. (It has been many years since I read this work.) Voltaire was poking fun at the optimism of Leibnitz, a German philosopher and mathematician who had died about 40 years prior to Voltaire’s book being published. (Leibnitz is credited with coming up with calculus independently and at roughly the same time that Sir Isaac Newton was developing the calculus in England.) The thinking and writings of Voltaire and Rousseau influenced and in part inspired the French Revolution (with its various fruits).
Let’s briefly consider the assertion that this earth is the best of all possible worlds. For me to accept this assertion as true, I would have to be either very pessimistic or very cynical or both. Voltaire in Candide was also pointing out the injustices and the tragedies that occur in this world, and befall even good people (and make one question the law of karma in Eastern religions).
Here is my counter point. The word “possible” in the assertion is key. So, it is not even possible that there could be better worlds than this earth? That is bold (but Voltaire was pressing his point in the story). It is a big material universe. The astronomers estimate that there may be as many as one billion galaxies or perhaps many times this figure. Each galaxy may contain many millions or even billions of stars. Yet, in all this, there could not be a better world where intelligent, sentient beings treat each other more compassionately than here on Earth, and where more effort is directed to constructive ends than to destructive purposes (such as war), where love predominates instead of hate. As well, if you believe as I do in a spiritual plane of existence, then that is an example of a more positive condition of being.
Let’s move on to other thoughts.
Fear, ignorance, guilt, suffering – these are constants in this world, in the human condition. But, we ought not let them drive us to despair. Guilt has its role and can be a positive to motivate us to not harm others and to make restitution when we have harmed others. Fear taken to an extreme is not beneficial. Be God-fearing, but recognize that if your relationship with God is solely or primarily based on fear then it will be a pretty shallow, superficial and immature relationship. Suffering can, in some instances, be the only thing that can break through our hardened, rigid way of seeing the world and seeing others. If you have suffered, really suffered seriously, you can feel empathy and compassion towards others who are suffering. Some may say that ignorance is bliss. This, dear readers, is only true for those individuals who are at a very low level of consciousness. Move towards the light – the darkness is nescience (ignorance).
There are some individuals who say that solitude and suffering serve to open the mind. Thus, in primitive societies where the people live closer to nature and to the land, young men go on a vision quest which involves days of isolation, solitude, fasting, and enduring summer heat or winter cold. (Today, some seek solitude (for a short time) in the wilderness of mountains or deserts or lonely seashores far from others, or at remote retreat centers.) Human souls are so stubborn or so flawed that it seems only painful experiences can jolt us to take a broader perspective on life. As well, when we are alone we do not have as many distractions and are free to reflect deeply on our experiences and what these may be telling us. We have all suffered in one form or another and we have all experienced periods of solitude. And, yes, we likely have suffered in silence while we were alone.
We are real people striving to live authentic human lives.
Am I victim of hereditary insanity? The dreams that have tormented me most of my life seem to indicate that there are some unresolved and troubling issues deep down in my unconscious mind. My sleep at night is often not very restful. I think that stressful dreams may be the cause of some older folks passing away while asleep. If a person has a weak heart and has a very stressful dream, it may bring on heart failure during their sleep.
A few words on relationships. From time to time I have thought: what could I do to be a better husband? What could I do to help my wife be a better wife? Respect your spouse. Communication is important in relationships.
And, what of survival of consciousness after bodily death? Long time readers know that I do believe in the survival of consciousness. Here are some thoughts that take survival as a given. If I am to be sent back to this earth or to any similar world, I would reply like this.
“I got my butt kicked down there, so did others. We saw good people ground down, and very undeserving individuals raised to high positions.”
If I am to be forced to come back this way, I will become combative (perhaps in vain).
However, let us back up a little. If at the time of departing this world, my soul (atman) begins to fall towards the abyss (of darkness), perhaps there will be one to reach down and stop my fall – one who I may have helped in some meaningful way while on Earth, one who I showed care and concern for. Perhaps, there will be more than one pair of hands reaching down to catch me and raise me back up towards the light.
Love, being a loving human being, does make one vulnerable. But, love appears to me to be the best thing to cultivate in one’s heart. That is if one truly wants to live an authentic human life while here on Earth.
Thanks for reading.