Can we know what it is like to die?

If we can believe Socrates, all life is a preparation for death. What can he have been thinking? Death is nothing, oblivion. This life is everything. It is all we have and all we can know.

But religious traditions from Buddhism to Christianity are with Socrates. Intimate familiarity with death is a royal path to happiness.

If there’s any wisdom at all in this, we in the 21st Century Western world have missed the boat completely. We have banished death from our thoughts and our experience.

Let us put our toes back in the water of the river Styx. Can we know what it is like to die? The best way is to ask people who have done it. Peter Fenwick is a neuroscientist, not a mystic. He has studied both the physiology of the brain and firsthand experiences of people who routinely attend to the dying. He ties this in with reports of thousands of people who have literally returned from the dead. What did they experience while there was no neural activity in their brains?

Is consciousness a product of the brain, or is there a transcendent reality that is filtered by the brain and rectified to materiality? Wilder Penfield devoted his life to developing a science of the brain by probing the brain with electrodes, and he concluded in the end that the “energy of mind” is a different dimension altogether from neural signaling.  The brain is enormously important, but it can’t explain consciousness.

Monica Renz has interviewed hundreds of dying cancer patients and their caregivers, and she reports commonalities in their experience, including

  • visits from intimate relatives who have predeceased the patient, who come and sit on his bed
  • sojourns to a spirit world and back, conversations with non-corporeal beings who may visit and abide just outside the window
  • light emanating from the room of the dying person, visible to visitors and attendants

Attachment is the source of all the pain in dying. Those who die need to let go of everything—of their possessions, their projects, their loved ones, and indeed everything to which they have devoted themselves while alive. This is the most difficult challenge of dying, and those who are able to let go make a smooth transition to an existence that is far lighter and happier than the one we are used to.

Ancient Egyptians channeled the 21st Century (Thoth’s Prophesy)

Graham Hancockm, Crossroads & Ancient Egyptian Prophesy

Do you know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of Heaven? Since it is fitting that wise men should not remain in ignorance of what is to come.  There will come a time when it will be in vain that Egyptions have honored the Godhead with heartfealt piety and service….

In that day, men will be weary of life, and they will cease to see the world as worthy of reverent wonder and worship….  Death will be thought more profitable than life.   The immortal nature of the soul and the journey of the soul’s development—all this they will mock.  It will be a time of wars and robberies and frauds, and all things hostile to the nature of the human soul.  The fruits of the earth will rot and the soil will turn barren and the very air will sicken with sullen stagnation….

Then God, the creator of all things, will stop the disorder by the counterforce of his will.  He will call back to right path those who have gone astray.  He will cleanse the world of evil.  And thus, he will bring the world back to its former aspect.  The cosmos will be deemed worthy once more of worship and wondering reverence.  Such will be the rebirth of the cosmos.

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Pythagoras emerging from the underworld (Salvator Rosa, 1662)

We are a species with amnesia. We have severed our connection to spirit. But we have the power to bring the world back from darkness, and it will be done by millions of individuals acting faithfully in their own small domains.
— Graham Hancock

Wabi-Sabi

Matsuo Basho 松尾 芭蕉 (1644-1694) was a Japanese Zen poet, whose name we would know well, if we were Japanese.  He sensitizes us to the neglected beauty and interest of everyday life, and thereby reconciles us with our own circumstances.

Wabi-Sabi (侘寂) means satisfaction with the simple, appreciation of the imperfect.  It all started with tea.

Biodiversity, before it’s too late

Some time in the 19th Century, science became identified with reductionism.  Everything has to be explained from the bottom up, starting with atoms.

There is, of course, another science, a science of holism, but it is out of step with the scientific culture of the last 2 centuries.  It is difficult for physicists to think in terms of many-particle wave functions, and it is difficult to get the biologists to put down their DNA sequencers long enough to think about ecosystems.

Since the dawn of agriculture, mankind has learned to grow crops more efficiently by isolating a single species, then a single type of a single species, then a single clone of a single genotype.  Monoculture became more and more extreme throughout Europe and Asia.

But at the same time, a different kind of agriculture was developing in the Americas. Native Americans planted trees within existing forests, surrounded by other vegetation that supported them. They grew their corn and vegetables and beans side-by-side in time-honored combinations that tradition had taught them would protect the plants from pests and support the soil for future generations.

Living things are not isolated individuals, but elements of complex, co-evolved ecosystems. Sustainable agriculture is diversified agriculture. American natives new this thousands of years ago, and the modern science of ecology is re-discovering the principle now.

Caroline Ash writes for Science Magazine
PNAS journal article

Increasing crop heterogeneity can be an effective way to mitigate the impacts of farming on biodiversity without taking land out of production.

Meng = Youthful Folly

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The heart of wisdom is humility—
Admitting there is much we cannot know;
Our plans in danger of fragility
If we presume to cotton whence we go.
The youth who seeks enlightenment, ensnared
By haughty mentors who abuse his trust.
Poor lad! His only sin the learning-lust
That renders him for learning unprepared.
So many frauds who willingly advise—
Life’s only recourse is experiment:
How can we know, if not already wise,
If chance or heaven ’twas this guru sent?
Some day when ripe, exalted age I reach,
I’ll know that I for one have naught to teach.

— JJM (#4 from the I Ching Sonnet Project)

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The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers

This line from Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part 2) has been cited as evidence that people have been manipulating the law to cruel effect at least for half a millenium.  Could it be that America’s Founding Fathers also experienced this sentiment, and that they banished lawyers from government?  The story below is that there was a 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1819, and that the Amendment prohibiting slavery (1865) was called “Thirteenth” in order to obliterate it, though it had never been formally repealed.  Presidents who have had a legal background, as well as armies of Federal prosecutors, legal regulators, and public defendants, are all unConstitutional.

In the winter of 1983, archival research expert David Dodge, and former Baltimore police investigator Tom Dunn, were searching for evidence of government corruption in public records stored in the Belfast Library on the coast of Maine.

By chance, they discovered the library’s oldest authentic copy of the Constitution of the United States (printed in 1825). Both men were stunned to see this document included a 13th Amendment that no longer appears on current copies of the Constitution. Moreover, after studying the Amendment’s language and historical context, they realized the principle intent of this “missing” 13th Amendment was to prohibit lawyers from serving in government. So began a seven year, nationwide search for the truth surrounding the most bizarre Constitutional puzzle in American history — the unlawful removal of a ratified Amendment from the Constitution of the United States. Since 1983, Dodge and Dunn have uncovered additional copies of the Constitution with the “missing” 13th Amendment printed in at least eighteen separate publications by ten different states and territories over four decades from 1822 to 1860. In June of this year (1991), Dodge uncovered the evidence that this missing 13th Amendment had indeed been lawfully ratified by the state of Virginia and was therefore an authentic Amendment to the American Constitution. If the evidence is correct and no logical errors have been made, a 13th Amendment restricting lawyers from serving in government was ratified in 1819 and removed from US Constitution during the tumult of the Civil War. Since the Amendment was never lawfully repealed, it is still the Law today. The implications are enormous.The story of this “missing” Amendment is complex and at times confusing because the political issues and vocabulary of the American Revolution were different from our own. However, there are essentially two issues: What does the Amendment mean? and, Was the Amendment ratified? Before we consider the issue of ratification, we should first understand the Amendment’s meaning and consequent current relevance.  [source] [Read more from Robert Bows]

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*CAVEAT: It is because lawyers and attorneys formally registered with the BAR (British Accredited Registry) that they could not be trusted to hold public office in the USA.  By implicitly pledging their allegiance to an entity of a foreign government, they could not be trusted to act in the best interest of the American Republic or its citizens.