WHICH COMES FIRST?

Which comes first – life or consciousness?
(This may not be as obvious as it first appears.)

Is dumb animal life necessarily followed by ever-expanding human consciousness
Or is consciousness an eternal form of spiritual energy present in all living bodies
And even nonliving matter like rocks and dust –
That is, is “consciousness” something that’s omnipresent out there
Inherent in both life and non-life forms – just at different “levels?”

Who knows the answer to this – for now – except God?

Let’s review the most commonly accepted “steps”:

First comes existence
Then life
Followed by consciousness
Then, hopefully, a handful of human/God selves
And, finally, God
Who, of course, incorporates everything before and after –
Including, most importantly, the present.

The sense we have that “we” will not die –
Even though understanding it’s a physical impossibility–
Where does that come from?
Is it a lie or some kind of sophisticated self-delusion?
And, if so, why is this “sense” so strong – so seemingly unassailable?

I don’t think or feel I’m a living cognizant piece of  “meat” –
Instead, I feel like a fountain – a spiritual fountain –
And, given that, where does the supply of “water” come from?

I feel connected, yet remain independent and free.
I feel I’m part of a whole, but not subservient to that whole.
I feel I’m a spirit – similar to God – but certainly not the same as God.
I feel I have authority – but no important authority.
I feel I’ve joined a cosmic dance where I lead by not consciously leading.

Who am I?

WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED!

“You must die before you die.”
                                    Rumi

It’s a race against time –
Like a river filling up,
Drowning you, and then leaving you behind.

We begin life swimming upstream –
Towards birth, towards an unfolding life, and, then, towards death –
Which comes like a wave –
Or an unfinished song.

There is physical life
And spiritual life –
But they don’t start at the same time
Or travel in the same direction.

The physical life starts out strong but over time winds down
Spiritual life may also get old quickly –
However, “dying” to discover the next life
Sometimes can be useful –
Getting born a second time before dying the first time –
Entering a spiritual world –
Eyes wide open –
Prepared for a birth into love and joy.

Life is such a surprise –
So unexpected –

Who would have guessed!

EXCHANGING THE EGO FOR A “TRUE SELF”

             Some say the most profound scientific discipline is theoretical physics which has vastly expanded our understanding of the structure of the physical universe using the language of mathematics, but I think this now needs to be matched by an even more profound spiritual/theological discipline that can further our understanding of the relationship between God and the human self through expanded human consciousness of love, truth, justice, and beauty as expressed through the arts. Materialistic evolution via science and technology has taken us about as far as we’re going to get while still retaining our basic humanity, but the prospects for our species will be pretty dim if that’s the full extent of what we’re ever going to achieve.

             I propose it’s time for human beings to make a conscious choice about which evolutionary path they should take: materialistic evolution (especially digital artificial intelligence) or the next step in humans’ spiritual evolution. Greater spirituality, however, won’t necessarily increase our intelligence or ability to manipulate the material world, but could, eventually, evolve us into an entirely different type of humanity – the kind originally pointed towards by Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed.

            When a person enters the world as a baby, they’re totally open to God – arriving as pure energy in human form. Because they come straight from God, they’re completely natural upon arrival. After their surprise landing in this world, however, they need to figure out how to survive in this particular time and place. They eventually do, but the cost is often high. They’re faced with the necessity of becoming the kind of person that other people readily recognize and the surrounding culture use. Since usually they’re raised by parents – people who’ve already made the requisite compromises and adjustments – the baby ultimately learns how to “fit in.”

            This baby, who started life as a tiny energy “sun,” eventually begins “dimming” because so much of her original natural energy will be perceived as “alien” to her family’s world. Eventually, the baby matures and becomes a “person” by developing an ego – and ultimately joins society. One day, however, that baby – after attaining adulthood – might begin wondering where all her previous energy had gone – and whether it might ever be regained.

            In traditional societies, a person’s roles remain largely the same throughout their life and also determine how their children will turn out.

            In modern societies, however, by early adulthood, a person usually gains abilities and opportunities to change “who” they are by making individual choices – leading them away from predestined family roles – becoming partly a family-destined person and partly a self-determined one – in a “composite” role. Nevertheless, whatever this composite role turns out to be, it’s still just a role.

            All roles, traditional or modern, become included in one’s “life story.” As Shakespeare asserted in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” So, the problem with developing an “ego,” along with one’s accompanying “story,” is the temptation to “make up” that story as one goes along – like in a dramatic film – even if carried out mainly unconsciously.

            Another problem with “roles” is their need for consistency and continuity, so the self can seemingly remain “the same.”

            This is why “higher” values are necessary to effect any serious changes in our quotidian roles and stories. Traditionally, humanity’s highest values have been attributable to a “Spirit” (usually “God’s”) – as well as to divine spiritual attributes like love, truth, justice, and beauty.

            Roles and stories, however, compel us to live as unfree. Since we believe these roles and stories (as reinforced by the surrounding society) constitute our “identity,” we sometimes even believe we would need to “die” as the price for achieving freedom. If a person becomes threatened with losing their identity, frequently, they’ll think they might as well be dead. That’s how important roles and personal stories are for a normal human being. In fact, there’s a general consensus in the humanities, as well as in psychotherapy, that the ego, as a person’s chief fictional character, is one’s essential self.

            So, how is it possible to free ourselves from embedded roles and stories that obstruct our natural human self-understanding and close down our best, most spontaneous thoughts – in order to gain the freedom necessary to become our “true selves”?

            The answer is that we need to be “born again” – at any age. That is, we’ll need to reverse direction, spiritually, and become a “child” all over again so as to become as free as God.

             Jesus himself said this, did this, and then died for it – all to show us how.

             To be “born again” is scary – few can do it all at once. Most people need time to shed their artificial roles until they’re free enough to make a long daring leap into their “true selves.” Starting at an older age, it actually becomes easier to work towards greater spirituality by breaking up and discarding pieces of one’s earlier “false selves” and gain a greater naturalness and openness spiritually even though one is at the same time physically degenerating.

WELCOME TO THE KINGDOM!

When you’re a baby, you’re the entire universe –
And there’s nothing else that matters but you.

You’re given a beautiful mother
Who takes care of all your needs –
So you never forget her face.

Then, slowly, surely, everything starts coming into focus
Until the day you’re finally able to see yourself –
Along with all your limitations.

The surprising pain associated with becoming aware of those limitations
Leads to constructing a fantasy “self”
That you can almost believe in –
A splendid “ego” useful for dressing up your more primitive, negligible self –
Someone capable of surviving and succeeding in this world.

Eventually, you become a “real” puppet – like Pinocchio –
Who can “pass” –
Manipulating the world from behind a curtain –
While it’s only in bad dreams you realize the rest of the world
Is the same as you –

Puppets!

You exist through an unreal “person” or “persona” –
Unaware of having an alternative, even if asked.

Entire religions are built around the existence of a few chosen people
Courageous enough or insane enough to become their “true selves.”

But established religions never explain it that way –
Instead, they say such people are “gods” or “super-beings” –
And that if you’re willing to turn yourself over to them, they’ll protect you –
Most especially, after you die –
And then you’ll be able to “live forever” – whatever that means.

Gurus and other hotshot spiritual hustlers
Ask who “you” are –
Knowing you’ll have no answer –
And that you’d have to “die” to obtain one – and there’s no chance of that ever happening!

Actually, it’s quite simple –
There are no religions or spiritual “masters” available to help you –
There’s only you.

To discover your “true self” you’ll need to give up everything
You are, have, and want to be –
And be willing to be your naked self – and then look at that!
Then drop that, and keep dropping all the that’s which subsequently appear –
Until there’s nothing left
Nothing, at all –

When you discover the magic of being “born again,” as Jesus recommended –
Even then, you’ll need to be very careful not to let this new state of being
Develop into a more advanced kind of Ego.

This is why humbleness comes first –
True humility –
Someone used to being overlooked.

Then, when you finally start breathing freely again –
When you can “see” actual reality,
Including, most importantly, the reality of “yourself.”

That’s when God will suddenly appear and say:
“Good job, little one,”
“Welcome to the Kingdom!”

HEART OF GOD

My grandson, Jules, was recently born
Knowing a good part of what I’d like to know
The moment I die.

And that is – a moment of purity, serenity, and composure –
Before, one day in the future, hopefully, flowering into ecstatic joy.

From the moment of birth – God’s gift of first in-breath –
To the moment of death – God’s gift of final exhalation
Is usually a long and eventful road.

I myself would like to end up with Jules’ ability to gaze out at the world
With such unknowing “wonder” –
In fact, at the end, I’d like to achieve that same look –
Accompanied, of course, with a conscious compassion for the entire world.

I’d like to understand what Jules experienced as truth at his birth –
And then end up achieving a mature ability to love.

Jules, someday I’d like to be able to “see” as clearly as you did on day one –
While, over my lifetime, developing a heart as big as the entire world –
Perhaps even paralleling, in my own small way, God’s own infinite heart.

Yes, I want to go out as clear-eyed as this newborn baby arrived –
While, over time, diligently developing a heart of God.

HERE COMES THE SUN

Growing old physically –
We start to fall apart
Which isn’t all bad
Since we gain opportunities to become more spiritual.

Our goal is the attainment of “wholeness” – or “holiness” –
Inside and out –
Accepting both the world and ourselves
Right up to the moment when we go crashing into the dark –
Which, God willing,
Turns light.

Do we awake when we die?
And, if we can accelerate this consciousness while still alive,
Mightn’t this bring us an even earlier “awakening”?

But what if we’re never able to find the “pearl” –
And what would be the consequences of not bothering to look?

Yes, it’s true that, as we grow older, we start to fall apart –
It’s natural –
But what would be “unnatural” is to become more loving
While, at the same time, becoming weaker, more stressed, and more helpless.

This would be like observing the sun rising up behind a dark mountain –
When we’re both mountain and sun.

STUNG INTO LIFE

We believe it’s impossible to “be like God” –
So, instead, we dissolve into puffy white clouds
And float across endless blue skies.

We’ve also come to believe that it’s impractical for us to “die”
In order to live,
But, on unique occasions, we’re able to do it anyway.

After all, Jesus did it, and not just at the end of his life –
But every moment of every day –
So, logically,
So can we.

Overhead, “death” circles
Like a buzzing blue-bottle fly.

Go away death!
We don’t want to be stung
Into life
Today.