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Image for post
Painting by Josephine Haswell Miller

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”
Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with too easily articulated ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others.

Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control. Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future. — David Whyte

Almost every religion talks about an afterlife of some kind. Even Buddhism, which is more spiritual technology than a belief system, is concerned with a “Bardo state.” We seem to be both eternal and temporal beings. We get to experience death, but it may be an illusion. Living in a body on a physical planet is very convincing, throwing us into struggles that end up being spiritual in nature. It’s confusing.

The literal religious belief systems may contain a grain of truth in all their childish wish-fulfillment stories. Not being able to swallow prescribed pronouncements coming from that direction, I live with a lot more questions than answers. Truth be told, I don’t think answers are as helpful as questions. I think beliefs close the mind. I prefer to keep looking and wondering.

I’m not entirely convinced, though, that when we die it’s all over. I think it’s entirely possible that we’re on an eternal journey and we have just completed one tiny chapter.

We imagine spiritual beings, beautiful angels that watch over us and help us to evolve and perhaps become more like them through our lifetimes. We make everything physical in our stories because we’re very convinced by the appearance of the world we live in, but science still can’t find stable building blocks of our physical universe. The world seems to be fundamentally energy and consciousness in a transient state of play, flashing in and out of materiality.

Our ignorance serves the purpose of throwing us into the confusing messiness of life. Unbeknownst to us, our struggles are soul struggles. Thinking our task is survival and looking good to our peers, we lose track of our mission, which is complex. If we can find our capacity to thrive in a state of love we move closer to our reason for visiting this plane, but we face a storm of threats and discouragements from the contexts we are born into. Human societies are still childish.

Reliable guides are few, but I think we do well to listen to the poets and visionaries. Getting a clear vision of who and where we are is fundamental to living a real life.

If it’s true that we are in school, we have lessons of the heart to learn. The real lessons involve more than “success” on the world’s terms.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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