Sunday, March 23, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-shiny day

"I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash

Happy Easter Sunday, the most holy of the Christian holidays. Easter is early this year, and our weather has been pretty cold but pleasant enough. We had some egg hunts at my dad's house this afternoon. He's not doing as well as he was, mostly because the stupid doctor on Friday told him he was "worse off" than a week ago. You'd think by now they would understand the powerful psychological consequences of their words on their patients. Well, whether we acknowledge it or not our minds and psychology are quite powerful and influential in our fates.

24 Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn't with the others when Jesus appeared to them.

25 So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But Thomas said, "First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!"

26 A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples

27 and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!"

28 Thomas replied, "You are my Lord and my God!"

29 Jesus said, "Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!"

John 20:24-29

Resurrection is psychologically pleasing. And I really cannot see or find any totally convincing argument against the possibility that our consciousness lives on after the physical body dies. Believe me, I have looked and many people have tried to tell me over the years.

Free will is inherent in humans. It is one of the traits that separates us from the "lower" animals. We determine (or limit) our destiny by our choices. I hope I don't really need to list examples to prove my point. This is a basic fact.

If one chooses to reject an afterlife he is essentially committing spiritual suicide. As a conscious entity, the mind determines whether or not it goes on. If the mind has convinced itself that physical death is the end of its existence, then it will be. This is completely consistent with the Christian idea of accepting, or not, that Jesus's teachings are the true path to God and His (our) Heavenly home (afterlife for our consciousness/mind/soul) somewhere in the whole of the Universe (other than the dimensions we know in physical life). Hell is permanent separation from God, and if the consciousness stops itself at physical death then that's definitely a permanent separation from God, or in other words, spiritual suicide.

Now let me switch over to my shamanic mode for a minute. One of the main jobs of the shaman in a community is to help people prepare for death. Nearly all societies have had some kind of rituals to help people move from one "world" to the next. This is the aspect of shamanism that I have been most uncomfortable about, yet as I look back at my adult life it is one of the most prevalent. Death has been a frequent presence in my adult life. My life situation has always worked out so that I was available to attend to the needs of my aging and dying grandparents. And my mother, and now my father.

I think I've always kind of intuitively known that this was my "purpose," though it has taken many years for me to "fine tune" my understanding (and acceptance) of it. So now, I'm facing the reality of dying and death yet again, and I must use any wisdom gained from all the cumulative experiences to help my dad prepare for the afterlife.

Okay, so in additional to attending to his physical needs during this process I will offer the spiritual support and encouragement that might ease his fear and anxiety about the bodily demise and the soul's movement beyond. I know that he is a believer and that his choice has been made.

Well, I've lost steam for a big finale here. Maybe I'll think of something to add later. Anyway, that is this Easter Sunday's sermonette.

I considered taking a page out of Lee Smolin's playbook and naming this sermonette something very pretentious and academic-sounding like "Resurrection and the Proof of God" (not quite a GUT but almost a TOE). ;-) I mean, now surely, mustn't I be at least as smart (or funny, maybe) as he is? ;-) But my spunky mood faded.

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