The “Sedona says” – essays were given to remove the blindfold from people who cannot see reality and to lead them into the pathway to serenity in Voices of Sedona. Each essay presents a topic of contemporary interest, some developed from current events, some from history, and some developed from questions that have occupied thinkers for centuries. They are intended for personal growth through application of the Principles of Theofatalism, and therefore they should be read and discussed in the order presented. Skimming or selecting them randomly will not achieve this purpose. For regular updates visit: http://sedonavoices.blog.com
Sedona says - Beliefs are not always true; in fact new knowledge and theories regularly replace old ones. So, why do so many people believe in religious dogma that is centuries old even when new knowledge brings new understanding? Take the notion of free will for example. Could it be an obsolete belief that needs to be reconsidered? Scientists all agree that some processes in the human body are involuntary and some are voluntary. But, where is the line that separates them?
You may believe you can choose what food to ingest but what your body does with it is beyond your control. New findings could challenge that belief. A gene that makes people vulnerable to obesity also produces a protein that may directly modify DNA in a region of the brain known to control food intake. The unexpected finding sheds light on how gene variants can predispose individuals to obesity, say scientists. Reports indicate that researchers have isolated a chemical in the brain that seems to control appetite, telling people when they are hungry or full and even what tastes good. The scientists identified the molecule as nesfatin-1, which is produced naturally in the brain. After injecting the molecule into the brains of rats, the scientists observed that the rodents began to eat less and lose weight. The researchers also were able to induce the rats to eat more food, by blocking nesfatin-1. If production of this substance is out of whack it could help explain the Western epidemic of obesity. Other studies report finding two hormones that are triggered by the food you eat. One triggers fat storage and the other triggers fat burning. New research is making such discoveries almost every week. Perhaps our choices in food are not so free after all.
It's also possible that the obesity epidemic could be caused by a flu-like virus. Scientists have long known that viruses can cause obesity in animals such as chickens, dogs and monkeys. Now, they think they're hot on the trail of one that causes obesity in humans. Studies on the adenovirus 36 (AD-36), a pesky microbe responsible for respiratory and eye infections, is thought to be the most likely candidate. The mechanism by which AD-36 and other possible fat bugs work isn't fully understood but recent studies have demonstrated that they're capable of transforming stem cells into fat cells with a Herculean ability for gathering and storing body fat. The virus may also trigger immature fat cells to multiply more quickly than normal and signal metabolism to put on the brakes so that the body burns calories more slowly. Could this finding also help to explain why foods that are not healthy for you taste so good? Think about that next time you open a bag of snack food.
In addition, new research indicates that addictions to drugs are linked to chemical changes in the brain identical to out of control behavioral disorders, including gambling. Attempts to control addictive behaviors seem futile. If you want to control human behavior there must be enough burdens to more than offset the benefits because people won't change until it hurts too much not to. Our laws in the war on drugs obviously are too easily flaunted by drug addicts and the sellers to make any real progress. It is amazing how the human mind can resist the introduction of useful knowledge. Merely telling people what is good for them has little impact, unless there are severe burdens for disobedience. People always respond to a threat more than an opportunity. For example, in Saudi Arabia the penalty for selling illegal drugs is life in prison that must be paid for by family members of the criminal, and adultery is punished by death. There is not much drug dealing or adultery in that Muslim country, while most Western nations with more lenient sentences are plagued by both. Traditional religions have invoked eternal punishment in imaginary Hell for disobedience to some divine ruler, and many devotees believe it. But, unless you have been there it is merely a belief. All in God's will of course.
These and other such news items occurring almost daily challenge belief in free will among humans as opposed to the divine will of God. If these ideas are mutually exclusive, which one is true and which one is false, and why do they both exist? It is a very old struggle. Neither the Bible nor the Koran (holy book of Islam) settles this matter because they seem to integrate the impossible opposites, sometimes on the same page. To become disillusioned, illusion must first exist; all in the will of God of course. American Poet Laureate Robert Frost offered this prayer..."Forgive, O Lord my little jokes on Thee, and I'll forgive Thy great big one on me." Although he never explained what he meant, perhaps the untimely loss of all his children save one and his wife could be involved. And perhaps he was referring to the illusion of free will laid upon mankind by religious representatives of God. After all, if there is no free will people cannot be held responsible for their sins, the churches, mosques, synagogues and temples all are out of business, and all the people making a living from them must seek other work. Obviously, a society with so much invested in this illusion is not likely to change until it hurts too much not to.
How many times in life have you done something harmful or painful, even when you knew better, that you regretted later? Remorse is a terrible thing to live with. Perhaps you had no power to choose otherwise. Perhaps there is only the will of God and everything happens as it must, including belief in free will. Think about it. In Voices of Sedona, the assumption of free will is challenged and refuted as an obsolete belief by evidence that people with eyes to see and ears to hear will understand. If the student is ready, the teacher has come. Voices of Sedona is available at book stores and from www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - When it comes to perception we all see through a dark glass as St. Paul discovered. We all look through a filter of the mind so that none of us can see reality as it really is. And each of us has his own unique filter, so we do not see the same things. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, attributed all our troubles to the piled up unconscious memories of past history that distorts our perception of reality, as did Sigmund Freud and Richard Semon before them. All of them suggested it takes a clear perception without unconscious distortions to see reality as it is. But perception often seems to be more a given than a free choice. Genetic research is discovering that all we are and do is driven by what is in the DNA molecules of our genes. Matt Ridley called this the Genome Organizing Device. (G.O.D.) Some people cling to the idea that social environment plays a role in our lives, but they ignore the fact that environments merely are the collective manifestation of the genes which create them. No matter what theory applies it seems that people all do what, in their given value systems, unconsciously supports the benefits over the burdens. That is the only way to explain what appears to be thoughtless or even insane actions...like the open border policy with Mexico of several Federal administrations or the habitual criminals who seem to prefer living in prison and the millions of gamblers who make it possible for one person to win the lottery. People may value the burdens and benefits differently, but the benefits always win.
Take the way Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) destroyed his political career and damaged the standing of the Republican party with his gay lifestyle. Or the woman who shot herself in the stomach to kill her infant on the day she was to give birth...and the judge who set her free. There was a married mother and female astronaut who destroyed her career by trying to harm a woman vying for the attentions of her lover and fellow astronaut. Even St. Paul felt wretched because he did what he would not and did not do what he would. (Romans 7:14-25) Subconscious benefits and burdens helps to explain all those actions of people who knew what was happening and failed to take any preventive action ... as Foley e-mailed teenage pages serving Congress, and the woman faced an unwanted pregnancy, and the judge failed to prosecute. The daily news is filled with events such as these by people who one would think should have known better. None of them can go back to do anything differently, so the question of free will in such cases is moot.
If you ever served on the jury for a criminal trial, you know how difficult it is get any group of people to agree on the facts in the case. Personal prejudice, education, and ethical values all affect how people respond to the evidence presented. The argument over which is more powerful in controlling human behavior, genes or environment, colors each person's opinion in the decision making process. Nothing is more unreliable than eyewitness testimony. Staged experiments in law enforcement training prove consistently that two observers rarely see the same things in any eye witness situation. It is commonly accepted that news media presents its information through a filter of biased personal values. The question remains....what determines the value systems through which we all filter our senses? And, why do some people prefer benefits that others see as burdens and vice versa? If it is all in the DNA of our genes, where do they come from? Is there some source beyond knowing of all that is? Can we become conscious of our mental filters and change them, or must we live with the unknowables and tolerate anxiety about the uncertain future?
These questions and more are probed in Voices of Sedona....now available at book stores and from www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Although assumed as self evident ever since philosophers took quill to parchment, the idea that we live in a world of diametric opposites has persisted, but there is more. The Buddhist tradition unites either/or into both/and. Now, the Principles of Theofatalism extend this idea to a powerful, logical conclusion. Opposites must be necessary to create the diametric center where there lies ultimate inner peace.
From the commonly used antonyms in every language (like up and down, hot and cold, sweet and sour), there are plenty of examples of diametric opposites in daily living. What drives people crazy is when something happens that seems to make no sense. Take for example two opposing facts about American foreign policy. We have a trade embargo with Cuba, possibly the smallest and poorest communist country on Earth and we fought the Cold War to defeat Russian Communism. But we run a gigantic trade deficit with China for purchase of its cheap goods, inarguably the largest communist nation on the planet. Its accumulated U.S. trade balance increased from $200 billion in 2001 to $1.4 trillion in 2007. Now we must depend on that relationship to help control the international nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Plus, China buys oil from Muslim Sudan so it blocks any U.N. resolutions that could help the Christian refugees in Darfur. American consumers reward countries that exploit workers in abusive ways in order to buy cheap products and line the pockets of the importers. We spend billions for the war on illegal drugs at home while we send billions to Afghanistan, a country that depends upon growing poppies for opium exports, which accounts for 90 percent of illegal heroin and hooks sixteen million people into hopeless addiction. Trying to destroy the $50 billion annual crop merely drives the poppy farmers to support the Taliban regime. And while our leaders say the fight in Iraq is for freedom, they debate how much torture is appropriate when depriving Muslim devotees of their freedom. America spends billions on border security while the leaders of North America have been scheming to trade national sovereignty for a Security and Prosperity Partnership without borders like the European Community. A beginning move is allowing truckers from Mexico to deliver their freight anywhere in the U.S. How could this all happen outside the will of God? What kind of world is it that is composed only of friends and enemies...opposites for sure. Even Jesus observed that... "He that is not with me is against me." (Matthew 12:30) But such distinctions all are relative for friends of one may be enemies of another, and vice versa. In fact, politicians claim, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend and the friend of my enemy is my enemy," etc.
Meanwhile theologians claim that God is love. But noted theologian, C.S. Lewis composed this syllogism while suffering grief from untimely loss of his wife..."Take your choice, tortures occur. If they are unnecessary then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God then tortures are necessary."....[like suffering a visit to the dentist to preserve your teeth in order to enjoy food.] (A Grief Observed...1963) He concluded, "Not that I am in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about him. The conclusion I dread is, So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer." The energy in good is the same as the energy in evil and it all comes from the same source. (Isaiah 45:5-7, Collossians 1:16) Both seem to be necessary or it would be different. If there were no evil, how could good be defined or discerned? Where would beautiful and rich be without ugly and poor for comparison?
Now, Voices of Sedona takes the world of dualities a giant leap forward. At the center of all opposites there is serenity and contentment because all opposites cancel each other out according to the law of physics - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Where dualities are not perceived as either/or but rather both/and there inner peace dwells. If that is a place you seek in this world of chaos and suffering, perhaps Voices of Sedona could help lead you there. You can feel good inside no matter what happens outside. Voices of Sedona is available at www.IUniverse.comand www.amazon.com as well as local book stores. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Icebergs provide a useful illustration for the way the human mind seems to work. A small portion of it is observable...what we call the conscious mind...but most of it is buried under the surface and carries most of the weight...what is called unconscious or subconscious mind. Discoveries of genetics, endocrine glands, hormones, and neurotransmitters have shown that most of what makes human bodies do what they do is hidden, complex, and beyond conscious control. For example, a transplanted heart works even though all the nerve endings are cut during the operation, leaving only the blood stream to provide communication with the brain. Genetic research has discovered some mysterious form of inheritance that triggers cells to exhibit different behaviors (called epigenetics) even though they possess identical genes. This finding seems to determine what causes identical twins to get different diseases. Yet, societies persist in thinking that conscious behavior can be regulated by standards, laws, and ethics. When people act outside of these structures they are classified as criminals, victims, predators or sociopaths, and they are subject to legal or medical treatments. In extreme antisocial behaviors, insanity is given the blame. Strong evidence indicates that when people behave outside the norm they are acting out drives they do not consciously control, although society may collectively like to assume so.
Three important contributors to understanding what lies below the surface of human minds were Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Carl Rogers. L. Ron Hubbard adopted their work in his Church of Scientology and put his own spin on it. They attributed all unhealthy, illegal, or immoral human behavior to drives that live beyond the conscious control of individuals. Thus was born the modern practices of therapeutic interventions including drugs and all forms of psychoanalysis to clear out the unconscious harmful drivers and release the natural analytical mind from their enslavement. Religions often treat the submerged portion of the mind through rituals, prayer, hands on healings, and even demon exorcism. Because they are couched within religion, clergy are exempt from charges of practicing medicine without a license.
What lies below the surface also may drive the performance of exceptional athletes, entrepreneurs, and super-achievers in all fields because it drives behavior labeled as both good and evil. We often refer to workings of the mind without having a clear model or theory about how it works or even what it is. But whatever people do, including terrorists and suicide bombers, the unconscious benefits always outweigh the unconscious burdens. The tip of the iceberg must go where the base takes it. But the question is what controls the base? These and related concepts are explored in Voices of Sedona. Voices of Sedona is available at www.IUniverse.com an www.amazon.com as well as local book stores. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Prince Charles of England got some public criticism for complaining that schools which imply all students are equally capable of superior performance were doing them a gross disservice. He wrote, "What is the matter with everyone these days? Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their natural capabilities? This has to do with the learning culture in schools as a consequence of a child-centered system which admits no failure. This is the result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially engineered to contradict the lessons of history."
The Prince could have invoked the theory of the bell curve to explain why some students excel and some fail. For everyone who comes in first someone must come in last in any normal distribution. Developed by German mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss, the standard normal distribution of any set of data distributes around a center with the shape of a bell. It is based on the math of probability theory.
Garrison Keeler describes fictional "Lake Wobegon" as a place that defies statistics where all the men are good looking, all the women are strong, and all the children are above average. What modern society has overlooked is that every bell curve has a bottom half. Jesus seemed to recognize this principle when he observed that there would always be poor people ... no matter what scale is used. (Matthew 26:11) Politicians seem intent on ignoring this principle, and they try changing the bell shape of income distribution, health, education, and other public issues. One such public policy is the guaranteed minimum wage. When the government-set minimum fails to fit the bell curve, other market forces seem to work against it. That could be a major reason for the failure to enforce immigration laws. As Americans rise up the bell curve, more poor immigrants are admitted to fill up the bottom half. Employers pay poor workers without documentation less than the stipulated government wage while law enforcers look the other way. Some of the poorest people live homeless and scrounge garbage to eat. At the other end of the bell curve are the 400 richest folks who all are billionaires according to the latest Forbes list. Of course, there are social advocates who claim that distribution of people on any scale is subject to human free will, because every thought must mirror its opposite. There is no such thing as a one-sided thought.
Living with the bell curve is explored in the Principles of Theofatalism. You can read more in Voices of Sedona to help feel good inside no matter what happens outside. Voices of Sedona is available in local book stores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - That list seems to sum up life for all species. DREAD. While most species just do it, Homo sapiens seem to analyze it endlessly and even try to change it. But much as they have tried for centuries to make things different, that is the way life still is. Of course, there are variations. Depending on the latitude and longitude of your homeland on Earth and the values of your culture, things vary from place to place and time to time and individual to individual. But the general pattern prevails. DREAD.
No matter what type of diet they eat, or what they do for rest, or how they get their exercise, or what motivates them to acquire things, heirs, relationships, knowledge or whatever, all species inevitably meet death. Since death seems to require some cause or other, it poses a seminal question. What is there about life that is collectively self-sustaining, but individually unsustainable? And if Heaven awaits, why are people so reluctant to go there? Actually, people who survive a near death experience report it to be very pleasant and comforting.
Perhaps it is because of something called ego. That word was coined from ancient Greek ideas by Sigmund Freud to identify some force of life that wants control and safety and immortality. He claimed the ego was necessary to provide balance between the opposing force of id and the force of superego. The id is a self-indulgent force that seeks gratification without regard to that of others or the consequences of actions. The superego is just the opposite, and would restrain or prevent the id from any action it does not confirm as right or just. The id says, "Just do it," and the superego says, "Just say no." Perhaps the Id is best represented by the Church of Satan, an organization for those who practice self-preservation as articulated in The Satanic Bible, written in 1969 by Anton LeVey. It is described as being a religion of atheists. The superego could be represented by isolated monks and nuns who leave society to seek a life of self denial including chastity and poverty in order to touch God within.
Both the id and the superego are irrational compared with the ego, which is rational. It attempts to predict consequences of actions and to provide balanced control of the id and superego to achieve safety for survival of the species. A perfect ego would make perfect choices, but such does not seem to exist. The ego knows no limits and wants to control all the ids and superegos that it encounters. A person so endowed is termed egotistical. All conflicts among individuals appear to be clashes of egos attempting to control other egos. When the controlling egos are national leaders, wars result. So long as egos want to control each other there can be no lasting peace. Military discipline during battle is obtained by suspending the egos of soldiers and assigning their function to superior officers in the line of rank. Killing the enemy becomes heroism and self defense to well-trained soldiers. They fight for the preservation of their unit, not unlike a tribe of animals or primates protects its territory. Some of them cannot make the reconciliation work and so commit suicide, a well kept secret. It is tragic that soldiers are not trained to reactivate their egos for individual competition in civilian life when they return from combat, so many of them are troubled all their lives because of the conflicted values they have to live with. Too bad we cannot settle international fights on football or soccer or baseball or basketball fields like, say, the Olympic games. But, then we would not need all those weapons of mass destruction, would we.
The ego is given to think it is immortal and omnipotent, possibly even the eternal life force posed by French philosopher Henri Bergson, or even the manifestation of God. Only by restraint of nature and other egos, at the level of individual, group, and society or nation, can it be held in check. If the ego cannot give up attempts to control others, it must be crucified if it is ever to be enlightened. That takes struggle and suffering and maybe meditation as practiced in Buddhism, and maybe a personal crisis beyond control. Unless the I/Self dies, God cannot live. Many people find this idea difficult to understand, but it is like the seed that must die in order to make a tree, or the crucifixion and resurrection needed to liberate the Christ in Jesus. St. Paul seems to have achieved this state as he wrote to the Galatians; "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20) For most of us, trust in God only occurs when we have nowhere else to turn, when our basket of resources is empty and there is no one who can help us escape death of ego. The law of opposites says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. After all, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, right? So perhaps hopelessness marks the beginning of wisdom, and death is a necessary opposite to life and pleasure that must be balanced with suffering....but decreed so by whom?
Perhaps the sacrificial suffering and death of Jesus of Nazareth were symbolic of crucifying the ego to obtain its submission to a higher power. "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done." However, ego-driven writers had to invoke the resurrection to reinstate its immortality and rule over death. Mother Teresa expressed this purification through her struggle and suffering among the abandoned outcasts of Calcutta. She lamented suffering but reveled in giving all that Jesus wanted to take, always with a smile. She saw Jesus in the people of the slums and understood him to say, "When you do it unto the least of these you do it unto me." She wrote, "Heaven is full of slum people."
A Chinese proverb states, "To gain knowledge add something everyday; to obtain wisdom remove something everyday." The word "wisdom" is discussed thirty-seven times in Voices of Sedona. The only problem with wisdom is by the time you get it there is little time left to use it. Perhaps a read of the Principles of Theofatalism could help support the "DREAD" of life with something more... rational...or not. Voices of Sedona is available at book stores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Balancing the successful among business tycoons and social contributors are many who faired not so well, although they had good intentions. Quite often people start something of social or economic benefit and find that others reap the rewards, or that the effort goes unrewarded or even turns out badly. Four of them provide some interesting stories but there are many more.
Alberto Santos-Dumont was born the youngest son of a coffee plantation owner in Brazil. After his father was disabled they sold out and moved to Paris. There the young Alberto was trained in engineering and became the original inventor and demonstrator of lighter than air balloon flight. Although in parallel with the Wright brothers in America, but with a different motivation, he perfected the earliest models of heavier than air flight and made his plans available for public use free of charge. His designs were more innovative than others and soon he was known as the originator of motored flight in Europe. However, when he saw that his invention was being used by the Germans to kill Frenchmen during WWI, he was devastated. He returned to Brazil only to see airplanes being flown there as weapons in a civil war. Despondent at what he assumed was his responsibility for such destructive use of aviation, he took his own life.
Catholic Nun, Mother Teresa organized the Missionaries of Charity in India and throughout the world and received the Nobel Peace Prize. Her mission was to care for (in her words) "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." She claimed that Jesus asked her to do it while she was riding a train to a retreat on Sept. 10, 1946 in India. After a lifetime feeding and comforting the homeless begging and dying wretches of the body of God, Mother Teresa died with the population of her subjects higher than when she started, although her missionary efforts spanned six continents. When a reporter asked how she felt about her impossible dream she replied, "I do not pray for success. I ask for faithfulness." And when she was asked if her effort was not merely a drop in the bucket she replied, "[It is] just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." But while she smiled to the world, in private letters to her superiors published a decade after she died, Mother Teresa revealed that inside she felt cold, dark, abandoned and a "Victim" of the God she loved with her whole heart, body, and soul. She lived constantly with human distress, but she never got accustomed to it. In a note to Jesus after living in the pits with human castoffs for fifteen years she wrote, "The place of God in me is blank... I don't pray any longer. My soul [if there is one] is not one with you." She quipped, "I am only God's pencil, one that he uses to sketch whatever he wants...we must take what He gives and give what He takes with a smile." Mother Teresa lived by the Muslim principle that you cannot really know charity until you give away what you love most, herself. If you lose something precious to you, can you be happy for the person who finds it?
Dorothea Dix canceled her marriage plans and devoted all of her life to helping mentally ill people consigned to live in sordid prisons where they were abused by socio-pathic criminals. She eventually was successful in getting states to establish separate institutions for the mentally ill, and several hundred thousand people were given safe housing and protection. Unfortunately, they were denied rights of self determination and often were subjected to cruel and inhuman treatments against their will, including frontal lobotomies and sterilization. In an overreaction, the American Civil Liberties Union successfully obtained legal rights for the insane that included prohibition of any treatment without their consent unless they can legally be determined to be an "imminent danger" to themselves or others. Of course, they must exhibit such danger by their actions in order to be so classified, i.e., by harming themselves or others. States immediately used this Supreme Court ruling as an excuse to shut down their mental institutions to save money. Consequently, many of the mentally ill are abandoned again and left to rot in homeless shelters and worse on public streets if their families cannot care for them, or in overcrowded prisons if they commit crimes. People walk on by to avoid being contaminated. Although new medications may help support a nominal lifestyle, too many are uninsured and cannot afford them. There are too few good Samaritans concerned about them and the name of Dorothea Dix is rarely known among them.
Brownie Wise was hired by Earl Tupper, inventor of the ingenious "burping seal" that made his refrigerator storage containers a household word. She conceived, organized and ran the highly successful original marketing method of hosting home parties to showcase the products and book orders. Brownie and Earl got into a power struggle and he fired her at the peak of their success, then he removed all evidence of her contribution to the company, even burying her books on company property. He sold the company and retired to an island, while Brownie lived in obscurity and relative poverty because she had no stock options or golden parachute and worked only for a salary. She attempted to start a cosmetics business based on home party marketing but it failed. Many women have made some handy money selling Tupperware at home parties around the world at the rate of one every two minutes, but not Brownie Wise who started it all.
On the other hand some people, including financier Donald Trump, media mogul Rupert Murdock, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffet, seem to have a silver wand that turns everything they touch into money with no limit. Must we assume that a few people are called to their vocations by God while the rest of us must figure them out for ourselves? Perhaps we all merely are doing the work that God sets before us...or not. It seems that everyone plays an indispensable role in the evolution of Homo sapiens. There is the county fair and the state fair and the world's fair, but life often is unfair. Why? That question is posed for dialogue with spiritual teachers during several trips to Sedona, AZ. Their replies are documented in Voices of Sedona, a spiritual guide to serenity and contentment. You can buy a copy at local book stores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. If the student is ready the teachers have come. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - People often refer to themselves as "I" and claim ownership of parts of their bodies as in "my arm," "my heart," "my mind," etc...but this language fails to account for whatever or whomever this ownership phenomenon describes. The ancient Hindus referred to something called the "self" that existed before birth and will continue after death and so was separate and distinct from the body. This idea was exported through ancient Greece to Rome and became the basis for religious claims for a "soul" and that translated into constructing the separation duality of mind and body. Along the way was added the inclusion of "spirit" as opposed to physical existence. But when people say "my soul" or "my spirit," who is speaking??...as when Jesus ended his ministry by saying, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit." And when they introduce themselves with "I am..." who is the I that is speaking? This question leads to some very challenging research into what is called consciousness. It is like spinning around fast enough to see your own backside. Sigmund Freud kicked off the search for consciousness by declaring there was a lot of harmful stuff buried in the unconscious...and so began the search for methods of treatment that could enable people to reach mental health by cleaning out the garbage piled up in there. In the meantime physics was developing the theory of matter and energy and the basic laws of thermodynamics. Like; energy can neither be created nor destroyed...and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction...that one explains how jet engines and space rockets work.
Neuroscientists are trying to find out more about how the human brain works. But they cannot even define what consciousness or thinking is much less locate cognitive processes precisely in the brain. How memory and imagination work still is a mystery. Many people still seek answers to the unknown in some religious teaching or other. The endless variations there do not help understanding but rather they provide a forum for broadcasting the many differences among human belief systems. And the worst cases are those who claim some direct channeling from God that gives them authority to lead a stumbling and ignorant flock into eternity...whatever that is. Where do they get such ideas and why do so many people agree with them? The greatest miracle of religions is that so many people believe in them to the point of slaughtering each other to justify their claims. For many people religion and science are mutually exclusive. For others the only way to future peace among Homo sapien is by some accommodation of measurable phenomena with imagination and myth.
Myth dies very slowly and imagination not at all. It took immense sacrifices by Copernicus and Galileo and more than a hundred years for the Catholic Church to acknowledge that the Earth was not the center of the universe. To do so would destroy the myth of its infallibility. Now it is obvious from space travel that Heaven does not exist just above the atmosphere, labeled the firmament in the Bible, and volcanology shows that Hell is not magically at the center of the Earth. But most folks still insist on believing that something which survives death will reside in one or the other after some day of judgment, so they are a bit leery of tempting the ultimate barrister beyond the point of its tolerance. People who make lifelong careers in religion and philosophy and tax exempt church business are evidence that something about Homo sapiens will not let go of the notion that "I" am not this body. We say people die...but who is it that dies...really? Language will not let them go as we say so and so "is" dead. A being verb.
After Albert Einstein showed that matter and energy are interchangeable the door was opened to developing a religion that accommodates both the known and the unknown. But little progress is being made toward defining and identifying what "I AM" refers to. One such attempt is recorded as the Principles of Theofatalism. Through mystical conversations with imaginary teachers, Voices of Sedona documents that journey. Voices of Sedona is available at local book stores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Some geologists think there is evidence that the Earth is about four and a half billion years old. If that time were scaled to a twenty-four hour day, scientists estimate the existence of Homo sapiens on Earth would be less than one second. Makes you wonder what this species is all about doesn't it. In its short time, its various branches have developed into a wide range of variations. At one extreme are those who live by a personal computer and could not survive if their modern machines were to disappear. On the other extreme are those who live on the land much like their ancestors did thousands of years ago with need for none of the modern inventions to sustain their survival and link them with ancestors in a chain of events impossible by mere chance. Although there are wild variations, among them are some similarities in cultures and beliefs. But they all came from somewhere through an amazing process of evolution connected together by indispensable links.
British historian James Burke documented a series for public television titled "Connection" in which he circled the globe to show how events separated by decades and continents linked up to get us to the many variations in modern civilization. People often made a contribution to the chain without realizing they were creating a link that was absolutely necessary to human history. Take the cell phone for example. You may think it began with the telephone that was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in the 1870s. But his work depended upon developments by Philip Reir who built the first audio transmitter and receiver in the 1860s from theory proposed by Frenchman Charles Bourseul in 1854 who extended it from workings of the telegraph that was developed by Samuel F. Morse in 1838. The personal computer has even a longer chain of events and unsung heroes leading up to its present state. Intel could not produce those microchips unless British mathematician George Boole (1779-1848) developed his system of binary logic. Nothing would be possible at present had not a series of events occurred that led up to this time and place. Any slight variation or omission among the invisible links and the present time and place would be much different. In the Buddhist tradition everything is relational, and nothing exists in and of itself, immune to the forces of cause and effect. For anything to happen, everything preceding must be in place, and when everything is in place something happens. This awareness is like the calm waters that lie far beneath the surface of a raging sea.
Theories about man, matter, and the universe continually evolve, and sometimes they defy common sense...like there is only ONE and each of us is an indispensable and equal part of it. But the more things change the more they seem to stay the same. People reproduce and strive to survive at the expense of others through mutual support and defense bounded by some form of isolation and separation. As of now, Homo sapiens are defined more by their insistence upon differences than their similarities. Elaborate social constructs have been created to maintain their separate identities, including various languages, religions, cultures, nations, and governments. Although their branches spread in all directions, their roots are traceable by DNA to some origin in central Africa and some evolutionary transition from a previous species, in spite of myths that would have them spring full blown in a single act of creation. Why have they come this far and where do they seem to be going? Indeed, why do they exist at all? They are not the only species of life that continually seeks safety and control, and then social belonging, and then social superiority. While the rank order is clear to everyone and accepted, peace prevails. But, individuals continually compete for power and invent more and more expensive and complex instruments of mass destruction, while at the same time they create greater monuments to their existence even while depleting the resources of Earth that sustains them. What makes them believe that they are superior to all the other species on the planet? Why have they have not yet learned that they all are part of the global chain of relationships that link them together through time and space? What is there about the brains of Homo sapiens that enable them to go to the moon while they worship the gods of their imaginations? If they all are part of an invisible chain, does it have a beginning and an ending...or is it just a circle? Is everyone a necessary link in the chain? Who or what is behind this inevitable evolution of progress? And, where is it going?
Questions such as these are explored in Voices of Sedona. It is the only book intended to help you feel good inside no matter what happens outside. Voices of Sedona is sold in bookstores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - If you believe in Santa Claus perhaps you are not ready for this topic. The wonder of Christmas in western nations is how parents take their kids to sit on the obese geezer's lap and tell him what they want. Parents know where the gifts actually come from, so why does generation after generation insist on repeating this annual fictitious ritual? Common sense proves it is impossible for the chubby guy in red to circumnavigate the Earth with a sleigh driven by reindeer between dusk and midnight. Someone calculated Santa would have to make 822 stops per second, travel more than 3,000 times faster than the speed of sound, and drive a sleigh with 333,333 tons capacity. And that does not include the trips to China to pick up the presents at the factories. Sometime between infancy and puberty most kids outgrow belief in Santa with little or no psychological damage. Or do they?
Perhaps when they discover that Santa takes a smoke break and the beard is false they just substitute some other fantasy myths to replace the one that is debunked. It seems that believing in myths is a necessary function of Homo sapien.
America's foremost mythologist, Joseph Campbell, observed that, "mythology is a control system, on the one hand framing its community in accord with an intuited order of nature and, on the other hand, by means of its symbolic rites, conducting individuals through the ineluctable psycho-physiological stages of transformation during a human lifetime." In other words, without myths Homo sapiens would lose their anchor on mental health and flounder in a vast sea of anxiety. For without myths what is left but indefinite uncertainty about everything? Belief in myths provides the needed foundation of psycho-security that is demanded for stable minds. But what comes after Santa Claus is exposed?
What is the difference between a child who writes a letter to Santa expecting his wants to be met and a husband who prays to God that his beloved wife will be spared from cancer? If the wish is fulfilled the belief is reinforced. But suppose no gifts appear under the tree and the wife dies an untimely death after a decade of suffering. Fast forward to the thousands of young volunteers returning from Iraq with missing limbs... several missing limbs. Now include the families left only with a folded American flag and the sound of "taps" to remember their loved ones forever lost. Why were the many prayers no doubt offered up by family and friends in churches back home answered this way? What do people do when their religious mythology fails to explain reality?
That challenge is developed progressively through the Principles of Theofatalism presented in Voices of Sedona. Voices of Sedona is available at local book stores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Geological tragedies that take human lives and destroy property commonly are called "acts of God" to separate them from intentional damage to life and property caused by humans. It is very easy to condemn arsonists who set fires intentionally or the rampant attack on the World Trade Center by radical terrorists, but natural disasters often leave people feeling insecure and even abandoned by God. Recent news coverage of hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and the tsunami that took thousands of lives in the Indian Ocean left some things broken that cannot ever be fixed. Tornadoes often demolish homes of some people while leaving their neighbors untouched. In the news is the discovery by geologists that the magnetic field of Earth may be poised for a reversal in polarity with unknown consequences, not to mention the unpredictable impact of global warming.
What do you do when the foundations of human security are shaken and you realize it is God who is doing the shaking? When you can no longer depend on mother Earth and its creator to protect you, where do you turn for comfort and security?
If you turn to religion you may choose Christianity or Islam. In the former, Jesus taught passivism; love your enemies, turn the other cheek, give your cloak as well as your coat, carry the burden two miles when you are commanded for one, obey your rulers and masters, and forgive those who wrong you seventy times seventy times, and rejoice in suffering because your reward will be great. Suffering was his thing. When he prepared to die on the cross he said, "This is why I came." Christianity promotes the absolute separation of church and state; "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's," while Islam demands the total and complete integration of both by force if necessary under the law of Shari'ah. In Islam its Messenger, Muhammad said, "I have been commanded [by whom?] to fight people until they confess that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger." In contrast, Jesus came as a suffering servant. Presumably, God created both of them, opposite as they may be. For those who claim either one is the creation of Satan, there is the problem of who created Satan. If he created himself, we have two equal powers in the Universe, and if he was created by God as an angel named Lucifer, we have the problem of free will when he rebelled. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then free will must be part of his creation, along with its potential for both good and evil. After all, it was God who put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden in the first place.
The fact is that forces of both creation and destruction are occurring simultaneously all the time both in geological and human realms. Volcanoes in Hawaii both create new lands and destroy existing communities. Astronomers peering into the heavens report that entire galaxies are being destroyed and reborn on a massive scale beyond human imagination. The god who created the beautiful tulips also created the addiction among humans for beautiful poppies converted into opium and heroin. The sale of poppies sustains the farming economy of Afghanistan. No one really knows why this should be so, but it is, so it must be necessary. Humans are beset by simultaneous forces of reproduction and death all the time, but they are made to emphasize the former and to avoid the latter. Or are they? The rapid growth in violent video games is known to rewire the brains of the players so that their normal conscience restraints are removed and killing others becomes a plausible behavior. Even the U.S. Army uses video wargames to help train soldiers more efficiently to kill the enemy. Entertainment becomes combat training, all in God's will of course. So it is not surprising to find kids in schools shooting their enemies and young gang members killing each other in the streets. But, how do you rewire the brains of soldiers returning from combat to act peacefully with their neighbors and return to civilian occupations? Who imparts compassion and empathy among Homo sapiens so that they will aid each other in time of need and share in their suffering? For that matter, who imparts sociopathic and antisocial behaviors in Homo sapiens?
Anthropolgist Margaret Mead observed that "when a baby is born people rejoice, and when a couple marries they celebrate, but when someone dies they pretend nothing happened." Unless and until tragic events impact their personal lives, few people take much note of the routine traumas which make up the existence of Homo sapiens, as the Buddha discovered when he walked outside the palace. Consequently, when tragedies do occur, people often are pitched into panic and despair if their traditional beliefs about God cannot explain such events. Where do you go when the door to the throne of grace seems to be locked and bolted on the other side, as C.S. Lewis discovered after untimely death of his wife? He said it was like the lights were out inside and nobody was even home. Even the saintly Mother Teresa lost her source of comfort and ceased to pray when she could not reconcile the poor people living in stinking gutters of Calcutta with the loving Father of the Catholic Church. Search the scriptures and you find they all point to the two faces of God. In the Bible, which conservative Christians claim is the Word of God, it is written, "I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil [calamity]; I the Lord do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7) St. Paul seemed to restate this idea too; "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." (Colossians 1:16) The Koran says much the same thing. But the god that formed Islam out of the imagination of Muhammad also subverted its idealism (where the penalty for drinking wine is 80 lashes and polygamy is condoned) with the infusion of lust for wealth and power that drove him and the Caliphs who followed him into military conquest and tyranny and terrorism until this very day. The god who produces new medicines to aid human survival also produces the diseases that require their development. And the god who created the passivism in Christianity also created the brutal torture machines during its Age of Inquisition. Go figure.
Perhaps it becomes necessary to transform the nature of God to support reality or to change our view of reality to support God, or both. One such transformation was developed and presented as the Principles of Theofatalism in Voices of Sedona. In settings among the picturesque vistas of northern Arizona where geologic wonders were formed over 300 million years, spiritual teachers disclose how you can feel good inside no matter what happens outside. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. If the student is ready, the teacher has come. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
12. It's the economy, stupid...hey...that could be you.
Sedona says - If you are not scared and confused you just don't know what's happening. The figures issued by the White House don't lie. Or, do they? Jobs are up. Employment is up. Profits are up. Stocks are up. The federal deficit is down. What is wrong with this picture? What is up must be balanced with what is down and what is down must be balanced with what is up. Our skyrocketing dependence upon foreign oil and gas from unfriendly nations is out of sight. Inflation adjusted wages are down. Illegal immigration is up. The Federal budget debt is up, up, and away. Retirement plans are down and abandonment of underfunded corporate pension plans is up...waaayyy up. Employment security is down. Credit card debt is up. More than 30 million people can barely pay the monthly minimum due on their credit cards. Many of them will never pay off the total balance. Housing sales are down and mortgage foreclosures are up. The international imbalance in trade is waaayy up. China, the largest communist country on Earth, now owns the largest chunk of the U.S. Treasury debt and nearly all of new treasury notes are bought by foreign banks. The Federal debt is up to nine trillion dollars, with eight of that being added in the past twenty-five years. The shift of manufacturing to China threatens all Western economies while we continue to borrow more and more to finance a lifestyle we can no longer afford. The cohort following the baby boomers may not see the quality of life enjoyed by their parents because they will have to live with the debts they inherit.
The plight of aging baby boomers is becoming critical, but it is being ignored like the elephant standing in the living room. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, more than a quarter of seniors reported less than $10,000 income in 2004, and a median income of just over $15,000. Seniors have seen their pension funds looted or crumble and are left to battle an ailing Social Security system and a complex medical system, though unrivaled the world over if you can afford it. The AARP reported there are nearly nine million people on SSI disability averaging $979 per month. But staff budget cuts have extended wait times out to several years so that many applicants die before their applications are processed. More than 48 million Americans don't have medical insurance, so those who do must finance the necessary subsidy. Employers, who want to maximize their profits for stockholders and bonuses for executives, have shifted the risks of retirement planning to the workers, and they don't have the knowledge required to take over. Goodbye retirement golden years; hello, Mr. Part-Time-with-No-Benefits Wal-Mart greeter. Nearly half of them expect to work until they die. Many people are going to be outraged when they realize how poor they really are while they live longer to think about it. With companies canceling pension plans and the stock market totally unpredictable, there may seem to be nowhere to turn for any old age security. Some retirees may end up living in Mexico in a bizarre form of reverse migration where the cost of nursing care is only a tenth as much as at home. With planning and saving for retirement left up to unprepared individuals, life in old age will be a shock to many folks.
The United States rapidly is becoming a second-class culture of the rich, the working poor, and the dependents with a missing middle class. Most families no longer include a working father and stay at home mom. "Single mother" has gone from being a social taboo to a social norm, even a badge of honor. Many women no longer value men except for stud service, so males are living down to their new role. Gay couples are demanding the rights of marriage while cohabitators want the rights without marriage. Go figure. Everyone who can must work, sometimes at several jobs, to earn money for necessities, and many of those are financed by high-interest credit that pushes workers deeper and deeper into debt. Nearly half of all workers earn less than $40,000 annually so most of them have little to no savings and slim chance of a comfortable retirement. Kids often are raising themselves as parents are absent most of the day. Fathers are absent from many of their lives. Their role models are the unrealistic people seen on People magazine covers and MTV videos, plus highly overpaid professional athletes. Schools are being pressed to perform many childhood services that families used to provide. Too often, criminal gangs are replacing the missing traditional functions of family and neighborhood. If that were not enough to worry about there are AIDS, cancer, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes among other predators lurking just around the corner. Currently, the Asian Bird Flu is being watched very carefully for signs that it has mutated to attack humans. When that happens there will be a tragic and uncontrolled pandemic that could kill up to half of all Homo sapien. Under these conditions, anxiety is normal when life is struggle and suffering and the future is indefinitely uncertain. Better get used to it.
But, hey, there are more than 400 billionaires and the stock of Berkshire Hathaway recently exceeded $100,000 per share. You may recall that company used to make shirts before Warren Buffet took it over and converted it into a corporate holding company. All our shirts now come from third world countries. Pres. Bush said he wants to make the U.S. an ownership society, but not many of us can afford stocks that high. In fact, no one can predict which stocks are best to buy or even which investments are best for our long range security. Diversify and hope for the best is all we can do. That implies there is some money left to save after the regular bills are paid. The number of people among the working poor keeps increasing...not qualified for entitlements but unable to afford average living standards. And illegal immigrants absorb more and more of limited economic resources while Federal law enforcement looks the other way.
They say the answer is better education. Depends on what you study. First, you have to finish high school, and far too many dropouts assure themselves a dismal future. A college degree in engineering or chemistry or business or computers or law might net a workable starting salary but a degree in liberal arts could earn less than taxi driving. Then there are those exorbitant student loans awaiting repayment. College educations are highly overrated and less than twenty percent of students receive the touted benefits. In some areas nearly half of students drop out of high school consigning themselves to a lifetime of poverty. Training through apprenticeship could be more helpful for many students, but the government propaganda seems to favor college so much it often is overlooked. There is no guarantee any desk job or manufacturing occupation will not be outsourced over seas where people think pay merely a fraction of ours is a giant leap for mankind. Labor unions that used to protect workers are becoming less and less effective. The only jobs that seem secure are ones that must be done in-situ...like lawn mowing, hair cutting, burger frying, construction, surgery, dentistry, etc. Even they can be done cheaper by illegal immigrants, and some employers are beginning to force employees to go overseas for surgery where it is far cheaper. Some people who are desperate for organ transplants can obtain one in China, where they harvest organs from executed criminals mostly without their permission, if they have enough money. Few people get the needed education in personal finance needed in this complex world where credit cards and ATM machines look like cash in the bank to many people who cannot resist the temptation to live beyond their means. The rules for avoiding repayment by declaring bankruptcy have been tightened, so many people will not live to see the end of their debts. Since most people have a short planning horizon, by the time they realize their plight they are too old to finance a secure retirement. Such is the post-industrial global economy. All in God's will of course.
Nobody knows the future impact of Federal taxing, spending, and borrowing. The Democrats prefer to tax and spend while the Republicans prefer to borrow and spend. The first rule for both is to get elected and the second is to get reelected, whatever it takes. Benjamin Disraeli observed that there are [white] lies, damn lies, and statistics, but hey, Sedona says you can feel good inside no matter what happens outside, according to the Principles of Theofatalism. It is all explained in Voices of Sedona. Available at book stores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com.
Sedona says - Some physicists believe they are now on the verge of having a single theory that will unite the entire universe under one mathematical umbrella. This theory would unify the general theory of relativity and quantum theory. Since general relativity describes the large scale, or cosmological, structure of the universe and quantum theory describes the microscopic, or subatomic, structures, the unification of these theories would explain both the very big and the very small. This theory is often referred to as a theory of everything. But it leaves out one obviously observable phenomenon. Indefinite uncertainty. Ben Franklin observed in 1789 that the only things certain are "death and taxes."
In his best-selling book "A Brief History of Time," British physicist Stephen Hawking claimed that when they find the theory he and his colleagues are looking for they will have seen into the mind of God. Hawking is not the only scientist who has associated God with the laws of physics. Nobel laureate Leon Lederman made a link between God and a subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson. Lederman has suggested that when physicists find this particle in their accelerators it will be like looking into the face of God. Their god really is just an abstract principle described by a set of mathematical equations. The question of just what is "God" has occupied theologians for thousands of years. Above all, there seems to be a super energizing life force...SELF...that emerges with conception and leaves at death for all species. The genetic molecule called DNA is detectable by the time cells have divided six times after fertilization. Let's see them come up with a unifying theory to explain genes and religious faith. .
What is the difference between the founder of the Church of Scientology, the late L. Ron Hubbard's claim [stolen without attribution from memory researcher Richard Semon and based on the Greek muse of memory, Mneme] that everyone is driven by unconscious engrams, sort of like scar tissue in the brain, that need to be cleared to reach one's original potential - and the founder of the Moral Majority, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's claim that every one is born in sin and must be saved by faith in Jesus to avoid going to hell???>..hmmmm??...and what is there about people who would believe that either one is telling the truth???>...and then devote their lives to the cause??....both are taken on "faith"...belief without proof...but where does faith come from...and why does it exist? Considering the contagious influence of such as the Church of Scientology and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, not to mention belief in a virgin birth and resurrection from death, one must wonder at the power of imagination, myth, and contagious thought called memes among Homo sapiens. Memes help to explain why so many "isms" have come along during human history. Religions need a prophet to get them started but they do not survive and grow unless they become contagious, hence memes. In some faiths monks shave their heads and in others they grow long beards; some teach passivism and others teach militarism, both according to their memes. A modern meme could be demonstrated by the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas led by celebrity preacher Joel Osteen, [who never attended a seminary] with throngs of people doting on his simple message that God wants everyone to be healthy, wealthy, and happy. What all religions seem to have in common is the idea that world peace requires everyone to join their faith because only they know the absolute Truth. Wars are fought over that idea.
Perhaps the faith and reason debate is not an either/or proposition but rather a both/and necessity. Possibly the greatest scientist of all time, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) wrote, "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal god and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity." This challenge is addressed from several approaches in visits with mystical teachers found in Sedona, AZ. Read all about it in Voices of Sedona ...It is available at bookstores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Ever since the dialogues of Plato and Socrates, thinkers have been attempting to reconcile the apparently mutually exclusive ideas of fatalism and free will. The argument favors free will because to accept fatalism Homo sapiens would have to accept the notion of an omnipotent omniscient God of the universe, something that organized religion cannot tolerate. The Church and Anglo-Saxon courts would keep us responsible for disobedience to religious dogma and law by claiming Homo sapiens have free will. That way they can perpetuate the guilt and remorse required to keep their treasuries and prisons full. The obvious contradiction between doctrines of free will and original sin is conveniently ignored in the dialogue. Why did God condemn the heirs of Adam and Eve forever rather than just punish them for their sin of disobedience? If man cannot choose to be born sinless, then where is the free will? And why did he create the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the first place? (Genesis 2:9) Sayyid Qutb, sage of Islam wrote, "Life and its allotted span, good and evil are in the hand of Allah and no other"...and from the Koran he quoted, "Allah, wielder of the kingly power; thou givest that power to whomever thy will and thou taketh the power from whomever thy will, Thou dost exhalt whom thy will and thou doth abase whom they will...Thou over all things are most powerful... and if Allah shall help you then none can defeat you, but if He abandon you who will help you?" (3:25, 3:154) St. Paul wrote much the same idea in his concept of the potter and the clay. Some very famous modern thinkers expressed similar views on this matter.
Albert Einstein wrote, "...the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past...God does not throw dice... I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's words: ÔMan can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper...a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, must smile about man's illusion that he was acting according to his own free will."
Einstein had some good company.
British philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970): "When a man acts in ways that annoy us [or break our laws] we wish to think him wicked, and we refuse to face the fact that his annoying behavior is the result of antecedent causes which, if you follow them long enough, will take you beyond the moment of his birth, and therefore to events for which he cannot be held responsible by any stretch of imagination."
Spanish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677): "Men believe themselves to be free because they are conscious of their own actions and are ignorant of the causes by which they are determined. The mind is determined to this or that choice by a cause which is also determined by another cause, and this again by another, and so on ad infinitum. This doctrine teaches us to hate no one, to despise no one, to mock no one, to be angry with no one, and to envy no one."
French nobleman and philosopher, Baron D'Holbach (1723-1789): "The inward persuasion that we are free to do, or not to do a thing, is but a mere illusion. If we trace the true principle of our actions, we shall find that they are always necessary consequences of our volitions and desires, which are never in our power. You think yourself free, because you do what you will; but are you free to will, or not to will; to desire, or not to desire? Are not your volitions and desires necessarily excited by objects or qualities totally independent of you?"
Mark Twain (1835-1910): "Where there are two desires in a man's heart he has no choice between the two but must obey the strongest, there being no such thing as free will in the composition of any human being that ever lived."
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): "The human mind is impelled to action or held in rest by some power over which the mind itself has no control."
British analytic philosopher Galen Strawson, author of Mental Reality  wrote, "Almost all human beings believe that they are free to choose what to do in such a way that they can be truly, genuinely responsible for their actions in the strongest possible sense; responsible period; responsible without any qualification; responsible sans phrase, responsible tout court, absolutely, radically, buckstoppingly responsible; ultimately responsible, in a word—and so ultimately morally responsible when moral matters are at issue. Free will is the thing you have to have if you're going to be responsible in this all or nothing way. That's what I mean by free will. That's what I think we haven't got and can't have. You cannot make yourself the way you are...The facts are clear. One cannot be ultimately responsible for one's character or mental nature in any way at all."
Any competent historian can link previous events in strings of cause and effect, but no one can predict all the future consequences of present actions. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung observed, "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order." That order could place every creature of the universe automatically in the church of theofatalism right where they are supposed to be. But why must people believe in myths and illusions like free will? You may find the answers in the Principles of Theofatalism. You can read them in Voices of Sedona. It is available in book- stores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Regular updates are posted at http://sedonavoices.blog.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - What if there were a virtual church with no walls, assets, income, clergy , staff, creed, or limitations of any kind... a church where everyone was automatically a member, and no one could ever resign or be dismissed for any reason? Since it could not be seen, heard, smelled, touched, measured, or documented in any way, how would you convince anyone of its existence? Moreover, how would you describe it in terms of rational understanding? What would be the purpose in even discussing it?
What if this church were everywhere immaculate and immanent....perfect and permeating all that exists or does not exist, not just Homo sapien? What if this church encompassed the smallest element of matter as well as the most distant galaxies in the universe? What if it included time and space and all that might exist outside of time a space? What if it had no beginning and no ending and could neither be created nor destroyed? What if it explained all that is and all that ever will be no matter how ridiculous, horrific or insane?
What if the power of the god of this church superseded all other gods, past, present and future? What if the power of this god were so great that nothing could exist or occur outside of its will? And that must include disbelief in its existence. What if the power of this god encompassed falsehood as well as truth, pain as well as pleasure, order as well as chaos, charity as well as greed, peace as well as war, life as well as death and all the possible other diametric opposites?
What if this church were so unlimited that this universe and all other possible universes could not escape its boundaries? What if this church gave nothing, promised nothing, and needed nothing? Indeed, what if the sum total of energy in this church were nothing?
What if the symbol of this church is a sacred labyrinth such as the one tiled into the CathŽdrale Notre-Dame in Chartres, France? Unlike a maze that is intended to confuse and mislead, there is only one way in and one way out of a labyrinth. The path leads to the peaceful center of universal energy where you can feel good inside no matter what happens outside. There are only two rules: begin and continue. What if they are inescapable and unimpeachable?
If the student is ready, the teachers have come. Visit your favorite bookseller or www.IUniverse.com or www.amazon.com and obtain your copy of Voices of Sedona. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Life on planet Earth is amazing. It exists in many forms divided into many species and inhabits all the various environments. Presumably at the top of the food chain, Homo sapiens exhibit a wide variety of cultures and lifestyles in various habitats all over the Earth. They have adapted to extremes of climate and environment that is miraculous. At the top of the Earth they live without combustible fuel and eat the life of the sea in its raw form. In rain forests at the equator they live among the monkeys in a hunter-gatherer mode much as their ancestors have done for millennia. On the arid desert plains of Africa they raise cattle, not for butchering, but to consume their blood and milk for food. Some Homo sapiens on Earth live as they did long ago with little to no change while others, in so-called developed countries, invent and adopt skills and implements that are unimaginable from generation to generation. But not all of it is beneficial.
Homo sapiens have increased the efficiency of providing food to sustain life, but also go on inventing weapons suitable for killing each other more and more efficiently, which they use at an alarming rate. Somebody estimated that 100 million people died in wars during the last century. Homo sapiens are the only species of life that enjoys making war so much that they made an honorable profession out of it for which they give highest honors. They have learned to medicate disease and transplant organs to extend life but not to practice safe sex or to avoid life threatening behaviors...indeed they seem to balance life saving measures with life destroying ones. They seek to be logical but they are susceptible to emotional reasoning. They have organized vast national systems with geographic borders under rules of law that frequently go un-enforced for political and social reasons. They have created complex forms of gaining and distributing economic wealth in ways that enrich a few and impoverish the many. Homo sapiens are the only species that intentionally kill their young before birth because they can while they have also created the means for reliably preventing reproduction. Homo sapiens have invented means of mass communications by harnessing principles of physics, but they often make war over what is being said. They have created a rich legacy in art, music, architecture, morals, ethics and such but they seem to repeat the mistakes of history over and over. They are both compassionate and charitable while being brutal and contemptible. The more they feel threatened the less charitable they act toward others as self preservation prevails. They rocket off to visit the stars while they destroy the planet that sustains their existence. They also are procreating so rapidly that they threaten the planet's ability to sustain their growth.
We have created a vast defense-industrial partnership that is useless except in wartime, so war is what we get. The present squabbles in Iraq and Afghanistan are cases in point. The Department of Defense cannot send enough troops to maintain security but the State Department can hire more than 100,000 ex-military people at several times the cost to protect officials and U.S. property. Then the security forces operate freely under diplomatic immunity while the soldiers must obey strict rules of engagement. We claim that our goal is democracy and freedom of religion for the Middle East but the reality is that Muslim leaders want to live under Shari'ah law laid down from the beginning by Moses. Does using lethal force to impose freedom make any sense? Since the enemy does not wear uniforms or fight by conventional rules of war, our mighty power is impotent to achieve the stated goal of democracy in the Middle East. What good is a forty million dollar fighter plane or billion dollar nuclear submarine against a suicide bomber? So we spend billions in endless wars while the homeland suffers from deterioration and neglect. While our leaders claim it all is a necessary battle in the war on terrorism, they let our borders open to millions without legal permission to enter. Is that insanity or what? Perhaps it just is God's will...or not.
If these matters trouble you, perhaps you are ready for the lessons in Voices of Sedona. When the student is ready a teacher comes. You can buy it at your local book store or by email from www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) gave us possibly one of the greatest models of understanding Homo sapiens in all human history. It is unfortunate that his ideas have not become mainstream psychology. By observing famous people and applying his skills as a psychiatrist, he concluded that Homo sapiens can be seen as taking in information and making judgments about it. From this simple idea flows the entire spectrum of human relations among all cultures and nations. If you can learn your own Jungian type model and apply it to human relationships, you could be a most powerful individual.
Jung observed two methods of perception that are called sensing (S) and intuition (N). He observed two methods of judging that are called thinking (T) and feeling (F). Further he observed that each of these four functions could be performed inwardly or outwardly by types of people called introverts and extraverts respectively. Actually he said there were no such people, just introverted and extraverted functions. Completing the model, he concluded that people prefer to use these functions of personality in a definite order of priority with the primary function supported by its secondary in the opposite form. For example, one could prefer introverted thinking supported by extraverted sensing (Ti Se) or say extraverted intuition supported by introverted feeling (NeFi). From the fact that there are four functions each with two states there arises the possibility of sixteen different Jungian personality types. Finding little interest or practical use of his theory for fifty years, it waited for Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother to develop a diagnostic questionnaire called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to help give Jung's theory a practical voice. Today it is used by thousands of counselors, therapists, and coaches in relationships of all kinds among couples, families, educators, and organizations.
These four functions also present a model of human development throughout the life cycle. At birth the infant is confronted with traumatic separation from its parasitic relationship with the mother. It must live on its own and soon becomes aware of a distinction between itself and others, what psychologists refer to as subject and object or self and other. From then until death its physical being must rely on its senses for information about its environment. Soon, the infant begins to think for itself in reaction to the feedback it gets from others. Cry and you get fed and diapered. Smile and coo and you get cuddled. Misbehave and you get punished. Knowledge then becomes a goal of life to obtain that which is needed to offset self from other. As observation and encounters with others progress, the individual develops likes and dislikes, feelings, and values to help it combine with some others for mutual support and avoid or defend itself from some others who would do harm or disagree. Finally as age progresses, the awareness of beginnings and endings, successes and failures prompts the development of skills in imagination, intuition, and faith in the unseen that Jung called the ability to see around corners. This lifelong process is called type development. Under normal conditions it produces a broad and balanced view of the world and enables the mature person to navigate through indefinite uncertainty of life among a wide variety of people types. But, if a person remains in the infantile state of personality, a mental disorder may result that could impair the ability to function among a culture of diverse people. Social rigidity may lead to sociopathic behavior and mental pyschosis. In fact, there are so many ways of presenting a mental disorder that the diagnostic manual for psychiatry, DSM-IV, lists more than 300 of them. While drugs and therapy are commonly used to treat them, at bottom is an inability to see reality as it is and make the most of it.
The ability to learn and develop with age may be what distinguishes Homo sapiens from other forms of life on Earth. Some people call this development evolution of consciousness. But, why is this ability so unequally distributed among various individuals and groups? Why do some people arrive at the door of death hardly removed from their family of origin, while others seem driven to expand their horizons and risk their physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual resources beyond the known limits of endurance? Why do some cultures push for changes continually while others defend the status quo? [If you have read this far, you may be interested to know the personality type of the writer is the architect of ideas...INTP...this type is very rare and attributed to only one percent of the population.]
Questions such as these were probed in Voices of Sedona and resulted in formulation of the Principles of Theofatalism. If you are the curious type, you may find it very helpful. Or not. You may buy a copy from your local book seller or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - There is a critical storm brewing in the U.S. economy...aging of the population. Forecasts indicate that as the generation of eighty million baby boomers retires, beginning in 2008, more and more of them will encounter physical and chronic medical disabilities like no previous generation ever imposed upon society. Many of them will find they are unprepared for the financial and emotional impact on their families and social order they will bring with them. Medicine has successfully extended life times by countering, with unimaginable technology including organ transplants and artificial joints, chronic diseases that would have killed previous generations much sooner. Consequently, more older people will live longer under conditions of multiple chronic ailments and disabilities, often in assisted living centers and nursing homes under humiliating and embarrassing, but expensive, professional care, which will stretch human and financial resources to the breaking point.
This crisis comes with a lack of traditions and even vocabulary to deal with it. The founding fathers included among inalienable rights life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Nevertheless, their fantasy of all being created equal loses its basis soon after birth as wealth, health, and happiness become more and more inequally distributed. According to Buddhist teaching, the drive for such is the cause of much suffering arising from discontent and the desire for things to be different. If they could be they would be. Even during suffering, happiness can be untangled from distress with cognitive therapy. Buddhism thrives on passivism and the status quo and avoids suffering by pretending it does not exist because the sufferer does not exist. Thus, Tibet did not seek revenge when China invaded in 1951 to set up a communist government, killed monks and demolished Buddhist temples and drove the Dalai Lama to exile in India after a bloody secular uprising in 1959. Things change.
In contrast, the psychology of America is to attack and conquer any adverse force that prevents the goals of plenty and more to be pursued, i.e., we think there are no circumstance beyond our control, especially if we throw enough money at it. Suffering in this context is a signal to get busy and change things, just the opposite of Buddhist philosophy of accepting things as they are. In fact, feeling alone, abandoned, depressed, and inadequate in the face of death is perfectly normal, even though our medical system is designed to diagnose, treat, and cure illness, disease, and accidents quickly and efficiently. But, despite a few rich exceptions, American society just is not equipped or staffed to maintain so many aging people through years, and even decades, of debilitation and creeping senility in assisted living centers and nursing facilities. Elder care is one of the most distressing and depressing occupations if you resist normal symptoms of aging. Families in undeveloped cultures are not so shocked to see their elders age and die normally in the same household. But our very economic success has removed that process from common view so that when aging transitions of the baby boomers visit a family they often bring emotional, psychological, and financial shocks with little, if any, preparation. The anxiety of death is a taboo subject in most households, and funerals of dead relatives often are quickly dismissed as though nothing happened so life may go on in denial and avoidance. But, undercoating this denial and avoidance is a fundamental spiritual aspect of humanity which can and must be enabled if the critical storm is to be absorbed. Death happens.
Human cells eventually stop replicating themselves and deplete their energy to fight off invaders. The only treatment proven to extend life is reducing calories because digesting food actually causes oxidation of cells that reduces their ability to convert oxygen into energy. Cells without enough oxygen atrophy and die. But no matter how many anti-oxidant foods or vitamin supplements you ingest, metabolism slows and in the end you die, and the only people who will remember you are a few close friends, family, and associates and that not for long. For most of us it is like pulling your hand out of a pail of water. Soon the ripples are still and there is no evidence of our presence at all. But each one occupies a necessary place in creation, or it would be different. The only problem with dying is that something must kill you. If one thing doesn't get you another one will, and unless it is a fatal heart attack or an accident the process often is very slow and painful and the treatment humiliating and embarrassing. As the battery of life runs down it reaches a threshold beyond which it can no longer resist predatory invaders or recover from traumas, such as surgery and critical illness. By then you may have survived for years in chronic discomfort alone in some institution. God does not seem to make a big deal out of dying because He has made death a ubiquitous part of life. So, why do Homo sapiens make such a big deal out of it, even making a business out of anti-aging? Many people act like keeping their loved ones alive as long as possible, regardless of the suffering and expense, is the only way they can show that they care, and the more money they spend on heroic measures to extend life, regardless of the quality, the better. Little wonder that most medical expenses are spent trying to keep dying people alive.
Perhaps the best one can hope for at the end of life is terminal sedation - the furthest reach of Hospice palliative care - drugging a dying patient into unconsciousness and keeping him that way until he expires, days or weeks later for lack of food and water or treatment of acute disease except for symptom relief. Terminal sedation is not practiced openly and is not without some controversy, but it does not seem to carry a high incidence of complication. The lack of it can make the end of life worse than death both for patients and their survivors. Future costs of terminal care for the aging baby boomers may tax social resources so much that physician-assisted suicide may be legalized nationally throughout the U.S. as it is in Oregon and in The Netherlands. When it is time to go, perhaps people who no longer abhor death and wish to leave their suffering bodies will be given socially and legally sanctioned physician assistance to leave it, just as unwanted fetuses are aborted. Others will fight to the end. As in all decisions, there are no mistakes, just choices and consequences. But God always wins.
In addition to the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of dying, there is an underlying recognition of something more. Whether it is called spirit or soul, there seems to be universal acceptance that life energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Death and its aftermath likely always will be a mystery. Longevity has its place, but release and detachment from the body can and will be necessary to accommodate the financial and emotional cost of warehousing millions of old people in conditions of suffering we do not even impose upon common house pets. Maybe it is time to begin a discussion of the unthinkable and the unmentionable...when and how to let the dying be dead. Who should determine the acceptable limits to quality of life besides the person living it? Such discussion will require a different basis for reference than most churches now provide. Such a basis is the core of Voices of Sedona. You can buy a copy at the local book store or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - High definition views from space show the Earth like no product of artistic imagination ever could. One can only wonder what impact such views have upon the astronauts who have provided us with the fantastic images. From just a few miles beyond the atmosphere there can be seen the greens, browns, yellows, and whites of terrain very few can visit in person. Even more amazing is the vast area of blue marking the oceans that cover more than four fifths of the Earth's surface. From that distance, nowhere are there any indications of national boundaries or political jurisdictions, and language, ethnic, and social barriers that separate the various tribes of Homo sapiens that occupy the planet. Neither could a human observer from space see any of the wide varieties of other life forms that roam the dry land and saturate the ocean depths. But they are there.
If a celestial explorer were to see the Earth only from the perspective of the international space station, the reality would be totally missed. However, if the lens could zoom into the planet one section at a time the pictures that emerge would tell a much different story. Soon the nature of life on Earth might be shown in the form of movements as complex as watching the traffic patterns during rush hours in major cities, and as simple as the cattle grazing on a thousand hills. If the explorers could land and systematically visit the four corners of Earth they would find an infinite variety of life forms, each seemingly going about their business with unfailing determination. If they looked carefully they might discover that the Earth is a dynamic planet with weather patterns swirling overhead and volcanic activity booming underneath. In fact, the land masses are not stable and have been sliding about on the surface of the planet driven by gigantic forces from deep inside called plate tectonics. Periodically there are giant upheavals that inflict great damage to both the Earth and its inhabitants.
Some forms of life, called extremophiles, have been discovered living at volcanic rifts deep within the ocean at temperatures and pressures previously thought to be unable to support life. And yet only five percent of the ocean has been explored. Researchers into such things have discovered many lifestyles among subhuman species that exhibit forms of intelligence, social practices, and lifestyles that are extremely complex. Among them are mysteries without explanation. For example, the migratory patterns of whales, salmon, butterflies, geese and elephants show a remarkable level of skills in navigation and timing that seem beyond the level of humans. Look very closely and you may see a caterpillar go through metamorphosis to become a butterfly. How can a butterfly born in Mexico migrate north to live in Canada and return precisely to its birthplace in time for mating just before its death? The arctic Tern flies 12,500 miles from the Artic to the Antarctic and back each season. More mysteriously, why do they do it? The jellyfish is thought to be one of the most primitive forms of life. Explorers have filmed it digesting live prey through its transparent organs. Its tentacles possess lethal poisonous toxins so chemically complex that no antidote has yet been developed. Nevertheless, the jellyfish is prey food for other species, including a turtle, that are not bothered by its poisonous toxins. Whatever is involved, plant or animal, most of the life on Earth seems to live according to very specific plans and modalities. Why should it be any different among humans? What makes them think they are so different from other forms of life?
Explorers visiting the planet would doubtless be amazed at one significant aspect of all life forms on Earth. They kill and eat each other for food. This violence takes many forms on land and in the oceans, but the bottom line on this planet is kill or starve because it is a closed system. Is there anything more amazing than the electric eel that produces a jolt of 600 volts to paralyze its prey? Birth and death, predator and prey, are necessary complements to preserve life, and each must reproduce to feed the other in a delicately balanced, fragile food chain. While most species are defined by their need to survive and reproduce, one species seems to be more creative and even intentionally cultivates other species for food. In addition, the species Homo sapiens seems to kill each other simply for power and control, sometimes one at a time and sometimes in mass slaughter. This species even thinks that it is superior to all others and was given dominion over all the Earth by its creator. If explorers could investigate the history of this species they would find wondrous accomplishments by some and horrific atrocities by others. Never do they cease to conquer space and time and to seek and fill each nook and cranny of the planet with evidence of its existence. Perhaps explorers at some future time will find their remnants and wonder why they came to exist here at all.
But a very close look might disclose there is more than flesh and blood here. There also is a spirit, soul, and universal energy that soars above the visible to fuel the invisible. Planet Earth certainly is a miracle of creation. So are the Voices of Sedona that describe the central principles of its source. Buy a copy from your local book seller or online at www.IUniverse.com or www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Plato summed up wisdom for his students who were standing his death watch... "practice dying." When he lay dying the Buddha instructed, "Be a lamp unto yourself." As he hung dying on the cross Jesus lamented, "Father, why have you forsaken me?" Perhaps these events are connected in some way not yet recognized by Western churches. Moviemaker Woody Allen caught the essence of the Western attitude toward death when he reportedly quipped, "I don't mind the thought of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." Modern Western cultures have removed death so far from daily activities that many scarcely know how to behave or react when the door opens to whatever follows life, and that includes many medical professionals. With more than four people dying per minute in the American death-avoiding society, psychological impacts of denial and avoidance abound. Many physicians and nurses and religious ministers have unexplored attitudes about death and see it as failure of their profession...to be defeated at all costs. Relatives who cannot cope often leave the dying alone in hospitals and nursing homes which then secretly transport the body to a sanitized funeral "home" where visitors sign the guest book and return to life as though nothing happened. At best they linger at the casket, displaying the deceased dressed as though alive, a few minutes in silence and then retreat to make small-talk safely removed from the fear of contamination. Like moviemaker Woody Allen said, most of us don't mind the thought of dying so long as we don't have to be there when it happens. Many people reach middle age without ever witnessing death of a loved one, so the experience can be very unsettling to say the least. When you receive a diagnosis of terminal illness you enter a new and unexplored landscape. You haven't really lived if you have not watched a loved one die, but imagine what it must be like for the patient.
The dying seem to be harmfully contagious to those egos that see their own futures displayed, and they are right. "Mirror" neurons have been detected in the brain that make people feel the suffering of others as though it were their own, so they put up defenses to avoid it as a method of self defense or try to help make it go away. The more active mirror neurons are, the more a person feels empathy for another. Emotional contagion then prepares the brain for a reaction. This finding merely confirms an ancient Chinese proverb; "All [untrained] men have a mind which cannot bear to see the suffering of others." It can be shocking to see how much disability a human body can endure without dying. So, many families focus medical intervention upon the obvious symptoms while the process of dying is denied and avoided, much to the loss of everyone. If the death is sudden, violent, or unexpected many can only ask why me, why now, why us? But the response of Buddhist teachers is, "Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes...be present with suffering to understand the nature of existence...which includes suffering." It is not easy to gaze clear-eyed at the troubling manifestations of terminal human conditions. With all our social and economic gains, many have lost the essential privilege of saying farewell and staying close to the departing until the end. Death refuses to follow our scripts and does as it wills, each time in a unique way. So letting go and letting God will reduce much suffering from wishing that things could be any different. God always wins.
For those who are prepared physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, the end of life follows a calm acceptance of the inevitable as they bend to the tide that washes us all across the bar to realms beyond the horizon. It can be the last great adventure to stand by detached and watch it all unfold in your own body. In Buddhism, the ultimate goal of Nirvana is release from Samsara, the clutching desires of life that want things to be different. Often the dying move from loneliness into solitude as the known world dissolves and begins to disappear, exposing the great darkness of the radically unknown. Toward the end, people's egos naturally lose interest in controlling life and eventually begin releasing their ailing bodies. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD, Swiss psychiatrist honored internationally with nineteen honorary degrees for her work, observed that dying people often traverse phases of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression before they settle into acceptance of the inevitable. The near death experience reported by some people is described as very pleasant and nothing to fear. Not everyone completes this evolution and some remain in one stage or other before they expire, perhaps all according to God's will.
Some would say that remaining in denial is an appropriate defense for the fearsome mystery of death and permits one to live actively as long as possible. But, if the ego will not let go voluntarily, it will be crucified. That may require working through the phases of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression to accept crossing the bar. Egos that cannot let go of the need for control when the time comes bring additional suffering onto themselves and dying loved ones. Among extended families often scattered across the country there could be much unfinished business, remorse, and alienation that must be reconciled for the ultimate separation to be easily accepted. Failing such reconciliation, the end may bring with it much contentious bickering and arguing for control and demands for medical interventions that not only postpone the dying but add additional burdens of emotional and financial scarring that never heal. It is as though people think they can find immortality buried someplace under all the trivia. Carl Jung observed, "Death is psychologically as important as birth... Shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose."
Much as we know about life, death is a mysterious process. It used to be different and it still is among cultures with fewer social defense mechanisms, where the ego/self does not disable the spirit. Each family got to rehearse the process again and again as dying relatives faded away one after the other in plain view. Nowadays a comforting form of palliative care is provided by the hospice movement for those who are able to let go when it is time. Hospice care was started in England around 1967 by Dame Cicely Saunders and was added to Medicare coverage in the U.S. in the 1980s. Under care of a physician, a team of nursing and social workers, religious, and volunteers help assure a terminally ill patient is clean and comfortable during the final six months while the agent of death is permitted to take its course. They call it "circling the drain." Many people still are not aware of this service option or the necessity of making formal plans with "do not resuscitate" orders and powers of attorney on file with medicals before the need occurs. Those who resist this form of departure often cannot let go because of unfinished business and remorse and guilt for a life poorly lived. But God always wins.
Dr. Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project, observed that people will always experience "a death rate of one per person." Leonardo da Vinci summarized his life this way, "While I thought I was learning how to live, I was really learning how to die." Be not deceived by ego's temporary diversions and the medical industry's profit incentive to "save lives," which it cannot do because death will not be denied. Beyond the peaks of life there is the valley of Gehenna waiting patiently with its smiling face and beckoning arms among the smoldering embers of life ebbing away, whether we are prepared or not to cross the bar. Medical science often just prolongs and intensifies the suffering that comes when egos challenge God as they march under the flag of poet, Dylan Thomas; "Do not go gentle into that good night...rage, rage against the dying of the light." Hope for a long and healthy, wealthy, happy life is the last to go. In contrast, there is a Buddhist saying; "There are other worlds in which to sing." If churches do not help people prepare to die, where can they turn when the grim reaper calls?
Perhaps the Buddha learned that we must light our own way into the unknown because no one can do it for us. If you want to light your own lamp for the trip, perhaps the Principles of Theofatalism described in Voices of Sedona can help you get there. Buy a copy at leading book stores or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Ever since recorded history it seems that Homo sapiens have had a yearning to make sense from what they perceive to be mysteries of life they cannot control, be it weather or cancer. Rising from a common trunk like the branches of a tree, their myths and assumptions have taken many forms and directions. As time passed some of the wide variety of beliefs have given way to scientific discoveries that have replaced assumptions proven to be just plain wrong. But mankind seems to need some mysteries in life because they arise to replace concepts left behind.
One of the longest running human needs seems to be searching for a source of all to explain the observable universe and life forms on Earth that can be assumed to balance the belief in randomness. Present cosmology leans to the creation of the universe from a "big bang" that converted energy into matter around fourteen billion Earth years ago. But, what caused the big bang? That source takes many names but its most common among western cultures is God. It is a universal construct of human imagination. Even atheism must have a God not to believe in. Some cultures have many Gods, but the common element seems to be acknowledgment that man is the not the master of his fate. This is the necessary opposite complement to belief in humanism which assumes that man is the crown of creation and controls his own destiny as the "captain of his soul," the way William Ernest Henley expressed in his poem, "Invictus." The Bible claims that God made man in his own image and likeness. If that is true, then all the forms and behaviors of Homo sapiens are manifestations of God, not just the good and lovely parts.
If one could take the time out of a life full of busy-ness long enough to look around, it might be noticed that life on Earth seems to be a complex mesh of interactions among and within species which are so interrelated that chance could scarcely be assumed to explain it. And Homo sapiens are but one of many species to be seen, maybe not the smartest or most durable either. One of the benefits of new video technology is the display of life forms in High Definition provided by educational resources now viewable in households that before were unavailable to most everyone. Instead of practicing eye-hand coordination with mindless, ubiquitous video games, perhaps a more helpful use of imagination would be viewing the many forms of life, plant and animal, now available to everyone from educational television. Whether by intelligent creation or random natural selection, or evolution by design, the human imagination is challenged to look around at the awesome life on Earth and not see God. Perhaps after a little wonder, you might conclude as did Carl Jung, "I could not say I believe - I know! I have had the experience of being gripped by something that is stronger than myself, something that people call God...In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order." If you experience that order, you will have no difficulty seeing God in all things, because maybe that is all there is.
Voices of Sedona could help you get there if you are ready. Buy a copy from your local book seller or online at www.IUniverse.com or www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - along the river shores in Ethiopia there grows one of many species of sycamore fig tree that provides a glimpse into the mind of God. But you have to look very closely to see all the details. That is what public broadcasting did when it sent a photo crew and some experts to look at the miraculous stream of life sustained by one such tree. The resulting documentary produced in high definition video could help Homo sapiens see their role in the overall plan of life more clearly if they only took time to see the way this tree participates in the wide variety of life dependent upon its existence. And so it is with each of us.
What may appear to be an insignificant individual in the vast stream of life forms occupying Earth is actually a single, but indispensable, unit in a fantastically complex interlocking system of elements that make up the whole. The value placed upon them by the economic methods developed by Homo sapiens to dispense wealth has no relation to the impact of individuals to the whole. One may see a rock and give it no value at all. Another may see a rock, called a diamond, and give it immense value. But to the Earth, each rock is the same in value because both are equally indispensable to the whole. One might also remove one brick at a time in a high rise building with no discernable impact until the one brick is removed that destroys the function of the building. The first brick removed is identical to the last one in the overall population of bricks in the building, so which one is the most important? The bricks may be made by man in a brick kiln and the sycamore fig tree may be propagated by natural selection, but each is no more nor less in the whole system of Earth. So it is with each person among the species Homo sapiens.
And so it is with the actions of people that seem to violate some sense of justice or mercy in the minds of Homo sapiens. Take the recent massacre of students and faculty on the college campus of VPI in Virginia by a mentally ill student. This event was not the first nor will it be the last such event among Homo sapiens. There will be the ensuing debates about why such things happen and what can be done to prevent them in the future. Solutions will be proposed and some laws may be changed. In the meantime, others will lose their lives in the continuous struggles among Homo sapiens for power and control over the lives of others. The struggle plays out among families, social clubs, cultures, and political empires. All such events are part of the unfolding of life on Earth. And if they could be any different, they would be. [By the way, have you noticed how much an orthodox Muslim woman dresses like a Catholic nun?]
Underlying the whole of systems on Earth are five simple but interlocking principles explained in Voices of Sedona. You can ignore them, but you cannot avoid them. Like gravity, they do not ask your permission, and they do not require your acceptance. And you can live without knowing anything about them at all...unless you want to feel good inside no matter what happens outside. Buy your copy at Barnes & Noble book stores or online at www.IUniverse.com or www.amazon.com. And pass it on. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - People obviously think differently. Some may say the glass is half empty while others say it is half full and still others say it is too big or too small. Mental health is a subjective thing. Possibly no professional field is more uncertain than treatment for the troubled mind. The editor of the Family Therapy Networker wrote to professional clinical therapists, "... whatever your training, you know less than you once thought you did ... The conspiracy that has been set in motion against us is irreversible ... we are all doomed to live in a world that is getting more complex and indeterminable all the time ... in such a world it is harder than ever to feel certain about what we know ..."
Once it becomes conscious, the indefinite uncertainty in life must necessarily make people feel anxious or fearful about the unknown future. It seems the more we learn, the less we know for sure. If you don't feel scared and confused, you just don't know what's happening. Things are changing so rapidly long-range planning is useless. People must change careers several times, because technology and economic shifts are uncontrollable. The world can seem so complex that no one can figure out what is best to do. If you think you know, better watch out for those inevitable unintended consequences.
However, anxiety must exist for a purpose, or it would not be, so there is an opposite side even to the meaning of anxiety, and it comes with benefits in my opinion. The late Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale pioneered the notion of positive thinking along with his weekly televised sermons from the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, and many preachers have made a good living from it ever since. But, thinking psychologists are beginning to realize that anxiety can help create "positive pessimism," or the power in negative thinking. Strategic contingency planners in business and government realize if you anticipate the worst-case scenarios, you are more likely to avoid shock and disbelief and disaster when they happen. They invoke Murphy's Law: If anything can go wrong, it will—and its corollary, you can never run out of things that can go wrong. With this attitude, one might be better prepared to live with worst-case outcomes when they are unavoidable...like wars and death. Perhaps a little more of such planning in the Pentagon could have avoided the mess in Iraq.
Anxiety also can kick us out of the stupor of unconscious incompetence, where we don't know what we don't know, and stimulate us to growth and human development. Some of the best leaders and most creative people of history were driven by acute anxiety, including Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Vincent van Gogh. From that level of awareness, we can be stimulated to learn what we don't know and to prepare for the ultimate case: what comes after death. In fact, anxiety about an uncertain future that seems threatening may be the power that drives all human development and promotes the survival of the species.
The positive power of indefinite uncertainty is just one of five universal principles explored in Voices of Sedona. You can buy a copy from book stores or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Set off on a page by itself in his last book titled, In The Clearing (1962), is this short couplet penned by Poet Laureate Robert Frost. "Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me." Frost never clearly described his outlook on religion, but this review of his family biography may provide a clue about the motivation for this rhyme.
Robert Lee Frost won the Pulitzer prize for poetry four times and received more than forty honorary degrees. But, the famous poet's home life was anything but pleasant. Born in San Francisco in 1874, his father was an abusive drunkard and his mother a mystic and sometimes school teacher. Frost described her as "a queer woman" with "incipient insanity." After his father died when he was eleven, they moved to Lawrence, MA to live with his paternal grandparents. His only sibling, Jeanie, was eventually sent to a mental institution, where she wrote her brother, "I am very peculiar and did not start right. If I ever was well and natural it was before I can remember." Frost attended Dartmouth and Harvard but never graduated. His first attempts to sell his poetry in America failed so he moved to London where he received international acclaim for his first book of poetry.
Frost settled in Vermont and became a mediocre school teacher and mediocre farmer. His wife, Elinor, bore six children but tragedies stalked five of them: the oldest, Elliott, died of typhoid fever when three; a daughter, Elinor Bettina, died soon after she was born; son Carol killed himself with a deer rifle when thirty-eight after failing as a poet; Marjorie died of a postpartum infection; Irma had an unhappy marriage and was eventually committed to an insane asylum. Frost's wife, two years before Carol's suicide, died of a heart attack - after her untimely death in 1938 he wrote to a friend, "God damn me when he gets around to it." Alone and grieving, the poet asked his remaining daughter Lesley to let him live with her, but she refused. According to biographer Lawrance Thompson, "She said she had seen him cause so much injury to the lives of his own children [and her mother] that she would not permit him to move into her home, where he might also injure the lives of her two daughters. Then she hurt him most by concluding that he was the kind of artist who never should have married, or at least never should have had a family." Robert Frost lived alone then with domestic help from his secretary until age 89. He did not issue another book of poetry for fifteen years. He died unexpectedly during surgery for an appendectomy. When Frost entered a hospital for the final time, he told a reporter, "I don't take life very seriously. It's hard to get into this world and hard to get out of it. And what's in between doesn't make much sense. If that sounds pessimistic, let it stand."
The late English author C. S. Lewis wrote this theodicy in A Grief Observed  after untimely death of his wife: "Tortures occur. If they are unnecessary then there is no God, or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they were not." Jesus observed that God prunes his creation to improve its fruits and to remove the unfruitful, sort of like Homo sapiens being the vines in a vineyard that the winemaker must prune back every season in order to replenish the growth for next season. (John 15:1) So, who do you forgive when you feel pruned and you realize it is God who is doing the pruning? Such is the goal of discourses by spiritual teachers in Voices of Sedona. Buy it from bookstores or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - You know you want it....power and control... it is human nature. At least that is what psychologist Abraham Maslow thought. Maslow saw needs of human beings arranged like a ladder. The most basic needs, at the bottom, were physical - air, water, food, sex. Then came safety needs - security, stability - followed by psychological, or social needs - for belonging, love, acceptance. Then came ranking needs...everyone wants to be higher than someone...At the top of it all were the self-actualizing needs - the need to fulfill oneself, to become all that one is capable of becoming. Maslow felt that unfulfilled needs lower on the ladder would inhibit the person from climbing to the next step so they would not seek a higher need until all the lower ones were met. Someone dying of thirst quickly forgets their thirst when they have no oxygen, as he pointed out. People who dealt in managing the higher needs were what he called self-actualizing people. In the middle of the ladder is the need to be part of a social structure that provides the opportunity of being exalted over others. Everybody wants to be better than somebody. But, first they have to be somebody.
If you want to be accepted as you are, you must accept others as they are. People want you to lavish them with praise, empathize with their suffering, grant them special attention, and show acceptance of their behavior. Empathy is the intimate comprehension of another person's thoughts and feelings without imposing our own judgment or expectations, and it lays a foundation for all relationships when it is mutual between two people. But you must be sure to use the most preferred communication style of your partner, whether it is auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. Those who prefer auditory communication may like verbal interactions. Those with visual preference may like viewing optical treats. And the kinesthetics may like lots of physical contact. When you do these things, a cocktail of hormones is released unconsciously by the brain that makes people assume you are the most lovable person alive. If you have ever trained a pet, you realize this is the best way to treat a dog or cat. Jesus taught that as you sow so shall you reap and what you give will be returned unto you with full measure and some extra.
It is called the PEAA formula, for Praise, Empathy, Attention, and Approval. It works among occupational groups, social groups, and families. It can make lovers out of enemies and strangers by stimulating production of hormones linked to feelings of romance. (A Buddhist text says, "Abandoning harsh speech, he abstains from harsh speech, he speaks such words as are gentle, pleasing to the ear, and lovable, as go to the heart, are courteous, desired by many and agreeable to many.") Practicing PEAA also can help in healing broken relationships and family dysfunctions. Researchers at the University of Florida found it was good psychology to practice in job interviews and in seeking promotions. Managers may find the approach helps them run their organizations better too. Dale Carnegie got rich teaching the same idea. He wrote in How to Make Friends and Influence People , "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." This is very powerful stuff and a little goes a long way, so be careful who you use it on. It is the foundation of all intimacy.
Of course, if you do the opposite and criticize, avoid, ignore, and blame you can make enemies out of friends. There also is the opposite idea as offered by Chicago crime boss Al Capone (1899-1947), "You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." But always, the meaning of your message lies in the response that you get. Don't ever forget that.
More good stuff like this can be found in Voices of Sedona. Get your copy from Barnes & Noble stores or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Albert Einstein wrote, "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity." The unitive state is described in World Scripture: A Comparative Analogy of Sacred Texts  as ..."the final goal of Spiritual evolution expressed in both Hinduism and Buddhism. If you know you are the Self, the Lord of Life, the supreme source of light; the supreme source of love, you will be free from suffering. You will transcend duality and live in a state of Oneness ... Only the one-pointed mind attains the state of unity. There was and there will be only One. You are already fulfilled. How can you be bound or free? Whoever sees separation but not the one indivisible Self must wander on and on from death to death. A person in union with the Self is not concerned with what is without and what is within, for in that unitive state all desires find their perfect fulfillment. There is no other desire that needs to be fulfilled, and one goes beyond sorrow to inner peace."
At this exhalted stage of evolution, the functions of ego, id, and superego no longer will be needed and wars between the self and the ego, spirit and flesh, Jihad in Islam, will cease. Boy, have most us got a long way to go.
(Rarely, an evolved soul is born with this insight. One such was poet Mattie Stepanek (1991-2004). At age six, he wrote this poem:
"We are many colors of skin and languages
We are many sizes and many countries
But we are one Earth and we have one heart and one life
We are growing up together
So we must live as one family."
The experience of this unity is profound and can be hinted at only vaguely by the words of scripture. It encompasses both union with God, or absolute reality, and union with all existence, the dissolution of subject and object, as knower and known become one. It is as though the id and superego both can exist as singular and the mediating function of ego vanishes, for it is no longer needed. The true self emerges above the suffering of life and merges with the Spirit of the Whole. The struggle for control and safety is ended, and inner peace is achieved when harmful egotism is defeated. Until this state of being is attained by all Homo sapiens, there will always be wars. Until e Pluribus Unum becomes e Orbis Unum, people will continue killing each other to prove who is — "right." We are both "one out of many," as illustrated by your family tree, and "many out of one," if you believe the story of creation in the Bible or in the evolution of species from a single ancestor.
Appealing ideas like this come from Voices of Sedona...you can buy it at book stores and online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Nothing causes more contention among Homo sapiens than the ongoing war between faith and reason. Just trying to define these two words in mutually acceptable terms will keep the debate going and going and going. The trouble with words is that they can only be defined by using other words. At bottom it is not so much the words that cause contention as the confusion about intent behind use of words. While the one transmitting words may intend to convey a certain meaning, actually it is the meaning assumed by the recipient that controls the reaction obtained. Are the words "faith" and "reason" to elicit opposing responses forever because they are natural dichotomies, or can there be some accommodation of the two that neutralizes their power for conflict?
You might say that the conflict between faith and reason is driving the western world into a new war right now that seems impossible to stop. On the one side are Muslims who believe their holy book, the Koran, was a direct order from God for all time through the words of his Messenger, Muhammad, and that all people should accept the Shari'ah law from Moses as the form of eternal governance. On the other side are Christians who believe their holy book, the Bible, should not be used as the basis for governing under the rule of law because the rules set down by Moses are no longer appropriate and they can do it better themselves, thank you very much. Within the two camps there are extremists on both sides striving toward mutual annihilation of each other on the basis of their faith. Reason, alone, might conclude that both sides are insane because the holy books, the Koran and the Bible, themselves cannot withstand tests of logic and empirical history. Reading either of them with an open mind should be enough to disqualify them from rational discourse as evidenced by the wide varieties of interpretations that both have elicited. If the Koran and the Bible both negate the other, how can their devotees declare either one to be the Word of God? But, faith is not based on rational discourse, now is it? Speaking of suicide bombers, Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13.)
One of the most powerful reasoned disqualifications of revealed religion was penned by Thomas Paine in his classic titled, Age of Reason in 1795. He was condemned for his irrefutable reasoning and logic. Scholars estimate that the Gospels in the New Testament were written six or more decades after the death of Christ. So, the unknown writers who quoted the words of Christ were likely not even alive during his lifetime. They certainly were not present to record any of his private conversations, even his prayers. It must all be hearsay, anecdotes, metaphor, parable, allegory and symbolism - like any work of fiction. Modern theologian and Episcopal Bishop, John Spong seems to agree. Indeed, until invention of the printing press and the protests of Martin Luther, people depended upon priests for their information about Christ. Why are Christian devotees so intellectually infantile? Paine rattled so many cages of faith with his logical critique of the Bible that only six people attended his funeral even though he had been honored for writing pamphlets that helped spur the colonies toward the war for independence from King George. His body was disinterred and pieces of it were spread throughout Europe. It seems that most people of faith just walk away from logical reasoning that would threaten their security blanket...or source of income. This does not mean that the message should be thrown out with the messenger. Indeed, Jesus allegedly said that it takes the faith of a child to see the Kingdom of Heaven. Like a child who sits on the lap of Santa Claus with that look of awesome anticipation of prizes under the tree on Christmas morning, while the parents stand by fretting over how they will ever pay for it all. Still, generation after generation of otherwise reasonable parents stand in the line to be sure their tots have that experience in spiritual luminance. It happens so it must be necessary.
That observation leads to the conclusion that faith and reason, though mutually exclusive, must both be necessary or they could not mutually co-exist...even though they cause wars and rumors of wars. Wars are very profitable for international bankers and the stockholders of defense contractors. Wars stimulate more and more efficient weapons of mass destruction of ever more complexity and cost. People get caught up in the glory of wars, and young people get to accomplish things not possible in civilian life. The technology of war is exciting until you actually serve in combat. Someone said there are no atheists in foxholes. War ironically enables the finest loyalty and brotherhood among members of fighting units even as they endeavor to destroy enemy fighting units. General George S. Patton said, "You don't win a war by giving your life for your country; you win by making the other [soldier] lose his life for his country." In combat, the survival of the unit becomes more important than self preservation. Having served and survived, it would be immoral to forget, and it is impossible to describe it to one who was never there. If there is not one, people seem to create wars or some substitute like organized competitive violent sports, and in the worst case criminal gangs, so they can have some heroes to worship or some combat unit to vicariously support. Imagine life if all those fans were fighting wars among each other instead of rooting for their teams. But there is an opposing drive among individuals that wants to protect and aid victims in distress, although it is a faint voice of faith crying in the wilderness, "feed my sheep."
What force is it that makes all this so? Are wars and criminal murders the way in which God continually prunes his creation of Homo sapiens? Now, that is a serious question which is posed and discussed in Voices of Sedona. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - In the early days of radio there was a popular weekly mystery show that began with that opening query, followed by...."the Shadow knows"...invoking its mythical hero....sort of like the modern Spider Man and Batman and such. There seems to be a naturally endowed element of Homo Sapiens that brings out their worst and their stupidest. Here are just a couple current news examples that would be hilarious if they were not so serious.
An administrative law judge...presumably with a law degree...in the nation's capital is suing a lowly Korean family that operates his neighborhood dry cleaners for losing one of his pants. It seems he left them with a suit for alterations back in May 2005 and they somehow got misplaced so were not available to him as scheduled. The owners subsequently located the pants, but he claimed the full value of the suit at $1,000. Although they made three offers of restitution up to $12,000 the good judge rejected them all and sued for damages under the consumer protection law of the District of Columbia. According to his calculations damages now amount to $65 million, based upon fines of $1,500 per day added up from 12 violations over 1,200 days multiplied by the three family defendants. His case turns upon promises posted on the walls that proclaim, " Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service." First, it is interesting the he did not accept the offer of restitution which amounted to twelve times his claim for the suit, and second, that some attorney finds it perfectly sane to file the lawsuit. The family is so shocked they are thinking of returning to their native Korea. What is more interesting is that many bloggers are offering them bon voyage and good riddance.
In another actual case, a young healthy man aged 29 enrolled for a 30 day survival course in the southwest desert that required him to test his physical and mental reserves to the limit of endurance and beyond. On the second day of a forced march, with no drinking water, he became so dehydrated before the group could reach a watering hole that he collapsed and died while his guides and teammates only watched. By the way, the guides were carrying water for emergencies but they never offered him any, even after he mistook a tree for a person, because they did not want him to "fail the course." Noting that the victim signed official waivers of liability for his demise, the trekking outfitter says that he "assumed the risk of serious injury or death prior to participating." (Sort of like joining the army.) Family members who lost their relative are understandably angry. His brother lamented, "I don't have my brother anymore because no one would give him any water."
The daily news is full of stories like these if you look for them. They can make you wonder if there is any hope for survival of the species Homo sapiens. People obviously are controlled by forces that they do not control that often make no sense. You might discover an explanation for them in Voices of SedonaĘif you are ready. Buy it at Barnes & Noble book stores or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - The fact is that nobody knows. Nobody knows. Nobody. People need to overcome natural anxiety about the unknown so they try to create certainty out of uncertainty. So there are plenty of people with opinions and even beliefs. But a belief is not a fact unless there is irrefutable evidence for its truth. Unfortunately, truth changes with the available evidence. And that depends upon the authority of the source. What is amazing about Homo sapiens is how they grant authority to so many different sources that vary with time and situation. Up until Galileo proved them wrong in 1610, leaders of the Catholic church had people believing that Earth was the center of the solar system with the Sun moving around it. It seemed to be obvious when one observed the sun emerging from the East and setting in the West every day. The same people thought that Earth was a flat plain that you could fall off of if you roamed beyond the foreseeable horizon. No one could explain why the horizon was always some ways off until explorers proved one could get to the east by going west.
It is commonly known that Christopher Columbus captained the first expedition to reach central America in 1492 and established the first colony for Spain on Hispaniola (Dominican Republic) on two subsequent trips. It may not be well known that his fourth and last voyage in 1500-1505 ended in disaster and disgrace, when he gave up his dream of reaching Asia by an ocean passage. After surviving the mutiny of his crew, losing all four ships to tropical rot, and being marooned on Jamaica, he had to pay for his own passage back to Spain. He died in 1506 while saying a prayer to God. It was another explorer from Florence named Amerigo Vespucci who would get to see his name inscribed on maps of the "New World." It was Magellan who sailed all the way around South America and found the way to Asia across the Pacific ocean. The rest is history. The point is that after you die, things still happen and life goes on, and on...with alternating pleasure and pain, suffering and struggle, success and failure, birth and death, as the Buddha discovered. "Birth will end in death, youth will end in old age, meetings will end in separations, gain will end in loss, all things are transient, impermanent. Everything comes to pass and nothing comes to stay. Life begins with breathing in and ends with breathing out."
When it comes to where we go after we die, there are many variations of opinions based in religions of varying origins. Many people are given to believe that death is not complete extinction but rather a transition from one form to another as in matter to energy. Most religions of Asia claim that life is for learning and it goes on in many forms of reincarnation until one reaches a level of development or enlightenment where one attains Nirvana and further lifetimes are unnecessary. In Western religions there are varying beliefs in an eternal reward in supernatural Heaven or punishment in Hell for behaving according to a code of conduct ...or not. The codes usually are delivered by some mysterious man granted sacred status by his followers who claims that he got them directly from God, or not God as in Buddhism, usually a male form of energy left over from the time when people believed that men planted a seed in women to procreate the species. It was plainly obvious until someone discovered the eggs inside of women. Educated people now believe that we come from fertilized eggs...just like chickens. But, God is assumed to be beyond human understanding so that conveniently makes it a source beyond challenge or even logic. As in, "you better behave or God will send you to Hell." Perhaps morality was best defined by Ernest Hemingway, "What is moral is what you feel good after," so let your conscience be your guide. But, religious beliefs can change. The Catholic church recently changed its belief about where unbaptized infant babies go when they die. Although they apparently still are born in sin, no longer must they be baptized to avoid lingering in Limbo or Purgatory for purification, according to the Pope. Who knew???
The fact is that where we go when we die (if there is any we left) is among the unknowables in life, and the Vatican librarian observed that "even God cannot know the unknowable." Awareness of the unknowables leads necessarily to anxiety of indefinite uncertainty, and maturity leads to tolerance for anxiety and uncertainty. Perhaps, if we are so gifted by God, we will approach the ultimate unknowable with the mindset expressed by William Ernest Henley in his famous poem titled Invictus; "Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid." Ponder that belief for a while. When you are ready, you can read more in Voices of Sedona. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or order online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Tragedies often occur that are attributed to acts of God if they seem to be outside of human control. Typical are weather and geological events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, Earthquakes, floods, fires, droughts and such. Sometimes included are accidents among humans that seem to have no intentional precedents. This distinction presupposes that some events are man-made and some are not. It also presumes that Homo sapiens have some control over their actions sometimes and sometimes not. That assumption raises many issues and questions that have plagued philosophers forever. Deciding which is which is left up to the courts of law. Thinking people such as American revolutionary patriot, Thomas Paine, have chosen reason over faith to explain human events. But that approach leads to even more questions as it did in his essay titled Age of Reason in which he debunks the Bible. Among such questions could be the following, in no particular order.
If the Bible is the Word of God how come it is so flawed historically and is so factually inconsistent and self contradictory. (Take Genesis Chapter 4 for example.) If the God of creation is only completely good, why must people suffer and struggle so much with disease and calamities? If sin causes all the troubles of man why did the all knowing all powerful creator include sin in his creation? If he did not, then where did it come from? If sin comes only from Satan and not God then who created Satan? If all people are born in sin (except Jesus and his mother Mary) where is free will? Why did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden in the first place? (Genesis 2:9) If Jesus came to save sinners why did he teach them in parables so that "they may not understand lest they should be converted and their sins be forgiven them." (Mark 4:12) Are some people destined by God to miss out on his blessings?
Why does the universe seem to include a dichotomy in all things like sweet and sour, hot and cold, light and dark, rich and poor, sick and well, life and death, faith and reason, etc. Why must one form of life eat another, sometimes while they are still alive, in order to survive? Why are people made to equally desire health, wealth, and happiness, but also made to so unequally attain them? If all peoples are created equal why is their power so unequally distributed with the few controlling the many? Why is religion the cause of more wars and atrocities than of peace and brotherhood? (Take a look at the historical conditions within the Roman Catholic Church that motivated German monk Martin Luther to initiate the Reformation in 1517. The Bible then was available only in Latin to educated priests sworn to obedience to the Pope. But King James and the printing press changed all that. Consider now the role of Islam in world conflicts. If you doubt that God destroys his own creation, interview some of the disabled troops at Walter Reed Hospital returning from Iraq sans limbs and the refugees of Darfur or the AIDS orphans in Africa. Jesus said he came not to bring peace but a sword even though he also taught passivism.)
If the ten commandments were given to Moses by God, why did the prophets and judges of Israel add hundreds more rules to their code of behavior? Jesus taught to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's," but why did he provide no instructions on reconciling the two? Why did God prevent people from collaborating by creating so many different languages? Why are people created to believe in things that are unbelievable and to achieve growth, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual, only by suffering and struggle? What is a belief and what relationship has it with reality? Who is it that believes?
If all actions are driven by thoughts, where do thoughts come from and why? If you think you control your own thoughts you might have another think coming. (Who is the "you" doing the thinking?) Try this Zen meditation experiment. Sit quietly with your eyes closed; concentrate on your breathing and during each exhale count backwards from 50. If your mind wanders off into thinking just begin again. Buddhists claim this is like cleaning off a blackboard in school so the teacher can write a new lesson on it, or beginners mind. You can feel the energy shifting into a deeper and more mysterious space - and you are quite fascinated yet also frightened by the unknown. Western minds do not like new ideas if they make them feel uncomfortable or insecure or refute accepted assumptions. If something springs into your thoughts that surprises you, don't push it away but rather just pay attention. Faith in God will find the best way to nudge you along as you strive for that growth which arises through discomfort. Few people can complete the counting to zero in one attempt before involuntary thoughts intrude like a river flowing past. If you cannot control your thoughts or the organs and genetics of your body, why do you think you control anything at all? Could it all be in the stars as astrologers have been claiming for centuries? Or are we all just the acts of God?
Think about this. Who is it that owns "my body," and "my mind," and "my soul." If one stops the pursuit of health, wealth, and happiness even momentarily questions such as these pop up. But, where do they come from? Where are the answers? Why bother? When the student is ready a teacher comes. Five of them arrived in Voices of Sedona. Get your copy at Barnes & Noble or order online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - You cannot reason with a person who is under the influence of faith. In fact, such a person has lost the power to reason. Those sections of the ten billion or more neuron cells in the human brain that perform the functions of logic apparently are disabled when faith takes over. As such, people of faith should not be judged for that which they do not control. Nowadays, anyone claiming to speak with God might be labeled as schizophrenic. How else can a reasonable person explain the strange ways of faith?
Let's see. There was that fellow named Joseph Smith, Jr. who claimed that he got a message from an angel named Moroni in the form of some golden tablets he found hidden someplace up in New York that he translated into the Book of Mormon. He claims to have eight eye witnesses who saw the tablets, but they vaporized after he completed the translation. His experience quickly was accepted by a small group of followers that has grown into the international Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
There was an illiterate camel driver named Muhammed in Arabia whose life was interrupted by strange revelations that occurred over a period of years while he meditated in a cave for relaxation. His wife encouraged him to share what he was given to others and soon there developed enough converts to defend his faith and to conquer a large part of the world for Islam. They regard Muhammad as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, which they claim became distorted over time either in interpretation, in text, or both. Islam devotees are required to observe Five Pillars, which unite Muslims into a social community no matter their nationality. In addition, Islamic law (Sharia) has developed into a system of rules that direct virtually all aspects of life and society for Muslims as it was in the day of Moses.
But, that's not all. Also, there was a fellow named Noah who was instructed by God to build an ark and collect two of each species and enough supplies to survive a flood of such proportions to kill all the sinful members of his race. The Old Testament then describes how God told Abraham directly that he was selected as patriarch of a tribe of unremarkable nomadic people to obtain special favors if they obeyed the rules laid down for them. Ten Commandments were given to them by a subsequent leader named Moses, who claimed he received them directly from God on a set of stone tablets that got broken and eventually were lost in history. The remnant of the chosen people seemed to have lost favor with God because they were scattered among the nations and were nearly exterminated by Nazi Germany. Under prodding by Pres. Truman, the United Nations granted them the special favor in 1947 of reoccupying the land they claimed that God staked out for them in the present nation of Palestine, renamed Israel. Naturally, the current Arabic inhabitants are resisting this Jewish invasion just as they did the first time. The U.S. support of Israel is a primary cause of the ongoing Arabic Muslim terrorism. Leaders on both sides have been assassinated for trying to make peace. All in God's will of course.
Finally, God, who could not prevent Homo sapiens from self destruction through disobedience after two attempts, came himself into the world through the womb of a virgin to save them. Thus the Father was also the Son and vice versa. We could just as easily assume that God felt such remorse after creating a world of necessary suffering that he assumed the life of a human being and suffered death by crucifixion as the supreme act of atonement and reconciliation to earn the forgiveness of his creation. Of course, he had to return from death after crucifixion or God would be dead. But, if he really wanted to shake things up afterward, why not appear to the Jewish and Roman leaders or do a little lecturing in the Temple? Then maybe the Jews would have accepted him as their Messiah. Faith in this son of a carpenter named Jesus (called Christ) made God on Earth was so powerful his followers readily accepted death by sword and lion in order to preserve their faith after his death. The clincher for them was his promise to return again to collect all of the faithful, living and dead, and commune with them forever in the Kingdom of Heaven, which they apparently believed was above the visible sky. Never mind that an abrupt removal of all born-again Christians now would leave those left behind totally unable to conduct any form of functioning economy. Reason would conclude they could not survive more than a few weeks with every process of normal life terminated by the absence of all those Christians. Only the Asian countries might survive because they have so few Christians among their populations. Obviously, the expected "rapture" of the church is full of imagination and myth without much reason to support it. Indeed, the Book of Revelation would be considered science fiction among today's literature, and Muhammad would be diagnosed a schizophrenic. But, people still believe.
Beyond these beliefs billions of people believe in the many gods of Hinduism and the nogods of Buddhism. The miracle of faiths such as these and all the others is not that they exist, but that so many people believe in them and are willing to die for them. How can a reasonable person with neurons intact reconcile all these divergent and imaginary beliefs that are causes of ongoing suffering and struggles among Homo sapiens? The Voices of Sedona may supply the answer. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Medical research professionals know that a force beyond scientific measure can enable some patients to experience the same healing effects from a sugar pill as from their exotic chemical potions. This effect was discovered by army surgeons during WWII when they found that injections of saline solution often reduced pain among the wounded as well as morphine. Often the healing results obtained, called the placebo effect, are similar to the real thing. What is there about the human mind that imparts so much power to the mere suggestion by a doctor that some pill or solution will produce healing results? No one would consciously grant the power of chemical medicines to a sugar pill or salt water, so there must be some form of unconscious power at work in the placebo effect.
The power of subliminal suggestion by an authority figure was discovered by Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) in the form of what he called "animal magnetism" and others later called mesmerism. The evolution of Mesmer's ideas and practices led James Braid (physician) (1795-1860) to develop hypnosis in 1842. Jean Charcot brought it to modern investigative scientific study, and Yale professor Clark Hull's work in the 1930s did much to develop a scientific understanding of it. Today, the study of hypnosis is closely tied into mind-body medical science. Hypnosis happens when a state of mind is achieved in which suggestions by an authority figure alter someone's awareness, memory, or thinking in a way that the hypnotized person responds to the alteration as if it were reality. The popular form that is sometimes used as staged entertainment actually demonstrates its effectiveness and power. Hypnosis is not a form of sleep, but of concentration that bypasses the usual critical or evaluative activities of the mind to get control of the unconscious mind. Thus, a doctor who says that a sugar pill will work as well as the real thing often is believed with similar results.
Most studies suggest that about 25% of people can be easily hypnotized, while about 20% just won't allow it. The hypnotizable person is more often the one who gets totally caught up in a movie or TV show - they can block off what's happening around them, suspend their disbelief, and enter into the scene as if it were real and happening in their presence. Those who practice Asian meditation techniques also find it easier to enter hypnosis - they're used to being in a concentrative state where universal energy can be tapped as in being one with God. Mass hypnotism also could be the source of power by television and movie icons who exhibit destructive lifestyles which influence youths and mass media televangelist ministers who also mesmerize audiences with their "spiritual" powers at religious conferences. The same forces are at work there as at mass rock music concerts.
So, when you make decisions or act out your lifestyle, are you acting consciously or are you merely reacting unconsciously to stimuli your brain does not distinguish from reality? Who or what actually is in control of your thinking and actions? Is there really some form of undiscovered energy available between people that creates forces of both attraction and repulsion? If this question intrigues you, perhaps you will be enlightened by the Principles of Theofatalism in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - The purpose of capitalism may not be what you think. It is not to assure the greatest wealth for the largest number of people. It is not to assure the maximum freedom for individuals. It is not to assure equality of treatment under the law. It does not assure impartial courts. It is not to assure the broadest advancement and distribution of health, wealth, and happiness. It is not to assure that free market forces will determine supply and demand through an independent pricing mechanism. It is not to assure that the population will have equal access to education and capital. It does not protect the weakest from the unlimited greed of the strongest. It does not assure world peace. In short, as observed by Sir Winston Churchill, capitalism is the worst form of society on Earth, except for all the rest.
What capitalism does most effectively is convert luxuries into necessities. It will and must mutate wants into needs in order to make more money. Capitalism must replace gadgets with new gadgets at an accelerating pace because that is the only way to induce people to keep buying at a profit. Whether in the home, school, hospital, factory, or farm capitalism assures that present methods soon will be made obsolete by new methods. And when they tire of things to make they focus on things to do, as in vacations and entertainments. So recreation becomes a goal in itself among capitalists. There is something upside down in a culture that pays its entertainers hundreds of times more than its teachers. Are you thinking Roman Empire? While primitive societies of Homo sapiens still are living on Earth in the stone age freely as hunters and gatherers, Homo sapiens living under capitalism are stressed by the need to recycle their lifestyles several times during a single generation. They must produce and consume ever faster to keep up or they will be left behind in the rush to own and employ all the latest gadgets available.
Capitalists are driven by discontent and thus populate the most rapidly changing nations on Earth. Their forte is to expand the envelope of discontent continually, whether in medical technology, construction, food production, or instruments of war. Especially instruments of war. Their goal is ever higher profits above all else to support the insatiable greed of the investor class. Corporation executives in capitalism get paid exorbitantly for increasing the market value of company stocks, while the pay and benefits of the workers are determined by competitive international forces which push costs toward the lowest common denominator worldwide. And, nowadays, the free trade agreements of the global economy make it easy to send money across national borders, so capitalists can run a business anywhere in the world where maximum profits can be made from lowest cost labor. Investors love it, but workers suffer. Labor unions that used to provide some protection for domestic workers no longer have the ability to keep the lowest cost producers from shipping goods to U.S. store shelves. Theoretically, capitalism should assure consumers the lowest prices but they need to have comparisons to make choices that don't always exist. In fact, monopoly is a goal of capitalists. Makes you wonder who is running things, doesn't it.
Since capitalists don't wait for evolution of consciousness to catch up, the gap between gadgets and their owners widens with time. Have you noticed the ever increasing cost of throw-away items that are not repairable? The operation of more complex devices has been dumbed down so that average people can use them. Computerized cash registers operated by low income retail clerks that calculate change, manage inventory, restock shelves, make accounting entries, and report customer preferences automatically are cases in point. And, who can live without the latest cell phone these days or work without the Internet? Unfortunately, change is not always progress. The Internet has brought many undesirable and illegal activities into real time. Being unregulated, anyone with the skill and money can post anything and call it truth, and many people believe it. Do a google search on "the truth about Lincoln" and see what that means. It also has enabled people with little to no capital or business training to become rich overnight. But the evolution of average human brains develops at a much slower pace than capitalist societies can integrate, sort of like pulling on a brick with a rubber band. People who cannot keep up are assigned to a growing population of the underclass. Only a lucky few are so blessed by God that they can rise above their boundaries and enter the investor class. Then they too become capitalists who want to convert luxuries into necessities to make ever increasing profits.
Capitalism has enriched many people because they got a better idea and found the money to pursue it. They all needed help from quarters they did not control, bankers and buyers for example, but few will admit they could not do it all by themselves. Money controls government, and them that has the gold makes the rules. More people are becoming dependent upon investments in corporations for their long term security, but the risks are not shared evenly. Most company stock is controlled by a single person or a few executives who look out only for themselves. Few public stockholders actually have a role in running the business. The Earth appears to be a closed system with limited reserves of fossil fuels, minerals, and metals that compose the basis of all consumer products. As they play out, as they eventually will, capitalism may become less and less effective at supplying products priced so people can buy them at a profit. The stress on continuous increases in human productivity, i.e. earning more and more per hour of labor, eventually could break the system, and competition for survival of the fittest may revert to tribal warfare among cave dwellers fought with sticks and stones. Corporation executives may talk about conservation of natural resources because it is politically correct, but rest assured they will do nothing that depletes corporate profits and disappoints investors unless forced to do so.
If your brain is feeling the stress of capitalism run amuck, perhaps you could find some comfort in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside not matter what happens outside.
34. Of junkyards, garbage dumps, cemeteries...and entropy.
Sedona says - Wikipedia describes the concept of entropy as central to the second law of thermodynamics, which deals with physical processes and whether they occur spontaneously. Spontaneous changes tend to smooth out differences in temperature, pressure, density, and chemical potential that may exist in a system. Entropy is thus a measure of how far this smoothing-out process has progressed. Left alone, a cup of hot or cold water will eventually assume the temperature of the surround. In terms of statistical mechanics, entropy describes the number of the possible microscopic configurations of the system. The concept of entropy has been adapted in various fields of study, including information theory, psychodynamics, thermoeconomics, and evolution.
All the above means simply is that material elements that undergo a change from their natural state always endeavor to return to their natural state or equilibrium. Since all materials originate in natural states of Earth, they naturally want to return to their original homes, and they will not deviate from that state without imposition of some external force. Application of such a force requires that energy must be converted from its static to its dynamic state. Since energy itself can neither be created nor destroyed, the material content of Earth appears to be a constant even though Homo sapiens have learned how to change the form of materials temporarily by application of energetic forces. If nations did not use so much force to preserve their artificial sovereignty and geographic boundaries, it might be interesting to see how long it would take for them to unify into a homogeneous world. Nevertheless, all Earthen materials return eventually to their original state. From dust to dust as it were. That is why there are junkyards and garbage dumps. Some things that are broken cannot be fixed.
But what about cemeteries? The unsolved mystery is the source of the force that creates and sustains life, the conversion of inanimate to animate. Aside from that, human bodies are composed of a few naturally occurring materials, mostly water and a few minerals, and they too adhere to the law of entropy. God admonished man in Genesis 3:19... "...from dust that art and to dust thou shall return." In fact, all forms of life including plant, animal, and human are composed of the very same Earthen materials packaged in their own unique ways temporarily as depicted in chemical formulas. It seems that the cycle of birth and death among Homo sapiens is related somehow to all other Earthen cycles. This idea could be expressed by a model called a "mobius." A mobius can be made easily by taking a paper strip about six inches long and half inch wide and giving it a half-twist, and then gluing the ends of the strip together to form a single strip. The resulting circular strip has only one edge and one side. Try it. If you travel around an edge or a surface of a mobius, you always end up where you started. The mobius construct is used to create a continuous audio/video recording tape. Another useful model for this concept is the labyrinth as opposed to a maze. The labyrinth has only one destination and one pathway to it as well as one path to its origin.
Is life a maze or a labyrinth...or a mobius? Are life and death merely transitions from dust to dust, one state of entropy to another, all seeking equilibrium? If this topic interests you, perhaps you are ready to read Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble book stores or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - If things could be different they would be. One life story illustrates that idea implicitly. Only three miles from Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington, there is a little known and seldom visited historic preservation site that was the home of Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis (1779-1851) and her husband, Lawrence Lewis. It is called Woodlawn Plantation. Nelly was the adopted granddaughter of Martha. She was raised as a member of the presidential household after premature death of her father, and at age 20 she married the president's widowed nephew twelve years her senior who was engaged as his private secretary. Washington gave the couple 2500 acres and plans for a mansion plus his distillery as a wedding gift in 1799 a few months before he died.
After a youthful life of ease with the best education available in Philadelphia and suitors galore at party after party in New York, Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, Nelly became the mistress of a struggling farm and soon learned that life often takes a turn for the worse and then gets even moreso. By age thirty four, Nelly had birthed eight children, seven of whom she was to bury along with her husband before she died. The "vile Virginia clay soil" at the farm was not very productive for fruits and vegetables needed to feed her family and the two score slaves needed to run the operation, so her life was full of struggle and suffering. Not to mention that of the slaves.
Nelly retained a close friendship with Elizabeth Bordley Gibson of Philadelphia whom she met at school, and the two corresponded regularly throughout their lives. Elizabeth violated her promise to destroy the letters from Nelly and so a complete one-sided history of their correspondence exists in Beautiful Nelly, compiled by historian Patricia Brady. In her letters, Nelly (who wished to be called Eleanor after she married) chronicled her interests in the social connections initiated by her status in the first first family that were eroded and eventually lost to the cares of her new life. Throughout her life she expressed her preference for the bright society of Philadelphia, and between the lines one can sense her disappointments and griefs for the life and children that she lost. Several times she lamented her situation to Elizabeth, who married late and well, and remained childless in contrast. "My friend, in never having been a Mother, you cannot conceive a Mother's trials...I have often told you, my dearest friend, that you were happier in being without those precious objects of devoted affection which bind our hearts to Earth, & altho sources of happiness, are also sources of most heartrending anxiety & overwhelming affliction."
After her husband died, Woodlawn was sold and Eleanor fell onto even worse times. She lived with her widowed daughter-in-law at Audley Farm near Berryville, VA far from Parke in Louisiana, her surviving beloved daughter whose husband hated her and refused to let them visit for fifteen years. Her remaining son, Lorenzo died suddenly at age 43.
Of a young love that never flowered, in her last year Eleanor recalled to Elizabeth a youthful suitor in Philadelphia as follows: "I recall him to my mind now when only 18, how handsome, how healthy, how witty & how agreeable he was. He gave me a beautiful ode on my 15th birthday and altho I committed it to the flames just before I married & never copied it it has never been forgotten. I can repeat it now perfectly. I certainly should have loved him had I not been too happy and gay to be susceptible." Eleanor approached death "very deaf." She was partially paralyzed by a stroke and felt "useless and helpless with no hope of being better...my knees are very weak and I totter when I attempt to stand or move without my cane." Her "rolling chair" was a blessing. Through all her suffering and struggle, Eleanor maintained her belief in a higher power and felt "most grateful to the Almighty for all his mercies." She died on July 15, 1852 and lies buried with her beloved Grandmama and Grandpapa at Mt. Vernon. Her home at Woodlawn awaits the tourists who seldom come, which may be a good thing.
Perhaps you also might wish that some things could have been different in your life. Gravity does not care whether you acknowledge it or not. And neither do the Principles of Theofatalism. But, perhaps you can find some accommodation to What Is in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Our planet will not live forever. Life on Earth is totally dependent upon energy from the Sun and, that too, will not live forever. Scientists have figured out that the hydrogen fuel of the Sun will be consumed by its nuclear fusion reaction in about six billion Earth-years. Never mind how it got started in the first place. The Sun is not large enough to condense into a black hole so as it shuts down, it will collapse inward creating immense heat that instantly will begin burning up its helium. As the helium burns more rapidly it will explode into a giant ball that will engulf the orbits of the nearby planets, including Mars and Earth. Earth will be consumed like a twig in a fireplace, and the remaining small nugget remaining of the Sun will float into space cooled to a small burned out cinder. Believe it or not.
More easily imagined is the phenomenon of a total solar eclipse. This event is observed at any place on Earth about once every three hundred years as the moon assumes a position in direct line between Earth and Sun. It turns out that the ratio of the size of the moon to the sun is 400:1, the same as the ratio of its distance to Earth and the Sun. That is why the small moon can seem to blot out the much larger Sun completely. These planetary events are not mere curiosities because they are impacting Earth as you read this. Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, and solar winds, flairs, and corona storms affect life on Earth more than you know. Coronal mass ejections bring intense radiation storms that can disable solar powered satellites or cause cancer in unprotected astronauts. Scientists predict that solar storms likely will peak during the current cycle, which began about 1859, around 2012, bathing the Earth in enormous clouds of radiant energy and impacting the magnetic field of Earth in unpredictable ways. It is curious that the calendar dating by the Maya of Central America from five thousand years ago or more ends exactly on December 21, 2012. The ancient astronomers obviously thought that date marked the end of something. What comes then will be interesting to observe by Homo sapiens living at that time.
In addition to these conditions known to exist between the Sun and the Earth, what possible unknown conditions might exist between all the unimaginable bodies in the Universe? Of all the undetected asteroids spiraling around our solar system, how many might impact Earth with total devastation such as the one thought to have destroyed all the dinosaurs and many other species about 60 million years ago? Scientists believe one or more of them is on a collision course with our planet and could impact as soon as April, 2036. Who knows if the ancient astrologers were not correct in their assumptions about the impact of planetary forces upon the lives of human beings? It appears to archeologists that ninety-nine percent of species that have occupied the Earth have come and gone, so perhaps shall the end come for the current species Homo sapiens. So as you prepare for sleep tonight, think about the fact that you have completed one more day in your finite life and one less day remains in the uncertain life of the solar system and planet Earth.
Considering the average life span of Homo sapiens compared with the remaining lifespan of the Sun, you might be more interested in how you will spend the former than the latter. That prospect is the concern of Voices of Sedona. If you are curious, you can buy a copy at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside not matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - There is a dialogue in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll as follows: "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less. The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be the master - that's all." Indeed. Isn't that the basis of wars? The meaning of words changes with time and the social context, so there is no absolute definition of anything, except by the use of other words which change with time and context. Since words with variable meanings are used in scriptures made sacred there is little wonder that translations become interpretations, the reason why there is no end to arguments about the meaning of sacred texts. When you attempt to translate ancient words into modern usage, the original meaning is totally obscured. In just one example, the original Hebrew word "nphish" is translated into at least forty-four different English words in the Kings James Bible, although its original meeting might have been spirit. A list of the Biblical occurrences of "psuche," thought to be the Greek word for soul, in many different forms also proves the point. The Greek word for "will," as in the will of God, is translated into at least ten different words in the King James Bible. As a result of such confusion, each one interprets to suit his inclination, according to his given system of theology and contemporary use of words. Some concepts are unexplainable in words. Just try to describe a bicycle to someone verbally without using a picture of it. When Job laments, "My soul is weary of my life," who is the possessor of soul and life speaking? (Job 10:1) Words cannot explain such things.
The Bible says that there was a time when all people spoke the same language, estimated beginning some 40,000 years ago according to anthropology. They got cocky and tried to build a tower all the way up to Heaven to see what it was like. But God stopped them and confused their languages lest "..nothing will be restrained from which they imagined to do." Therefore, the name of it is called Babel and the people were scattered abroad upon the Earth. (Genesis 11:4-9). The master has spoken and it is so. But that is not the end of the story. The earliest written language seems to date back to 4,000 B.C. in the land of Sumeria, presently southern Iraq. From there they spread throughout both east and west. Not only are nationalities and cultures separated by languages, but within societies the use of words varies within groups and according to education and preferred usage. To make it even more interesting every society seems to have words that are acceptable and unacceptable. Dirty words are used in states of emotional arousal and distress when the socially approved versions will not suffice to convey the full meaning. Santa is being instructed to go HA HA HA because the more traditional HO HO HO now has degraded the historical profession of prostitutes. Also, new words are continually being created as existing words fail to express the latest developments in human endeavors.
You may never have realized it, but the meaning of words is controlled primarily by the receiver of them and not the sender. Proof of this is in the response that you get. As the brain ages it becomes less able to organize all the words that it has compiled and eventually mental disorders, such as Alzheimers disease and dementia, make communications all but impossible. Now, overlay this situation with the need for translations between languages to engage in commerce and political negotiations and the confusion among Homo sapiens becomes all but insurmountable. In addition, as one progresses through evolution of consciousness words become less and less able to convey the meaning of spiritual matters. Perhaps the ancient Chinese knew this principle when they said, "The tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao." And "The one who speaks does not know, and the one who knows does not speak." But even misdirected silent meditation has no merit according to this ancient Buddhist saying; "Sitting peacefully on a cushion day and night, rejecting life and death in hopes of realizing enlightenment, is all like a monkey grasping at the moon reflected in the water."
It should be pointed out to all Sunday School classes that an actual Word of God does not exist. Only man's feeble attempts to recover the scattered and often mistranslated fragments of writing by ancient scribes and prophets in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin are available. The Nicene Creed, or Symbol of Faith of the Catholic Church, was written by the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325 C.E., with the third paragraph and following added by the first Council of Constantinople (381 C.E.) The final version was accepted by the Church in the year 1014 C.E., and the revision has been part of Catholic doctrine ever since. However, this led to the Great Schism in 1053 C.E. and to this day, the Eastern Orthodox Churches do not accept the Creed and raise this as one of many reasons that prevent re-unification with the Roman Catholic Church. All translations of sacred scriptures contain variations of contemporary interpretation; the venerated King James version of the Bible probably the most numerous.
In part to correct those mistakes, The New International Version ¨ is a completely new translation of the Holy Bible made by more than 100 scholars working directly from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. It took 10 years to complete the NIV translation. The process started in 1968 and finished in 1978. This does not include more than 10 years of planning before 1968. The work was sponsored by the International Bible Society. Nevertheless, arguments about the meaning of scripture will go on forever, all in God's will of course. If there is any truth at all, it probably cannot be put into words. With nothing to prove the truth of scriptures, people are left to live with indefinite uncertainty about the sacred. Are they not?
Spiritualist Abd-ru-shin wrote, "All teachings were at one time willed by God, precisely adapted to the individual peoples and countries, and formed in complete accord with their actual spiritual maturity and receptivity." Revelations such as this are the basis for an awesome set of principles about reality in Voices of Sedona. If you are ready for a giant leap into spiritual awareness, you may buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - According to Wikipedia, an oxymoron (plural oxymora) is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms. Oxymoron is a Greek term derived from oxy ("sharp") and moros ("dull"). Thus the word oxymoron is itself an oxymoron. Oxymora are a proper subset of expressions called contradictions in terms. They are used intentionally for rhetorical effect. The contradiction is apparent as the combination of terms provides a novel expression of some common concept, such as "kindness never goes unpunished, jumbo shrimp, and military intelligence." Therefore, to call law enforcement an oxymoron is an intentional phrase that combines contradictory terms. Think about it.
On the one hand, we are informed by politicians that we are a nation under the rule of law. On the other hand; there always is another hand; it is obvious that law enforcement does not exist because the only way to prosecute a breech of law is after it has been broken. And when laws are flouted or ignored by enough people they become a joke. Take the prohibition of alcoholic beverages that was attempted by an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So many people just ignored the law and supported an underground market for alcoholic beverages that the Constitution was re-amended subsequently in 1933 to undue the prohibition. There are many other obvious examples of laws that cannot be enforced and, thus, are not rules of law at all. Illegal prostitution and illegal drugs are cases in point. Traffic laws are other cases in point. It would take so many cops to apprehend lawbreakers and so many lawyers and courts to prosecute all the cases and so many prisons to house them the nation could not afford it. In some states there are not enough prisons to house all the criminals now so they are set free soon as possible and then commit repeated crimes. Federal laws that require labeling the country of origin on imported food go unenforced because importing companies have successfully delayed implementation. In other cases, legacy laws on the books were based on standards of social conduct that no longer apply and no longer are prosecuted for political correctness. So law enforcement is an oxymoron.
Possibly the most flagrant disregard for the rule of law is the growing mess in illegal immigration. Employers have violated the law since 1952 by hiring poor uneducated migrants for low wages under undocumented conditions without prosecution, and the immigration authorities are so overwhelmed by the flood of illegals crossing the border from Mexico that enforcement is a joke. There are three million Americans in prison for breaking laws, but more than 12 million illegal aliens walk about freely. In addition, Federal law prohibits hospitals from denying medical aid to patients without insurance or the ability to pay. Is that insanity, or what? Mexican leaders love it because they unload some of their poorest who send billions back to aid their families. Neither the Republicans who support their employer constituents who employ illegals nor the Democrats in Congress who foresee a flood of new voting constituents are willing to enforce the existing immigration laws while they debate adoption of new unenforceable immigration laws on the basis of homeland security. Meantime states and localities are making immigration laws and ordinances on opposite sides; some are safe havens for illegals and some want them denied local services. Hazelton, PA saw its population rise by half while its taxable income remained stable from unrestricted immigration. But, there are so many illegals now in the U.S. that deporting them all would shut down business and bankrupt small cities and towns that depend on them. Many have born children here, making them citizens. The result is an illegal invasion that is changing the social fabric, income distribution, and the entitlement liabilities for education, social welfare, and medical care of the United States treasury.
It goes on. The war on terrorism features a new concept in law enforcement: preemptive action taken against a person or persons who are suspected of being or are planning to be terrorists or are or are planning to aid terrorists. In so doing, personal freedoms and the right to privacy are being breached in the name of national security. They call this law the Patriot Act. We expect the government to deliver perfect safety in air travel but we tolerate thousands of deaths each year on the roadways by drunken and reckless drivers with long records of flaunting the law, and the war on illegal drugs is a farce. We pay more to Afghanistan, that helps support poppy farmers, than we do to curtail domestic drug traffic. Determined buyers and sellers seem able to get together no matter how illegal are their transactions.
Everyone does what they do because they assume the benefits are more valuable than the burdens, and when you put 538 people in Congress you get some very strange results. One of the most insane congressional rules is conducting or threatening to conduct the Senate filibuster by the minority party, which only can be terminated by agreement of sixty votes, to prevent voting on a bill that has enough support to pass. In other words, nine Senators can thwart the majority will of the Congress, and if they are beholden to the President he rules. Here is another crazy law enforcement tidbit. The Consumer Product Safety Commission was created in 1973 and authorized a staff of 800 product safety inspectors. Thirty-four years later the agency has only 400 inspectors due to budget curtailments, hardly enough to assure consumer product safety. Another law enforcement oxymoron: five years after the law went into affect to require positive ID for all dock workers at seaport terminals, there still is no such in place. American humorist Will Rogers quipped, "Whenever Congress makes a law it is a joke and whenever it makes a joke it is a law." We can't seem to change it so we better learn how to live with it. Besides, Congress cannot possibly predict accurately the consequences of its actions, and all of its laws are subject to interpretation by the courts. If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress? Insanity exists, so it must be necessary or God would change it. Right?
If you are wondering how and why such nonsensical conditions can persist in the most advanced nation on Earth said to live by the rule of law, so we are told, perhaps you are ready for the principles discussed in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - The release of Dr. Jack Kevorkian from prison for assisting terminally ill people to commit suicide could bring this issue back to the front pages. Euthanizing pets is a common practice to alleviate their suffering but we tolerate human suffering to such a degree that the post traumatic stress on families and survivors takes a lifelong toll which cannot be justified by any reasonable argument. The only possible opposition is based on faith-based belief that assisted suicide is a form of murder, and therefore prohibited by God. Committing suicide voluntarily could land a person in Hell for eternity according to this belief. Faith-based beliefs claim that God never gives anyone suffering beyond their tolerance and suffering provides a form of grace achievable no other way. Since only God can create life, he also should be the final arbiter on death, so they say. If death takes them to Heaven, why do they fear it so? The claims that we are a nation under the rule of law that values freedom above all other values sets up a conflict that will require the wisdom of Solomon to resolve.
In the meantime, the financial and psychological cost of maintaining terminally ill people in a state of suspension for weeks or months or years before death is an increasing burden that will demand a resolution before long. As the baby boomer generation approaches its demise, the cost of sustaining their bodies in acute care past all hope of survival may no longer be sustainable. Until the past century, people just got sick and died. Now, it is possible for medical science to "keep a stone alive" according to one physician. Dysfunctional families and those with unresolved issues of remorse and guilt often are the most ardent in deferring death at all cost. In contrast, people who have lived a good life and reach the end of it are more likely to detach and say goodbye without the wrenching efforts to sustain a beating heart long after its usefulness is past. But, the law is the law, so they say. A reasonable examination of this issue may not be delayed much longer.
The fact is, and doctors know it, that death often is hastened by withholding treatment or administering higher dosages of pain killers, which could be called assisted suicide, as it is. Most states permit people to create a living will and a "do not resuscitate" (DNR) order if it is their wish to avoid extended terminal suffering. Assisting suicide is not specifically illegal in seven states. Unfortunately, the rate of lawsuits for malpractice often induce hospitals to prolong suffering if some family members resist or oppose the final wishes of the patient. In a few high profile cases, a court of law has had to intervene when family members disagree about end of life treatment. Can we, as a society, assume the faith of Alfred Lord Tennyson as he mused about his demise; "Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea..." Will we take up the call of Dr. Kevorkian and let doctors fulfill their oath by first, doing no harm, when prolonging suffering with no hope is the cruelest act of all? Will we grant people their final freedom?
Such issues are the things of Voices of Sedona. Buy your copy at Barnes & Noble or oneline at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - St. Paul was the official organizer for Christianity, as you know. He claimed that he was called by Jesus himself to preach his message to all the gentiles of that age even though he was not one of the original apostles. Sometimes it is difficult to separate his own ideas from those of Christ since we have much more of his writings than teachings by the apostles themselves. One such situation lies in his instruction to "give thanks in all things," as one instance among several throughout his writing that met cares of living with thanksgiving. Mother Teresa also repeatedly instructed to "Take what he gives and give what he takes with a big smile." The Dalai Lama, head of Buddhism, gave a similar instruction as follows: "Let us retire and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; and if we died, well who knows; so, let us be thankful." That was after the Chinese invaded his homeland of Tibet and demolished the Buddhist temples and killed the monks. Seers and sages claim that each situation, no matter how bad, contains something that can be appreciated, and finding it can be the path to inner peace. It is a curious idea for Western thinkers.
If you have been blest with health, wealth, and happiness, giving thanks and smiling might be a reasonable response to the almighty. After all, nothing comes of itself without the necessary participation of many other contributors over whom you have no control. Individuals who are highly successful will admit that it took many others to help make it happen, if they are honest. Only pride, arrogance, and hubris would attribute it all to their own hard work. Many people work hard with little at the end of life to show for it. In fact, results often are not proportional to effort at all. The winner of a race scarcely works much harder than the one who comes in second, or even last for that matter. The owner who enjoys the benefits of a building scarcely works as hard as those who built it. Many times the one who starts something new is upstaged by others who get all the credit and the rewards. But, in the U.S. one of the worst labels one can earn is "loser." Many TV shows popularize the selection of a winner at the expense of many losers. Coming in second scarcely matters at all. Take the lottery for example.
St. Paul also instructed his readers to come before God with thanksgiving before asking for any special favors. This notion seems to be opposite to the voice of Jesus who said that God knows what you need and the first shall be last and the last shall be first. In fact, he admonished everyone to avoid flaunting their blessings in public; "..do not your alms before men to be seen of them, otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 6:1) Anyway, what kind of wishy-washy God would it be who could be persuaded by prayers and supplications or sacrifices to change his plan and reward anyone who asked for their pleasures to be met? While miracles may happen, most people who find their prayers unanswered may be challenging the will of God...and losing. Mother Teresa referred to all the poor outcasts of the world as God's people. He must have loved the poor and rejected ones because he made so many more of them than the healthy, wealthy, and happy ones and continues doing so.
Indeed, how often among Homo sapiens are their basic needs left unmet by their creator and their governing authorities. In addition to wars and blatant genocide, including the annihilation of natives by the invaders of North America after the fifteenth century and the human slavery they employed to help some of them get rich, there also come other forms of devastation such as Hurricane Katrina that destroyed most of the homes and lifestyles of the Gulf Coast. If you are one still living in a FEMA trailer several years later with no hope of rebuilding your home, it might be difficult to find something to be thankful for, as Paul ordered or to smile as Mother Teresa instructed. The mentally ill living in prisons with no hope of treatment can scarcely be thankful, and their smile is more like a grimace. What about the veterans returning from combat in Iraq with missing limbs and destroyed lives? Or the faithful employees of Enron who lost their retirement funds when the company went bankrupt? Or the father who returns home and finds that his wife has drowned their four children in the bathtub? Being thankful in suffering seems to go against human nature...which was formed in the image of God according to the account of creation in Genesis. By the way, Jesus did not abolish slavery or wars or poverty or disease or...well, you get the picture. As to him conquering death, well that remains to be seen. So what is there really to be thankful for or to smile about? Really. Perhaps neither blame nor praise are appropriate for the will of God always wins. Mother Teresa wrote these words to Presidents Bush and Hussein in January, 1991 on the eve of the Gulf War; "I come to you with tears in my eyes and God's love in my heart to plead to you for the poor and those who will become poor if the war that we all dread and fear happens. I beg you [both] with my whole heart to work for, to labor for God's peace and to be reconciled with one another." We all know how that turned out. Perhaps there are appropriate times to be thankful, and maybe not.
When you are ready to challenge religious teachings that make no sense, perhaps you are ready for the Principles of Theofatalism. They are given in Voices of Sedona. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside. Yeah....
Sedona says - What about the growth of stock car racing that has become the largest spectator sport in America? Wikipedia says the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the largest sanctioning body of motor sports in the United States. According to Wikipedia, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 states, Canada, and Mexico. NASCAR holds 17 of the top 20 attended sporting events in the U.S. and has 75 million fans who purchase over $3 billion in annual licensed product sales. Its history is worth knowing because it may show God's will in action.
In the first few decades of the 1900s, Daytona Beach became known as the place to set world land speed records in automobiles. Fifteen records were set there between 1905 and 1935. After the Bonneville Salt Flats became the place to host land speed record attempts in 1936, the Daytona course began hosting stock car racing events. Drivers raced a two mile stretch of beach as one straightaway, and the beachfront highway as the other.
You might not know that early auto racing drivers often were involved in bootlegging. Their profits from running moonshine enabled them to afford the fastest and therefore most expensive cars needed to outrun and evade the police. The runners came to love the fast-paced driving, and spectators got a vicarious thrill out of watching them. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, owners of these first "race cars" watched their profitable moonshine business dry up. Since they had no reason to use them for "runnin' shine" anymore and found themselves with time and money on their hands, many raced their cars for pride and profit.
Mechanic William France, Sr., moved to Daytona Beach from Washington, DC, in 1935 to escape the Great Depression. He was familiar with the history of the area from the land speed record attempts. France entered the 1936 Daytona event, finishing fifth. He took over running the course in 1938 and promoted a few races beforenWorld War II. France got the notion that people would enjoy watching "stock cars" race. Drivers were frequently victimized by unscrupulous promoters who would leave events with all the receipts before drivers were paid. In 1947, he decided stock car racing would not grow without a formal sanctioning organization, standardized rules, regular schedule, and an organized championship. On December 14, 1947, France began talks with some influential racers and promoters at the Ebony Bar in the Streamline Hotel at Daytona Beach which resulted in formation of NASCAR on February 21, 1948. Bill France, Jr. (1933-2007) followed in his father's footsteps to help make the sport a household name.
For more than a quarter of a century, William C. France, Jr. known to the racing world as Bill France, Jr., thrust NASCAR to the top of the professional sporting world. After taking the reins from his father in January of 1972, Bill Jr. used his business talents to take the family business to new heights. Other than the founding of NASCAR itself, Bill Jr.'s appointment to its leadership is probably the most significant event in the history of the sanctioning body. As rule-maker, promoter, ambassador, and salesman, he set the standard by which all other forms of motor sports are measured. He took NASCAR from a regional sport to a national sport, and nurtured its growing popularity on television, culminating in a record-setting $2.4 billion broadcast contract. He handed the presidency of NASCAR to Mike Helton in 2000, and was succeeded by his son, Brian, as the CEO and Chairman of the Board in 2003. As of his induction in 2004 into the racing hall of fame, Bill France, Jr. and his brother Jim were co-vice chairmen of a six-member Board of Directors. He left an estate worth more than one billion dollars.
German philosopher George W. F. Hegel (1770-1831) observed that for anything to happen everything must be in place. Then no force on Earth can prevent the event from happening. If you find this idea intriguing, perhaps you are ready for the Principles of Theofatalism. You can read about them in Voices of Sedona. Buy it from Barnes & Noble and order online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - Cosmologists, people who study the origin, operations, and future of the universe, claim they are getting closer to understanding it all. With modern computers to process complex mathematical models and ever more sensitive instruments mounted in space satellites, they are probing further out into space, which also means looking further back in time. Their goal is nothing less than reconstructing the supposed big bang that started it all from scratch. As one said, the universe appears to be the only free lunch since it literally seems to be something from nothing. While they ponder what might have happened in some instant of time nearly fourteen billion Earth years ago, they also are probing the skies to see what is happening now. In that regard, they have focused on four fundamental forces that seem to be driving everything.
The four fundamental forces seem to be gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and the strong nuclear forces. Albert Einstein began a world wide effort to discover a theory that would integrate and explain all four of these forces. It appears that integration of three of them is nearly possible, but putting them all together into a single theory of everything still seems to be a bit beyond reach of current knowledge. Instruments that could prove the mathematical assumptions are not yet available. New discoveries seem to add mystery to what already is a concept beyond the imagination of average people. The blips of light detected in the starry sky may only be visible remnants of stars that no longer exist in the vast arena of space and time. The Earth seems to be one little planet orbiting a single star among billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of billions of observable galaxies. What is unobservable includes something assumed to be "dark matter" which is necessary to account for the amount of gravity measurable but unaccounted for by the amount of matter that is observable. Dark matter is thought to be ten times the weight of known matter, so a whole new theory of the cosmos may be necessary as more becomes known about it.
There is a fairly well established explanation for the formation, existence, and termination of stars. Throughout the cosmos it appears that all beginnings come with endings. Our own Sun appears to be about half way through its expected life cycle of some ten billion Earth years. How the down side of its inner nuclear fusion reaction will affect Earth can only be modeled by mathematical equations. But cosmologists think it will end in a fiery ball of molten helium gas that will engulf the Earth and incinerate the adjacent planets with it. Whether or not there are any duplicates of Earth in the cosmos is a continuing question of intense speculation.
The biggest mystery of all may be the source and purpose of a fifth fundamental force, the force that initiates and sustains what is called life and its nearest ally called consciousness. Is the species Homo sapiens the only form of life that contemplates the mysteries of the universe and its greatest mystery of all...why does it exist? And what is there about the human brain that wants to know? If such questions bother you, perhaps it is time to buy and read Voices of Sedona. Get it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - curiously, one of the last things spoken by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John was this insertion: "...when you were younger you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hand and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." (John 21:18) This fact of life may be difficult to accept in a nation that prides itself on personal freedom and independence. However, the vast number of people expected to live beyond their healthy years as the generation called "baby boomers" will likely encounter a disabling lifestyle they are scarcely prepared to face. "Life," as the assassinated Beatle John Lennon said, "is what happens while you are making other plans." Anticipating the aging changes may not be pleasant but the old saying, "forewarned is forearmed" could be helpful in avoiding the shock that comes with necessary decline and death.
In a society that is driven by anti-aging marketers selling all sorts of products to prevent or even reverse the inevitable consequences of aging, there are few voices crying in the wilderness to prepare the way for them. Life can be seen in four quadrants of physical, intellectual, relational, and spiritual. All four of them are impacted by the process of aging. The pace and the impact will vary by individual circumstances, genetics, and such but a general model of the evolution of aging is possible. It seems that people tend to move through the four quadrants of development with age. First, they concentrate on developing their physical bodies during youth; second, they focus more on their intellectual development in early adulthood. Third, human development naturally moves into relational feelings among communities of family, work, and neighborhood during midlife and then seeks spiritual growth in the fourth quadrant in later life, as death is integrated with birth and the mystery of what comes after is confronted. These natural phases of life seem to correspond to the observation by psychiatrist Carl Jung that human personality evolves from the senses to the intellect to relationships to intuition. These developments may manifest evolution in growth of the human brain from reptilian, to mammalian, to neocortex, to frontal lobe. With age, degradation in these four quadrants must be accommodated, if not accepted. When dreams of what might be are no longer realistic, people must reduce their expectations to conform with what is possible if they are to be happy. Unhappiness comes from wanting unachievable things. Happiness is wanting what you have. Having what you want is a temporary and fleeting state of being, because new unsatisfied wants continually pop up the longer we live. So it helps to write down all the goals unmet and dreams not seen, and then burn them up to help gain release and detachment from the burdens they represent. Carrying them around and piling them up only leads to despair and depression, a lifestyle all too common in aging.
First goes the physical attributes of youth; in fact, they begin to deteriorate soon after reaching maturity. Cells seem to have an inborn ability to replicate only so many times. Digestion comes with oxidation that depletes cellular health and eventually reduces the desire for food. Ironically, eating modern fast food diets shortens life spans because they are deficient in anti-oxidants contained in fresh fruits and vegetables. Appearances and performance cannot be sustained forever, although proper diet, rest, and exercise can help sustain self esteem. Muscles turn to fat and the shifts in production of hormones testosterone and estrogen make men more feminine and women more masculine as they age. That may explain why older men must whip their libido with Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis to keep up with older women. Eventually, sensory faculties become dull and resistance to chronic illness declines. Next, intellectual faculties are slowed and reduced. Brain cells that die are not replaced and functions of memory and learning decline. Interest in the new and different slowly wanes as discoveries and inventions outpace applications among the aging. The need and the interest in social relationships also changes among family, occupational, and community, as a focus on self preservation emerges with aging and losses of significant others. Whatever consciousness is, it slowly begins to question whether the notion of human free will may be only a cruel joke, the "great big one" played upon us by the Lord of Creation as posited by poet Robert Frost. Losses and reverses drain enthusiasm and motivation as what seemed like attainable goals during youth are merged with disappointments and failures throughout life. Possibly the cruelest aging transitions are dementia and the chronic symptoms of Alzheimers disease that rob people of their personalities. An odd thing about that is afflicted people still crave intimacy and can fall in love anew even though they cannot identify their spouse because the amygdala, seat of emotion, seems to survive longer. People can strive to be active and useful but the end can bring embarrassment and humiliation as independence transitions into gruesome chronic dependency. Eventually something breaks that cannot be fixed.
But, strangely, concern for and interest in non-physical spiritual matters emerges in some aging people with active imaginations as a new development once the end of life becomes anticipated and can be denied no longer. Aging people with a firmly established and unshakable faith-based explanation of things may find comfort among like minded peers in churches and such, although few churches have a ministry specialized on aging. A growing percentage of better educated seniors are questioning long-held beliefs that no longer effectively or accurately explain the observable realities among Homo sapiens and their place in the cosmos. When this happens there is scarcely anywhere to turn for needed comfort and security as religious myths and fantasies give way to realities and actualities with little to replace them but uncertainty and fear. Unless a world view and spiritual belief system develops that accommodates aging transitions, depression and anxiety often are uninvited partners in old age as people realize there are few answers to the "whys" of life, only endless opinions and interpretations. Family and friends may shy away as they observe that aging transitions are contagious...and so they are. Everyone will face them sooner or later.
The fear of death is a powerful influence on our thinking, even if we are not often conscious of it. Our society has a strong need to feel in control of death, even if we must embrace fairy tales and quack cures to gain that sense of control. Many people enjoy the chemicals induced in the brain by experiencing controlled threats to their safety, as on roller coasters and sky diving, so they can feel the rush from fear. The idea that we mostly do not understand and cannot control death is just a message that people do not want to hear. "One cannot look directly at either the sun or death," said La Rochefoucauld in 1665. The message that medical miracles can control death, in contrast, is a message that people do want to hear. So we insist on extreme medical treatments for aging relatives, possibly as proof to ourselves that we care for them, when Hospice palliative care would be far more humane and less expensive. Spending more on medical care at the end of life does not extend mortality much if at all, so perhaps there should be more emphasis on reduced suffering and less on prolonging it.Eventually, medicine runs out of interventions and finally the person/self/energy leaves the body and moves on. It takes special people to help the aged to die without humiliation and embarrassment. If medicine could let go of the need to overcome death, passing might be much less traumatic and more natural for all concerned. After they cure all the diseases, then what will people die of? After all, energy can neither be created nor destroyed so why try to do the impossible and live forever? As for the religious, if Heaven is such a delight, why do so many people resist going there? Perhaps they are given a desire for life that is stronger than their desire for Heaven, all in God's will of course.
People who live to reach this level of discernment may be supported through the transitions in aging by the Principles of Theofatalism. Perhaps they could help when your world is shaken and you realize that it is God who is doing the shaking. You can read all about them in Voices of Sedona. Buy a copy from Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com.
Sedona says - St. Paul described love as an action verb and not a feeling, and stated that without it, "I am nothing..." even though he might have received... "all knowledge, the gift of prophecy, poverty, and faith sufficient to move mountains." He went on to describe these traits of love. "Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, love is not arrogant, love does not brag, does not act unbecomingly, does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice at unrighteousness, bears all things, endures all things, and never fails." Further, in the same passage he noted that "...when I became a man I did away with childish things..." and as between faith, hope, and love, "...the greatest of these is love." ( I Corinthians 13:1-10 New International Version) It seems that Paul had reached a stage of maturity that distinguished love from its childish counterfeit, what often is called "romance." In fact, Jesus said the greatest love was laying down your life for your friends. Love is an action verb that describes unconditional giving, not getting. In some earlier translations of the Bible, love is recast as unconditional charity from the Greek "agape^." In this context, one does not "make love." That is a common phrase that really defines "making babies." Of that, Lord Chesterfield said, "The position is undignified, the pleasure is momentary, and the consequences are abominable." So, let's get these things straight. Sex is not love and love is not sex. One gets sex but gives love. There obviously are forms of love between family members that are not sexually driven...or are there? Sigmund Freud thought that all forms of love hide an unconscious desire for sexual union. Exposing this taboo and letting go of the unconscious desire for the opposite sex parent was the basis of his therapy. Adolescents who do not make this transition often are unable to develop and maintain healthy adult relationships.
It could be that romance is all in your head. Brain scans show that during sexual orgasm the entire neocortex of the brain goes idle. Little wonder it is called "the little death." A google search for "love hormones" discloses research linking feelings of romance with chemicals produced in the hypothalamus, called hormones. Under their spell, the "love hormones," (including phenylethylamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, testosterone and a dash of oxytocin)apparently disable reasoning neurons in the brain, explaining why "love is blind." People in love also exhibit lower levels of serotonin, the same indicator for obsessive-compulsive disorder, and show reduced action among neurons that help distinguish desirable social characteristics. Under the influence of love hormones, people often confuse love with wanting to get laid to bring sperm and egg together, damn the conequences. After all, it is the strongest urge after food and shelter. The hormones make you feel temporarily all nice and gooey towards the object of your desire. Their effect on the body is pretty fast, but their effect on the brain and your emotions is instantaneous.People who research such things estimate that, on average, women potentially have up to ten times the capacity for sexual pleasure as men, maybe to compensate for the pain of childbirth. Some women can reach orgasm just from tickling their nipples, which aids bonding with nursing babies and stimulates ovulation during foreplay.
Female "hysteria," (think horny) was classified as a treatable medical condition up until 1952. One medical author estimated that three-quarters of American women presented symptoms of this malady in the late 19th century. No similar data was found for men. (Don't laugh.) Doctors and midwives were given the cumbersome task of massaging women to orgasm to alleviate it. It was a lucrative business because there was no cure and required repeated treatments. Doctors reluctantly deferred their lucrative services to personal electrical vibrators which many women welcomed soon as these appliances became available in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. Concurrently the diagnosis of hysteria disappeared from medical journals along with the symptoms. Perhaps the vibrator is the main threat to marriage and the family because Gloria Steinem, voice of modern feminism, observed that "a woman [with a vibrator] needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." She finally married at age 66. Maybe the batteries quit.
In contrast, French Philosopher and bachelor Blaise Pascal wrote, "The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing." English philosopher of inductive reasoning Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) observed, "It is impossible to love and to be wise." Could release of this hormone cocktail be the unconscious process by which people "fall in love," an appropriate phrase for losing logical control to the reproductive instinct? A person under control of the flood of sex hormones is said to be in cathexis, or is cathected to the love object. Freud thought of cathexis as sort of an electrical charge which some can feel through orgasm. It is not unlike an addiction so that may be why breakups are so painful. Sex addicts will put their lives in danger to get their next fix, and wars have been fought for a love object. Dr. Helen Fisher, anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, investigated love at first sight...the copulatory gaze...dinner dates...jealousy... intimacy... homosexuality...infidelity...in her four-million-year history of the human species. You cannot read her and still believe in free will, unless it is God's will to so believe in free will. Great addictive romances have driven human history, e.g. Anthony and Cleopatra, Sampson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba, Ronnie and Nancy, Bill and Monica. Under the spell of cathexis people sometimes cross legal and social boundaries and incur international infamy. But the feelings of cathexis often wear off with familiarity, the intellect resumes control, and love becomes a matter of reason. Jesus reasoned love apart from cathexis as follows: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man shall lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13.) Of course, he knew nothing about love hormones or suicide bombers.
No correlations have been found yet between sexual desire and fertility, or orgasm and conception. But, people seem to have a certain quota for release of orgasmic energy, and they strive for that goal until the energy runs out. So where does the power of reproductive choice lie—in the female, in the male, or in the creator of the brain chemicals and receptors among cells in the reproductive organs that drive such mindless behavior? Do we see someone who seems attractive and then get hit by the chemicals, or do the chemicals make someone within sight seem attractive? How do blind people fall in love??? And why do we confuse love with cathexis so hopelessly? Why do we tend to love people who are good to us? Perhaps the distinct difference between love and sex can be explained only as God's will. In that regard, A Course in Miracles (thought to be a new revelation from Christ) states, "Disobeying God's will is meaningful only to the insane. In truth, it is impossible." If that were true, then everything that happens must be necessary or it would be different. And that includes creation of vibrators and suicide bombers.
Of course, everything has its opposite, and the opposite of love is hate which leads to war and crimes against our fellow man. One might even speak of loving to hate, but that is a topic for another essay. If this discussion has raised some fundamental issues about love and sex for you, perhaps the Principles of Theofatalism can help you to resolve them. You can learn about them in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - every family has some dirty little secrets. Things everyone knows but no one mentions in public, or even in private. Scarcely any politician seeking public office or movie star is above discovery of some latent little or not so little skeleton in the closet that sometimes comes out to mar the otherwise noble persona of a public man or woman. There is a name for people who make a career out of discovering and publicizing their dirty little secrets. The word paparazzi was popularized after the Federico Fellini 1960 fil La Dolce Vita. One of the characters in the film is a news photographer named Signore Paparazzo. In his book, Word and Phrase Origins, author Robert Hendrickson writes that Fellini took the name paparazzi from an Italian dialect word for a particularly noisy, buzzing mosquito. In his school days, Fellini remembered a boy who was nicknamed "Paparazzo" (Mosquito), because of his fast talking and constant movements, a name Fellini later applied to the fictional character in La Dolce Vita. Now, the paparazzi serve a useful purpose in two directions, since the opposites must be necessary. They inform the public about dirty little secrets of the rich and famous, and they help to make the rich and famous even more so. They must be necessary or they would not exist.
Sometimes little family secrets are exposed when their energy can no longer be contained in private by public characters. Scarcely anyone is immune from being exposed for some latent misbehavior or character slip better left in the closet. No less than presidents of the United States and religious leaders, including Catholic priests, have had to contend with slips in ethics or morality that they no doubt wish had never happened or at least wish could be kept a secret throughout their lifetimes. Sometimes the exposure damages a career so badly it cannot be recovered and the perpetrator loses all public acclaim and fades into obscurity. (Think Richard M. Nixon.) But sometimes forces that scarcely are understandable propel them into excellence in spite of the skeletons hanging there in plain view. (Think Bill Clinton.) In certain rare situations, the benefits of the role people play are valued so highly that the public just covers up the dirty little secret behind a curtain and goes on admiring and rewarding the individual no matter what. Sometimes a tearful apologetic act of contrition and pleading for forgiveness, while not erasing the stigma, enables the individual to go on with public acceptance, if not downright approval. (Think television evangelist Jimmy Swaggert and the late Tammy Faye Baker.) Occasionally a respected religious leader is found with his/her hand or other body parts in places they should not be. Some such careers are so broken they cannot be repaired, but some find forgiveness and even enthusiasm among their fans...possibly because they realize that except for the grace of God, they could be next.
Speaking of God, it seems very odd, even incredible, that he would come to Earth as his own son to save sinners (whom he created by putting the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden) through an act of questionable moral integrity i.e., the rape of a young virgin girl, even tracing his lineage to King David, an infamous adulterer and murderer. (By the way, this story is a rehash of the birth of Egyptian god Horus, an ancient mythical diety, who was born to the virgin Meri/Isis by the resurrected sun god Osiris described in 3000 BC literature. There are many parallels between the mythical life of Horus and his several incarnations and that of Jesus.) Suppose that you were a parent of the betrothed couple described in the New Testament Gospels as Joseph and Mary. Suppose that you discovered the female of the couple to be pregnant before the scheduled nuptials, in a land and culture where such behavior was scorned and where harlots were stoned to death in public, what would you do? Perhaps you might go to your spiritual advisor, in this case a Rabbi, for advice. He might say, "It is time the Jews had their Messiah, so why not put out the word that an angel of the Lord came unto Mary and Joseph in dreams and told them not to worry because there was a miracle happening before their very eyes." After all God being God, he can do whatever he pleases, right? No parents want to see their pregnant kid stoned to death and there could be no witnesses to such a thing, so it might just work, people being so gullible and all. The paparazzi of the day might even pick up the story and run with it.
The Rabbi could have continued, "And if we all keep telling the child that he was the son of God, he might just come to believe it and act like it. And then other people might consider him to be God and no one knows where it will go." After all, the human mind is a powerful creative force that often turns imagination into reality, and this version certainly is better than the one about the stork bringing babies or the decree by Pope Pius IX in 1854 that Mary was conceived without original sin in the "immaculate conception." There is this twist to the "Lincoln rule" in politics: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, and that's enough. Just a thought. "And if it works," perhaps said the Rabbi, "we can just keep this conversation to ourselves. It will be our little secret." But Mary, being a young girl with a big secret, had to share it with her cousin Elizabeth who trained up her own child, John, to aid in the conspiracy. Joseph did all he could to raise the child as his own because, perhaps, it was. The Rabbi could not tell a lie so he informed his leadership of the plan and the Jews called Jesus "the carpenter's son," even to this day. Then along came twelve fisherman, tax collectors, and a publican plus Saul of Tarsus, and the rest, as they say, is history. People seem to all live according to their own self image. All of it occurring according to God's will of course, as there can be no other.
If thoughts like this come to mind while you are sitting in church or just driving by, and even if not, maybe it is time for the Principles of Theofatalism. Dirty little secrets about Homo sapiens are "covered" in Voices of Sedona. You can, and should, buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Then pass it on. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - if you are not scared and confused, you just don't know what's happening. Following is an essay edited from a version distributed on the Internet. No claim is made to its accuracy and edits are shown inside [...]. Maybe it says something of importance.
In 2004, there was an immigration policy conference in Washington, DC , filled to capacity by many of America 's finest minds and leaders. Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, "Mexifornia," explaining how unlimited immigration was destroying the entire state of California . He said it would march across the country until it destroys all vestiges of the American dream. In fact, the treaty settling the Mexican-American war in 1848 was never ratified by the Mexican government, so officially the Rio Grande border does not exist.
Former three-term Colorado Governor, Richard D. Lamm stood up at the conference, and the audience sat spellbound as he described methods for the destroying the United States without a war. He said, "If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy America . It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall but that an autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide. Here is how they do it," Lamm said: "First, to destroy America, turn it into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country." History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. The late historical scholar, Seymour Lipset, put it this way: "The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy." Just ask the U.S. generals trying desperately to control the civil violence between antagonistic factions in Iraq, or consider the rapidly growing issue of illegal immigration.
Gov. Lamm went on: "Second, to destroy America promote multiculturalism and encourage immigrants to maintain their separate cultures. Make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal." [Give them representation in Congress and encourage churches to support an open border.] Third, "the key to self destruction is celebrating diversity rather than unity. [As Benjamin Schwarz wrote in the Atlantic Monthly recently: "The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony." (look it up) Just ask the remnant of American Indians how they liked unbridled immigration. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentricity and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.] "To destroy America," Lamm said, "it is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups enforcing their differences rather than emphasizing their similarities as Americans."
"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to the majority. I would have this underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school and make it an article of faith that the student dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority." My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money [by employing illegal immigrants and encouraging even more to come.] I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'victimology.' I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of discrimination by the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population."
Gov. Lamm continued, "My sixth plan for America 's downfall would include dual citizenship, and divided loyalties between the U.S. and countries of origin. A nation is much more. It is a state of mind, a shared vision, a recognition that we are all in this together. Next, I would make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would use a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed critical thinking. Words like 'racist' or 'xenophobe' halt discussion and debate. Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multiculturalism, having the large churches and foundations spin the doctrine of victimology, [I would make it unpatriotic and politically impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would overrun the country with people who are unable or unwilling to pay the cost of their social services...medical, education, retirement, etc. By tolerating an underground cash-based economy, a new category of entitled residents represented without taxation would bleed the treasury and destroy equality under law. Then I would borrow the money needed to finance them from our enemies like communist China.] Gov. Lamm wiped his brow and closed, "Lastly, I would censor writers like Victor Hanson Davis and his book "Mexifornia." His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."
Gov. Lamm has his critics. Fidel "Butch" Montoya, former Denver manager of safety and a leader of Confianza, a Hispanic clergy group, said he's outraged by Lamm's comments. "I couldn't believe that in this day and age that someone would be so open with a sense of bigotry and extremism," Montoya said. Bruce DeBoskey, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, agreed that "Lamm does not present new arguments. But they are still dangerous," he said. [A church pastor providing sanctuary for an illegal female immigrant single mother of a child born here touted, "I am more scared of God than the Department of Homeland Security."] Gov. Lamm said he's not surprised by the response his remarks have evoked. "All great truths begin as heresies," he added. He likens his crusade to that of Churchill during the 1930s when Hitler was rising to power without opposition.
Whatever your opinion on this matter is, the debate illustrates that all great social movements are powered by forces beyond the control of the participants. Nations rise and empires grow only to be overrun and replaced by different forms and ideologies. Could leaders who help make nations rise and fall be doing the will of God? If you are curious about that perhaps you are ready for the Principles of Theofatalism. Read them in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - so long as it works as needed we take our human bodies for granted. Unless something malfunctions or we have an accident that damages part of it the old bod just goes on doing its things pretty much unnoticed. But, if we stop to take note of it, the miracles of its functioning seem beyond science and medicine to explain. Just when they think they have it figured out some new discovery is made that confounds medical scientists and demands ever new and emerging tests and theories to investigate it further. The amount of ignorance and superstition that people have applied to the body are staggering to the intellect. Consider that the standard of medical practice for many illnesses was to withdraw blood from the patient as recently as one century ago. And, until 1952, female sexuality actually was treated as a disease. And there are modern church leaders who believe in the exorcism of demons to quell emotional paroxysms. Indeed, the mechanisms by which people take in information and make use of it is a mystery. Memory and imagination are total mysteries to neuroscience.
Human blood carries ancient mythical and spiritual roles in addition to its biological function. Blood is a highly specialized circulating tissue consisting of several types of cells suspended in a fluid called plasma. Its cellular constituents are: red blood cells (erythrocytes), which carry respiratory gases and give it its red color because they contain hemoglobin (an iron-containing protein that binds oxygen in the lungs and transports it to tissues in the body), white blood cells (leukocytes), which fight disease, and platelets (thrombocytes), cell fragments which play an important part in the clotting of the blood. Anatomically, blood is considered a connective tissue from both its origin in the bones and its function. As the ancients suspected, the life indeed is in the blood because of the many crucial functions it performs. Among them are transporting oxygen to the tissues, carrying nutrients, removing waste including carbon dioxide and urea, detecting foreign materials, transporting messenger hormones, and regulating body temperature among others.
Although major organs including the heart which circulates the blood, lungs, kidneys, and liver are assumed to be understood, the captain of the ship, the brain, is still an enigma., i.e., a perplexing and baffling thing. It is thought to contain tens of billions of specialized cells called neurons that communicate through electro-chemical spurts between gaps called synapses. Since living neurons cannot be studied directly their functions are inferred only from external observations by instruments such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners which are far beyond this discussion. With its unfathomable complexity, it stands to reason that only a small quirk or malfunction in the brain can cause havoc and chaos among the functions of the human body. If that body occupies the White House or Congress chaos can result. At the center of the brain there is located the walnut-sized pituitary gland topped with the little pea-sized hypothalamus. From there come many chemicals called neuropeptides that flow through the blood stream and attach to the cells that work as a liver or a kidney or a stomach. These chemicals seem to hold the secret to all hormones that drive the human body. But where do they get their instructions from???? Little wonder that the human brain is labeled the most complex creation in the universe, except possibly for our genes.
To top off this miracle of creation called a human being, there is thought to be jam-packed into the nucleus of every cell in the body a molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. It contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all living organisms. The main role of DNA is the long-term storage of information, and it is often compared to a set of blueprints since DNA contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells. Segments of the DNA molecule that carry this instructional information are called genes, and they are composed of four basic protein elements coded into a helical strand thought to be the most densely packaged set of information in the universe. The information carried in the genes is what makes us the unique individuals that we are, not just physically but behaviorally too. The question for all time is where do the genes come from? Gene researcher, Matt Ridley, called their source the Genome Organizing Device (G.O.D.) Now isn't that interesting?
We (whatever that is) have no conscious control over the beginning or ending of this body. So what makes us think we (whatever that is) have any conscious control over what happens in between? Specially when no one knows just what consciousness really is...yet. If your belief system is challenged by this discussion, perhaps you are ready for a new belief system. You can find a start in the Principles of Theofatalism that are explained in Voices of Sedona. Buy a copy at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - think about it. Perhaps King Solomon was right. There is a time and a place for everything, each to his own. The biggest whale in the ocean would be in trouble if it could not breathe air, but a shark would be in trouble if it could not breathe water. A modern fighter plane is powerless without aviation fuel. A doctor can do nothing without the services of his testing lab and appropriate medicines. A nuclear power plant is a big chunk of concrete without uranium. The human food chain would be broken without interstate trucking companies. Predators could not exist without prey. And maybe people could do nothing without God's will. As observed by King Solomon in the third chapter of his book titled, Ecclesiastes, everything has its time and place. In fact, when you put it all together, the Earth might be like Mars if God did not have other plans at least for now.
The Earth is host to countless species of plants, animals, insects, and other forms of existence each in its appropriate time and place. We do not often think of most of them unless we are in daily contact. Some are microscopic, like the dust mites that can double the weight of an ordinary bed mattress in ten years or so. Someone estimated that all the cockroaches out weight all the humans by a factor of ten to one. Human bodies are known to be host to hundreds of various gross living parasites; the tape worm for example. Some of the species live in highly organized social structures. For example, an ant or bee or termite colony exhibits cooperation and strategic planning that makes human cities seem like chaos. Among all the species, individuals seem to be in just the right place at the right time for their life to unfold from birth to death. While it may seem like they have unlimited options, once a deed is done it cannot be redone another way. It is uncanny how predators and prey seem to find each other precisely when it is time to do so.
All beginnings seem to come with endings as the plan of life unfolds across the planet in time and place. As more is discovered about the several species by Homo sapiens, it no longer appears that they among all others are the supreme top of creation. One trait does seem to make them stand out however. This is the ability to express their thoughts in language that is constantly changing to reflect the emergence of new thoughts. Except for those who study the relationship between mind, brain, and thought, people generally are driven by what they are programmed by experience and trained to think. But a few seem to be specially gifted with a faculty called imagination that permits them to extend the boundaries of thoughts among the species. Among thoughts of Homo sapiens are those about their origins and places in the universe. Catholic nuns, for example, are given to imagine that they are the "brides of Christ." [How about the polygamy in that.] Mother Teresa's devotion to "J.C." is a sterling example of the power of human imagination. In one of her many love letters to her imagined "spouse" she wrote, "O Jesus, only love of my heart, I wish to suffer what I suffer and all thou wilt have me suffer, for thy pure love not because of the merits I may acquire, nor for the rewards thou hast promised me but only to please thee, to praise thee, to bless thee as well in sorrow as in joy." Her time and place began among the suffering poor and ill in the gutters of Calcutta but eventually it extended to six continents.
Homo sapiens of the Christian faith are given to imagine they are made in the image of God because their holy book says so and their religious authorities confirm it. But Muslims live under the same assumption, and both are locked in a struggle for survival, by God's will of course. If one takes the idea that men are created in the image of God literally and to the extreme, then all that Homo sapiens do and are is a direct reflection of their creator God in time and space. Their social forms and their behaviors must of necessity be just like the God of their creation, tortures, pain, and suffering included with pleasure and contentment. That would include those among them who are predators as well as the prey. They do not expect a whale or a shark or a nuclear power plant or a fighter plane to be anything other than what it is. Why, then, do they continually try to reshape themselves into some form of existence other than what they are in the image of their God? What is even more unreasonable is why they assume responsibility and power for that which they attribute to the almighty Creator? Why are so many continually beset with discontent with what is and desire for something to be different while others remain the same century after century? How come they seem to adopt a certain style of life in various tribes and times and then invent a belief system to support it? In the span of time and space, will Homo sapiens appear, rise, and disappear, like numerous previous extinct species seem to have done and individuals most certainly do?
The search through questions such as these resulted in discovery of the Principles of Theofatalism. Thomas Paine observed that principles can never be invented, only discovered and one should look through them to the source. Perhaps they were meant for you at this time and place in your life. You can learn all about them in Voices of Sedona. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - there is a commonly known issue in all scientific experiments that attempt to relate some event with a cause. Separating causes from correlations makes some scientists toss up their hands in frustration during the search for truth. For example, since many people die in bed it might be assumed that they could avoid dying by staying out of bed. As obvious as that false correlation is, some other attempts to prove causation are not so easy to accept. High ratios between bad and good cholesterol and heart disease seem to go together, but they don't know why because reducing cholesterol does not reduce heart attacks. You may have noticed those TV ads for drugs to lower cholesterol, but did you read the fine print at the bottom that says they do not reduce heart attacks or prevent heart disease? And now it seems that high levels of a newly discovered substance in the blood named homocysteine is related to many diseases of aging, but there are no drugs available to lower it although vitamin supplements can help. Cancer and obesity seem to go together but no one knows why. A new study seems to indicate that too much education accelerates memory loss leading to earlier Alzheimers disease in aging. "Use it or lose it" seems to have its limitations because it seems that you actually can overwork the brain. Years ago a cigarette advertisement proclaimed, "Just what the doctor ordered." Now, we know different. The search for useful new medications depends upon testing for their effectiveness, and there always is some uncertainty in isolating the use of the trial medication from other possible implications. Obesity is another such issue. It seems there is no end of books by diet gurus who think they have the answer, but the fact is there is no single correlation between obesity and anything else including fast food. The analysis of poverty versus wealth still is another case in point. Defining poverty and assessing a cause turns out to be not so easy. Poverty in the U.S. is different from poverty in Mexico is different from poverty in China. In fact, there always are mitigating circumstances that require some probability of less then perfection to be applied to any study of causation. Some interesting history illustrates this principle.
There is a marvelous war story about how the German army in WWII was finally broken at the "Battle of the Bulge" during the record cold winter of 1944. Inside that battle was a highly significant struggle for the village of Bastogne in Belgium. The 101st Airborne was surrounded by the German army tank corps and weather was so bad that commander of the Third Army, Gen. George S. Patton could not fly in air cover or any supplies for the troops who lacked ammunition, food, and winter clothing. In exasperation, the story goes that Gen. Patton called in all his chaplains and ordered them to write a prayer for him to send up to the Almighty for a break in the weather. He had the prayer printed on index cards and distributed to 250,000 American troops. The sky opened briefly on December 20, voiding all weather predictions, and he immediately ordered supplies and air cover for the troops at Bastogne. The battle conditions were turned around in two days, and the end of the war with Germany had begun. Gen. Patton's German adversary was Panzer tank commander Col. Otto Skorzeny, considered by historians to be the most dangerous Nazi commander in Europe. Perhaps he was praying too. Patton died in a military vehicle collision on December 9, 1945 the day before his scheduled return to the U.S., and Skorzeny lived comfortably in Spain and Ireland after escaping postwar prison until he died of cancer in 1975.
Another interesting military story about correlations and causations involves the origin of the Roman Catholic Church. In 312 CE Emperor Constantine (285-337 CE) was about to lead his army into a battle that would change the world. The soldiers of his enemy and rival Maxentius faced his vastly outnumbered own loyalists at the Milvian bridge across the Tiber river just outside of Rome. Constantine was a pagan who worshipped the sun, and he was worried about the pending battle which would establish the undisputed emperor of Rome. In his biography he says that he started to pray to the "supreme God" for help. He saw the sign of a cross in the sky "above the sun" with this message, "conquer by this." That night he said in a dream he saw Jesus who told him to use the "chi-rho sign (the first two Greek letters in Christ) as a safeguard in all battles." Constantine ordered it to be painted on the shields of his soldiers, and he won the battle against great odds. He celebrated the victory by building a new triumphal arch in Rome. Constantine was taught about being a Christian but he was not baptized until his old age, possibly to avoid antagonizing the pagans in his administration. In 325 CE he convened a conference of church bishops at Nicaea that authorized the official books of the New Testament. With his mother, Helena, he built some great churches that commemorated what Jesus taught and did. Most of the Roman emperors that followed him were Christians, and under them Christianity became the official religion of Rome. He is credited with turning the history of the world into a new course and made Christianity, which until then had suffered bloody persecution, the religion of the State, not to be overturned until the American constitution separated church and state in 1789.
Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion within the brain that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists, and other people of faith. The spiritual quest for God may be as old as Homo sapiens, but now there is a new place to look: inside our heads. Using magnetic resonance imaging and other tools of modern neuroscience, researchers are attempting to pin down what happens in the brain when people experience mystical awakenings during prayer and meditation or during spontaneous utterances inspired by religious fervor. Such efforts to reveal the neural correlates of the divine—a new discipline called "neurotheology" and "spiritual neuroscience"—not only might correlate religion and science but also might help point to ways of eliciting pleasurable otherworldly feelings in people who do not have them or who cannot summon them at will. Epileptics often report intense religious experiences leading to speculation that localized electrical storms in the brain's temporal lobe might sometimes underlie an obsession with religious or moral issues. The near death experience reported by many people who recover from terminal illness also seems to be a manifestation of changes in the brain that occur before death. Because of the positive effect of such experiences on those who have them, some researchers speculate that the ability to induce them artificially could transform people's lives by making them feel happier, healthier and better able to feel a connection with God. Ultimately, however, neuroscientists study this question because they want to better understand the neural basis of a phenomenon that plays a central role in the lives of so many which has existed since the dawn of humanity. Their conclusion: Religious experiences can be correlated with particular types of brain activity. But, is that causation?
Whether it is in winning wars, ordaining governments, or survival on death beds, Homo sapiens often attribute their achievements to answered prayers and the will of God. People debate endlessly whether such events merely are random correlations or actual causations resulting from prayer or miracles. Therefore, proof of their causation will never be assured. Wouldn't it be a very wishy-washy God who changes his plans for every petitioner? After all, no one can go back in time and redo anything differently. As for those "faith healers" Franz Mesmer "proved" in 1774 that people were susceptible to "animal magnestism" that created miracle cures. If an African tribe kills one of every newborn set of twins to ward off disaster, as reported by National Geographic, who is to say they are ignorant if the results prove they are right? One thing that is certain is that many things are indefinitely uncertain. Living with the ensuing anxiety of uncertainty seems to be necessary for all reasonable people. Perhaps you will find some help in tolerating it in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - some people seem to have more ability than others to see things that are not there...yet. Using a faculty called creative imagination by psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, they extend the boundaries of human capabilities in physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual terms. Driven by the mysterious force called imagination, they strive to go higher, faster, further, and deeper than anyone has gone before in realms of science, art, music, government, religion, and also the realms of crime, war, and malice toward others. They not only created the Internet and all its many benefits, but they also use it for fraud and crimes against humanity. They not only discovered the nuclear power in condensed atoms of uranium, but they use it for extreme good and evil. Computer video games can help educate youth or turn them into killing machines as U.S. soldiers. Brain scans show that video games actually change the wiring of neurons in the brain unconsciously, like turning peaceful civilians into militant soldiers. Cyberspace rapidly is becoming an alternative reality for many people. Although the many species of life on Earth seem to evolve slowly over eons of time, a few Homo sapiens seem to take giant leaps in evolution of consciousness without stopping to analyze their behavior or search for its origins. Mother Teresa imagined that Jesus called her to be his light to the suffering outcasts of India and around the world and gave up a secure, safe convent life to go live among them. This faculty of imagination in human nature may be evidence of a life force manifested in their behaviors although undetectable by their senses. Perhaps a fifth force or universal energy is the building block on which all life is created and is the essence of life itself. But, not all Homo sapiens have this power equally to see around corners, and therefore they cluster on Earth in various tribes of relative development and undevelopment, crime and charity, war and peace.
For many centuries, ancients in Asia have imagined the existence of a life force that takes different names in different cultures. One that has been exported to the West is the concept of chi...as in tai-chi chuan in martial arts and chi-kung in healing arts. Various attempts have been made to prove its existence and some psychics claim that they have a direct connection to its source which gives them superior power and knowledge. And some people believe them. The well known Asian use of acupuncture as a substitute for chemical anesthesia in surgical procedures and the healing power of Reiki to open clogged energy channels through the chakras confounds the understanding of Western doctors who have no basis in their training to explain it. Therefore, they are reluctant to investigate life force scientifically or to give any serious credit to its worthiness, sort of like the Catholic Church rejected the idea that the Earth is in orbit around the sun and not vice versa even though Galileo clearly proved it with his telescope. It is the difference between one firmly planted on Earth who believes it is flat to the horizon, and the creative imagination of Jules Verne when he penned the classic science fiction novel, From the Earth to the Moon in 1866. It took 103 years for practical engineering to catch up to his intuition when President Kennedy imagined that it was possible to send men to the moon and return them safely to Earth.
Just as with the four main universal forces of gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces, this life force must have some source because nothing seems to come from nothing, except for the big bang that initiated the universe. What that source is seems to be just beyond the horizon of intuition among Homo sapiens, so they keep on creating all manner of substitute theories to explain reality that fit within the boundaries of their sensory horizon and limits of reason. Until these intuitive boundaries are breached, people will continue living with what is because it must be so or it would be different. And when it must change it will. What is left is to enjoy the pleasure of life and to absorb its pain as it is set before you. Recall the terminal observation of Robert Frost. "It is difficult to get into this life and difficult to get out. What lies in between doesn't make much sense." And C.S. Lewis concluded the only response to suffering is to suffer it. Unless, of course, you decide enough is enough.
This life energy seems to be granted to each sentient being at conception much like a battery that is delivered with an initial charge of so many volt-amps. The human energy battery can be recharged with food, rest, and exercise from time to time same as the battery is recharged by passing an electrical current through it. But both the human chi and the battery have a declining ability to be recharged and eventually the ability of both to convert energy for its own use ends, and so it dies unless it is terminated before that time. Try as much as they can in Western cultures to defer or even prevent this natural outcome, it seems to be inevitable. Eastern cultures not only revere it but they celebrate people who have achieved the passing of time into old age. Unfortunately, it is not a linear process and comes with many possible catastrophic interventions as the life support system gradually loses its self healing ability and diseases, accidents, and predators take their tolls. Eastern practitioners have long touted the benefits of breathing meditation to clear the body of distortions and external noise that prevent the life energy from being fully available. In some Western religions, practitioners attempt to clear the scars caused by life events among brain neuron cells to regain the purity of its original form through prayer and healing rituals. However, these processes are not part of mainstream medicine yet so you must look to other sources to gain those benefits.
So, if you still think that God wants everyone to be healthy, wealthy, and happy, or that life always should be fair and just and all people should die peacefully in their beds, perhaps you need to repeat this course. God favors whomever he wills and shits on whomever he wills. Some are gifted with imagination to see around corners while others are blinded to what is in front of them. All in God's will of course. It seems that all he requires of us is to live the life we are given. Toward the end of her time and place, movie icon Marilyn Monroe (ne: Norma Jeane Mortenson) concluded, "It's really all make believe, isn't it." The only reality may be found in the Principles of Theofatalism related in Voices of Sedona. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - The average American does not want to hear about it and the vast majority of our political leaders are reluctant to support any policies that would require any sacrifice on the part of any of their constituents. Nevertheless, supply and demand for oil and gas are making some very strange bedfellows. Fossil fuels that took millions of years to form during evolution of mother Earth could be discovered and used up in only a couple centuries. The fact that the United States must import two thirds of its oil and much of its natural gas from Muslim and socialist nations that hate our way of life can only bode trouble ahead. Ever since President Roosevelt negotiated a defense-for-oil deal in WWII with Saudi Arabia, there has been only the shakiest of bonds between the buyers and sellers of oil and gas. The present war in Iraq is the only one in which the United States is financing both sides, insane as that sounds. Petro dollars are financing some of the most advanced architecture in the world among Muslim nations in the Middle East while Western nations become ever more dependent upon them for economic survival. Canada claims to have a hundred years supply of oil locked up in tar shale in the province of Alberta that could help supply the U.S., but there is a pipeline planned to the ocean at British Columbia paid for by China for its own interest. And the gasoline engine still runs on and on and on with imported gasoline because oil refinery capacity in this country has not been increased to keep up with demand. The public silence of oil company executives is deafening. Some experts predict unsettled times ahead as world oil production peaks and spiraling demand spreads to undeveloped countries. The President voiced his concern by saying emphatically, "America is addicted to oil." Surely the suppliers will take note of it. But they will not allow the price of oil to rise high enough to reduce demand or to stimulate alternatives unless world oil supplies decline in spite of all efforts to maintain production. Exactly this is predicted to happen within the next decade.
The U.S. economy is based on energy that comes from other problematic fuels too. Coal is our most abundant fossil fuel resource, but it burns dirty and it is dangerous to mine. The real cost of coal lies in its environmental impacts. Mining it disrupts the earth and takes human lives, burning it produces toxic ash and emits carbon dioxide and other noxious gases which many scientists claim adds to global warming, and transporting it by rail uses up precious petroleum reserves. The amount of coal it takes to drive half of all steam electric generators is staggering to the imagination. Efforts to clean it up require separating CO2 and storing it much like waste fuel from nuclear power plants. Nuclear plant expense and eternal storage of spent plutonium make further construction of nuclear power plants difficult, if not impossible. Renewable resources including solar, wind, geo-thermal and bio-mass technologies still are not reliable or cheap enough to make much of a dent in demand for the next decade or more. Exotic energy alternatives like hydrogen fuel cells still are mostly dreams in research and development labs, except for their use in space where cost is no object. Shifting auto fuel to ethanol appears to be less attractive than it seemed at first because it takes petroleum to make it and its consumption of corn changes the market for animal feedstocks. The conservators of clean air have successfully kept the fuel efficient diesel engine out of American cars although they are most preferred throughout Europe.
Although criticized by the oil profiteers, reports indicate that man-made greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are depleting the ozone shield protecting the planet from harmful rays from the sun. Glaciers and the frozen ice at the north and south poles are melting faster and faster. Global climate changes seem to be upon us and the results could disrupt life as we know it for much of the species on this planet before a generation is passed. In fact, the sluggish actions of Homo sapiens in response cast some doubt on whether they are the highest of life forms after all. Jesus said there would always be wars and rumors of wars, so it seems that they must be necessary or they would have been eliminated by now. There always seems to be something that nations can find to fight about, and energy may well be the next battlefront. Indeed, wars use up natural and human resources faster than any other activity of Homo sapiens, but they are very profitable for bankers and makers of weapons of mass destruction. If world oil production peaks soon as predicted, the present international struggles may be merely the foothills of a challenge to Western civilization that can barely be imagined as buyers and sellers duel for dwindling supplies of lower quality petroleum. Although the bulk of those supplies are under Muslim nations, it seems that Western consumers are blind to the real issues they face. A collision between secular and non-secular society seems to be emerging, and those who control the most oil could win. Not since the Crusades have the forces been so perfectly aligned by maligning religious dogma on both sides. If you are interested in prophesies about the end of times perhaps this is it. If the Muslim oil producing nations get together they could demolish the economies of the Christian nations easily. But then they would have to contend with the demands of Asia and such nations as China and India could contend for the oil supplies, and possibly set off a new world war. That could be the last one.
Sayyid Qutb, (1906-1966) Muslim martyr and prolific writer for Islam and leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, wrote this description of his world view: "During my stay in the United States (1948-1950 when he earned a Masters degree from Colorado State) I took the position of attacking the Western Jahiliyyah (society), its shaky religious beliefs, its social and economic modes, and it immoralities. Look at these concepts of the Trinity, Original Sin, sacrifice and redemption, which are agreeable neither to reason nor to conscience. Look at this capitalism with its monopolies, its usury and whatever else is unjust in it; at this individual freedom, devoid of human sympathy and responsibility for relatives except under the force of law; at this materialistic attitude which deadens the spirit; at this behavior like animals which you call free mixing of the sexes; at this vulgarity which you call the emancipation of women; at these unfair and cumbersome laws of marriage and divorce [this was before the no-fault divorce laws] which are contrary to the demands of practical life; and at Islam with its logic, beauty, humanity, and happiness which reaches the horizons to which man strives but does not reach; it is a practical way of life and its solutions are based on the foundation of the wholesome nature of man. These are the realities of the Western life that I encountered. When seen in the light of Islam, these facts made the American people blush. Yet there are exponents of Islam who are defeated before the filth in which Jahiliyyah is steeped, even to the extent that they search for resemblances to Islam among this rubbish heap of the West, and also among the evil and dirty materialism of the East. Certainly we who present Islam to the people are not the ones to go along with any of the concepts, modes, and traditions of Jahiliyyah however great its pressure on us may be. Out first task is to replace this Jahiliyyah with Islamic ideas and traditions...This because the Islamic concept is a design intended for implementation for a real world, for Islam has no existence unless there is a society living in accordance with its order, recognizing God and His exclusive possession of divinity and deriving its basic mode of life from Him alone."
With this background, it is understandable that Western countries either must placate the Muslim and other nations that own most of the world's oil or engage in war to assure its delivery at economical prices. Free markets could be overruled by energy politics. The civil rights lawyers were tongue tied when news reported recently that a young woman in Saudi Arabia, who was raped by some men who gave her a ride, was sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes because she violated a law requiring women to ride in cars only with male family relatives. Although it was politically incorrect, retired chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan wrote that the war with Iraq "is largely about oil." Blood for oil. What is most interesting is why the distribution of oil and religion lines up the way that it does. If God is so perfect, could he not have created a better arrangement than that? Apparently not, so it must be necessary as is. Perhaps we all are looking in the wrong places for God. If you want to explore some alternative ideas about God and the way things really work, read Voices of Sedona. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - logical reasoning and religious faith do not mix because they are dichotomous. That must be the will of God or it would be different. Even within religions there are dichotomies. Two famous Christian preachers illustrate this point. The late Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed the Bible was the inerrent Word of God, the only way to Heaven was by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, and that the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was directly related to withdrawal of God's protection in response to abortions in America. In contrast, retired Episcopal Bishop John Spong wrote in his blog, "I do not worship the Bible. I do not regard it as the inerrant word of God. I know its content far too well for that to be a possibility...The things you call basic Christian doctrines like being born in sin or the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus' blood for those who believe and heaven and hell are not basic Christian doctrines to me at all. They are various theories developed by a behavior-controlling religious institution designated to frighten people or to make them pliable. ...the vicarious sacrifice as the interpretation of the cross appears not to be something that Jesus taught but the message of the Jewish Day of Atonement being literalized and applied to Jesus by a later generation of Christians. I have no desire to worship a God who requires the death of Jesus as the means of achieving salvation." Where do these learned theologians get these opposing ideas about the Bible from?
What could be more opposite than the co-existing ideas that God controls all elements of the universe, but man has the free will to do as he wishes? The Koran states dichotomies back to back; "Whosoever will, let him embark on a path to his Lord. They will not unless He wills." (Al-Qiyama: 14-15) The many religions of the world are illustrated by the ancient story of several blind men feeling separate parts of an elephant who could not agree on a description of the beast because they did not inspect the whole thing. How can there be so many different religions, not to mention their many branches, each claiming its own special and unique relationship with God unless God wills them all and then sets them to fighting each other? Within each branch are many ministers, each with a message according to the interpretations that they are given. Why do so many people attach such divine wisdom to a few outspoken people in each religion who seem to have a hypnotic affect among their devotees despite their obvious fallacies and contradictions?
At this time the leaders of fundamental Islam are at war with the separation of church and state as practiced in the United States. [Actually this is impossible as no elected official can park his religion outside the office door when he goes to work.] Muslims who have little else to hope for are given to believe the Koran teaches that any threat to their way of life must be attacked and repelled from their lands, even by suicide bombings if necessary because they will enter Heaven immediately. And, although Jesus taught absolute passivism, Western leaders are given to assume that their way can be imposed upon the "insurgents" against their will if only enough people are killed in the process. Where do people get such ideas from?
Such a voice was that of Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), the Egyptian martyred Muslim author, thought to be the mentor of Osama bin Laden. He wrote in his classic Milestones as follows: "Behind this universe there is a will which administers it, a power which moves it, a law which regulates it. This power keeps a balance between the various parts of the universe and controls their motions. This will continue as long as the divine will wishes it to continue. The whole universe is obedient to God's will, his power and his authority. It is not possible for it to disobey the divine will and its obtained law for a single moment...and no disturbance or dispersion or destruction can enter into it unless God wills it...Man is a part of the universe; the laws which govern human nature are no different from the laws governing the universe...in short, he must live according to the laws of God and he has no choice in the matter... All unconditionally submit to the will of God and to the laws of his creation." ...amen...but then he spends the rest of the book explaining that only Islam is the true religion and perfect way of life and all the others are false even though everyone must be doing the will of God, and further that the Shariah (law of Islam) which God has given to man through the Prophet Muhammad to organize his way of life also is a universal law made to govern all peoples in every society. "Thus obedience to the Shariah becomes necessary for human beings so that their lives may become harmonious and in tune with the rest of the universe. Only in this way will they be at peace with themselves and at peace with the universe...This then is the foundation of the Islamic concept and of human life as a part of this universe."...and 1.5 billion people agree with him.
Unlike Qutb, who was born into Islam, Leopold Weiss (1900-1992) was descended from a long line of Jewish rabbis. His parents died in the Holocaust. He converted to Islam in 1926, moved from Poland to India and worked with Mahatma Gandhi in partitioning Pakistan for Muslims. [Incidentally, Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye and soon everyone will be blind."] Weiss was the first ambassador from Pakistan to the U.N. Later he moved to Spain where he became an honored writer for the cause of Islam renamed as Muhammad Asad. He spoke of Islam thus: "Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other; nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking; and the result is a structure of absolute balance and solid composure."
Asad wrote in Islam At The Crossroads, "The position of Islam is unmistakable. It teaches, firstly, that the permanent worship of God in all the manifold actions of human life is the very meaning of this life, and secondly, that the achievement of this purpose remains impossible so long as we divide our life into two parts, the spiritual and the material. They must be bound together in our conscious and our action into one harmonious entity... Islam does not postpone the perfection of man until after a suppression of the so-called bodily desires as the Christian teaching does, nor does Islam promise a continuous chain of rebirths as is the case with Hinduism, nor does Islam agree with Buddhism, in which perfection can be obtained only through annihilation of the individual self. The Islamic concept is a unified whole that protects human nature from orientation to any other than God at any time and in any act and from accepting domination by any power but God in any aspect of life."
The opposing dichotomous attitude between Western democracy with its freedom of religion and the rule of Islam is seen in the constitution of Iraq, that was adopted under the watchful eyes of the U.S. after its overthrow of Saddam Hussein, as follows:
"Article 2: First: Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation:
A. No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.
B. No law that contradicts the principles of democracy may be established."
Either that constitution is insanity or the will of God or both because Islam must, by its nature and the Koran, oppose any Western style democracy and its separation of church and state. Democracy in Iraq also would mean rule by the Shiite majority and the Sunni minority will never tolerate that. Since Islam is a non-secular theocracy and Western democracy is a secular society, they would seem to be mutually exclusive. So how did they both get into that Constitution? Qutb says, "It is not the function of Islam to compromise with the concepts of Jahiliyyah or to coexist in the same land with a Jahili system...It is fruitless to try and construct a system of life which is half-Islam and half-Jahiliyyah. The foremost duty of Islam is to depose Jahiliyyah from the leadership of man, and to take the leadership into its own hands and enforce the particular way of life which is its permanent feature...the philosophy of materialistic Western civilization is a danger to the continued existence of man. It breeds in human nature a ceaseless anxiety, a perpetual rivalry, a continuous strife, and a degeneration of all human qualities." He quoted the Prophet Muhammad; "I have been commanded to fight people until they confess that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger." And the Koran states; "The recompense of those who make war against Allah and His Messenger is that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet on opposite sides be cut off and that they be banished from the land." (5:33) Such people today are called Islamists and include the Wahabbis in Saudi Arabia, Hamas in Palestine, Hizbullah in Lebanon and Taliban in Afghanistan, all funded by oil wealth of course. Their world view is being taught in Muslim madrasses (schools) to youths in some sixty countries as well as the U.S. Where is the line between freedom of religion and civil defense?
[Dichotomous reasoning occurs in the Bible too. Repeatedly, Jesus affirmed the commandment to honor your father and mother but he also declared the opposite, "If any man comes to me and hates not his father and mother and wife and children, and brethren, and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 19:26)].
Either God creates dichotomies or he has abdicated his will to the faulty illogical reasoning of Homo sapiens...and most everybody seems to be blinded so that they do not get it...is that insanity or what??...either insanity reigns or God...and I am given to choose God who created the universe, ...including insanity and faulty illogical reasoning... ahha... but wait... perhaps insanity and God's will are not mutually exclusive...because if it is God's will for whatever is to be is to be is ...including insanity...and belief in free will...then whatever is must be and we all are doing our part of it. No exceptions...The opposite opinions of Falwell and Spong, what Qutb and Asad wrote and the constitution of Iraq with its bloody aftermath all could be the will of God... the source of anxiety and suffering as well as peace and prosperity; both/and instead of either/or. If it were not necessary it all would be different. If that makes you feel depressed, welcome to good company.
God does not spare even his most devoted servants from suffering fits of anxiety from indefinite uncertainty about his will. Archbishop Perier addressed the depths of despair experienced by Mother Teresa in serving the poorest outcasts of Calcutta this way; "With regard to the feeling of loneliness, of abandonment, of not being wanted [by God], of darkness of the soul, it is a state well known by spiritual writers and directors of conscience. This is willed by God in order to attach us to Him alone, an antidote to our external activities and also, like any temptation, a way of keeping us humble in the midst of applauses, publicity, praises, appreciation, and success. To feel that we are nothing, that we can do nothing is the realization of a fact. We know it, we say it, but few feel it. That is why we stick to God and like the little Bernadette [Our Lady of Lourdes] wrote at the end of her last retreat; God alone, God everywhere, God in everybody and in everything, God always."
Qutb concludes, "None of His creatures is entitled to ask Him why He willed it this way or that, because none of His creatures is endowed with the knowledge or comprehension or even the possibility thereof needed to grasp the total scheme of the universe, the nature of His creatures, and the wisdom inherent in their being created precisely the way they are. Why? is a question that no serious believer would pose in this context, nor even a serious atheist. To understand this matter assumes that man himself should be a god." This reads a lot like the dialogue between Job and God. "The Lord answered Job and said, shall he that contends with the Almighty instruct Him? He that reproves God let him answer. Then Job answered the Lord and said, Behold I am vile; what shall I say? I will lay my hand upon my mouth." (Job 40:1-4)
If you need more persuasion, read the Principles of Theofatalism in Voices of Sedona. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or order online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com. If not, just skip it and live as God intended. Either way, you can only do the will of God as there is no other. Disobeying God's will is meaningful only to the insane...in truth it is impossible, even for the insane. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside.
Sedona says - loss comes to everyone, often beginning at a very young age. Favorite toys break, pets die, best friends move away, accidents happen, and sometimes close relatives die before we get very old. Sometimes adults try to help kids adjust quickly and process these losses by buying them a replacement toy or pet. When that doesn't work, the adults feel uncomfortable and admonish the kid to get over it quickly, stop crying, and pretend nothing happened so they can avoid feeling empathy for the survivor. In fact, neuroscience is proving what the ancients knew from experience; grief is contagious. It seems that human brains are equipped with "mirror neurons" which fire up when they detect suffering or distress in another, even distant relatives or unrelated people. The natural reaction is self preservation, so survivors react either with attempts to fix the problem or to flee from it, the old flight or fight response.
When they are caught up in the feelings of irrevocable loss themselves, people often activate the flight response to feeling threatened so they can get on with their lives with little or no disruption. But, underneath this faŤade grief must get its due. Smothering it with activities and denial merely permits normal reactions to losses to pile up until one day a personal loss may trigger all the pent up grief from all previous losses, and some psycho-physical symptoms appear that can be disabling, even leading to suicide. Such a reaction to intolerable psychological pain is called a conversion disorder in formal mental diagnoses. To avoid its consequences, people must relearn the normal process of grieving their losses. Since people won't change until it hurts too much not to, counselors may see clients in deep grief for a personal loss that holds the accumulation of all previous losses improperly grieved. When a close loved one dies, the reaction can be so intense that some people need counseling and even long term therapy to properly recover from the loss.
Grief is said by psychologists to be a normal reaction to loss and, therefore, it is not treated as a mental illness. But, in spite of thousands of studies that show grief to be a serious impact on life - physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually - there still is no standard treatment for grief. Physicians may prescribe a mild sedative to aid sleep or reduce stress, but each person is left to process the impact of their losses alone and without a road map through the maze. As such, counselors are powerless to help and almost any reaction to grief is considered to be normal. Grieving the loss of a close loved one can challenge all previous assumptions about how life should work, and if the loss is untimely or unreasonable, the belief in a loving God can be questioned even by the most devout and faithful. Unless they are given a road map through grief, survivors often heal in ways that leave them permanently scarred or functioning like an amputee with a poorly fitting prosthesis, or none at all. Much as we know it happens, accepting the inevitable endings is difficult. All things in cyclical existence are transient and impermanent, but until it happens to you the realization of permanent loss is only an idea. When inevitable loss comes to your house, things change forever. Letting go and detaching is one of the most excruciating tasks in preparing to reconstruct a new life that a survivor/loser will encounter.
A book for surviving spouses was compiled by a grieving widower and a pastoral counselor that could be the road map for grieving in all types of losses. In Recovery From Loss, the authors described a process for grieving that is based upon sound psychology as well as the empathy available through spiritual guidance. The model of grief that they described can be customized to fit each individual according to their specific personality preferences. This model is being integrated into some college courses on death and dying. Perhaps it will find its way into mainstream grief counseling and so help to reduce the disabling affects of acute loss. Here is a brief summary of its model for grief.
People suffering from acute loss must walk through a labyrinth to reach the center of comfort once again. Unlike a maze, which is intended to frustrate and confuse, a labyrinth is an ancient symbol for centering that must be traversed only one way in and one way out. The grief walk requires passing through tasks of acknowledging the loss (overcoming denial), feeling the full impact of loss, developing healthy substitutes for the lost object, detaching from investments in the past and letting go of remorse, and moving forward to reconstruct a new life while integrating the loss. To each of these tasks everyone brings the whole person that they are; physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Each person possesses strengths and weaknesses in each of these areas, so the tasks of grief may be customized for the optimum benefits of each survivor based upon their personality profile. When a loss occurs, we are left with the holes in our personality that person or object was filling up for us. The normal but unhealthy reaction is to find a substitute quickly to fill up the holes again to feel comfortable, like taking a pill when we feel sick. But the healthy way is to identify the holes in our makeup and work on filling them for ourselves so we can bring a more healthy and whole person to any new relationships. Buddhism speaks of leaning into grief and letting it wash over us until the wounded areas are healed instead of running for cover. That is why it is called grief work. If grief counselors could learn to help their clients work through this model of grief work, perhaps its devastating impact could be softened somewhat.
Everyone knows that all beginnings come with endings, but some people learn that lesson only after repeated losses of loved ones. It helps if one has a belief system that works to accompany the losses in life. When a loss is severe enough, basic beliefs may be shattered like Humpty Dumpty who fell off the wall and could not be put back together again. Some things that are broken cannot be fixed. Perhaps a heart must be broken before God can enter it. Sometimes neither fight nor flight are appropriate reactions when it is better just to be in the here and now and to suffer when suffering. Perhaps the Principles of Theofatalism can enable people who read Voices of Sedona to employ the tasks of grief most effectively. Buy it from Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com or www.amazon.com.
Some things really are amazing. The role of the History Channel in cable television is a case in point. Just a little watching of its well documented stories will open the eyes of even the most ardent atheist to the will of God. Three programs recently observed will help to illustrate and maybe challenge your belief in free will among Homo sapiens.
The life of Werner von Braun is rapidly fading into history. Doubtless many people reading this never heard of him and could care even less. But, his impact on their lives is more than just coincidence. Born in 1912, he had a burning desire for space travel from an early age. To him, exploring the planets would be the highest achievement of mankind. Unfortunately, there was no way to escape the gravity of Earth so he set out to learn how to do it. From his days as a student at the Technical University of Berlin in 1930 he began a lifelong struggle to visit other planets. He obtained some grants for his research and was close to achieving his Ph.d. degree when the Nazi regime took control of Germany under Adolf Hitler. Rocketry research was diverted to weapons development and von Braun quickly became identified with the V-2 rocket that bombarded London during the last year of WWII. Although his infamous rockets killed 5,000 people and wounded thousands more, their production in a secret cave factory took even more lives. Estimates are that 25,000 laborers who were conscripted from concentration camps died during their production.
When it became obvious that the allies were closing in on Berlin, von Braun used his commission in the SS Corps to enable his crew of nearly 500 engineers to sequester all the tons of engineering records in an abandoned iron mine until he could surrender to the American forces. Had he been captured by the Russian army, the outcome of the Cold War might have been quite different. In America, von Braun became head of the Army's rocket program and later head of the project to put men on the moon. The latter took some convincing of President Kennedy to pursue manned space rocket development. Nevertheless, von Braun led the program to its successful completion only to once again see his dream of space travel submerged in the Cold War with Russia and budgets shifted towards military uses for rocket science. Although he finished his career as technical director for NASA, he retired in 1972 with his dream of a space station still just a paper recommendation. He died in 1977 at age 65 from colon cancer. No one doubts that Werner von Braun was the father of modern space rockets that make the international space station possible. How close he came to being responsible for the destruction of London during WWII we will never know.
Another story on the History Channel was that of constructing the Empire State building in New York City. It was during the depths of the Great Depression shortly after Al Smith had returned to obscurity after leading the state as its dynamic governor who lost his campaign for President against Herbert Hoover. Smith was a "wet" politician who opposed the "dry" policy of alcohol prohibition. A group of financiers were casting about for a project to uplift the unemployed and bring hope to the suffering masses, and they somehow hit upon constructing the tallest building yet in the middle of Manhatten Island. Al Smith was hired as the project manager by the Empire State Corporation. He led a team of architects, engineers, and constructors to complete a project that could scarcely be done today at all, much less in the budget and schedule that he sustained. The Empire State Building was designed by Gregory Johnson of the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, which produced the building drawings in just two weeks, [without any computer aided drafting] possibly using its earlier design for the R.J. Reynolds Tower in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as a model. The availability of steel fabricated in Pittsburg made it possible to reinforce concrete and provide the frame needed for such a structure, and the available labor, highly motivated, got the job done. A tribe of Mohawk Indians from Canada was employed for the high level steel erection. Since there was no ground space for storing materials, the arrival and installation of products was timed carefully for maximum efficiency. An indispensable feature was the electric elevators that replaced the necessity of trudging up stairs and so limited the number of floors tenants were willing to rent.
Beginning in 1930, the building was completed in only 410 days at half the budget due to the declining dollar, hardly possible with the technology of today. In its first year of operation, the observation deck took in more than a million dollars, as much money as its owners made in rent that year. The building would not become profitable until 1950. It stood as the world's tallest building for more than forty years until completion of the World Trade Center North Tower on December 23, 1970. The Empire State Building was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 2007, it was ranked number one on the List of America's Favorite Architecture according to the AIA. The building houses 1,000 businesses, and has its own zip code. As of 2007, approximately 20,000 employees work in the building each day, making the Empire State Building the second largest single office complex in America, after the Pentagon. During WWII, a B-25 bomber off course during fog flew into the structure at the 79th floor, doing only minimal damage with loss of fourteen people plus the plane's crew. Strange, when you think of the loss of the World Trade Center on 9/11/01.
The History Channel also documented another miracle of engineering and construction hardly replaceable today. As the population of southwestern states zoomed during the early 20th century the need for water to irrigate the arid farm land and support the need for electricity led to the wild scheme to dam up the Colorado river. Several locations were scouted and the final decision to make it happen about 30 miles from Las Vegas on the Nevada, Arizona border was spurred through Congress by Herbert Hoover as both Secretary of Commerce and as President. Early plans called for the dam to be built in Boulder Canyon, so the project was known as the Boulder Canyon Project. The dam site was eventually changed to Black Canyon, but the project name remained the same. Construction began in 1931 and was completed in 1935, more than two years ahead of schedule. The dam and the power plant are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, Hoover Dam was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985. Lake Mead is the reservoir created behind the dam, named after Elwood Mead, who oversaw the construction of the dam.
The contract to make the Boulder dam was awarded to Six Companies, Inc. on March 11, 1931, a joint venture of Morrison-Knudsen Company of Boise, Idaho; Utah Construction Company of Ogden, Utah; Pacific Bridge Company of Portland, Oregon; Henry J. Kaiser & W. A. Bechtel Company of Oakland, California; MacDonald & Kahn Ltd. of Los Angeles; and the J.F. Shea Company of Portland, Oregon. The chief executive of Six Companies, Frank Crowe, invented many of the techniques used to build the dam. One in particular is very interesting. Because of the desert climate, it was necessary to circulate refrigerated water through tubes in the concrete to remove the heat generated by the chemical reactions that solidify the concrete, since the setting and curing of the concrete was calculated to take about 125 years. Six Companies, Inc. was contracted to build a new town called Boulder City for workers, and the construction schedule for the dam was accelerated in order to create more jobs in response to the onset of the Great Depression. During the first summer of construction, workers and their families were housed in temporary camps while work on the town progressed. To maintain family security and safety, gambling, drinking and prostitution were not permitted in Boulder City during construction. Overseeing the operation of this model town was a 69-year-old former newspaper editor and Justice Department employee named Sims Ely. Ely possessed all legal, moral, and judicial power in Boulder City. To this day Boulder City is the only location in Nevada that prohibits gambling, and the sale of alcohol was illegal until 1969. There is enough concrete in the dam to pave a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York. There were 104 deaths associated with the construction of the dam. The first person to die was J. G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned in the Colorado while looking for an ideal spot for the dam. Coincidentally (?), his son, Patrick W. Tierney, was the last man to die working on the dam 13 years to the day later. The seventeen hydroelectric turbine- generators at Hoover dam generate a maximum of 2,074 megawatts of hydroelectric power. There is little doubt that without Hoover, Crowe, Ely, and Mead, the Hoover Dam would not exist today and people of the southwest would need other ways to power and irrigate their lifestyles.
History is full of stories about a few special men...and women...called to perform a unique service during their lifetimes. In comparison with the rest of us, they seem to have a special calling. But, when you look a little deeper into history, you may realize they could have done nothing without the aid of many unnamed men and women who supplied the flesh and blood to get the job done. Many gave their lives. They say where there is a will there is a way. But, just whose will is it?? The Principles of Theofatalism may supply the answer. You can learn them in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com.
Sedona says - At first glance these two words seem to be perfectly compatible. After all, people go about life making decisions consciously all the time that seem to be within the bounds of their conscience. To be sure, the bounds of conscience vary quite widely, some could say due to socially intruded norms or learned religious dogma or even the threat of legal consequences. Nevertheless, people totally isolated from such boundaries, as infants and aging dementia patients, still seem to make choices that vary from person to person which appear to be guided by some definite motives and constraints. Thus, one auto driver may adhere strictly to legal traffic laws [admittedly a rare example] even though criticized by more aggressive drivers, and one who feels hungry may seek a job, even a demeaning one, in order to earn money for food. Other drivers may intentionally and consciously ignore traffic laws, including maintaining a driving license, and some people may forcefully take the food they desire by stealing and robbing others of their possession. In extreme cases, some people would rather die homeless than harm anyone, while the socio-pathic serial killer has apparently no restraint of conscience to deter his behavior. People who study such things find roots in fields including sociology, law, religion, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and more recently in neurology and genetics. If one assumes that people all act from conscious valuing of benefits and burdens in making any behavioral decision, any attempt to understand the wide variations in a conscious conscience runs into barriers at every turn. Let's take a few cases in point.
In a highly celebrated case, the family of Terri Shiavo fought out in courts all the way to the U.S. Congress whether or not to remove her from life support after sustaining her for more than a decade in a "persistent vegetative state" with no hope of improvement, against her stated will. Medically, only her brain stem survived, enabling nothing more than autonomic functions such as breathing. She had to be sustained by a feeding tube and constant personal care. Schiavo's higher brain functions, and with them her personhood, had been irretrievably lost. The Florida courts that allowed her removal from artificial life support recognized this, as petitioned by her husband. What made the legal decision so difficult for her mother, father, and brother to accept was anticipation of loss of the remembered whole person, an actual social and personal existence that had been but was no more. The permanent loss of this person was something with which they were unable to come to terms. Most everyone finds the assumption that physical vulnerability extends to the core of our selves insurmountable. So many people often want every means possible to be used in preserving life at all costs, long after any hope of return to normalcy is past. As the generation of baby boomers ages, decisions such as this concerning their life support will be made routinely, if not painlessly.
The Catholic Church is arguably the most powerful arbiter of moral behavior among Homo sapiens. Among its dogma is the central commandments of God, including "thou shalt not kill" and "thou shalt not commit adultery" among eight others. These two are connected together in the ChurchŐs stand on reproduction. Its most conservative interpretations require that coitus be engaged only for the purpose of procreation and that once fertilized, the human egg becomes a human fetus with all the rights of survival and protection of any adult. However, members of the Church bend these rules according to their own consciences, and that results in a wide range of behaviors. The result includes priests accused of sexually molesting young people in their charge, sexually mature people wallowing in fornication, and a national law that grants pregnant women the right to an abortion as the ultimate form of contraception without consent of the father. At one extreme, these behaviors are considered by some as fundamental rights in personal freedom of choice, while others print bumper stickers that say "You Cannot be Catholic and Pro-Choice." There is no doubt that mediating the rights of the unborn and their parents requires conscious conscience, but what accounts for the wide range of variations in such decisions?
We are a nation "under the rule of law" so we are told. But the law is not a black and white matter. For example, there are gradations of killing that range from accidental to manslaughter to second degree to first degree murder... and there are established defenses of insanity and self defense. Most such cases are settled by decisions of a jury with rules of court that vary from state to state and by judges responsible for their implementation. Thus a trial in one jurisdiction may have an outcome that could be different in another jurisdiction or with a different set of participants. In many cases, punishment is left to the discretion of the presiding judge so that variations on the same facts can exist from court to court. That could explain why so many drunk drivers with long records of traffic violations and even suspended licenses continue killing people. Again, the matter of conscious conscience comes into play that seems to be beyond the control of the court process because a different set of actors can produce a different result.
These examples are but a small fragment of the larger issues surrounding what is considered to be moral, ethical, and legal. The honored writer, Ernest Hemingway observed that what is moral is "what you feel good after." One can only wonder why he committed suicide. The only plausible theory is that something must be happening at some unconscious level that is beyond the control of the individual. When you take that idea up to the President of the United States and the members of Congress and the Supreme Court, the subject gets rather sticky. Perhaps the only way out is expressed by the Principles of Theofatalism. Read all about them in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com.
Sedona says - Life does not often turn out as planned so we have to make the best of it. Shortly before he died, bereft and in a nursing home, my father told me, "In life we cannot get everything we like, so we must be satisfied with what we get... I think I did the best I could under the circumstances." It has taken me three decades to really appreciate the life behind those words. You see, my Dad was brought to this country from Naples, Italy to work in coal mines next to his father who had come earlier under a temporary work permit. My father was only fourteen years old, but being the eldest of his siblings, he was first in line to help make some money to support his impoverished family. He was never to see any of them again. That was in 1904, before the child labor law passed in 1938. I don't know much about his life, but from the fragments of stories that he told me, it was not pleasant most of the time.
From being seasick all during the November ocean crossing on the coal steamer, to the train ride from New York after processing through Ellis Island, to West Virginia and then living with a crowd of rough men in a boxcar and eating out of tin cans to working the mines by lamplight, it must have been quite a start for a young man away from his friends, his mother and siblings, in a strange land with no hope for much better. When his three year work permit was over, his father returned to Italy but my father stayed and began work building the railroad through the mountains of Western Maryland. From scouting through the woods to locate springs of fresh water for the crews laying track, he grew into manhood with a view of the world that most young men of today could barely imagine. When my German-born mother consented to marry him in 1913 and he gained U.S. citizenship, it must have seemed that heaven had opened, and the blessings of family gave him a new life. But it was to be just the two of them for many years. They survived the great influenza pandemic of 1918 although both were critically infected. He was able to work through the Great Depression at a tire manufacturing plant and to buy a small house that stood next to a bend in the Potomac River. Heaven got a little muddy as each time the spring rains came the river broke its banks at that turn and the flooding water repeatedly destroyed their home and possessions. When they were able, my parents moved to a new home on higher ground where the threat of flooding would no longer trouble them. But other things would.
First, there was the split between them over issues of religion as my father switched faiths but my mother clung to her Catholic roots. Then there was the loss of my older brother at birth. Then shortly after I came, followed by my little brother, my father lost his job due to the war effort at age 50 and had to relocate back to working on the railroad. He never was able to gain day work again because of lost seniority, so I only saw him on weekends as he was gone when I came home from school. We raised chickens and rabbits, and I would rather not eat meat if I had to kill another animal. My mother was isolated from her family and friends in the undeveloped remote rural location, and we rarely had visitors. She became a depressed recluse who never attended any of my school activities, and so my youth was spent sans the normal lifestyle that others in my high school seemed to enjoy. I could not expect to go to college, so I tried to get all I could out of high school. Then came the Korean war and the best option for me seemed to enlist rather than be drafted for combat service. I volunteered for flight duty as crew member on a bomber. As it turned out, my time in the Air Force opened my vision to wider horizons and gave me the incentive and self discipline I would need later.
By the end of my military service, I was married... I suppose with the same kind of heavenly vision that my father must have had at his wedding. My wife had completed college so I set out to work and go to school in order to earn a decent living. I worked and studied for fifteen years, through several jobs, relocations, and two children, and finally got my degree at age thirty-five. Heaven seemed like a lot of hard work. Then, when the road ahead seemed to slope downward a little, my wife got cancer at age 42 and for ten years we faced the grim prospect that we would not enjoy old age together. When the end for her finally came it devastated the whole family and left a gaping un-healable wound in the hearts of everyone who knew her. No one can tell what it must have done to her. At her funeral I recalled and relived the emotional trauma expressed by my father at the funeral of my mother... "My God, I loved that woman." Why, I wondered, does love have to hurt so much? Why can't we just enjoy it while we have it, let it go when it ends, and die with a smile on our face? I wondered how it could be possible to hurt so much and still live. Nevertheless, I did live, but as though I had suffered the severe amputation of a limb that would never grow back again. When someone enters your heart, they never leave. The family fractured after she died, never to be united again. There will be no grandchildren for me because my children have decided the pain is not worth the pleasure. So the genes in this branch of the family tree will end right here. Perhaps it is just as well because they will never have to feel responsible for the suffering and struggle of children that compose the first principle of life.
In addition to losing my father and mother, my wife, my loving in-laws and all their kin, and my brother, there have been many other losses too. Fully one third of my high school class is gone from the Earth. Jobs have come and gone and I learned that relationships all come with beginnings and endings. People flee when they realize that old age is contagious, but I am not alone in this walk of life. English author C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) wrote this theodicy in A Grief Observed  after untimely death of his wife: "Well, take your choice. Tortures occur. If they are unnecessary then there is no God, or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they were not...not that I am in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is coming to believe such dreadful things about him. The conclusion I dread is not, so there is no God after all, but, so this is what God is really like. Deceive yourself no longer." He died within three years. It follows that a healthy mind requires development of tolerance for torture and the forgiveness of God for causing it. Carl Jung concluded that man needs difficulties and even tragedies because they are necessary for growth. We can look at suffering, humiliation of old age, and death as the curse of sin or as necessary parts of a continuing process in the growth of Homo sapiens. British philosopher Galen Strawson concluded: "From the looks of his creation, [including the more than two hundred million children under age twelve estimated by the U.N. to be employed in dangerous occupations throughout many very poor nations such as copper mining in filthy open pits in Congo, with no child labor protection,] God needs a lot of forgiveness."
Poet Robert Frost lost his wife and four of five children by age 62, and then lived alone until age 82 to think about it. He concluded, "It's hard to get into this world and hard to get out of it. And what's in between doesn't make much sense." The assassinated Beatle, John Lennon observed that "life is what happens while you are making other plans." A close friend commented, "I believe life is a great ride that keeps moving and changing and as long as we move with it and appreciate each experience we can find peace and happiness. It's when we try to stop the flow that pain is our experience—emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually." Imagine a kyaker driving through white water. It is not a long stretch of my imagination to hear the voice of God along with that of my father saying... "I think I did the best I could under the circumstances." And so do we all. That would include the 33 year old single mother in the nation's capital charged with killing her four children because, she said, "they were all demon possessed." All according to the will of God of course, because there can be no other. If you can accept that idea perhaps you are ready for the Principles of Theofatalism. Read all about them in Voices of Sedona. Buy it at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com.
Sedona says – Too often, people are their own worst enemy. On Thanksgiving Day, 2007 there was a tragedy in Maryland. It seems that a divorced couple met in a secluded park in order to transfer their three kids from the mother to the father for the rest of the day. He showed up with a rifle and shot them all and then killed himself. The ex-wife had obtained a restraining order against the ex-husband that included confiscation of his handguns. But Maryland law has an exception that permitted him to retain his rifle. According to Maryland law, handguns are more dangerous than rifles. Is that stupid, or what? And, according to the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the right to bear arms shall not be abridged. An endless debate rages over whether this killing and others like it could have been prevented by some law enforcement agency or court. Of course, one might ask why the child exchange took place in a secluded park instead of a very public location under police protection. The one thing for certain is that it cannot be undone.
Forrest Gump observed, "Stupid is as stupid does." This may include those who take on more credit card debt, mortgages, and auto loans than they can possibly pay off in a lifetime...and then look to family and others to assume their liabilities when they crash. Poor things. They cannot resist the temptation to live temporarily like the Jonese when actually they are paupers. After the bubble breaks it is impossible to say who is more stupid, the borrowers or the lenders or the leaders who make it all possible. There seems to be a hidden conspiracy to assure that, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7) When will they ever learn?
It is well documented and generally agreed that some people are smarter than others. If "smart" is defined as the ability to learn, then some people find their limits in high school and others discover them in college, while a few seem to have unlimited smarts. Take the Rev. Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) for example. He mastered philosophy, religion, and music by age 30 and then mastered medicine after which he devoted much of his talent to helping the unsmart people living in Africa to have a better life. At Lambaréné, in French Equatorial Africa, Schweitzer was chief doctor and surgeon in the 500-bed hospital that he built, pastor of a congregation, administrator of a village, superintendent of buildings and grounds, writer of scholarly books, commentator on contemporary history, musician, and host to countless visitors. The Nobel Peace Prize was given to him on December 10, 1953. Notable as he was, Schweitzer is but one of many gifted people who have made a considerable mark in life. Names like Washington, Lincoln, Mellon, Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Getty, Edison, Einstein, Buffet, and Gates come to mind. But, who is to say if they were smarter than Adolf Hitler? And therein lies the rub. Woebetide any stupid people who fall into the hands of smart but evil leaders.
Our leaders avoid the not-so secret that they have lost control of the southern border, including the unrestricted flow of illegal drugs and the many Americans who have disappeared recently in border drug wars. Consequently, the country rapidly is transitioning to a dual language and multi-cultural society. A recent study disclosed that only half of the Spanish speaking immigrants to the U.S. that have gained citizenship can speak and write in English. Actually, there is nothing in the Constitution that requires citizens to speak English and representation in Congress is based on residents, not citizens. [Many Americans do not know that.] Neither Congress nor the White House has the guts to repeal the immigration laws that they have no intention of enforcing. The domination by Americans of European descent is fading rapidly. Proof of that is the way Spanish is being used to conduct all types of business. Many people may not realize that the Mexican government never did ratify the treaty of 1848 that settled the Mexican-American war with the border along the Rio Grande river. So, literally the southern border does not officially exist. How could this oversight be tolerated for so many years? Is that stupid, or what?
There is another threat to our way of life rapidly developing in the Middle East. The amount of anti-Jewish and anti-American propaganda being spread among children and youth in Muslim countries is astounding. If children can be induced to believe in Santa Claus, they can be induced easily to believe that Jews are descended from apes and pigs and that Americans are agents of Satan. None of this hateful propaganda is being shown on the television sets of American homes, and one must wonder why. Is there some conspiracy of silence intentionally keeping us from seeing the potential for our annihilation that is brewing among Muslims everywhere? The German Nazi regime proved that all you need to do in order to control a nation is to threaten it with attack from an enemy and to prosecute anyone who disagrees as a traitor. They proved that a lie told often enough seems like the truth. What is there about people that makes them so gullible to propaganda? Of course, if you cut off a few heads in public they soon get the message. Does our emphasis upon separation of church and state prohibit any resistance to the imminent threat preached from mosques of radical Islam? Our stupid political correctness could be national suicide.
Some threats come from within. Superstitious religious people believe lots of crazy things because someone in church authority told them it was so. And they follow the religious leadership no matter where it goes. Consider the plight of first century followers of Jesus who claimed that he taught "as one having authority." (Matthew 7:29) The New Testament writer claimed that he said, "All power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth." (Matthew 28:18) If it were true, who would not follow such a leader right into the den of lions or the swords of Roman soldiers as they did. Apparently, many people are not so different from dumb pack animals. Although they evolved from packs to tribes and then to nations, the leader/follower mentality still exists in all types of organizations. People need a leader to follow, and if no one resists, the leader may take them into paths of destruction and suffering before they realize what is happening. [The collapse of Enron is a good example.] The number of people who have suffered on account of some religion is legion. Count the number of churches that have been deluded and ransacked by sinful preachers claiming to be the voice of God. Even if some of the smarter ones get the picture, a few unsmart ones can lead the pack very rapidly into painful circumstances. And no one can make unsmart people smart. So, whether they happen to be dealing with family issues, state legislation, federal laws, or international security, people with few smarts in leadership can do a lot of damage. Fools won't change until it hurts too much not to, but by then it might be too late.
The question is, do such stupid things just happen by some random process or is there some intelligence with a purpose in mind behind it all? And the answer is... nobody knows. Some scripture says that we are fashioned helplessly by God from a lump of clay, some to honor and some to dishonor or some for noble and some for common use (Romans 9:21), [think Mother Teresa and Jeffrey Dahmer] but others say that humans can change anything if they believe that God answers prayers. Some people are given to believe the human mind is a co-creator with God and thus can do whatever it desires. Jesus reportedly said several times you can have anything you want if you believe it and/or ask for it, [but although he multiplied five loaves and fishes to feed thousands, he cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season] even to casting a mountain into the sea by faith alone. (Mark 11:20-24) And, "All things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23) Then, he said, "By myself, I can do nothing...but the will of the Father who sent me." (John 5:30) Is that stupid, or did Jesus actually have some secret supernatural powers from God, as claimed by a continuous stream of "faith healers?" And, who is the "self" that believes one can do nothing or anything?
Must these opposing ideas be argued endlessly as either/or, or can they be reconciled as both/and? Or, maybe they merely are products of human imagination, whatever that is. Several religious movements have been based upon belief in the supernatural power of mind to gain health and wealth, [Science of Mind, Christian Science, New Thought, Religious Science, Scientology, etc.] The secular self-help book genre also attracts this type of thinking beginning with Napoleon Hill and his Think and Grow Rich. They all exist, so they must be necessary. If you want to feel good inside no matter what happens outside, try this idea...everything happens as it must or it would be different. That includes words put into the mouth of Jesus by New Testament writers and the trust that people place in him as well as the subsequent teachers who use him as their authority...or not. All according to the will of God, of course. That includes everything from atomic particles to space galaxies, human smarts and unsmarts as well.
That is the basic principle of the virtual Church of Theofatalism, where everyone belongs and no one can leave or be expelled. You can read all about it at www.churchoftheofatalism.org. Then go buy Voices of Sedona for all the details. You will if you must and you won't if you don't. Either way you must be doing the will of God as there is no other. Disobeying God's will is meaningful only to the stupid; in truth it is impossible.
Sedona says – the story of creation as described in the Bible in the book of Genesis is most intriguing. Even though it is presented twice with some slight variations, the central elements are the creation of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. If you take it literally as many people do, creation of Earth began at nightfall the evening before Sunday, October 23, 4,004 B.C. according to some conservative Bible scholars based upon assumptions published in 1654 by Anglican Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) of Armagh, now in Ireland. Of course, ever since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, there have been others who think evidence exists for evolution of the Earth that is much older, like maybe 4.54 billion years, with life forms occurring about one billion years afterward. According to the latter, the appearance of Homo sapiens on Earth was a gradual development that evolved from prehistoric versions in primitive forms until the invention of pictorial writing some 5500 years ago, discovered in modern Egypt, made the evidence of their existence recordable. Indeed, there are scholars who challenge the accuracy of any chronology of history that was written more than a thousand or so years ago. [One of the oldest surviving relics of prehistoric origin seems to be the jellyfish, but that is a tale for another time.] Suffice to say that the writer of the book of Genesis could not have known anything about scientific arguments for evolution, so he/she must have written from another resource. Religionists call it God.
The origin of Genesis lies in historical obscurity. The Septuagint, apparently used as a resource by writers of the New Testament, was the first translation made of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek several hundred years B.C. It may have been translated from a Hebrew Old Testament that is older than the Masoretic text, from which the Roman Catholic Old Testament is translated.Variations among ancient manuscripts have not been resolved to this day by scholars. For example, whether the mother of Jesus was prophesized to be a "young woman" as in the Masoretic or a "virgin" as in the Septuagint. (Isaiah 7:14)Many conservative scholars think the author of Genesis plus the four books following it was Moses. That is a lot of writing for a man who was very busy organizing a nation called Israel while trudging across the desert and fighting off enemy tribes for 40 years. More liberal scholars think it could have been written by several different authors, using a style called "midrash" where subsequent manuscripts incorporated elements of previous ones in a kind of chain letter. That makes it very difficult to separate myth from fact, and fiction from history. Although the first manuscripts are lost in antiquity, conservative Jewish and Christian scholars prefer to think the versions in Genesis are authentic descriptions provided by God himself to man. The Christian church has mostly adopted the King James version, except for Catholics, so let's assume it says what God wants us to know about Adam and Eve as historical characters.
From the first account in Genesis 1:26, God might have needed some help because he said, "Let us make man in our own image after our likeness...and let them have dominion over all the Earth." Of course if this was written during the era of Greek polytheism then the plural pronoun would not be surprising. But all the previous creation events were expressed in the second person singular. The creation of man is repeated in Genesis 2:7 as follows' "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul." Then it is recorded that God made a garden of delights called Eden into which he deposited the man to "dress it and keep it." Then comes an inconvenient passage in verse 9: "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every living tree that is pleasant to sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Note who put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden. It was not Adam. "And the Lord God commanded Adam saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eastest of it thou shalt surely die." (Genersis 2:15) We see that was not true because Adam did eat and did not die that day but lived for 930 years.
Next God created woman from a rib of Adam as a "help meet" for him and "therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) Next came the serpent, the most subtle of any beast, who tempted Eve to induce Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit along with her, "because thou shalt not surely die." They did and they became as gods (plural again) knowing good and evil. The retribution from God for their disobedience was swift. The serpent was "cursed above all cattle, upon thou belly shalt thou go and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life," [actually snakes are carnivores] and to the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee." [Feminists take note...] He admonished Adam; "cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life...in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread...for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return...and the Lord God said, behold the man is become as one of us (plural again) to know good and evil and now lest he take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever...the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken" and a guard was placed at the entrance to Eden preventing their return. (Genesis 3:14-24)
From there we are told that Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain slew Abel in a fit of jealousy for God's favor withheld, and then he was protected by God [not executed] and sired Enoch who "builded a city." (Genesis 4:17) Eve next had a son named Seth who had a son named Enos. (Genesis 4:25-26) We must assume the succeeding generations were the intermating descendents of Adam and Eve. Are not all the following generations, including the present one, the products of this incest? They subsequently became so vile that "it repented the Lord that he had made man on the Earth, and it grieved him at his heart" and he pondered destroying the whole thing, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because he walked with God." (Genesis 6:8) Next comes the story of Noah's Ark and the flood, which could be a fantastic episode from the Epic of Gilgamesh, an historical king of Uruk in Babylonia on the River Euphrates in modern Iraq who lived about 2700 B.C. After the flood, the Earth was repopulated by the sons of Noah; Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives, who all were descendents of Adam and Eve and, therefore, carried their sinful genes. Noah celebrated by getting naked and drunk on wine and then consigning his grandson Canaan to servitude for the sin of his father Ham who looked upon his exposed father. (Genesis 9:21-27) Go figure.
Thus, we find in the Bible that it was God who placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil on Earth, and it was God who created Adam and Eve in his own image and likeness, being vulnerable to temptation and all that free will, and it was God who created the serpent with the most guile of all animals...and it was God who destroyed his own creation...[by the way, how could Noah get all the food for all those animals and people inside that Ark...specially the carnivores...imagine the stink inside that thing] and then reconstructed it all upon the original genome...so was it not also God who caused all the consequences? If man became vile and degraded, was it not all God's creation? HMMM?? And, if we all are descended from that source how can anyone say we have free will to be anything but what we are? Who would choose to believe they were born in sin and damned to eternity in Hell if they had any other choice? Raise your hands. Visit www.churchoftheofatalism.org for the only plausible answer... because God wants it that way or it would be different. Feel good inside no matter what happens outside. Buy Voices of Sedona at Barnes & Noble or online at www.IUniverse.com and www.amazon.com.
Sedona says – Perhaps some might say the greatest miracle is the gift of memory because it connects the past with the present and makes learning possible. Others might suggest it is the ability to communicate in order to transfer knowledge from one to another. Christians might invoke the virgin birth. Muslims might recommend the Koran. But, human imagination has to be right up there at the top. Imagination is defined as: "the act or power of forming mental images of what is not present, the act or power of creating new ideas, and the ability to understand the imaginative ideas of others." Strangely, a google search turns up very little that is known about this function of the human brain. But if it did not exist the world of Homo sapiens likely would be very much different. Let us count some ways.
Let's begin right at the top with religion, which is the supreme creation of imagination and takes many forms among Homo sapiens. There is a remote tribe in Indonesia that depends upon fishing for its survival. After they make a new dugout canoe from a tree, they imagine they must make up a shrine and pray to the tree god for forgiveness to prevent the canoe from sinking. None of them has ever thought to test their belief by refusing to ask forgiveness of the tree god. It gets better. Among Christians there is the belief that everyone will burn in eternal Hell unless they acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord and Savior who was sacrificed by his father God as recompense for all the sins of mankind...who were created by that God in his image and likeness. Some people even imagine they have a personal relationship with the living resurrected Christ who they imagine died for their sins. Catholic nuns imagine they are the brides of Christ. And Catholics imagine that the bread and wine magically turn into the body and blood of Christ during the service of Eucharist. Pre-Christian Jews were not the only people to practice blood sacrifice to appease their gods, but in the Last Supper event it is carried to the macabre extreme of cannibalism as Jesus says of the bread, "Take and eat; this is my body." (Matthew 26:26) In John 6:53-55 he says, "...unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Imagine that. Further, they imagine this edict comes from scraps of parchment that were scribbled by unidentified writers during the first century A.D. who were Jewish tribesmen under the rule of the Roman Empire in the area now designated as Israel around the city of Jerusalem. The Greek born Roman citizen Saul renamed Paul imagined that Jesus called him after the crucifixion to organize a spiritual kingdom among the Gentiles after he was rejected by the Jews. And today, the people of Israel imagine that the only God selected their patriarch, Abraham to sire a chosen people to occupy the land occupied by the Canaanites, now Palestine, and to engage the rest of the world in that endeavor or risk destruction for their disobedience. They still look for their deliverer to come as Messiah because Jesus did not set up the conquering Jewish kingdom that they imagined is decreed by God. Conservative Christians imagine that he will return any time now to do it, although reformed Jews imagine that world peace will only be made by social actions of enlightened people. Of course, some people imagine there is no god at all and go play golf or tennis on Sunday morning.
Meantime, another religious group called Muslims imagine that the Christians and Jews got it all wrong and that Moses had it right from God in the first place. (Actually, any religion that imagines it only has the Truth is a cult.) Some scholars imagine Muslims are descendents of Ishmael, the illegitimate son of Abraham and his wife's Egyptian servant, Hagar. (Genesis 16-17) Further, they imagine that one named Muhammad was given the message from the angel Gabriel to set things straight by organizing nations to live by the law of Moses for all time. Since Muhammad was unable to write, others who heard him speak took notes and wrote down all the messages they imagined came directly from God and compiled them after his death in 632.A.D. in their holy book, the Koran. The most extreme among them imagine that anyone who disputes that message must be executed in order to create a pure society where people can live in peace and prosperity, so long as they obey the rules they imagine were given by God. The extreme Christians and Jews and Muslims imagine that each other are creatures of the Devil called Satan and several other names found in their religious books made holy by their imagination. The Devil is imagined as the perfectly evil antithesis of God which is imagined as perfectly good. But, if God created Satan then he and Jesus must be brothers.
We haven't even begun to look at the religions of Asia where some people imagine they will be purified by bathing in the polluted Ganges river, and imagine that cows are sacred animals while dogs and cats and insects may be eaten freely. There are many more imagined versions of religions among Homo sapiens, but you get the picture. All of them are imagined to be true by their devotees. Although they all seek imagined universal peace and prosperity, none of them are given to tolerate extremes in the others, so from this imagination there comes wars and continuous struggles for power and control. Which leads to some of the most horrendous crimes and tortures imaginable. But, there are benefits.
Wars have prompted some of the most amazing developments among Homo sapiens and brought out some of their most noble qualities as well as their brutality. Developments in medicine, manufacturing, communications, and civil engineering to name just a few. By creating ever more efficient killing machines, productivity in all fields has been increased beyond imagination. Early on it took one soldier to kill another one on the battlefield. Now, thanks to imagination, one soldier can kill millions if he/she is the pilot of a plane that delivers a nuclear bomb. He/she does not even have to be in the plane to fly it anymore because radio controlled drones now can be flown directly to the target from an air conditioned office while sipping coffee anywhere in the world, thanks to the imagination that produced satellite navigation and the global positioning system. Of course, it also can be used to direct a cab driver to find your house but that is not nearly so much fun.
War making helped create the most expensive weapons imaginable, including nuclear powered aircraft carriers [they cost $2.5 million per day to operate] and submarines, plus intercontinental missiles and space stations. Consider the imagination that it took to create those kinds of things. But none of these massive giants can prevent a suicide bomber from killing scores of people plus himself because he imagines that he will enjoy 72 virgins for eternity in a garden of delight with rivers running through it for his personal sacrifice. One wonders what female suicide bombers imagine their reward will be. Science fiction sometimes is imagined to be reality. How else can one explain the faith people place in the Book of Mormon, the Koran, A Course in Miracles, and even the Holy Bible? Or the recently discovered encoded messages found hidden in the Bible that convince some mathematicians they are accurate predictions of world events, even to destruction of the Earth in 2012 by impact of an asteroid?
Well, as you can see the world likely would be a much different place without human imagination. Would there be no symphony orchestras, marching bands, museums, art galleries or public parks or skyscrapers? Would there be no treatments for cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, etc? Come to think of it, there needs to be a lot more imagination for medicine to cure all the diseases. Specially, for the little innocent children of the world. But, then what do you imagine we would all die from? Would anesthesia, concrete, and steel exist without imagination? How about Christmas? Would there be no Wi-Fi, video cell phones, personal computers, television or automobiles? Maybe there would be no Internet either or space exploration. Would the National Football League exist without imagination? How about NASCAR or baseball and soccer and basketball and all the other professional sports that enrich their owners and the players at the expense of the fans? Perhaps all the oil and coal and natural gas would still be in the ground without human imagination. Perhaps there would be no marriages or divorces either, because both are driven by imagination, are they not? And what about all the other life forms on Earth? Is imagination a programmed function that drives their migrations across the planet or must we look elsewhere for explanations of such phenomena?
Can anyone wake up and decide to imagine discovery of the next great human development? Jesus reportedly taught that you can perform miracles if you have faith the size of a mustard seed and believe it is possible. But, alas, it does not seem to work that way for us mortals. The Japanese inventor of the first video game, PacMan, claimed that he got the idea from looking at a round Italian pizza with a slice cut out. It's first English translation came out PuckMan, but it was changed for obvious reasons. Alexander Fleming discovered the effects of penicillin inadvertantly in 1928 at St. Mary's hospital in London, but his paper on it in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology drew no attention. A cancer researcher at Oxford named Ernst Chain who worked for Howard Florey rediscovered Fleming's paper in 1938 and researched penicillin as an antibiotic. As WWII began, research funded by the Rockefeller Foundation leaped across the ocean to find a way of manufacturing it for treatment of battlefield wounds. Someone discovered that corn and rotting cantelope from Illinois made excellent cultures. By the end of WWII, 21 companies were producing 650 billion units of penicillin per month, and countless lives had been saved. Fleming shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1945 with Florey and Chain. Florey commented later, "People sometimes think that I and the others worked on penicillin because we were interested in suffering humanity. I donąt think it ever crossed our minds about suffering humanity. This was an interesting scientific exercise, and because it was of some use in medicine is very gratifying, but this was not the reason that we started working on it." The limits to imagination are unknown. A pastor in Ohio once gave his members each fifty dollars and, according to the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:14-30) ordered each one to go out and multiply it for charity. The number of ways many members increased the money was miraculous. Many discovered idle talents that could be put to use and doubled the money. Researchers studying epilepsy at Washington University in St. Louis reported that an afflicted teenager was able to move a video icon just by thinking of it. So, perhaps Jesus was right after all. But, if he really was the son of God, why don't Christians live by his teaching? "Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand." (Matthew 7:26) Perhaps his teachings as in Luke, Chapters 15 through 19 would be just as much a stumbling block today to the healthy, wealthy, and happy among us as they were then.
The origin of imagination and the way it seems to work are explored in Voices of Sedona. It describes the Principles of Theofatalism, which are the core beliefs of the virtual Church of Theofatalism where everyone is a member and no one can leave or be expelled. Visit www.churchoftheofatalism.org for all the details.
Sedona says – the founders of the United States of America began their Declaration of Independence in 1776 from the crown of Britain that gave it birth with these words; "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." From those words and the miraculous defeat of the British with the indispensable help of France, there has grown a mighty nation of more than 300 million people occupying a land that stretches from "sea to shining sea." But, there are many skeletons in its closets. Katherine Lee Bates offered a prayer for this land in 1895 as she penned the words to America, the Beautiful.
O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!
However, when the U.S. Congress selected a theme for the National Anthem in 1931, it chose the words of Francis Scott Key that he composed in 1814 during a bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812 at Baltimore, fought once again against the British. The Star Bangled Banner is a poem of war, while America, the Beautiful is a poem of beauty and praise. Perhaps that selection was no mistake, for this nation was founded in mortal conflict and has been sustained by mortal conflicts again and again.
The British, French, and Spanish explorers who first settled this land after the initial landings in the early 17th century found it was occupied by a race of indigent peoples that we now know had been here for centuries before them. They were clustered into more than 1,000 independent tribes with separate languages and cultures They had adapted to the wide range of climate and terrain and spread from shore to shore. Their lifestyles all had one thing in common; they took from the land and its lifeforms only what they needed. At first some of them befriended and even aided the new invaders to settle in the lands they held sacred. But the invaders soon discovered there was booty here to be plundered, and they began almost immediately to ransack the land for its wealth that could be shipped to the homelands for trade and barter on international markets. The indigent peoples, called Indians by Columbus in 1492 because he thought he landed in West Indies, understandably began to resist the plunder and threats to their existence posed by the invaders, and so began more than two centuries of battles for the occupancy of this continent. It might be called genocide.
The drive for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that spurred more and more settlers to make the dangerous one-way journey across the ocean from Europe was pursued at the expense of the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of the native Indians. Scarcely any evidence of their culture remains except in the cloistered sovereign reservations to which they were consigned by the benevolence of the U.S. Congress while it made and broke numerous treaties and agreements during the expansion westward. During the 18th and 19th centuries wave after wave of settlers spread out across the plains beyond the Mississippi and eventually occupied the entire continent all the way to the Pacific ocean. In one decade alone there was so much killing of the Buffalo herds, that the Indians depended on for food and clothing, they were all but eliminated.
Battles during the infamous "Indian Wars" were barbaric and brutal on both sides. The Indians were at first overwhelmed by the firearms they faced with bow and arrow and tomahawk. They achieved some balance with surprise attacks and scalpings that kept the settlers in fear and loathing of the natives. They took some of the young and women as slaves after they laid waste to the camps and cabins of the intruders, but some bachelor invaders found their women attractive enough to marry. The last battle of the Indian wars was not fought until 1917. Possibly the greatest Indian fighter was President Andrew Jackson whose likeness decorates the $20 bill. During his administration (1828-1836) treaties with the Indians were ignored and the "trail of tears" was blazed as Federal law required all Indians east of the Mississippi to vacate their homes and hike into the western wilderness, confined to 300 reservations comprising 87,000 square miles of the poorest land on the continent. They were not granted full citizenship until 1924. The Indians who were not killed often died of diseases imported by the white man including cholera and small pox. The settlers, who were aided by the U.S. Army, were relentless in taking possession of Indian lands and hunting grounds. They cleared the virgin lands and introduced cattle and agriculture that eventually took over the continent. Then they proceeded to turn upon each other as the nation divided into north and south segments with separate and divergent lifestyles. During Jackson's second term, the stage was set for the turmoil to come that divided corporations from workers and poor from rich as the political structure became organized around democrats and republicans.
The North was based upon industrialized free men and the South was based upon agricultural trade manned by kidnapped slaves from Africa. For more than one hundred years the North and South became more and more incompatible and threatened to split the United States into two different countries. Need we mention the Dred Scott Case of 1857 in which the Supreme Court upheld slave ownership and ruled that the Federal Government could not prevent it among the territories? The organizing of a Confederate States of America then climaxed with the Civil War that resulted in the greatest human losses the country was to experience. What was that about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness again?
During his most famous speech at dedication of the cemetery where bodies of 160,000 dead fighters were buried after the Battle of Gettysburg during July 1-3 1863, Pres. Abraham Lincoln intoned these words; "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." The great U.S. Civil War was to continue for another two bloody years. Only after Pres. Lincoln gave permission to Generals Sherman and Grant to plunder the plantations and the civilian families of the southern warriors would it end. They called it the scorched earth campaign. It might be called terrorism. The scars and ill feelings persist to this day. It took another hundred years for blacks to gain full civil rights after the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Women did not get the right to vote until the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution was ratified finally by a single vote in Tennessee in 1920, following their role in WWI and 60 years of their suffrage protests led by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. And the Indians who survived learned they can make a lot of money off the white man by operating gambling casinos.
Our coins and our pledge of allegiance to the flag invoke the notion of one nation, under God. Well stated, because the writers of the U.S. Constitution and all of its subsequent amendments and its many lawmakers and voters could not possibly have forecast the present consequences of their actions. And, none of them can be redone another way. Neither can the future consequences of present actions be forecasted accurately. Only God knows. Further, we are just one nation among the nearly 150 sovereign nations recognized by the United Nations that comprise more than six billion people on Earth. They speak many different languages, worship many different gods, and live many different lifestyles. And they seem to be engaged continually in wars for power and control over the resources of Earth. Among them some people thrive and some suffer and struggle greatly. One who tried to make sense of it all was given the Principles of Theofatalism for explanation. They are described in Voices of Sedona. You may find your place in the world by visiting www.churchoftheofatalism.org.