Among the various doors we might open in hope of changing human mindsets on a broad scale and fairly quickly, I can conceive none more potentially effective than the door which opens onto religious and spiritual beliefs—probably economics also, because pursuit of wealth is treated by so many as a religious value. Of all the stories human beings make up and perpetuate, stories about the reality of things unseen and unprovable appear to have greater staying power—and apparently greater influence among the total population—than any other realm of thought developed so far.
Spiritual beliefs have prevailed since our distant hunter-gatherer ancestors perceived animistic spirits in every rock, every blade of grass, every puff of wind in their natural environment—not unlike the way we moderns can reverse-reason consciousness clear back to the big bang. Ancient spiritual beliefs that morphed over time into the official doctrines of official religions persist to the present day—pick your denomination—and show no signs of going away. Spirituality and its slightly retarded little brother religion are here to stay, and their enormous power over human thinking is undeniable.
If we want to change human mindsets soon enough to mitigate the oncoming ravaging of our world environment and coincidentally our civilization—to hopefully avoid the most damaging consequences of global heating and rising oceans—we can do no better than a frontal initiative targeting religious-spiritual beliefs. A good start can be made by 1) raising to conscious notice the fact that mindsets infect us and control our thoughts, and 2) pointing out that broader reality revealed to us by thousands of near-death experiences. To these ends I have written this book, may it help more mindsets become more open.
I feel deep gratitude for the series of cogent dreams and lucid spiritual contacts—gifts, as I view them—that helped me get to this point. I have written this book simply because I feel compelled to add my small effort to the immense task impending. Notwithstanding personal reticence to share private thoughts publicly, I cannot not write it.
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Reasoning, concluding, believing
My decades of questioning and agnostic holding back ended over ten years ago. I feel as convinced as any near-death experiencer that my personal experiences—unfortunately impossible to share directly with any third person—were real. The new big question concerns how I must now define “reality.” What I used to call “reality,” what religions call reality, what science calls reality—I think they’re all wrong. Or, more to the point, they’re all right up to some small point, but they all have only their fraction of the truth.
Reality includes all the above, and—I believe—a great deal more. Now after a lifetime of slowly intensifying seeking, I believe in science, though not the dogmatic reductionist version. I believe too in well reasoned spirituality, a reality beyond our senses that is more real than real. I believe in that central universal core behind all religions called The Perennial Philosophy, but I do not believe in any manmade religion whatsoever, and I expressly eschew all the teachings, doctrines and dogma that organized religions insist adherents must believe—Or Else. Most emphatically, I trust the understandings I have arrived at using my own good intellect in the image of God, and I believe them true.
I suppose this suggests I’ve become a true believer of sorts, but what I truly believe has not the remotest resemblance to any organized religion, doctrine or dogma. I am actively turned off by all of them. I have arrived at a broad system of belief rationally put together over a very long time with great effort through voracious reading, researching and thinking. It is a rationally built structure of conclusions and beliefs based on reason that is mine alone—though I must give full credit to all those hundreds of good thinkers whose wonderful, thoughtful writings so helped me in arriving at my own conclusions.
And just so these thoughts shouldn’t sound vain, I must add that more than once in a quiet way I asked for help in the understanding I sought—and each time understanding came. I feel sincere gratitude to helpful spirits “out there somewhere” in that greater reality who, caring about our internal growth and development, give us gifts of nuanced and vitally needed guidance when we bother to ask. Along with my process of Attaining Knowledge has come rising Understanding, perhaps a tad of Wisdom. All this certainly has helped me grow into a heightened sense of responsibility toward my fellow humanity.
Tin, Winton, Coon, Hanton—here’s to you old buddies, you know who you are.
I don’t ask or expect any other person to adopt or believe what I believe, and I actively dislike the missionary urge. Putting so many of my thoughts into this book is contrary to my private inclinations and quite against my grain. I deliberately include them in compliance with a felt responsibility to do so—my reasoning must be understood. I’m usually willing to share some of my private thoughts if asked, but I feel strong conviction that we are all responsible to figure out our personal beliefs the hard way, the thinking way. This emphatically includes responsibility to not simply, passively ingest what we’re told sitting like lumps in some church, mosque, synagogue, temple, classroom or glen by some guru, imam, preacher, rabbi, shaman—or equally dogmatic reductionist scientist.
I have come to regard this responsibility as perhaps the most important single thing in each person’s life—not for the belief itself, but because of the effort that must go into establishing personal beliefs, and the behavior that follows from holding them. What we in fact do, externally, directly reflects and reveals what we believe internally. Newspaper headlines alone make it clear that a whole lot of people need to change their beliefs. There are a lot of lessons needing to be learned, perhaps more today than ever before. But all of them can be distilled into one big Lesson that certainly has not yet been learned.
Chapter 6. Carbon Conundrum
We are all responsible, individually, to attain the wisdom and the discipline to choose, and to pursue together, the ways that are best for all of us, together.
The following story originated in a lucid dream. As it happens it was not my dream, though some real doozies have come to me in stilly nights over my decades. A lucid dream is one that is highly significant to the dreamer—and sometimes to others, as is this one. It stays solidly, dramatically in memory in a way wholly unlike those gauzy little snippets that flutter through our subconscious every night, and are quickly forgotten.
This dream was given a title, The Lesson, and related to me in detail some forty years ago by a person I knew well, now deceased. Recognizing important metaphor in the dream, I quickly wrote it down so its remarkable details could not fade from memory and be lost.
Beginning… The dreamer stands among a large group of people on a grassy sward that slopes gently to the shore of a large, broad blue lake. All in the crowd are excited, chattering about their imminent visit to a unique and desirable amusement park that is seen gleaming on a green hillside above the distant far shore. Trolley-like tracks extend across the grassy sward, down to the lake’s edge and straight on into the water.
A big fellow, silently unmoving at the edge of the crowd, appears to be in charge of this expedition. This is confirmed when he quietly instructs all present to board a large carriage-like boat that sits on the rails. When all are presently seated, the leader takes the last seat and the boat immediately starts down the tracks toward the water, gathering momentum. The people’s happy anticipation of the amusement park is palpable.
To the dreamer’s surprise, when the boat reaches the water it does not float off the rails, but continues on down the rails so that in a moment the boat and all aboard are under water. An instant of instinctive fearfulness quickly passes as the dreamer realizes that nobody seems to be drowning, and normal breathing is miraculously unaffected. The boat quickly accelerates to a high speed in its rail-guided journey across the lake bottom.
Speeding along safe and unharmed in softly filtered light from the beautiful sunny day above the lake, the travelers—all amazed by this underwater situation—lean back to enjoy the ride. There gradually arises among them general awareness that the big leader guy understands what’s going on and how it works, but he is saying nothing to anyone.
Presently the passengers feel the boat start its ascent to the far shore. Following the tracks up a long slope, it emerges from the water and rolls to a gentle stop on the grassy slope previously seen so distantly from the shore of origin, now so far behind. Realization sweeps the crowd: We’re here! This is the hill—here’s the amusement park! All aboard quickly disembark and, looking around, exhibit amazement. The dreamer looks around too and, like the others, is amazed at what is seen.
Of roller coasters and frivolous carnival rides there are none. Instead, directly ahead, ascending the gentle hill on both sides of a broad street, are mansions, many mansions, gorgeous elegant mansions everywhere. All the mansions are unclaimed, available.
And placed right out in the middle of the street, proceeding up and over the hill out of sight, are tables—tables beyond counting—all piled high with exquisite stuff. Silver tea services by the dozens, perhaps hundreds, yours for the taking. Golden candelabras, pearl necklaces, jewelry heavy with rubies and precious gems. Queen Anne couches and filigreed brass planters with curvy legs and other fine things and stuffstuffstuff. All yours, grab it and go. Scot free, help yourself. Take all you can carry. Come back for more.
Already, the people have dispersed themselves widely up the street, over the hill, moving between the tables claiming the overflowing stuff, carrying it into the mansions, rushing back to the tables to get more, more—vastly excited, exclaiming over their good fortune.
The dreamer alone desires no look inside those mansions, for the dreamer senses what’s in there. Stuff. Nothing but the finest stuff, every mansion crammed full, with space for more. And everybody can just step right off the carriage-boat and run to those glittering treasure-laden tables and load up with all the gold and silver and pewter stuff their arms can carry and go pick out a mansion and carry all the free stuff into the free mansion that’s already crammed full of high-end stuff, and the whole works is now his-hers-theirs!
And that’s exactly what they all do. Plenitude notwithstanding, there is even a bit of bargain-basement scuffling in the general frenzy to possess especially choice items. Everybody who came over on the carriage boat is now busily gathering up armloads of stuff from the tables to carry into their new mansions…
…everybody except the dreamer, who stands tense with unease, watching this drama of out-of-control materialism. There is something the dreamer values more than mansions and stuff.
Looking around for the big guy, Leader man, Dreamer sees him standing silently over on one side, arms folded, quietly watching the scene. Dreamer runs up to Leader and pleads: Tell them to stop. We all have to go back to the other side, where we came from. We have to leave now. Leader just smiles, looking straight ahead, as if he knows something.
Please, make them come back and forget all that stuff! Distraught, Dreamer is near to screaming, for all the people are fast setting up housekeeping, moving in. They like it and are clearly planning to stay here, in their new mansions, with all their stuff. Leader stands unmoved, as if unhearing of Dreamer’s entreaties. We all have to go back, Dreamer pleads, We have responsibilities! How can I make them understand?
Leader at last turns, acknowledging, and looks Dreamer straight in the eye. Leader asks: What is it they must understand?
Dreamer cries out, People are more important than things, than stuff. They all have to love one another more than they love this stuff, so we can all go home!
That’s one, says Leader.
One what? asks Dreamer, confused.
You are one, replies Leader. You have learned The Lesson. They all must learn The Lesson before the boat will go back. Nobody may leave here until all—every one—learns The Lesson. Their wants, he says, are way beyond adequacy. And their numbers, he says, are way too many for their wants. Their consumption, he says, is way out of hand.
As soon as they escape abject poverty, Leader continues, they want stuff. Though they acquire more than their minds can imagine, they feel inadequate, they want more stuff. And they care not if their consumption harms their fellow humanity. Leader said all this.
Hearing, Dreamer’s heart sinks. Dreamer stands there, transfixed in inner turmoil with realization of the import of what has just been conveyed. Everyone must learn The Lesson before we can all leave this place and return, together. Dreamer then awakes.
What, the dreamer’s mind asks, is awake? What is conscious? What is understanding? What is responsibility? How can I possibly make them—all of them—understand? We have to love people more than we love stuff. But they are so many, wanting so much…
…the dream has no ending—it merely fades to a persistent waking anxiety, a background unease that will not go away…
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