Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm taking a day off from words.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Unexpected Meditation

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have a natural gift for meditation. I find it harder than many people to sit still for long, and maybe because of habits formed as a writer I find it very difficult to stop the flow of verbalized thoughts through my head.

I’m speaking of sitting meditation, which is what we Americans are taught is the standard method of meditating. A very gifted psychic who is far more enlightened spiritually than I told an audience that she simply can’t sit and meditate. She has to be moving about. She meditates while walking in her garden.

I’m convinced of the importance of meditation, but for somebody like me -- whose mother remarked that he never stood in one place for one second while getting dressed for school – an alternative to sitting is desirable.

In the line of “things I discovered without being told” was something that startled me when I looked back and realized what had happened.

At the time of this episode I was going regularly on Sunday mornings to a spiritualist “Lyceum” at Cassadaga, a few miles from where I live. I’ll have a lot more to say about Cassadaga in the future, but for now I’ll just tell you that I found the teachers and discussions very interesting -- so interesting that I was surprised when, early one Sunday, my “inner voice” (that I attribute to my benevolent Higher Self) told me to stay home and do something I’d been planning for a long time – take close-up photographs of very small wildflowers.

I resisted missing Lyceum, but I’ve learned that when the voice speaks, always obey it. And so I took my little digital Kodak and set out on a walk along a quiet Lake Helen road next to a watery swamp, where many flowers of different varieties grew. I’ve always been fascinated by extremely close views of very small things, and I was soon lost in finding and focusing on tiny blossoms.

My all purpose inexpensive camera was poorly suited to that kind of photography, and so it took a tremendous amount of patience and concentration to get a flower centered in the picture, or even in the picture, much less get a sharp focus from a few inches away. I would often have to take half a dozen shots to get one decent one.

I was so lost in what I was doing under the sunny morning sky that I lost all sense of time and place. I knew nothing but the minute details of those beautiful little blossoms, white, gold, blue, and red.

Finally the camera memory was full, and I was amazed to find that I was standing unaware in the middle of the road (which did, after all, host an occasional car), and that three hours had gone by in what I would have judged to be an hour. All that time I had been unaware of my surroundings except for the little flowers that filled my eyes and camera screen.

Only later did it dawn on me that I had been unwittingly meditating. I had been totally focused on small motionless objects that filled my consciousness, the word-stream disappeared from my head, time ceased to exist, I was entirely absorbed in Now, and I felt peace when it was over.

I think it is valid to call that a meditation, and for a long time I continued to experience the benefits.

I recall that morning as a shining peak amid the scores of days on either side of it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Unchanging Self

I often recall something my grandfather said to me when I was five years old. He was telling me that he “and the boys” had gone to a baseball game. I laughed. “You said ‘boys’! Why do you say ‘boys” when you’re as old as you are?” He was probably about 60. His response was, “You never get any older. Your body gets older, but you stay just the same as you always were. Inside, I’m no older now than I was when I was your age.”

As I see it, he was describing the eternal and never-aging spark of the Source (the spark of God, if you prefer) which gives consciousness to our physical form. What shall we call that spark? Atman? The soul? The higher Self?

Words are inadequate here, especially since the same words are used in different senses by various schools of thought, but the point is that there is a part of us, the most important part, which is independent of our physical form. It is the observer, sometimes called the “enjoyer”, the passenger in the chariot we sense as our body. It is what watches the show on the television screen created by our senses, but there is nothing watching the Watcher because there is nothing beyond the Observer.

That brings to mind the Zen statement that to go searching for God is like searching for an ox while riding on the ox.

I believe that this atman, this higher Self, not only remains forever young, but also never moves. You are always in the same place. No matter where your body moves about in the illusion, maya, you are always in the same place. The only location of the Source, atman, is Now, the eternal Present. That part of you, if you were suddenly to find yourself on the other side of the planet, would be exactly where it is now. That is an inexpressible concept, but I draw the very crude analogy of a virtual reality computer game which seems to real that the player of the game becomes lost in it and forgets that he is playing a game. He believes he is traveling all over the world in the game, but he actually remains in the same place.

The spark of the divine in the individual never sleeps, never gets drunk, never is hurt. I think that L. Ron Hubbard was correct when he wrote that something in us records everything that happens, even when we are unconscious. It is also this Something which looks down at the body on the hospital bed in near death experiences. It is what tells the New Year’s Eve reveler, who is too intoxicated even to stand up for long, to “pull himself together” and drive safely home, even though he may not remember how he got there. (I know, I know, “Don’t drink and drive”, but it’s a good example.) “It” is also what makes a person become calm and efficient in a fast-moving, life-threatening crisis in spite of all the previous fear. It is, I think, what directs and enables an ordinary person to summon superhuman strength to lift an automobile to save a life.

I also believe based on personal experience, that the higher Self helpfully watches out for us. Some people believe in guardian angels, some in protective spirit guides, and I don’t dispute their beliefs, but my feeling has been that something of my “Self” is helping me avoid accidents and other bad experiences with those inner messages to “Turn left here, and never mind why!”, or “Get out right now”.

Saving experiences like those are reported so widely by so many people that there’s no question that they are real. The only question is, “Where do they come from?” Whether they come from your Self or an angel or guide, you receive even more helpful messages if you recognize and truly accept in your moment-to-moment daily life that at least a part of you exists in a spiritual domain in which future events and distant events can be perceived . . . things which our physical eyes and ears cannot detect any more than they can detect radio waves or rays from outer space.

That higher component of ourselves which remains always young, always awake, and never exhausted can be realized in Now, no matter how distracted or worried or busy we are. Tolle’s excellent book, THE POWER OF NOW, describes “gateways to Now”. My personal way is to find something in the Present to focus on – the sound of a fountain, the light on a quivering leaf, the feel of a fabric, or to use the well-known method of paying attention entirely to one’s own breathing.

A sense of peace comes from remembering who you really are.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Very Little

I apologize to my eager readers for making them wait so long today for a blog entry. I’ve heard that some are getting quite impatient.

All along I had planned to write only a very short piece today, but I didn’t expect it to be almost nonexistent. Technical difficulties intervened, and at the end of the day I find myself sitting in the dark in more ways than one.

“Technical difficulties” sounds better than “pilot error” or “user confusion”. In this age which substitutes euphemisms for solutions – “issue” instead of “problem”, “challenged” instead of what my grandmother called “afflicted”, and “food insecure” instead of “hungry” – I officially declare my delay a result of technical difficulties: One of our two cats was found playing with a long black snake on the back porch, requiring the human male of the house to gallantly wrestle the mighty serpent into submission and set it free under the lemon tree. My wife reported a smell of something burning in the kitchen – which wouldn’t have been unusual if one of us had been cooking, but there was nothing turned on in there except a couple of lights; ongoing investigation is required. All morning I struggled with creating hyperlinks in my other blog, only to discover that while I’d thought there was something wrong with them, they were actually all right. Add to that my native procrastination and laziness (like the youngest cat, I become active in short, lively spurts separated by long periods of sleep or sluglike inertia), and you see why this blog post is as full of profound thoughts as an issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.

When I first began FLIGHTS OF PEGASUS, my old friend Victor Adamus kindly offered to read over the posts before I published them, and his proofreading and comments have saved me from embarrassing myself even more than I have. Thank you, Vic! Here’s a plug: Victor and his son, Jon, have a real estate agency with offices in Orlando and Cocoa Beach, and so if you’re ever looking for property in Central Florida, consider contacting one of them at Adamus Realty Group.

There. You’ve seen what will probably be the one and only commercial announcement ever to appear on this blog.

I hope that the house doesn’t burn down tonight, and that my psychic batteries recharge me to full philosophical frenzy in the morning.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Higher Level of Being

Is there more than one level of Being?

I’m referring to the experience of Being, beingness, and not to “beings”, entities, persons.

I was in bed early this morning, probably asleep, when I had a vivid impression of a level of Being above the one I’ve always known.

That’s all there was to my “vision” or dream: First, the accustomed level of Being, and then a sensation of moving up, brightening, expanding – revealing that there was something beyond what I had ever known.

You might suspect that I experienced some heightening of my senses, but my senses were hardly involved in my experience, which took place in a kind of awareness without perceptible content – except that I was left with the visual impression that the higher level of Being was indicated by a light gray square with rounded corners, which later brought to my conscious mind the idea of an entranceway or hatch.

The entranceway did not open for me. The “vision” woke me up, and dumped me into my usual state of Being, but with a conviction that there is a higher level. As I went about the routines of brushing my teeth and making coffee I felt a dimension of hopefulness I had not felt before. This “higher level of Being” was something that I and others might aspire to attain.

It has become popular to say that what we experience in the life after this life is determined by our own beliefs, desires, and imaginations. I find that idea believable, and creating a good afterlife for myself has become a priority. At first I was somewhat distressed to find that the highest and best thing I could imagine was paradisiacal sex. I was distressed because I’ve often been told that such physical desires, though in no way “bad”, will bind us to go through more of this mixed bag of physical suffering, fear, and short-lived pleasure on “the Earth plane”.

So, I would enthusiastically welcome a paradise populated by beautiful females –- or just the right female -- especially if hors d’oeuvres were available -- but it presumably would impede my evolution to higher planes. Other than imagining my spirit body flying over oceans and across new solar systems, I couldn’t come up with a goal to compete with a woman. But now that I’ve experienced an awareness of a higher level of Being I feel that I have been shown a new path to explore.

To get an idea of my pre-dawn experience, imagine yourself in your house at night with all the usual lighting on, when suddenly all the lights become brighter. You think, “This is much better!” “I never imagined it could be like this.”

I’ll conclude by mentioning another, similar, experience I had a year or two ago. I’m not good at meditating, but I’ve tried, and while in a meditative state I had what might qualify as a “vision” because it was visually so clear and memorable: It was as if the top of my head was open and I could see above me a sky of incredibly deep blue surrounded by rich golden clouds – colors unlike any I’d seen before. The spectacle was shaped like a sky painting in the dome of some European cathedral or castle, but the quality was superior, and there were no annoying cherubs. I felt that I’d had a glimpse of a heaven. The vision continues to inspire me.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Writings of Schizophrenics

Sometimes when I’m falling asleep or waking up, but am neither asleep nor awake, I “hear” other people’s conversations and “see” people in unfamiliar surroundings. The places are always commonplace – a dim corner bar, a laundromat, somebody’s kitchen – and the words are always mundane. “If he doesn’t show up before long I’m going to phone Jane.” “Typical, isn’t it? What do you say we call a cab?” “I don’t believe in using softener.” “Don’t forget your jacket.” “We’re almost out of coffee.”

What distinguishes these perceptions from dreams is their
“presence”, their real life quality, and the sense that I hear the words as clearly as if I’d tapped into a phone line or picked up a phone on a busy party line in the days when there were party lines.

Another thing which distinguishes these perceptions from dreams is that I’m never involved in them emotionally or as a participant. I’m in my bed, and the people I’m hearing are somewhere else. The dialogues have no personal significance, and the people are always strangers to me, and people I would be unlikely to meet.

Finally, the mundane and completely uninteresting nature of the conversations distinguishes them from dreams or imagination. Nothing significant comes to me during my involuntary eavesdropping. Everything is trivial.

I’m now persuaded that at those times I am overhearing real life conversations and seeing things that are actually taking place in other people’s lives. But why do I tune in to these conversations at all, and what selects the particular ones I hear?

I don’t know the answer, but this leads into the question, why do schizophrenics hear the things they hear, which “sane” people don’t hear?

I was baby-sitting for my psychiatrist friend in Fort Lauderdale years ago when I came across a book containing the writings of schizophrenics. As I read what various men and women suffering from schizophrenia had written about their experiences, I began to feel very strongly that these people were not fantasizing, not just hallucinating words and visions created by their own brains, but were actually perceiving realities outside themselves. What they reported was related to “reality” as much as any eyewitness police report, no matter how bizarre it might seem. But their schizophrenic experiences were so different from their “sane” experiences that they couldn’t even tell about them using standard language. In an effort to describe the indescribable they invented vocabulary and improvised strange expressions which made them seem even more “insane”. But if the reader viewed their communications as a struggle to describe real but frighteningly unfamiliar experiences, the writings made a certain amount of sense.

The schizophrenic experiences I read about resemble the reception of a short wave radio which is bringing in several stations instead of only one station. Sometimes the radio jumps among several different stations, so that one can’t make much sense of the broadcasts, while sometimes it plays several stations at the same time, resulting in total mishmash.

I was led to the conclusion that individual, separate beings are created by some form of insulation. Without insulation, in the sense that an electric wire is insulated, there would be no individual consciousnesses, but instead just undifferentiated primal Source.

The human insulation, or filter, is not so strong as to prevent us from occasionally sensing things beyond the physical senses of our bodies, things at a distance, things in others’ minds, things in the future . . . but it is effective enough to keep us from being defenselessly open to the endless sea of consciousness and losing our identity as a separate entity. Without insulation, an individual’s consciousness would become swamped and she would no longer be able to distinguish her “own” thoughts and perceptions from the sea of data around her . . . and I might have to listen to boring conversations from the laundromat or corner bar twenty-four hours a day.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Source

I want to write soon about an independent realization stemming from the writings of schizophrenics -- one of those “knowings” that we occasionally experience which was not handed down to us by other people – but first I need to tell you more about “where I’m coming from”.

I’ve already mentioned that when I was young I moved from fundamentalist Protestant Christian teachings to an independent realization that there was a single spiritual underpinning of all that exists. Just about everything I’ve since learned about that general subject has come from reading, including such things as the “Upanishads”, the “Bhagavad Gita”, Aldous Huxley’s “The Perennial Philosophy”, and writings on Taoism, mysticism, Spiritualism, and New England
Transcendentalism, among many others. There are interesting contemporary views in Tolle’s “The Power of Now” (my personal favorite), “Conversations with God”, “Seth Speaks”, and books by Deepak Chopra.

The Tao is the power or essence which envelops, surrounds and flows through all things, living and non-living.

In the Bhagavad Gita, the Supreme (the Source) expresses these concepts: “All states of being are manifested by my energy. I am, in one sense, everything, but I am independent. I am above and inexhaustible. I am the origin and dissolution of all things material and physical. All manifestations of being are within Supreme Consciousness. The quality of the existence of living entities is one and the same with the Supreme, but they are never equal to the Supreme in quantity of power.”

The Transcendentalists spoke of the Oversoul, the divine "spark" within, which connected all facets of nature, including humans. They believed that one's "spark" and connection can be discovered through intuition and not through logical reasoning.

I believe that there is a single Source, an ultimate universal Beingness, which creates and sustains all things. The Source is as incomprehensible to us as It is to a goldfish, and must remain largely a mystery to humans in this life, but we can intuitively be aware of Its ultimate reality as well as perceiving Its physical creations. It is what some would call God, but my upbringing has crushed that word under so many unacceptable meanings and emotional connotations that I need to find alternatives. I wish I could also find better words for the vague and overused terms “spirit” and “spiritual”. Words are the greatest enemy of awareness of reality.

In this context, I plan to post some thoughts about schizophrenia.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Overheard yesterday:

“Are you spending Thanksgiving with relatives?”

“No. No relatives. My wife and me are spending a quiet Thanksgiving at home. Ain’t gon’ fight with nobody.”

Now, a lighthearted poem I wrote not long ago for children and for adults like me who remain children while their bodies grow up.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving!




Fleming Lee

Pepito had a parakeet,
A gold and purple parakeet.
Looked so sweet!

When Pepito strolled the street,
Also went his parakeet,
Walking on its own two feet.
Little green feet.

When people said, “That is so sweet!”
“Can your bird go, ‘Tweet tweet tweet?’”
“Squawk!” would go the parakeet
Not too neat!

Now gold and purple parakeets
Aren’t meant to squawk when asked to tweet,
So Pepito paid someone to teach
His parakeet to sing.

Madame Lola, skilled in song,
Taught that birdie all day long,
With “Fa la la,” and “,”Mi re do,”
And “Pa- Pa- Pa-geno.”

At last Madame, in music skilled,
Said, “I must tell you, I am not thrilled!”
From goats I’ve heard a nicer trill,
Prettier notes from a purple mandril.”

So Pepito taught his bird to talk,
Talk and talk and talk and talk.
Not just squawk.

The birdie found such joy in speaking
That rarely would its beak stop squeaking.
Late at night it would recite,
While Pepito should be sleeping.

“Oh, parakeet,” Pepito said, lying wide-eyed in his bed,
You make me sorry that to you I’ve read
The books of Cervantes, Twain, and Conrad!
Cover your head!”

To make it worse, the bird conversed too much with everyone he met.
"Hello, and how are you?" would not suffice. He gave advice. He let
The neighbors know his thoughts on every subject from taquitos to Tibet.
He made people sweat. He talked till they squirmed like fish in a net.

So now when Pepito strolled the street
Along with his wordy parakeet,
People who once had called it "sweet" and begged for a “tweet”
Beat a quick retreat.

“From now on,” Pepito told the bird, “I must insist
That from excessive speaking you desist.
The only words I will permit
Are ‘Hello,’ ‘Thanks,’ and ‘Give us a kiss.’
And at night don't even whisper!"

The poor bird began to sigh and weep,
But Pepito finally got some sleep.
Deep, deep sleep.

That very night, as Pepito snored,
The silenced parakeet became so bored
It spread its wings and all the house explored.
Through every door and room it soared.

Lucky for Pepito his pet was such a flier.
Far from Pepito’s room the bird found fire,
Where rats had chewed an electric wire.
Flames jumped higher and higher!

“What can I do?” thought the parakeet.
“Pepito will not let me speak.
One word and he’ll put a padlock on my beak!”
Things looked bleak.

“I must, I must!” the parakeet said,
And flew straight down to Pepito’s bed,
Landed right on Pepito’s head.
“I’ve got to talk!” the parakeet pled.

Pepito groaned and sighed.
“I told you not to talk at night!” he cried.
He yawned and moaned and blinked, red-eyed.
“I cannot doze
With a bird on my nose!”

The parakeet feared Pepito's anger,
But loudly screeched, "You're in great danger!
Flames and smoke! The house is on fire!
Smoke and flames, climbing higher!"

Pepito thought no more of sleeping!
Wrapped in his sheet, from bed he's leaping ,
As down the hall the smoke starts creeping,
Parakeet screaming, Pepito leading, both escaping!

A fire truck came and put out the blaze.
Then,"Listen, all!" Pepito called. "I want to praise
"My parakeet! Because of him my life is saved.
I'll show him my thanks in a thousand ways!"

So now when Pepito goes to walk,
He lets his birdie talk and talk.
And talk and talk and talk and talk and talk.

PEPITO'S PARAKEET Copyright 2006, Fleming Lee

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


While an undergraduate I was sitting in my room late one night, no doubt eating my customary peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwich, when I began pondering the meaning of eternity. “Eternity” had been presented to me (mainly by Christianity in relation to heaven and hell) with the sense of “a very long time”. When one went wherever one went after death, one day would follow another without end – or something like a day; there would always be another event of some kind. It would be like living on Earth, except that it would never stop and never could stop.

But something told me that was wrong. It came to me with a feeling of revelation that eternity could be neither long nor short. The eternal could have no beginning or end points, and so there was no way to measure how long it was. I told myself that something must have two ends in order to be considered long or short. Otherwise it has no dimensions.

From there I suddenly realized the Present is eternity – that there is only one Now, one moment, and that IS eternity. Our perception somehow experiences an apparent procession of phenomena, of events, within this unchanging, endless Present, and our memories store the sequence. But in Eternity, the timeless Now, there is no past or present.

That’s the best I can do to describe the indescribable today. I’m trying to find the notes I wrote at the time of the experience in hopes of making it clearer. I’ve learned a lesson: Don’t promise, as I did yesterday, what I’m going to write in the next entry. I may not be ready.

I’ll conclude by telling something that happened to me just a couple of weeks ago. I was still in bed early one morning, trying to comprehend some mystery of the nature of Being and the Source, when I abruptly accepted, once and for all, that as a human I was simply unable to understand much about the universe and existence. I had been aware of the limitations for a long time, and had made an analogy in which I and other humans are as incapable of understanding the universe as a goldfish in a bowl in a livingroom is incapable of understanding its surroundings beyond the bowl, much less beyond the walls of the room, beyond the house, beyond the neighborhood and town. But I had not felt that sharp sense of acceptance, of final resignation to the limits of my own understanding. Many mysteries would remain mysteries to me, just as a creature who has seen only the surface of the sea and cannot see beneath the sky-reflecting surface must remain unaware of the depths and plants and myriad life forms within the great world of water.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I've always like to draw, although you wouldn't know it from these cartoons.

Here’s an odd “self originated” belief or insight that came to me years ago, contrary to everything I’ve ever read or heard: There is something wrong, in some respect, with the application of the Doppler Effect in astronomy and astrophysics.

This belief is based entirely on intuition and not on scientific investigation. I cannot explain it or prove it is true. I wish I had shown enough aptitude for mathematics to enable me to understand more about physics, especially astrophysics and quantum physics, than one can glean from those often confusing books for laymen -- confusing because it is often impossible for the valiant authors to translate mathematical conceptions of the universe into words. A professor once told me, as I made my way through a popular book about Einstein’s theory of relativity, that it is simply impossible to understand relativity theory without knowing the math. I feel like an illiterate person in the world's most important library.

Speaking of Einstein, here’s another of my intuitions and convictions: There is something wrong in Einstein’s relativity theory and his related theories. I don’t know what’s wrong – just something significant. I think it will eventually be proven, as I also think that my belief about the Doppler Effect won’t sound so crazy someday. But we can expect those with a vested interest in promoting Einstein as the ultimate supergenius to put up a fight to preserve his standing.

In the next entry I expect to write about the self originated belief that is most important to me and most difficult to explain. It has to do with eternity.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nobody out there cares!!

Yes, because someone asked, the baby picture is of me. St. Augustine, Florida, 1934.

Pegasus News Flash: “The most powerful solar flare ever detected — a release of energy a hundred million times as powerful as a typical flare from our sun — took place late last year on a star in the constellation Pegasus. The explosion was so massive that, had it come from the sun, it would have wiped out most life on Earth.”

Now, back to beliefs we discovered by ourselves.

Another self-generated belief broke through to me in the Florida Keys, where I was living in a small wooden houseboat at a marina in Key Largo in the 1970’s. Maybe the setting was conducive to revelation – nothing but blue sky and blue water and a narrow bit of stony land a couple of inches above high tide. Everything except the sea and sky looked tiny, and there were few distractions from the seascape. Almost everybody lived on a boat or in a mobile home, and the readily available entertainments were fishing, drinking beer, and making love. I enjoyed the added pleasure of feeding tropical fish through a trap door next to the table where I ate my solitary meals on the houseboat. Stretching my fingers down to those colorful visitors was in itself enough to inspire an epiphany.

I was having trouble in a relationship with a woman – which itself was a kind of positive accomplishment, considering that unmarried females in the area at that time were as plentiful as snowballs in the Sahara Desert. Anyway, I was going through a minor irritating experience with the lady who brightened my lonely writer’s existence at Key Largo, and I went for a long drive to nowhere in order to calm down. I found myself feeling quite emotional, and I realized that the cause wasn’t a person but something in the cloudless sky which met the flat, brilliant water all around me. As I drove too fast across white, treeless land, the words came to me like a loud shout: “Nobody out there cares!” I’m not sure whether I yelled the words aloud, but I think I did, with a feeling of great relief. “Nobody out there cares!” I slowed the car and look up into the blue, and took my imagination out beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, beyond our solar system, beyond the galaxy . . . and no matter how far I went, “Nobody out there cares!”

I was exultant because I was being cut free from a heavy anchor of beliefs instilled in me by other people. I had been taught repeatedly that there IS Somebody out there that cares. God is watching every move you make, checking your behavior against His laws, watching and keeping a record of your bad and good deeds – somewhat like Santa Claus, except that God could see everywhere at all times and cared so much about you that He would plunge you into the torture of eternal fire if you didn’t measure up.

So, to me, “Nobody out there cares!” meant freedom. It’s surprising how often my memory brings back that moment of release and relief.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR AS A YOUNG MAN Prior to Societal Mind Pollution

Original Beliefs?

Have you ever asked yourself how many of your beliefs were put into your mind by other people, and how many you originated all by yourself?

I’m willing to bet that the number of people in the world who carry around even a few independently generated beliefs is smaller than the number who are over 7 feet tall.

When I say “beliefs”, I am thinking mostly of religious and spiritual beliefs. “Other people” includes parents, teachers, friends, books, newspapers, television, movies, and anything else except your own original ideas based on independent observation and intuition.

It took me a long time even to ask myself a question like the one above. When I did, it was, “If I had grown up alone on a tropical island with no people, no books, no means of communication with the rest of the world, would I ever have thought of the concept of ‘God’”?

I know it’s hard to imagine a lush tropical island today without a luxury hotel and fusion cuisine, much less without people, but try. Based on your isolated experience with Nature and yourself, would you have discovered a concept you would have labeled the equivalent of “God” as depicted in the Bible?

In the unlikely event that you came up with a biblical kind of “God” entirely on your own, we have to wonder what Nature, and your mind, would have revealed to be that God’s characteristics and effects on you in this life and after death.

We also have to wonder if a dozen men and women growing up alone in a dozen other completely isolated places would have come up with similar discoveries.

I was born and raised in the United States, not in isolation, which is why my question refers to the Old and New Testament Gods that were presented to me while I served a term in the Baptist church. From the beginning I felt there was something wrong with the entire system I was taught, and I collaborated and prayed more from fear of God’s plentiful punishments than from positive beliefs. Then I began asking Sunday School teachers and the minister embarrassing questions and getting embarrassingly irrational answers.

So one day, when I was in my early teens, I asked myself a question: Would I ever, entirely independently, have thought of the existence of God if God had not been named and described to me by other people? I concluded that the answer was a definite, “No.” My first original realization: I felt very strongly that there was some single, unseen basis that underlay and supported everything in existence, and that it was nothing like the Christian or Jewish Gods. I soon called this universal creative and animating source “spirit” for lack of a better term – a “spiritual” essence behind the visible world.

Of course I was not the first person in history to come up with such an idea! I was just the first person in my own history to come up with it. When I was later fortunate enough to read the “Upanishads” I felt a burst of light and confirmation.

More about all this next time. . . Thanks for looking.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Breaking the Ice

The dawning of a new blog is about as noteworthy as the division of one amoeba in the Okefenokee Swamp, except for whatever excitement it gives to the new blogger and the amoeba. I've come up with a flamboyant title for my first blog, and now I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to get Pegasus off the ground.

I titled this online journal “Flights of Pegasus” because the flying horse made the greatest impression on me of all the characters in “Myths Every Child Should Know”, and because from an early age I loved horses, finding them more beautiful and noble than the tribe of hairless, bickering apes into which I was born. I admired Pegasus in contrast to the human, Icarus, who defiantly flew so close to the sun that his wings melted off. Of all the animals on this planet, we humans are the most confused and defective and sickly, but also the creature with the highest aspirations. And so we keep hoping that, like Pegasus, we may soar high and attain the stars before we destroy ourselves.

Today the human situation is really touch and go: Will that part of us which has reached the Moon and created Beethoven's 9th Symphony prevail over our mad obsession with killing one another? Or if -- as someone suggested -- there are actually two very different species of souls inhabiting human bodies, will the species which loves peace and music win out over that which worships power and violence? This blog will support the peace and music crowd.

I'll end this ice-breaking entry with one of my favorite quotations: "The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, but queerer than we CAN imagine."

See you tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about this: What's in our heads that somebody else didn't plant there -- and who did they think they were, anyway?