Fog of sex

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I have always regarded sex as one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. It has the potential not only to create new beings, but also to create intimacy, healing, adventure, bliss, and contentment.

Unfortunately, humanity has bullied and pummeled our sexual gifts to a point where we focus much more attention on the pain of sex than on the pleasure. Social forces have shaped this gift from Garden of Eden innocence into a cesspool. It’s like a beautiful temple that has been ransacked by vandals and plunderers.

We have created the fog of sex. (Yes, I borrowed from the term fog of war because it’s such an apt description.)

The fog of sex is anything that keeps us from clearly seeing what a precious gift it is. The fog obscures its natural beauty. Some of the fog comes from the religious right. This is all the guilt and shame and fear heaped upon it. Some of the fog comes from the pornographic left. This is all the exploitation, trivialization, and physical obsession.

I often remind myself that how things may appear to be or how people talk about them are not necessarily the way they are.

Several times in my life I have had incredible sleep dreams that involved sex, yet a much different style from traditional flesh life. It was such an emotionally uplifting and brilliant experience. There was an amazing lightness of being and magic to it that just does not happen in real life or in the movies. It was entirely fresh, filled with love (even for strangers), and void of erotic cliches. The closest thing to this that I have seen have been commercials for Viagra and the like where they show smiley, zippity-doo-dah, lovey-kissey faces. The mood is all about juicy sex but doesn’t look at all like a porn shoot.

I wake up from dreams like this wondering why humanity has taken the path into the fog of sex.

Here are some contributing features to the fog of sex.

Materialism. Most of us are conditioned to view sex as primarily physical activity. We often define our joy by what happened with our body parts and specific sexual activities. This focus of our attention limits our joy to a small slice of pleasure pie. Though fun while the novelty lasts, it becomes more challenging later on to find meaning in the activity, which is one reason why sexual boredom steps in. Obsession with orgasm and physical appearance overshadows mental and emotional joy of sex and inhibits people from exploring new ways to think about it.

Beauty. Our society exploits youth and physical beauty at the expense of mental, emotional, and spiritual beauty. It’s ridiculous how young some people start feeling old and washed up. People will often not own the term “beautiful” or “handsome” because self-judgment or bullying have convinced them they’re sub-standard. The truth is that much beauty is nonphysical and stems from the heart and mind. More than it’s usually portrayed, sexual beauty is one’s consciousness—how one thinks, communicates, channels energy, empathizes, and plays. But in the fog of sex, we make it mostly about looks and conforming to erotic clichés.

Ego. Humans burn up plenty of brain cells worrying if they’re sexy enough. It’s a lot of work playing the chosen role of ugly or beautiful, even if you’ve got great genes. This smothers the truth that nature actually creates sex appeal. If nature did not make someone charmed and dangerous, there would be no such thing as sexual attraction. Human traditions in custom and fashion somewhat alter this—cosmetics, bedroom fashions, and pornified mannerisms, for instance. But even with those additions, nature arms the magic—as does the mind of the beholder. Ego builds or destroys this force of nature.

Religion. Even if we are not religious personally, so much of the guilt, shame, and fear we feel surrounding sex originated from organized mind control. Religions create a narrative about sexual behaviors, and society often adopts them as law or “morals.” Much of our mainstream entertainment mirrors that thinking as well, solidifying it into majority practices. The forces of rebellion including porn mock that strict behavior control, but in so doing they create a different kind of oppressive behavior code. Both narratives contribute to the fog of sex and usually don’t encourage sexual joy and wonder.

LIFTING THE FOG

Sometimes when I read information on spirituality, such as past-life regressions or afterlife research, I run across passages that ironically get me to thinking about sex. That just happened:

“As we all know, we are more than just a body, more than just a physical organism. There is some kind of essence, energy soul, or spirit which animates the body, and that’s what we’re really looking to access in these sessions.”

The author was talking about past-life regressions, but I flashed on the spiritualization of sex. Wouldn’t it be lovely for sex to be more meaningful than just a fun game to produce orgasms? Wouldn’t it be great to access soul consciousness?

OK, so for the most part, erotica doesn’t go there. We’ve become more intrigued by jiggling boobs or massive boners than by soul connections. Maybe soul connection just doesn’t sound exciting. Does a soul fuck sound any more interesting?

Spiritualized sex does not intend to put anyone to sleep, at least not until after the rush of contentment. It’s supposed to mean emotionally rich, right-brain creative freedom and sublime wildness. It’s akin to trance dancing, music making, art rendering, soul journeying bliss. It may include traditional erotic accoutrements, but leaves the door open for nontraditional expressions, too.

ULTIMATE SATISFACTION

What’s satisfying for you in the term satisfying sex? Is it a successful orgasm or two? Is it specific, must-do sexual activities? Is it a delicious mental journey with fantasy fulfillment? Is it a meaningful emotional event? What is it?

It’s a topic that often gets danced around without specifics—what do we want out of sex? If we don’t consider what we want out of it, we get what we get.

FUTURIZING

Sometimes I think in terms of karma and reincarnation. I wonder where I have been on my sexual journeys over the centuries in different lifetimes.

I wonder what it would be like to come back as a physically beautiful woman, the kind that makes the proverbial jaws drop. I wonder if it would be any more satisfying—or unsatisfying—than what I might experience now as an average, aging man. Ultimately, does physical beauty offer any benefits for true happiness?

Being a man this time through, I am especially attentive to what women have to say about their birthrights, which some definitely see much more curse than blessing. Every time a woman complains about what it’s like to be female in a patriarchal society, a part of me shudders in anticipation of that being my path in some other life. How would I handle that?

When I have my social observer hat on, I look at the media and see that healthy sexual role models in our society are few and far between. It’s as if men are hypnotized to surrender their intelligence, humor, sensitivity, and humanity in their roles as lovers. This is the fog of sex in action.

In the privacy of my thoughts, when I think about the ideals of sexual fulfillment, what I would most like to experience if I could, I see a much more emotionally intimate connection than what’s normally portrayed in the fog of sex. I see it for men and for women. I see the meeting of souls. I see the splendor of my sleep dreams.

Parental mysteries

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On the fifth anniversary of my mother’s passing, I found myself ruminating on a familiar theme: I wished I would have known her.

“What?” you ask.  “You didn’t know your mother?”

No, not really. Not at the depths of my desires or the farther reaches of my curiosity about who she was as a person.

Please don’t misunderstand. We had what casual observers would call a good relationship. I loved my mother and she loved me. In terms of the average American life with average expectations about average family relationships, I had little to complain about. Compared to some of my friends with horror story upbringings, I lived in a cake walk world.

Yet as my mother slipped away from a long and full life, I realized how much was left to know about her. As is true for many parents of her generation, she kept herself in a protective bubble of non-disclosure. It was not usual for her to reveal much of what she was truly thinking and feeling. I doubt if I could tell you why, because that, too, would be hidden within her psyche.

I presume she was just following the values instilled in her. She grew up in a culture where parents shielded their children from knowing their deep, private thoughts. This trend still exists in many of my friends today who are parents. They keep much of their real world secret from their children, many of whom are adults now.

The secrecy game is played with good intentions. It is often borne out of a deep love parents have for their children. Society teaches parents that they are expected to be role models for their children, and as such many do not feel comfortable showing weakness or even that they are struggling. Secrecy is often intended to shield children from the cruelties, insecurities, and challenges of life in this world. Parents want to see their children succeed, and that includes not being bogged down by … well, by reality.

Is it a good thing that parents die off without their kids knowing who they were as people? Is that how the system is supposed to work? Are parents somehow required not to share openly? While it is clearly a tradition many families cling to, is it in the best interests of both?

MYSTERY MAN

Starting right after my mother passed, I lived with my father for his final 30 months of life. He was a caring and generous father by any normal standard, and I was often told how lucky I was to have him as my dad. Still, we hardly knew each other. Dad steered clear of much deep verbal engagement. I got the distinct impression that like many men, he was not comfortable discussing his true feelings, often not even his true opinions.

As his 65 year-old child, I respected his boundaries with conversations, but I would have preferred my own personal Tuesdays with Morrie experience. “Dad, what’s it like to be looking at the end game of your life on Earth?”

“Well, Son, let me tell you. You have a week of hours?”

Dad well knew that I was interested in the mysteries of the afterlife, yet despite his health challenges, he was (surprisingly, I thought) not interested in the topic of what happens after death. His wife and several close friends had passed within the last few years, yet he didn’t ask my thoughts about it. Even while we dealt with the practicalities of health care and hospice, he never once said anything like, “I’m dying.” He would talk about “after I’m gone” in a practical way, like what to do with the furniture, but he rarely shared his thoughts or feelings about the journey he was taking.

I don’t mean to sound critical or whiny; I respect his choices. After all, dying is a highly personal and private experience. But as he left, I still wish I would have known more about his hidden joys and heartbreaks, his successes and regrets, his end-of-show thoughts and feelings. I wanted to know him as the person he was, not as the role he played as my father.

A WRITER’S WORLD

As a creative writer, I love wondering what makes people tick. It’s my passion to know how people see the world and what motivates them to do things. I normally want conversations to get beyond superficial banter like what someone ate last night or what cute sayings someone read on Facebook. I want to get into the juicy stuff that flows like magma underneath the surface of our daily lives.

What are your heartbreaks? What are your ecstasies? What are your aspirations?

Creative writers base stories on motivation. Often in literature and movies, characters will talk at a depth not commonly seen in real life, at least in my real life. We get to know what drives people to do things, often quite poetically.

It’s not so common today in everyday chitchat for people to drop in deep to discuss inner yearnings and deepest pains. In our wired, televised, social media networked world, deep conversations are often reduced to tweet and sound bite brevity. Today, kids are often babysat by big screen HDTVs, little screen tablets, and smart phones. It’s easier than ever to let someone else think for us. It’s easier than ever to lose intimate contact with others because we are being taught to keep it simple. Tweet it or delete it.

I like to talk and write about feelings, relationships, sex, death, afterlife, mystical experiences, unusual perceptions, coping with various situations, solving problems, emotional growth. In-depth conversations about topics—topics that ironically matter most in our daily lives—are simply out of bounds in many families. We’re often taught to put on a good show, and not a reality show.

ONE-WAY STREETS?

Communication between parent and adult child is not always two-way. For example, a mother might help an adult child through a romantic break-up without mentioning what she herself is going through or went through with the child’s father. A parent might give or lend money to an adult child without sharing what a true financial hardship that is. Parents may deal with their offspring’s drug issues or mate choices or job choices without revealing their own struggles.

We are taught to play roles and not tell our truths.

The older I got as a teen-ager, the less of my personal stuff I shared with my mother and father. I had learned the safe topics and the unsafe topics. While I know that it’s entirely normal for adult kids to edit their conversations as much as the parents do, I nevertheless find something sad about the practice.

AFTERLIFE STUDIES

As I have pursued my interest in afterlife studies, I am confronted with the possibility that there are no secrets in the next world. Why? Because in the spirit world, the nature of thought and telepathy does not allow for secrecy. Anybody can read us like a completely open book.

That may sound pretty creepy to earthling ears. No secrets? Everybody knows everything? Even that?

But it is also a love space. So, yeah, everybody knows your secrets, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a very forgiving place.

For me, the most interesting aspect of this is how I respond to the idea that my parents right at this minute know it all. No secret is beyond their spiritual eyes and ears. Even that.

But how strange this is for me now! I’ve noticed that even in imaginary conversations with my parents, where there is an astoundingly small chance of them answering back in a voice I can hear, I have a difficult time discussing my secrets with them. It feels as if it’s not safe. Ha! That programing goes deep.

Of course, any difficulty I experience sharing secrets with my parents-in-spirit only mirrors that I have trouble facing my own secrets.

In the afterlife, we’ll be more like movie actors attending a script conference discussing our character roles. We’ll share our motivations, conflicts, goals, and beliefs from the life just lived. We’ll have a complete backstory from our past lives and our between-life goals and objectives. We’ll probably learn why we eat our secrets. Yes, even about that.

 

The Purpose of Pain

LonelyI don’t know whether this is a new trend in spiritualism, or whether I am just discovering something I hadn’t noticed before. In various places the concept is arising that a major purposes of life on Earth for souls is to enjoy the experience of pain.

Sounds like another exciting episode of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The notion goes something like this: we come from a spirit world where love prevails. In that world we know that we are all one. One for all and all for one. There are none of the contrasts that so characterize life on earth. For example, no being there is regarded as evil. There is no pain, no deceit, no violence, no loneliness. The very atmosphere of life in the spirit world is love, love, love.

When we as souls live in that bubble, we wonder about the pain of being different.

Apparently during the course of events of eternity, some of us decided that all of this love, love, love wasn’t helping us grow, grow, grow spiritually fast enough. We didn’t like being sloths in paradise. We wanted to experience some contrast. Since what you get in paradise is constant ecstasy, contrast turns out to be conflict, resistance, pain.

We were thinking, well wouldn’t it be great to go to a place where we didn’t get what we wanted whenever we wanted it? Wouldn’t it be great to suffer? Think how much we would learn! Think how much fun that would be!

So we (or at least someone we knew) manifested Earth School. Some of us really wanted to be material girls and boys, so we eagerly signed up. Other souls thought we were crazy. I am not sure why, since they did not know what pain was. Maybe neither did we.

EMBRACE THE LOVE

Most of the time, what I used to hear was that we incarnate on Planet Earth to learn how to love. Our purpose is to love. That’s it. Love.

Then the message got a little more complicated. The notion then became that we were supposed to learn how to love in the face of trials and tribulations. We were supposed to love our enemies. And forgive them.

Many of those conflicts were the results of karma that we had created in our past. If we had cursed, bludgeoned, poisoned, decapitated our fellow human beings in previous lifetimes, we eventually need to pay the piper.

There are no free lunches.

So if in one life you thought it would be fulfilling to capture and torture slaves for a living, in another life, just to balance things out, your soul would say to you, “Hey, here’s a fun idea! It’s time you were born into poverty and raised by cruel, abusive parents. All right? Off you go!”

This theme has countless variations.

Spiritual teachers often insist that karma is about balancing, not punishment. You essentially experience the contrast in another life to what you do in this one. In the spectrum of our Earth lives, the whole kaboodle, we choose a bunch of different roles including playing the bad guys. We may actually choose to be a lowlife criminal during a particular life just to experience the pain of living that awful existence.

EMBRACE THE PAIN

In light of this trend in spiritual philosophy, pain is where it’s at. Embrace the pain. Enjoy the mental anguish.

What’s being taught is an extension of the spinach before ice cream mentality. OK, this doesn’t really work for me because I like spinach, but nevertheless, the idea holds. By completely experiencing the pain of life on Planet Earth, we will be overjoyed to return home to a sexless, immaterial world.

Wait! No sex? Well, everything is better than sex anyway, so don’t worry about it.

There is no pain in heaven. Just about anything that you find painful here in the material world is missing from the spirit world. That’s great, except that apparently some things you find delightful in the material world are also missing in action from the spirit world. A few of those enticements lure us back to this pain-laden wonderland.

Sex, for instance.

Spirits constantly tell us that there is a form of sex in the spirit world, but it is entirely ethereal. It is energy-based. It is merging with another being in complete awareness of who they are, what they think, what they feel. And very unlike life on Earth, people don’t form couples. You merge with anyone and everyone. But it is a fleshless existence, and apparently for us in spirit form, flesh is so compelling, so off-the-charts yummy that we can’t wait to come back here to enjoy it. Then we get here again and re-discover that sex dwells in a cesspool of insecurity, jealousy, deceit, greed, persecution, violence, etc. Just sayin’. We don’t even recognize what a gift we were given, and so we go about destroying it.

PLAN IT AGAIN, SAM

So before incarnating, we engage in planning sessions to design all the great pain we’re going to experience. Oh, yay!

I’m not sure yet how I feel about this idea that Earth School is Pain School. Part of me wonders if accepting that idea while we are here on this planet is a magnet for attracting more pain. It’s as if the universe says, OK you want more pain? Here, have a car crash. Want some catastrophic earthquaking? How about a swarm of locusts?

On the other hand, when I am in the midst of feeling pain, trying to responsibly deal with something yucky, it does help me to consider that perhaps my soul is growing more swiftly because I am enduring the life here. This thought helps me move from rage or angst to love and forgiveness.

Love the bastard. Forgive the bitch.

The Earth is for pain idea usually goes in hand with the life plan idea. Books like Your Soul’s Plan and Your Soul’s Gift by Robert Schwartz illustrate how different traumas, tragedies, and challenges helped people grow. People in his books often experienced enormous pain, but they also grew in leaps and bounds, both in Earth terms and in a spiritual perspective. They often end up thanking God for that blessing in disguise.

People often resist the idea that a tragedy was planned before incarnating. It seems weird and  unloving. Why would someone as a loving soul deliberately choose to step into harm’s way? Well, pain seems to be a great motivator and Earth School is about contrast, pain versus pleasure, bad versus good, light versus dark. No pain, no gain.

For those of us currently existing in physical bodies, it’s not a pleasant thought to wonder if there are more great wallops of pain to come. Are we sitting on ticking time bombs? What else do I get to deal with on my life’s journey?

Yet to quiet that rant comes the idea that we have a team of guides, angels, and loved ones on the other side who help us negotiate any lesson we have on our learning plate. As we grow spiritually, we make wiser choices that help us deal with and even avoid life’s obstacles. Further, good stuff is in store to help balance out what we might see as bad stuff.

Spirit might see our lessons just as many of us watch a TV show or read a good book about someone else’s pain. We enjoy learning about someone else’s troubles, partly as a way to deal with our own. Many of us are entertained by someone else’s troubles. Could it be that our own souls can disassociate with us and our pain as we disassociate from other people’s pain? Hmmm?

In summarizing the main lessons of his book Seeking Jordan, author Matthew McKay, PhD (who co-authored the book with his murdered son Jordan who is on the other side) says in a YouTube interview [edited], “The reason we show up on this beautiful but difficult planet is because there is pain here. In the life between lives, there isn’t any pain. We feel known there. We feel part of things. We feel supported by this vast community of souls. And there isn’t pain in the sense that we know it here. But pain affords us opportunities to grow. Struggling with things that hurt is how we evolve and develop as souls. And perhaps the greatest pain we experience is loss, things that we count on taken from us. Our life here is learning how to love in the face of pain.”

What if Earth is Hell?

 

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Think about it.

What if we are actually living in the place called Hell?

What if the idea of Hell was invented to control people—to scare them into submission? What if it is all just a sham of for-profit evangelicalism, a form of religious terrorism handed down from generation to generation?

Much of the spiritual literature I have read suggests that Hell is a human-made construct that only exists in our minds and in our myths. I think this idea may be forbidden fruit worth tasting.

What if Earth is the worst that it gets? What if all the ideas about “going to hell” are stories that keep us festering in a tormented mental state of worry—but in the end it’s just a story?

THE GROUND FLOOR

Spiritual teachers often say that physical Earth is like the ground floor, the bottom step of the stairway to the stars.

When we die we transform from flesh life into spirit life but we remain at a fairly similar vibration to how we are here. That is, we have much the same consciousness as before we died. We do not instantly become enlightened or angelic.

The natural laws in that next dimension, known as the astral plane, are different from the physical laws we knew on physical Earth. Nevertheless, people used to living in a dark and dreary consciousness on Earth still live in a dark and dreary consciousness in the astral.

If a person has done some spiritual work, however, he or she is more prepared to function in the new nonphysical environment that person now inhabits. Mentally and emotionally, people with spiritual insight are more flexible in coping with the change that crossing over presents. They can move out of the astral plane and into the higher planes.

MEDIA HELL

On Earth many people do things or do not do things to avoid going to Hell when they die. Religions for generations have taught that Hell is far worse than life on Earth. It is constant torment and eternal punishment without the possibility of parole. By contrast, for all its troubles, Earth is a cake walk. Yes, even with the Holocaust.

Our mass media continue this conditioning by concocting a flurry of scary stories about ghosts, ghouls, goblins, damnation, and eternal misery. Supposedly for our entertainment, these horror stories condition people to be fearful of the unknown. The sheer volume of angst over ecstasy in our media offerings makes me wonder if we aren’t already in the jaws of Hell.

When I watch movies, almost any movie, I am always impressed by how much conflict, dysfunction, and woe is paraded before us! Movie protagonists rarely experience ecstatic insights and mystical bliss; they’re too busy struggling. Our brains are fed far more visions about anguish and suffering than stories about  joy, success, and harmony. I hardly ever see an exposé about good stuff.

One reason why Earth seems like Hell to me is noticing how relatively difficult it is to find good resources for rising above misery. When I am feeling lonely, depressed, or troubled, my natural tendency is to seek my own way out of it. I often turn to media for a jumpstart. Too often I find rampant negativity and unrest. Unfortunately, many places like the news, social media, and the entertainment industry provide more what’s wrong than what’s right. We’re bombarded with conflict.

Society’s solutions for dealing with stress and angst are often not in our best interest. Drinking, smoking, doping, overeating, gambling, unloving sex are often used by people to help them get out of the doldrums, and usually they put us farther into the doldrums. Society proffers wealth as a solution for misery, but so often wealth just brings on a plethora of new problems including workaholism, rampant consumerism, and total keep-up-with-the-Joneses exhaustion. While you can turn to the church, a therapist, a doctor, higher education, and so on, these solutions usually include heavy time, energy, and financial commitments. They are not quick fixes.

It surprises me that humans have invented more ways to suffer than they have to share examples of life’s bliss. It makes me wonder if that’s by design. Is Earth School the actual Hell?

WHAT IS HELL?

The mythology of Hell is that it is a real place where real eternal torture happens. It even poses God as a co-conspirator in its creation. If you don’t obey God (as interpreted by humans), God will send you to the concentration camp of Hell.

R.C. Sproul wrote: “Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.”

People who have had near-death experiences (NDEs) and spirits channeled through psychic mediums often contradict views like those held by Sproul. A minority of people who have had NDEs did find themselves in hellish circumstances where they encountered demonic antagonists. However, many of these stories had happy endings. The victim was rescued from the pit and escorted to heavenly places before being sent back to Earth. The general conclusion that comes from these stories seems to be that Hell exists but it’s not the eternal fire pit that many religious teach. You can leave it if you choose to.

Many spiritual teachers say that Earth School is where our souls learn valuable lessons about love through our many incarnations. Some teachers say that as souls we deliberately choose to experience pain to learn about love. Obstacles are put in our path for us to overcome. If Earth School is Hell, it is so because it is for our spiritual training. Unlike the religious story, we are not cast in Hell because we were bad; rather, the nature of physical reality creates some hellish circumstances.

Several books out now offer the premise that some people suffer tragedies on purpose. People who have undergone hypnotic past life regressions sometimes talk about how a guide or their higher self arranged for a situation to occur. We consciously think of that event as awful, tragic, horrible, while spirit thinks it’s a golden opportunity for learning.

For example, a rape may be part of a pre-conceived lesson, not a random act of malfeasance. As ugly and bizarre as that notion sounds to the conscious mind, especially to victims of rape, it does suggest that life on Earth is not for wimps. Souls choose different life experiences much as a prolific actor will choose different parts to play, sometimes hero, sometimes villain. Perhaps the often-expressed idea is true that you cannot know great pleasure if you have not known great pain.

Religion, which often doesn’t support reincarnation, peddles the idea of Hell as roasting in eternal fires. It is a very dramatic, visceral kind of misery. But what about the slow din of a life lived without much joy, day upon day of loneliness whether in a crowd or in solitude, the anxiety of failure to find the good life? What about the leisure activity of watching TV or movies or reading books, and most of it is a tour of suffering and conflict?

Life on Earth appears to stick us in a system of social insanity (war, poverty, racism, sexism, violence, materialism) geared to sustain suffering. Where do people find off ramps from misery? How many social institutions can we point to in our world as being truly helpful?

IF THIS IS HELL

If Earth is the fabled Hell, that’s actually good news. First, it means that we pretty much know what the worst is. While there’s plenty of evil around, there are usually ways to cope. We can set our sights on rising above the chaos and the hatred. We can overcome.

Second, it means that Hell does not exist solely to punish. It’s here for rehabilitation—spiritual growth. It’s here to help us learn how to make better choices.

Third, it means that the world scares the shit out of us as part of our spiritual education. We can choose by how we process information how scared we want to be. This also begs the question of whether Earth School is always supposed to be strewn with conflicts, or if through collective free will we can eventually create Heaven on Earth.

Thinking of Earth as Hell is not intended to embrace the religious conception of Hell. It’s not a place of eternal torture and damnation. You don’t get here by being judged as a bad person for not following rules someone told you God made. I see most religion as a for-profit enterprise with a vested interest in bringing in followers. Religions have used propaganda, torture, fear, and manipulation to bring in the followers, and the religious version of Hell could be part of that.

Spiritual teachers suggest that Earth/Hell is the ground floor, the first stage, the foundation. It’s a boot camp for souls who want to learn all about love through contrasts. Like any school, you can achieve what you yearn for and what you earn.

I don’t know whether Heaven or Hell are real places or states of mind, but we do create them symbolically through our beliefs and behaviors. I know that for me to create a heavenly earth, I usually need to detach from media bombardment and negative people. I need to focus my thoughts on what’s good. When bad things happen, I look for the gifts. This helps balance my hurt and outrage.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

A little bit more about the idea that many events in our lives, especially the ones we would call tragic, may have been planned.

The book Seeking Jordan sheds more light on the idea that some tragedies are planned.

Part of the inspiration for this post involved my study of how the media sell conflict. While I did not use the concept of Hell in the piece, the bombardment of content about conflict helps us stay in a mental hell.

Also check out books and videos (YouTube) by Robert Schwartz and Michael Newton.

 

Death trap

Universe

I often think that if I (or you) could talk to dead people, as if it was second nature and no big deal, I (or we) would react a lot differently to life on this planet.

Our guiding lights would be re-set. We would have some personally verifiable experience to shape our conclusion that consciousness survives physical death. We would have evidence to back up the notion that the organic brain does not originate all consciousness—that consciousness (or mind) exists outside the body. Maybe there’s much more to life than the limited perspective of it pandered and promoted in so much of our mediocrity culture.

Mediums on TV or online sometimes surprise me. They don’t all seem to grasp the deeper implications of their own ministrations. Even though they talk to dead people for a living, they still cater to much of the same socially ingrained fodder presented in mainstream, materialistic media.

What does that mean?

If mediums actually talk with dead people, the very act is diametrically opposed to the depressing morbidity you’ll hear at the average doctor’s office or during the average newscast. It would mean that reality as we’re taught to perceive it is a false one. It’s a death trap. People don’t just stop living when they die, the mediums say. We the people go somewhere else to continue living.

If I knew for sure that I could talk to dead people, I would lead an entirely different life than if I thought death ended everything and we only had one shot at it. Immortality is a fundamentally different consciousness than mortality,, especially if lights out here means lights on somewhere else. If I knew I had much more living to look forward to, I would not regard death as the enemy. I would not embrace the meme that death is sad or tragic or horrible. I expect that I would be an activist against social and religious teachings that contradicted the reality I knew that “dead people” were partying hearty in another dimension—and oh, by the way, there is no hell.

GRIEF PARADIGM

Society has organized itself around the death and grief paradigm. For example, we commonly think of death as loss. Sorry for your loss, sorry for your loss. In a society that grew up with an entirely different paradigm, death might not be seen as a loss. It might be seen more like graduating with honors, getting a great new job, or some sort of miracle. Currently, we have thousands of hours of conditioning (religious, scientific, peer group, advertising, etc.) telling us that death is a tragic loss. Yes, it hurts like hell to lose a loved one, but I believe that much of that hurt comes from all the conditioning we get at how we are supposed to grieve.

When my mother died, and then my father 30 months later, I got the well-intended deluge of “sorry for you loss.” Both my parents were already incapacitated by then, my mother almost 93 and my father almost 96. Death freed them both from the confines of their worn-out bodies. Life was more an ordeal than a pleasure for them by then. “Loss” really did not fit the equation anymore. I envisioned them as being much happier where they were—a win for them. It surprised me how people acted as if my not playing the loss game translated into insensitivity or lack of love. They would come close to arguing with me that if I was a good son, I would display much more sadness.

I understand that many people die under far less than desirable circumstances. Their departures could be termed tragic. Yet we are groomed all through life to view death as tragic. Our resulting fear of death creates fortunes for entrepreneurs who capitalize on its emotional grip. The insurance business, the heath business, the funeral business, the therapy business, the spirituality business, the entertainment business, the war business—to name just a few—are all fueled by our conditioned fear and dread of death.

But mediums talk to dead people! Dead people are alive. Death did not kill them. Rejoice, for he is risen. (Well, sort of.) People who have had near-death experiences often report that death, or going into the light, is sheer ecstasy. Their common message is, “Don’t worry. Death is an illusion. I have been to that incredible place we call heaven. I know that life goes on and I am not afraid to die.”

Here is how one Facebook friend (a near-death experiencer) put it: “I always feel bad for those left here in pain after losing a loved one. But I never feel bad for the one who has moved on to the next exciting leg of their journey… I am one who can’t wait to get back there. I’ve never forgotten how confining and limiting it felt to come back here [to Earth.]”

Messages from spirits channeled through mediums report little in the way of pain. While the dying process is sometimes painful, death itself releases a person from physical pain. The entertainment industry shows us tortured, brooding souls in books and movies, yet mediums portray the dead as feeling little if any emotional pain. In Ghosts Among Us, medium and creator of the Ghost Whisperer TV series James Van Praagh wrote, “Not once when doing my work have spirits ever said to me that they wished they could come back to Earth and live again.”

Even most people who were murdered (often including those who killed themselves) harbor no resentments. Spirits don’t ruminate sadly over lives cut short. They know that life goes on both in and out of human bodies. They are stimulated by their new reality, which sounds something like an all-expenses-paid vacation to Shangri-la-on-Steroids. By heavenly standards, life on Earth is like laboring in a work camp.

Are mediums like James Van Praagh just making up this portrayal of heavenly bliss to sell hope via their books and readings? Or do they channel truth that heaven is off the clock from duality, conflict, suffering?

MEDIUMS AND MARKETING

A great irony of contemporary life is that culturally we make a big deal out of death while at the same time, we eschew afterlife research—more death trap. When another celebrity dies or a mass killing dominates the news, people take to social media and lament and vent their hearts out. We talk in terms of sadness and loss and outrage. Yet we don’t pay much attention to near-death experiencers and afterlife researchers and helpful mediums who have been steadily sharing evidence for soul survival. Culturally speaking, the drama of loss intrigues us more than winning with woo-woo.

I would love to see more mediums participate in afterlife research, gathering more data and using it to improve the quality of life here, but there is a problem. Mediums are too busy masterminding their careers. Science is not too keen on researching voices from heaven, and those few souls who attempt it are often ridiculed. Whether for self-protection or legal requirement, mediums are often compelled to note that their services are “for entertainment purposes only.”

Isn’t that reassuring? Your lawyer and doctor are not required to say that. Sometimes I think the services they render are for their own entertainment (or pocketbook) purposes only.

As a student of the truth, I have often been frustrated watching the dumbing down of metaphysical phenomena for public consumption. So many shows are more annoying than educational, such as the ghost-chasing shows. One of the best books I have read about the search for truth versus the culture at large is Steve Volk’s Fringe-ology. When we still treat woo-woo as an oddity, an amusement, or a vacation from reality, we are not advancing humanity.

MEDIUMS AND MEDIOCRITY

In my informal poking around Facebook, I see many mediums marketing themselves. Here is something one medium wrote on his page: “I never talk about, or compare myself to other mediums or psychics, but I can promise you this, none of them give as many messages as I do.”

So besides the fact that he just compared himself to other mediums, which he said he never does, he also highlighted what mediums sell: messages from dead people. People come to mediums because they are often grief-stricken, desperate to hear from a loved one they “lost.” So here’s the dilemma. For high-end mediums, a person generally has to wait (sometimes more than a year), pay hefty prices (sometimes more than $500 an hour), and then de-cipher cryptic messages from beyond. “What does rosebud mean?” Low-end mediums without a following often have untested, undocumented, unproven skills.

Society puts mediums in this position. We turn the rich and famous ones into celebrity rock stars, into show business icons. Science generally does not embrace them, and besides, a trendy medium is too busy to conduct serious research. Trendy psychics get thrown into the popular culture money-making miasma with books, movies, cruises, luxury retreats, and galas. They often reduce themselves to easy talk show and social media friendly sound bites to important questions that deserve exploring.

In turn, we often create culture wars: mediums versus skeptics. Professional skeptics like James Randi engage in culture wars against mediums under the guise of saving humanity from frauds and illusionists. They don’t do their skeptic schtick for free. Professional naysayers make hefty fees to play their roles and sell their own products. Career skeptics are no more likely to actually seek the truth than Darth Vader is to sing a love song. They are in it for the paycheck.

Under these circumstances, the search for truth is riddled with obstacles. The student of the afterlife is faced with a largely unresponsive scientific community on one side and woo-woo marketers selling easy but shallow answers on the other side. Personal experiences are the most empowering form of acquiring knowledge, but for many of us, they are as rare as seeing total solar eclipses.

We’ll never understand the insights mediums could offer us if we don’t open our minds to that potential and research the hell out of it. As this war between science and woo-woo rages on, I still have my questions.

 

Garden of Eden days

respect

I woke up to the news a few days ago that Florence Henderson had died.

The first thought my neuronal connections delivered from my Florence Henderson Memory Bank was how excited I got watching her back in the Garden of Eden days of my youthful innocence. She inspired that brand new phenomenon: erections.

Now here’s the thing: this happened years before I saw my first porn. While these days it might be challenging to believe, there was a time when erections happened to me without any pornographic influence whatsoever.

You could also say that erections grew without any erotic influence. Erections happened without any help from wiggles and jiggles of armed and dangerous body parts. There was no peeking up skirts. There was no slow parting of thighs. There were no naughty words. There were no sultry faces or dark lipsticks. In the way that most people think about sex, there was nothing even about sex.

Erections were like applause meters. They measured and reflected an inner world of emotional response, a generic passion. There was truth to the old line about being “happy to see me.” Erections used to be like joy-o-meters. Robin Williams embodied this line of thought when he would squeeze his crotch and make a joke about Mr. Happy.

Erections for me back in those days of Garden of Eden innocence revealed inner emotional arousal, a zip-a-dee-doo-dah moment, everything is satisfactual. You could even call it spiritual because it was all about pure feelings of love.

In this day of highly publicized misogyny and misandry, it stretches both the memory and the imagination to think of erections in a wholesome way, wholesome like laughing in church over a quip made from the pulpit.

Back in the days of my puberty and adolescence, I had my share of favorite media (pre-Lady Gaga) gaga loves—Doris Day, Ann-Margret, Patty Duke, Donna Reed, and Florence Henderson. This was before Florence became “America’s Favorite Mom” on the Brady Bunch, a show I never particularly cared for and didn’t follow.

Florence gave me a boner before I heard the term boner. I remember nothing about the show she was on when she accomplished this feat of magic. I just remember falling into the vision her angelic face and presence and feeling the love flow.

HEART FAILURE

The first article I read about Florence Henderson’s death said that she died at the age of 82 from heart failure.

The term heart failure jumped out at me, not in terms of cardiologists, but in terms of general sadness. I thought I’m suffering from heart failure, too. I had  just spent Thanksgiving alone and lonely (long story, not appropriate to tell here), and my heart was especially frustrated absorbing so much meanness in the world at large. Like most people stuck at home alone on a miserable weather day as well as a holiday, I went onto the Internet or Netflix or whatever to find something uplifting. The tsunami of ugliness I found instead was thoroughly demoralizing.

Make America great again?

How about making erections great again?

THROBBING MODEMS

Back in the early 90s I wrote a book called Love Bytes which was about the brand new world of online relationships. Unfortunately, after finding a publisher, I learned that another Love Bytes book had just come out, so I needed to change the title.

I came up with Throbbing Modems. To me and my peer group of happy campers who loved to flirt and frolic online, this was a fun, light-hearted title. Yes, throbbing was a word commonly associated with erections (as well as headaches), and so it had a slightly naughty connotation. But in my mind, it was more amusing than sleazy. Throbbing modems represented to me that a hunk of machinery (the modem) could channel (the throbbing) energy of friendship and love. Technology could facilitate intimacy.

My publisher also liked it, and so we went with the name. Yet as the book went through the design process and then the publicity process, it became more clear to me that my lovely idea had been shanghaied. A creep factor was being added that I had no power or authority to stop.

One of the testimonials printed on the front cover read, “Will get the important body parts of both men and women throbbing like crazy, and I don’t just mean their hearts.”

Ugh. Sigh.

A CLEAN SOCIETY

I often wonder what it would be like to live in a massively remodeled world where both the religious right and the pornographic left got no brownie points for ruining sex for everyone. What if somehow the amassed will of the people proposed and popularized the idea that sex was beautiful and should be respected as a sacred gift? What if we simply paid no attention whatsoever to the forces that make sex ugly?

This could be so far out of your personal ballpark that it is even too hard to imagine (except for someone like me who is not into spectator sports and thus spends vast amounts of time outside the park on a regular basis.)

What if we treated erections (and so much many other natural phenomena having to do with sex) as miraculous? What if we did not educate and otherwise condition our people to junk our junk with so much ugliness? What if erections could exist in the light and be appreciated with the same respect as fresh air, pure spring water, rainbows, and warm sun rays?

This is something like the atmosphere I was in when as a teen-ager I got erections watching happy things happen on TV, that, oh, by the way, were broadcast to our house in black-and-white. I was in a state of blissful naivety, and the feelings and sensations coursing through my body were unbelievably wonderful.

Adult sex should be that stimulating, full of wonder and discovery.

GARDEN OF EDEN

I am not telling you what to do. There’s no particular action I am advocating. I am not asking you or the world to change for my sake. I suspect and accept that much of the world will continue to make sex ugly. Long live misogyny and misandry. Have a blast. Rock on. Knock yourself out. Junk the junk.

In the privacy of my thoughts, I will continue to hold the vision that the infinite intelligence that created sexuality was good and wholesome. No matter how much humankind has perverted this gift through all of its marketing, exploitation, slavery, violence, shame, ridicule, and kitsch, in the grand and glorious design, it is still amazing like so many other natural amazements.

How lovely to be back in the Garden of Eden innocence.

Halloween and true death

Welcome home

Halloween keeps growing more popular. I see many more houses preparing for this holiday’s spirit. Some start decorating early in September. In my walks around various neighborhoods, I see more front lawns sprouting graveyards than ever. Great fear-mongering archetypes are used — headstones, skeletons, spiders and webs, bats, scaredy cats, and ghosts — to ratchet up the spook factor.

A major irony I notice is that through the Halloween entertainment filter, mainstream culture gets all excited about death. You could say that it honors and celebrates death. Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls become get embraced as quirkily beloved characters. In some places we even pay to get scared, like attending charity haunted houses or horror films.

As a student of death and afterlife, I am intrigued that the Halloween (and Hollywood) version of the afterlife — mostly of the haunting variety — is so popular. In contrast, many of those who eagerly celebrate Halloween want nothing to do with (okay, I’ll say it) real-life afterlife studies. Why do we honor gore and trauma in a holiday or at the movies but ignore what afterlife research suggests are the consequences of true death?

I think it’s the fun factor. Halloween has merged with that most awesome of forces: marketing, marketing, marketing. In this venue, death is peddled for its entertainment value. In contrast, “real” death is up close and personal, and it is primarily sold to us as sad, tragic, miserable, heartbreaking, definitely not delightful.

This creates an unusual (if you think about it too much) paradox: it’s OK to put a headless zombie on your front porch for entertainment value — nudge, nudge wink, wink. However, if a neighbor down the street gets murdered and decapitated, you must haul out plenty of righteous indignation, conspiracy theories, and speeches about law and order.

DEVIL OR ANGEL?

For years I have observed a strange relationship between good and evil. There is a difference between pretend evil and the real deal. Back in 1990 when I first went online, I noticed how flirting in a text-based medium invoked the idea that evil was sexy. People often added <evil grin> as body language punctuation for something naughty they said. Whenever I saw that, I thought to myself, “Is sex really evil?”

This followed a trend throughout the media that characterized sexuality as devilish or hellish. The delights of ooey-gooey sex were portrayed as a ticket to hell if you veered away from monogamous heterosexual marriage. In contrast, angelic beings seemed peculiarly disinterested in all things erotic.

I learned these stereotypes of devil and angel as a young child watching cartoons. I remember loving those scenes where the devil spoke from one side of a person and an angel from another. The devil was often depicted as the fun one. The angel was often portrayed as a snooty, judgmental bore.

So I learned that evil was wrong but fun. Carry that much, much farther down the highway of sophistication and we encounter the social paradigm that having a really good time requires bedding down with the devil. You have to rebel against sanitized social order and quit being such a damn prude. For example, really hot sex is frequently depicted as breaking the rules, usually rules initiated by religions that controlled the populace through fear and punishment. Evil, then, is often depicted as flipping the bird against oppressive religious dictates. That’s where <evil grin> comes from.

It’s not from evil like conquering another country and raping and torturing everyone.

Of course you may wonder what this has to do with Halloween where it’s fun to dress up as a serial killer. For fun I may dress up as celebrity serial killer Charles Sobhraj and get lots of happy chatter at a Halloween party, even though the real Charles Sobhraj murdered a real friend of mine.

EVIL IS FUN, ECSTASY ISN’T

In its glorification of the horror genre, Halloween seems to support the premise that evil is entertaining. Gore is fun, mischief is fun, anarchy is fun. (And you get candy, too!) But Halloween doesn’t celebrate the idea that real-life death is fun, nor does it acknowledge that ecstatic experiences are fun?

Like materialist science, Halloween turns a blind eye to ecstasy. Our whole mass media is anti-ecstasy.

Strangely, in mainstream culture, ecstasy is not taught. I would wager to say that most people who hear the term ecstasy these days are hearing about the drug, not the natural state of ecstatic consciousness. Sometimes they hear about it as the ecstasy of winning something or as a synonym for orgasm, but it is entirely too rare that ecstasy or bliss consciousness is described or depicted. Out of sight, out of mind.

We live in a world where it is more routine to wallow in conflict and misery than to mentally open ourselves to receiving bliss. When I have been in a funk and have wanted to find some media to re-set my state of mind, it has amazed me how difficult it is to find mood-enhancing media (especially before search engines were invented.)  Religion is commonly offered as a solution, but many places of worship seem to me to wallow in seriousness to the point of misery. Is religion supposed to occupy a no-joy zone? Are angels supposed to be zombies, cheerless cheerleaders for God? Don’t they like to laugh and party? Is laughter allowed in sacred spaces?

So in this atmosphere, Halloween comes along. While the holiday is geared towards children and much is designed around age-appropriateness, the holiday is still centered around the “trick or treat” concept. Dole out candy or get fear retribution. Isn’t that essentially what the billionaire (and the Mafia) class says, too? Trick or treat?

DISCLAIMER

I know that many of you love Halloween. I am not trying to take that away from you.  I am trying instead to simply point out that there is a huge imbalance in our social approach to good and evil.

NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES

People who have returned from classic near-death experiences often describe the sheer ecstasy they felt on their journey. Nothing like it here. Many also say that words cannot begin to adequately describe this ultimate joy ride. Returning to business as usual often becomes a most dreadful challenge.

It sounds something like PTSD, but instead of trauma, they experienced bliss far beyond just having a good day. Beyond pleasure, beyond triumph, beyond a five-day-long orgasm. When they get back, they have to integrate this experience with all the hardships and pain of the physical world that does not accept “fairy stories” of other dimensions. Instead of having nightmares about the horrors of warfare, they feel deep loneliness and separation from the best world they have ever known.

Halloween symbolism includes very little of the fun of dying often featured in near-death experiences and afterlife research in general. Even though the holiday is all about having fun, the decorations are ghoulish, often focusing on mutilation and other manifestations of the macabre that you probably would not like to encounter in the middle of the night on your way to go potty.

Imagine having had a near-death experience that was entirely ecstatic, and then returning to a planet where many people thought of death as total misery. Then answer the doorbell on Halloween and see a bunch of happy kids dressed as corpses standing on your front porch, candy bags gaping wide. .

GHOST STORIES

Ghosts and ghost stories play heavily into the lore of Halloween, but so-called ghost hunting is kind of a twister sister of afterlife research. Seeking to capture ghost presences with digital equipment is too often approached for kicks and grins and the occasional thrill ride panic attack. It is usually not approached as a serious, respectful, and humanitarian endeavor to help lost, wandering spirits. (See this excellent article.)

Halloween marketing, along with Hollywood business as usual, perpetuate ignorance about ghosts. Research suggests that ghosts are earthbound spirits tragically stuck in a twilight zone between earth and heaven. Sometimes they don’t realize they’re dead. Sometimes they are in shock, unwilling to move on, perhaps fearing a hell and brimstone place that religion and horror shows predicted.

Using ghosts as targets for “research” by recreation-seekers is like deliberately seeking out troubled souls on the street to pester and photograph. It usually doesn’t contribute to an understanding of the survival of consciousness. It’s usually approached with the prime objective of getting some exciting video footage, not helping humanity.

I believe that for every depiction of a peaceful death, the mass psyche endures thousands of depictions of miserable death. We are way out of balance on showing positive possibilities, such as the material that is so frequently shared at afterlife conferences.

HALLOWEEN OF THE FUTURE

In a different world, Halloween (or a holiday like it) might be set aside to celebrate the fun of dying. Author Roberta Grimes came up with the slogan for her book aptly named The Fun of Dying. It’s a nice counterpoint to the fear of dying.

The new Halloween might celebrate that we are all attending Earth School for the purpose of soul evolution. With advances in afterlife research including the soul phone, we might gain more of a picture of the relationship between lives on earth and lives in other dimensions, popularly known as heaven. The new Halloween might be more about gratitude and appreciation for the grand design of the cosmic system.

UPDATE 10/9/16

Some kind soul on Facebook reminded me of this little gem. It shows perfectly what I would like to see the spirit of Halloween be like. The animated short is 3:41, well worth the time to get a feel for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead.)