Thanks to Eileen Weintraub for posting this story, from an unknown source, on the website of Help Animals India. Eileen writes: This is a western variation on the Hindu story about Yudhisthira – a man who wouldn’t abandon his dog to enter heaven.
A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.
He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.
He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’
‘This is Heaven, sir,’ the man answered.
‘Wow! Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.
‘Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.’
The man gestured, and the gate began to open. ‘Can my friend,’ gesturing toward his dog, ‘come in, too?’ the traveller asked.
‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.
After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
‘Excuse me!’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’
‘Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.’
‘How about my friend here?’ the traveller gestured to the dog.
‘There should be a bowl by the pump,’ said the man.
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.
When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree. ‘What do you call this place?’ the traveller asked.
‘This is Heaven,’ he answered.
‘Well, that’s confusing,’ the traveller said. ‘The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.’
‘Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s Hell.’
‘Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?’
‘No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.’
To visit the website of Help Animals India, click here.
Top photo: Wikimedia Commons / photographer: MarkusMark / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license./ Ancona – Arco di Traiano — An arch built by Trajan, which has nothing to do with hell as far as we know.
It’s the time of Capricorn, when everything makes sense. When clear patterns can be seen in the chaos. When anything can be achieved, and there’s nothing that can’t be understood. It’s a time of creation, when thoughts can become a reality, and wishes can systematically be granted. When magic is being able to reach out and move a stone with one’s hand. When hard work grants miracles. It’s now that abstractions settle into clear and present, usable information, like bursts of sparks floating back down to earth, forming intelligent designs.
It’s a grounding time of great sanity.
A video for feeling during the time of Capricorn. The sign of rocks. Click here.
A video for thought during the time of Capricorn. Money is a topic of interest for Capricorn, so here’s a video of something important to understand about money. Click here.
Opportunity is missed by many because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
All over the world there are megalithic monuments with alignments to the Winter Solstice. At the moment of the Winter Solstice a beam of light from the sun strikes the deepest recesses of an underground sacred temple, as at Newgrange in Ireland or Maeshowe in Orkney, Scotland.
In the New World, at Chaco Canyon in new Mexico, the Sun Dagger at Fajada Butte marks both the Summer and Winter solstices, as well as other important celestial alignments.
The significance of the Winter Solstice is that this point in time every year marks the darkest time of the year; the death point if you wish, and at the same time, the return of the light. It is the time, when the sun, having reached the moment when the days are the shortest, returns, and the days begin to grow longer.
The light returns, and with it comes the promise of spring and summer, the rebirth of the world.
This is also the message of Christmas – and for that matter, it is a message in many religions, not only Christianity. At the hour of greatest darkness, the light returns, having conquered the darkness.
Interestingly, it is also the message of Jesus’s death and resurrection. The moment of crucifixion is followed in three days (actually a day and a half according to the Biblical account) by the resurrection, as life overcomes death.
Winter itself represent cold, darkness, and death. It is the time when nothing grows and every being that can, takes shelter or hibernates, waiting for a change of seasons and the return of spring. In warmer lands, the rainy season, or even the sun-baked, dry season may represent the time when one seeks shelter and waits, for a more propitious time – for a change of the seasons.
Though today the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or 22, the festival of Mithra, who was the god of light in ancient Iran, was celebrated from December 17 to December 24. The Romans adopted these dates for a festival to their god Saturn, which lasted several days and ended on December 25 – a date then later adopted by Christians as the birthday of Jesus.
When or what time of year Jesus was actually born isn’t relevant in this context. The symbolic meaning has a significance that lies beyond the historical dates.
Life is cyclic. Life follows death, and death follows life. Both are two sides of the same coin. In the darkest hour, when there seems to be the least hope, the light returns, and a new age begins.
Photographer: Rhion Pritchard / “I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.” / Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales, which has an alignment with the Summer Solstice.
What if God did not create the world. But instead, beckons us live in His.
What if we’re supposed to be having fun?
Not amidst the torment, disease and heartbreak of this world, but in the white light which pierces the mist the moment it occurs to us.
What if the animals, too, are not His creations, but His fellow spirits, imprisoned too by three dimensions.
What if we all could escape?
What if the cell door has never been locked?
Have we all been kept in place by an illusion? The impression that a desk is real but that strange feeling is not?
What if we were to step through? Would we then find ourselves in an unimaginable world, trying to believe in desks? Calling occasionally from the Divine for fantastic moments of “physical intervention”?
What if God has no personality? If He did not get jealous, get angry, or take anyone’s side.
What if He never agrees with you – but is always rooting for your happiness.
What if misery wasn’t a lesson from God – but a distraction by the jailer. The hypnotist. A painful pinch to turn your eyes from the Light.
What if suffering wasn’t a part of anyone’s plan except the Dark One’s?
And God wanted you free from it.
What if healing the physical world was futile without the Light of God? If the dungeon guarantees all victories temporary: a maze, always returning you – and us – to the place where you began.
What if even the most powerful psychic were nothing but a weather forecaster, noting which days we might expect rain and sun – although both will inevitably come. What if the most potent wizard had only the power to choose his day of sunshine. Which the clouds will still block out in the end.
What if we are all playing an unwinnable game?
A game at which God is not the dealer in the sky.
But the outreached hand, inviting us to quit.
What if we could walk into His world without moving a muscle?
What if there is nothing wrong with us. With any of us. Neither the seal devouring the helpless fish. Nor the polar bear devouring the helpless seal. Nor even the human committing atrocities no other animal would dream of.
What if God forgives us all? And only wants us to step into the Light.
What if there are people and other animals who have already crossed the threshold? Who live and die in joy instead of pain.
What if that is what we are all meant to do?
What if just the thought of it makes the gloomy clouds begin to part ……..
Susan Boyle came from a humble background in Scotland; her father was a miner and her mother a typist. Until her mother died she lived with her, and she now lives with her beloved cat.
For years she struggled to achieve some success with her music. Recently, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disease, which could explain why her social relationships had always been awkward. Most of her life she had been been subjected to ridicule, and must have endured many unhappy and very trying times — until that one evening, in which, like a rocket leaving the bounds of earth, she shot into stardom.
Illustrating how not to be a victim — Susan Boyle’s is a rags-to-riches story, which, in its own way, is a testimony to the great power of not allowing oneself to remain victimized, but instead, with the help of the angels, of magically overcoming obstacles. It is a simple story – she has not transformed the entire world, but it is a remarkable one, and has certainly altered her own life and touched the lives of many others.
Her strength is not only her musical talent itself, but her undying faith in her music.
None of us has to remain stuck in the box that we find ourselves in.
The second example of rising above limitations is Nelson Mandela. A figure on an altogether different scale, he was one of the great men of history, who had a transformative impact on our world. Though he came from a tribal royal family, as a boy, he herded sheep, then became a boxer, then a lawyer. When he was imprisoned for 27 years, spending part of the time breaking rocks in a quarry, it must have seemed to him, that there could be no hope even for his own freedom, let alone hope for any success in his life.
If he had emerged from prison, embittered, to lead his people on a crusade to make his oppressors pay for their crimes, that would hardly have been a surprising turn. Yet he didn’t. Somewhere he found the grace and wisdom to forgive his captors and to lead South Africa beyond the threat of a bloodbath, into the light, to stand as a democratic nation. In the process, he spared the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and avoided a prolonged time of darkness for generations of South Africans. South Africa is not a perfect country. No country is, but it has avoided these catastrophes, thanks to the wisdom and greatness Nelson Mandela.
Neither of these two people, very different from each other in their scope and their impact, is a saint. They are examples of people who did not allow themselves to remain victims, but instead, with the grace of the angels, overcame and rose above obstacles.
We do not have to be victimized by our circumstances, sinking under the weight of our situation, and blaming heaven, the stars, or those around us for the obstacles in our lives.
There is always a higher level, where God, the Gods, the angels, the universe (or whatever we wish to call the spiritual level) live — and it is from this level that strength can be drawn and magic and miracles can come into being.
To return to the concept of the myth of progress – it would be a great mistake to confuse this higher level of otherworldly strength, inspiration, and clarity, which occasionally breaks through the clouds, with the current, ongoing state of the human world in which we live.
Were we to put our faith in the “human spirit” or in the “inevitability” of human progress and the advance of human technology, we would find ourselves sadly misled. We ought not to sit waiting for the train of human “progress” to carry us along to utopia, because it won’t.
Many of us, probably most of us, have seen miracles happen – of one kind or another. Miracles are very real. They come from beyond and above the level of this world.
The world does not get better by itself, and, sadly, human nature does not make it better. There is no inevitable progress of the “human spirit.” We are not the culmination of evolution, and we have not, in creating the “wonders of civilization” brought peace and enlightenment even to ourselves, much less to animals and the natural world. Instead we have left a trail of destruction in our wake. And the natural world seems to be reminding us of this regrettable fact through rising tides, catastrophic storms, and other upheavals.
Yet all is not lost, and if – beyond the smoke and mirrors of the image we have fabricated, as a species, of our own success – this is, in truth, a dark hour and a dark age, there is still a real light at the end of the tunnel.
Consider this – a curtain is being lifted that had long veiled the past. All over the world are being found now, in recent decades, remarkable archeological discoveries that speak to us of great civilizations, with magnificent art and culture, that we did not even know existed, and some are many thousands of years earlier than the accepted dates for the beginnings of civilization. (We will be writing more about these.)
The cyclical view of history informs us that this age of limitations that we live in is neither the only age nor the last age.
There is much, much more to the Cosmos than we know – other levels, other dimensions — more to the past and more to the future.
Our “modern world” is not the pinnacle of creation, it has an ocean of problems. But as we come to acknowledge this, there are great gates that swing open – to the magnificence and mysteries of the very distant past – and to the possibilities of magic and miracles, both in our own lives and in the world ages that lie before us – possibilities of nearly-forgotten connections with higher mystical levels and the restoration and renewal of the natural world of innocence that we have so nearly destroyed.
As our current world age dims, other lights of intelligence, perception, and clarity—those, older and wiser, who were here before — will re-awaken and shine again.
The thoughts expressed here are personal views that do not reflect or represent those of any organization.
To look at Sharon’s ebook, Glimpses of Kanchi, on Amazon, click here.
Top photo: Wikimedia Commons: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Laura SA at the English language Wikipedia / Mapungubwe Hill, a sacred hill in the Kingdom of Mapungubwe in pre-colonial South Africa.
Second photo: As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. / President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA, July 4 1993.
Third photo: Author (photographer): Teomancimit / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. / The 12,000 year old megalithic ruins of Gobekli Tepe, Urfa, Turkey.
Fourth photo: “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted.” / This stellar swarm is M80 (NGC 6093), one of the densest of the 147 known globular star clusters in the Milky Way galaxy…all of the stars in the cluster have the same age (about 15 billion years)….
Hundreds of years ago, if you had lived in a small village in central Africa, before its “discovery” by Europeans, you might have lived in a thatched roof hut that kept out the sun and the rain, with a dirt floor that was swept clean every day. From birth to death, you would have lived in a stable community of your friends and relatives, in a society where you belonged and had a place, where there was work to be done, as well as a rich tradition of art, music, and a spiritual life. If you were walking through the forest, and you felt thirsty, it would have been entirely safe to drink from the clear, sparkling waters of a stream. Although you would not have had what we would call luxury, you would have known a world of trees, sky, animals, and the early morning mist that floated over the river where the elephants gathered. You would have lived in the untouched beauty of the natural world.
If you became ill, you would have been treated with herbal remedies, their efficacy tested by being passed down through generations. If you were dying, your village would have gathered around you, singing prayers for you, as your soul left to go on its journey.
At that time, back then, there were no GMO crops or insecticide-laden foods, no miles and miles of plastic trash, no debris littering the ocean floor, no smog-choked cities, no factory farms, no miles of concrete where once there had been forests filled with wild animals, no industrial waste, no nuclear waste, no trash on the moon or in outer space. Yes, horrible things could and did happen, then as now, but it could be argued, nonetheless, that the scale of horror was much less then, than it is today.
Certainly, very bad things could take place. It would have been possible to be eaten by an animal — though a lion at that time, living in a more undisturbed habitat, might have been less likely then, than now, to attack a human. Still being eaten would not have been pleasant.
But which is worse really, to be eaten quickly by a lion in the darkness of the night, or to be eaten piecemeal over many decades by human greed, hypocrisy, mediocrity, corruption, and the soul-destroying nibbles that kill off all life and destroy the natural world?
If we look closely, with open eyes, we will be able to see quite clearly that the modern world, for most people and for most animals, for the trees, and the earth itself is suffering, on an unprecedented scale. In our climate-controlled houses and apartments, we live in a bubble, wrapped up in our technology, yet still cut off from many realities of much of the world.
Nevermind that we as a society have gone to the moon and back – is our civilization peaceful, enlightened, kind, gracious? No, it really isn’t.
We tend to resist this imperfect view of history. We cling to the view we were taught in school. After all, there is something comforting in imagining that we are at the summit of human existence and that everything has led steadily upwards, culminating in the grandeur that is us.
So, if perhaps we have realized that we are not quite as grand as we had imagined, if we have begun to suspect that we, as the human race, are all slipping and sliding inexorably downhill, in this corrupt and miserable current age, does that mean that all is hopeless? Should we give up trying to do anything meaningful? Should we just sit down under a tree, hold our head in our hands, and accept the fact that we are doomed?
Should we just forget any causes that we’re devoting our life to – any more meaningful purpose, like freeing people from oppression, saving innocent animals from suffering, or saving the forests and the earth’s wild places?
Should we just decide that everything is impossible and give up?
No, because however dark the world may be, magic and miracles are always possible because, by definition, they come from a higher level that is not bound by human limitations.
A couple of contemporary examples might help. I’m reminded of a couple of people who have not been content to stay put in the boxes the found themselves in. They are completely different from each other. Here is the first one.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s worth watching Susan Boyle on YouTube when she appeared in 2009 on Britain’s Got Talent. It’s worth watching just to see the expressions of the judges on the show change from bored condescension to joyful astonishment. It was clear that the contestant on the stage in front of them, Susan Boyle, at that first appearance, had not the slightest idea how to present herself well, and the three judges were ready to dismiss her as a silly, ridiculous figure – until she began to sing, at which point they opened their mouths and raised their eyebrows in incredulity. Before she had finished singing, these rather jaded judges sprang to their feet, along with the entire audience, all applauding, one judge, Piers Morgan, stating that this was the greatest surprise in all his time with the show.
Her immensely powerful and profoundly expressive, beautiful voice seemed to spring from another realm that had nothing to do with her awkward appearance. Within the next nine days after the show, her videos had been viewed over 100 million times. Her debut album was a record-breaking success, and she has soared to stardom since then and is a multimillionaire many times over.
Top photo: “This work has been released into the public domain by its author, WaynaQhapaq at the English Wikipedia project. This applies worldwide.” / Wikimedia commons / “Yoruba bronze head from the city of Ife, 12 century.”
Second photo: Author (photographer): Kevin Pluck / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.” / A lion in Namibia.
Third photo: Author (photographer): Jessie Eastland / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / Wikimedia Commons / “Western Moon setting over Mountains, High Desert, California.”
Fourth photo: Author (photographer): Wasforgas / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / “Susan Boyle singing at the Edinburgh Festival Theater, July 12, 2013.”
It’s the time of Scorpio, when turbulence wields its power. When simple reality implodes into denser matter. When hatred is strong enough to kill without a sword and love is strong enough to heal without a whisper. When beauty lies in the impenetrable mist.
Sir Reginald the Magnificent, dressed in a forest green cloak with a great starched ruffled collar, stood at the top of the red-carpeted stairs; he was pear-shaped with more or less no hair on his head. Trumpets blared, and he began in a high-pitched voice,
“Dearly Beloved Inferior Beings of the Galaxy. Here is our long-awaited proclamation to you. We know how much you have looked forward to our arrival and how anxious you all are to share in the advanced blessings of our superior and exceptional civilization. Let me assure you that we love you, and we will do everything in our power to share all our blessings with you. There are just a few things we must sort out first in order to facilitate the glorious transformation that is about to take place. I know you will all welcome these changes with boundless enthusiasm.
“First, starting immediately, the year 2013 will become the Year One, and will mark the beginning of your supreme civilization, brought, with our help, to earth. All records of anything that may have happened previously will be effaced. There is no need at all for you to remember any primitive, backward culture that you may have had before our arrival. We know this will not be hard for you, since you have forgotten so many previous civilizations – it should pose no problem.
“Secondly, let me assure you that you will be amazed at the rapid rate of progress and evolution that you will now be part of – like a great escalator rolling upwards towards the heavens, all will be progress, progress, and more progress. There will be no looking backwards to the dark, dreary days of the past.
“Thirdly, we have a new mode of thought for you to master. It is called Advanced Rational Galactic Thought. It will replace your former primitive ways of thinking. It goes like this: All that is new, modern, scientific, and approved by the Great Council of Truth is right, correct, and true. All else is subversive and may be subject to punishment.
“All clear? That’s lovely. I knew you would understand. Those rumbling noises that you may be hearing in the distance are just the movements of tanks – I mean Crowd Protection Elements – they are surrounding the stadium where we are standing for your protection. They are there to assure that you are all entirely safe, secure, and comfortable. They can also modify the weather – insuring endlessly sunny days, or even a little rain if you wish.
“Now to continue. We feel a deep pain in our hearts when we see any of you suffer, and we know that sometimes you can have a cold or a sniffle or feel unwell. We are pleased to announce that we have a highly evolved new system of medicine. You can now get rid of all those old bungling medicines and treatments of the past. They can go the way of herbs, healing dances, and witch doctors – which you dispensed with hundreds or thousands of years ago. Our Galactic Transformational Medical System is based entirely on vaccinations. We have a vaccine for everything. And of course all citizens will be required to take the course of vaccines starting at birth, for your protection. With our vaccines, you will never, ever, suffer again. All diseases will be obliterated.
“And by the way, these vaccines have been tested with great scientific precision. I should probably mention, and you might even have noticed,” he said, glancing down at his rather round form, “our species – you might mistakenly call us aliens, but really of course we are the one true advanced species – is descended biologically from a sort of animal that is quite like your mice. We are not really mice, of course, we are greatly evolved from that stage of life – but our very distant ancestors were indeed mice. And certainly we do recognize that the order of mice is the most superior, the most intelligent, and the most advanced of all the animal species, on this, or any other world. Mice are naturally wise – we call them “mighty micy sapiens,” meaning “great wise mice.” Naturally, the mice order is superior and will in due time replace homo sapiens, who are inferior.
“When we test our new vaccines, we will do all testing on homo sapiens, since it would be wrong to use such advanced creatures as mice for testing either drugs or products. I know that you will agree. In any case there is nothing to fear. All testing is painless, and we have never received a single complaint suggesting that anyone has ever suffered any pain from the testing. The testing is for our mutual benefit. The test subjects after the completion of the testing will all be put gently to rest and a proper place in Heaven will await them.
“To continue with the Changes — democracy is the only valid form of government. We all agree on this. To ensure that democratic standards will be met, we will be eliminating all candidates who do not meet the proper democratic standards. This decision will be carried out by the Great Galactic Council of Kindness to ensure complete impartiality and fairness. The eliminated candidates will undergo a process of re-education and will be given vaccines specially designed to cure any false political leanings or tendencies. When they are cured they will be allowed to run for office again.
“You will be glad to hear that we have an update for religion too. This won’t be a surprise to any of you, since you yourselves have done away with innumerable religions in the past – think back to the dark days of paganism, witchcraft, totem poles, tribal dancing, chanting, and magic. Remember the glorious book burnings that you yourselves inflicted on heretical, superstitious belief systems. There will be no more chanting and no more music, since it is unscientific. The false religion that proclaims the divinity of that fellow hung up on the cross will have to go – it is known to be frightening to children. Instead we will all worship the Ascended Scientific Mouse. He has a mythology too, and we will be sending it to you to memorize.
“Since we are all in agreement that the marvelous civilization of the Great Galactic Coalition is, in all ways, infinitely superior, we will be referring all problems, challenges, projects, and plans to the Great Galactic Council of Kindness for their approval. In fact, there won’t really be any need for locally-conceived plans and projects, so you can just forget about them. We will send you your instructions for any programs you need to implement. This will save you a lot of time and headaches and will simplify your lives, so you will be grateful.
“Starting tomorrow, all your children will be shipped off to the Great Galactic Center where they will be indoctrinated, I mean taught, all the enlightened and superior values of the Great Galactic Civilization. What I mean is that in between carrying out their chores and duties, if they have any free time that is, then civilized values will be imparted to them.
“I would especially like to congratulate all of you on the excellent progress you have made in ridding the earth of all that horrid plant and animal life that was cluttering up everything and replacing it with clean and beautiful plastic and concrete constructions. You have done an excellent job, and with the assistance of all our new technologies, we’ll have all those old, ugly species swept away in no time – especially the trees. Down with trees! No more trees! They are a disgusting life form. From this time forward we will have only artificial, clean, and disinfected life forms – nothing dreadful and natural!
“You are all showing great progress, we love you very much, and we’ll soon have you in tip-top shape as appropriate Inferior Citizens of the Galaxy!
“I know change can be a little unnerving sometimes, but believe me there is nothing to fear. If anyone ever does feel just a teeny-weeny touch of anxiety, please do let us know immediately – we have just the right vaccine for you. It will cure any tiny bout of anxiety immediately! And let us all remember, there is no need to worry. We are here to help you, and we are assuming complete control.
“Now may the peace of immortal Scientific Progress be with you always. May you live ever in the Divine Bubble of Progress in Ignorance. May you smile happily always and forever, blessed by the abiding grace of Sublime Unreality.
“Goodby, my friends. May we meet again soon.” He turned and was beamed up into the waiting airship, as the evening sun began to set.
Let’s assume that I am a little bug – maybe quite a nice bug, I may be green with black dots and six legs. I live on a tomato. My teeth are very tiny, so I can’t chew through the skin of the tomato.
I like to take short walks. When I walk from Point A to Point B, I always go in a straight line because that is the shortest distance. I have short legs so I get tired easily, and I want to take the shortest path. Actually, it’s not really a straight line at all since it is going around the outside of the tomato; instead it is an arc, but I don’t know that, and I am convinced that it is a straight line.
One day, to my amazement, I see a very strange creature standing in front of me. He is tall and thin and wears a pointed hat. I say to him, “Who are you? How did you get here?”
He replies, “I’m Jo Jo, and I live in the Magic Castle at the center of the tomato.”
“Oh no, you don’t,” I say, “I’ve walked all over this tomato. I’ve never seen you before. There is no center of the tomato, and there is no Magic Castle.”
Just then, my best friend, Bobsie, comes along. Bobsie can have some odd ideas sometimes, but she’s pleasant enough, and she’s my friend. But she’s not very practical like me.
Bobsie says, “Oh, he’s right you know. There really is a Magic Castle, and Jo Jo lives there.
“How do you know?” I ask her.
“Oh, I saw the castle in a dream. It’s beautiful, on the top of a hill. Also I remember it. I know I was there once. I know what it looks like and what it feels like. When it rains, the water falls in silver streams. There are ducks that swim in a pond, and I have many friends there. I remember them.”
Jo Jo says nothing. I can feel myself getting annoyed. What is wrong with Bobsie? Is she lying or is she delusional? Why would she lie to me, who am her friend?
Of course, she cannot remember the Magic Castle, or the ducks, or Jo Jo, or anything else, it is all silly and imaginary. It doesn’t exist.
If the Magic Castle did exist at the center of the tomato, that might explain how it is that there might be wormholes which could enable extra-terrestrial visitors to travel faster than the speed of light from distant galaxies. It might explain how one can see into the future, or teleport from place to place. Or how one can appear and disappear, or how an electron can be in two places at once. Or how one can fly on a magic carpet from one world to another. Or how there can be many parallel universes – or gods and angels, or how one can have the sense that one has existed many times in the past, or even remember friends who are otherworldly beings. It might be that one is linked always to the Magic Castle, and one can travel along beams of light and then go home again.
And if there were a Magic Castle at the center of the tomato on a different dimension that we cannot see, why there might be another dimension beyond that one – in the center of the center of the tomato – and maybe one beyond that too – in the center of the center of the center of the tomato, where there is a Castle even more Magical than all the rest.
Bobsie says to Jo Jo, “ I do remember you very well. I wish you a happy trip back to your Magic Castle, and I hope I can come for a visit again soon.”
“Yes, please do; I’d love to see you there; next time I’ll give you a tour of the Castle,” said Jo Jo, and then he is gone in the wink of an eye.
“That’s nonsense!” I say to Bobsie, and I continue walking, with my six legs, on along my straight line from Point A to Point B and then back again.
These are a few thoughts about Easter and other spiritual traditions. If they make no sense to you, not to worry, they are only thoughts.
A few weeks ago we celebrated Easter. Interestingly, many of the world’s traditional calendars celebrate the New Year during the month of April – in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, other Southeast Asian countries, and in Israel (where it is the first of four New Years.) April is a time of renewal and regeneration.
At this time, Jesus Christ transcended death and rose to heaven. For two thousand years people have questioned whether or not this was meant to be a literal event. This may not be the correct question. From the vantage point of heaven, or a mystical reality, the physical world does not have an independent reality. One might say that after Christ rose from the dead, the physical world ended, or it never was.
To the Gnostics, a sect thought to be heretical, existing around the time of Christ and continuing to exist, despite intense persecution, in various forms throughout the centuries, Christ always existed only on a spiritual plane, never on a physical plane, and therefore could not have been crucified. From this point of view, the crucifixion was an illusion.
In the Hindu Vedanta tradition, the Sanskrit word “Maya” means illusion. It doesn’t necessarily mean non-existence. Applied to the world, it means delusion, or incorrect perception. An example often used is that if you see a snake on the ground and you are afraid, then at dawn, you realize that it was only a rope and not a snake at all, you simply misunderstood what you saw. That is the power of Maya, illusion. We take the physical world to be real, but higher levels of reality are more truly real in an ultimate sense. Indeed, some people take the physical, material universe to be the only reality, discounting any spiritual levels at all. Naturally, if one is one of those people, one dismisses an analogy like the one about the snake as meaningless.
To reach a mystical level of being, as was done by seers, saints, and rishis, in times of extreme antiquity and more recent times too, one must transcend the bipolar world of joy and pain. Both joy and suffering are felt as equal; one rises above the duality of seeking one and resisting the other.
Rising above the experience of joy isn’t really much of a challenge since joy is not unpleasant, so it isn’t a problem. That leaves the challenge of rising above pain. One finds the mystical world only by having flown on the wings of pain. There is no other way to rise beyond the world. This is the esoteric message of the death and resurrection of Christ, and the esoteric truth of many other religions.
The world of hell, which is the physical world, is the stepping stone to the journey of rising beyond it – into the pure reality of the mystical world. For animals, their suffering is profound and intense. They are angels and are innocent. For humans, suffering is complicated, beset with mental tortures which only humans can inflict on themselves and each other. Seeking suffering is a mistake, but it is an aspect of the world we live in which finds us.
Dakshinamurthy or Jnana Dakshinamurti is a form of Shiva who is the guru, the teacher. His wisdom is ultimate truth and awareness, beyond the world; flashing like lightning through the clouds, this wisdom comes from beyond. It is irrefutable, mystical insight. In Hindu temples, Dakshinamurti faces south, because south is the direction of death, of change, of transcendence. He sits under a banyan tree, with his right foot on a demon, who is ignorance. Students surround him, and sometimes also wild animals, all listening attentively.
Shiva destroys ignorance and the entire world of ignorance; transcending the world of duality and illusion in this way, he unveils the mystical light of heaven, the true world beyond the clouds.
Top photo: Painting by Fra Angelico 1395-1455 / Wikimedia Commons / “The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide.The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.”
Second photo: Sharon St Joan / Chennai Museum / Shiva