The airways are aswamp with assertions about a better place and an eternal home, accessible only to the faithful who adhere to a particular perspective and who have signed up in advance with a particular institution.  Members only--like the private clubs in Mobile, Alabama, that were exotic and strange to me as a Canadian from Montreal, when I worked there as a busboy in 1964.  I wonder if the concept of Gaia could be used to appeal to someone who is tied up with a fundamentalist vision.  It could go something like this:

   If a greater reality awaits those who are qualified, it will be important for them to learn how to relate to that greater reality now.  Otherwise eternity will feel like a celestial nursing home:  we press the call button and an attendant (angel) will come in no time, because this is Heaven after all, but then we will have no idea what we want.  Having spent our life on Earth pursuing personal and selfish cravings, our celestial wants cannot fail to be narrow and arbitrary.  "Bring me a non-fattening--oh wait, I have no body, so make that a maximum-fat creamy milk shake."  That could get old fast, and now fast is forever.

  No eternity could be tolerable unless we have learned to integrate our accidental wants within a greater whole, where our objectives and affinities pertain to a greater life, one in which we are a joyous participant, but no more at the center than all the other participants.  As a creature within Gaia, honoring Mother Nature, and living to serve the needs of both our fellow creatures and the home which sustains us all, who needs to wait for Heaven?  But if we have also been taught to suspect that something like a Christian Heaven awaits us, then we can think of ourselves as learning to appreciate a realm that is vast, mysterious, and a fitting home for consciousness, in a way that life on Earth has given for us to practice. --Michael   

 

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Hi, Michael, welcome to the IPS forum.  Have you shared these ideas with Christian believers?  It is a good message for adopting a more this-worldly, participatory, respectful orientation with the greater life of our planet.

Hi Michael,

Nice to see you over here.  I suppose if you accept without question a better plane awaits after death, the real question, as you seem to point toward, is not if there is in fact a better place, but how believing in a better place affects how we behave 'in this life'?  Projecting what has made us happy in the past into an imaginative after-death plane, "maximum-fat creamy milk shakes", etc., can be a self-soothing, 'after-bubble' we live in today.  While I like the idea, as you say, of integrating our "accidental wants within a greater whole, where our objectives and affinities pertain to a greater life, one in which we are a joyous participant, but no more at the center than all the other participants" appeals to me, I haven't yet risen to that level of everyday existence.  You are probably much closer to that simply by means of your non-profit work with those afflicted with neuromuscular diseases.  

But I do get glimpses of Knowing on an expansive level, where the 'me at the center' seems to relinquish its dominance as a declarative, gathering tendency that allows for what you describe as a "vast, mysterious, and a fitting home for consciousness".  Because of these glimpses the need for self-soothing 'after-bubbles' like 'Heaven' simply don't seem necessary, but the concept remains an open question.

David

Good Morning, David,

You're the listener that everyone with an interrupted childhood hopes to find.  I'm just saying.  I take seriously your thoughts about present life, the images of a possible redemptive or karmically-rewarding future plane, and the path between them, because you seem so at home here and now.  That's not all that common.  The edifaces of mind so readily spin off into abstraction, elaborate constructs, and self-referring assertions, that it is very comforting to be in the company of a mind able to share its particular radar sweep across the open water through which our boat is sailing.  In the darkened wheel house, the moon glancing off the salt water, the peaks of the rockies forming a monilithic bowl around our seemingly motionless suspension in the midst of it all, those pings of the radar and it's sweeping pictures of where we are and where we are going--I believe that I can now happily pass on that milkshake.  Michael

Davidu said:

Hi Michael,

Nice to see you over here.  I suppose if you accept without question a better plane awaits after death, the real question, as you seem to point toward, is not if there is in fact a better place, but how believing in a better place affects how we behave 'in this life'?  Projecting what has made us happy in the past into an imaginative after-death plane, "maximum-fat creamy milk shakes", etc., can be a self-soothing, 'after-bubble' we live in today.  While I like the idea, as you say, of integrating our "accidental wants within a greater whole, where our objectives and affinities pertain to a greater life, one in which we are a joyous participant, but no more at the center than all the other participants" appeals to me, I haven't yet risen to that level of everyday existence.  You are probably much closer to that simply by means of your non-profit work with those afflicted with neuromuscular diseases.  

But I do get glimpses of Knowing on an expansive level, where the 'me at the center' seems to relinquish its dominance as a declarative, gathering tendency that allows for what you describe as a "vast, mysterious, and a fitting home for consciousness".  Because of these glimpses the need for self-soothing 'after-bubbles' like 'Heaven' simply don't seem necessary, but the concept remains an open question.

David

You're too kind brother.  Love the metaphors!  :-)

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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