I hope that you have not found this discussion too disturbing. You may find my point of view somewhat unfamiliar, but it is otherwise quite innocent since my intention has merely been to point out to you that Death needn't be the foggy mystery which most people are content to regard it. Contrary to the sort of creative thinking I allow myself to enjoy, your beliefs about death probably conform with the teachings of one of the major religions. While these tend not to encourage you to deviate much from established doctrine you are probably horrified by a lot of what I have to say anyway, and in view of the apparent novelty of some of my ideas you may be wondering where it is all coming from. Well, the answer to this question is quite simple. I have mentioned several times that I was impressed with Castaneda's writing as a youth. I thought a lot about what his confidential informer, Don Juan, had to say, and I believe that my own ideas are a synthesis of his thinking and the logical premises of much of modern physical science.
The host model of Earth is, of course, new to both theoretical constructions. Its emergence was more a matter of serendipity, both as a theoretical paradigm in itself, and as a means of translating Don Juan's point of view into one which Western thinkers could more easily relate to. Yet in spite of these considerations I believe that my views really deviate from those which you are likely to possess in so far as mine represent the point of view of a person who expects to be alone in life. I don't think you can overestimate the significance of this distinction. And I'm sure it will be clear to you how a solitary individual will have a completely different outlook on life compared to a person whose motive is to bond with another for the sake of reproduction. The whole geometry of space is different for a solitary individual, and so it is hardly surprising to find that the views of such individuals differ so dramatically. This is particularly evident when comparing their differing attitudes towards death. I'm sure you will appreciate that for couples and families death is the very worst of enemies, but for one who is committed to solitude death is another matter entirely. And so I tell you, from my own personal experience, that Death can be your best friend and advisor.
I hope you won't be confused by my somewhat reckless discussion of what is, in fact, a very serious matter. I hope you don't think that I'm advocating suicide in any way, because I'm not. What I am advocating is the assumption of a point of view which provides a profound insight into your personal experience as an individual, particularly with regard to the retrieval of memories which date from a time prior to your recollection of society. There really is no need for you to be alarmed about what I am saying, because I am simply pointing out that you experience life and death virtually simultaneously. And so you will already have a memory of death which you could retrieve if only your theoretical model of this experience allowed you to believe it.
Your relationship with death is, of course, a very personal matter, and for this reason it is one which you will have to resolve pretty much on your own. The Church is, of course, built up around a theoretical treatment of this subject, and you may feel inclined to resort to the authority of established doctrine. But the Church is not particularly well equipped to deal with this subject because only the social aspect of it is dealt with, and so individuals are not encouraged to confront death until such time as illness, or bereavement make it absolutely necessary. This is not entirely fair because the Church does, in fact, do its best to confront this subject. In the case of the Christian Church, for example, eternal life has long been promised to members who believe that the Saviour Christ died so that they could awaken to a new life when they die. How this may occur nevertheless remains so much of a mystery that individuals who happen to have an inquiring mind will find themselves struggling to give credence to the somewhat superficial logic.
In any case the Church will always regard death with enmity because of the close symbiotic relationship which it has with the family, and so the two institutions will tend to share a common view of the matter. Indeed, it is not without some trepidation that I suggest that the relationship between the Church and the family is so close that I doubt the ability of the Church to be entirely objective about anything to do with the family. The relationship is so intimate that in the case of Christianity the Church and the family reflect each other to such an extent that God is cast in the role of father, Christ is his son, and the mother of Jesus completes the Holy ensemble. The portrayal of these relationships is, of course, consistent with those which occur in nature, and I myself cast the planetary host in the role of an ancestor who is both Maternal and Paternal in a manner which is virtually identical.
But if the health of the planetary host is suffering because of excessive human numbers, then the family, and by implication the Church, are guilty of a collusion which has resulted in considerable damage to what is evidently a very vulnerable being. I'm inclined to suggest that some kind of disciplinary action is in order. But if you doubt the validity of such a provocative suggestion then I ask you to consider how passionately you would feel about some other species taking the liberty to breed without compunction. And if you believe that humanity has a special relationship with the planetary host then consider how much more closely the cows resemble this being, and then compare their behaviour to your own. You may believe that the Church represents Almighty God on this planet, but hey, don't kid yourself. The Church represents the interests of the family first and foremost, while the natural environment has been of such minimal interest to the Church that prior to our recent ecological troubles the subject was never even mentioned.
It is ironic to compare our present environmental predicament with the sentiments underlining a quote from the opening chapter of Genesis where God commends Adam to 'be fruitful and multiply,' to 'fill the Earth and subdue it,' and to 'have dominion over... every living thing that moves on the Earth.' In view of our recent environmental troubles this would seem to be pretty poor advice which fails to inspire much confidence in its author. And yet I'm sure it will be clear to you how much it has appealed to prospective parents throughout the three and a half thousand years since these words were first recorded by Moses.
Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, and these books along with the rest of the Old Testament, and also the New Testament, are the foundation stone upon which the Christian Church is built. The books written by Moses are also important to Islam, just as the Old Testament is important to people of the Jewish faith, but I won't risk insulting those readers who are committed to these religions by speaking of things about which I am ignorant. Christianity, on the other hand, has always been a compelling if somewhat antagonistic presence in my life. I know a few things about Christianity, and so I will confine my remarks to a commentary of this particular religion, although in fairly general terms much of what I have to say applies to religions of any sort.
Moses wrote the opening chapters of Genesis late in the 16th century BC while the Israelites were fleeing from their captivity in Egypt, but it is likely that many details of the story were part of a verbal tradition which may have spanned several tens of thousands of years. Humans have been language users for an estimated thirty of forty thousand years, and they have certainly been thinkers for a lot longer than this. So, if humans happen to be naturally telepathic, then it is possible that elements of the Genesis story have been handed down from generation to generation since our ancestors first began to dominate the natural environment some two million years ago.
You will probably know of a game which children play called 'Chinese Whispers' where a subtle meaning is whispered into the ear of the first player, and then each player has to whisper the phrase into the ear of the next player until every player has heard the phrase. The point of the game is to show children how a subtle meaning can be altered when it is transmitted in this way, and my point in this context is in a sense contrary to the result obtained by a game of this sort. Rather than suggesting that the meaning of the Genesis story has been altered by successive generations, I am suggesting that it has been idealised, and that it has been transformed into something which will appeal to each generation as they heard it.
You may have thought that the process of idealising the rhetorical sentiments contained in these stories stopped when they were objectively encoded in the physical materials of ink and papyrus, but somehow I don't think so. In fact the potential for idealisation is even more pronounced in the case of writing because the stories could be digested in every detail. And since they had to be rewritten over and over in order to combat the deterioration of the fabric from which they were made, there was thus ample opportunity for successive generations of scribes to brush the nicks and burrs from off the rhetorical track.
This may seem like a fairly controversial point to make, but I assure you that the evidence in this case is unequivocal. You may have noticed while reading the Bible that the text is very polished, that the syntax and grammar is not only correct but it is nicely integrated into the overall rhetorical style, and that it is stylistically consistent from one writer to the next as the story of the Israelites is told. So much so, in fact, that I would go so far as to say, somewhat metaphorically, that the text is so shiny that you can actually see your reflection in it. While this is an obviously metaphorical assessment you will no doubt be aware of the Golden Light which shines throughout the telling of these stories and that this in part explains their enduring popularity.
Now, I know as a writer that there is only one way to make your writing shine like that, and that is by reading it over and over, and by correcting all the little niggling bumps and scratches which accumulate in your literary style. There is no way for you to obtain such a polished literary performance in the first draft because people just don't think like that. On the contrary my experience of reading and writing has shown me that nearly every sentence needs to be rewritten several times. In my case it is nothing for me read my story over and over, and add corrections wherever I please because I use a word processor, and so I can print any number of pages with no more effort than it takes to press a button on my keyboard or mouse. But it is another matter entirely to correct sentences when you are writing on a scroll which happens to be several metres in length. You may have the patience of Job, but if you have to rewrite your entire story several times so that you may correct all the inevitable errors, then I believe that you will suffer more tedium than any one man can endure.
My point is that while it may be possible for an individual to occupy a point of view which contradicts the values upheld by the group, this will no longer be the case if the individual's point of view is being compromised by those who actually represent the group. As doubtful as you may believe some of my views to be, the evidence in this case is not subject to controversy. On the one hand there is the literary resolution of the text itself, and on the other hand there is the total absence of anything critical to say about the impact of reproductive culture on the natural environment. The Bible will chasten you if you happen to commit murder or steal something because such acts are of no benefit to society, but it will allow you to do whatever you please when it comes to the wholesale exploitation of the environment. As far as the Bible is concerned the environment is an inanimate object which humanity may plunder, and as such it is by no means the very host which its florid style so graciously beseeches.
I dare say that the idealisation involved in telling the Biblical story was so ingrained in the literary culture of the time that the New Testament has also been subjected to a treatment which is similar. While the meaning of the story may not have been altered by the scribes who rewrote the parchment I'm inclined to suggest that it wasn't necessary anyway because the story had already been sanitised by the original writers. I suspect that if Jesus was so able to alter the reality which normal people share then it is likely that at some point he vocalised a lot of gobbledegook in order to explain it, none of which is mentioned by the New Testament writers. I would also like to be able to discredit the miracles which Jesus is supposed to have performed, mostly because they are so corny, but also because I could implicate the New Testament writers in some shabby fabrication. I have, however, personally witnessed some bizarre perceptual phenomena in my life, and Castaneda writes of one psychedelic experience after another, so I'm not in a position to suggest that the normal constraints on reality are inflexible. Jesus could have performed miracles, and the New Testament writers could be telling the truth, but I doubt that the truth was as simple as their somewhat one sided narrative has made it out to be.
So, in spite of how bitterly you may feel about people who propose such heresies, my intention has merely been to point out to you that the New Testament writers were probably fairly selective about which details they would include in their story. While Jesus may have had some real insight into the true identity of the ultimate authority on this planet, it would have been a fairly simple matter for the New Testament writers to omit anything overly critical he had to say about our relationship with this being. I therefore suggest that the New Testament was written from the point of view of the group for whom the ultimate value will always be reproduction, rather than from the point of view of a solitary individual for whom the ultimate value will be the personal transcendence of death. Had Jesus had the opportunity to personally represent his experience in the form of a permanent record which was safe from the tampering of others, then his story would quite likely have been a little more critical of the ultimate goal of families.
As noted earlier the relationship between the Church and the family is so close that it is not surprising to observe people believing that cherishing family values is the only service which God requires. I say this without fear of recrimination because it would appear that cherishing family values is all that people really do when they go to their Sunday morning services. They've really got no idea about God because the identity of this being is a foggy mystery as far as I can see, there's nothing physical to relate to, and so it is up to the individual to imagine just what God could be. Church goers erect a sometimes elaborate ornamental structure specifically to remove themselves from contact with the natural environment. And then they recite prayers and sing hymns which glorify a being who bears no resemblance to the planetary host who they have so carefully ejected.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are a number of things which the Church does better than any other social institution ever could. The Church is very good at doing all sorts of charitable works. It is very good at celebrating the marriage of couples, and there is no other institution that cares so much for those who have lost loved ones, and who need the sympathy of others in order to help them through their bereavement. But in my opinion you would be a lot closer to the being who hosts your very existence on this planet if you spent Sunday morning in a country paddock with a bunch of cows. The cows bear a much closer resemblance to the planetary host than any Biblical imagery you may refer to. I dare assume such a provocative stance because in my opinion the Church exists to bring to fruition only two practical consequences. The first of which is to structure parental authority within the family, and the second is to generally structure authority within society itself.
The Church is without doubt a most venerable institution in western society, and one whose authority is both revered and of lasting benefit to the welfare of the community it serves. But it is one whose thinking seems to rely on an archaic conception of our place in this world. It seems uninclined to adapt to the theoretical innovations which have shaped us over the course of the last two thousand years or so, and it seems to hesitate when challenged by history.
'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that those who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.' This verse from the Gospel of St. John is all very poetic but it is not an analytical treatment of the relationship between life and death. There is no explanation of how one may achieve a transcendence of death, and it is typical of the sort of superficial thinking of which the New Testament abounds. Yet Church goers repeat this verse, along with countless others like it, over and over as if after the 1500th repetition it will suddenly dawn on them what the true meaning of it is. I was happy to go to Church as a child because I enjoyed the mood which my family shared on a Sunday morning, but when I became a man I couldn't believe how vacuous it all was. As far as I understand the premise for this behaviour, Church goers repeat these verses over and over in order to pass the time while they wait for their Saviour Christ to return.
Well, I hope it's not me who you are waiting for because I'm sorry, but I think I'm going to be a great disappointment to you. I'm really a very ordinary person. If you met me in the street you wouldn't give me a second glance. I don't perform miracles, and all I have to offer is a different point of view. I couldn't be Christ in any case because I'm not really a Christian. I'm an individualist, and I value a healthy environment more than a child bearing relationship with a woman. If you are one who is waiting for Christ to return, then my advice to you is to hang in there because, as you've probably noticed, it's getting pretty late in the day, and I'm sure he'll be along shortly.