Existential Angst

My blog is to honor my father and children that have passed away as I search for meaning in their loss.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I Think Therefore I Am

Why do I think I exist? It seems like a simple question but when I reflect on “I think therefore I am”, I’m lead to ponder the subjective side of that equation. “I think” is an action my brain performs. I have written programs that “think” about what a user might want but we wouldn’t attribute an individual identity to the program. Just because I have a natural ability to think doesn’t make my existence possible.

What if I said “I remember my Self, therefore I am.” Is it that we remember who we are and continue our existence from the same reference point, the Self, that makes us exist? There are huge ramifications from this if it is true. If I am only be because I was me a moment ago, that means if I change something about myself in the now, in the future I will not be who I was. In a way this is an old story, person is poor but honest gets a lot of money. The money changes the person until all of their old friends don’t like them any more. Person realizes they have changed and leaves the money to go back to the friends. There are even more archetypal stories that suggest that we can change who we are.

It also means Alzheimer’s victims are literally robbed of who they are. Their existence is wiped way. This is where my corollary starts to fall apart. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s disease, and though he forgot who he was, I knew him well. His existence didn’t die with him or from the disease because I remembered it.

I’m not sure what this all means, but I am beginning to see that existence is a shared phenomenon between the world and myself. I exist because the world exists and we remember each other. So long as we remember, we can’t die.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Perceptions

The reason I am concentrating on dreams so much is because of my dad telling me in detail about a special even in my life before he died. I think there is a connection between what we dream, the reality that we perceive and the “real world”/Truth/ultimate reality/etcetera. If there is a connection between me and the spiritual world then I have not lost anyone because I am always with them outside of time.

I saw a neat show about the limitations of human perception. The last segment of the show was a study where people had to count the number of times the basketball players passed a ball to each other. In the middle of the game, out walks a man in a gorilla suit and waves to the camera and walks off. Only a quart of the people in the study saw the man in the gorilla suit. Then the show rewinds to several segment of itself where there was a man in a gorilla suit in the background that I did not notice.

So, it seems pretty clear from a scientific point of view that we, in human form, are not very good at perceiving everything around us. In many ways it is good to have a narrow focus. It allows us to hold a conversation in a noisy room, find a friends face in the crowd or even hunt our prey on a grocery shelf.

I think there is a perception we can have at different times in our lives when the data that we concentrate on is not what we have been looking at all along. It is a big leap of faith but I think my dad was seeing more, his perceptions were expanding, as he was dying. I don’t know why this would happen but I know that his ego died many months before he did. I know this because he often hugged me and when he could speak he only wanted me to know how much he loved me. This wasn’t the man I knew all of my life. The man I grew up with was cold, distant and very often mean. He was a totally hostile driver and didn’t mind using sign language to let everyone else know how he felt if you know what I mean.

My current thinking on the matter is that dreams allow us to see the man in the gorilla suit. Dreams let us move unabated through time and have interactions that our ego driven selves don’t believe are possible. I believe that once we break through our ego, we will have the perception that my father had, where he could know me from my eyes and my feelings and love me as much as I loved him.

Friday, December 10, 2004

If I light a candle and then use the flame to light a second candle are the two flames the same? If I blow out the first flame and leave the second one to burn for an hour but then relight the first, are they the same flames that we started with an hour ago? Is the relight candle the same flame that started the first candle?

I have son, is he me? If I was cryogenically frozen until he turned my age and I was thawed at that moment so that we were the same age, am I still the man that fathered him? After being re-vitalized, am I even the same person I was or am I someone new?

The second set of questions seems easier to answer but if I think deeply about it, I can answer all of these questions, yes and no. The flames are not the same as they were a moment ago but they are not different. I am not the man I was 10 minutes ago let alone 10 years ago. No matter what happens in the space of time or what that time period is, we are all not the same and we are not different in our time continuum.

So what is it about us that remain the same from moment to moment? My memories changes, my bodies cells are dying and new ones are talking there place every minute of the day. I have heard that every 7 years we have completely changed all of the materials of our body so quite literally we are new people about every 7 years. I know I am the same but I’m different as well. I’ll have to think about it some more.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Dreams Predict the Future

Last night I had a dream that intertwined with reality but the dream had to know of what was going to happen in order to make the story work out. In this dream, I predicted my wife coming to bed before she actually did. This isn't the first time I have dreamed something and then have reality somehow match up with the dream or vice versa. As anyone else experienced this?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Thoughts on Life and Death

As I think about life and death, I become torn between many ideas that are hard for me to hold in my head at once. First is the Buddhist Truth of Impermanence, that all things manifest and stop manifesting and that this process is occurring all of the time. The next is the Hindu idea of Ultimate Consciousness and lastly is the Christian idea of a soul.

Impermanence helps me understand my children’s deaths. My boys died from Twin-to-Twin Transference Syndrome, a disease where they shared the blood supply from on placenta. This cause one of them to die of heart failure with too much blood and the other to die from a lack of blood. A year later my daughter died from a genetic disease. Impermanence tells me that for these children the conditions for them to manifest were not sufficient. Sort of like a match without enough sulfur to burn to start a flame. I wonder if my living son is one of the twins that could manifest or if he is some one new. Buddhism would say he isn’t the same and he isn’t different. Just like I am not my father, but a part of him lives in me.

So, do children that never grow up have an ego consciousness or are they purely Ultimate or Universal Consciousness? They didn’t have time even learn a language to have an internal dialog for ego consciousness to express itself. Yet, I know that through my eyes there is a “Watcher” that sees the universe and my ego talks to someone for whom is a “Listener” and they have been with me all of my life. I have changed a lot over the years but if I think deeply, I know that this universal consciousness is in me. Is there were my children, father and forefathers are? Do they watch through my eyes and hear me through my ego internal dialog?

Do I have a soul? I think so. In a Robert Pirsig sort of way, I believe the quality of the answer to be too low to say that there is nothing eternal about us. If we simply say that there is some force that seems to be beyond any one cell, organ or limb that makes us essentially who we are, that is close enough to a soul for me.

Here’s my logic problem, if we have an eternal soul in us but everything in this dimension is Impermanent then the soul can’t be in this dimension. If I’m attached to a soul that is eternal and it is in an eternal place, then a part of me is in an eternal place right now. So, when I die my soul doesn’t go anywhere because it is already there and therefore apart of me is already there. So, I am with my children, my father and all that live through me right now, but yet I can not experience them because my ego consciousness is in this dimension and it can not understand the eternal dimension.

I think all of these ideas belong together like some sort of physics universal theory but I can’t do the math to get them resolve each other. I sort of feel like these ideas are three windows all looking at the same thing each with different prospective on that “thing”. I’ll keep posting as I get new ideas.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Where do Dreams come from?

I studied dreams in college as I was getting my degree in psychology in books by C. G. Jung and Sigmund Freud. I looked that dreams as phenomenon with a certain fascination as one might look into a fish tank and wonder what the fish are thinking. My dreams were scary, fun and occasionally prophetic with what we call Déjà vu.

Before my Dad died of lung cancer, he asked me some questions about my time in college. He asked me about certain events of a particular day, the last day of my freshman year. He said to me that he had several dreams of me walking in the ornamental garden outside of my dorm but that my thinking wasn’t right and that I was terribly lonely and emotionally distraught. He also described how I was with several of my friends and they were not thinking right and we all went in to the woods behind the garden, past the shed and into woods I had not been in before. I agreed that this was true and I recognized that he knew what was going on at that moment for me and he went on to say that I didn’t like what I saw and that I felt that needed to come home. I agreed again. Then he leaned forward in his chair and said, “as I draw closer, I see these things in my dreams” with his hand in front of his face.

There is important information that I need to share with you to understand the significance of what he said. First, he never went into the ornamental garden let alone the shed behind it. He did not know that I had taken LSD that day for the first time and that it made me not “think right”. I was terribly lonely at that time because I couldn’t get a girl friend and my room mate had abandoned me months before for his girl friend so that I was completely alone. I remember that I met a group of friends that had also dropped acid at the same time as me in the garden. There was a moment when I was sure that I heard “death” and felt that I needed to move out of the garden where we went past the shed and into the forest behind it. I didn’t like the idea of being in a wood that I didn’t know so I took off on my own to get back to the dorm. At that time the LSD was strongly affecting me and I felt like “death” was right behind me and I was scared and wished I was home. I joined up with some friends and felt better and enjoyed the rest of my “trip” and haven’t really thought much about it since then.

I’m not advocating the use of drugs in any way, many bad things in my life came from drugs. I used LSD several more times after this event and they didn’t have any significant meaning so there is no reason for me to believe that they “helped” in this experience at all.

This conversation with my dad leaded me to some very fundamental questions.

1. How could he see my experience that happened 12 years ago and why that particular experience?
2. What caused him to dream this at all, is there a consciousness that decided to show this to him?
3. Was I as close to death as he was and somehow we crossed paths in a different dimension? Are there other dimensions that control what we dream?

I reject any argument that would suggest that this is a coincidence or that it is fabricated by my dad. He had no knowledge of any of these events yet he knew the date it happened and the places it occurred in that he never saw personally and he knew how I felt, most importantly, which he couldn’t have known because we were not in contact with each other at the time. Most importantly, why would he tell me a lie as he was dying, there is no motivation for such an action. I was there and he wanted to tell me something honest and true, he didn’t understand the dreams he was having and wanted me to verify them to be as true as they seemed to him. That was his motivation for telling me his dreams period. I, of course, need to come to grips with what this means in terms of the universe we live in.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog. I have decided to publish my thoughts as I come to grips with deaths of my family members. I hope that I may help and be helped by those that have traveled this way. I have a lot of story to tell so I suspect this blog will take a while to complete. Thank you for your interest in this journey.