Intimations of Immortality

The Thinker by Rodin

A few entries back I mentioned my pal Lisa’s recent experience with a psychic. I’m still waiting for the full report, which I am sure I will get in time. While ruminating on the subject though I’d thought I’d throw out a few of my own observations in the course of life that have made me curious about things metaphysical.

My friend Frank Pierce some years ago told me “No one ever worries about what they were before they were conceived. We only dwell on what comes after death, if anything.” This is really an excellent observation because it captures the nature of the problem. Life is really about living. Our challenge is to live it.

Many of you have no doubt seen “The Matrix”. I was struck by the scene where the protagonist wakes, as if from a dream, to find he actually exists in some soupy pod a century hence and is being used by machines that control the planet and enslave people. His perceived reality is, in fact, a simulation. As a child I often wondered if every time I moved the world was completely redrawn. While I no longer hold that as a viable notion I think there is perhaps something to this idea that our existence is in fact a complex form of virtual reality. We are in a game, or experience, that concludes with death.

It is interesting how all the major religions pretty much echo this same notion. Most religions would not call life a game, but they would say something that how one lives it and how one interacts with others determines one’s soul growth.

I have ruminated on what makes things genuine for me and I have determined that the only thing genuine is what I feel (or experience). What and how I experience may not be real in fact. But this notion is an axiom of my life: an article of faith. The alternative is that feelings are not genuine.

Most of us have had experiences of deja-vu in our lives. I get them about twice a year. Sometimes they are mild, but sometimes they are very powerful. My most powerful experience occurred in 1987 when I went to work for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. I arrived at work on my first day to be shown the room I would work in and I had deja vu. I had never seen the room before I had been there. But it was all in my memory already, right down to the railroad tracks outside my window and the smoke belching from the nearby tunnel. The desk, the computer, the stuff on the wall … it snapped into place like a puzzle piece.

Scientists and those of a rational bent like to tell us our minds play tricks on us at these times: it’s all some weird neuron firing thing. But I don’t believe it anymore. It felt real so for me it was real. So watching The Matrix in a way gave me the same sort of feeling … not that I remember seeing the Matrix before I saw it, but the feeling that life maybe wasn’t as linear as I thought.

I think life may well be more like a disk drive than a tape drive. Occasionally you can move the read/write head and “move outside the time stream”. I’m speculating but perhaps this happens in deep sleep. Anyhow either I am deluding myself or I’m onto something here.

If time is an illusion then perhaps death doesn’t mean anything either. Maybe our existence is defined by the time stream that is our life and we wander endlessly back and forth between conception and death. Or perhaps the time stream goes before conception and after death and we are either immortal or live many, many lives.

My mother is 82 and feeling her mortality. She doesn’t like being her oldest surviving sibling. Who can blame her? I’m likely to feel the same way in time, if I live so long. But I remember her often remarking that she looks in the mirror and her body is so old, but her mind still feels so youthful. Maybe that too is a clue. The body is an illusion of sorts, and neither lasting nor wholly genuine. And if one can feel that truth perhaps aging can be less traumatic.

Based purely on how I feel on a gut level I am much more inclined now to believe in reincarnation. I’m not quite sure why I am here. If I am here on a mission it’s not obvious to me what it is supposed to be. Maybe life truly is a gift and it is ours to enjoy as we see fit.

I leave with my family tomorrow for Hawaii. So this web log will likely be blank until we get back, hopefully on December 30th. Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Psychics

The Thinker by Rodin

My pal Lisa’s recent experiences with a psychic (which hopefully she will elaborate some time on her blog Snarkypants) was rather interesting. I am by nature a skeptic (that’s why I call this place Occam’s Razor) but on the other hand if what she told me is accurate, and I’m sure it is, the simplest explanation is to believe that there are people with genuine psychic ability and that some part of our personality does manifest itself as energy after death.

This is not a comfortable thought to most of us Hamills, at least my siblings and I. Schooled in the fine scientific method we are skeptical of anything metaphysical. We are a fine bunch of classic skeptics, but this gives me pause.

A medium who can touch a card where you wrote down some names and never see the names and start naming names and telling you things about them from the afterlife is either truly psychic or a mind reader. Personally I am very disturbed that someone could read my mind and my own private thoughts. When I imagine the complexity of doing something like that I have to think that it is simpler just to accept that this psychic truly is one.

Now I’ve watched TV psychics. John Edward really seems convincing, until I read stuff online that says his tapings take six hours and is edited down to take out the false readings and show only those things that click. And of course people in general are pretty suggestable going into these things. So I’m skeptical about John Edward even though I like watching his show when I see it … I don’t go out of my way though.

Someday I’ll have to try out a psychic for myself I guess and make my own conclusions. But Lisa is neither a flake nor suggestable. I can’t discount her experience.

I have been doing a fair amount of metaphysical reading though. I’ll describe this in more detail sometime later in this blog. Sifting through it is tough and finding kernels of truth is even tougher. One can certainly understand that as people age and death becomes less of an abstraction that they would become more interested in the stuff, and that is probably as true for me as it was for Harry Houdini. My mind does seem to rebel at the notion that someday I will no longer exist in some form whatsoever. Perhaps I exist, therefore I am, is not an unreasonable hypothesis and if by believing you do you in fact always do exist in some form.

In any event while I can’t claim to be a biophysicist I have learned that energy is never destroyed, it merely changes state over time. Is it that unreasonable to think that if water can be in many forms (gas, liquid and solid) that my energy (or soul if you will) can exist in many forms too? For now perhaps it is in a human form and perhaps at death I will move into yet another form, much like ice changing to water.

And that would raise the question of why are we here, which I will ruminate on in a future blog entry.