12.10.18 | Spirit in the Sky

The prospect of death invites a peek into the world of metaphysics. Member Monday (12/10/18) is dedicated to the two Highland community members we recently lost. Actually, it is dedicated to each and every one of us -- to us, simply different cars on the same train. May we endeavor to share our respective views on the nature of the soul, spirit, and the other immeasurables even if in doing so it feels like both an accommodation to the necessity of language and proof of its inadequacy.

Some inspiration may be offered by way of the Judaeo-Christian belief that our spirits will survive bodily death, "Are Spirits In Space? Exploding Spirits and Absolute Theories Of Space and Time" (link:1,030 words).  This two-page mini-overview touches on some of the earlier thinkers whose space and time theories may have evolved but still largely inform certain belief today. Just avoid any temptation to interpret words like "absolute theories" in any real-world scientific sense as religion deals with the immeasurables and thus may be deemed immaterial, in both senses of the word.

A non-western view may offer some additional perspective just as it did in our discussion surrounding Member Monday (10/29/18)/It's About Time, the chronicle of one western philosopher's widened enlightenment by way of eastern teachings. Particularly insightful is "Ghosts On The Shore" (link: 3,200 words) with the Japanese take on the afterlife, incorporating a moral message as part of the Buddhist teachings. The Japanese sense of the supernatural just seems rooted in psychological pragmatism as it embraces the notion that the dead are meant to be called upon to pacify the spirits of the living, rescuing them from life's uncertainties.

Indeed, how real are we: “Ghost stories point us towards a well-founded anxiety about the stability of our own existence. They do not necessarily induce a fear of being close to death or of our existence coming imminently to an end, but rather indicate something suspiciously thin or fragile or insubstantial about that existence to begin with. You being yourself is an extremely fragile proposition. You can’t say that the living are real and the dead are virtual. They’re the same” 

So, how is it we contemplate our own mortality and whence comes such belief? Out of fear? From religion? Perhaps even from a certain narcissism? Shakespeare provides his own take on the arrogance of the presumed connection to the spirits:

“Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Hotspur:  Why, so can I, or so can any man;

But will they come when you do call for them?" 

Steve SmithComment