By Ed Konderla
In our present state we sure have a lot of time to reflect on things.
In the pre-Covid virus days, many of us had an unlimited amount of distractions. We kept our heads locked, looking straight ahead, zeroing in on the next distraction like walking on a narrow stone garden path doing our best to avoid the mud. Covid has, in effect, removed the stones and now all we have is mud. Man I hate it when that happens.
Now we have no choice but to deal with ourselves. I have discovered I really don’t like myself enough to spend unlimited time together, me and myself I mean. Thank God for the internet because it deflects my attention from myself.
This whole “dying” thing is the biggest hassle with the Covid virus. It appears to be causing a lot of that these days — or not — depending on who you are listening to. As a general rule we keep our death wrapped up and put as far back in the closet as we can, like that expensive exercise gizmo we bought years ago and never really used. We wished we could throw it away but we can’t. It’s always hovering in our minds, just out of sight. As hard as we try, we can’t make it go away. Then one day a water pipe breaks in the back of the closet and everything has to come out. Now the damn thing is sitting out there where you have to look at it. It seems you are tripping over it at every turn.
I follow a philosophy that says you must conquer your fear in general, and of death in particular, to go continue to grow. It is not a religion but neither is it not not a religion. Now that is an easy statement make, I mean “Conquer your fear of death” and not “not not a religion”. Some people follow religions that I think can expedite that process of conquering ones fears. Due to having this annoying analytical brain of mine that path was really never opened to me.
In my line of work I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to many religions and cultures and their proponents. I must look like a soft target because I have suffered a non-stop barrage of people trying to convert me to their religion be it Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or atheism, and many more. Now I know atheism, technically, is not a religion but I swear many of those folks practice it with a religious fervor that would put any Bible College grad, East Texas Fundamentalist preacher to shame.
I have many friends that are Christian (and Islamic, and Jewish, and gay, and black and Chinese and Ecuadorian and poor, etc. etc. Just thought I would get that out of the way). In a sincere concern for the welfare of my eternal soul I have had close friends tell me in effect, “Just say you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior,” even if you don’t really believe it. I always felt that God would be able to see through that and I’m not sure how the “Big Guy”(or Gal, or Trans) would appreciate me trying to game him (or her or it).
It is a particularly hard time being a spiritual person and a scientific one at the same time in this modern era. There was a time not all that long ago when a person could be scientific in nature plus deeply religious and have pretty much the full support of their peers. Not now. In recent history scientists, especially in academia, that dared to tip their hats to “God” would have their careers burned at the proverbial stake with the same unbridled enthusiasm the Spanish Inquisitors applied the penalty to their charges that failed to support the correct dogma.
The times they are a changing. The physical sciences (i.e. chemistry, physics, astronomy) put absolute blind faith in the belief that sooner or later, with enough investigation, they would find the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything which of course any educated person knows it is 42. There was a blind faith that consciousness would eventually be explained by physical processes. So far, those pursuits have only led up blind alleys and ongoing scientific pursuits are starting to look hopeless.
So this goes back to my experience. I struggled with the fact that there was no afterlife. That life really had no meaning, that deep down we were just walking, talking, farting containers of carbon and water. I always assumed that my inability to successfully incorporate that into my world view was pointing to my fear of death, that apparently, try as I might, I had still not successfully conquered the fear that one day I would cease to exist.
My dear wife, while not sharing my pursuits, has always been very supportive. A while back, she sent me an article she had seen with the comment, “Thought you might like this”. It’s amazing to me where seemingly insignificant events can eventually be life changing. It was an article on Metaphysical Idealism written by a guy named Bernardo Kastrup. Had never heard of him or metaphysical idealism before. Turns out idealism has been around for at least a couple of hundred years.
A little background on Dr. Kastrup. Bernardo is a Dutchman with two Ph.Ds. His first is in Computer Engineering specializing in reconfigurable computing and artificial intelligence and his second is in Philosophy (ontology, philosophy of mind). As a scientist, Bernardo has worked for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Phillips Research Laboratories (where the “Casmir Effect” of Quantum Field Theory was discovered). Formulated in detail in academic papers and books, his ideas have been featured on Scientific American, the Institute of Art and Ideas, the Blog of the American Philosophical Association and Big Think, among others. He has six books on Amazon. If you enjoy seeing spirituality proven scientifically with tremendous rigor you will love his books but they aren’t for sissies. I have practically worn out the dictionary on my Kindle. The pages are really starting to get smudged and dog eared.
Instead of attempting to get into detail about his theories let me just give the bottom line of how it has impacted me. I accept that not only is there an afterlife, but death of the conscience simply does not exist. My place in the scheme of things is a peaceful and wonderful place full of beauty and hope, that all living organisms are conscious at some level. Thank God because I was sweating my pets’ afterlife more than mine. Anything that isn’t a living organism is not conscious. In other words, the Earth is not a conscious entity but is a product of consciousness. There is no deity watching for me to screw up so he can smack my pee pee. Actually the whole theory is very consistent with the American Indian philosophy I started following 35 years ago.
The theory has no problem with pretty much any religion. In fact any religion is far more consistent with this Metaphysical Idealism than it is with atheism. If you are a radical atheist you will probably find Bernardo’s perception of you infuriating. He believes, as do I now, that atheism is the worst kind of lie. That it has caused huge harm to humanity and the environment. Bernardo is so hard on radical atheists that he even had some of his own supporters give him the whole “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” speech. So he wrote an article entitled “There is a method to the condescension,” which you can find on his website, where not only does he not apologize but explains with logic why life will continue. As he says, “I like to drag them by the ear face down through the mud”.
So, if you need a scientifically rigorous reason to get rid of that old exercise gizmo give Bernardo a try. If you however, follow a religion or philosophy that has satisfactorily taken care of your immortal soul carry on. There is nothing in his philosophy that has a desire to convert or change you. If you are a radical atheist you might want to steer clear. He will take your argument and shove to where the sun don’t shine in a brutally scientific and logical argument. Check him out if you so choose: www.bernardokastrup.com .
As is usual if what I write makes you angry that makes me happy.