Category Archives: Under my Dome of Heaven

Blogs about things that are important in my life.

The Day I Met the Jewwwzz Man

The day I met the Jewwwzz Man was a day like any other day. Well, not exactly like any other day, because we (my lovely wife of 48 years and I) were not home in gray, dreary Ontario, but in sunny, warm Mexico. So, it was a day like any other day, while on vacation in Mexico avoiding the gray, dreary Ontario winter that I encountered him, but again, not exactly like any other day.

The day I met the Jewwwzz Man, was a day during our yearly sojourn in Mexico when two friends were visiting for the week. One of them has limited mobility and uses a walking stick, and the other has a chronic lower back problem and doesn’t move along so well either. That meant our daily routine now included taking electric transports from place to place within the resort.

Taking transport vehicles, means that one’s person might be exposed to others who are also escaping their own version of a cold, gray, dreary winter. That inevitability means certain beings can intrude inside my Dome of Heaven. Whenever such intrusions occur, they might be limited to an I-It category of relationship, or elevated to an I-Thou level. They might be permitted to remain under my Dome of Heaven, or be banished to the netherworld far from that idyllic place.

If you don’t know the difference between I-It and I-Thou relationships, you can read my book Through a Lens of Emptiness or you can read Martin Buber’s “I-It and I-Thou.” Suffice it to say, that I-It relationships are limited to factual knowledge about something or someone, and I-Thou relationships imply emotional interactions. When the Jewwwzz Man intruded into my Dome of Heaven, we were on such a transport vehicle. He didn’t even have a name at the time and there was no way of telling who he really was. He was just there, seated one seat behind me on the transport.

Leaning forward into my space, he asked where we were headed, and I politely responded with the name of the restaurant. As these sorts of informal inquisitions go, I responded in kind. We exchanged some impressions of the quality of food at each place. He asked “Did you have the Paella?” I responded as best I could, offering my opinion of the cuisine, and he in turn offered his. He increased the audacity of his intrusion by introducing himself. Thus marks the transition from just another human traveling on the same transport vehicle as me, to an I-It relationship called Mike from Illinois.

Sometimes one can choose his I-It interactions and sometimes they just happen. Mike from Illinois just happened because to ignore him would have been contrary to normal civil discourse, and certainly contrary to my Canadian manner. However, it was not until the next morning that I-It Mike transformed into I-Thou.

Mike and I crossed paths on our way to and from the exercise facility (El Gimnasio) at the resort, he on his way to, and me on my way from. Because of our newly formed I-It status we immediately recognized each other and stopped to exchange a socially appropriate “good morning.” Mike decided to elevate his end of the relationship by asking “Where are you from?” to which I responded, “Near Toronto in Canada.” That should have been the end of it, but Mike decided to push the limits of our relationship to the next level.

He prolonged the interaction by saying, “My son (or perhaps it was his brother, I can’t remember which because I didn’t really care) lived in Toronto for a year and told me there were all kinds of different people living in there.”

To which I countered, “There certainly are, Toronto is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America.” Mike’s rejoinder tipped his hand, for with his next words I discovered his true identity.

Mike then remarked, “I understand there are a lot of Jewwwzz in Toronto ―a lot of Jewwwzz,” I knew who I was dealing with. It was the Jewwwzz Man in the flesh.

imagesT00DR7FU I responded, “That’s true,” all the while controlling an enormous urge to laugh a great big, loud, roaring laugh. You see, at that very moment, as the word Jewwwzz left his lips, Mike from Illinois transformed into a human-like Dr. Seussian character. There was just something about his face, the way his mouth formed the word Jewwwzz, and the way those sounds oozed and slithered out of his mouth, prolonging the “…wwwzz” sound that strongly resembled the Grinch, or a Whovien creature from some oversized Whoville. It was at this point in our relationship that I-It became I-Thou, at least for the moment. e999841f42e76f81e3b05891fdfb8974[1]

What the Jewwwzz Man didn’t know, couldn’t know, is that I happen to be Jewish. I took his comment to be a reflection of an intrinsic level of anti-Semitism, a form of the resident evil present in xenophobes. There was just something about his emphasis on “many different kinds of people” and “lots of Jewwwzz,” that screamed XENOPHOBIA. I-It Mike from Illinois, became, I-Thou Mike the Jewwwzz Man.

I went from just identifying Mike as a human being with a certain physical form from a certain place (just knowledge), to what Mike was like on the inside — a xenophobic, Mid-Western Caucasian, American, who had the temerity to evoke an emotional response in me. I am not angry with Mike. I do not hate him or care to get to know him better, fear his presence on the face of the earth, or revile him. Indeed, there is a smidgeon of sympathy for this narrow-minded and prejudiced individual.

There is something pitiable about a person who cannot see past the image of “all kinds of people living in Toronto” to describe a multicultural, cosmopolitan city. Mike’s true, negative feelings about people who are not like him, Caucasian, American, and Christian, came across when he said “lots of Jewwwzz” in conversation. After mulling this thought over in his head for a few seconds during a thoughtful pause, and then saying “lots of Jewwwzz” a second time without taking a second breath, confirmed it.

The essence of any I-Thou relationship is that it persists as long as the emotions related to it exist. I usually cherish I-Thou relationships because they fulfill me, but not this one. The Jewwwzz Man is more like the Grinch than he knows. I may never be able to relegate Mike from Illinois to an I-It status again, but I certainly can exclude him from my Dome of Heaven, relegating him to the nether provinces of my life experience. My Dome of Heaven definitely does not, and never will, include xenophobes.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author

http://www.facebook.com/lalanweiss

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Becoming Like Water

Water

Lazy, meandering streams in urban parks,

Mountain torrents, arising from the never-ending trickling melt of glaciers,

Tumbling rocks and pebbles, conferring unexpected smoothness.

Forming rivers flowing to the sea.

Ponds of every description and size,

Glassy with ice, or shimmering in a summer’s breeze.

Life concealed below a thin molecular skin of nature’s essential fluid,

Flitting, and flying, and buzzing above its surface or skating magically on it too.

Even Thoreau’s Walden, a pond eloquently shared, implanted in my mind.

Shores of oceans, lakes and seas, bounded by rock or sandy beach,

Waves gently lapping sometimes crashing at my feet.

Timeless rhythm of ageless music,

Sounds continuous and regular, marking the pulse of wind and tide.

Telling tales of far off places to all who listen.

Canoe’s prow cutting the surface, gliding smoothly, quietly, leaving no scars.

At the helm of a trawler, playing with tides to gain favor, charting a logical course.

Avoiding dangers of reef and rock, negotiating treacherous passes into mysterious fiords.

Fighting wind and wave, arriving safely into port.

I’ll venture out once more when all is quiet.

These are the waters of my life, whose very existence runs a thread through time,

Speaking as they did to Siddhartha and Vasudeva the ferryman before him,

Whispering, laughing, roaring and crying, teaching me patience, marking my allotted time.

Flow without resistance, becoming one with all they touch.

In these ways, I have become like water.

L. Alan Weiss (www.lensofemptiness.com)

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I have become emptiness

I Have Become Emptiness

I have become emptiness

I have become emptiness and it is not stressful.

I am not alone, not isolated, have no fear, see no foreshadowing of the bleak and barren.

I have become emptiness in order to find fullness in life.

I am not fooled by its apparent permanence, or its promises, or its apparitions.

I have become emptiness in order to experience fullness of mind.

I am all memories, and feelings, and sensations of the past seeking the future as it may be.

I have become emptiness in order to achieve expansiveness of thought.

I am enlightenment, and vision, and illumination of being and spirit.

I have become emptiness in order to achieve purposeful action,

I am productive, and positive, and undeterred by impediment.

I have become emptiness and it is a joyful state.

I have become emptiness.

From The Lens of Emptiness

L. Alan Weiss (www.lensofemptiness.com)

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The final acts

Sorry for the break in communication. Anyone reading this blog who is a writer will understand what happens when the words start to flow. Not only is it an irresistible feeling to be writing with fluidity and insight, it also means that a manuscript is getting completed. Over that last week or so I have been sequestered with my thoughts and words, but I want to finish my documentation of dear B’s last days.

Almost two weeks had passed since all nutrition and fluids were withdrawn and B was still hanging on to life. At about eleven o’clock on this final day of B’s life, the nurses came into the room as usual to change his position, and when they moved him he grimaced in pain for the last time and went into crisis. Forty-five minutes later it was all over. All that remained to be done was the signing of his death certificate, the procession out from the hospice suite to the hearse, a laying in for people to visit the family and pay their respects, the funeral and finally a burial.

The wake, as it was called, was held three days later at the funeral home. At this point in the blog I need to flip the switch over from the all the scenarios occurring around me, to my reactions to the rituals associated with the death of this man. For these final rituals, I stepped outside myself into  the theater of it all and away from the significance of  loss. It is a quirk of mine to step back  from things in my head in times of stress and pain and look at them as an observer, rather than a participant. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism or a technique for grasping the reality of a situation more fully. I am not sure which, but it is what I do.

The wake was held in a large room at the funeral home and B was laying in an open casket. This was the second time I was exposed to the final rendition of a once living being as the result of cosmetic skills and mortuary science. The first time I was exposed to such a sight was at the funeral of a friend and colleague who had died in an automobile crash. In both cases, I only saw a mannequin of the person I knew laying in the casket. My dear B looked more like himself as he lay in the hospice bed than he did now. In his life, over all the years I had known him, he never looked like he was made to look in death.

At my own father’s funeral, I declined the offer to have a last look at him before he was buried. My dear wife went into the room where he lay with my mother, and all I could hear was my mother’s wailing cry “That’s not my Lou”. I only wanted to remember him as he was just a few days before when we had travelled to visit him at home. You could tell his heart was struggling to supply enough blood to his organs systems just by looking at him, but he was alive and that was what I wanted to remember. When my mother died some twenty years later, she gave express instructions that there was to be no viewing of her body, no cosmetic treatment, and only a simple grave side service. It was very dignified indeed.

I ventured up to the casket to have a closer look and just touched an arm. At that moment, I experienced this part of the ritual of death as a degradation of the life that was. I imagine this whole scene is for the benefit of the family, but I think it barbaric and disrespectful to the dynamic life of the B that I knew so well.

The funeral service and burial were held the next day. I was still standing outside of myself, detached and in observation mode. I confess to being a very non-religious type, and as this was a Catholic service so it was very foreign to me. You need to believe in God to see the relevance of the words of the service and of the priest speaking them. The only meaningful part of the service occurred when my nephews, each in their turn, stood to speak of their father. They spoke so well and with so much dignity, that the I felt B’s memory was reconstituted after  the artificiality of  his open casket that day before.

B’s burial was simple, with a few words of the mass repeated at the grave side. The most interesting and touching event of his burial was the addition of a military honor guard and flag folding ceremony. His casket was draped with the American flag in respect for his participation in actions related to the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was in the Navy at the time and somehow involved as a crew member of one of the ships participating in the blockade around Cuba. That was a few years before we knew each other. Once the ceremony was completed and the flag was folded in the customary manner, it was handed to my sister-in-law. The casket was lowered into a concrete lined bunker as required for any burial in that part of Illinois, and that was that.

My thoughts as his casket descended into his cement lined crypt reinforced my belief that life is life and death is just death, and nothing more. On the way to a luncheon held in his honor following the burial, I stepped back into myself and finally shed a tear for the loss of a friend and in sadness and happiness at the same time, because his suffering had come to an end. Shalom my friend.

Until the next time . . . L

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Next day at the hospice – the procession

B has been NPO (no nutrition by mouth or any other means) for 11 days. Ghandi managed a 21 day hunger strike on two glasses of water, but Ghandi did not have a massively metastasised cancer, nor had he experienced intensive radiation and chemo therapies. Eleven days of survival was far in excess of the usual seven the family had been informed to expect when B entered the facility.  B continued to breathe regularly, receive his injections of morphine and antihistamine, and be repositioned regularly. His day was otherwise uneventful. The intervals of communication of the previous day were not repeated and may be the last we will enjoy since there were none this day.

Members of the family came and went throughout the day with the greatest concentration present after 4 PM. The sporting events continued to unfold on the TV. At one point, all the family present gathered around a computer screen to watch the live feed of a high school soccer game in which his grandson was playing. All of us were cheering his team on and watching his play, except B of course. He was not forgotten. One or another of us checked on him regularly, but his condition remained stable, save his body temperature. Clearly some minor infection had set in and whatever remained of his disease defence mechanisms were at work. No antibiotics were in order for my friend.

The other feature of this experience not yet mentioned was the abundance of food availble for all to eat. The hospice provided refrigeration in another location so that families could bring and store food on site. The location was some sort of lounge with a partial kitchen, tables and chairs to eat at, and a gathering place for family members who wanted to take a break from staying in the suites with their loved ones. Once again, the normalcy of the place, the persistent upbeat music in the halls and the general good spirits of all in attendance (B’s family is the only one I can account for) grated against the reality that was this a place of dying.

The day progressed in the same manner until about 10 PM when we decided to leave for the evening. The only problem was that there was a procession in progress. At this hospice, the clients entered and exited through the same door. There was no back door for hearses to pull up to for the deceased to be spirited away without notice. At this hospice, there was a regular procession to follow the body out the front door to the hearse. This was a very solemn  affair with the now mourning family very much in the fore. This was a place of dying with dignity in the company of loved ones where death was not a something to be hidden or to hide from. We decided to stay out of the way in respect for the family of the hour. The whole affair took about 30 minutes before we could leave for the evening. Staff told me privately that there were three such processions over the last weekend and it was a rough time for them all. These staff were feeling humans capable of working under very unique conditions.

This scenario got me thinking about my previous experiences with death and the dying. The first death I recall was that of a grandmother who had pancreatic cancer. She died about 63 years ago (I was just 6) and she was only in her fifties.  My only recollection of her death was when my father quietly announced that I no longer had a grandmother. That was it, nothing more. Perhaps it was the way of the times, but clearly I was being sheltered from the experience. The next death was that of a patient from whom I was taking a blood sample. I worked as a night lab technician (now in university) at a small urban hospital; taking morning blood samples was one of my regular duties. In this instance, while taking my sample the blood just stopped flowing and that was it. I checked the pulse. I called the duty nurse to the bedside to confirm my observation and left the room. I felt nothing, because a very sick elderly person with whom I had no association had died in the course of events. I also observed several autopsies while working at this hospital. Death was death. Should I have felt something for the old women or for the subjects of the autopsies?

The next several events involved family members. A cousin had died at the age of fifty from a heart attack, but he was a very heavy smoker and also had lung cancer. My paternal grandfather died several weeks after I visited him in a nursing home. I attended his funeral. My maternal grandfather died in the early 1970’s. I was unable to see him prior to his death or to attend his funeral as I was now in exile from the United States due to the Viet Nam situation. I was very close to this man and it hurt me to be excluded from those events.

My father died at the age of 63 from a third and finally fatal heart attack. Fortunately, I was again able to travel to the USA and had visited him just a few days before he died. I was not there at the moment of death.  I was able to fully participate in his funeral and the other religious rites associated with his death. My mother passed away some thirty years later from lung cancer. I was fortunate again to be able to spend several days with her just before her death. She was the first loved one that was under a palliative care regime, albeit not in a hospice. Instead, she was at my brother’s home, but received all the appropriate care from individuals that came and went as needed.  I had exhausted my leave of absence from my teaching position and had to return, but my children came to stay and visit with here the next day. They too had ample time to sit an talk with her for the next day and a half, but she expired at that time. It is the closest I got to a hospice experience. We all attended her funeral. Both she and my father were fully communicative, alert and with-it when I was with them.

The lose of a parent is certainly a sad event and I was affected by each of their deaths, but nothing I had experienced was equal to this time spent with B and his immediate family. He was so clearly debilitated by both disease and cancer therapy, and his hold on life was so tenuous, that the affect on my was greater than I expected from precious experiences. I have no anticipation of an afterlife, but these people were religious to a degree to which I could not relate. They were counting on it. I twice blacked out in my life; once from the effect of something called “divers reflex, and once from the fall resulting in being knocked unconscious. On both occasions, I knew that if I had not regained consciousness that would have been it. There was absolutely nothing on the other side of a blackout, the religious beliefs of others notwithstanding.

Death could not be excluded from beneath my dome of heaven for it is just pat of the human condition. My conclusion from all these experiences is that life is life and death is death, and never the twain shall meet. B had his own procession the very next day. I’ll write about that in the next post.

Until then . . . L

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At the hospice the next day: My dome of heaven trembles around me.

Arriving back at B’s suite the next morning was less surreal for the time being. Only a few people were present. The lighting was subdued and the ever present sports show was on TV  but the volume was muted. B was resting quietly with the help of his morphine injections and his wife, my sister-in-law, was by B’s side holding his hand. Everyone spoke in muted tones and the four of us stood around the bed looking at the inert but living shell of a person that we all cared for.

This man was dear to me although we visited with each other infrequently over the last 45 years. I first met B when he was in his early thirties. We got on from the get-go and just genuinely liked each other, although he was 10 years my senior. His wife and my bride-to-be were sisters, hence that fate of our own encounters and choices for life partners brought us together as friends. As I gazed at his gaunt but familiar features, my eyes misted a bit for the first time. On the previous visit there was just too much lightheartedness in the room for my emotions to take hold. I touched his shoulder and spoke a few words, but there was still no obvious response from him.

The day progressed with little change in B’s situation. The only change was the arrival of one of his sons. We were all sitting around in the lounge area chatting except for my sister-in-law, who was sitting by B’s side when we heard “It’s okay B. It’s okay for you to go if you are ready.”, which immediately drew our attention to B’s bedside scene. He was breathing irregularly (something called Cheyne-Stokes respiration) and had a very shallow, almost non existent pulse. The emergency button was pressed and when the nurse entered the duty physician was requested. He appeared and confirmed that B was in crisis and might not survive much longer. There were no tears, only concerned attention and a desire to stand near B during this time. After about 35 minutes of this ominous “death rattle” condition, the nurses arrived to move B a bit as per usual. When they did, B opened his eyes. For some reason, I went to his side quickly, took his hand and spoke to him. Just a bit a friendly patter of the kind that usually passed between us, but this time he responded. B certainly was unable to speak although he moved his facial muscles near his lips a bit in response to my words. I continued talking with him and reminiscing about times we spent together and he spoke with his eyes, and with movements of his eye brows. It was an amazing and special moment since I was able to communicate with my old friend directly. B’s breathing became regular and after about two minutes I decided to call his son over to the bed side and stand aside so he could talk to his father. “Just keep the conversation going”, I said with some urgency.

The conversation between B and his son went on for quite some time, then each of the others in the room went over in turn and spoke (words responded to by eye flashes, facial movements and eye brow raises) with B. These were no random responses on his part, they were deliberate attempts to communicate with all of us. After about 15 minutes B became fatigued and began to drift off, but his breathing was regular and he appeared to be in a very relaxed sort of groove. Those moments caused the space inside my dome of heaven to shake every so subtly. I controlled the tears (mostly) and felt a sense of amazing relief that I had at least one opportunity to communicate with B, as did all those near his bedside in those moments. B rested quietly for the remainder of the day and through the night.

I had looked at death overtaking the life of a human for whom I had deep affection and then saw death rise up and leave my friend B with a little more of his lifetime for a while. The events of that day really got me thinking about death and life. I’ll share some of those thoughts with you tomorrow.

Until then . . . L

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A test of my beliefs

I have not been able to post these last  few weeks because of events related to the final days in the life of a relative.  The experience tested beliefs and philosophy as I lived through those days with family, experiencing the ebbing of a life and witnessing the rites associated with death. This was not an immediate relative, nor a blood relation, but a relation through marriage. Nevertheless, this family and this individual are dear to me. They are all under my dome of heaven. The experiences of the last two weeks led me to look closely at what happens when the equilibrium of life is disrupted by the very human condition of the death.

This individual is not the first close to me to pass away over the years, just the first that I have witnessed the passing of. Parents, grandparents, uncles and cousins are all among the deceased of my close relatives. I may have seen them shortly prior to their demise or attended their funeral rites, but I have never been witness to the final days in the process of dying.  My relative (by marriage only), who I shall refer to as B, suffered a recurrence of a cancer that had been fought and supressed for thirteen years. A year ago, it reared its pernicious head in metastatic form affecting the brain and eventually many other tissues. When we were appraised of the fact that B was terminal and entering a hospice, it was time to go and be with our family members and with B.

We arrived at the hospice several days after all nutrition and fluids had been stopped. B was not on life support, but was on a regime of pain suppression (morphine) and antihistaminic to prevent fluid build up. The only other attention he received was to be turned regularly to prevent bed sores and to sponge bath him. When we entered the hospice suite, most of B’s immediate family was present, but at the time he was resting and uncommunicative. B had come through a crisis a few days earlier but rebounded slightly. The scene was somber and at the same time not. It was at best an unexpected incongruence.  To illustrate my sense of being off balance in the situation I shall describe the setting as best I can.

The suite was located in a pleasant, relatively modern low rise building. The hallways and rooms were very clean and comfortably set up for patient and family alike. The music playing in the corridors constantly was distressingly upbeat with occasional lyrics that seemed in conflict with the reality that lay behind the doors providing privacy for the families availing themselves of the hospice facility. B’s suite was spacious, perhaps 800 square feet or so. There was B’s hospital bed along the far side, a large flat screen TV and sitting/lounging area for the family, a washroom and lighting that was subdued at times. In one corner of the room near the TV was an ample supply of snacks for all. The TV was on constantly at a low volume with various sporting events in progress one after the other, including the final few games of the MLB World Series.

In some ways, the setting was very like the setting in B’s on home when everyone was there. B was an avid sports fan and actively promoted the participations of his sons in competitive sport, particularly soccer. There was always a lot of chatter and laughter when you were with B and so it was in his hospice suite, albeit at a more subdued level than normal. Of course, B appeared to be oblivious to all that was going on around him, or was he? Not only was B in a substantially weakened state, he was receiving morphine injections at regular intervals so it was difficult to assess his level of awareness most of the time. When I took B’s hand it was warm to the touch and familiar, but on that first evening, I am certain that he was not responsive to my grasp, but not certain that he was unaware of it. I spoke a few words but there was no sign of response at the time. I do not mind saying that it was difficult to utter words as I was greatly affected by the scenario in which I found myself that evening.

How did all this fit into my ideas about life, self, and a personal dome of heaven? How did I feel about the idea of a hospice as a last way station before death? Could I get comfortable with the idea of death? More reflections in the next post.

Until them . . . L

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Emptiness and the Dome of Heaven

Each dome of heaven arises from emptiness and embodies emptiness in it beginnings. In a very early post I discussed the work of Anselm Kiefer and specifically referred to his work titled “Everyone Stands Under his own Dome of Heaven”. If you are not familiar with this particular painting by Kiefer then just Google the title and you can appreciate it for yourself. In the painting, the dome of heaven is depicted as a transparent hemisphere, so you will have to visualize your own dome of heaven (DOH) with you standing just beneath its highest point. Now consider that everyone around you sits at the center point of his or her own DOH. This may be difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice.

Before a child is born, that is while they are in utero, it resides beneath the expectant mother’s DOH. Recollections of pregnancy and birthing, no matter how uncomfortable and painful aspects of the whole experience was, will remain beneath her DOH. Her child will remain there as well, no matter how old they are. There is your first hint re: the raison d’etre of one’s DOH. It exists to contain everything that is important to you and everything you have created in life. Thus at birth, a newborn’s DOH is essentially empty and therefore in the Taoist sense, useful in its emptiness. The first contents under the infant’s DOH are warmth, security, food, suckling,  being kept comfortable and a sense of mother. Although these things take on different forms as we age, the want of them remain beneath our DOH. An infant’s DOH is initially very small.

Even though the infant’s DOH is small, as it does not have much to contain, it is very important. It is foundational. Maslow (hierarchy of need) considers these first elements that an infant includes beneath a newly formed DOH as basic needs. If those needs go unsatisfied then there is little hope for social development. Indeed, if some of those basic needs are not satisfied, the infant’s existence is in jeopardy. As an infant matures, it gathers more and more beneath its DOH. The sound of voices belonging to those close to the infant are added first, followed by facial expressions when eyes begin to focus. Other sensation, sounds, odors and sights gather under the evolving dome, as long the sensations are pleasant. Unpleasant sensations and experiences try to intrude on the infant’s DOH but never achieve permanent resident status. And so, the infant’s DOH increases in the diversity of contents as their experience with the world around them grows.

The Taoist’s concepts of emptiness of action, thought and mind all apply to the newborn, save and accept the movements of the fetus in utero. These are movements in the context of the emptiness of thought and mind, better thought of as the emptiness of intention. Most movements of a newborn fall into the same category for a while. Some movements, like the startle reflex can never be intentional by their very nature. Even though an infant moves about, for the first while, those movements can be considered examples of emptiness of action because they are empty of intent. Emptiness of thought and mind are also characteristic of the infant. The emptiness of mind is not an absolute because the brain is continually recording information re: the sensations that are experienced. The emptiness of thought diminishes very slowly. Even though these sorts of mental functions are in play, the storage of information is essentially sensory in nature. Associations between events and sensations build slowly. Most relational aspects of sensation develop slowly, except for a sense of comfort and warmth which is rapidly associated with its mother. The initial emptiness of action, thought and mind at birth moves toward increasing fullness as the infant experiences the world, and so with that experience the infant’s DOH grows.

The idea of each of us having our own DOH is an incredibly useful concept. The most interesting aspect of this idea is the role we play in constructing our personal DOH. I intent to explore that idea in my next post. Until then . . .

L

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The Small Blue Dot

A recent photograph taken by a satellite based camera showed us what Earth looks like from the vicinity of Saturn. The post from gizmodo.com shows this image. I remember the sense of awe that accompanied the famous photograph taken of Earth from the moon. I remember the impact on our understanding of how much life depended on such a thin layer of atmosphere. How we, and all other life forms, were interdependent. The image of a small blue dot (the Earth) hanging just below Saturn’s rings should become another of those iconic images, which reminds us of how miraculous life on earth really is.

Despite these powerful images, we don’t seem get the message. That small blue dot hanging in the black vastness of space harbours an organism so violent that some groups are forever bent on annihilating another. It harbours an organism that is so dependent on toxic substances for its survival (pesticides, herbicides, and petroleum products) that it willfully poisons the very air it must breath and water it must drink. It generated a species so arrogant and self-centred that it would endanger every other species on earth just so it can have what it wants, do what it wants, and destroy what it wants without regard to the natural balance of life on earth

That species, dubbed by C. Linneus in 1758  as Homo  sapiens  is not very wise at all. We, as a species, seem more intent on death and destruction of the environment than we are on life and preservation of the environment. Politics, profit, and protectionism reign supreme in a world gone mad, Governments exist for themselves, not for the people they are supposed to represent and protect. The developed world is content to have the third world manufacture all they need at wages that are so low that it is an embarrassment and even a sin, The third world is content to work for slave wages since that is their only means of survival.

What to do? What to do? What to do? We need a real United Nations, not the emasculated shame that cannot seem to stop the murderous regimes in the world from murdering. The wealthy nations of the world depend on the labour of individuals that should be in school getting an education. What a crime.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are many people trying to do the right thing. I know that there are individuals who put forth enormous efforts to improve the lives of others. However, that small blue dot hanging so elegantly in the blackness of space is very precious, and I fear that all the good intentions in the world will not save it in the end. I ever there was a time for a world wide revolt against the insanity that is killing us, it is now. I hold the sanctity of that small blue dot under my dome of heaven.

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Some ideas lead us into challenging situations

Even though some ideas lead to actions that create challenging situations for us, there is no reason to exclude them from beneath your Dome of Heaven. In the 1960’s many of us (I give away my vintage here) had the idea that the war in Viet Nam was very wrong, and the idea that of the Civil Rights Movement was worthy of support. Those ideas caused us to march, and protest, and to sit in, and as a result, created some challenging circumstances for people on both sides of those ideas. I am writing these blogs as a Canadian, rather than a citizen of the United States, because of one of those two ideas.

In the early 1970’s, Daniel Ellsberg had the idea that there were issues with involvement of the United States in Indochina, and particularly in Viet Nam. He worked on the detailed history of U.S. involvement in Indochina from the end of WW II through the Viet Nam War as commissioned by the then Secy. of Defence. As a consequence of his work, he became a major opponent of the war and released large parts of what are known as the Pentagon Papers, to the New York Times and the Washington Post, without authorization. His “whistle blowing” activities revealed the true nature of U.S. participation in events in that region of the world.

Julian Assange, the journalist, activist, and the editor and publisher of Wikileaks, is dedicated to discovering and revealing the doings and misdeeds of the powerful in this world. Bradley Manning released large amounts of classified information to Wikileaks, related to the prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. PFC Manning is currently sitting through his court martial in Quetico, VA, related to this “whistle blowing” incident. Assange is under threat of arrest for an unrelated incident, but the thought is that he is being pursued because of those confidential documents he published.

The latest “whistle-blower” to make the headlines is Edward Snowdon. He outed the U.S. government’s for gathering intelligence by listening in on telephone conversations and reading text messages and  emails from international sources that are being received by U.S. citizens. Snowdon let the world know that Big Brother was listening.

Each of these men have the idea that something very wrong and very unethical being done by government (in this case the U.S. government) needed to be exposed to the public for scrutiny. They each risked much by releasing classified information.

The “idea” of standing up against the wrong-headed, and sometimes ill-conceived, and sometimes downright unethical actions of governments by revealing so-called “top secret” information is definitely contained beneath my Dome of Heaven. This particular idea has driven some of my own actions in the small space of my immediate world, but the rational was the same for me, as it was for them. The abuse of authority is always worthy of causing the whistle to be blown.

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