Please understand that I do not think I am special here. I think I am just lucky to have had the arc of experience that I have had, the desire to observe nature and the intellect to parse it all. Yeah, I guess that last bit makes me a little special, but that is likely the one I feel least sure about. I have certainly been lucky to achieve this insight. Additionally, I am obligated to pass it on, because I denied my children the social safety net that is the Christian church in America.
When my children first were old enough to ask about such things, I had to admit that I considered myself a pagan. That was insufficient for the scrutiny they were under by their peers in school. I had already started off on the wrong foot with Christianity. When my oldest was very young he saw a crucifix and asked who that guy was? I answered that it was Jesus, he was a great philosopher and founder of Christianity, but he had been nailed to a cross.
My son responded with, “Gosh, that is mean!” There was a look of horror on his face and I realized that the life of Jesus was R rated …at best. Of course, there was now a follow up question, too.
“Why did they do that Dad?”, he asked.
A pretty natural question I reasoned, but I had never actually given a lot of thought to exact motivations for his crucifixion. I had been a student of and looked for solace in Christianity and in other religions as well when I was younger, so I had some data. Right there and then the wheels started spinning. I was under a lot of pressure, because we were both still operating under the pleasant illusion that dad knew everything or at least was supposed to. I did not want to drop the ball(of course, I eventually did, but that is another story, in this case I felt I had enough information to answer.) and so I came up with what I felt was an honest answer.
“He was going to cost a lot of very powerful people a whole lot of money”, I answered.
I felt it was absolutely true. He had confronted the money-changers before the temple proving himself to be a threat to their business model. Jesus had already demonstrated his threat to the current religious establishment, so confirmation of his economic threat was the final nail in the crucifix…so to speak. I almost immediately regretted that answer, which he took as gospel from the Oracle of Dad and that answer elevated moneyed power over everything.
Subsequently, I kept trying to flesh out this paganism that I claimed to follow. I felt compelled to continue to espouse paganism to my children as some kind of spiritual framework for them to hang their hearts on or I would lose them to the establishment religions that for all their good works on balance seemed capable of quite a bit of evil. That meant I had to have answers about some pretty weighty issues, like the Meaning of Life. Even though I had kind of set that question aside for myself, it now mattered because my children were asking.
I had to data mine ALL my experiences. There were definitely moments in my life, chemically and non-chemically, induced insights. Yes, there is some psychedelic experiences in there, but it is not the sole insight. I think it just helped me open up the “third eye”, so that I understood there was definitely a deeper wave and I should pay attention to it. I was not crazy to believe in this deeper reality. The way of looking at things during those times are with me always now and if I choose I can focus and get right back there.
I do not turn up that focus all the time, because it is still rather jarring, but it is just good to know that I can pull back the veil anytime I like. Most of the time, I walk around like everyone else, perceiving reality in a very shallow manner, because to not do that is to be derailed from the very real needs to be working, making money, paying the mortgage, et cetera, et cetera. Pulling back the veil diminishes the importance of those things and as a parent, I feel selfish if I do not maintain the financial safety net that allows my children to have a reasonable springboard into adulthood. However, as my children grew up I started to become ever more desperate to use all of this experience to come up with answers for my children.
The third eye has always been there. These perceptions can rear their heads at any time changing me spiritually quite deeply, if not at the moment, but as I consider in retrospect the “perception”as I did as a parental obligation now. I recalled reading a science book as an 8-year-old that was meant for high school students. At the time, technology did not exist to see an atom. Therefore, the science book speculated about the different versions of what an atom looked like.
There was the ancient Greeks simple idea of a building block and a couple of others, but the one the text touted as most likely is Bohr’s model. This model was the one where a central nucleus of protons is orbited by electrons. I recalled thinking to myself that this version of an atom was most likely incorrect, because it made an atom look like the Solar System. How could that be my little 8-year-old brain thought? After all, the idea that one of the smallest things looked almost exactly like one of the biggest things seemed wrong. This simply was not correct, I told myself.
Yes, I was an arrogant little kid, but I had just taken an I.Q. test the previous year and had been told that I had an I.Q. of 170. Heady stuff for an elementary school kid.(BTW-On no I.Q. test since have I been able to equal that, so it is definitely an outlier.) The Apollo program was changing America’s view of the universe. I had a Solar System mobile hanging from my bedroom ceiling, so maybe cut me a little slack on feeling pretty confident about what one of the BIGGEST things humans could perceive looked like.
In any case, the Bohr version of an atom, became accepted fact as scanning electron microscopes and other devices made it possible to see things at a molecular and then an atomic level. Lo and behold, atoms did look just like little solar systems. What exactly that meant for me percolated for years and years, but now I needed to come up with what that meant.
As I said I had been a spiritual seeker and studied other religions besides Christianity. I had some exposure to Eastern philosophies. I remembered an ancient Hindu story where people asked a deity about the structure of the world and the universe. The answer that was supplied was that the Earth was supported on the backs of elephants that stood upon the back of turtle, which was supported on the backs of elephants, which stood upon the back of another turtle INTO infinity. This seemed ludicrous when I first read it as a child, but now it made a lot of sense, so into the Eastern religions I delved.
I also began to think about the physics of this endless progression. I was exposed to the ideas of a multiverse. At some point, I had the epiphany that the multiple dimensions being postulated by the mathematics could in fact be there and they could be dimensions of scale. As all the ideas stirred around in me, I continued with normal life, but always with the background processes in which I explored the nature of reality. I continued my spiritual quests studying G I. Gurgieff and Buddhism as well.
Buddhism made a lot of sense to my post-psychedelic self and I toyed with becoming an initiate. However, my studies eventually brought Prince Siddhartha’s path to enlightenment front and center. Siddhartha abandons his family to pursue his spiritual quest for enlightenment. By the time, I understood this particular religion might have a lot to offer me, I had children. I had a family and I chose not to abandon it, but I always was “touched” by it. Nonetheless, abandoning my family and running form my children’s questions was not in me.
One day while reading some report on astrophysics and the mapping of the entire cosmos, I was stunned to see that the galaxies of the universe tended to accrete around darker areas that appeared to have nothing in them. The accretions of galaxies almost looked like cell walls to me. Suddenly, the earlier ideas I had about the multiverse containing dimensions of scale could also mean that LIFE was similarly tiered.
What if those accretions of galaxies really were the cellular walls of some incredibly enormous being? How would we know? How could we test his? Could such a being be able to look down to this incredibly small dimension and even perceive us? The objective perceptions of one’s person the third eye offers, brought a new idea to me. I started to think about the cells in my body, particularly red blood cells. It is alive after all. It can live outside my body if given the proper conditions.
What if a red blood cell was sentient? I would be a god to that red blood cell. I had created it, but if it had questions about its purpose and the meaning of its existence, my only answer would be to transport oxygen through my body. Otherwise, the trials and tribulations, the tears and laughter of the red blood cell did not really concern me. I only was concerned that it fulfilled its function within my body.
With my thoughts about red blood cells churning through my mind, I started to think back to the enormous being that maybe was made up of the cells formed by galaxies. I started to think that this was several dimensions away from me and perhaps I needed to look closer to home for the dimension right next door. The Gaia Hypothesis, where the planet is a living entity, started to make a lot of sense. I began to wonder if humans were just cells in the greater entity that was Gaia.
I wondered a little about exactly what kind of cell humans might represent in this model I was using. This did not occupy me for too long, because our purpose seems so obvious. In fact, all the major religions do seem to say that we are “stewards” of the planet. The idea of the Garden of Eden started to make more sense to me as well despite my rejection of the Abrahamic religions in adulthood. Perhaps humans were meant to take care of the flora and fauna of the planet. We are taking care of the body of Gaia, perhaps like the white blood cells, not the red blood cells.
I felt very strongly that I understood my purpose as a cell in Gaia. Gardening became a religious experience for me. By constantly gardening and grooming my landscape, I knew I was creating oxygen; I was making sure that the “lungs of Gaia” were working well, at least those portions under my control. The act of having a compost pile which turns garden waste into soil was even more deeply spiritual for me. When I would turn the pile and sift it, I would end up with a pile of fertile soil. I had created new Earth. I had created more Mother Earth, more Gaia! After a rainstorm, my children would see me RELIGIOUSLY rescuing earthworms from certain death by NEVER walking by one without plucking it from the gutter and giving it a chance by tossing it onto a lawn. I was walking the walk. I was modeling the paganism I was practicing.
This has been a great insight for me, though for my children I think they still feel I am a little “off” to believe it. One of my children is a professed atheist, which I completely reject. Atheism claims to KNOW something about spirituality and the afterlife. I don’t think any one of us KNOW. We can only speculate. He gets angry when I tell him he sounds an awful lot like an evangelical Christian or fundamentalist Muslim, but it does sound similar to me. My other son is mulling over what I have said. Perhaps he is looking for others to evaluate this version of paganism. After all the Oracle of Dad has been far from perfect after 20+ years of parenting. Ergo, I must publish this stuff here.
I feel that I now know the meaning of life, but like a white red blood cell that asks for details on the meaning of life, this does not quite cover everything. The answer is simple, but not wholly satisfactory that this is my only function. The white blood cell looks for something more from life than chasing down infection or damage in the body that is me, but that is all I really want or need from it as its Creator. I can give the white blood cell limited direction beyond that simple task. Though we may want life to mean more than simply digging in the dirt, but perhaps that is all it really is.
The third eye has allowed me to pull back the veil a bit on Samsara, what Buddhists call this perceived reality that we all share. The third eye has also allowed me to see myself more clearly. When I look in the mirror I understand better how my actions and words affect others. Nonetheless, despite this feeling that I know things about reality through the third eye. I still have felt like I am missing something. I have thrown myself into being a parent, because to bond and procreate with other humans definitely seems like something we were designed to do and what Gaia needs, just as I need new white blood cells periodically.
My youngest turned 18 a couple of weeks ago, so parenting as an active duty is really winding down. As my duties as a parent have dwindled, I have had more time to spend again on simple contemplation of the universe. Additionally, the strain of raising teenagers to adulthood has caused an enormous amount of emotional upheaval, as parenting is such a bittersweet task. This turmoil has been destabilizing to my psyche and despite my feeling that I know stuff, it seems I do not know how to use that knowledge properly.
After all my duties as a parent are winding down, because my flaws are clear to my sons by now. Also, the human social world is so so painful that a spiritual grounding is very important. What answers to this difficult social construct does paganism offer my children? It seems paganism has been whole inadequate here, I must admit.
During these times of confusion and turmoil, my psyche leans on this third eye for direction, when I am unable to find it in mainstream perceptions of reality. Through most of my children’s childhood we had a dog. A special dog, a giant pit bull and Great Dane mix that made sure no one ever thought about breaking into our house. She was a great watchdog and nothing bad happened on her watch. Unfortunately, dogs only live for a fraction of our lifetimes. Near the end of her life, I began to spend a lot of time with her. I had many conversations with her and though she never SPOKE to me, there were times the third eye brought a perceived response to me. Before she died, she helped me understand things and get me on a healing path.
One of the things I learned from her was that dogs are bodhisattvas. A bodhisattva is an individual that has achieved enlightenment, but stays in Samsara to help others through this painful reality. I knew that I needed to get another dog, so as has always been the case I adopted a dog that was in need of a home, instead of buying a purebred animal from a pet store or breeder. I am a mongrel and I am drawn to other mutts, I guess. In the same way that I see plants and trees as ways to fulfill my purpose, I have begun to feel that animals are here to guide us. Perhaps for others it is cats, cows, or whatever, but for me it seems that dogs are my familiar. Their message to me has been to be happy, to rejoice in each other’s company and have a little fun while doing the work of life.
That means the answer to the question of what my third eye sees as the proper course in the social construct we operate in, is not satisfying to them I think or maybe even me. Still it feels so very true that I am putting it out there. There is definitely a deeper wave. I live my life with the idea that everything is alive, everything is connected, we are part of a symbiotic relationship with trees, we exist WITHIN the body of God. However, Gaia only cares that we fulfill our function and does not care about blasphemy, the Holy Trinity, idolatry or sacrilege or even man’s inhumanity to man….as long as enough remain to perform their function, presuming they DO perform their function.
For further guidance, you must consult the bodhisattvas and dig in the dirt. I am sorry that is all I deliver here at the end, but it sure feels right. I truly believe it, but I am still a little foggy on what this “meaning” means.