(Sunset over the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, courtesy of Blue Ridge Muse.)
Two things this week have gotten me thinking about survival and the world(s) beyond the physical. The first was a dream I had five days ago where I wondered, “If I knew for a fact that there would be a nuclear war in ten days, and I also knew that where I live would be safe from radiation and fallout, how could I convince people to get here in such a short time?”
(So that would be this coming Sunday, by the way.)
The second was an external event that happened yesterday: After the news reported potential gas shortages due to the ruptured Colonial Pipeline, with ominous warnings of shortages and higher prices, the shortages (and sometimes outages) became a fact in many places due to runs on the gas stations. I witnessed this myself when I naively went to get gas, not realizing anything about the panic until people started lining up to fill up both their cars and collections of gas cans, and when the gas price went up while I was waiting in line. (It’s gone up a total of thirty cents a gallon since then.)
Both of these got me to thinking about survival under threatening conditions. The first was one where I’m not concerned for myself but very much so for those I love – something that I’ve experienced before in potentially dangerous situations, though obviously nothing so extreme as a nuclear war. The second reminded me of how a single event far away can affect me in an instant, no matter how isolated I am or feel.
Plenty of of religious beliefs, be they Christian, Buddhist, Theosophy, or other forms of metaphysics, teach that there is a world beyond this one that we need to keep our eye on, and not to fear because that world is forever, imperishable, and where we shall reside forever after our physical death. Have faith in times of trouble, most of them say in one way or another; whatever happens to you in this physical world, that place beyond is waiting.
Do I believe there is an imperishable world waiting for us beyond physical death? Absolutely. Do I believe we should try to set aside fear and hold onto our faith in this? Also absolutely, though I have a much harder time doing that. I’m adept at sweating both the small and the big stuff, along with much of the middlin’ stuff in between.
Now if this blog were like other books, articles, and blogs I’ve read, this would be the part where it would talk more about the impermanence of the physical world, or how we shouldn’t grow too attached to our attachments, or maybe how we need to look beyond the physical in good times and bad to see the reality that lies under the surface, or that all of this world is at core an illusion.
You know what? This isn’t one of those blogs.
Here’s the thing: While my brand of Theosophy teaches all of those things, it also teaches me that we are here for a reason. That we draw the people and things that are in our lives into those physical lives for a reason. And in fact that many of those we are the closest to have been with us again and again, lifetime after lifetime – for a reason, even if that reason is simply because we love those souls and we want to keep coming back together.
I believe those things too.
So what does that mean? It means that we’re here to to get certain things done while we’re in our bodies. Those things may involve learning. They may involve helping each other, particularly those we returned to the world with. It may be that we simply enjoy this physical world despite all its hardships and we love being a part of it.
Theosophy and other religions tell us we need not fear death. I don’t fear death, not really. But I do fear leaving. I enjoy this world quite a lot. I don’t want to leave those I love, even if it’s just for a little while – whether by “those I love” I mean humans or animals. I don’t want to leave these mountains where I live and that I have grown to love. There are books I still want to read, movies I still want to watch, stars I want to gaze at some more, beautiful and ancient places I still want to visit or revisit.
There are still plenty of things I want to do, and I haven’t checked anywhere near all of them off of my list.
I know with utter certainty that I came here for a reason, probably lots of them, and even if I don’t fear death, I also know that I would do everything I could to survive, and to protect my loved ones as well.
We can be “In the world but not of it”, as the saying goes. But Theosophy teaches that we chose to be here, and since I chose to be here, I want to be here.
Be here now. Be present in the moment. Enjoy who and what you have here while you have them. Because nothing is permanent, and I think trying too hard to distance yourself too much means losing out on a big part of why you’re here. Prepare for the worst, but enjoy the best when it comes along.
(And by the way, for those of you in this Circle, those of you who know who and where I am: If you do have an emergency or another kind of need, even if it’s not a safe haven from a war or other giant cataclysm, feel free to come and be here.)