Tag Archives: Naomi Judd

Contemplation of Mortality

Overnight, I received an email from LinkedIn connection Katherine Morris, who’s currently living in Switzerland.

She wrote, “I just read your last 3 posts on linkedin, and just want to say that I find you to be a very refreshing, very honest writer. I would even say that this is pretty scary to a lot of people. The idea of being able to be honest and not be destroyed, this is quite an accomplishment in modern civilization!”

Katherine added that she’s working on her dissertation right now . . . “very busy writing a review of the scientific and other literature on the topic of contemplation of mortality.”

WOW! Now that’s a subject many find really scary. Reminded me of the Essay on Death included in Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide.

So Katherine, this post is for you. Hope it’s helpful.

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2. DEATH

Merging with the eternal source,

sages travel safely through life

and survive intact

to begin anew,

unchanged by physical death.

  Patricia West, Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tse’s Common Sense Way of Change. #16

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Dying patients went through the five stages, but then after “we have done all the work we were sent to Earth to do, we are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our soul like a cocoon encloses the future butterfly,” and . . . well, then a person had the greatest experience of his life.

— Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, The Wheel of Life

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Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.

If you’re alive, it isn’t.

— Richard Bach, Illusions

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Some day, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well-considered, and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit; for such mutilation undercuts the life principle of trust.

— Erik Erikson, quoted by Jonathan Kozol in Death at an Early Age

THE FRONT

Webster’s definition of death is the act or fact of dying — the permanent ending of all life in a person, animal or plant. Personified, death is pictured as the grim reaper, a hunch-backed, black-robed skeleton wielding a scythe. The term refers to extinction, as in the death of hope.

These definitions, however, represent an extreme cultural bias with important effects on behavior. They reflect the materialistic belief that the physical is all there is. When the body fails, there is nothing else. There is no essence which survives to travel on.

The I Ching embodies a more inclusive, comprehensive view. Like the learned amongst most ancient cultures, Chinese sages regarded birth and death as natural changes, complementary stages of an ongoing cyclical life process.

Sages continue to regard death not as extinction, but the culmination of a winter season most wisely spent preparing for the coming spring. They teach that a soul, having learned the lessons and completed the work of one life cycle, separates from its used up shell. The shell, once the spirit moves on, collapses. The life essence, however, simply migrates, possibly to take on another form.

Meditation practices are instrumental in reconnecting the alienated rational mind with the life principle, restoring trust. They prepare advanced souls to depart the physical form consciously at the auspicious time of their choosing. They also induce the changes of heart and mind that the Bible alludes to as rebirth. To be born again is not necessarily emotional self-deception. Technically, from I Ching perspective, it’s very possible.

As described by healer/teacher/author Barbara Ann Brennan, total transformation and rebirth can also take place within the same body. She describes spending two years in prayer and intense discipline. As a result of her efforts, by the end of that time, every aspect of her life had changed for the better. Going through stages similar to those described by Kübler-Ross, she released her old life, so that new attitudes, better relationships, and a significantly more satisfying lifestyle replaced that which had been outgrown and put away.

Country music star Naomi Judd, another example, refused to accept a death sentence placed on her by the medical establishment. Instead, she took it as a blessing in disguise. Taking responsibility for her health, with a combination of faith and true grit, she educated herself in a broad spectrum of healing arts traditions and succeeded in regenerating herself from the inside out. She not only survived, but became healthy enough to endure the ardors of another music tour, “The Power to Change,” calling on fans to rise to the challenge of change as she had.

butterfly

THE BACK

Fear is the natural outcome of limited materialistic beliefs equating the end of physical life with total extinction. Those who experience the True Self as immortal and indestructible are not plagued by fear of mortality. No doubt the courage and solace which sustained Socrates as he calmly accepted his death sentence — not as an escape, but an affirmation of principle — came from the depth of his soul awareness.

Permanent extinction, however, is possible. Real death is not dissolution of a temporary form, but the annihilation of the soul itself. According to learned traditions, a soul beyond redemption by its own repeated wrong choices can be extinguished forever. Even the thought is cause for horror, powerful incentive to make right choices.

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West, Patricia .E., Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tse’s Common Sense Way of Change. # 16. (+A Positive Action Press: Madison, WI, 2004).

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying. (Touchstone: New York, 1997.) p. 189.

Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. (Dell: New York, 1977.) p. 159.

Erik Erikson, quoted by Jonathan Kozol in Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools. (Plume: New York, 1967.) front page.

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Rethinking CHANGE

Natural change on the surface and middle levels of the Life Wheel is ongoing and inevitable. In addition, ignorant and/or irresponsible people superimpose additional layers of unnatural change to the mix, products of cultural conditioning and human agendas. So the best hope we have for maintaining inner and outer stability in the midst of chaos and suffering is to focus on the unchanging center. Otherwise, working consistently to achieve worthwhile long-term goals would be impossible. Hence, from the Introduction to the Common Sense Book of Change:

Ancient sages looked to The Book of Change primarily to discover ways to maintain balance and stability in the midst of change.

Advisors to long-lasting dynasties in China observed how to adjust with the winds and waves of time just as a ship pilot shifts the sails or a surfer rides the cresting water to reach a far shore safely.

They knew that temporal wisdom depends on the existence of a timeless essence deeper than change, the same at the heart of the universe, the individual and every atom.

Here, then, is an Essay on natural change from an I Ching perspective:

Phoenix - sized


Essay 11. CHANGE

We have always thought of the Bible as a book. We now know that was only its first incarnation. It is also a computer program. Not merely a book that Rips typed into a computer, but something that its original author actually designed to be interactive and ever-changing.  — Michael Drosnin, The Bible Code

 

For the last eight years, I have been studying all the various ways that people can heal, and I have integrated all the integrative medicine approaches, and I have learned how to change my lifestyle. . . I can honestly tell you that the one thing I never questioned was the fact that there is divine order, that there is a supreme being behind the universe. I’ve always known that. It’s as if it’s in my DNA. [The “Power to Change” Tour] — Naomi Judd, Larry King Live Interview

 

The responsibility for [improvement strategies] rests at the top, as in everything that has to do with the spirit of an organization. And so the executives who run innovative organizations must train themselves to look out the window, to look for change. The funny thing is, it’s easier to learn to look out the window than to look inside, and that’s also a smart thing to do systematically. — Peter F. Drucker, Managing the Non-Profit Organization

 

THE FRONT

Webster’s gives seven definitions of change. Root derivations include exchange, or bent and crooked, suggesting the image of a curved, wavy line. The first definition of the verb is to substitute, replace or transfer one thing for another. The second is to give and receive reciprocally, exchange or switch. The third is to cause to become different, alter, transform, convert, or undergo a variation. The fourth is to give or receive the equivalent of a coin in currency. The fifth is to put on other clothes. The sixth, used as a noun, describes the place where merchants do business. The seventh is the pattern in which bells are rung. By extension, jazz musicians use the term to denote chord progressions.

Translators call the dynamic natural law mapped in the I Ching “change.” However, if we think of the word as its regularly used, we miss what the book’s really about. Change isn’t synonymous with political reform, for example, which results, literally, in different forms. Rarely does it bring about qualitative change. Revolution is closer. Just as the minute hand of a clock revolves once an hour back to its starting point, governments revolve over time from reactionary to revolutionary extremes and back. Rarely, however, is long-term qualitative change is achieved in the process.

Evolution is another word used to mean change. Often it implies improvement. However, life is not like a mechanical clock which always runs forward. Over time, poor choices and destructive behavior change us for the worse. The life clock can be turned counter-clockwise. Humans have equal potential for both evolution and devolution.

No one can take for granted either that change is automatically good, or that no matter what one does or doesn’t do, improvement is inevitable. The I Ching helps careful thinkers to relate wisely to change, to ensure through their choices that they actualize their potentials for positive growth.

As Drucker indicates, leaders too often think of change as external, something imposed from the outside upon others. They too often forget about the personal, internal changes that must precede any qualitative, long-lasting external change. Repent is defined as an awakening of conscience that stimulates regret for past mistakes and determination to improve. The warning “repent before it’s too late” on one level refers to a change of heart. On another, it indicates, as Einstein warned, the urgent need to change the way we think and therefore respond to life’s challenges.

In The Bible Code, a challenge was found in proximity to a pending assassination: “Can you change it?” Drosnin took the question literally and made a futile attempt to warn Prime Minister Rabin, as if to change the course of history.

Perhaps on another level the question implies other challenges. Maybe we are being asked to change our relationship to the timeless teachings we take for granted, to look again with fresh eyes and change not external events, but rather our hearts and minds, to change from the inside out.

THE BACK

The opposite of change is stasis. People who feel threatened by change and think they can benefit from resisting it try to freeze time. This results not in perfection, however, but in stagnation and decay. While natural change is vital and life-enhancing, obstructing it is counter-productive and ultimately self-destructive.

Anarchy is a perversion of natural change. Nature is exquisitely ordered and therefore, to those who observe carefully, predictable. Political radicals impatient with corrupt governments leap to opposite and equal abuses of power. Lacking wisdom, their violence abruptly shatters existing order, but fails to improve the quality of life. On subtle levels, attempts to destroy natural patterns results not in desired freedom, but in annihilation.

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* From Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide. See the UPSG Essay Page for a description of the structure-within-structure format of the Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: