Reflecting

Sorry for my relative absence, I haven’t been terribly well lately but I feel like I’m improving somewhat as I’m no longer in searing abdominal pain and my appetite is returning slowly but surely.  I was literally one day from going to the doctor when I started showing signs of improvement; I might still go to the doctor if I have any significant downward turn or return of symptoms.

Assuming I’m right about having been Philip K. Dick in my previous life (there is forever a shadow of doubt which I have elaborated on to great length elsewhere), I would have been 87 years old today.  For some reason my birthday this year has had more resonance with fans than last year, or so it seems.

It doesn’t help though.  I meet 87-year-olds occasionally, and if I could have stayed active the rest of my life, like Bradbury (who finally broke into mainstream fiction and script writing), I could have left a bigger, better legacy.  I could have lived to go from Cassandra to living prophet, and I could have possibly had some pull, as a public figure, in the outcome of things like the 2000 elections or the run-up to the Iraq war, or the rise of the technological dystopia I predicted back in the 1960s.

Instead, I’ve been bumped back to Cassandra status and I’ve been feeling so helpless lately.

Perhaps in desperation then, I took part in a ritual on Monday to summon an angel said to bring to light solutions to questions of a civic nature.  My query, of course, was what my best contribution to helping the world could be.

The angel in the vision was a beautiful one.  She had two forms; one was that of an eye in the center of a majestic whorl of wings.  The other was that of a beautiful black woman, full-figured with a round face, who was dressed and groomed like a Nubian queen in a flowing robe of purple, like a Madonna icon, but who carried herself with the enlightened humbleness and sure-footedness of a Boddhisattva.  She was the very image of wisdom, beauty, nobility, and benevolence.

Most of the vision felt like I was trying too hard; the images were beautiful but meaningless as far as I’m concerned.  I think my concentration was broken by my general illness and hunger. But the initial vision was one that seemed genuine since my query hadn’t been about past lives.

I was back at the house in Point Reyes Station, stepping out the door.  This was after Anne and I had separated, around 1964-66.  I know this because had my little VW there in the driveway, waiting for me.  I was wearing a button-up shirt.  I had a letter in my hand and put it in my shirt pocket.

I was frustrated at first to get a scene from any past life, because I hadn’t asked for that; much less for a past life where I was an addict, perpetually broke until my last few years, a terrible husband, and a terrible father (at least in my estimation).  I took the letter to be more symbolic than literal, a reference to the later verses of the Hymn of the Pearl which seem to be an ongoing theme in my reflections on that life.

I initially rejected the apparent message of “keep doing what you’re doing” because I still feel like I’m in a rut repeating a slightly less tragic version of the same life.  I don’t want to be that any more.  I want to be a living saint because the world needs living saints.  I feel like that ship sailed in 1982 and I came home from the ritual in low spirits.  My physical illness got worse and at one point I was in the right mind to die, which is to say thinking of how to make it easier for my fiance and thinking of returning to the true light instead of returning to this world of pain.

Today, the illness finally seemed to break somewhat, and without searing abdominal pain to keep me from sleeping on it, the thought occurred to me that I need to keep prognosticating in my writing, even if it seems like I’m beating my head against the wall.  I need to take care of myself, so I don’t die at 53 with so much work left to do.

A friend who has read my book about queer academics caught up in the machinations of a ruthless dictator from the world of corporate raiders put it best: “It seems your days as Cassandra weren’t altogether misguided after all.”

Perhaps this life is my chance to actually make a difference with my predictions instead of being recognized too late.   At least, I have nothing to lose by trying.

End of Life Matters

Hopefully, my current life will continue another 50-70 years or so.  I don’t think I’d want to live to be much older than 100 since I feel that after that many years I’d be so sadly out of date it would trash any future incarnations, but I don’t want to die too young either because I’d like to see the far side of 70 for once (I can’t recall a single life where I did).

That being said, I’m probably more aware than ever that my meter’s going to run out one of these days, maybe sooner or maybe later.  And I think I want to have my affairs in order if I were to die unexpectedly.

If there’s time, I want the Cathar ritual of Consolamentum to be performed when I am obviously near death; understandably, it is very unlikely we could find a Cathar revivalist parfait on such short notice but if it’s at all possible, please do this for me.  If not, see if you can find a Buddhist priest to do readings or prayers, or at least try to find a recording of the Bardo Thodol.  I believe that both the Cathars and the Buddhists were among the recipients of the divine light.

I am not too concerned with my possessions if I were to die young since, even if we can’t manage to afford the wedding we’ve been wanting, my fiance will probably get anything of mine that he’d want to keep and plenty of support from my family, especially my father.  When I can no longer risk leaving Dad to look after him because of illness, injury, or old age, I’ll make preparations but until then I’m not concerned.

I am however concerned with the arrangements of my death and funeral being done in such a way that I’ll be more likely to remember my current life in future incarnations and the process of crossing into the bardo state will be easier for me.

As I recall, I was able to attend my own funeral in at least one instance (with John).  A prompt burial probably helped.  I think I should be buried promptly and without all the dolling up that usually goes into funerals these days.  A distinctive headstone, a grave near recognizable land marks, and possibly a tree next to the grave will be helpful in allowing me to recognize my grave, and keeping my body there intact might be helpful with the process of quantum entanglement (which I suspect had something to do with the way I saw John’s grave remotely as it was in the recent past).  If I’m buried before the stone is placed this may be especially useful.

As for specifics on this distinctive headstone, I want my name, my birth and death dates, the Greek phrase “γνῶθι σεαυτόν,” and an ankh based on a distinctive Ankh amulet found in the British museum (the art deco-looking one from Gebel Barkal), an Ankh styled to look like a modified cross flory, or a rosy cross.  As for the stone itself, go for something simple and dignified sort of like John got, though try not to make it look too much like John’s CWGC headstone (e.g. don’t copy the layout or dimensions of his stone and if possible use different materials).

As for the ceremony, allow any fellow Gnostic who knows anything about me to speak.  Read from the Gospel of Thomas, verses 1-5.  Allow a Buddhist monk to say a prayer, then tell those who have come what has likely become of me, if I haven’t simply ceased to be (which still might happen).

If I die violently, tell them I’m going through a really troubling time and need all the prayers, thoughts, parting words, and good vibes they can send.  Ask them to continue to pray for my soul until they have recovered from losing me.  By then I should have found my way to my next life.

If I die peacefully, tell them I’m probably in something like heaven, though not eternally; only long enough to be born again elsewhere in a short while.  Pray for my soul anyway after whatever your personal beliefs are, or simply try talking to me and saying out loud what you never would have said to me when I was alive if nothing else; I suspect that this practice is helpful in allowing souls to get their bearings.

Don’t worry about wearing black.  Come in whatever you’re wearing.  It’s going to be a funeral on a short notice anyway.

Don’t worry about the coffin or embalming.  I didn’t have either at L’Epintette and it didn’t matter.  Since a coffin will probably be required just get a simple box and don’t even bother with a vault if you can avoid that legally.  If you think I deserve better, have some of my artist friends paint it or something but don’t try to seal me away in some glorified tupperwear; that’s not necessary.

Don’t use one of those minivan hearses, or an SUV conversion; on the off chance I can see what’s going on I don’t want to see my mortal remains being carted around like 2x4s from home depot.

Do play some music.  Good music.  Assume that I can still hear this and get some good musicians and/or singers.  I don’t want all of these pieces but I’ll name some suggestions.  “Da Stiegen Die Menschen” from Beethoven’s “Cantata on the Death of Joseph II” is a good one, as is “Kyrie” from Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.  Maybe Rachmaninov’s “Isle of the Dead.”  Seikilos’ song is a piece that goes back to Ancient Greece and is the oldest funerary music in existence, I would love that.  I sort of like the Prelude from Parsifal or the Prelude from Lohengrin, I wouldn’t mind either of those.

One last thing: I don’t want any more secrets when I die.  Make all of my notes publicly available to peruse and for those who know who I am, don’t be afraid to tell everyone that I’ve been here before, and that’s how I know I’ll be back.  Tell them about the life I lived before this one and the wonderful things discovering that life did for my writing and for the thoughtful way I tend to live nowadays.

Hopefully, no one will need this information for a long time.  I anticipate updating these final wishes many times over the years as I continue to live and grow.  Each version will be a snapshot of where I am spiritually at that time; this example, from the very beginning of 2015, will be one of the first where I feel some confidence that I know what to expect after I’m gone.

I had an earlier text on how I wanted to be buried back when I was a Pagan.  It suited me back then, but it doesn’t suit me now.  My journey is ongoing and I want to be sure I’m buried wherever I am on that journey at the end of my life.  I see no shame in changing one’s beliefs often if one is changing them to accommodate certain extraordinary evidence one is confronted with.  In my life, that extraordinary evidence has been curiously abundant.