It is possible to witness without judging…just watch yourself when you’re judging.

We are not our feelings.

What makes us human is that we can ‘see’ ourselves thinking. To point: ‘I think because I am, or I am because I think: I am, because I am aware that I am. Thinking is something I, or rather, my mind does. What about that part of me that can see myseelf think, judge, feel? That part that can witness my existence, my judging.

Fear of helplessness is that fear that I,(this is the mind talking) am not. That I can’t know, or find, or do,  make, or change the course of the universe, or achieve stasis, (immortality). The only immortality I know is what I experience when I experience my connection to all that is.

All that is, is thought, consciousness.

What is a thought? It’s not an idea. Thought gives birth to ideas. If I accept that an ‘idea’ is a charge of electricity/energy,  is it then  measurable matter?What is the difference between a thought and an idea? We might say that ‘thought’ is  the whole of existence. It is beyond measurement in that it is seemless. It is not made up of even the smallest particles. Is it an energy? Could be. What is interesting is that our minds cannot define it or measure it…only experience it. The best our mind can do by way of definition is to use words like God, love, truth, paradise, nirvhana.

Interesting that the human mind has defined ‘hell’ as that place where we find ourselves when we have ‘sinned.’ When I look at the seven sins, they all share in common one thing; the mind’s attempt to quantify, qualify and control our existence in order to assert some sense of power, anything to avoid feeling helpless. Helplessness is an anathema to the mind. Just look at all the ways in which we resist even contemplating it. It makes us angry, fearful, covetous, jealous, slothful, greedy, along with the rest of the aforesaid sins. We suffer from them and our minds envision a ‘place’ called hell to which we may go, or heaven if we follow the ‘rules.’ However, just as the mind can’t define thought, only experience it, how is it that the mind comes  up with the ‘idea’ of hell. It comes up with it because it experiences it…here, now, in this life that we spend so much time trying to control. The notion that hell, or heaven is a place ‘beyond’ to which we go after we die is the minds’ way of dealing with defining heaven and hell as some vague place that we can only know through ‘faith.’ Do this, practice that, believe what is taught and you will have faith…or so we’re told and threatened with punishment if we don’t.

How does the mind define faith? Isn’t faith something we feel…we experience?  And when we experience it, our minds describe it as freedom, ecstacy, love…But those are only words, because they may evoke feelings, but the thing that saves us is the experience of faith. We can’t define it. Describe it, yes.  Define it, no.

So if the mind’s strong suit is its ability to define, measure, etc…and it can’t define faith, only describe it. If its definition of ‘hell’ is to describe roasting in hell forever and ever…which, by the way is the epitome of helplessness, and its definition of heaven is a place we go to ‘after,’ which, in all honesty is at best a guess, (unless we acquire that thing called ‘faith’), then maybe all this story-telling and hypothesizing is a vain, (read: narcissistic) and futile attempt of the mind to get some control over that which it has no control; the experience of being.

So we experience on two levels:

1) We experience our existence through our senses; feel, sound, smell, sight…and, yes,  thinking, or the interpretation, description and measurement of what our senses tell us.

2) Our innate ability as humans to witness/see ourselves doing all this.

And when we witness, when we go to that place of awareness and recognize that we are not what we are experiencing through our senses, but rather there is another part/place in or of us that can see us experiencing this sensation and thought, and when we recognize from that place that we have a choice as to how we’re going to react, nor not react, (witness), then we experience something that is beyond our senses, beyond our thoughts. Something that is free off all of that. Something bigger…a ‘body’ of thought?

And that feels good. For a while, then we wrestle with our minds until we remember to re-attache, (re-member, as in; my arm is a ‘member ‘of my body and when I remember, I re-attache my arm to the rest of my body), and when we re-attache to that place of awareness, we rediscover the experience of belonging to something greater and we feel good again…until…

The waves come in, they go out. The moon waxes and wanes, the universe expands and contracts, our breath comes and it goes, as does our existence in these bodies. The constant is ‘change,’ and we swing like a pendulum from heaven to hell, back and forth and back again;  from our experience of being part of something that never dies, to our mind’s obsession with finding some control, some ‘understanding,’ some way to know and in ‘knowing,’ maintain the illusion of power over our existence.

We are in that we can see that we are.

Isness  is.


  • By Birgit, March 17, 2010 @ 4:20 am

    I still don’t think that you can truly witness without judging. Because humans are very emotional and judgmental beings.
    You’d have to be ice cold to witness without judging. Not even ice cold, dead inside.
    Everything a human looks at causes emotions in that human.

    Indeed, I agree when you say that what makes us human is that we can see ourselves think. But we think all the time, and all of our thoughts are in some way (positive or negative) judgmental. If we don’t think but experience, we ‘feel’. Feelings cause emotions. And through witnessing those emotions we judge what we have seen or experienced. So we’re back to square one.

    Fear of helplessness is that fear that I, (this is the mind talking) am not.
    So what you’re saying is that it’s all about control.
    If we deny ourselves to be helpless, if we avoid helplessness we try to take control of our lives, our body, our thoughts, our feelings.

    If it’s all about control, then I am a control freak. I have studied Politics and Political Philosophy, but I never went to work in that field, because I won’t be in control. I run marathons to be in control of my body, I meditate to be in control of my mind… and so on.

    I don’t like the feeling helplessness, but I have faith in myself to not ever to be helpless.
    People who fear helplessness are more likely to believe in the concept of “god” because they can blame things on this god (“He wanted it that way”). That is accepting that they are not in control.

    I am an agnostic. I am not sure if there is a god (whatever his name may be) or not. I just know from experience that we humans can control our lives, at least to a certain degree within the limits of the society we live in. Power over our existence is not an illusion.

  • By Softly, March 17, 2010 @ 5:42 am

    Samantha Semantics here,

    It is very hard to talk about that what you cannot talk about . Or as Philosopher Ludwig Von Witkenstein once said, “Whereof one cannot speak, one cannot think.

    Wait, now I’m doing it too, is talk the same as think…?

    My point is you have to be very precise when you use words for that what you cannot speak of.

    Wait I get confused again, does this mean I have to speak of that of which I cannot think without words…?

    When you say things like “See ourselves think” What does seeing mean for you cannot see thought, see what I mean. So there are two ways of seeing, see, or does that make three?

    Wait I’m lost again, so there are things we cannot see with our eyes like thought or feeling but we can see them in another way.
    Okay let’s call that way of seeing, seeing with our minds eye for now. Good.

    Okay, I’m back on track. So next: Mind; do we mean the brain or do we mean awareness?
    I’m going for brain for now,… but wait that’s were thought comes from and brain is attached to real eyes so what’s mind’s eye doing there….?

    I’ll skip that one for now and try to decipher what we mean with consciousness and awareness.
    Consciousness is awareness,… no that’s too easy. Try again,… awareness is consciousness…well no that’s the same thing.

    I know the trick lies somewhere in being clear about the words we use…but how can you be clear if there are clearly no words you can use to make it clear…..

    I give up, he Softly scootch on over and let me sit on that safu for a while.

  • By zephie, March 17, 2010 @ 6:24 am

    Mr. Glaser,

    Thank you for taking the time, making the attempt to clarify.


  • By hilly, March 17, 2010 @ 9:45 am

    I am, because I am aware that I am. Thinking is something I, or rather, my mind does. What about that part of me that can see myself think, judge, feel? That part that can witness my existence, my judging.

    thank you for taking me further along the path, Paul.
    That is what I think I was trying to say – the fact that we are aware of our thought processes and what they bring to us (and bring us to) means that we are.

    Fear and helplessness entwine and drag us down. And the worse thing is that the more we think about it them; the more they loom large in our imagination and thoughts.
    I am struck by how difficult it is to talk about pleasant and unpleasant thoughts without invoking the vocabulary of the religious establishment (for the most part the judeo-christian vocabulary). I’m in heaven when hings go right and life is hell when they don’t. A lovely sunny day and I can sit in the park for lunch – “paradise”.

    You say that helplessness is ‘anathema to the mind’ – matter and anti-matter. Helplessness is the anti-matter to being. Anyone who has been really depressed knows exactly what I mean – after a while you feel crushed by that helplessness and in some way annihilated by it.
    the only way out is to think. “Positive thinking” “Meditation” – we shelter our mind and take the time to imagine a better way…and the paths open out.

    Knowledge is the biggest enemy of totalitarian states; it is the greatest enemy of those who hold sway over others by exploiting their lack of knowledge (Mao’s China; the Catholic Church in South America keeping people poor by refusing contraception…you name it!). Thought makes us free. It frees our spirit and that gives us a huge weapon against helplessness….power. Thought empowers us.

  • By Rachelle, March 17, 2010 @ 10:18 am

    I try everyday to not judge and I work at it daily. I agree Pam awareness is the key, as judgment seems to be such a built in human reaction. I believe the only time we fail is when stop trying, so I would rather try not to judge then to just give up. It takes work!

    I agree Paul that our feelings are not who we are. I do believe helplessness is a very real fear. It’s at that time when I believe that we have to make choices, reach out to our dearest friend and family, pray, and carry on. It’s never easy.

    Have a wonderful day, Rach

  • By Raffy, March 17, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    I think judgment happens whenever we let something we prefer and choose, whatever it can be, be in strong contrast with something else we identify for some reasons as negative, opposite. We say not only “I like this” but “I like this…and how I dislike that!”. Mostly we need an “enemy” to judge, to denigrate. I guess it is the need of our mind of gaining that power we have to restore each passing day, when we are not able anymore to mask the discomfort coming from that sense of impermanence and helplessness constantly present and overwhelming in our life. Yet I think there is a “place” within ourselves which strangely is not interested at all in judgement… it sees it all and is aware of the “differences” as the infinite expressions of the one, but that doesn’t lead to any judgments…even if forced to do it! A place from where it is also possible to make choices not based on judgment. To dwell in that place even only for a minute could make us aware that it really is there, that we as human beings have this capacity to “not judge”, and at the same time to exist, to choose, to live, and to open that window on the full reality of our “being”, of the permanence of our spirit in the impermanence of our endless becoming…


  • By xtexan86, March 17, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

    Perhaps, in some way, we are not our feelings, but feelings make us human. Animals may possess fear, anger or gratitude but you’d be pretty hard pressed to show me they possess envy, scorn, jealousy and a whole host of other emotions.

    “Fear of helplessness is that fear that I,(this is the mind talking) am not. That I can’t know, or find, or do, make, or change the course of the universe, or achieve stasis, (immortality).”

    Ok, personally, I can’t define fear like this, because I don’t fear ‘not existing.’ I know I exist, so does my mind. What I do fear is the concept that everything around us doesn’t have some central point of origin created from a higher source…sort of like ‘the force’ from Star Wars.

    My mind can’t fanthom the concept of a universe that goes on and on forever, why planets are round and hang weightlessly in space pulled by gravity to circle around a giant star, how bits of star dust come together and create a galaxy. It’s just too amazing and beautiful to begin to grasp – this would be my ‘body of thought’ – something beyond our comprehension. Even Darwin had a difficult time understanding how a few cells became so specialized as to create an eye.

    Which is not to say that I don’t believe in science, I most certainly do! But, as of yet, it can’t explain everything. And I also can’t fanthom the ethereal…spirits, magic, people seeing auras around others, pyschics. Again, such powerful stuff.

    A while back I asked about the concept of right and wrong from those who were not religious. I just find it interesting when someone can accept the existance of these things I have mentioned, which science can’t totally prove yet, but can’t believe in the concept of a higher power.

    I can’t define hell or heaven, anymore than I can define ‘love’ or ‘hate’ but does that mean neither of the four exists?

    Perhaps, my brain just wants to believe in an ultimate justice…for those who steal and cheat and commit murder without a single bit of regret. When people screw me, I can forgive because, No. 1, I’m not perfect, and No. 2, I have to and I want to believe that good deeds will be rewarded. Without this belief, for me, that would be the greatest fear without a doubt.

    I don’t want to be immortal. To me, that would amount to living forever as a cop – seeing three times the bad for every act of good. No thank you.

    So, I probably missed the point that was trying to be made once again, but I’m still trying to sort it out, that’s the best I can ever try to do.

  • By xtexan86, March 17, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

    Oh, and I wanted to say that I appreciate everyone’s post – you all have important and interesting things to say and it’s definitely something I look forward to reading every day!

    PMG – the very, very best to you and good wishes in advance of your birthday. I hope you have a wonderful day that is spent with family and friends.


  • By T, March 17, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    “What is a thought? It’s not an idea. Thought gives birth to ideas. If I accept that an ‘idea’ is a charge of electricity/energy, is it then measurable matter?” This is reminiscent of what Dan Brown wrote about in The Lost Symbol…thoughts, souls, that have measurable mass. That enough people thinking the same thing can make it happen. He called it the Science of Noetics. The story is fiction, but the science exists, apparently.

  • By Birgit, March 17, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    @ Raffy:

    You said “I think judgment happens whenever we let something we prefer and choose, whatever it can be, be in strong contrast with something else…”

    Judging does not necessarily mean that we compare something or we have to find something negative.
    Judging just means having an opinion on something. If you look at a dress in a shop window, you never think, “ok, this is a dress.” You think either, “Yuck, horrible”, “Not bad” or “Wow, fantastic” or something along those lines, whatever your opinion at the time may be.
    You automatically form an opinion in your head about whatever you see. Although you might not always be *aware* of it, because you don’t say everything you think out loud.

    Just a few days ago I looked at a beautiful gold and marble monument here in Berlin. I walk past it every day, I have seen it countless times. But on this day it was particularly beautiful, because the sun shone on it, after days and weeks of rain and snow. With the sun, everything was suddenly beautiful: I judged. I even liked the whiteness of the snow, even though we had three continuous months of snow now, and I do not want to see another flake until December.
    I judged, I formed an opinion, I felt an emotion.

    And as this blog here is a sharing blog, I’d like to share its beauty with you.
    If you like to *judge* for yourself, you can see a picture of it here:

  • By Christine, March 17, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I thought about sharing this on your blog several times today, I think it ties in with the not judging/feeling helpless topic.
    Judging someone, that awful feeling of being judged. How can it effect your life? Is it always negative or can something positive come out of it?.
    When I was born my father had wanted a son. As soon as I was old enough he told me that, in his eyes a daughter just wasn’t good enough.
    So to cut a long story short he resented me from day one. Isn’t it funny in life that the more someone pushes you away the more you want to show them that you could be a great person too (well, maybe) if given the chance?
    When I studied hard (not being naturally gifted)
    and came home with A’s his answer would be a son would have A*. I never got the pat on the back I craved for; after my mother died when I was 16 I became his target for mental abuse and the fist when things got really bad.
    Despite all this I still tried to gain his ‘well done’ I look back on it now and wonder why? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, when I left home gained my independence, he cut me out of his life totally and moved on.
    So, a few years ago I decided to try to trace him to put things right (hopefully) after all we were both adults now sadly I was informed he had died months earlier living in a small town in England that I hadn’t even heard of.
    We never had that father/daughter relationship, his own judgments probably cost us that. I really have no anger/bitterness towards him now, he obviously had problems of his own. Judging people can be trivial, you may not like a person’s shirt, shoes, car etc, but when it comes to losing a lifetime of love over it that’s when you realise how ignorant humans can really be.
    Thank you for this blog Paul, even if sometimes it trigger’s memories, but its a therapeutic kind of thing! With love as always, Christine xx

  • By Sue, March 17, 2010 @ 4:47 pm


    I’m one of the people you spoke to about not having faith or belief in some mystical invisible bearded man floating either inside the universe or outside the universe.

    And yes, I can believe all the things you talked about without having to believe in that mystical being. I’m not an agnostic. I’m an atheist. A theist is someone, as you know, who has a belief in a creator god or some other type of mystical being. An atheist is one who does not believe in that ‘other being’ which is not ourselves but who brought the universe into being and/or is keeping it spinning.

    For me, death and only death is the great equalizer of us all. The closest thing I as a human being can link the “experience” of death to is the deliberate shutting off of conscious and subconscious that is done when we go under anaesthesia, and everything about us, including our innate time-sense, is completely switched off, so that when we are awakened from it, we literally believe that it is but the split instant after we went under. Which is why so many patients wake up from surgery going “When are you gonna start?” and the surgeon will go “Hon, we’ve been done for hours.”

    Have you undergone anaesthesia? If so, let me ask you this. Did you have a CARE in the world about all of the injustices done to you? Did you have a split second of thought about the man who got away with murdering a loved one, or that you didn’t get to see the conclusion of your favorite TV series, or that you didn’t get to watch your children grow up? Were you in there somewhere afraid you weren’t going to wake up again?

    If you’re like most of the people in this world, you didn’t. You don’t have to spend your life in hope for justice in the next world because when you’re dead, you simply won’t CARE. About any of it. It will not exist because YOU do not exist. And if you do not exist, you cannot experience anything. Not hatred or greed. Not unhappiness or fear. Not lust. Not love. Not chill. Not anything. You are a light that has been switched off. What care has a switched off light for what goes on in the dark? It has no care because it does not exist. It does not think. It does not feel. It does not covet. It does not love. It does not sin. It does no good deeds. It does not exist. And, and this is most important, it does not CARE.

    I need not and do not live in fear of an eternal being casting me into a pit of hell when I die, nor do I need or live with the hope of rewards for my good deeds. My hell is here. My heaven is here. It exists because *I* exist. And when *I* no longer exist, neither shall IT exist. And neither I nor It will care in the least. And that is the kindness that death bestows to the just and wicked of us all.


  • By HILDA LIPRACE, March 17, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

    Mr Glaser: Actualmente escuchamos hablar de inteligencia intrapersonal,o sea ,de la inteligencia que nos capacita para poder llevarnos bien con nosotros inteligencia intrapersonal es lo que diponemos para conocer, entre otras cosas ,nuestras limitaciones y actuar sobre ellas Esto es fundamental. El problema es que no estamos acostumbrados a mirar para adentro .en general solemos desviar nuestra mirada hacia afuera ,hacia los otros .Podemos encontrar en un segundo las fallas de los demas pero tomamos toda la vida para encontrar las nuestras .El problema no esta afuera esta dentro nuestro ¿en que reacciones del caracter tenemos que trabajar ? iras ,enojos ,fastidios ,miedos ,culpas……. uno empieza a decidir a utilizar mascaras para mostrar una cara que no es la verdadera ,es una forma de defensa ante los demas ¿quien no ha usado en algun momento de sus vidas una mascara ? tenemos miedo que nos reconozcan .sabemos bien cual usar segun la ocacion ,y nos olvidamos en mejorar en lo que realmente somos ,hay mascaras de poder , de superioridad ,de victima ,asi transcurre la vida ,poniendonos mascaras hay que cancelar el pasado ,aprender del dolor .pero no vivir en el ,…….el cielo el infierno lo creamos nosotros mismos ¿donde queremos estar ? …… Gracias Mr Glaser por sus pensamientos y gracias por permitir compartir mis pensamientos .DIOS LO BENDIGA GRANDEMENTE USTED TIENE SU LUZ ,Y COMO BRILLA . HILDA LIPORACE DE ARGENTINA

  • By lady800cc, March 17, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

    Hmmm, a lot of comingling of a lot of paths: fear, helplessness, faith, religion, eschatology, heaven, hell, sin, repentance, with God, separation from God, humanity, un-humanity, open mindedness, closed mindedness… very careful now ;-)

  • By zephie, March 17, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

    Topics like these are actually really fascinating. It is easy to see why the old admonishment to never broach the subjects of politics (personal philosphies) or religion (spiritual beliefs) came into being! Beliefs of any kind are so personal! So much a part of how you identify yourself. Every person arrives at what they believe through the course of their own experiences in life. The joys and the sorrows–but mostly the sorrows. What you live, what you live through and feel, think and remember from the things from your past so completely shape your world and how you view the universe (and everything in it) that the intricasies of what you hold true for yourself and your own existence somehow come to define who you are in your mind. And maybe even your spirit. The ironic part of it is, those ideals are such an integral part of the person you choose to be that you tend to forget that others developed their convictions and outlooks the same way. Through the unique experiences that marked their lives. Sometimes I think that because you identify your values with the essence of who you are, you also tend to view different views or opinions as a challenge to your being.

    That is why I have trouble with the notion of witnessing or observing without judgment. So much of what I see and hear is colored (or tainted in some cases) by the impressions that I’ve personally gotten from the events that mold me. When I hear or see something what I “get” is probably a loit different than what the person next to me will get looking at or listening to the same thing. Aren’t our differing perspectives and impressions of the objects around us a form of judgment in themselves?

  • By Sammy, March 18, 2010 @ 6:24 am

    Judge or not to judge: Can you refrain from judging? Should you refrain from judging? Can you just be a witness and not judge? Aren’t all our decisions based on judgments? Isn’t that how we survive and thrive?

    What I strive for is:
    (1) When it comes to a decision you have to make that affects your life in some way and if it also includes another person, you will have to judge that person at some point to make your decision.

    (2) When it has nothing to do with you in any possible way then just mind your own business without making any judgment calls and just be a witness or even avoid witnessing all together.

    I personally feel it depends on the situation. Just two examples;

    Situation 1: Say you are at a party and a guy offers to take you home. You have heard that this guy is not ‘trustworthy’ and you yourself has some experience or seen what he is capable of. So at that point you just cannot be a witness and be indifferent. Even though there is a chance for the rumors to be wrong, you have to judge the person based on what you have heard just to be on the safe side. So you judge the person, judge the situation, get this ‘thought’ in your head, come up with an ‘idea’ to avoid problems, and react by declining his offer politely giving some excuse… That judgment may very well save your life.

    Situation 2: Your friend seems to be very happy with her marriage. Then suddenly she gets a divorce and says they were having problems all along. Now this is a situation where you should not judge your friend on her decision for many reasons. This is a situation where you should only be a witness because it is her life and she is entitled to do whatever she wants. She has her reasons and you are there to.. well …. just to be there for her.

    So back to the questions: Judge or not to judge: My answers on how I feel….

    Can you refrain from judging? Yes

    Should you refrain from judging? Not all the time

    Can you just be a witness and not judge? Yes, depending on the situation

    Aren’t all our decisions based on judgments? Yes they are

    Isn’t that how we survive and thrive? Yes

    Our decisions are based on our ideas. Our ideas come from our thoughts. Our thoughts rise from a process of judgment. So well….. There.. That is my judgment!

    Waiting for Friday! :-)


  • By BeckyB, March 18, 2010 @ 9:00 am

    Really? We are not our feelings? Are not feelings the same as thoughts, and “I think, therefore I am?” I own my feelings and my feelings sometimes guides me (with my heart).
    ‘I feel, therefore, I am.”

    As a child I could witness without judging, but it seems as though everyone does it and I try not to judge people.
    Sometimes I feel as though people are judging me, even though they don’t know me.

  • By hilly, March 18, 2010 @ 9:39 am

    Becky what you said makes me think of a passage from the Christian part of the Bible (if I remember right)

    “As a child I saw as a child sees….” it goes on to that wonderful phrase “through a glass darkly”…children see things ‘clearly’ but adults have too many things in the way; that darken the glass in the window.

    Prejudice from the Latin pre judice = pre-judgement
    (my Latin is so rusty it has holes in it but my etymology is usually OK)

    the thesaurus gives us this: prejudice:
    nouns: partiality,narrow mindedness, preference, intolerance; hideboundedness (I like that one!)
    Verbs: bias, jaundice influence harm

    All these are related to the way our minds color our thoughts…our “pre-judgements” based on what we have learned/heard/experienced.

    In the end it is very hard not to judge because…in endeavoring not to judge we are making a judgment!

  • By rita, March 18, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

    It is possible to witness without judging…just watch yourself when you’re judging.

    We are not our feelings.

    Yes and no.

    we are simply not cut out to witness without judging. we do it every second, whether consciously or subconsciously. it’s a filter that saves us from going completely bonkers. letting go of thought in meditation is one thing. but observing *everything* that is around us and taking it in and not judge is as we are taking it in doesn’t work. it’s our built-in filter that determines what we process because it is significant and what has to be barred from notion because it is not necessary information. if we actually did witness *everything* around us, we’d be emotionally drained within minutes. it would be such an overwhelming experience.

    (on a side note, i’ve read about people who have total recall of every little detail they have encountered in their lives because they can’t filter. they call it a curse, not a blessing.)

    of course this is the result of reflex and conditioning which has nothing to do with, ‘oh look at the horrid green colour of the car!’ this, as you pointed out, is not witnessing but judging which has nothing to do with these aforementioned reflexes. however, not everything that we judge is necessarily negative!

    judging includes also showing heart, pity, love. because we have been witness to certain scenes and are emotionally touched, we feel they deserve our attention more than other occurrences. yes, i saw the man on the other side of the road handing his daughter an ice cream cone. – and that is why i filter out that other kid falling off her bike the same moment a few meters away, because my brain has just become preoccupied as a result of a warm fuzzy feeling. if i hadn’t judged the father-daughter-scene and remained neutral, my subconscious would have allowed to recognize the other child getting hurt. and vice versa: had my gaze, by pure coincident observed the hurt kid and had i become pre-occupied as a result of pity, i wouldn’t have missed daddy and daughter. –lots’a ‘if-s’ and ‘would have-s’, but essentially human nature.

    and this is where the feelings come into the game. yes: we are not the sum of our feelings, granted we don’t allow them to rule our lives. but, no: we are greatly determined in our identity by our emotions. a friend of mine comes to thought. i’ve never met anyone in my life who laughs as much as she does. not just the odd chuckle here and there. real laughter, from the belly. (and i doubt i’ll ever meet anyone with so much laughter in themselves in the future.) true, she is not ruled by this emotion, yet her laughter determines a great deal of who she is (a very, very! happy and positive person.) and what is her outlook on life. – me, i can only look at her, witness my own behaviour and judge it.

    ‘i wish, i were a little more like her and not only observe so many negative things and let my negative judgement take over, but like her see the general joke in life.’

    laughter is good.

  • By xtexan86, March 18, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

    Hey Sue,

    You bring up a good point, of course, when the light goes out, there is no worrying about anything. And, while I do respect your viewpoint, as I’m sure you do mine, I know both of us probably go stand in front of a wall and beat our heads against it, yelling “But don’t they get it?!” lol

    I think the main thing is we all have the freedom to decide for ourselves what beliefs make us feel ‘right.’ My interest lies in trying to see things from a different view, because, in doing so, I’ll know if what I’ve chosen to believe, still rings true for me.

    It’s like going to an art museum and looking at a painting of abstract art. I may see one thing, you another. You could be right, I could be right, or we could both be wrong. For me though, I think it would suck big time if, when I die, I find out there’s nothing more…but, like you say, if that’s so, then I won’t feel it, right? But, what if? What if there IS more?

    I’m comfortable believing that, and you’re comfortable believing what you believe. And that’s fine, because neither of us is going to convince the other to change. That being said, I don’t believe that should cause me not to try to understand why you feel like you do, nor should it keep me from regarding you as a fellow human being, an equal.

    This is where, I think, many people pass up opportunities to broaden their knowledge and increase their acceptance of others who don’t share similar viewpoints; which is why we generally stay away from discussions about politics and religion. It’s sad, really, because we’re all on this earth and in this thing called ‘life’ together.

    Okay, it’s time for homework.

    Peace, xt

  • By zephie, March 18, 2010 @ 7:00 pm


    Very, very well said!


  • By fee, March 19, 2010 @ 2:23 am

    Ditto from me too ladies!


  • By Sue, March 19, 2010 @ 3:37 am


    I’m in tune with what you’re saying. But I don’t think that it’s possible to be bummed after you die if there’s nothing there, cause you wouldn’t know, and so couldn’t be bummed.

    But say you could. There’s too many ways to go to hell, and none of them really have to do with good or evil. What if you’ve picked the wrong religion to follow? Within CHristianity, almost every sect says the other has it wrong and that if you don’t believe in Jesus the way they do, then you’re going to hell no matter how much you believed in Jesus. And that’s not even considering all the other religions out there that will toss you into the pits for not believing in their particular brand of god. So even if you live the life your bible and feelings tell you to, you just might have backed the wrong horse and wind up in the pits anyway, while your most evil enemy, for backing the r ight horse sits up in heaven laughing at your suffering for eternity.

    I just cut to the chase. There’s nothing after death. No religion is right. When we die, we cease to exist and when we cease to exist, heaven and hell cease to exist. All nice, neat, and the end. Every one gets treated, so to speak, equally.

  • By Christine, March 19, 2010 @ 5:08 am

    Hi Paul,
    We are not our feelings?. My first thought on reading this was to try to understand it. I had always seen my ‘feelings’ as being who I was. What actually makes you up as a person.
    Then after reading your comment and thinking it through; I came to this conclusion.
    Take an apple. A pip in an apple is part of the apple but not the whole of it.
    So, the brain makes us capable of thinking, feelings etc. The feelings come from the brain and are ‘part’ of it but not all. Now some would say that the pip of the apple makes the apple grow to ‘become’. Just like the brain grows and then gives us the thoughts, feelings etc; but its not the whole of the brain or its capabilities. So at first I had problems undrstanding your comment. Some might argue that I still do lol; but that’s the best I can come up with!. Hey, its taken me all night to work this out lol.
    Then I ‘clicked’ that when you wrote on one of your other blogs; a part of us can be afraid, not all, a light bulb came on!.This is almost like a giant jigsaw with the picture on the box missing. You know the picture very well because you know it by heart. We however, try and get the pieces to fit, then suddenly you have that beautiful picture!.
    Thank you Paul, my brain is working overtime, I’m in need of a strong cup of tea!.
    With love as always, Christine xx

  • By Sue, March 19, 2010 @ 5:34 am


    I didn’t have enough time before work to put out all I was saying, and please don’t think I”m picking on you, because I’m not. I’m using you as an example but in no way implying that this is the sum totality of who you are or what you think. That’d be pretty stupid, since I’m not the one inside your head. You are. :D

    The problem, I think I’m still having with your philosophies (and you said, problems shouldn’t matter where there is respect, and there it respect, but that doesn’t mean I can’t question.:D ) is what seems to me to be the inherent “it’s all about me” selfishness in them.

    You hope there is a heaven that will reward your good behaviors. As if those behaviors aren’t already enough of a reward for you all by themselves. Is giving a poor man a meal not good enough for you? You want something more from a god looking down and counting up that deed in his black book with your name on it so he can give you an extra comfy cloud in heaven? What about the beauty of the smile or the sound of the simple thank you the person you helped bestowed upon you. Isn’t that surely worth more than all the jewels in heaven? And what if he or she said nothing, but you know that because of what you gave of your self this day, they will have a better day or hour, or even minute, simply because you showed you care. Isn’t that alone worth more than all the trumpet peals of all the angels at the pearly gates? Or do you want more? Are you expecting yet *more* than the simple reward of doing good because it is good. Of a beaming smile on a young toddler’s face when you help her tie her shoes, shoes that you gave her so that for the first time, she can walk without cutting her feet on the glass of her home ghetto.

    To want more than that beautiful smile and shining eyes… to want to be sure that there’s a man looking over your shoulder making sure to tick that under the ‘good deeds’ side of your personal leger…doesn’t that sound a little bit selfish to you? It does to me, but again, I’m not you, so I can’t say for sure. Which is why I’m asking.

    And to think with actual pleasure that someone who wronged you, a finite crime, will get thrown into a pit of hell for all infinity while you can stand above, look down at him and laugh…is that Christian? Is that even good? That thought makes you happy? Mean-spirited pleasure that the “bastard finally got his just desserts” is about the furthest thing from “heaven” I can possibly think of.

    It also sounds like it’s “all about me”. You do good deeds NOT for others, or for the simple joy of giving, but so that the big guy up there adds it to the positive tally of your life.

    You want infinite torture for a finite crime committed in your life.

    If that isn’t all about you, who is it all about?

    As an atheist, I let all that crap go as far as infinity goes. There is none, so there’s nothing I’m doing just to get noticed. I do it because it’s right and it’s good and that’s all. It’s NOT about me. It’s about helping others for THEIR OWN sake, not for my own, to get that tick on the eternal tally sheet of my life.

    I’m not perfect, goodness knows, and I screw up far more than my share. :D But like I said, my hell is here. My heaven, too. I am the captain of my fate, as they say, and if I do wrong, it’s on me, and if I do good, it’s on me, and I do it for its sake and not cause I hope someone’s polishing a harp for me up there, NOR so I can stare down at some poor sad sack who committed a finite crime (maybe even the “crime” of finding the wrong way to Jesus) and is roasting in that pit in eternal hell while everyone above him in that “other” place just laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.

    I’m sorry, my friend, but it sounds flat out selfish to me. YMMV and I know it does. :D

  • By Sammy, March 19, 2010 @ 7:55 am

    Dear PMG..

    I couldn’t help but think of what you had said about ‘it is possible to witness without judging’ statement. As I said before as ordinary regular human beings we cannot! We do judge for survival!

    However… Would PMG make a statement like that lightly? (hah… judging!) I kept on thinking that there is some deeper meaning into this and maybe.. just maybe… he was not referring to our normal human state in that statement (There comes another judgment!)???

    As usual, an influx of thoughts came to me in the shower, which is the best place where I have got all my ideas in solving problems in my experiments and coming up with new research concepts! :-)

    So this is what I thought of at the end. When you cannot be ‘touched’ by any external or internal event, or by any person or any reaction.. In other words when you are above everyone else, spiritually or emotionally, when your mind/brain/ or whatever word you use to describe that ‘entity’, is a constant, you become constant, you are constant, and then it is possible to witness without judging. Is this what you meant by your statement????

    Sometimes… as human beings … we ‘witness’…. isn’t that one does on a witness stand? Just explain what one saw without giving a judgment? But yes.. that’s a whole different scenario..

  • By Raffy, March 19, 2010 @ 8:52 am

    I think we can experience that part of ourselves able to not judge just while it is watching that part of us which senses, feels, thinks and judges…and so we become aware that it exists…


  • By PamT, March 19, 2010 @ 9:36 am

    Many thanks for the clarifications, Paul. They do certainly help to shed a little more light.

    “What is a thought? It’s not an idea. Thought gives birth to ideas. If I accept that an ‘idea’ is a charge of electricity/energy, is it then measurable matter? What is the difference between a thought and an idea? We might say that ‘thought’ is the whole of existence. It is beyond measurement in that it is seamless. It is not made up of even the smallest particles. Is it an energy? Could be. What is interesting is that our minds cannot define it or measure it…only experience it. The best our mind can do by way of definition is to use words like God, love, truth, paradise, nirvhana.”

    Ah, I think a few more dots just became joined up for me, although the latter part of the paragraph may well have resulted in the early demise of a few brain cells. But if thought = consciousness, then I think there might be a glimmer of understanding. And if our ideas are charges of energy (and energy can neither be created nor destroyed but only transferred), what happens to the energy when our bodies cease to function and ‘the self’ no longer exists? Does it diffuse and become reabsorbed ….. part of the ‘everything’ or the ‘one-ness’?

    On the subject of witnessing without judging – I think it was Sagacity who made a point (way back on a different blog topic) to the effect that there’s a difference between evaluation and judging. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to find said entry, so I hope I have that right. Anyway, I think that view has something to be said for it. We need to evaluate almost continually in our everyday personal and professional lives in order to function safely and as best we can – and, yes, to try and exert some degree of control (although it won’t always go our way). So I don’t think the vast majority, if any, of us can completely abandon evaluation in the practicalities of daily existence, although I can understand that it has no place when it comes to being able to simply witness our consciousness.

    Anyway, although evaluation and judging are not the same, I view them as still being closely related. Might this be the reason that we find refraining from judging so difficult? I see them as different points on the same scale, almost like settings on a volume control. We evaluate, perhaps feel strongly, turn up the control and ….. whoa! We’re suddenly in full-blown judgmental mode, without necessarily even realising how we got there. And it can become a habit to such an extent that we may not even realise we’re doing it. Perhaps judging others can even sometimes subconsciously give a sense of superiority – I’m putting you ‘down there’, so I can feel ‘up here’? However, I agree with PMG when he says that one of the aspects that makes us human, is our innate ability to take a step outside of ourselves and our feelings (our reactions), observe and be able to effect some change – if we have a mind to. And awareness is a start – a foundation layer, on which to build. I have to say, I think it would be a truly exceptional individual who absolutely never judges (not necessarily in words or action but also in thought), but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t even make the attempt. Maybe it’s like many other things in life, the more we try to consciously practice awareness and abstinence, the better the odds of it becoming a part of us over time?

    Do I engage in judgmental thoughts? In the spirit of honesty, I have to say that at times I do, although much less than I once did. For some reason, I tend to be far more aware of the temptation (and am therefore more likely to resist it) in extreme scenarios, whereas the apparently (but probably deceptively) more ‘harmless’ instances can slip through under the radar. Ironically, I sometimes judge what I perceive to be judgmental attitudes in others; but not exclusively. Do I judge myself also? Yes, fairly often. Do I feel judged by others? I’m lucky because I’d say only occasionally. Do I think that judgment is a compassionate stance to take towards others and myself? Absolutely not. Shouldn’t compassion and absence of judgment go hand in hand?

    “The constant is ‘change,’ and we swing like a pendulum from heaven to hell, back and forth and back again; from our experience of being part of something that never dies, to our mind’s obsession with finding some control, some ‘understanding,’ some way to know and in ‘knowing,’ maintain the illusion of power over our existence.”

    I actually found this reassuring. I think I had envisaged a continuous state of spiritual ‘perfection’ that seemed daunting in the extreme and completely out of reach.

    Not drowning but waving (and considering removing the life jacket … maybe)

  • By Rachelle, March 19, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    Christine – nicely said! I believe feelings are a very important part of us. Memories, dear friendship, hope, love, laughter and dreams are a big part of us. I try to focus on the positive.*g* I wouldn’t want it any other way because they remind me of who is important and to appreciate them. Everyday is a gift and so are the people who are in our lives.
    For me I don’t believe we are our feelings because they can change so quickly on a dime at times; and if one is depressed or feels helpless that’s just a feeling because of the current circumstance. All we can do is just keep on going! That’s why it helps in this wonderful world of ours to have family, a best friend and yes for me God (to some it maybe a higher power) to not just exist but to live a happy life despite circumstance.

    Happy Friday everyone – T.G.I.F.*g* Rach

  • By Christine, March 19, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    Hi Rach,
    Thank you. Hey its Friday! :) You know Rach you are so right about our feelings changing, like when you mentioned depression/feeling helpless as a consequence of a situation. However you can become just as happy/contented with a change of circumstances. (Thoughts of watching Paul in panto just went through my mind) If I had a pound for everytime a thought went through my mind I’d be a worth a fortune lol.
    Hope you all have a good weekend!
    Best wishes, Christine.

  • By Rachelle, March 19, 2010 @ 11:57 am

    Hey Christine

    You always make me smile! I agree with you on happy/content and how lucky you guys were to see Paul in Panto! Off topic*g* I really enjoy watching plays and to see Paul or David on stage would be great!!

    Yes circumstances do change our feelings just like the play example you shared.*g* I do want to correct myself as depression can be overwhelming for some and is not just a feeling. I meant short time feelings.

    Yes it’s Friday and boy I’m glad about that!

    Back to work I go from lunch break.*g*

  • By Birgit, March 19, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    @ Raffy:

    You said “I think judgment happens whenever we let something we prefer and choose, whatever it can be, be in strong contrast with something else…”

    Judging does not necessarily mean that we compare something or we have to find something negative.
    Judging just means having an opinion on something. If you look at a dress in a shop window, you never think, “ok, this is a dress.” You think either, “Yuck, horrible”, “Not bad” or “Wow, fantastic” or something along those lines, whatever your opinion at the time may be.
    You automatically form an opinion in your head about whatever you see. Although you might not always be *aware* of it, because you don’t say everything you think out loud.

    Just a few days ago I looked at a beautiful gold and marble monument here in Berlin. I walk past it every day, I have seen it countless times. But on this day it was particularly beautiful, because the sun shone on it, after days and weeks of rain and snow. With the sun, everything was suddenly beautiful: I judged. I even liked the whiteness of the snow, even though we had three continuous months of snow now, and I do not want to see another flake until December.

    I judged, I formed an opinion, I felt an emotion.

    @ Sue:

    I completely agree with you when you say that a good deed should be done for the sake of the person you are doing it to, not to get good marks for a possible stint in heaven.

    I am an agnostic, with tendencies to atheism. I can’t quite say there is no god. Maybe there are dozens, hundreds even. But no one has been able yet to prove that there is even one.

    I usually just believe in what I see, but I leave that little gap in the door, just in case someone comes up and can prove me wrong. (This certainly won’t happen through any of those religious TV channels they have in the US… in fact a friend of mine and I just called one of those channels in the evening to discuss Christianity. The lady on the other end ran out of reasonable arguments pretty soon and hung up on us.)

    When I say I believe in what I see, this is the reason I am an agnostic. There are people who believe in a god (whatever his name) and who feel better because they believe. So maybe, just maybe, there’s something in it.

    My grandmother was a very religious person and she felt some comfort through her beliefs. (She went to church regularly, prayed every evening before going to bed, she even said she included me in her prayers all the time, which made me uncomfortable most of the time…)

    But even she sometimes said to me that she was wondering if there was a god.
    So I guess doubt is in my family.

  • By rita, March 19, 2010 @ 1:05 pm


    But no one has been able yet to prove that there is even one.

    god is beyond proof. if god could be proven then god wouldn’t exist because s/he is beyond human reason. that’s why it’s called faith. (which i find is something entirely different from ‘belief’.) :)

  • By hilly, March 19, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

    sue and xt

    (I don’t know if this is going to make sense and I hope it doesn’t upset anyone)

    I used to say categorically “I’m an atheist” but as I’ve explored the spiritual influences out there I now say that my jury is out. what am not is a theist…but the idea of a spirit in my mind. (oh gawd now I’m going to start rambling again…sorry)

    It is a spiritual link with that oneness and isness that Paul points too…well I suppose in some ways it is convenient to call it a god (small g)
    that’s why I refer to “Ol’ Beardie up on a Cloud” – because to me the personification of a god is totally ridiculous. to attribute an identity of a ‘son’ of a ‘god’ to someone/a group of people who taught new ideas is a convenient simplification for some people. Trouble is those people tend to insist that they are right and the rest of us are wrong.

    Like I said my jury is out…if I shed my mortal coil and find myself up on a cloud face to face with “Ol’ Beardie” I’ll give him a mouthful about all the ills of the world – not to say the bum deals I’ve had and people I care about have had…then I’ll probably storm off and find the other guy (cos if Beardie exists then Beelzebub is probably down in the warmer place giggling and as I hate being cold….!)

    On the other hand if others get comfort from believing in those anthropomorphisms (personifications of ‘god’ and ‘his son’ his mum his aunt his cousin etc etc) then I don’t deny them that comfort. All I ask of them is that they don’t expect me to share it or tell me I’m a sinner or ‘antichristian’ or any of the other simplistic epithets that certain elements out there throw around.

    You see I believe we can have faith…in our fellow man, in ourselves, in a greater good, without having ‘Faith’.

    the Jesuits will counter any questions about doubt that emphasize the impossibility of the
    ‘fact’(virgin births, resurrections) in question with “have faith”…as in blind belief.
    I can’t do that. I can’t allow my mind to cop out like that. I want to explore the possibilities and maybe arrive at a version of ‘the truth’
    What is ‘truth’ anyway? A series of provable ‘facts’?…ho ho try pinning a historian or a philosopher or a really good jurist down on how you define a ‘fact’. (“It depends how you define ‘is’…”)

    Maybe truth is being true to yourself; being honest with yourself…not always easy is it? I’m angry, hurt, miserable, frightened, powerless…can I conveniently blame someone else? can I blame a ‘god’?
    Or do I look in the mirror and say ‘your fault buddy – look what a mess you got yourself into here!’ ‘you fool’ ‘that was a mean thing to do/say’ etc etc
    Constant denial is a symptom of seeking a truth of sorts..
    It isn’t a comfort either; it’s a struggle.

    Birgit just said that faith is not the same as belief…which is why the phrase ‘blind faith’ exists…but “blind belief” is not a common concept.
    I think “god” is not beyond human reason; because s/he is a product of the power of human reasoning seeking to explain the world and our lives.And that does not necessarily mean s/he exists except as a figment of a cultural imagination.

    And I suspect that takes us back up to the top of this entry on the thread…

  • By hilly, March 19, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

    sorry – it was Rita’s comment about faith not Birgit’s that I was referring to just now.
    (I should go back to writing my replies in a notepad and copy pasting them when I’ve checked them)

  • By Sue, March 19, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

    I don’t make fun of anyone’s right to believe in anything they want to. But I don’t think that religion of any type is perfectly “neutral” (to paraphrase Pascal’s Wager). Most religions (note I did not most religious PEOPLE) tend to pick out a pariah and heap all their scorn and anger at him. Homosexuality being the big one right now. And since I’m a lesbian atheist, well, I tend to get a double dose of it.

    But I do find myself questioning the motives of some whom I believe only do good for their promised reward in heaven. Or who think that if they “cure me of my heathen ways” that’ll be their ticket to their eternal reward at the feet of their creator.

    In addition, I can’t help but think of all the time spent praying, and hoping, and listening to hatred spewed in the name of religion, and wondering if people would just put that time instead into, hell, contemplating their navel, watching a sun rise, smelling a flower, curing a deadly disease, ANYTHING that is for others and not simply for their own comfort and sense of belonging and absolute need for there to be somewhere to go after they die, so they have to spend time otherwise spent in other ways proving to that god that they’re worthy of an eternal paradise and putting it toward whatever they can do in THIS life. Man, what a better world this would be.


  • By xtexan86, March 19, 2010 @ 2:18 pm


    I don’t mind you picking on me…I know where I can find you (!)

    I’ll try to clarify some things without digging myself into a big hole. Heaven for me, is a place where death, pain, suffering and heartache have all been overcome. A place that is far more beautiful than anything our minds can comprehend.

    And while I may think of heaven as the ultimate ‘reward’, it isn’t the sole reason why I try to do good, nor do I believe it is only reserved for a particular religious sect.

    Concerning the first point, I do try to be ‘good’ because of the reasons you mentioned…it makes me feel good, people benefit from it, and it’s the right thing to do.

    Your comment of ‘it’s all about me’ does ring true, but I think only in this respect. Each one of us is accountable only for ourselves, no one else. There are righteous Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Agnostics, Atheists, etc., and others who are far from it. There’d be no way I’d believe that someone would be entitled to enter Heaven strictly because he/she belonged to a certain group.

    That’s why I belief each one of us must decide for themselves what path we feel is right, and not depend on what others have chosen.

    I believe I was given certain ‘talents’ or ‘gifts’ and how I choose to use them and live my life is how I expect to be ‘judged.’ Some people are great teachers, others, preachers, and still others, artists. The list goes on and on. Some might say, “I don’t have any talent” or “I don’t have a special gift.” Yes, you do, you just haven’t found it yet.

    Lastly, I don’t believe God sits around and tallies each day’s total of good deeds and bad deeds for every living soul. But I do think He can recount every second of your life, perfectly. In the Bible, he admits to being a ‘jealous’ God, because he wants everyone to worship him, i.e., follow his teachings, live with love in your heart and do good. Yet, He has given us free choice, free will, to make our own decisions about whether we want to believe that or not. I think in doing so, He knows that those who do love Him, are doing so willingly.

    And, I only comment on this because, inevitably, it always comes up. Why is there so much bad in the world, then? How does a ‘loving’ God permit it to happen? My answer is, this world isn’t Heaven. If life was so good on Earth, then what would we have to look forward to? How could we appreciate something if we were never without it? Lives are constantly cut short, and people can’t understand why. I feel when it’s your time to go, then you’ve served your purpose, whether that was accomplished in one day or 100 years.

    So that’s my opinion. Maybe it’s close to being right, maybe it’s completely wrong, but it is what I’ve chosen to believe.

    Out of curiosity, do agnostics or atheists believe in ghosts? If you went to a medium and were told things that only you and your dead relative would know about, how would you explain that? And I don’t mean ‘someone is here with a name that starts with the letter ‘S’”, I mean precise, exact little details that are not common and were never shared with anyone else except you and that person.

    Thank you for sharing your views and BTW, what does ‘YMMV’ mean?


  • By xtexan86, March 19, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    Oh, Sue, one more thing since I noticed your most recent post.

    You said, “But I do find myself questioning the motives of some whom I believe only do good for their promised reward in heaven.”

    Let me ask this. If ‘good’ is being done, does it matter whether it was done with a pure heart?

    I’m not saying ‘do good only because you have an alterior motive’, but taking this a step farther, what about the community service convicts or people found guilty of a crime are forced to do as part of their punishment? Does it not accomplish anything because they are being ‘made’ to do it?

    More food for thought :)

  • By Raffy, March 19, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

    By Birgit

    “Judging does not necessarily mean that we compare something or we have to find something negative. Judging just means having an opinion on something. If you look at a dress in a shop window, you never think, “ok, this is a dress.” You think either, “Yuck, horrible”, “Not bad” or “Wow, fantastic””

    You are right referring to my post, Birgit, I should have said “negative judgment”…nevertheless if looking at that shop window you see near that dress you like or dislike another dress you perceive differently, you’ll be very likely trained to make a comparison. I think that even this apparently little fact can show us how our mind works, its need of some power. Our “opinions” mostly come from our conditionings. It happens sometimes that the more we look at a thing so horrible to us the more it becomes “acceptable” in our eyes…but generally we run away before knowing the result! ;-)


  • By Sue, March 19, 2010 @ 2:52 pm


    I’ll try to answer both your posts with my one. Condensation, it’s a good thing. :D

    I believe the world is the way it is, the good and the bad of it, because that’s just the way it is. To quote: “Isness is.” It exists, therefore, it is. An earthquake will kill a milion more innocents than a serial killer on his wildest spree. We assign neutrality to one (usually) and evil to the other. But the damage is *exactly* the same. The earthquake that just killed your loved one is still there, the earth is still spinning, flowers are still blooming, it’s not going to get one minute’s worth of retribution of its “crime”. It’s so much easier to go after a very finite being for doing the exact same thing. And then hope and pray with all your being that he gets ETERNAL torment for that very finite crime. While the “good” victim can sit up in heaven and laugh and laugh or at least feel vindication that he got his just desserts. That’s nothing but wrong to me.

    Just for a brain teaser, I’ll bring up something about the thing that many Christians call “free will”.

    Now, let us assume that your God is all knowing, which it pretty much spells out in the bible. Which he knows everything that has ever been, everything that is, and everything that will be.

    Before you were even a twinkle in your mother’s eye, this omniscient god already knew every single thing about you from your first cell division to your last breath. Everything. And because he’s omniscient, he can never be wrong.

    So even if you have this thing called “free will” what the heck does it matter? God created you already KNOWING what path you were going to take. He already KNEW that you would stray, and he already KNEW that you wouldn’t come back to the fold, and he already KNEW that he was going to consign you to the pits of eternal damnation. Long before one sperm of millions met a single egg that became you.

    What good is “free will” then but a television show you’ve already watched, beginning to end? The characters on that show in that episode can not do ANYTHING but what you already know they’ll do. Even if those characters THINK they are doing something by choice, they’re only following a script…just as you are following God’s script. He’s omniscient. He alreaady knows each and every move you are going to make in your life. It’s all there. Nothing can surprise him because if it did, he wouldn’t be omniscient. So even if you THINK that you’re doing something based on your own free will, that choice you make is already known by God and was known before you were even conceived. Free Will and Omniscient creator are total opposites. If one is true, the other MUST be false. So…which is it?

    An omniscient god who knows all knows before he creates a being that he is creating a being that will be cast into hellfire after death. Why create him,then? He cannot do a thing to change his fate. His fate is already known by God. God is omniscient. He can be no other way but ALL KNOWING. Or…he’s not God, is he.

    And yes, good works are good works. Isness is. There’s where my judgment comes in. I can’t help thinking that someone who does a thing just because he knows God’s watching, rather than doing a good thing simply because it’s a good thing is…I don’t know. Creepy.

    I do tend to think there’s a part of us, aside from the hindbrain, that is the ‘uninvested observor’, that simply exists and allows experiences to flow through it without reacting in any way. And it is the part of the brain below that (in spatial terms) that takes that simple existing and passes judgment, good or bad, upon what the observer observes. And once we make that judgment, once we act upon it, we are taken out of the simple experiencing of who we are and what surrounds us and places us back into our people shells, turning a blind eye to that which simply exists free from action.

    But because we’re human and some things are hardwired into us as we are formed, or socialized into society, it becomes harder and harder to stay in that plane of simply existing.

    I have no belief in “special gifts”. We all are as we are. And we function within the parameters of what we are to a greater or lesser extent. If something comes along and trips our passion trigger, we may go after that thing with both hands, and consider that a special gift, but I don’t think it is. It simply is what it is.

    I don’t believe in any paranormal anything. I don’t believe in ghosts, spirits, souls, yetis, mediums, whatever.

    YMMV = Your mileage may vary.


  • By Birgit, March 19, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

    Out of curiosity, do agnostics or atheists believe in ghosts?

    Funny you should ask that. I forgot to mention that in my last post.

    Again, I am not sure. I used to say no, there are no ghosts. (Sorry this is going to be a longer story.)

    A friend of mine in England lived in a very, very old house with her parents. The oldest part of the house is in fact 500 years old. I stayed with them on several occasions and her mum (a very rational person, she is a foster carer for abused children, so no dreamer) once told me she had seen a ghost in one part of the house. She described her as a woman in a long dress carrying cooking equipment, walking up some stairs at the end of the room which is now a dining room (there aren’t any stairs there!!!). She hadn’t thought any further about it, until they had an expert on old buildings in their house one day, and he pointed out to them that the stairs would have been on the other end of the room before the various extensions were built over the centuries, and that this room would have been the kitchen when the house was first built.

    So there’s me hearing this story, still not quite convinced.

    The next time I stayed with them, one of their cats wanted to go into the dining room in the middle of the night and made a racket until I got up to open the door for it.

    I thought, well, here’s my chance to check out the ghost… I opened the door. It was pitchblack in the room. Before my eyes could adjust, the cat ran back out of the room with a loud scream.
    I was so scared that I shut the door again and didn’t dare to look back in again. They say that cats have a sixth sense… so if the cat ran out, what if…???

    To this day I can’t forgive myself for chickening out, and not looking into the room again. This could have been my only chance in life ever to see a ghost.

  • By rita, March 19, 2010 @ 3:10 pm


    Let me ask this. If ‘good’ is being done, does it matter whether it was done with a pure heart?

    this is touching the mandeville paradox of the ‘private vices and public virtues’. in that respect, kant raises the question whether involuntary and unconscious acts of virtue can, indeed, be called virtuous. in the end, the result remains the same, regardless of the originator’s intent. kant stresses the stark difference between acts of virtue and virtuous character. in the vein of mandeville, he acknowledges the separation between intent and result: lack of virtue does not necessarily result in sin. on the surface good deeds look the same to each and everyone of us, regardless of their intent. but it is the underneath that’s important for you personally.

    there’s a distinction between calvinism (predestination) and arminianism (free will). two very different ideas from two very different branches of protestantism. the only thing that unites them is the concept of ‘god’s grace’. but apart from that — two different clubs. one believing in free will, the other one denying it.

  • By xtexan86, March 19, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

    Hey Sue, you said,

    “Now, let us assume that your God is all knowing, which it pretty much spells out in the bible. Which he knows everything that has ever been, everything that is, and everything that will be.”

    Okay, we can assume this, but the word ‘everything’ really needs to be defined.

    I’ll propose it means that God knows the past, present and future. He knows when the universe was created, where it is headed and what will happen when it ends. To take your line of thought and apply ‘everything’ to every soul, well, what would be the point? It’d be like playing the same game every day for millennia. You know who will win, who will lose. I can’t wrap my mind around a loving God that thinks that is purposeful. I think ‘devine intervention’ does step in at times, and makes things happen…someone survives an otherwise fatal plane crash, things like that, but humans remain free to make their choices.

    Sometimes I wonder just how powerful and knowledgeable God is, and are we REALLY alone in the universe? It’s just so large…that’s what I was referring to much earlier. There’s billions of planets…how can we be the only one with ‘life?’ with a history of ‘mankind?’ I think I told my Mom once that my idea of religion would seriously change if I ever had an encounter of a third kind. But whether I ever really do experience one, could I convince you that I did? No, probably not.

    I don’t have the answers…Jesus had a lot of them but many people didn’t like what he had to say. As I stated before, if you are happy, truely happy, then you are where you need to be.

    Which is why I don’t understand when I sense a form of anger(?) from non-believers when they talk about the concept of God. I don’t think any heavenly being rejoices in revenge, or shouts ‘glory hallelujah’ when a sinner gets his just deserts on Earth. When a rational, non-abusive parent threatens her child with punishment if they don’t behave, do we not see that as showing ‘love’ for that child? Because the parent KNOWS what will happen to the kid if they continue to misbehave? I think God is just trying to do the same thing.

    I’m going to call my contribution on this thread good, because it isn’t my intent to try and preach and I think I’m starting to cross over that line.

    But you and I do agree on one thing, Sue, and that’s our love of the TV show and the two men in particular that helped make it possible. ‘nough said!


  • By hilly, March 20, 2010 @ 12:57 am

    “do atheists and agnostics believe in ghosts?”

    what the heck do ghosts have to do with religious beliefs? If there are ghosts they are echoes (visible or phonic) of something from the past.
    A few years ago scientist were looking closely at the theory that some types of stone may in some way ‘record’ echoes from the past.
    I think I have “seen” (experienced?) a ghost…think because I can’t be sure that it wasn’t the realisation of an impression of evil in a room. Because yes, you can have a concept of good and evil without being ‘religious’.
    It wasn’t in an old building but a modern monastery built where another one had once stood. the feeling of evil came from the knowledge that this was the place (the new one) where one of the last of the French Nazi-collaborators had been kept in hiding by the oh-so-righteous fundamentalist catholic order that runs it! the “ghost” was the haunted impression of “something nasty in the woodpile”…hidden malevolence.

    You see I would say that this Pope and his predecessor have done a great deal of evil in the world – turning their backs on the abuse cases they knew damn well were happening; refusing the use of condoms and lying about them not protecting against the spread of HIV…I could go on and on but I won’t. But no doubt many Catholics and non- Catholics would disagree and argue that these things aren’t ‘evil’ just ‘wrong’. And some will also tell me that they are ‘right’ (but if anyone can justify the Vatican’s aiding and abetting the spread of AIDS I’d be interested to hear a rational argument. (pun intended!)

    On that discussion of the motives for doing good. We’ve been here before but I repeat my viewpoint…if you can do good because you believe that you are helping someone for that person and not for your salvation/because you are a ‘good ‘….’(fill in the religious label) then that’s fine; but if you have an eye on your salvation then you are merely doing collateral good.

    I have no ‘anger’ when i talk about god – except when I am patronised by a believer so convinced that I will be condemned by his/her conception of what is ‘right’ or wrong’ Then my anger is aimed at that arrogant ‘believer’ and not at his/her god. (no-one here BTW)
    An Irish comedian (Dave Allen) used to sign off all his TV shows with good night and may your god go with you’ A few evangelists could learn from that.

    Sue – the tangle about free-will is the biggest stumbling point isn’t it? If I am free to do as I wish than it isn’t ‘god’s will’ but if I am doing what god wills for me am I acting on my own volition at any time…and does that mean ‘god’ wanted the perpetrators of crimes to commit them? It’s another chicken omelet

    (winks at Sue…we seem to be agreeing for once!)

  • By Sue, March 20, 2010 @ 5:09 am


    Close your contribution out as you like, but I don’t see you as preaching. I think you’re sharing what you believe, and I suppose that *could* be a definition of preaching, but it’s certainly one that I enjoy because I’m learning.

    And what I see here is that your belief is something that you have to “wrap your mind comfortably” around. Because, in fact, omniscience is omniscience. It knows all. And all means ALL. Everything that every has, is, or will happen. Ever. And that can’t mesh with free will.

    However, perhaps you might be more amenable to a “god of the gamers” type definition. Say you’re a video game maker. You set up your universe and you make all the laws in it. You create each one of the creations within that universe. If you hadn’t, it wouldn’t have existed, from the code of the smallest game leaf to the largest game…whatever is largest in the game.

    And you leave good things, like diamonds, and armor suits, and special weapons, and food, around for your game characters to find. You also leave temptations, or monsters, for your game characters to find or fight as well. IF they lose the fight they die, of course, but if they win, they get stronger.

    Now you, as the creator, as the game maker, has made all physical laws in the game, and everything within the game itself. What you haven’t done is, however, guarantee that the game’s characters are going to find the gold, or the sword, or the food, or the monsters, or the temptation. Those are left to the people playing the characters in the game. IF they find them, good. If they don’t, ok. Any you can tell the gamers in your “bible” (read: instruction manual) what are “good things to find”–”things that will increase your wealth, health, life, and chance to finish the game alive, and what are the “bad” things in the game, the things to avoid. But then you just let your game characters play, and what path they choose to take is what path they choose to take, and you, the game creator, is as surprised as they are when and if they complete the game.

    All well and good. But you, the game maker, are not, then, omniscient. You ARE the creator of every thing in that game, you know every thing you created, what it can do, what it can’t do, and such, but there is a large wheel of chance built into the game, and that chance comes in the people who play the game. You can’t know what moves THEY will make.

    But if you not only created the game and all in side it, but also the PEOPLE who will play the game? Chance disappears, because you are omnsicient, and you already knows who’s gonna win, exactly how they’re gonna do it, why, and when, and there are no surprises. THAT is the basic gamers definition of omniscience, and it’s not really that difference from the “real world” definition of the same word.

    So, xt, what you’re doing is creating God in your own image. Simply because you can’t possibly understand what a god would get out of putting pieces into motion for whom their exact breath, choice, and step is known from beginning to end, that doesn’t mean that he can’t POSSIBLY do that. That just means that whatever kick, or not, your omniscient god gets out of such a scenario is for him and not for you to know.

    So, are you god? Or is God above you so that you can’t know or question his ways?

    Circles within squares within triangles within tangles. You’ll never know. Because god evolves with the capacity of the human mind. And if that is so, it’s yourself talking to you, not some god out there who is so omniscient that he knows you’re going to be killed by that mega centipede next week while never having repented of that sin of stealing Mary Carol’s only pen in first grade and you’re going to Hell for it. He already knows this. That’s omniscient.

    OR He’s god in your own image. And that’s a no no in organized religion. :D :D :D

  • By hilly, March 20, 2010 @ 6:16 am

    XT: I wouldn’t define you as an evangelist (tee hee I know you well enough, I hope, to know you’re not ;) )
    Those who can take comfort in their beliefs are in some ways (IMO) luckier than those of us still wandering around constantly questioning. They are ‘at home’ with those beliefs.
    I can’t envisage accepting anything without wanting to know more – “is that all there is” or trying to find another cause.

    Try this:
    Creation vs Big Bang – it doesn’t matter which one you choose the basic questions remains “ah yes but how did ‘the atoms’/'god’ get there?”
    To use Sue’s phrase: it “evolves with the human mind”…the more the questions we have (and the questions develop exponentially with our increasing knowledge about the origins of our universe) the more the (need for) a perception of god (for those who have one) has to develop. The more science advances the more the concept of god has to advance – to justify itself vs the scientific evidence. I have never understood the agenda of certain members of the religious right that assert that if you are an atheist you are by definition ‘anti’ religion.

    A god in your own image is a “no no” in any religion – interesting to take that one along the path. Is the orthodox Jewish and Islamic injunction against using images of God really a way of saying ‘accept’ ‘have faith’ ‘don’t try to rationalise by creating an image you understand’? Because almost by default the image ‘man’ will choose for ‘god’ will be a human form. (Ok, so animists and sun worshipers don’t but that’s splitting hairs in this context)
    So, is the creation of the idea of a man called Jesus as God; or my (or Turner’s) ‘Ol’ Beardie on a Cloud’ an infraction of that very injunction?

    “it’s yourself talking to you…..That’s omniscient”.
    Absolutely! Ultimately only you can know what youare talking about in that conversation between your conscious and your conscience (guilty conscience? guiding conscience? sanctioning conscience?) And by extension only that conscience, whichever form it takes, can know what its reactions mean to you.

  • By hilly, March 20, 2010 @ 6:17 am

    PS Sue, XT (and others)
    William Blinn had no idea what he was starting LOLOLOL :) :) :)

  • By Sue, March 20, 2010 @ 6:45 am

    Atheism isn’t anti-religion, though there are atheists who are anti religion. A means not. Anorexia means not food. Anuria means not urine, anoxia means not oxygen. But food, oxygen, urine all exist. Atheist does not men not god. That’ giving god too much credit…putting him on the same ledge where urine, oxygen and food exists.

    Atheism is the opposite of theism, and all theism is is the BELIEF in a god. Not that there IS a god. Just that there is a BELIEF in a god. Atheism, therefore, means not BELIEF, not not GOD. And certainly “not religion”.

    Atheism is certainly not a religion in and of itself. AFter all, all of us who don’t believe in unicorns don’t have a religion dedicated to the not believing in such things. They’re just not on the map, and we forget them and get on with our lives. A life without belief–something which there is nothing that can be observed and tested scientifically (how does one scientifically test a BELIEF)–is no more or no less human than anything else. Every single human on this planet doesn’t believe in SOMETHING.

    I’ll just have to again quote my favorite Dawkins saying: We are all atheists. It’s just I am an atheist of ONE SINGLE MORE GOD than you are. That’s it. That’s all.


  • By hilly, March 20, 2010 @ 8:47 am

    I know that…you know that but there are so many vocabulary-challenged people out there that the idea of atheists being anti-religion has spread amongst certain circles faster than a twit can twitter!

    wanders off thinking seriously about starting a unicorn cult….!

  • By Christine, March 20, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    Hi Paul and fellow bloggers,
    I was brought up in a catholic family. My mother and my grandmother were catholic’s and up to a certain age I accepted what I was told/read about. However, as you grow up you begin to question if what you have been told is true. The thing is where is the ‘truth’? Isn’t that why its called ‘Faith’? We can look for answer’s forever and a day but until our day comes to cease on this earth none of us will ever really know. Over the year’s I have become more and more drawn to the Buddhist teachings, however, the only thing that concerns me is the belief that if you have a hard/tough/unhappy life you are being ‘punished’ for a previous life of sins. So even though you have no conscious memory of a previous life, in which case you could at least try and be a better person next time round; theres nothing, you basically have to accept that you are paying your dues for previous mistakes. Please correct me if I have this wrong, but is this not Karma? The thing is how can an innocent child die and then the family be told its all down to a previous life? In what way is this going to comfort that family? It appears that no matter what we all as individuals believe there are always going to be parts of it that we can’t fully understand. Maybe we aren’t meant to ‘get it’ perhaps when we die we have our questions answered. On that rather depressing note, I’m going for a cup of tea! Best wishes, Christine.

  • By Birgit, March 20, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

    @ hilly

    Ghosts don’t have to be evil. There are nice ghosts too. The woman in the house of my friend’s parents has never done any harm.
    She’s just there.

    As for heaven and hell… I’ve had a wonderful afternoon out shopping with a friend (heaven), and now I have to work, translate an extreeeeeeeeemely boring text while my friend rita is trying to get me to listen to the Beatles. BUT I CAN’T! I have to work! Hell!

  • By hilly, March 20, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    rest assured Birgit – I took evil as an example – I have ‘let’ some very friendly ghosts too. Years ago I bought a house that had always been owned by women (the title deeds went back to the 8th century and the house had always been owned by women, who inherited despite the restricted rights women had in those days)…there was a definitive ‘presence’ in that house. ‘She’ was there; keeping things calm even when calamity struck (in a storm a tree fell and blocked the entrance just missing the roof).
    And poltergeists have a great sense of humor!

  • By hilly, March 20, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

    oops hit send by accident….

    “and now I have to work, translate an extreeeeeeeeemely boring text ” – now that is hell; you have my wholehearted sympathy from ‘painful’ experience!

  • By Sue, March 20, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

    I sometimes see it like this: A computer whose only function is to accept streams of data–001 but that’s all it does. It doesn’t make judgments against the data it receives. It just receives it. Man, then, comes along and sees the patterns in the data, and from the patterns he sees, he makes judgments, and from those judgments arise thoughts and often action.

    The “awareness” of our brain is that computer, taking in streams of data and not assigning anything to the data that comes streaming through. It simply exists in existence. As itself, it doesn’t do much good for MAN, who needs to extrapolate what those streams mean, but the computer itself couldn’t care less what those streams mean. It is simply fulfilling its function, to accept a, b, c, d. If something else wants to try and read it, well, that’s not the computer’s function, or is it’s care. It does what it does, and within its own parameters, it is perfection.

    Mistakes are made when man attempts to extrapolate that data, to judge it good or faulty, to say ‘this is what we can use’ and ‘this is what we cannot use’, and then go on from there.

    If someone comes along and kills the man extrapolating the data, what care the compute have? It is doing its duty. It may be aware, as aware as computers can be, that such a thing has happened, but it does nothing about it, because there *is* nothing to do about it. It is acting according to its pre-programed orders, to let the streams to in, to let the streams go out, to let them wax, to let them wane, to continue on until its own switch is flipped and its existence is no more.

    So, too, do I see ourselves in that type of duality, where on the one hand, we simply exist, taking everything in around us that is to take and assigning no meaning to it, positive, negative, or neutral. It is, for lack of a better word, a sort of collecting house for experience as a whole. It is us, the part of the brain which judges the information coming in who makes the choice to do a, b, or z based upon what it itself finds in that “storehouse”. And that’s where judging comes in. That’s where “we are our actions” comes in.

    Do we grieve when a loved one dies, no matter the cause? Most of us do, yes. But we, each and everyone of us, makes that choice to grieve. It might not seem like a choice at the time, but it IS a choice. That is us reacting to simple information fed through us through the stereo speakers of the world, having no innate meaning until we, as human beings, give it that meaning, and once that meaning has a name, watch out, because anything can happen.


  • By fee, March 21, 2010 @ 4:16 am

    Harking back to ghosts and strange experiences here. I definitely believe that there are good and evil presences around. Some people in their lifetime leave a very strong imprint in the place where they have lived whether for good or for bad.
    As for seeing or feeling what may be termed as ghosts that has happened to people that I know. We have a close friend whose husband passed away a few years ago and the first time we visited her after his death we just knew that he was there in the room keeping her company. He was 81 when he passed so had had a long fulfilling life. There is always a feeling of calmness in that house when we visit.
    Another tale that I read was in the biography of Scottish folk singer Roy Williamson of “The Corries” Folk Group. His elder daughter wrote his biography after he died of a brain tumour back in 1990 aged only 54. He had died at home and moments after his death she happened to look at a corner of the room where he had persistently tried to go through a door that wasn’t there a few days beforehand in his fevered state. Anyway, when she looked, there was a doorway there and beyond it a long sealed road with a grass verge on either side and greyness beyond. A youthful Roy was walking up that road carrying a black guitar case that she had never seen before and wearing his favourite scruffy old clothes. He turned round, smiled at her and waved then disappeared. When she told the other family members what she had seen they told her that he had had a case like that many years ago. Now, make of that what you will but she is certain that is what she saw in her grief.
    Another elderly octogenarian friend has just buried her husband of 58 years last week and talking to her today she told me that she still feels his presence around her which she finds very comforting.
    As for religion etc I think I shall pass on commenting there as I would likely stir up a hornet’s nest. I will just say that I strongly believe in re-incarnation etc.
    Always learning,

  • By hilly, March 21, 2010 @ 4:48 am

    Thanks Sue, the binary system example was perfect.
    On grieving when a loved one dies…having been there; seen a ‘chronicle of a death foretold’ (in that the person had already had 4 strokes and so it was only a matter of time). We know it is going to happen but that doesn’t make the shock any less when it does. We grieve in a different way perhaps…we are in some way prepared to face it.
    The choice also lies in the waywe grieve. Some people (and some cultures) opt for the wailing and tearing of clothes and hair – just take a look at a newsreel of mourners in some countries. Others prefer to internalise the grieving – remembering the best of times with the person who has died; others weep in silence.
    The Jewish tradition of Shiva has a lot going for it…8 days…mourn, remember, receive commiserations etc; at the end of the period : get over it; get back to your life. One foot in front of another time.

    The choice is also in whether you choose to mourn by remembering the good times – or to look forward to the loss. (of you see what I mean)
    The one form of mourning I have no time for is the mass-hysterical vicarious mourning that we see all too often when bouquets and teddy bears pile up in front of a gate or outside a house.

    As a side note – after all the IMO totally ridiculous and irrelevant nonsense after Jackson died (a perfect example of that vicarious mourning) I note that all the stores seem to have piles of unsold copies of ‘This is it’!

  • By Sarah Levy, March 21, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

    Paul, thanks for once again sharing your thoughts.

    The final paragraph, of your latest blog, is the one that I have given the most thought to.

    ‘The waves come in, they go out…. The constant is ‘change,’ and we swing like a pendulum from heaven to hell, back and forth and back again; from our experience of being part of something that never dies, to our mind’s obsession with finding some control, some ‘understanding,’ some way to know and in ‘knowing,’ maintain the illusion of power over our existence.

    Actually, it’s the last few words of that paragraph that have made me ponder something… whether everyone does want some illusion that they have power over their existence. I don’t believe that everyone does. Some, myself included, are just happy to be. Happy with our lot. That doesn’t mean that we sit and do nothing and have given up. Quite the opposite. When I was much younger, I would have said that, yes, everyone wants power over their existence. Now, I would disagree. Far from being a way of giving up, it actually gives a person the tools to enjoy the life they have now. No seeking guidance from powers that may not exist. No stressing about how much time one may have left. Some might say that the act of keeping fit, not eating too many fatty foods, is a form of creating some kind of power over existence. I don’t think so. For me, it’s a way of helping to stay healthy enough so that I can enjoy the life I have, enjoy a night out with friends, enjoy going out with my family. It’s not about adding extra years to my life.

    Kind Regards,

  • By Sarah Levy, March 21, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

    Sue, I loved the following comment that you made:
    ‘Atheism is certainly not a religion…after all, all of us who don’t believe in unicorns don’t have a religion dedicated to the not believing in such things. They’re just not on the map, and we forget them and get on with our lives…. Every single human on this planet doesn’t believe in SOMETHING.’


  • By Softly, March 21, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

    Just adding something to the mix.
    When reading all these posts on believing in God or not, ghosts or no ghosts, are you able to witness without judging or is it impossible at all, what is consciousness and what is it not, it is clear to me that, like it or not, the root of these discussions, confusions, beliefs and disbelief’s are Christian one’s.

    The law’s, the way we teach our children, the way we care for our sick, the way we look at science, the way we think about the beliefs of other religions, how we go about nature preserve, the way we view our position in the world, the place we belief animals have in the scheme of things, the way we produce our food, the way we make music and art, the way we experience ourselves, and on and on and on. All this, the foundation of our society is a Christian one.

    Just imagine if you can what your world would look like now if the people who sailed the Mayflower would have been Buddhists or the first settles would have had the smarts to bow deeply and learn from the native American people or what if the founding fathers would have been Hindu. For sure all these discussions would have been different, and Mr Glaser would have a much easier time getting his thoughts across.

    Gassho, Namaste, may the Great Spirit be with you and God bless.


  • By Christine, March 21, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Ghosts?. I do believe there is something out there. Having said that the subject does tend to unnerve me especially if my daughter is away for the night and I have time to think about it… now lol.
    Can’t believe its 1:42am and I’m on here talking about ghosts!.
    Seriously though, if people can still ‘feel’ their lost loved ones presence that’s great if they can gain some comfort from it. It’s basically whatever gets you through the day. As Hilly was saying earlier we all have our own ways of coping with grief. The key word being that you are actually coping and not trying in some way to block it out.
    So, if I walk into my living room and one of my lost loved ones is sitting there, I will probably drop with a heart attack and quite literally die of fright lol. Hey its only four more hours until daylight. :) Goodnight, with love as always, Christine. xx

  • By Birgit, March 22, 2010 @ 2:07 am

    @ Christine:

    I have never heard of anyone seeing a direct relative as a ghost. Most people who report sightings of ghosts (that don’t sound completely and utterly fabricated) have seen ghosts of people that are either from a few generations ago and/or they are completely unrelated to.

    And having lived in England, I have heard of a lot of ghosts. (Why do most ghosts seem to live in England and not in Germany or France, for example?)

    So you finding your deceased grandma in your armchair in the living room, enjoying an episode of CSI is rather unlikely. ;-)

  • By fee, March 22, 2010 @ 3:59 am

    Actually Birgit, my friend who lost her husband a few years ago did have a brief moment where her late husband appeared before her and smiled at her before vanishing, then a picture of a bunch of red roses appeared briefly on her tv screen. It had been a children’s show that had been on so it wasn’t part of the show. This lady is in her late 70′s and extremely down to earth and practical.
    I think some people are much more susceptible than others to seeing those sort of things so don’t worry Christine. I have never seen anyoneh myself.
    We have ghosts down here in Australia too.

    Hey, who started all this re ghosts anyhow?

    Sorry Paul,we seem to have drifted way off topic again. Nothing unusual for me I admit.:)

  • By Christine, March 22, 2010 @ 4:07 am

    Hi Birgit,
    Lol, Although that doesn’t sound quite right, She would be watching ‘Starsky and Hutch’!! Probably on my dvd player, drinking my tea!
    Thank goodness we can laugh. :)
    By the way….. I love you grandma! I’m not taking any chances here lol!
    Best wishes, Christine.

  • By valerie, March 22, 2010 @ 6:52 am

    I agree with you paul when you say : ” It is possible to witness without judging…just watch yourself when you’re judging”.
    It’s a long work on itself and who asks for a lot of humility.
    For my part, it’s necessary to take advantage of every day, every moment and every person….. Everything is not perfect.
    Take the life such as it comes and to know how to benefit from it with the multiple meetings which we make.
    We must learn to be “here and now”.

    It’s an honor and a pleasure for me to share your thoughts paul.
    Through your thoughts I can see that you are a full man of sagess…..we are lucky !
    Take care of you and take time for you too.
    Have a beautiful week
    love from france

  • By hilly, March 22, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

    I don’t know about seeing ghosts but my brain gets ‘haunted’ by old songs…and I blame Paul for the fact that I’ve been humming a very old hit : ‘Is you is or is you ain’t my baby’ for the past two days!

  • By sknash, March 22, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

    I believe you can seem immediate relatives who have died, I am living proof. My grandmother and my uncle both appeared to me after their deaths and a good friend appeared. My grandmother’s death was devastating to me and I had a hard time dealing with it, the worse being I never told her good bye. She appeared shortly after she died, sitting on my bed telling me she was fine, she was with my grandmother and to not be so sad. My uncle, who had been ill and again, I never got a chance to say good bye to appeared several years after his death. My good friend was killed in a car accident and again, did not say good bye, appeared telling me he was fine and was glad we were friends and to not cry any more for him. I have often wondered what the common factor was in that those three appeared and yet others have not and come to the conclusion, they were the most devastating and the fact that I never told them good bye. I do believe in angels and many is the time I have been pulled up by them. I was never afraid, but grateful to have had the opportunity to see them again, if only briefly.

  • By sknash, March 22, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

    Sorry, its late and my eyes are not focusing well, I mean to say my grandmother was with my grandfather. Sorry!!

  • By Sue, March 23, 2010 @ 6:37 am

    This is not a Christian Nation. There is nothing in the Constitution which mentions Christianity in any way, shape or form. It is a nation through its amendment citing free speech and the illegality of the government to hold in higher and governmental esteem one particular religion over another particular religion does NOT make a Christian nation make. The practice of any particular religion, or none at all, is what this nation is founded on. Religion is akin to a construct–a simple box–in which the particular tenets of each citizen’s particular religion is kept. It does not rule our nation, nor does our nation rule us. And to say that the Native Americans, say, or the Buddhists, or Islam, or any other religion, or lack thereof, would make this nation less than it is is, pardon my french, a crock. It is the system of government and not the religion which makes this nation the way it is. Religion has precious little to do with it except in the fact that all religions, or none, are freely welcomed here. True melting pot indeed.


  • By Softly, March 23, 2010 @ 7:12 am

    Like it or not all that came and founded the US were Christians in what ever shape or form, with a long standing Christian tradition. Even the pagans can’t escape that with ease, said the pagan who’s trying to escape the deeply ingrained Christian heritage.
    Don’t kid your self in thinking any religion or other way of thinking or feeling is welcome. The Constitution was written by men (no woman) Christian men (no Buddhist or pagan man)
    The system when founded was Christian, sorry just the way it is. Fight it all you like, but history will prove you wrong.
    Why do you think the pilgrim father went over there in the first place….to learn from another culture or to convert?
    Just look at the way Native Americans were treated and still are treated, look at the way we went about buying and selling people and thought nothing of it but our define (Christian) right. Even now when you are gay you have got a serious problem according to Christians and even from the non religious folk you can expect a funny look. Even when you don’t belief in God, don’t go to church, you live in a society that has got its roots in Christianity, not in Buddhism or any other way of thinking.
    The whole Christian way of dealing with the world has nothing to do with religion anymore; it is almost in our DNA.

  • By Christine, March 23, 2010 @ 7:35 am

    Hi Sknash,
    I’m sorry to hear about the loss you have gone through in your life. Life can seem so unfair can’t it? I really do understand your comments.
    It must have been a comfort to you to see your loved ones again. Not to be afraid is great!.
    I sometimes wish I could see my loved ones again, but I am too much of a scare-dy cat!.(Yes, I think I did spell that wrong lol)
    Not having the chance to say ‘goodbye’ can be hard to cope with. Then again I tend to think that our loved ones would know just how much they were loved!. I wish you well Susan.
    Best wishes, Christine.

  • By Sue, March 23, 2010 @ 8:33 am

    Christianity is certainly not in my DNA. I didn’t even think there was such a thing until my parents had to teach it to me = hence not in my DNA like my gender or hair color. Catholics baptize newborn infants into the church without any say. Some protestant sects are called to god. Jews are jews by race and religion (many of them). Each religious sect thinks that it is the only way to ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’. Christians came to America to escape the torture of their Country’s church. And what did they do upon landing there and forming communities? The exact same thing that the Church of England did to them. America is a secular nation, no manner how many Christians inhabit it. Numbers do not absolute truths make. Look at the Civil War. Look at Womens’ Sufferage, look at the civil rights acts, look at any of it. According to the Chistian bible, all of these things are illegal. But they’re not. Why? Because we have a secular and not a Christian government. Where the minor have as much right to speak as the majority. We don’t get tossed into jail if we refuse to recite the “under God” part of the pledge. A blasphemy in many other countries that consider themselves this or this religion. That phrase was added relatively new anyway, to “prove” to those “godles commies” that we had “GOD” on our side. It was written without god in it at all. One would think that, in a Christian nation, that would have been the first thing put in to the pledge. It wasn’t. Same with in “god we trust” on our money.

    In sum, we are a secular nation who happens to be populated with Christians, NOT a Christian nation who happens to be populated with Christians. Gay marriage and atheism are just about the two last bastions that Christians in this nation can rally around to fight against it, and since there are far more than them than there are of us, the fight will be an uphill, years long one. But in the end, it will win. Because of who we are. A secular nation for whom all are equal, rich,poor, gay, straight, theist, atheist. If you haven’t already, read all of what our Founding Fathers said about the place of religion in government. It’s quite an eye opener for those who insist that this is a Christian nation and a Christian nation only.


  • By Sammy, March 23, 2010 @ 10:25 am

    Christine, I thought of writing this after reading a previous post of yours about ‘karma’.I totally get you!

    It is not fair when you think of the fact that you are being punished for something you may have done in your past life/lives that you have no memory of. It is never fair to tell a family that their child died because of his/her past sins or that the parents have to suffer because for whatever sins they committed some-life ago. Of course there is no comfort in that. But how can one explain why one HAD to undergo such pain when they have NOT done anything to deserve it in THIS life? Only logical explanation I could see is that something must have happened sometime ago. We just cannot remember because when we ‘crossover’ to another life our memories get lost.

    I have heard stories where some children at a certain age start to talk about their past lives but what I have noticed in all those stories is that their deaths in their past lives were somewhat traumatic or sudden or ‘extreme’ or in other words, not caused by natural events. But again if everyone that had an unnatural death could remember their past lives when reborn we would have heard thousands or millions of such stories. I have only heard or read a handful of such ‘reincarnation’ stories; have never experienced or seen a child like that and therefore cannot comment on the validity of those stories. My mother on the other hand has witnessed such an event regarding a child of her best friend… that’s a story for another time..

    Well.. Back to what I was talking about earlier.. We are born with some ‘baggage’ or call it ‘karma’, which could be good and/or bad. However, not everything in our life has already been decided by our past deeds. We are responsible for our choices we make every day. Buddhism teaches that “We are the heirs of our own actions”. We can change our ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’ by the decisions we make and the paths we take.

    In Buddhist teachings there are three main classifications of karma depending on their (1)‘function’ (2) ‘priority ‘ (2) and ‘time which it comes to effect’ in one’s life. Ahhhh… I don’t want to go into details but that offer an explanation as to why, when and how karma affects one’s life. Christine, if you would like to read more on this I found this article that summarizes ‘Karma’

    Christine, I have had a very tough childhood and reading your past posts I too have had similar experiences. Understanding about ‘karma’ has helped me immensely to be where I am today. Hope this article would be some help. Now this is when I feel how good it is to have a real conversation face to face :-)
    Writing what you feel just the way you feel is never easy!

  • By sknash, March 23, 2010 @ 11:43 am

    Thanks Christine for your kind words. I consider myself very fortunate to have been blessed with such people in my life and their memory still so strong, that nothing will make it fade. And thanks again Paul for sharing yourself with all of us. It is appreciated more than words can say.

  • By , March 23, 2010 @ 11:47 am

    Hi Paul,
    It’s funny that I “just happened” to come across your blogs Today, because I have been struggling with some of the very things you have been talking about here, and find your explanations very interesting. I am just starting on my journey of spirituality “dipping my toes in” so to speak, and just want to say that I will continue to pop in and out to see what you have to say, as I have enjoyed it.

  • By hilly, March 23, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    Sue I couldn’t agree more!

    Driving home before I saw your latest comment I was listening to the Eagles ‘Long Road out of Eden’ Album. There’s a track that goes like this
    “And we pray to our lord, who we know is American, …he supports us in war, he presides over football games.” A lovely pastiche of ‘god’s own country’.

    Funny….a century or more ago, it was the Brits who thought they had exclusive rights on “God”…try Blake’s “Jerusalem”.

  • By Sammy, March 23, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

    Mmm… are we not supposed to post any links to other articles in our posts?

  • By Sammy, March 23, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

    Couldn’t quite finish the previous- I had a link to an article about karma in my previous post- I just thought Christine would like to read it… but I think I shouldn’t have posted the link because that post of mine never appeared here… :-(

  • By Christine, March 23, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    Hi Sammy,
    Thank you anyway Sammy, nice of you to think of me! I’m busy reading different articles on the internet about Buddhism. I know some but not as much as I would like!. Hopefully my local library will be of some help too. Best wishes Christine.

  • By PamT, March 23, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    Hi Christine

    I don’t know where you’re located, but if you do want to find out more about Buddhism (and meditational practice), you might want to check out your nearest Buddhist Centre. A couple of years ago, I attended some introductory courses (with the Western Buddhist Order) which I found excellent. I didn’t at any point feel pressured to proceed further than I felt comfortable – they seemed a very pleasant group of open, friendly people and sometimes it’s easier to be an environment where you can ask questions. If you only want to dip the tiniest portion of your toe in the water, I believe many centres offer meditation drop-in sessions. Anyway, just a thought. BTW, I’m not a member of the above, so am not on any kind of recruitment drive! ;-)


  • By Christine, March 23, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

    Hi PamT,
    Thank you, I appreciate your kindness in letting me know. I’m sure if I research it on the internet there is bound to be some where local.
    Sorry everyone, I seem to have gone off topic!
    Best wishes, Christine.

  • By Birgit, March 24, 2010 @ 2:16 am

    Oh dear!
    This seems to have gone fantastically off topic.

    I have just been on my first for-ever-and-ever-long-distance-run of the year and to escape boredom I have thought more about witnessing without judging.

    I guess if you are meditating at an advanced level, you can reach this point at some stage, because you can exercise total control over your brain. On a day-to-day basis though, our brain is quite out of control and constantly goes “off topic” (so to speak) which is the natural process of thinking.

    However, I still believe that uncontrolled (natural) perception or cognition is causally linked to judgement or the forming of an opinion.

  • By Terri, March 24, 2010 @ 6:57 am

    Hi Paul, I’ve been away from the computer for a few days and now so much to read and contemplate. I’m most interested in the judging comments. I never thought that just observing, watching, meeting someone for the first time, listening to, would cause you to judge. I know your mind forms an opinion as to what you see, hear but I never thought of it as judgement in the true meaning of the word. I have been told more than once by friends, co-workers that I was the most ‘non-judgemental’ person they have met and that was part of my appeal. Now reading these posts my brain is working overtime again wondering about the differences in the meanings, how words are preceived. Love and Happiness, Terri

  • By hilly, March 24, 2010 @ 9:17 am

    Birgit said: “On a day-to-day basis though, our brain is quite out of control and constantly goes “off topic” (so to speak) which is the natural process of thinking.”

    Lateral thinking – thinking out of the frame…trouble is my mind sees a pretty new thought floating by like a butterfly and off it scampers.

    Terri said “I know your mind forms an opinion as to what you see, hear but I never thought of it as judgement in the true meaning of the word. I have been told more than once by friends, co-workers that I was the most ‘non-judgemental’ person they have met and that was part of my appeal. Now reading these posts my brain is working overtime again wondering about the differences in the meanings, how words are preceived.”
    TBH I don’t know if that last word was a typo but if it wasn’t….it is excellent. And if it was it shouldn’t have been. Our preconceptions are precieved as much as they are perceived.

    Ooops..there goes a butterfly.

    PS welcome back Terri :( )

  • By hilly, March 24, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    ooops….. welcome back :)

  • By Nadine, March 24, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

    ” LA MORT ”
    Pourquoi la vie ne commence t-elle pas justement par cette mort que nous craignons tous et continuer en marche arriere et finir avant la conception ! ( J’espere que vous me comprenez ) rajeunir au lieu de vieillir , ne pas venir au monde au lieu de mourrir , vivre sans la crainte de ” La mort ” tout le monde a peur de cette mort qui nous guette chaque jour ! ne pas avoir peur de perdre les êtres chers que nous aimons ne pas les voir vielllir . Notre vie serait plus sereine et plus douce !

    L’EGLISE :
    Je suis catholique je ne pratique pas je suis baptisée , j’ai fait mes communions ! je me suis mariée à l’église !
    Mais il ne faut rêver je crois en Dieu et en Jésus mais ils ne sont plus là ! pour moi ils étaient mais ne sont plus ! celà ne m’empêche pas de prier lorsque j’en ai besoin !
    Si Dieu et Jésus étaient ” présents ” Il n’y aurait pas de guerre ! pas d’injustice ! pas de haine ! pas de crime !Pas de catastrophe ! ils ne nous laisseraient pas nous detruire, nous entretuer ! je persevere je crois en eux ! qu’est devenue l’église ? j’ai vu dans certaine de nos églises des etals de vente , l’eglise n’est pas un commerce c’est la demeure de Dieu , pour ne pas l’oublier , pour prier devant la croix de Jésus mais pas pour marchander ! Jesus est mort sur la croix mais je ne crois pas que Dieu nous punisse en nous laissant sur cette terre pleine de haine !

  • By Nee, March 25, 2010 @ 6:16 am

    Paul, thanks for taking the time to clarify your message. I do get it.

    I’ve really enjoyed this blog and all the comments from everyone. It’s been great reading the different views, thank you all.

  • By Christine, March 25, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

    Hi Sammy,
    I don’t know how I managed to miss your comments a couple of days ago, sorry its taken me until now to reply (I think I’m ready for my yearly eye check lol).
    Your comments are very interesting on Buddhism, thank you for taking the time to explain it to me. Also thanks for the link. It’s always a question of me looking for answers in life! I always feel the need to try to work out everything, the why’s and how’s and if’s I really can drive myself nuts at times lol. Like I said before, its only when you face really tough situations in life that you begin to question everything. (At least that’s what happened to me).
    I have been told that I tend to over analyse things. But hey it keeps the brain ticking over.
    Best Wishes, Christine.

  • By Terri, March 25, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

    Hi Hilly, Thanks, but I haven’t been gone to long. I enjoy Paul’s writings and check in often. I don’t add my thoughts as often as I come hear to read. I’m much better at explaining myself in person then trying to in writing. I love one on one talks with walks or over tea (or a drink if they so chose). I enjoy the tea. Terri

  • By kgm, March 25, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

    I have never posted before, but I come here to read and think often. There is so much to consider in these blogs and postings from Paul and from everyone who comments. Helplessness and fear are very powerful subjects for me right now as I have recently lost my job and the outlook right now here in the Boston area for those of us in manufacturing is not good. I have come to realize that my self-image as a working person is my way of controlling my fear and now that it is gone I feel helpless. I need that job, that faith if you will to provide the structure in my life that keeps me from riding off the rails. I need to accept that I am not my job. It is not what defines me to those that know me. I need to reconnect with me so that what I do for a living doesn’t have so much power over my selfworth. It might be different if the position were a true vocation or a “calling” but it wasn’t. In the end it was just a job, a good one but just a job. I have a lot to think about and oh so very much to learn. kathymac

  • By carol leatherman, March 26, 2010 @ 7:23 am

    I understand what you are saying about when you write. I have been working on a book for years and each time I read it back I realize that I may have forgotten that the people reading this might not understand, because they do not know me. I have some special people in my life that remind me of things that should have put in the book that should have been put in so that people will know the pain that comes with.

  • By Sammy, March 26, 2010 @ 8:24 am

    Hey Christine…

    you didn’t miss it.. This is the post I was talking about earlier- The one with the link that didn’t get posted here. I noticed that it was at a ‘pending’ stage- So I think it got approved and got posted today but as the original date was the 23rd it showed up on 23rd-

    So your eyes are fine! :-)

  • By marly, March 27, 2010 @ 3:06 am

    Witnessing someone who’s close to you dying brings on so many different emotions/feelings: disbelief, denial ,anger, grief, desperation, compassion, hopelessness, helplessness, powerlessness, fear and confusion.
    In the face of so much pain and suffering I find myself constantly asking “WHY?” .
    My desperate and confused mind demands an explanation and tries to make sense of what I’m witnessing while ,at the same time, I’m so aware, so very much aware of what’s actually happening right in front of my eyes…..nature is taking it’s course and there’s no way anyone can prevent this from happening.
    We, our mutual friends and I use words like: unfair, cruel, inhumane……in an vain attempt to describe our helplessness at the terrible sight of your struggle to breath(or is it just your system that is instinctively trying to survive against all the odds?).
    We’ve been told that you’re not suffering ,you’re under a deep sedation of morphine and sleeping drugs in order to prevent you from feeling the excruciating pains that has been haunting you for the last couple of months.
    We sit at your bedside for what afterwards felt like hours listening to your labored breathing pattern.
    Your head bold after the chemo that led to total kidney failure ,your face swollen and pale…..You look so completely different since the last time I saw you just three weeks ago.
    You look so exhausted and small, it’s hard to believe that only a couple of weeks ago you were talking about your hopes for the near future, always so strong willed and optimistic.
    I love you but all I want to do right now is to flight from this room to escape the sound of your breathing, to escape the sight of you lying there, dying.
    I’ve never before witnessed someone dying and it horrifies me completely.
    I realize that up ‘till now I’ve had a sort of idealized, naive image of dying probably due to romantic novels and Hollywood films.
    I guess I used to believe that people near death look calm and serene so It comes as an enormous shock to discover that it can be like this, a terrible struggle.
    Looking at our mutual friends I see my own despair and fear mirrored in their eyes.
    I don’t know if you’re still able to hear me but before I leave your room I finally manage to stand close to your bedside. I finally speak the words, that have been inside of my head while I sat there watching you, out loud;”It’s okay, sweetie…..go on, let go, it’s okay……” it almost sounds as if I’m begging her to die, to be honest, I guess I am.
    My dear friend finally died last Wednesday the 24th of march.

    At home I’m reading the entries on the “Shared thoughts” blog about religion, ghosts, judging, etc.
    For the past few weeks I felt too tired and confused to join in.
    How to make use of Paul’s life lessons? Where does it all fit in right now?
    “We are not our feelings…”
    Indeed, my mind is desperately trying to make sense of all this and trying to find control.
    I find myself saying:”Now I’m positively sure there’s no god!”which isn’t making any sense because I stopped believing in an almighty “God” years ago.
    In a way it maybe would be easier if I could find comfort in some sort of religion…..
    A blogger wrote that we make the choice to grief.
    I’m not really sure whether it’s a matter of choice or simply a matter of an instinctive reaction.
    But then again, there are religious people who choose to celebrate the death of a beloved one because they believe he/she has moved on to a better place.
    I grief my friend but at the same time I feel relief(a conscious choice?), she’s no longer in pain, she’s is freed.
    At the same time I’m trying to accept that all that I’ve been witnessing for the last couple of months is part of life, part of our human existence, nothing more, nothing less.
    It’s a terrifying thought that one day, sooner or later, I might suffer and die the way my friend did.
    Me, who’s always seeking for control, must face the fact that in the end there’s no control at all.
    I’ve witnessed it.
    My mind tries to push these thoughts away but I won’t let it… least not for the time being.

    My fear of suffering and death is immense but I can’t let this overrule the rest of my life.
    I want to believe so dearly that we truly are part of something that never dies.
    But is this my mind “speaking” just trying to put my fear at ease?
    It’s very hard to dig through all the rules, concepts, values, beliefs, etc. that I’ve been taught and raised with(conditioned) to get to the bottom of what life is really about.
    I sometimes (instinctively?) sense that beneath all the barriers we’ve built there is an universal truth to be rediscovered.
    Am I making any sense?
    Maybe I’m still too confused so forgive me if I’m confusing you lot too!

    Take care,

  • By Sarah Levy, March 27, 2010 @ 4:21 am

    I am so sorry to hear that your friend suffered so much. It must have been heartbreaking to see her like that. I really wish that I could offer some words of wisdom that would make everything alright for you, but I can’t. However, if you ever feel that you want someone who will listen to you, please feel free to contact me. I don’t know the answers to the questions you have raised but I do know that, sometimes, having someone to talk to, who isn’t connected to the person you are grieving for, can be helpful. I’ll understand if you feel you don’t want to do that, but the offer is always there.

    Sarah xx

  • By Christine, March 27, 2010 @ 5:30 am

    Hi Marly,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. The feelings/emotions that you describe are totally understandable. I have lost loved ones to a long illness, and know the pain and frustration of not being able to help/prevent their suffering, it is natural I think, to want to just get away from it all at times as we as caring humans hate to see another suffering; especially when we can do nothing. I’m sure you were a great support to your friend. When I was going through grief a counsellor once told me to go easy on myself, give yourself time to grieve, there are so many different emotions to work through. Trying to make sense of it all is a natural reaction to loss, I’m sure if you give yourself time and go easy on yourself you will get through this awful time in your life. Take good care of yourself. Best wishes Christine.

  • By PamT, March 27, 2010 @ 8:01 am

    Dear Marly

    Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of your close friend. Being there for the struggles and suffering of loved ones as they approach and encounter death can be the most harrowing, shocking and helpless experience. Grieve for your friend in a way that is right for you and try to take some comfort from the fact that you were there for her. I’m sure you were a very good friend.

    I can completely relate to your painful realisation of utter powerlessness together with your fear and dilemma concerning our ultimate fate. Perhaps our ‘instincts’ try to make themselves known for good reason?

    Wishing you peace of mind.


  • By hilly, March 27, 2010 @ 9:27 am

    Dear Marly
    You expressed that so beautifully; it was heartfelt in every sense of the word. how could anyone not sense the feelings that your heart expressed here?
    I reach out my hand through this strange virtual room we are in, and hope you can feel it touch your shoulder in a gesture of comfort.

    Your words touched my heart. If there is a ‘greater being’ up there – s/he has a lot to learn from mere mortals like you.

  • By marly, March 27, 2010 @ 11:24 am

    Dear Christine,Pam and Hilly,
    Thank you so much for your kind words and understanding.
    Hilly,that virtual hand on my shoulder is very comforting,thank you!

    Take care,

  • By Rachelle, March 27, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    Hi Marly

    I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend. I send my sincerest condolences.

    Take care, Rach

  • By xtexan86, March 27, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

    Hey Marly, so sorry to hear about your loss. Several years ago, a woman I’d never met in person, only on the internet, died about one week after giving birth to her daughter. Both of us had belonged to an online infertility group and along with many others, had shared our heartbreaks, triumphs and, “well, maybe next month’s”.

    Her name was Heather, and she was probably the most giving, loving person I’ve ever ‘met’.

    Unfortunately, just after seeing her miracle ‘Tara’, she developed DIC and over the course of the next few days, went through some 400 units of blood. I’m sure the actual figure was higher, I just don’t remember it. Her story made the national news, but it didn’t help her extended internet family grieve any easier. Her parents were actually surprised to learn, after her death, just how many people Heather had been there for, always with a helping cyber hand and words that were amazingly beautiful and sincere. Myself and others had saved those emails from her and gladly gave her parents copies.

    When she died, Sarah MacLaughlin’s song ‘I Will Remember You’ had just recently come out. Now, everytime I hear it, I’m reminded of Heather.

    We were pretty close, as we both shared the same health issues that made it hard for us to try and have children. I did get to meet her husband and that beautiful baby, though.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes, it hurts for a while, but then you remember more of the good than the bad. I’ve always thought of her up in Heaven, taking care of the little ones who’s times came too quick, and in a better place to watch over her own little girl.

    Let your heart grieve, but know that it will heal again. Peace. xt

  • By marly, March 28, 2010 @ 10:00 am

    Dear Rachelle and Xt,

    Both of you thank you for your condolences and kindness.
    I’m really touched beyond words!

    Such a sad story,xt……
    Life often seems so unfair to us,fragile mortals,doesn’t it?
    I’m not going to try to make sense of what happened.Been there,done that.
    For the time being I’ll just grief the loss of my friend and treasure all my memories of her.
    She’ll always remain part of my life, nothing can change that.
    In time,I’m sure the hurt will pass.

    Take care,

  • By Terri, March 28, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

    Hello Marly, I can really feel your sadness reading your words. During a similar time in my life I told a friend I didn’t think I could lift myself up one more time. She said ‘it’s not when it’s that one day you do’. I think of that often when I’m tested again. Take time and take care of you. Terri

  • By sknash, March 28, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

    Marly, Please accept my prayers and condolences on the loss of your friend. Nothing I can say will ease your pain, but in time, it will not be as sharp. I know, I’ve been there a year ago. though we have not met, this thing called internet has brought us together. Time will make the whole in your heart smaller and less painful, but her beautiful memories will live on with you forever and no one can take them away. Take care of you. Love and prayers!! Susan

  • By Rachelle, March 29, 2010 @ 6:15 am

    Hi Pam

    Your words were so very lovely. Thank you for sharing them.

    Happy Monday Rach :)

  • By Sammy, March 29, 2010 @ 9:08 am

    Dear Marly,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Right now you may feel that the pain will never go away. With time you will learn to live with the loss you feel and you will be able to tolerate that pain better than today.

    No one can take away the happy memories you two had together and nothing will ever take away the friendship you shared with each other. That special place she had for you in her heart and what you have in your heart will live forever. She will always be with you.


  • By fee, March 30, 2010 @ 4:59 am

    Marly, so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Your post was very moving and it is very hard when that happens. I can’t really say any more than what the others have already said and said so well.
    Sending you a large cyber(((HUG))))of comfort.

    I don’t care what anyone says we all need a hug at times.

  • By marly, March 30, 2010 @ 10:25 am

    Dear Terri, Sknash, Pam, Rachelle, Sammy and Fee,

    Thank you so much for all your supportive and heartfelt reactions.
    Believe me, it means a lot to me!

    ” I’ll shed my tears for the loss of you
    The memories I treasure, I’ll find comfort in
    And that is what will pull me through.
    Your soul is free and your light shines on
    The pain I bear will soon turn into song”

    Lovely words,Pam.
    Indeed,she’s freed and yes,her light will continue to shine on!


  • By marly, March 31, 2010 @ 4:28 am

    Dear Pam,
    To actually acknowledge that suffering, loss, pain and grief are just as much part of our lives as happiness, contentment and health for instance are, is often hard to accept, isn’t it?
    I guess it’s the absolute lack of control in these matters that terrifies me the most.

    I’ve just been reading your last comment about the loss of your friend.
    My first reaction was to find comforting words in order to show you my support.
    I feel for you and your feelings of remorse, Pam.
    I could tell you there’s no need to feel guilty or remorseful, you simply couldn’t be there when life became unbearable for your friend.
    But such an answer is too simple, too cheap, isn’t it?
    I can’t make the pain and neither the feelings of guilt and remorse go away for you.
    It’s your inner strength, Pam that empowers you to deal with these painful feelings.

    Suicides are often so very hard to understand for the ones who are left behind.
    When someone suffers and dies of cancer it’s hard enough to deal with such a loss but there’s also the comfort of knowing that their suffering is over.
    When someone decides to end his/her life we are left behind with feelings like failure, remorse and above all the torture of asking yourself time and time again: “Could I’ve prevented him/her from doing this?” and “WHY???? Did he/she do it?”
    Needless to say that these questions will remain unanswered.
    Again, acceptance seems to be the only way to deal with these matters.
    That’s not easy, I know.

    I agree, true friendship is a precious gift.
    I‘ve become so much more aware of that during the past few years!
    Just like my friend left me with a heritage of precious memories your friend left hers with you.
    Her presence in your live is everlasting, no one can take that away from you!
    (That’s been my very own mantra for the past week, anyway).
    Your friend Marcia has been fortunate to have you in her life, Pam!
    I don’t know you personally but I sense you to be a very warm and giving woman.
    Don’t forget to find compassion for yourself too, though!

    like some guy on this blog continues to emphasize, in the end, we got a choice.
    Sometimes, when I dare to look into my mirror, I see my sarcastic and bitter side trying to take over and I know it eventually will…. if I let it.
    It’s a frightening thought and I must work hard to escape that fate(I got a choice, don’t I?!).
    This “shared thoughts” blog might be of some help to me.
    As a matter of fact, I know it is.

    Take real good care of yourself, Pam
    Thinking of you too!

  • By Christine, March 31, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

    Hi Pam, You are so right, life is too short and true friendships are rare.
    Speaking from personal experience I know the guilt felt when you lose a loved one to suicide.Its an on going battle to stay focused on the ‘now’ when you feel so much guilt and pain. There are just so many unanswered questions, it can drive you mad trying to figure it all out. (Believe me I’ve tried).
    Problem is the one person who could give us the why’s? is gone. Take care, Christine.

  • By Nee, March 31, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    Christine, in most cases, the why is because the person lost the battle to stay in the ‘now.’ When the focus becomes the guilt and pain it eventually becomes unbearable and the only person who can change things is the person suffering. We each have the choice on what to focus on and sometimes it has to be a minute to minute choice. I was in that place where couldn’t stop my mind from focusing on the pain and I became so desperate would have done whatever it took to stop it. I didn’t want to die and I really didn’t want to hurt my loved ones by causing them guilt or pain but if I had to go there I would have. One night, loaded on valium, weed and alcohol (remember desperate) I found myself just watching everything and everyone around me without thinking or feeling anything. It was nice and peaceful. So I started trying to find that place without mind altering substances. It became my safe haven and I went there as often as I needed, still do.

    Please believe that your friend never wanted you to feel pain and guilt. S/he just didn’t find “that place without judging” but would like you to find it.

  • By Christine, April 1, 2010 @ 7:10 am

    Hi Nee,
    I understand your point of view. I know in my heart that he did not and actually could not have realised the amount of pain he would leave behind. At that time he was trying to ‘get away’ from whatever was hurting him. Had he been able to think it through logically he would have known how much he was/is loved. I do try to be positive but we are human and there will be days when the sadness takes over.
    I guess we all have our own ways of dealing with bad days. Best wishes Christine.

  • By Christine, April 1, 2010 @ 7:37 am

    Hi Pam, Your words are so understanding. I agree with you a lot is said and written about those who have committed suicide. But the bottom line is we have not been in their heads, we may have an idea of another’s problems but to reach that desperate point is quite heartbreaking.
    If there is anything to learn by it, I often tell my friends and my daughter’s friends to please come and talk to me if they need someone. I wish my son had done that maybe things might have been so different.
    Best Wishes, Christine.

  • By Christine, April 1, 2010 @ 7:51 am

    Hi Pam, Lovely words!
    On a lighter note can I wish you all a Happy Easter! Try not to eat too much chocolate! I know there is a Jewish holiday soon so Paul I hope you enjoy! Sorry I can’t think at this moment the name……. terrible eh? With love as always Christine xx

  • By Christine, April 1, 2010 @ 7:58 am

    Hey Paul,
    I just googled it, Passover (pesach) Hope you have a great time.
    Love Christine xx

  • By Sarah Levy, April 1, 2010 @ 8:05 am

    Hi Christine,
    I so agree with your comments:
    ‘But the bottom line is we have not been in their heads, we may have an idea of another’s problems but to reach that desperate point is quite heartbreaking.’
    As someone who has suffered many times from clinical depression, I can honestly say that until people have experienced it, they cannot fully understand how much it messes with the brain. Almost as soon as you have a positive thought come into your head, along comes a negative one to cancel it out. Clinical depression, (I don’t know if this is what your friend had), is an illness. It takes away any happiness the sufferer once had. Everything looks bleak, even if it’s not. The illness isn’t about feeling a ‘little bit down’, it’s about feeling as if life has no point. You feel that you don’t fit in anywhere. You feel totally alone and you convince yourself that you will never get better and that those around you would be better off without you. I’m lucky. I found a medication that keeps me balanced and well. I’ve not suffered with depression for many years but the thought of it fills me with dread. Paul mentioned in his blog that we often refer to heaven and hell and we have ideas about what they are like. For me, depression is hell on earth.

    I’m so sorry that several of you have lost loved ones to depression. Please don’t blame yourselves for not being able to stop it. The thoughts that go on in a depressed person’s mind are very powerful. It can often be impossible to prevent a person from ending thier own life once they have taken the decision to do so.


  • By Christine, April 1, 2010 @ 8:23 am

    Hi Sarah, I do understand what you are saying, I am so pleased that you are now feeling better.
    I too have suffered from depression on and off for years. Things kind of simmer for a while and then slowly if you can’t catch yourself in time you start to slip down the slippery slope of depression. It is horrible but then you start to climb back up that hill and the view is wonderful!.
    We all have our own ways of coping with life. One thing I can say is that being a fan of PMG has been such a positive influence. Paul has picked me up more times than I can count, when things in your life get tough we all need someone or something that makes us feel better. I have heard it said before that once the decision has been made to end a life there is very little to stop it, I guess looking on the positive side we will always at least want to help/do something to try to prevent it. I hope you have a happy Easter. Best wishes, Christine.

  • By Sarah Levy, April 1, 2010 @ 8:37 am

    Hi Christine,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I agree with you. When you get back up to the top of the hill, it is an incredible feeling. I’m sorry that you have also suffered with this terrible illness.

    Yes, wanting to help others when they are in need is admirable and is something we should try to do. However, I feel very sad when people beat themselves up about the fact they were not able to stop someone from taking their own life. I think it’s natural to feel that way but in all honesty, once a depressed person has made the decision to end things, it’s likely that they will go through with it no matter what. Hopefully, they will get medical help before that happens.

    Happy Easter to you too. :-)

  • By Nee, April 1, 2010 @ 9:14 am

    I guess I worded my post poorly, sorry for that! My daddy was the only stability I had in this world and he died when I was 16. My world was shattered and I was not prepared for dealing with that. Two years later I was still grieving him when I got pregnant. I had a new reason for living. Then I lost him. I could not handle it. I planned to commit suicide on my 19th birthday. I gave no warning signals – I did not want any help! Someone accidentally prevented it. The next day was Thanksgiving and I decided not to kill myself because it would destroy my mama. For 3 years I kept reminding myself not to do that to her. Then she died. After all the relatives left town I had the freedom to do it. I knew I needed help but I didn’t want to be judged/labeled. I didn’t want to feel the pain. I took one of my mom’s valiums with some wine and called 3 friends – no one wanted to talk. I took 2 more valium with more wine and went to get the gun. I couldn’t find it anywhere in the house. I took more valium, finished off the wine and called 3 more friends who didn’t want to talk. While I was cutting my wrist I calmed down enough for the valium to kick in and I passed out. A few hours later the phone started ringing. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and refused to answer. So my friend sent her sister over. I knew if I didn’t answer the door she would call 911 and I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I let her treat my wrist and watched as she and my friend ‘suicide proofed’ my house. I was too loaded to stop them but told them exactly how mad I was about that and about them keeping me awake. A couple hours later I was still flying high from too much valium and no sleep when 2 more friends showed up for ‘suicide watch’ with booze and weed. And that’s where I was when I found that place to go to (12 hours after I had tried to kill myself).

    I’m not judging anyone on how they grieve. I don’t hold anything against any of the people I knew who committed suicide. I’ve been there, I know! I know there is a choice! The cause of our grief will never change – but we can change how we react to it. We can decide to put limits on how far we will let our pain take us. We can choose to honor our loved ones by living the way they would want us to instead of beating ourselves up for something we had no control over.

  • By Christine, April 1, 2010 @ 9:58 am

    Hi Nee, No honestly your words were fine. I’m not too sure why you apologized. I’m quite confused lol. Seriously though if my comments upset you in anyway I apologize to you! I’m sorry you have had such a tough time. Best wishes Christine :)

  • By Christine, April 1, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

    Hi Pam, Your words are so heartfelt. I truly understand how you feel. It doesn’t sound stupid to say it will never leave you. We can work on our feelings, we can try to be more positive, but at the end of the day that person we have lost is just that, a huge loss, that we will always miss and yearn for.
    Its hard to try to be so positive when there is a part of us that never seems to mend. I’m sorry that you have felt such pain, believe me I do know what you mean. I think you are so right that the pain and grief is not about holding onto it, its more that it does change us. I know I am not the same person I was before I lost my son. My daughter has changed too it has to have an effect on your life somehow.
    Both you and Paul seem like very positive people. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for posting Paul’s poem again.
    Best wishes Christine.

  • By Christine, April 1, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

    Hi Pam, Oh just another thought, you are so right about the things in life that can make all the difference.
    It’s the little things in life that mean the most. A ‘hello’ can brighten up your day, or sometimes a neighbour will knock just to ask how you are because they haven’t seen you about for a bit. If everyone could just be that little more thoughtful to other’s this world would be such a happier place. Best wishes, Christine.

  • By marly, April 2, 2010 @ 7:55 am

    Dear Pam,

    You wrote:“There is always such a stigma labeled on people when they are unable to get over their grief..and it doesn’t matter what that grief is.”
    I truly hope that you’re not under the impression that I was trying to label you as someone who can’t deal with her grief when I was stating that “ we all have a choice” .
    Believe me, while my brain is able to accept the fact that we have a choice,right now my emotions are telling me an entirely different thing.
    Sure, in spite of all the suffering and pain I’ve been witnessing for the past 2.5 years it also has been a learning experience and a tool for empowerment but I would much rather have my friend still alive, healthy and well than having all these “benefits” from her illness and death!
    I refuse to believe that bad things happen for a reason.
    In school I was being taught that God gives us never more than we can handle, that suffering and grief are there for a reason…..I’ve stopped believing this a long time ago.

    Grief changes our lives, that’s a fact we can’t deny….
    The only way to escape grief is to stop loving one another but that’s not really an option, is it?
    Without love we stop being alive and we die inwardly.
    Grief, on the other hand, is also very capable of destroying us if we don’t manage to find a way to deal with it. Mind you, I’m not saying that we should stop grieving…. but we can try to integrate it within our lives and live on, therein lies our choice, I think……I hope…
    But we must also face the fact that sometimes grief, despair or severe physical pain becomes so overpowering that to some of us there only seems one choice left……suicide.
    When I try to imagine how desperate and alone these people must have felt I feel like crying.
    I would never judge suicide as an easy way out, on the contrary….
    It’s a terrifying fact that we can’t save our dear and beloved ones from al the hardships of live, isn’t it?

    “And all too often I think, we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. It really does only take a moment to make a difference…”

    I never fully realized this to be so important and true until a couple of weeks ago while visiting my friend in hospital. She was never a “touchy feely” kind of person before but lying there in that small, private room she admitted to me that every time a kind and caring nurse gave her a gentle pat on her arm or leg, or just gave her a genuine smile, she felt moved beyond tears….
    Makes you wonder why such simple acts of human compassion and kindness are so rare, especially in a place(hospital) where people often feel so lonely and scared…..

    You’re so right, Pam, we do underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a listening ear, etc.
    Thanks for reminding me/us!
    Grief is part of live but we can help each other by showing that we do care.


  • By hilly, April 2, 2010 @ 8:37 am

    I think that the most important thing about grief and grieving is how each individual approaches it.
    Some religions (Judaism is the obvious example to me) have a ‘marked’ period if mourning (Sitting Shiva); others have a ‘deadline’ (ooops, blame the Easter pun bunny for that) for burial/incineration (again I’m thinking of Judaism; Islam and Hinduism here). these give a time for grieving publicly.

    But private grief is harder to delineate. Each has to deal with it in their own way. And to be able to say out loud ‘this is how I feel and this is how I react’ is an individual thing.

    Our world seems to get off on vicarious emotions – people who have never seen or heard of and probably wouldn’t give a ticker’s cuss about the deceased (especially a murdered child) turn out in their hundreds for the funeral march. This came to a hilarious climax when Diana Spencer’s hearse (Ok so some of you call her Princess Diana) had to stop so that the driver could remove the bunches of flowers being thrown at it by the vicarious mourners (all hoping for their five second TV appearance – ‘hello…it’s me …I’m on the telly’).
    In the same way the moment something happens the ‘psychologists’ rush in (fools rush in?) to explain to the victims or the bystanders how they should be feeling. In some cases they end up making people feel guilty because they aren’t wailing in public!

    Mourn in your own way. Grieve in your own way. Have the encourage to say ‘I’m crying because…’

    But most of all accept grief. understand

    As Marly says 'grief is a part of our lives' we all have out ways of dealing with it. But I fear that those participants in the vicarious outpourings will find that when they have a true reason to grieve the 'little boy who cried wolf' syndrome will make it hard for them to understand their real needs. They will be unable to grieve …and the pain will always be there.

  • By mechelle, April 2, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

    “The constant is ‘change,’ and we swing like a pendulum from heaven to hell, back and forth and back again; from our experience of being part of something that never dies, to our mind’s obsession with finding some control, some ‘understanding,’ some way to know and in ‘knowing,’ maintain the illusion of power over our existence.”

    We are in that we can see that we are.”
    I agree and feel that. I acknowledge our limited control; I recognize, feel that pendulum. To some extent we all do.
    Help! My partner is in chronic pain and is about to get surgery which should alleviate some of that pain. But he is afraid and angry. He can not see who he is right now.
    And who am I? I’m trying to be supportive, and forgiving. Tonight I triggered him in some big way that I don’t understand. Of course there is a lot to be afraid of but what can we do but face and acknowledge our fears?
    I am a nurturing, accepting woman. Is that too much in the face of mortal fear?
    I’ll be here for him after the surgery comes what may. Why is that not enough? Thanks/help-

  • By mechelle, April 2, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

    When Paul wrote”
    In our struggle and

    Compassion for others in theirs.


    In this moment together

    In our common darkness.

    Hold hands…

    Hold hearts…

    And gently…earnestly

    Wish with all our souls

    For the light.

    For it is here.

    Within each and every one of us.


    These words feed and steel my resolve- to be gentle and earnest and forgiving in the face of anger and fear. But I feel like the beach cliff that is worn away by the changing tides, by the violence of the waves.
    Paul- I feel the might of the light fading, sure sand shifting precipitously beneath me.
    I search for the gentle, generous compassion of this darkness.So far it’s lonely, cold and dark.

  • By marly, April 3, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    Dear Mechelle,

    You are doing the best you can do under very difficult circumstances.
    If someone, like your partner right now, feels angry and afraid, it’s not always easy to help such a person.
    Living with chronic pain means having to deal with a dysfunctional body on a daily basis.
    This causes a sense of an absolute lack of control(of not being able to stop the body from hurting).
    One often lashes out at the ones who are the closest to them (the ones they love the most)…..and afterwards most of the time they feel deeply ashamed about their behavior.
    This behavior doesn’t only takes a high toll on one’s own stamina but particular on the ones close to the person who’s suffering chronic pain.
    With anger and fear we build concrete walls in order to shield ourselves from that almost unbearable feeling of an utter lack of control.
    It’s a very lonely place to be in……
    Pain often alienates you from the world around you.

    Mechelle, I can tell that you’re trying very hard to help your partner while he seemingly isn’t responding to the love and support you’re offering him.
    I sense your very own helplessness in this difficult situation and your loneliness and desperation.
    As I was saying before,you are doing the best you can and so is your partner but sometimes help from an objective, outside source is required to give the both of you the opportunity to relief you from the burden you are both carrying.
    You are both in pain and fear.
    You don’t need to keep on struggling on your own.
    There is professional help out there so please don’t feel ashamed to make use of it.
    It’s just an available choice, you are absolutely free to take it or leave it.

    I hope you don’t feel offended by this comment of mine.
    My sincere apology if I somehow unwillingly hurt your feelings.
    When I read your post I just had to reach out in order to try to lighten up your path.
    I can’t offer you an instant solution, I wish I could!
    I reach out my hands to you and your partner and I wish for the light…..

    All my best to you, Mechelle
    Take good care,

  • By fee, April 3, 2010 @ 3:22 am

    Mechelle, I agree with what Marly has said there and just want to add my cyber shoulder to you both. I can’t put it any better than Marly has.
    It is very hard to watch someone you love in great pain and be unable to help them. You are doing the best you can just by being there for him and yes, it is very hard on you.
    As for grief, well, that hits everyone differently. We all cope with it according to our own emotional makeup. One never gets over the loss of a loved one but we learn to live with the loss as time passes.
    Reaching out to all of you who are in pain and grief

  • By hilly, April 3, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    Mechelle there’s still a space available on my cyber shoulder too.

    Pain blocks out everything else sometimes. Physical pain can bring mental pain too and that is the anguish your partner is expressing by his anger.
    Sometimes it is almost impossible not to lash out (physically, or verbally or both) to try to alleviate our pain in an attempt to make the other feel what we feel. And then we reel back in horror at the damage we may have done.

    Some of you know one of my favourite icons ‘my meaow is worse than my scratch’…most of the time I calm down and come back purring.

    Or I go somewhere where no-one can hear me and scream all the obscenities I can think of – catharsis is a wonderful thing!

  • By Christine, April 4, 2010 @ 6:39 am

    Hi Paul, Pam, and fellow blogger’s,
    Whatever you may be doing this weekend, I hope it is a good one for you all.
    I just did Sunday lunch for Amy and I shes now off with the boyfriend, and I’m wondering how everyone’s weekend is going! Take care of yourselves, best wishes, Christine.

  • By Sammy, April 4, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

    Hello… just heard about the earthquake in CA.. Paul… Pam?

  • By Rachelle, April 4, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

    I’m glad your doing okay. We live on the fault line in B.C. and although we rarely feel any earth quakes in my area the ‘big one’ is always on the back of our minds.
    Belated Happy Easter/Passover to everyone on the blog!!

  • By Christine, April 5, 2010 @ 3:55 am

    Hi Paul and Pam, So glad to hear you are ok, we hear the word earthquake in England and panic! Take care, with love as always, Christine. xx

  • By Terri, April 5, 2010 @ 6:02 am

    Hi Christine, We had a glorious Easter week here. I live in the northern part of the states by the great lakes right across from Canada. Our Easter weather many times is icey rain and even snow. Many canceled Easter egg hunts for the little ones. This year a week of clear, sunny, high 70′s to 80 degrees. Even this morning is beautiful but now a chance of rain. I loved it. Terri

  • By Christine, April 5, 2010 @ 6:34 am

    Hi Terri, I’m glad you have had such a lovely Easter week!. It sounds beautiful where you live and those temperatures, wow I think we would go into shock if the north east of England got that hot lol. One day of good weather here and the country is straight out buying bbq’s and shorts! Just incase we miss our few days of heat lol its complete madness! Best wishes, Christine.

  • By Sammy, April 5, 2010 @ 6:56 am

    Whew Pam.. I am Glad all is well with all of you.. I have never experienced an earthquake… and not planning on any either… (as if I could control that!!!)

    What is it with all these earthquakes.. Has it been like this all the time and we didn’t hear about them too much in the past because (relatively speaking) 40-50 years ago the earth was not this populated… and now when something happens the devastation/damage is so high because the dense population? … orrrrrrr… Is it just the occurrence is more frequent now…

  • By hilly, April 5, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    (giggle) I slept through an earthquake in LA in ’91 – jet lag has its advantages!
    Christine I love your attitude to British weather (why do you think I came to live in Provence).
    Chocolated out here….hope all had a good holiday whichever one you celebrated

  • By hilly, April 5, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    I think you’re right Sammy – there is very little new under the sun but now that communication is so much faster we hear about these things. (all of them event he ugly things – kids have been abused by priests and others since time began – like I said nothing is new – but communication makes sure that few things can stay covered up for long)

  • By Rachelle, April 6, 2010 @ 6:34 am

    Hi Terri

    I’m glad you had such lovely weather for Easter! My husband is from eastern Canada and they were in the high 70′s last week in the east. In my area we had one heck of a windstorm on the weekend and now rain. I’m looking forward to those warm sunny rays too!! :)


  • By Sammy, April 6, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    Hi Rachelle,

    I lived in St. Johns, NL in Canada for 2 1/2 years which included the season of that record snowfall (total close to 25 feet I think) in 2000-01. I can also remember during the Fall season we had to endure a 1 1/2 month of all rain and no sunlight at all. Imagine that!
    And I am someone who was born and lived in tropics for 30 years, where we had sunshine and ‘summer’ all over the year- 24/7.

    However… In spite of all that NL had the friendliest people I have ever met. I miss that life so much. When I left NL I was sure that I would go back to live there for ever.. no kidding! But well…. that didn’t happen.

  • By Terri, April 6, 2010 @ 9:58 am

    Hi Rachelle, They keep telling us that the rain is coming and we will drop to normal April temprature but today is warm enough to be a little uncomfortable. I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall. It’s never like this. Terri

  • By hilly, April 6, 2010 @ 11:09 am

    oops we seem to have digressed to a weather blog and we aren’t even all Brits here (LOL)

    Typical Provence spring weather. Today I smeared on the sun screen and ate lunch in the park – tomorrow it’s umbrella and warm coat…but the sun will be back by the end of the week (phew!)

  • By Christine, April 7, 2010 @ 2:38 am

    Hi Hilly, I have to agree with you in all honesty I think we Brits do tend to be a little preoccupied with the weather or the lack of it lol. Just a few months from now half our country will be moaning ‘oh its too hot for me’ lol and the rest will be complaining its never hot enough, there is no pleasing us!. Having said that I hate it when its so hot all it does is drain the life out of you, and you feel quite sick. According to friends who have travelled they reckon its a different kind of ‘heat’ abroad where it doesn’t make you feel ill lol. I wouldn’t know myself lol. Yes I have just written a whole paragraph on British weather! sorry everyone ………….. come back Paul and give us something to really talk about this is desperation lol.
    With love as always, Christine xx

  • By Sammy, April 7, 2010 @ 6:11 am

    Yeah.. Paul.. Don’t you think it’s about time?

  • By Rachelle, April 7, 2010 @ 6:49 am

    Hi Sammy – Living in the tropics how awesome is that! I’m just sayin’.*g* Wow you lived in that much snow! I live on the Wet Coast (aka West Coast) and B.C. get’s alot of rain. I’m looking forward to Mr .Sunshine!
    Hi Terri – Enjoy that sunshine but I do hope it cools down for ya.
    Hilly – You’re too funny!! I know we are way off topic.
    Pam – I like your poem that you shared.
    Christine – lol! Hey thanks for sharing British weather! I was pretty jealous of you guys in all that snow this year and we had our warmest winter on record. Now off to work I go.*g*

  • By may, April 7, 2010 @ 10:48 am

    The child was in the yard playing with a cristal-glass. He was carrying it on one hand, bcause on the other hand he has a rush wich used to beat the glass.
    After every each tick, he stayed still, undisturb, observing mindful, listening the waves of sounds coming up from the cristal. He was joyfull.
    Suddenly, he changed his game. He filled the glass with sand. Took the rush in his hands and beated again. But the cristal silent.
    The child got anger for his failure in the liric. A tear was about to come off his eyes when he saw a beautiful white flower jumbling with the wind.
    He grasped the flower and placed it in the middle of the cristal-glass whose sound was sofocated by the sand.
    And there he was, happy once more. With grace and proud walked the beautiful flower as if it were a Victory.
    …………….From failure or misfortune, never be discourage. Neither be obstinate in coming back to what you loose. Instead, under same conditions, take the ocasion of a new game.

  • By Softly, April 7, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    That’s beautiful May, thanks

  • By PamT, April 7, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    I’m grateful for those wise words, May. Joy and contentment can be indeed be found in the new game ……… and the one after that, the one after that and so on. We will all experience so many games and the next ‘beautiful, white flower’ is there if we can see and choose to reach out and take it. Thank you for your eloquent and insightful post. Something we probably all need to be reminded of from time to time.


  • By Sammy, April 7, 2010 @ 12:34 pm


    Those are such beautiful words. Life indeed provide us with many opportunities, which we sometimes fail to see. We shouldn’t forget that when one door closes another gets open.

    Like PamT said this is something need to be reminded more often.

    I am being all mushy about your little story… I have been feeling very ‘mushy’ lately.. Hilly would know the secret… :-)

  • By Janise Anthony, April 8, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

    Just off the top of my head a rambling in response to this current blog…
    Judging is often confused with observing. One can observe like a sports commentator, noting what the senses see. Judging comes into place when we take those observations and filter them in the mind. Hence how 4 people can see the same car accident and all have a different interpretation of what they saw. ( Don’t know whey they call them witnesses to an accident as they are judging what happened… Joe Friday had it right…”Just the facts Mamm.”) Our filters are set up individually from our references of our life experiences. Judging is the lazy mind wanting to make shortcuts to qualify or categorize experiences, things, people etc. quickly without taking the time to isolate the new experience as something unique and unrepeatable. When one learns to keep the mind’s filters open, judgment cannot exist. If we see every moment in the now as unrepeatable it cannot be judged as there is nothing to compare it to. It is what it is and nothing else is like it. When we witness we detach from emotion, happy or sad, about an experience and therefore judgment is non-existent. It is then our choice to feel how we want about something and when we are conditioned to witness we respond to life rather than react to it. To respond is choice and choice is freedom.

    Much like seeing the same movie twice, it is the same exact film without any variance but it is never the same experience every time you watch it. The watcher is no longer the same person they were upon the first screening as they are hopefully evolved in some way from the last time. We are new in every moment and it is as if watching it for the first time. I often tell my yoga students, if they are bored with their practice or life in anyway, they are not approaching each moment as themselves. We often relate to ourselves as some ideal or image or label that is outdated. And if that is a label or identity from yesterday then it is outdated! Most people are living their life from the past in the present. They continue to relate to the world as the person they were rather than the person they are in the now. The lazy mind likes to go on auto-pilot. People also do this with others by relating to them as who they use to be rather than seeing them as they are presently. I know every time I leave LA and go home back to Boston to visit my parents they related to me like the teenager I was rather than the woman I now am 25 years later. They are blind to see my growth and evolution as a person.

    Its not easy for the mind to open and see each moment, each individual as new. It takes some conditioning to loose the laziness of judgment by removing the filters through which our experiences enter. Meditation is the way to free the mind of judgment.
    Janise :)

  • By marly, April 8, 2010 @ 11:45 pm

    Hello Janise and fellow bloggers,

    Janise, I enjoyed your “rambling” about judging very much!
    I always admire people who are able to use, simple, recognizable examples to shed more light on complicated topics.
    Thank you for providing me/us with more food for thoughts.

    “judging comes into place when we take those observations and filter them in the mind. Hence how 4 people can see the same car accident and all have a different interpretation of what they saw”.
    In college it was part of our training to develop and exercise our observational techniques.
    One of the tasks we were being given was to stand in front of a window for a few minutes and to observe closely what was going on outside.
    I remember how amazed we all were when we discussed afterwards what each of us individually had managed to observe. Of course, there were lots of similarities but it was staggering to find that there were just as many differences!
    Years ago, when I was very much into impressionist art, I read that the painter Claude Monet once wished that he could have been born blind in order to gain his sight and be able to paint objects without knowing what they were……
    At the time I didn’t fully understand what Monet meant but by now I think I do.
    Just like Monet I often feel hindered by my assumed “knowledge” of the world around me which threatens to prevent me to see things as they truly are.

    The way we perceive, define and judge the world/people around us is, whether we like it or not, based on the pre-knowledge we already have gathered as an individual.
    I can strive to observe the behavior of the children I work with as objective as possible but no matter how well trained I may be, I won’t be able to avoid my very own assumptions, preconceptions, etc.
    What I can do is to stay aware of my assumptions as much as possible and therefore I’ll need to practice self-reflection again and again.
    Is a human being capable of being 100% objective and therefore able to not judge?
    Nope, I personally don’t think we are but that’s not an excuse for not trying to use every available tool within our reach to strive for more objectivity and less judgment in order to become more understanding/compassionate towards ourselves and our fellow human beings.
    As Janise states, let’s try to remove those filters.

    Take care and have a nice weekend!

  • By Christine, April 9, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

    Hi everyone, You know sometimes its more of a case of really trying to see the other’s point of view.
    If we try to step into another’s shoes for a moment it really does give us a whole new look on things. When my children were small it never failed to amaze me how they saw things in that totally honest and non judgemental way because at that age they had not been given the chance to develop that cynical approach to life. As we get older there is not only the tendency to go with our preconceptions but as we get more knowlegdeable we lose or should I say we tend to lose that ability to really ‘see’ things for what they are. We are taught to think something but not to say it, can you imagine how uncontrollable this world would be if we didn’t abide by the socially acceptable rule?.
    I think we ought to be more understanding and compassionate towards other’s, try not to be so cynical in this life, it gets to a point in life where if you do a good turn there just has to be a ‘reason’ behind it, you just can’t want to do it. If you do see the good in other’s you are accused of being ‘naive’.
    Just my ramblings at 5.30am. You see this is what happens when I can’t sleep lol. Most intelligent people are sleeping now!. Anyway, I’m off for a cup of tea, goodnight to you Paul, and Pam in LA, and good morning England!.
    With love as always, Christine xx

  • By Rachelle, April 10, 2010 @ 5:34 pm

    Hi Christine

    I agree with you my friend! Understanding, compassion and forgiveness are so important in our lives and something to always work toward. Also, freely giving to another without expecting anything in return is truly a blessing.
    Happy weekend to everyone! I hope Paul, Pam and the fellow bloggers are all enjoying this lovely weekend!! TGIS!
    PS I think you write very well at 5:30 am and our mind is supposed it’s most creative in the morning.*g*

  • By Christine, April 11, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    Hi Rach, Hope your weekend has been good for you. If its true about being creative in the mornings I ought to be quite amazing by now lol. Only thing is I don’t get much sleep before the mornings arrive! Have you ever noticed how you can feel totally drained and yet the moment your head hits the pillow the mind just won’t switch off?. I sometimes think that I think too much. The constant re-thinking and working out that goes on in our heads, I think I need a break from myself lol. Best wishes, Christine.

  • By PamT, April 12, 2010 @ 9:01 am


    As someone whose mind has a tendency to chase its own tail, I think I can relate a little to what you’re saying. A while ago, I came across the following:

    Down in the village
    the din of
    flute and drum,
    here deep in the mountain
    everywhere the sound of the pines.

    Have you tried the meditation which PMG suggested a while back? Among other things, I find it unwaveringly quietens an over-active mind. Maybe it would help.


  • By Rachelle, April 12, 2010 @ 9:27 am

    Hi Christine

    Weekends go way too fast don’t they!? lol……

    You’re right at times we just need a break from our minds worrying and really just give ourselves a moment to forget – to have fun, be kind to ourself, and treat ourselves well. I’m not referring to the sleeping time, but in general. At night a good book usually will be a great sleep aid.*g*

    Happy Monday, Rach

  • By Christine, April 12, 2010 @ 11:43 am

    Hi Pam T, Funny you should mention the meditation, yes I have tried but I think it takes some working at. Personally I have never been good at ‘switching off’. I guess we are all different, the mind is a funny thing, have you ever noticed how a problem seems so much worse in the middle of the night? come the next morning things can look different. Then the whole process starts again lol.

    Hi Rach, I hope you had a good weekend. I guess time either goes too fast if we are having a good time, or boy can it go on forever otherwise! I have a whole stack of books by my bedside the only thing I find is that I stay awake longer to get to the end lol. You look at the clock and hours have past by. I’m a hopeless case Rach :) take care love Christine xx

  • By MoriaDole, May 30, 2010 @ 10:25 pm


    I’m sure I’m asking too many questions: I’ve always had (or been) an “inquiring mind. If I may, though, I’d like to ask you this….

    If–as you say–we experience our existence through our senses; the interpretation, description, and measurement of what those senses tell us; and our ability as humans to witness/see ourselves doing all this, don’t we run the risk of locking ourselves away from basic human beauty without the equalizing properties of “the mind” (or thinking) to balance us? Yes, the mind deceives….But no more so than the senses. Both are duly and unduly influenced by the sum total of our life’s experiences. Sometimes even distorted. So wouldn’t focusing to that extent on the senses and feelings eventually lead to a dangerously distorted view of ourselves? Our world? Of those aound us?

    How can a person live, love, and give (healthily) like that?

    How can a person not become so blinded by their own “senses” that they lose touch with the ability to respect, see, or understand others?

    How can a person, in that way, ever really be honest with himself? And if dishonest with the self, how can you be honest (or honorable) in your interactions with loved ones?

    Or honestly love at all, for that matter?

    If ever you have the time or the inclination, I’d appreciate your perspective.

    ~M. Doland

  • By jade, June 4, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    We must learn to receive and appreciate all that is without judgment or opinion. We reserve the justification of our existence through our experience of that which truly is.

  • By sstormc, April 3, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

    “Isness is.” Hmmm. My English teacher mind wants to reject that one, but I love it. Make a noun out of “is”. Maybe another would be “isiosity”? “isability”? Okay, I’ll be serious. I think what struck me most reading this entry is that yes, we humans have always found ways to explain and validate. And then we all develop a faith in these explanations. This was difficult for me to deal with when I was younger because I wanted someone to tell me what was “right” and “true”. I wanted to be close to God, but I wasn’t raised to be one religion or another. When I moved to the bible belt, where everyone is defined by where they go to church, I didn’t know where I belonged. Which is the “right” church? Have you ever noticed that they all think they are the right one? And really, beyond that…which is the “right” religion? The “right” god? I wanted someone to tell me. Over the years, I think the answer has come to me…there is no right religion, no right god. God is in us, with us, a part of us, and plays a part in every religion where there is love. I’ve left religion behind and moved on to spirituality. I am not a religious person, but a spiritual one. I noticed, Paul, on your list of books, you mentioned Many Lives, Many Masters. One of my favorites! I recommend it to those of you who haven’t read it. There is much more to “after” than we could ever guess. And if we are merely following the doctrines of a “faith” and religion without meditating and seeking answers from one another, we are not growing spiritually. Having stories of our “faiths” without having tolerance for the stories of other faiths just doesn’t make any sense at all, yet that is the way of most religions.

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