"Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points." ~D.T. Suzuki

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Remembering Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould

Today it's been 12 years since the passing
of American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist,
and historian of science Stephen Jay Gould.
(Sept. 10, 1941-May 20, 2002)

And I miss him.

The story of how he and I met is linked below:
Click here: A Gould-en Heart
To see my tribute to this great man.
© 2014 MU-Peter Shimon

Monday, May 5, 2014

This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil
(Inspired by an episode of Cosmos, 2014)

"For in that sleep of death,
what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil"
Charles Darwin died on April 19th in 1882 at age 73

We know individuals die.
Darwin showed that species also die, they become extinct.

Yes to life, but living forever may not be desirable. Mortality is a part of life. In fact, it is necessary. If nothing died not only would the world be a crowded place but life itself would become unbearable.
It is the ephemeral nature of life that makes it so much more precious.
But it also makes it viable.
Alan Watts discusses Nothing
Sasha Sagan Discusses Life & Death

Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, 
Carl Sagan

“You are alive right this second. That is an amazing thing,” they told me. When you consider the nearly infinite number of forks in the road that lead to any single person being born, they said, you must be grateful that you’re you at this very second. Think of the enormous number of potential alternate universes where, for example, your great-great-grandparents never meet and you never come to be. Moreover, you have the pleasure of living on a planet where you have evolved to breathe the air, drink the water, and love the warmth of the closest star. You’re connected to the generations through DNA — and, even farther back, to the universe, because every cell in your body was cooked in the hearts of stars.
We are star stuff, my dad famously said,
and he made me feel that way.

My parents taught me that even though it’s not forever — because it’s not forever — being alive is a profoundly beautiful thing for which each of us should feel deeply grateful. If we lived forever it would not be so amazing.
To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache,
and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream;
Aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear
the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor's wrong,
the proud man's Contumely,
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin?
Who would these Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveler returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry,
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia. Nymph, in all thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

from Shakespeare's Hamlet

Alan Watts - The Dream of Life

You couldn't stop yourself from being born
You won't stop yourself from dying

Alan Watts - Becoming nothing
Depiction of a Neanderthal burial
Of course no one wishes to die before their time. But we really must accept that there will be a time. And in so doing, appreciate the time you've got. Some say religion was born from death. That the realization of our mortality evoked our spiritual feelings. 

Different cultures have different approaches to death. I like those that have funerals as a celebration of that person's life rather than a mourning of the loss. 

But I do not need religion as a consolation.
I will return from whence I came. 
The bubble on the ocean returns to the ocean
and nothing is lost.
It is of no use to try and escape the inevitable...
Cocteau Twins - It Will End In Tears- from This Mortal Coil
© 2014 MU-Peter Shimon