July 18, 2011


At some point most ask the questions, why am I here; what is the purpose of my life and where if anywhere will it lead. Putting faith or belief aside, be it Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic or atheist, no one will be able to come up with a provable answer. So what follows is simply a personal opinion, a solution that after considerable thought makes sense to me.

First it is important to put things in perspective by considering size. Most of us are so wrapped up in our lives we seldom find time to look beyond our own little worlds, so perhaps our own planet Earth might be a good place to start. We know the earth takes a year to orbit the sun and twenty-four hours to rotate on its axis giving us our seasons, months, weeks, days, hours etc, and though not conscious of the speed that it rotates at 1000 mph and orbits the sun at 64,000 mph. Things start to get bigger when we leave the Solar System behind and look further into outer space where the distances from one object to another are so huge we have to use the speed of light calibrated in light years to measure them.( one light-year being equal to 9500000000000 kilometres) Using this speed as measurement the sun is only eight and a half days away, but the nearest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri, is 4.3 light years away. A party trick way to bring home this difference is to take the length of a bent thumb from knuckle to nail as the eight and a half day distance between the earth and sun, then go outside and pace out one mile to represent the 4.3 light years to Proxima Centuri. Mind boggling perhaps, but in Universe terms this sort of distance is kids stuff.

The sun is one of several hundred billion stars that exist in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way is a typical spiral galaxy with a central bulge and an extended disk of stars 100,000 light years across and around 4000 light years deep at the centre. Our Sun is located in the disk of stars about 30,000 light years from the centre and orbits the galaxy core with its attendant solar system at a speed of 486,000 miles per hour. Even so, each orbit takes some 225 million years to complete. Our galaxy belongs to a local group of some thirty galaxies, but the estimated number of galaxies in the universe is around 50 billion with more being found as science and telescopes improve. The latest detected galaxy is 13.2 billion light years away, which gives us an indication of the size of the universe as we know it, without taking into account the possibility of many more universes that may exist beyond our own.

The immensity and the distances involved are beyond comprehension. But what if this universe, vast as it is, forms only a part of creation and a small part at that? From the moment we open our eyes we live and see everything from our immediate surroundings to the distant stars in three dimensions. But what if there are four, ten, or a thousand further dimensions, all existing in the same space yet all finely tuned to vibrate at different speeds and levels making each oblivious to the others existence. Then even the immensity of the universe we know would be reduced to a pinprick in comparison to this greater greatness.

Then we should consider time. When formulating one’s own philosophy some comparisons are inevitable and one of the foremost is time. To us time could be described as a great river flowing from past to future with a fleeting nano second of the present sandwiched in-between, though of course it is this instant of present where everything truly happens. Yet even the fleeting moment of present appears fluid to us, dependent on whether we are engaged in something interesting or enjoyable when it appears to pass in an instant, or something boring or repetitive when it seems to drag forever. But it is the physical act of growing old and dying that really ties us to time. After all, if it is happening to us then it has to be true and many faiths would have us believe that it is in this micro-second of universal time which we call a lifespan where whatever we may have said or done will form the basis on which we shall be judged for eternity. Which in turn presents another conundrum, for what is this thing eternity? Einstein turned our ideas on time upside down with his theory of relativity, saying amongst other things that if a man travelled out into space and back at the speed of light for five years, by the time he returned to Earth fifteen thousand years would have passed. Which suggests that time may be more perceptual than factual. Even so, when time proves inconvenient many religions are apt to fall back on eternity. But if such a thing exists, how is it possible to suddenly appear in it at the moment of birth? Eternity is not some fairground roundabout to get on and off at will, if it exists at all then it must have been and will be forever; which in turn has to apply to everything within it.

But then what if this physical three-dimensional world we inhabit where everything ages and dies with the passage of time is not our true home. What if our true selves exist in another higher dimension, divorced from physical limitations where time, as we know it plays no part. What if this timeless being which some call soul or spirit frequently returns to earth and other lower planes of existence to refine itself through trial and experience? Most in the West now dismiss even the possibility of reincarnation. Yet it was referred to by Socrates as an “ancient doctrine” as far back as 399BC and remains part of many Eastern beliefs to this day. Christ explained the dimensions of life in the brief sentence “In the Father’s house there are many mansions”, and Christianity only rejected reincarnation at the demand of the Roman Emperor Justinian at the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 553AD. At the time two earlier popes had been murdered after they had denounced the dropping of the belief of reincarnation in the Bible, so only two bishops had the courage to travel from Rome to Constantinople take part in the vote and Justinian position prevailed. Reincarnation was judged heresy and all Bibles throughout the empire were confiscated, burned and rewritten.

But to me reincarnation makes sense. It makes death as acceptable as birth and gives the answer to the many horrific things that have occurred throughout history which caused many good people to believe creation has to be accidental, as no loving God could ever allow such things to happen. Nor can I see any conflict with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, as a soul/spirit would only incarnate in a body fit for its purpose.
So there it is, a brief prĂ©cis of what I have come to accept. A timeless creation where present, past and future are one and the higher self lives many lives on a path to perfection. I’m not alone, many have shared the same view and I quote a few of the more recent and well known below.

Jack London
“I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“As long as you are not aware of the continual law of Die and Be Again, you are merely a vague guest on a dark Earth.”
Mark Twain
“I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.”
Henry Ford
“I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was 26. Genius is experience. Some think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.”
Paul Gauguin
“When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives. It then takes on another body.”
Mahatma Ghandi
“I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”
The final words I leave to the eloquence of Gibran.
"For what is it to die
But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind
And when the Earth has claimed our limbs
Then we shall truly dance"

July 14, 2011

The Short Story

The short story went into decline when so many of the magazines that supported them died. That is not to say there are not short story magazines around from the prestigious New Yorker and possibly Harper’s to the leading newcomer Amazon for online stories. But in the main the rest of them now cater for science fiction and horror which narrows the horizons for most aspiring short story writers. That said there are a number of online publishers of short stories but few of them pay and for those that do the remuneration is hardly worthwhile.

Many dismiss the short story in favour of the novel which is understandable for in comparative terms one is a full blown dinner while the other is just a snack. That said the creation of a good short story requires just as much skill as a novel, possibly even more, as there is less room for mistakes. A novel can survive a sloppy passage or run the risk of boring the reader provided his interest can be recaptured in the next chapter. While the short story can afford no such luxury, for it must grab the readers attention at the very start, hold it through the middle and satisfy it with a solid conclusion, often within the confines of two to three thousand words. The novel is a mansion in comparison with many rooms some magnificent and some more mundane, whereas the short story though a humble cottage must be spic and span throughout with great pictures and highly polished copperware.

Masters of the short story include Poe, Fitzgerald, Flannery, O'Connor, Hemingway, Carver, Cheever and O’Henry. But every writer should give it a try, if nothing else it will enhance their writing discipline and probably improve their paragraphs. I have tried to emulate these great writers in my own humble way with a published ebook called A Case of Black Rock and other stories on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056NU8YY where readers can sample it for free. Hopefully some will like what they read and go on to buy the book, which of course is the reason for this blog.

Have We Lived Before

Previous lives or reincarnation is the underlying theme of my new book Private Lives.

Have we lived before, do we all have other life experiences we no longer remember. It is certainly a compelling possibility and one that I have chosen as the theme in my new book Private Lives.

The concept of reincarnation, that of an individual dying and then being reborn into another body, has existed in various religions for at least 3,000 years. It has now spread to the point that there are probably more people alive who believe in reincarnation than do not. Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism are all believers. As was Christianity until Emperor Constantine converted to that religion with far reaching consequences, culminating in 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 A. D. at which point reincarnation was declared a heresy and the doctrine of reincarnation was officially banished by the Christian Church.

But despite their heavenly aspirations religions are apt to restrict themselves to dogma and an earthly view, while the real enigma confronting us has to be the mysteries of the Cosmos and the prospect of possible universes beyond. Mankind as an early specie has been around for a maximum of five million years, less than a hundredth of a second in universal terms. But then does time really exist? It is said we can’t see time only experience it. We can’t measure time, only define it. According to Einstein if an object travelling at the speed of light leaves and returns to Earth five years later, fifteen thousand years would have passed in the interim period. Similarly though we live in a three dimensional world why should that preclude the possibility of four, ten or a hundred further dimensions, all existing in the same space but vibrating at different speeds and levels to be invisible to one another. When confronted by such tantalizing possibilities together with an ocean of the unknown stretching to an horizon too distant to be seen is the prospect of previous lives so hard to accept.

Caesar, Napoleon and General Patton believed in reincarnation. As did Goethe, Mark Twain, Wordsworth and Tolstoy. Not forgetting Benjamin Franklin, Albert Schweitzer, Carl Jung, Voltaire, Henry Ford, Ghandi and many more. I am certainly tempted in that direction hence the book. I hope you enjoy it.

Available from www.pneumasprings.co.uk http://tinyurl.com/6fzawk4 and several online stores.