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Reply To: Reflections Upon a Hawaiian Graveyard,” with John Bonaduce, Ph.D.”

#74806
jamesn.
Participant

John and Stephen; I was wondering if we could explore a little deeper the context around mythic relationships with the idea of existence and meaning when we experience personal loss of those we have known. I want to back up a bit and explain a bit further what I’m trying to clarify. Cemetaries, mourning, the life and death reflection on the meaning of our lives as we evolve through the life process.

When Joseph in one of his lectures to his students used a particular “metaphor”, he asks them; “Are we the light bulb; or are we the light of which the bulb is but a vehicle?”

This would be a symbolic metaphor of a larger concept on the nature of our existence. But in the Jewish-Christian religion for example you die and go to Heaven; (another symbolic metaphor which conveys a certain type of meaning concerning the “Afterlife”). But where I’m going with this has to do with how human existence is enclosed within a certain kind framework that says that’s all there is; and people are left with this tremendous burden of assimilating the meaning of their own life within this specific context. In other words, we as human beings exist within a Universe of incomprehensible size, depth, and profound mystery; and we are left to assimilate what this means within the context of our own lives; and Joseph explains this in a much different way than just the metaphor of a “light bulb that holds the light”. I’m not attempting to slip out the back door of Eastern concepts such as Brachman or the endless recycling of life from one body to the next. (What I’m really concerned with is how we assign the deeper meaning to our lives through reflection and the privilege, rapture, wonder, (and yes; the suffering and terror and heartache of this Grand Opera of being alive. As Shakespeare reminds us: “We are only players on this “stage called life”; we play our part and it’s up to us; (as Joseph suggests): to assign the meaning of it all and to take it from there until we too arrive at this final destination of the “womb to the tomb”.

For instance, I said:

“The term Mnemosyne is derived from the same source as the word mnemonic, that being the Greek word mnēmē, which means “remembrance, memory”. Mnemosyne. Goddess of memory and meaning.”

“And a term often referred to when describing a symbol of some sort that recalls an important memory or experience is called a: “mnemonic trigger” and indeed these devices are often used in storytelling to illustrate the larger context of something one is referring to within a plot or storyline. And throughout human history cemeteries are often the places where people go to commune with the spiritual relationship of a loved one who has passed and their family as well. They are not just repositories for the dead but places of reverence that remind us of the impermanence of our existence and the meaning of our lives.”

Plays, books, and all manner of story and song constantly reminds us of this 3-act drama; (we are born; we grow up and evolve; and then we must get ready for our final passage to whatever awaits us in the larger “here-after”; (whatever that may be). But there is no argument as to this indisputable reality. (It’s what happens in-between that counts, and the meaning we assign to this experience we call “life”. One of my favorite examples is the Christmas story called: “It’s a Wonderful Life”; where the Hero is forced to contemplate just such issues. (And, again with a similar theme in Charles Dicken’s: “A Christmas Carol”). Both have “Graveyard” crisis points where the confrontation with one’s own mortality forces a decision on how the individual is to come to terms with the one life they are given and how they are going to live it.

I hope you’ll forgive the late reply to this topic but there were several reasons I waited before responding. One is the theme which I originally inserted which was “Memorial Day”; (and I wasn’t quite sure where the topic was going to go from there). And two, I wanted to give others a chance to respond since this was John’s MythBlast in the first place. There were outside factors that influenced my thinking about this that were extremely personal. One was a “synchronistic” occurrence where my brother sent me an email that he was visiting “my mother’s grave”; (who unfortunately had committed suicide some 50 years ago); the very minute this topic posted. (Yes, it seems these kinds of things have a way of getting your immediate attention in a way that makes your emotional radar wakeup that says: “this may be important”); so; I’ve been somewhat hesitant before jumping back in till enough time had passed and finding the right words to explain my thoughts properly.

I hope this is not too convoluted because I’ve been wrestling with this topic response about this for days and wanted to make sure I was on solid ground before posting it. We all have our own individuation process that is unique to each of us; so, I’ve tried to present this as clearly as I could without it getting too confusing. And I didn’t want to take anything away from the wonderful earlier posts that both you and Stephen have already presented.

Again, this is a great conversation you’ve got going; I just wanted to make sure all my ducks were lined up before presenting it. Namaste

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Since this post is new and has not been responded to yet I want to include a short addendum which may help better clarify part of what I’m attempting to address. “How we grieve and what this may have to do with our own personal as well as collective myths.” Joseph had several ways that addressed this area including one short clip I will leave here. Our ceremonies and collective rites of passage is one area; (but we also have a “personal” dimension in the way we mourn someone and “reconcile our relationship to life” as well).