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Monday, May 29, 2017

DEATH AND HEAVEN

To continue my Heaven series, my breakfast today featured Japanese Wagyu Beef:


Then I looked down from my lanai table and saw another bloom of Pearl's Sunburst.  This is really unusual, for the flowers normally all come out at the same time.  It was exactly three weeks ago that two of them welcomed me home (left) from my 44-day Global Adventure

This is Memorial Day, and a glance to the left from where I was sitting is Punchbowl, where I'll later today trek to honor our fallen heroes, and my view of the National Memorial Cemetery from my computer where I'm now creating this posting:


Today, of course, is more than eating, parades, sporting events and mattress sales.  Hawaii does more to pay tribute to the dead than any state in the Union.  In addition to Memorial Day, throughout the summer we have Obon, a Japanese festival featuring family reunions, ancestral graves and dances.  In Japan, the Tokyo to Tohoku area focuses on mid July for three-days, but elsewhere, the lunar calendar is followed, and mid-August is when celebrations occur.  Hawaii extends these Bon-Odoris (people dance in a circle, surrounded by a fair-like atmosphere) from now through August.  

But on Memorial Day, we go even further by having the the largest Toro nagashi, a festival featuring the floating of 7,000 paper lanterns out to sea at Ala Moana Beach.  Traditional Japanese beliefs state that we come from the ocean, so these lanterns, representing individuals who passed away the past year,  are like bodies returning to the sea. 

Called Shinnyo-en Lantern Floating Hawaii Memorial Day, this is an inter-faith service first held in 1999.  Today beginning at 10 AM, those who wish to honor someone can go to Magic Island to sign up for a float, first come, first served:
  • You can write something or draw on the paper lantern.
  • Also tape photographs or images.
  • No leis.
There will be up to 50,000 observers by 6PM.  You might as well watch the event on TV (6-7:30PM) on KGMB (there is also live streaming), for parking will be a problem, there will be a swarm of people to prevent you from taking the ideal photo and another 10,000 ahead of you in-line for the bathroom.

So my sermon for the day:  what happens when you die?  Your physical body eventually becomes "dust."  What about your soul or spirit or thoughts?  My take is that there are only two paths:  nothingness or something, like Heaven or Hell.

At the beginning of humanity, it made sense for  society to invent a Supreme Being to watch over all so that the community could be more moral and secure.  Religion could well be why Homo sapiens survived so well.

But there is no compelling evidence for Heaven or Hell, or even Purgatory.  Watch Richard Dawkins on Heaven and Hell.  Or read his quotes.

Although, we are here too late, someday, it is possible that scientists will find the aging gene and  disable it.  Thus, people will die only from accidents, murders and similar consequences.  No need to worry about ailments, for they, too, will be eliminated.  Plus, people like Elon Musk are seeking ways to in real time store your memory onto a computer so that, with cloning into a new body, you can essentially live forever even if the aging gene is not checked.  Thus, you won't need to cogitate over the presence of Heaven or not.

So what is next?  I'm still stuck in an eternal gloom mode, hoping something happens so that I can soon look forward to a more promising ultimate termination.  Or, I can become Hobbes:


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