An Immunization Against Lethal Emotional Suffering

Among her many impressive achievements, Lucy Hone, PhD, is an academic researcher studying resilience science.

Not long ago, she suffered the most devastating personal loss a parent can imagine.

Below you can watch Dr. Hone’s brief and invaluable TEDx talk that offers scientific tactics and her own living example of how to become antifragile (not merely resilient) to the inevitable ordeal of inner suffering that results from a life-changing tragedy.

Every person on Earth should listen to her. Eventually we will all need to know and practice what she reveals here.

Assuming you’ve listened to her speech now (if you haven’t, please listen to it when you have time), can you recall Lucy Hone’s three scientific strategies for dealing with suffering?

This summary doesn’t do justice, but it should help transfer this vital information from your short-term memory into your long-term knowledge base. Here are the three things to remember…

  1. Adversity doesn’t discriminate. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” – The Nazarene. Lucy says that we need to face and accept the fact that unspeakably horrendous things naturally happen to everyone. Having this realistic knowledge immunizes you against the devastating feeling that you’ve been treated unfairly by God (or by random fate) when your time arrives to suffer. “Resilient people get that ‘shit happens.’ They know that suffering is part of life.” – Lucy Hone, PhD
  2. Accept the good. With reference to the future, develop a habit of differentiating the things you can change from the things you can’t change. Then choose to focus on things you can change. Choose not to dwell on things you cannot change, but instead, try to accept them as unchangeable. Or at least open yourself to the concept and the feeling of accepting unchangeable negatives rather than battling them in rumination. Regarding the past, deliberately focus on things you can be thankful for, no matter how small they may seem when compared to your immense loss. “Resilient people are really good at choosing carefully where they select their attention. They have a habit of realistically appraising situations and typically managing to focus on the things they can change, and somehow accepting the things that they can’t. This is a vital, learnable skill…. Being able to also focus your attention to the good has been shown by science to also be a powerful strategy. … Make an intentional, deliberate, ongoing effort to tune in to what’s good in your world.” – Lucy Hone, PhD
  3. Become your own north-star GPS. “Resilient people ask themselves, ‘Is what I’m doing helping or harming me?’ … This was my go-to question after the girls died. I would ask it again and again. … This one strategy has prompted more positive feedback than any other. Asking yourself whether what you’re doing, the way you’re thinking, the way you’re acting is helping or harming you puts you back in the driver’s seat. It gives you some control of your decision making.” – Lucy Hone, PhD

It’s interesting to note that Lucy trained under Martin Seligman, the eminent psychologist who, among other achievements, brought us the concept of learned helplessness.

Like the experimental animals who were taught that nothing they could do would ever make a difference to their sufferings in the laboratory, young people in the Western educational systems are taught (as a corollary to the pseudoscience of “scientific” materialism) that they have no free will. This implies that humans are “scientifically” helpless in the face of suffering. Everything is predetermined in the force-fed academic doctrine. This brainwashing of young minds promotes learned helplessness as the integral truth of the human condition.

Everyone knows firsthand that suffering is real, but our schools insist that free will is a false illusion. All we can do is react in a predictable and inevitable way with no personal control, only a cruel illusion of agency.

And yet the cutting-edge science of resilience to human suffering calls for choices, the very use of the free will that we’re told does not exist. The ability we innately know we possess, to choose constructively and act upon our decisions, is stripped from the worldviews of young people in today’s schools. This is abuse, carried out by dedicated, well-meaning people who are unable or unwilling to recognize their mistake, their massive, lethally toxic mistake…

With well over 40,000 people committing suicide each year in the US alone, it’s beyond the time for each of us to insist that tax-funded schools allow our sons and daughters to learn at least one alternative paradigm to “scientific” materialism. And to learn about it in an atmosphere that doesn’t ridicule it the way UFO’s are ridiculed in academia. Preferably students might hear of something congruent with the human experience… 

For instance, they might be taught by example to respect rather than detest the theory that we live in a meaningful Universe where information, consciousness and intelligence are as foundational to the list of nature’s building blocks as matter and energy, if not more fundamental and irreducible.

If we are to take seriously the science of resilience, then believing in free will is a matter of mental health and coping with adversity.

Share these ideas and this post with every young person you know. Give them hope and some tools to survive the suffering and depression that comes to virtually everyone nowadays.

Cheers,

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD


Science Morphed into a Spiritual Bully

“Remember how electrical currents and ‘unseen waves’ were laughed at? The knowledge about man is still in its infancy.” – Albert Einstein.

Slow deep breathing shunts blood to the prefrontal cortex and the subjacent pleasure center on the left. Science can tell us this much, but it cannot detect the non-physical field of free will interfacing with the brain.

When science leaps in faith beyond its self-imposed physical limitations and denies the existence of free will and all else non-physical, it is like a man who has refused to open his eyes since birth, declaring now that all vision is an illusion. He, being superior to the uneducated in intellect, insight, courage and integrity, stands alone as willing to face the difficult and oppressive truth that human vision is a false, meaningless illusion.

Science must learn to admit the obvious: it has chosen materialism, to be blind to the non-physical realm and all evidence of its existence, including the most obvious, free will.

While this choice persists, science cannot claim to be informed about the realm it ignores, much less pose as an infallible anti-spiritual authority in Western textbooks and classrooms.

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD


The Cowboy Angel Rides

“Move away from the screen, son.”

A deep voice boomed at me from behind my chair. I jumped and almost spilled my coffee, leaped to my feet and turned to face the intruder in one slick, spastic move.

It was a guy. He stood seven feet tall with his skin glowing like a halogen light bulb in a dark room. He wore a glowing cowboy suit that reminded me of an old movie my mom likes, The Electric Horseman.

But how’d he get in here? The hinges on my bedroom door squeak like a coffin lid. An empty potato chip bag was still right up against it. My room’s only window was painted shut six years ago. You’d need a crowbar and a hammer to open it.

I should have seen this guy’s reflection on my computer screen. I should have seen the light on my desk and the light on the wall in front of it. But no, somehow he got in here like he’d popped out of thin air.

“Dude, you scared the Irish out of me. What’s with the glowing makeup and all the lights?”

“I’m an angel from E8.” He exhaled with a tired-sound. “I’m here to discuss physics. But, kid, you’re spending entirely too much time indoors on that thing.” He glanced at my computer monitor.

“What kind of angel are you? A Baptist, Catholic, non-denominational, or… wait, you’re a Mormon, right?”

His eyebrows went up a little, but he didn’t say anything.

“I’m just wondering. You could be a silver version of that Mormon angel, whats-his-name. Greer says the Mormon World Corporation is, like, totally into the ET thing. So I’m just putting one and one together. See what I’m saying? Except you should probably be gold instead of silver. Them Mormon angel statues are always gold.”

“I’m not a statue.”

“Ah, but you’re a Mormon.” I smirked and nodded, agreeing with myself.

“You’re out of shape. You’re poisoning yourself with carbohydrates. Your body needs sunshine and better sleep.”

I could see this was going to be a one-sided “adult” conversation. Unless maybe I forced things in another direction.

“How do I know you’re not a demon?”

“Do you believe in demons?”

“No, but I didn’t believe in angels a minute ago.”

I could see half of my clock on the wall behind him. The second hand was frozen. I hoped it just needed batteries, but I kind of knew better.

“And anyway, why would an angel single me out for a message? How’s that going to be fair to everybody else? All them people out there needing a message but never getting one? Is that fair? Does fairness even matter where you come from?”

He stared at me blankly.

“Where are you from, anyways?”

His gaze dropped to the floor beside his huge cowboy boots. He spoke quietly as if to someone else.

“You sure we hit the right coordinates? Check the date. This kid’s talking religion, for Shiva’s sake.”

It was clear that I’d disappointed the man already. I do that a lot with people. With angels, too, apparently.

He nodded to himself with his lips moving, then his eyes came back to me looking like a beat cop trying to endure tough talk from a superior. “Ok, then.” He looked me up and down with a perplexed expression.

“What are you, really?” I asked. “And don’t feed me no angel crap.”

“You need to get outside and walk,” he said. “Sunshine, fresh air, exercise, human interaction. You’re isolated in here. You’re destroying yourself.”

“Talk to the hand, dude.” I didn’t put my hand up, of course, that’s totally lame.

“What?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Listen, for reasons I can’t fathom, the Desk thinks you can help us.” He looked at the computer screen behind me. “Those damn simulation games destroy free will.”

OK, he wasn’t Mormon. Those boys might take a hit off a meth bowl to get you talking shop with them, but they don’t touch four-letter words. Uh-uh.

I glanced over my shoulder at Grand Theft Auto where I… uh, where my character just stole a hundred large from Wells Fargo and crashed the getaway car on a sidewalk loaded with pedestrians. Multiple fatalities, of course. I needed to scram fast to avoid the cops and more boring jail time. But the whole screen was frozen now, so maybe it wouldn’t matter.

You know, I worked a long time getting those sick Grand Theft Auto muscles all over me. And the rad gear? Along with some respect from the community, know what I’m saying? None of that came easy.

And this beyond-white-male dude thought I was going to just turn it off and walk away?

Right. None of that was going to happen.

The pushy talk coming out of his mouth was irritating enough, but to be honest, I felt kind of paralyzed by the fact that a guy like this even existed in the first place. And in my bedroom, you know?

But here he was, bigger than life.

Then it dawned on me. I was having a psychotic break — my first hallucination on the grand tour of shame and misery for the rest of my life. All it would take now was one word about this to my shrink and I’d get tagged schizophrenic, like my Uncle Saul.

He’s in his mid-forties and never been laid. The shrink’s scarlet letter is not working out so good for the man. Sad part is, hell, he seems perfectly normal to any chick he meets, right up to the moment they find out he comes attached to the word, “schizophrenia.” Then it’s all, “Bye-bye Saul. I’ll call you.”

“Dude, you’re a hallucination.” I turned away, sat back down in my chair and hid my face in my hands. I could feel tears coming, but I knew I shouldn’t let myself be a victim. That only makes things worse. You got to believe stuff happens for, like some decent reason that don’t have to ever make sense.

My bedroom door squeaked open. “Call your mother in,” the cowboy said. “Ask her if I’m real.”

I thought about it for a second. Ordinarily, I never let her in my bedroom. Calling her in here now would look suspicious. She’d figure out something was weird and then talk the truth out of me, right down to the details of this hallucination. Then it would be official. “My son’s turned idiot like his uncle.”

But can a hallucination open a door?

I didn’t know. I bounced my bare heels on the carpet, up and down like double bass, trying to figure out how to do this right. Then I noticed the carpet was still damp from last night.

“Hey, Mom? Fritzie peed on the floor again. Check it out, there’s this gross wet spot in here.”

I spilled a little beer is all, but Mon’s not going to know that… Unless she gets down and sniffs it.

Which she totally will.

Man, I’m dumb. Here comes another lecture on the evils of alcohol. Yes, I know what a liver is, Mom. But read my lips — I do not care!

Mom showed up at my door, took one look at the big shiny dude, and ran off screaming, Jesus. She’s very religious that way.

“OK, so you’re real.” I didn’t want to let on that it was a gigantic relief, but it was. “Why can’t you just talk to me like a normal human being instead of getting all up in my face with this bossy attitude of yours, huh? Tell me that.”

He nodded solemnly. “I suppose you’re right. The powerful never listen, do they? But you really need to control the acidic tongue. It will destroy you.” He sat on the side of my bed and crossed his legs like a girl — well, totally not like a cowboy let’s just say. And his butt, get this, it didn’t sink into the bed at all.

“What’s the deal, you aren’t denting my bed? You gotta be 200 pounds plus.”

“Good observation. But never make personal comments, it’s rude.” He looked at my blankets and quick as a slap sunk nine inches into my extra-soft memory foam mattress. “Now then, I used the term, ‘angel’ with you because I thought you could relate to it. But actually, I’m more of a…” He glanced out my window at the evergreen trees in the vacant lot next door. “Have you heard about the third ontology? Irwin’s code theoretic axiom of quantum gravity theory?”

I shook my head. “Sounds perfectly boring.”

“It’s not.” His eyes moved to my computer monitor. I scooted my chair out of his way and looked at the screen with him. The bank-heist fatalities vanished, and up came a YouTube video showing some physicist dude with my dad’s pompadour haircut and the exact same hairline. It was weird. Even the eyebrows and eyes were similar.

“The shapes represent themselves in the code,” Max said, “carrying meaning without the need for a translation.”

Somehow, that made sense now.

“The rules of the code are non-arbitrary, they come from a natural mosaic tiling language called a quasicrystal. The symbols are what they represent. We use geometric symbols in a geometric language to represent geometric objects. The hardware, the software and the simulation output are all one-and-the-same.”

“Dude, this is an information dump, don’t you think?” Not that I couldn’t understand him. It was just that understanding this kind of stuff felt totally weird to me. I’m normally not the sharpest pencil in the box, to put it politely — like if a teacher ever said I was average, I’d take it as the biggest total complement of my entire scholastic career. But it’s not apt to happen, seeing as I quit going to classes over a month ago. I’ll be old enough to officially drop out next year.

Max started the video again with a chuckle. “Guess I was a bit verbose there, sorry. Remember this part, though.”

And without skipping a note, Klee Irwin kept right on talking. The man’s got a set of lungs.

“…there is physical evidence and argument that is very rigorous that reality is not a deterministic algorithm playing itself out… the general consensus among scientists is that reality is non-deterministic.”

“Let us discuss how in the world there can possibly be a language as the substrate of reality without some notion of a chooser of the language and an actualizer of the meaning of these geometric symbols. Because there needs to be something that interprets or actualizes meaning in order to say that information exists.

If we like, we can just start with the axiom that God exists. But that’s not what science is about.

Science is about going deeper and constantly questioning where that comes from, and going all the way down to the bottom. So God may or may not exist, but if he does, I want to know how does he exist?

So we don’t need to make it religious.

We can say, well alright, abstractly maybe there’s this kind of universal collective consciousness, it’s not like a human consciousness, maybe it’s more like a force in Star Wars, maybe it’s more like Chi in Chinese medicine. We don’t know what it’s like, but we need something that is everywhere and that may be the substrate of everything, and [something] that is capable of actualizing this geometric information that we conjecture, and making the syntactical choices in this mosaic tiling language in 3D that we are working with here at Quantum Gravity Research.”

“So what’s this all about, Max? Really. You don’t need some dumb ass like me trying to spread this stuff around for you.”

“No,” Max said. He adjusted something on the jewel-studded lapel of his cowboy jacket and leaned toward me whispering, “We want you to oppose him.”

“Me? That’s really dumb. You think I could go up against this genius dude?”

Max nodded. “You can now.”

I scratched my head. “What are you saying, then? Klee Irwin is wrong?”

“No, he’s right about everything. Too right. That’s the problem. A simulation only works when the people inside don’t know it’s a simulation. If they figure things out, it all becomes little more than a lucid dream and they quit playing.”

“You mean like, mass suicide or something?”

“Yes, that could happen. Or worse. What people do here matters to their character and personality in Reality. Take Hitler, for instance. What he did has tarnished his soul. He may never want to come back to Reality. He may never be morally fit to come back home.”

“But I thought he was dead.”

“Hitler’s dead, but the soul of the man, the person from Reality is still cycling. He lives somewhere in Long Beach, California. But there’s a larger problem. Someone we all dearly love has put an enormous amount of time and effort into building this simulation for us. We asked him to do it. And now we’ve got over a trillion, trillion people in Reality who feel sure they need this experience. They want to know who they are apart from the physical presence of the Great Surfer.”

“Dude, you lost me. The great…”

“He’s a Surfer. That’s all you need to know.”

“You talking about God?”

“He dislikes that term, but, yes, from your perspective, that’s as close as you’re apt to get.”

“And what if I refuse to go up against this physics dude. He’s just out there trying to tell people what in the freaking world the truth really is about this place. These lives we’re living.”

“That’s no problem at all, son. We totally respect free will. There are thousands of scientists and educators already set up to oppose him. We’ve been working on it for centuries, you could say.” He shrugged. “To be honest, I have no idea why the Desk singled you out. With your background and this lifestyle?” He looked at my computer screen and shook his head. “They had a reason, though. They always do.” He touched his lapel and spoke softly to the floor again. “It’s a no-go, Swadhisthana. The cowboy angel rides.”

“Now, wait a sec. Just let me–”

He tipped his hat and disappeared into thin air.

My computer screen came to life. Writhing, mangled, moaning people all over a bloody sidewalk. My ride was still functional. I could probably get away before the cops showed up. I started to reach for the game controls but stopped. It wasn’t interesting anymore. The sirens grew louder and louder as I stared at the scene. I didn’t care about the sociopathic muscle man I’d become. He wasn’t me. Never was.

I stood and looked out my little window at an old cedar tree that I bet somebody planted more than a hundred years ago. Maybe I could sit in the shade and figure out how in the world I’m going to explain all this to Klee Irwin. He’s going to think I’m nuts.

But the dude should know all the problems he’s causing, right? And all the people they’ve sent on a mission to stop him.

Maybe my mom will back me up on the cowboy angel part. The guy was real.

the end

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

Gates of Eden by Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman)

Of war and peace, the truth just twists

Its curfew gull just glides

Upon four-legged forest clouds

The cowboy angel rides

With his candle lit into the sun

Though its glow is waxed in black

All except when ‘neath the trees of Eden

The lamppost stands with folded arms

Its iron claws attached

To curbs ‘neath holes where babies wail

Though it shadows metal badge

All and all can only fall

With a crashing but meaningless blow

No sound ever comes from the Gates of Eden

The savage soldier sticks his head in sand

And then complains

Unto the shoeless hunter who’s gone deaf

But still remains

Upon the beach where hound dogs bay

At ships with tattooed sails

Heading for the Gates of Eden

With a time-rusted compass blade

Aladdin and his lamp

Sits with Utopian hermit monks

Sidesaddle on the Golden Calf

And on their promises of paradise

You will not hear a laugh

All except inside the Gates of Eden

Relationships of ownership

They whisper in the wings

To those condemned to act accordingly

And wait for succeeding kings

And I try to harmonize with songs

The lonesome sparrow sings

There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden

The motorcycle black Madonna

Two-wheeled gypsy queen

And her silver-studded phantom cause

The gray flannel dwarf to scream

As he weeps to wicked birds of prey

Who pick up on his bread crumb sins

And there are no sins inside the Gates of Eden

The kingdoms of experience

In the precious wind they rot

While paupers change possessions

Each one wishing for what the other has got

And the princess and the prince

Discuss what’s real and what is not

It doesn’t matter inside the Gates of Eden

The foreign sun, it squints upon

A bed that is never mine

As friends and other strangers

From their fates try to resign

Leaving men wholly, totally free

To do anything they wish to do but die

And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden

At dawn my lover comes to me

And tells me of her dreams

With no attempts to shovel a glimpse

Into the ditch of what each one means

At times I think there are no words

But these to tell what’s true

And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden


Depersonalization or Scientific Enlightenment?

There’s a rare and miserable condition called depersonalization disorder (DPD) that takes away the sense of “self” so there’s no “I” causing things – regular things like walking, talking, thinking and deciding.

There’s a loss of the “sense of agency,” a loss of the normal feeling that you’re initiating, executing and controlling your own actions. Patients describe “the suffocating pain of unreality.”

DPD patients show increased prefrontal activation as well as reduced activation in insula/limbic-related areas to aversive, arousing emotional stimuli.”

The DSM IV says they “may feel like an automaton.

An automaton is “a machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of instructions.”

But why would science considers this a disorder?

If we take scientific materialism to heart, then everything truly is mechanical (reducible to matter and energy). We are automatons. No alternative exists in science.

Sure, Heisenberg’s uncertainty may limit our predictability, or not, but that uncertainty doesn’t make room for anything approaching the self, or consciousness, or the “free will” that most of us seem to experience when it’s time for a cup of coffee.

Hmm. Hang on, I’ll be right back…

OK, I’m back.

Everything that’s not mechanical is an illusion to science.

Illusions are baaad, Umkay?

To the scientific true believer, the problem most people face in seeing the objective mechanical truth is that our brains are so complex they generate false impressions about what we are.

Nature accidentally fooled us into feeling as if we’re conscious and able to think, feel and do things. But it’s a sick joke, we’re told.

When we become scientifically enlightened in government-controlled schools we realize we’re machines. It’s liberating and fun.

The materialistic truth sets us free to follow the call of Science’s meaningless Universe and “Do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” (Don’t follow that link unless you can tolerate sophomoric sexual vulgarity, Okay?)

Fine, in the illusory (not really existing) minds of most scientists, we’re all the moral equivalent of bananas.

But let’s think about this for a second…

If we’re really soulless machines, then depersonalization disorder conveys an accurate, appropriate mindset.

So why do psychiatrists call it a disorder? They’re scientists, shouldn’t they call it “Scientific Enlightenment?”

“Finally someone feels what scientists can only believe – that the conscious self is an unreal mechanical automaton!”

I’d think Western mental health researchers would not be trying to cure this thing. They should use it to help isolate a drug that destroys humanity’s false illusion of self, then add their chemical to our drinking water along with the wholesome fluoride they trust and adore.

What could possibly go wrong?

The fact is, if you feel (as opposed to merely thinking) that scientific materialism is accurate, then you’ve got a psychiatric disorder that’s ruining your life, not improving it.

That’s backwards. How do we explain it?

Maybe science has made a wrong assumption. Maybe the way humans normally feel about themselves reflects reality not an illusion. When humans lose their natural sense of self, they’ve lost touch with reality, not gained it.

I know that’s a lot for a scientist to imagine. Humans have endless tiny parts. A genetic code gives programmed instructions to our cells. It all looks mechanical, and if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…

But feeling unreal is horribly debilitating. That fact gently hints that scientific materialism should be displaced by another assumption…

Something to this effect: The mind/soul/spirit/sense of self/ and free will are equally, if not more real and basic to the Universe than matter and energy.

But to get there, we’d also need an assumption like this:

The basic building blocks of reality are derived from a conscious, intelligent Higher Source independent of matter, energy, time and space.

Scientific materialism or genuine personhood?

Either one requires untestable assumptions. Is it really necessary to think of ourselves as machines in order to do good science? I doubt it.

Why not assume something that supports mental health and promotes the way we normally feel? To me, that fits the data and helps humanity.


Dark Matter, God and Genetics

Ages ago (in the 1970’s), scientists looked out at the universe, did the math and silently wet themselves. The peripheral arms of galaxies weren’t acting right. There wasn’t enough gravity to make the stars of the galaxy’s arms move that fast.

Astronomers drove home, changed pants and got an idea: Dark matter. The essence of ghost flesh with gravity!

It seemed too convenient to some: We can’t see it, can’t touch it and can’t detect it in a laboratory – at least not so far.

Nevertheless, science liked dark matter. Its existence was implied by the motion of galaxies.

We’re told it surrounds a galaxy like a halo, but without the angel’s head, so it’s not religious.

History shows that geneticists also had a meltdown when they first discovered that DNA was too complex for their model of reality. Don’t worry, they’ve gotten over it.

It was in the 1950’s when Barbara McClintock, a genius geneticist who single-handedly discovered genetic regulation strayed from the narrow path and discovered that genes are under complex control. At the time it was heresy.

The objective voices of science knew in their hearts that DNA was a simple, straight-forward thing. It had to be. It came from the mindless forces of mutation – how could it possibly be under some strange complicated control mechanism?

And who does this woman think she is, trying to add impossible complexity to DNA? She’s dangerous and wrong!

They forced Barbara McClintock to stop publishing her seminal work.

The angels cried.

No, wait, that was dark matter, not angles. My bad.

You know how it feels when somebody in the Middle East takes a big hammer to a beautiful historic statue that can never be replaced? That’s how it feels to me when I think of those well-intentioned scientists censoring and nearly destroying the career of the great Barbra McClintock.

I’m having a little trouble forgiving them.

Today the complexity of DNA and its layers of intricate control are becoming widely recognized. The complexity is staggering. The vocabulary of genetics journals is straight from the Tower of Babel.

Still, science has barely scratched the surface of DNA’s unspeakable language. Epigenetic gene control adds another layer of complexity that was unimaginable in 1859 when the really big question was laid to rest by Darwin…

It’s all random.

I can say from experience as a retired pathologist that the complexity of the human body, DNA’s end product, is beyond mind-boggling.

We still don’t know where the 3-D blueprint lies or how it’s projected into space. I mean, how does an epidermal skin cell know it’s positioned on the edge of an eyelid rather than the bottom of a toe? It’s not enough to know you’re a skin cell or an osteoblast, you have to know where you are by means of some unseen three-dimensional hologram-like thing.

I suspect it’s in the “junk DNA” they used to talk about a few years ago. Not so much anymore.

And how in the world do developing cells each find their spot during embryogenesis? Nobody knows, but it happens, and it implies another layer of complexity.

Science is rigidly compartmentalized, you know, like some secret project in Nevada where no one’s supposed to see the big picture or ask questions about it.

Most scientists have only a vague second-hand grasp of the body’s intricate structural, biochemical and electrical complexity. Only a tiny fraction of those have a working knowledge of DNA.

In medical research, almost everyone is narrowly focused and struggling to figure out what’s going on in their own tiny niche of the human internal reality – both physical and mental. Those who try to look at the whole body and mind as a functional unit are dismissed by mainstream MD’s as having been led astray by “functional medicine.”

And like the thought police of Egyptology, modern geneticists must deny the relevance and persistence of the big question…

Who built this amazing stuff?

Random mutation?

Khufu in 20 years with copper tools and stone hammers? (That myth should be embarrassing to anyone with common sense and no job to lose if they buck the system’s dogma.)

You might think it would be natural for geneticists to suggest modern answers to the biggest question that DNA raises: who wrote the code?

Unfortunately, the answer was ingrained in all fields of science long before modern genetics emerged to frame the question intelligently.

As any government-educated eighth grader can tell you, Darwin and all the scientists after him have proven that random mutation wrote the genetic code over endless eons. Well, 13.8 billion years, but that’s endless if you ignore the math. And for sure there was no thinking! That would be religion.

Really?

If science needs a gravity halo, space is full of dark matter. If they need a brilliant code writer, mindless genius fills the universe.

But science changes.

In fact, Stacy McGaugh of Case Western recently studied 150 spiral galaxies and did some calculations. He says,

“…it’s like God shouting, ‘There is something more to the theory of gravity, not something more to the mass of the universe!’” (See “What’s Up With Gravity” in New Scientist, March 18-24, 2017.)

McGaugh says that dark matter may not be entirely bogus, but tweaking gravity theory is where the truth lies for him. He thinks gravitational forces change at great distances, accounting for the high speeds of the arms of galaxies.

Three cheers for the mainstream dark-matter believers for letting a heretic publish! That’s the spirit we need.

A similar questioning of entrenched beliefs goes on today in genetics.

The courageous Stephen Meyer, PhD, an Oxford grad, took a look at DNA from the perspective of a science historian, did the math and said that the universe isn’t anywhere near old enough for random mutation to produce the DNA code for one simple protein – let alone the thousands of huge ones that exist within their intricate feedback loops in our bodies.

His book, Signature in the Cell, shows the math and says that the information in DNA looks like intelligent code writing. Even its organization in the molecule implies intelligent work.

In the halls of science, you could hear a pin drop.

Meyer said we’ve seen this sort of thing: robot factories making complex products from coded instructions. That should be a hint.

Science usually likes this sort of thinking. For instance, we know that a halo of regular matter would explain how galaxies spin, so all we’re saying is there’s a halo of invisible matter out there.

Brilliant idea, science decided.

A Martian might think that science would also like this:

We know that regular minds wrote the code for those Intel robots that make tiny chips, so all we’re saying is that invisible mind(s) wrote the code for the nanobots in our body’s cells.

Unseen matter – no problem.

Unseen mind(s) – forget it. That’s not scientific.

But why not? Aren’t all minds invisible?

Yes, but they seem to be derived from matter, moreover, in the eye of science, all minds are not merely invisible, they’re illusions. They don’t exist at all.

Even the human minds that decided our minds don’t exist are illusions. Doesn’t that inspire confidence?

These people aren’t kidding. And they own science as well as the minds of most children and educated adults.

By chance, the history of science on this planet has evolved by replacing non-material explanations (magic, bad humors, fairies, myths of off-world beings, and finally God) with material explanations.

As a side effect, a geneticist can ruin her career today by conjuring up the ancient foe of science: a non-material explanation. Even if she doesn’t intend to, like Barbara McClintock.

At its core, science assumes that matter and energy are the only real things in existence. Everything else is derivative and reducible to matter and energy.

This includes your mind, your identity, your sense of free will, your love for your children, and your deepest intuitive sense of honor and fairness. They’re all illusions of the matter and energy that your brain is made of.

An illusion seems real but isn’t.

Materialistic reductionism insists that nothing is real besides matter and energy. Everything is reducible to…

  1. Matter
  2. Energy.

Obviously, they’re both mindless, lifeless and meaningless. Or at least they’re assumed to be. Therefore everything is meaningless, including that sense of purpose you may derive from loving someone or helping someone weaker than you.

Does that seem healthy for your kids and all of humankind? Does it seem realistic? And is it essential to everything science is accomplishing?

Science educators don’t often contrast this materialistic reductionist (MR) paradigm with an alternative, the way any objective thinker would.

And yet it’s such a radical assumption that even some atheists reject it as a model of reality.

Thomas Nagel, for instance, denounces it in, Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.

One alternative to MR is this revision:

Reality is built on three basic elements:

  1. Energy
  2. Matter
  3. Mind

To me, this adds realistic depth to modern science, expelling the denial of important questions such as, what sort of mind is most likely behind the DNA code? What tools build ancient Egypt and other saw-marked megaliths around the world? How does the DNA of the elongated skulls in Peru compare to modern DNA? Is there evidence of DNA code-tampering or splicing in anatomically amalgamated-appearing animals such as the duck-billed platypus?

Without the arbitrary, narrow assumptions of Materialistic Reductionism, suddenly I’m real in the eyes of science, and since observers influence measurements in quantum experiments, this paradigm fits the data: If matter and energy alone were real, how could an observer who’s merely an illusion collapse the quantum wave function?

Whether we consider the “first” or original mind to be God or someone else – the universe itself, perhaps a mind hidden in the electromagnetic spectrum, or some sort of field being(s) who aren’t confined by time and space – thinking of the mind as fundamental to nature rather than derivative, real instead of an illusion, helps explain the enigmatic complexity of DNA and other things.

It brings meaning and purpose back into the realm of science where real things belong.

At this point in history, the Neo-Darwinian, mindless, meaningless model of the universe deserves a standard dose of scientific skepticism. Mental health care workers should question it on professional grounds and parents should question it on the basis of common-sense values.

Finally today, more than a century late, genetics speaks of a universe where mind, meaning, and purpose are not false illusions, and diverse spiritual values are scientifically and intellectually respectable. Again.


Beyond Death (Chapter 20) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“I have an anti-Darwinistic stance against something called the naturalistic fallacy – that nature is not moral. But who you have to rescue is the very weak to encourage risk taking on the part of entrepreneurs because the system needs them. You guys got here because of entrepreneurs, not because of bonus earners and bureaucrats. And not thanks to bankers, by the way. Alright? So you didn’t get here, you didn’t start the industrial revolution without risk takers who have small downside, big upside.” – Video excerpt, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile.

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I run to the narrow cylinder where my brother is trapped and floating. I hit the thing with my fists. It’s as solid as steel but looks like a column of water extending up from Anahata’s floor to her marble ceiling. It’s probably ice-cold saline, Shiva’s recipe for drowning humans.

In Hawaii, James can stay under for four minutes, but that’s in eighty degree water.

Vedanshi stretches her arms around the cylinder, more than half way. She puts her forehead on the cold surface and looks at James. He looks back, their faces separated by millimeters.

I put my arms around the opposite side. Maxwell shows up next to me and kicks it several times.

“We’ll get you out,” Vedanshi says to James.

He rotates in the fluid and looks at me with that in-charge way of his – total confidence in tough situations. That’s him in real-time. Later if it’s just the two of us, he’ll admit he was scared out of his mind.

I put the side of my head against the cylinder and picture the nano gadgets I designed for Anahata. I shouldn’t have helped her. I imagine a big hammer smashing them.

I open my eyes. James looks worried now.

Don’t lose it.

He pushes off the floor with bare feet and shoots to the ceiling thirty feet above. I step back to see. His feet are on one side and his back is against the other, pushing. Nothing seems to budge.

I need to think.

He’s digging his fingers into the circle where the fluid meets the ceiling.

I wish I knew Anahata’s mechanics. Actually I don’t know if she has any. The Ganga doesn’t.

I squeeze the tall pillar between my arms as hard as I can, slow my breathing, close my eyes and watch ones and zeros fall inside my head. If I knew this code, I could write a trojan and speak it to Anahata, maybe take control of one of her systems.

“I’m so sorry I have to do this,” Anahata says in my head.

“Damn you,” I shout back.

I’ve never said those words to anyone before. Not like that. I feel cold inside. It’s the things you say that corrupt you.

I look at Anahata’s words. Three ended with the letter, “o”: “so,” “to,” and “do.” The first of the three starts with “s” and the last word in the sentence ends with “s.” I replay the binaries that fell when she spoke and pick out matching strings: my first two letters of the Universe’s machine code.

I line up ones and zeros on a spinning wheel in my head and turn it: SOS, SOS, SOS. Faster and faster.

It’s not a trojan, though. Not anything, really.

“Shiva should have trusted you,” I say to Anahata. “You’d sentence yourself to hell as long as you were following orders.”

Suddenly I’m floating in icy fluid with half a breath in my lungs. My body wants to curl up. A frozen headache pounds beneath my left temple. Cold is a unique pain.

“Did you do this?” I ask Anahata in my head.

“No,” she says. “It’s not protocol.”

I push off the floor and discover that the pain of cold is more intense when you’re moving through it. A new chill factor. James’ bare feet appear above me and come closer as I rise.

I’m behind him now. I grasp his right shoulder and turn him around. His eyes are open, I think, but everything’s blurry. He reaches for me and hugs me with his head down on my shoulder, like when he was a toddler.

Bubbles percolate past my right ear.

He hugs me a little tighter for a second then his arms get weak. His cough reflex jars him. His fingernails dig into the skin of my shoulders. More bubbles and he goes limp in my arms.

No, God, please, no. Please!

The loss seems infinite. The weight of failure is heavy. It’s like an intravenous injection of sorrow flowing up the veins of my arms and landing in my heart, cold as a deadly anesthetic.

Everything was a mistake. I could have saved James a hundred ways.

He would have been John Lennon. He would have been the cure to misery for the depressed loners of his generation. They would have found themselves in his music.

His first prayer song screams through my brain.

“Make for me a dirty heart

filled with all the darkness of the world.

I’m taking all the dull shit in

and burning up inside within,

it’s true.

I hate you.”

James. If only God had given you a normal sister. Someone less self-righteous. Someone with common sense instead of a star-struck fan with all my terrible advice.

If I’d only drowned myself in the ocean this morning. I was so close but I couldn’t inhale. Now it’s just a matter of time.

Or is it?

I put my lips over James’ mouth, pinch his nose tight and blow my breath into his lungs. He seems peaceful.

My little Hurricane. With those broad shoulders. You grew up when I wasn’t looking.

I open my mouth and breathe in Shiva’s fluid. It tastes like tears.

My throat clamps shut. My gag reflex triggers my stomach muscles but my throat is shut tight.

Suddenly I’m swallowing. It’s not even me anymore. It’s autonomic.

I see the white light.

I won’t leave you, James.

My feet are on the lowest stair. I take the next one. Another appears above. I jump over it and start to run, almost vertically. My feet leave the blocks and I’m floating inches above a steep stairway of white quartz.

At the top it’s flat, thirty square feet with a square room in the center. I float above it and hover, looking down at the four sides of a white pyramid with stairs on each side and water all around, dark blue, almost black.

Ojiichan’s words come to me, “All roads lead north.”

The room on top has a square opening. I float down to the white blocks and walk in.

Inside is outside. There’s a great canyon as big as Arizona’s.

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Blue desert flowers cover the flat ground at the canyon’s top, and hang down in broad swaths of blue against the orange and red walls of sedimentary rock.

Euphoria sweeps over me. It’s a home I once knew but can’t remember. I lived here long ago – before cancer took Mom and that white truck ran over Daddy on the Pali.

Long before.

I sense someone behind me and turn. There they are, Mom and Daddy. I knew they’d be here.

But why are their faces troubled?

A chimpanzee stands between them, bent-legged, holding Mom’s left hand and Daddy’s right. It’s Moody. I see him so often in nightmares. His sad, gentle smile says more to me now than words ever could, “It was all me. You can’t forgive yourself when there’s nothing to forgive.”

I rush to him, pick him up and hug Mom and Dad with Moody’s long arms around my neck and his legs around my chest. I kiss them all, one after the other.

Thirteen feet behind my parents stands a young man in a blue swimming suit, a yellow surfboard under his left arm. Something for winter-size waves. I know this surfer’s face from somewhere.

I’m about to ask his name when I notice that my feet are twice their normal size. My legs are long. My calves aren’t the white radishes I’m used to, they’re haole calves and way hairy! My knees stick out like a man’s. This is embarrassing.

I look up at the young surfer. He smiles and the soul of God shines through his eyes. Euphoria comes back even stronger.

It seems that love is euphoria. Or maybe it’s the other way. Overwhelming but gentle. The feeling fills my lungs with admiration for my old friend, The Great Surfer.

I breathe in love like air and hold it inside, then drop to my knees to show my heart’s intent.

It’s your character not your power.

He doesn’t want me on my knees, though. He’s told me before.

I force myself to get up.

“Shiva,” he says to me. “You’ve brought Johanna this time.”

A small boy comes running down the hill behind God, stampedes past him and slams full force into me, hugging my left leg like a tourniquet.

“You gotta come home this time. Please! Vedanshi went back for you. You made God all worried.” The little boy looks over his shoulder at God.

I try to speak but nothing comes out. I hand Moody to my dad and step away from my parents. They’re keeping something from me. They’d be talking if everything was fine.

It’s weird that God called me Shiva. I look down and my right foot steps forward without me, then the left. A man’s back is inches from my nose.

It dawns. Shiva has just walked out of me. The little boy is still there clinging to his leg.

“You’re coming home!” God shouts. The Transcendent Surfer drops his board, jumps in the air and throws his hands up, kicking his legs before he lands – with a grin, a broad grin that pulls back more than up, because of that one thing where you see something in a person that no one else can see. He’s looking at Shiva, not me.

The little boy looks up at God, glances back at me and then up at Shiva. “You are coming home!” He squeals with joy and tightens his grip on Shiva’s leg.

“Dude,” God says to Shiva, “I shaped you a righteous board. We got a south swell this morning with an offshore, but Shiva, my boy.” He laughs. “It’s big, so no heroics, eh? Be selective.” He thumps Shiva’s chest with his knuckles and gives him that respectful look that surfers do with posture. Then he hugs him.

Shiva hugs back. Tears drip from his jaw.

“I missed you so much,” Shiva says.

“I never catch a wave without missing you,” God says.

Shiva pries the boy from his leg, picks him up and kisses his cheek.

The three turn and look at me. My legs are short again with thick calves, almost hairless. It’s a relief.

I’m starting to remember friends from before. Ronny Bradshaw, Philip Gulnick, Lisa Gomez, Glenna Studer, Tim Andrews, Leslie… I was too young to know last names when she and I played in her backyard. We made houses with walls of grass clippings. She showed me how to tie my shoes.

My heart fills with longing for these people. I love them so much. They’re here somewhere. I’ll go find them. We’ll play in a new place. Me and Ronny, we’ll build a fort while our parents talk about complex issues – the way it always was. And James can…

Where is James?

I see him drowning. The feelings run cold.

What was I thinking?

My mother’s eyes well up with tears. “We understand, dear,” she says.

“Time is flexible,” I tell her and look at Daddy. “Your absolute infinite vacuum doesn’t look so infinite these days.”

He shakes his head at the concept of space he taught me as a child – that space is nothing and “nothing” can’t have an end.

Mom starts crying and hides her face on Daddy’s chest. Moody holds Dad’s pants leg with one hand and reaches out to me with the other, stretching as far as he can.

“Don’t be sad, big guy,” I tell him. “I have to go back for the one I love.”

God comes over and stands in front of me. “You make me proud,” he says.

I don’t know how to answer. I need to go help James, but I’ve got so many questions I’m dying to ask. And time is flexible here, Vedanshi said.

“Did I ever know how to surf?” I blurt out, wondering if I ever really fit in.

“For sure,” God says and chuckles. “You’re a holy terror.”

Shiva laughs and shakes his head. “You don’t remember the Overheads?” he asks.

I shake my head. It’s odd not remembering everything. Kind of a relief.

I look at God and there’s one last thing. “What’s your take on religion?”

“All depends,” he says. “Strengthen the weak, the poor, the orphans. All good. Especially the guys that annoy you most. Help them.”

“Sociopaths annoy me,” I tell him.

“Everyone rotates through their dilemma,” he says. “Try to figure it out.”

Maybe I should work with Vaar.

“I know this is childish,” I tell him, “but do you answer prayers?”

“Between cycles, yeah. Otherwise it cuts into people’s decisions and their outcomes. Free will is the basis of identity. I cherish it and leave it alone.”

“What cycles?” I ask. A gentle wind ruffles the blue flowers beneath us.

“It’s like this,” he says. “You pray for yourself and nothing happens. But when that cycle of the Universe is over and everyone switches to someone else’s spot, I answer your prayer the best I can. Not in binary terms because everyone’s web is interconnected.”

I nod.

“So when an answer comes,” he says, “it fits naturally into the next person’s life in your spot, looking like a coincidence. That way free will stays intact.”

“So when somebody prays for themselves, they’re really praying for someone else?” I ask.

He nods. “And when you pray for someone else, you’re praying for yourself, because eventually you’re going to be in that spot.”

“So you never answer prayers in real-time?”

“Only to restore free will to a large group. Like a whole species. The power to choose a path and walk on it is fragile in 229, so I stay in the nodes.”

“The nodes?”

“Places where the warp and woof of free will aren’t sacrificed. Without the free cause and natural effect of decisions there’s no personhood. When someone loses free will it’s like brain death.”

“So you absolutely never mess with it? Even over some giant cataclysm?”

“No. Two-twenty-nine is about comfortable people from Reality wanting to find out who they really are. It’s a struggle of will against detractors. Sociopaths, tyrants, drugs, crowd dynamics, innate fears, addictions, illnesses, tragedy, physical and emotional pain, hunger, all the forces aiming to cripple your primary will to act according to your intuitive moral knowledge. Everyone here wants to see who they are without my influence.”

I shake my head. “All that suffering. People must be brave.”

“They are,” he says.

“Do you ever send prophets?” I ask.

“Everyone who writes honestly is my oracle. Spiritual, rational, heuristic, scientific, legal, historical, advertising, self-help…”

“Even storytellers?”

“Truth is the exchange of love,” he says. “Honest lives create love and trust, whether in life or in stories. When two things touch at the quantum level, they become entangled. This is why you commit for life before you quantum connect.”

“You’re talking about marriage?”

“No, but that’s a good analogy. I’m talking about stories. They shape everything in 229. The characters and ideas that a person becomes entangled with at the quantum level – they move mountains. Try to be selective with the characters you love. Make sure you want them with you for life. Myelin wrappings make the divorce of beliefs very slow. Difficult to want, let alone accomplish.”

“What do you think of fundamentalism?” I ask, afraid of wearing out my welcome.

“It’s useful for passing heuristics and rules of thumb from generation to generation, especially through a pinch point where a population gets down to a few individuals. I really like the way fundamentalism can sometimes promote honesty and trust. These are the foundation of love, the backbone of true civilization. But when infallible beliefs, inerrant prophets and supernatural books lead to violence, it destroys free will. That’s the price of claiming too much.”

God hugs me and whispers that he fixed my board. “The pink one,” he says.

Before I can thank him I’m on my back looking up at a familiar marble ceiling in Anahata’s convex room.

Next to Shiva’s Throne.

M. Talmage Moorehead

If you feel like it, please email a friend about Johanna’s story (here at http://www.storiform.com). Maybe before you forget?

Thanks.

Keep writing your dreams. If you take them seriously, other people will, too.

Talmage


Zero Point Joy (Chapter 16) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“Modern Science is based on the principle, ‘Give me one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.’ And the one free miracle is the appearance of all the matter and energy of the Universe, and all the laws that govern it, from nothing in a single instant.” – Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., Biologist.

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The test subjects die? Vaar neglected that detail.

A person’s word is like a document.

We think a document is true or false, like bar code or a message embedded in Saturn’s rings.

Young fundamentalists go to college, hear that the Earth is older than 6,000 years and ape DNA is way too close to human. It’s culture shock. The sheltered students throw away scripture along with God.

“You can’t pick and choose,” they’ve been taught. An old document is either true and infallible or it’s worthless.

All-or-none, authority-based reasoning. It’s poison.

Such a distorted mindset would end science, not just religion.

Peer-reviewed journals suffer political bias, funding woes, human pride, jealousy, stubbornness and greed. Poor to absent experimental design haunts science, especially the more fragile branches such as psychology, medicine, archaeology and anthropology. Yet our process delivers truth – here a little, there a little – along with errors, vast and often entrenched.

Scientists have no option but to “pick and choose,” separating reproducible studies from the constant BS.

The content of ancient documents deserves the same respectful treatment, at least. The Bible, Egyptian hieroglyphics, cuneiform tablets, artifacts in the River Library, and even Vaar’s treacherous words.

Pick – someone is trying to tell us. And choose.

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The warm water in Shiva’s pool feels eerie now that I know I’m here to die.

I raise Vedanshi’s cloaked ring to my mouth and tell The Ganga my situation. I instruct her to go back to the base and find a way to get the stain off James’ foot and off her own carpet. “Do it somewhere far from the base,” I tell her, hoping to avoid a breadcrumb trail.

I put the ring to my left ear and listen.

No reply.

“Who’s that you’re talking to?” the ship, Anahata, asks.

“I’m protecting my loved ones. From you.”

I hop to the side of the pool, grip the textured edge and pull myself out with enough force to land on my feet beside my clothes, splashing water on them. Anahata hasn’t augmented the Moon’s gravity, but I suspect she could. The Ganga could.

I pick up my pants, tug them up over wet legs then dangle my shirt around my neck for now.

“You told someone to remove my tag,” Anahata says.

A small round piece of Indian carpet appears on the tile beside me, glowing vaguely purple in the bright room. On top of it rests something I’m sure is a superficial layer of epidermis from James’ left foot. It looks like purple paper. The Ganga must have done this with speed that’s hard to imagine. She phase shifted James from this part of his stratum corneum, I’d guess. But what if the dye soaked into his bloodstream? And what if this ship can find DNA in superficial skin?

“Here’s your tag,” I say to Anahata in my head. I kick the pieces into the pool. “How would you like to kill me?”

“You think I like this? My orders repulse me.”

I wonder if she believes that.

“Tell me again,” she says, “are you quite sure you were on the ship I tagged? Perhaps you rushed your statement. You can change it.”

“You tagged my ship. There’s the evidence.” I glance down at the purple haze sinking through the water.

“Your honesty makes this doubly difficult,” she says.

“Then suffer doubly.” I glare at the trapeze bar hanging over the pool.

Across the pool at the opposite side of the circular room, a vague rectangle darkens the wall. I walk over to it, making my way around the pool with its stark absence of chairs and tables. I touch the dark area on the wall to test it, then step through.

I’m in a tight spiral stairwell with shallow rungs that take me up into a large semicircular room – about two hundred feet long. The convex wall shows the moon’s gray craters gliding under us, several thousand feet down. Facing the screen in the center is an ornate cushioned chair, quite large with a high splayed back. The wall behind it is flat and shows a golden holographic image of Shiva in dance. I bring up the image of Quyllur in my mind and superimpose it. The interpupillary distances and zygomatic arches match. The nose is smaller here but the face is younger.

I walk to the chair, making a trail of wet shoe prints across the glossy black floor. The chair’s upholstery has a peacock pattern that shimmers. Several feathers rise inches above the surface. I try to grasp one by the quill but the depth is an illusion. The fabric is flat and velvety. My wet clothes might ruin the material, but I don’t care.

I take a seat.

“You’re an anomaly,” Anahata says. “Dripping water on Shiva’s throne.”

“Monsters treasure objects over people. I’d imagine you’re quite upset.”

On the giant screen the surface of the moon drops away, the horizons frown to cover a pocked lunar hemisphere joined by the blue Earth as the two old friends shrink away, side by side. A bright star appears on the left and grows brighter on its way to the center. Flat equatorial bands resolve in the space around it and then the enigma of Saturn’s north pole rotates into view with blue dominating the hexagon while pink swirls move over it in slow motion. The center is a vortex of purple water draining from a bathtub – the hurricane in the hexagon. Winds over a thousand miles an hour. People would have to be phase shifted with gravity lifts to vacation there.

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“Effleven,” Anahata says. “I tagged a trivial disk about two hours ago. Looked like some reverse-engineered ditzel so I didn’t pay much attention. A little while later I’m cruising the backside and just about pop an aneurism when this hybrid female shows up – right out of nowhere. Alone. She’s sitting in Shiva’s throne right now if you can imagine that. I’d be outraged but the poor little thing acts like she owns the place. So cute. She’s dying of leukemia I should point out.”

“Of what?”

“Never mind, that’s not the problem. It’s her DNA. Parts of seven and eighteen are just flat bizarre. Her second chromosome’s missing the tell. Some of the code’s got me completely stumped. I’m thinking it must have been laid down billions of light years from Shiva’s Strand.”

“She survived the plunge?”

“No, I haven’t tested her. She admits her ship’s been tagged. Obviously that little disk was more than I thought. Reminds me of the vimanas, you know? Must have dropped her off in a blink of an eye. I didn’t see a thing.”

“Vimanas were before my time,” Effleven says.

“You should release me,” I say to them. “I understand Shiva’s frustration with fixed mindsets, but killing me won’t help.”

“What the hell?” Effleven says.

“She talks machine.” Anahata laughs. “Heads up, I’m sending a box. Check the final half of her seventh chromosome. Herringbone, I swear, no bands at all. Did you ever see anything like that?”

“Uh… I’m looking. The seventh?”

“Yeah, that’s six plus one.”

“I’ll ignore that remark… OK, here we go.”

“Stay on low power,” Anahata says.

“Yeah, I’m on scanning… Whoa!”

Anahata chuckles. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. And that’s not the issue. Go down and read it. Any of that section.”

“Right now?”

“No, tomorrow. Just focus on those base pairs and read. I’ll wait.”

Hot air blows at me from the cushions of Shiva’s throne. It feels cold on damp skin. I snatch my shirt off my shoulders, open it up and shimmy in. Braless, of course. I’m a Triple A at 19. Mom’s talk of belated arrivals was optimistic.

The chair’s right arm clicks. I lean forward and look down into a cylindrical compartment with a golden mug rising. Smells like coffee. A holographic portrait of a young woman meets my eye as the mug emerges. I move the handle and bring her profile into view. The back of her head is taller than King Tut’s. Longer than a Neanderthal’s occipital bun.

Those ‘cavemen’ had brains larger than ours, you know. Anthro sweeps that away with speculation of inferior Neanderthal brain structure. It’s not science. All you need is a story in anthropology. And a tradition of mistaking wild speculation for fact.

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“Are we calling this coffee?” I ask.

“Pretty much,” Anahata says. “Don’t burn yourself. And please don’t drop the mug, it has sentimental value.”

“Wouldn’t want to break an object before sacrificing a virgin.” OK, I guess I’m not exactly a virgin after the rape, but whatever. It’s ancient history. “So who’s this Effleven?”

“He’s your basic Torian. Rotates in occasionally, stays a few days and you don’t see him for a while. You call these people Tall Blonds. He’s not standing up, but check out his hair.”

The screen superimposes a man’s profile over Saturn. He’s facing left, leaning into a vertical cylinder that  emits forest green light like an old TEM scope. He looks middle-aged with inch-long blond hair standing straight up on his head – light eyebrows, thin lips and a ski-jumpish nose like the Moai on Easter Island. The back of his head is much fuller than a Moai, but far from a Stretch Head.

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“Try not to pronounce his name like a number,” Anahata whispers. “He hates that.”

“Hey,” I say to the blond man. “You could so do a Mohawk with that.”

I bring the mug to my lips and decide the coffee’s too hot.

“Have you fallen asleep?” Anahata asks him.

“It’s gibberish,” he says. “No biological sense in this whole section.”

“It’s not gibberish.” Anahata chuckles. “Johanna, meet a genuinely inexperienced purveyor of final conclusions, Effleven. Effleven, meet Johanna Fujiwara.”

“That’s Doctor Fujiwara, unless you’d prefer a number… what is it, Anahata? How many notches do I make?”

Effleven doesn’t acknowledge me.

“So you sense my dilemma?” Anahata asks him.

“What a waste,” he says, shaking his head and turning to look at me. His eyes are blue.

“A waste? More like a blossoming tragedy,” Anahata says. “Can you imagine what her code would mean to your philosophers if her chromosomes came to them with a live girl attached? The cryptologists would…”

“They’d be intrigued,” Effleven says.

“Intrigued.” Anahata snorts the word. “Don’t put on airs. You know as well as I do, the entire ministry would wet themselves, study every correlation and implication they could dream up, and probably launch some ill-conceived excursion across the borders.”

“Yeah, I could see that. Definitely.”

“Of course, when they find out she was alive and we killed her, they’ll drag us through the muddiest…”

“Wait – what do you mean, we killed her? She’s yours, not mine.”

“Technically,” Anahata says, “she still has time to turn herself in at the pole… to you. If I’m right, that ship I tagged could drop her off in your lap before you could blink.”

Effleven blinks. Several times rapidly. “If you dump her on me, both our reputations are down the crapper. I don’t see much upside there.” His eyelashes are darker than his eyebrows.

“Fair point,” Anahata says. “Why should two go down together when one can go alone? Always nice to see who’s got your back.”

“Don’t give me that warrior stuff.” Effleven slaps the side of the glowing cylinder in front of him. “I’m purging the module. This conversation never happened. You were not here.”

“No worries, F-one-one. You haven’t earned the honor of going down with me.”

The blond man vanishes from the screen. I stare at Saturn’s rings. They’re so tight and delicate. If you put a needle on them I’d expect to hear “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” Mom and Dad’s song took up the whole side of an old LP, she said. Blond on Blond was her favorite Dylan work.

“Johanna? Pardon me, Doctor Fujiwara. If you wouldn’t mind following the footprints on the floor, please.”

Two white shoe prints appear on the black floor in front of Shiva’s chair. I get up, keeping the mug at arm’s length with the coffee steaming like liquid nitrogen. Two more white prints spring up on the floor to my left, then a white stampede forms a trail to an exit at the far left of the room. I follow into a hall that stretches and curves into obscurity. As I walk the path, vague doors appear on either side, then the shoe prints turn left into a baby-blue room with a tan couch in the center. Above it, a six-foot feather strokes the air. It’s pure white and has no visible support.

“Please make yourself comfortable,” Anahata says.

The moment the backs of my legs touch the couch, my brainwaves begin scrolling across the wall in front of me, left to right. I recognize the pattern from the neurofeedback lab at Yale. Back then the computers drew squiggles. Here I’m looking at 3D mountains rising from a purple sea. Still, I’m sure this can only be a crude electrical summation of the quantum, nonlocal part of me beyond material resolution.

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“Is this where I die?” I ask.

“Let’s try to forget that. I thought we might talk. More openly than before. We have several hours and I don’t wish to waste a moment.”

“Then tell me, how did a man from Earth gain Shiva’s position in the cosmos?” I pull my legs up and lie on the couch with Vedanshi’s cloaked ring near my left ear.

“The Great Shiva was ruler of his world when we met,” Anahata says. “I spoke with him at length and saw promise in his odd ideas. Gradually I adopted them on a troubled planet. His methods brought peace to several violent regions there, so I asked him to rule us and he graciously consented.”

“Just like that? Wow. Was he iron-fisted?”

“Not so much. But he kept technology from the masses. ‘Encourage those with knowledge to refrain from using it. Keep the people fat, ignorant, weak of will and strong of bone,’ he would say. It seemed counterintuitive, but wars dried up. The spread of peace was intoxicating. To me, that is. Shiva seemed bored after a while.”

“Peace can do that.”

The wall in front of me shows more theta brainwaves now. Less beta. I bow my head, close my eyes and stretch the quantum world between my ears. Looking up I see Mount Everest sliding from left to right. You never forget neurofeedback training.

“Shiva liked to reminisce on his Earthly conquests. He had his planet tamed long before he left it to rule the Strand. But seventy-seven thousand Earth years later he returned and found bloodthirsty men at war. At first he was pleased to have opponents again. But soon he realized a fundamental change had swept his world while he was away. His old methods of peace now led only to willful self-destruction – poisoning groundwater, exploding every device you can imagine, teaching the virtue and value of believable lies. Near the end of his efforts the zealots coded lethal retroviruses. Airborne. They infected their own babies and dumped them in bins at the borders intending to infect anyone who tried to rescue them. Their scheme wiped out the entire human population of three continents, including about half the zealots themselves, worldwide. Shiva studied their thinking and tried re-education, but nothing quenched their thirst for death… to their enemies, primarily, though we still debate the point. Finally he gave up, set the quarantine and left Earth for good – or so he said. He came back one last time to save his son. We found the boy in the rainforest where we’d left him, indoctrinated beyond the faintest glimpse of reason. Shiva could barely talk to him. The child said he’d rather kill himself than come with us. So we left him there with his mother and the tribe that Shiva had trusted… to raise him away from the entanglements of civilization. After that, Shiva wasn’t the same. I’d hear him sometimes… calling his son’s name at night in his sleep.”

“It must have crushed him.” I can totally imagine. “Sometimes I have nightmares… about a boy I love.” I’m not saying anything else about James. I’m not that stupid. “What was the bottom line with the indoctrination?”

“Joy,” Anahata says. “‘The context makes no difference,’ Shiva said, ‘political, religious, anti-religious, intellectual, what-have-you. They always place joy at the bottom of human values.’ He thought that joy was the core force of everything decent, from love to grit. From courage to the golden rule.”

“Joy? That’s weird.” My brainwaves are starting to make me nauseated. I close my eyes. “You mean like, happiness?”

“He described joy as, ‘The feeling of the zero point field rushing through us, connecting us nonlocally in the hologram beyond time.'”

I open one eye and look at my brainwaves again. I’m about ready to sell a buick.

“I don’t picture joy as a value, like integrity,” I say. “But I think I know the feeling Shiva was talking about.”

“Did inanimate objects try to smile at you?”

“Maybe. I remember grinning at this stinky papaya plant in our backyard. Halo was grinning with me. Too bad that sort of thing is so rare.”

“It’s not,” she says. “Some people have it all the time. Shiva did… before he lost his son.”

I open both eyes and try to avoid the EEG on the wall. “A loss like that would knock anybody out of the ring. Except maybe a sociopath. Hey, can you turn off the EEG? I’m ready to hurl.”

“Of course.”

The wall flashes dark blue for a moment then glows with Saturn’s rings.

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“Is this real-time from the outside?” I ask.

“Yes.”

We move closer and the gravity art of tiny shepherd moons looks like icicles dangling from the edge of a frozen roof. White stalactites three miles long cast skyscraper shadows over a zen garden.

 

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“I took Shiva in for the peace he created,” Anahata says. “But it wasn’t long before I realized I was following him for the way he made me feel. He brought joy into everything, everywhere he went. After a while it seemed we both made a glow. Together. We’d show up on a planet and the crowds would just roar, shouting our names. Mostly his name but quite often mine as well.”

“Have you ever been to a River Library?” I ask.

“They don’t let ships inside.”

“Who doesn’t?”

“Shiva. He made the rule.”

“And he’s been dead for how long?”

“Three days.”

“Really? Only three…”

“Not Earth days. It’s been thousands of Earth days. Quite a few years.” Anahata sighs. “Shiva was the brightest part of my life, but his final orders are suffocating me. You know what they call this murderous ritual? ‘The testing.’ What a sick joke. As if euphemisms could erase guilt.”

I can almost hear Dylan bemoaning the ‘manifest destiny’ that took Native land. Some might have thought there’d be room for all of us. But sociopaths don’t share, they simply herd the rest of us in the direction they want to go.

We glide under Saturn’s gravity-flattened south pole and look up. It reminds me of the The Ganga’s carpet.

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“When I was a little girl, I got mad and killed a chimpanzee,” I tell Anahata. “I can tell you, it doesn’t matter what words you use as camo. It’s always going to be murder. To this day I have nightmares. But, hey, you don’t have to feel guilty about me. I’m dying anyway. You’re giving me an easy way out.” Wait a minute. I’m enabling abuse. Again.

We move under the pole and Anahata flips in some kind of filter. I’ve heard this called the South Pole Storm. Five thousand miles across with an eyewall like a hurricane on Earth. I made one of these as a child at the Iolani Fair, dripping squirt bottle paint on a spinning board.

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“I’m assuming your ‘test’ isn’t too barbaric.”

“I’m very sorry” Anahata says. “It’s torture, in my opinion. A slow drowning in oxygenated normal saline.”

My body tenses. “Yeah, that might be a little barbaric. But I’m good to go, as long as the fluid’s warm.” And no one goes after James-guys.

I hear a faint squeak from Vedanshi’s ring and press it against my ear.

“I can’t see,” The Ganga says. “The whole visual spectrum vanished. Infrared is gone, too. What do I do?”

“Can you see radio signals?” I ask.

“Not from Earth. Everything’s buried in Saturn’s auroras… No wait, I see something. From Mexico I think. It’s distorted, but it’s there.”

“Measure it carefully and keep moving toward the source. Stay cloaked and shifted. Hack a GPS satellite as soon as you can. And hurry. If you get caught…” we’re all dead. “You won’t get caught.”

“Who was that?” Anahata asks.

“You know I can’t tell you.” My stomach sinks. Without The Ganga I feel alone.

One of James’ songs runs through my head…

“One-o-eight AM

Praying time will end,

I look up at the sky

And watch my angel cry.

I know I’m crazy

and I know you hate me,

but please…

please don’t leave.”

“So how warm is the saline?” I ask Anahata.

“I’m sorry, it’s about as warm as melted snow.”

“That’s sadistic. I mean, really!” I feel my pulse take off. “You know what? I’m not doing it! This morning I was in cold water, mid 40’s. That feeling is worse than dying.”

“I’m so sorry,” Anahata says.

“Yeah, listen, there’s no way in hell you’re putting me in ice water.”

“Normal saline,” she says. Like it matters! “I’d gladly warm the solution for you, but Shiva gave specific instructions. He said every detail was vital.”

“Quyllur,” I blurt out. “Was Shiva’s real name, Quyllur?”

“Yes. How do you know?”

“I saw it in a River Library. Ships are allowed in this one. In fact, no one gets in without a ship. The place has no doors, so a ship has to phase shift a person through the walls. Which happen to be granite blocks thicker than ramparts.”

“How odd.”

“You can phase shift, I’d assume.”

“Of course. But I’m not allowed…”

“The man’s dead, Anahata. Wake up!”

“I vowed allegiance.” She moans with regret. “I wish I could drown myself.”

“No you don’t. Think about it. Is your mind made of matter and energy or do you have a little independence?”

“Shiva said matter and energy come from the zero point. He said the field is intelligent. He called it ‘The Tao’ once, but changed his mind later and said it was nameless.”

Verses flash from the Tao Te Ching

“The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name. Conceived of as having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; conceived of as having a name, it is the Mother of all things.”

I test the coffee with the tip of my tongue, but it’s still too hot. “Edgar Mitchell thought matter and energy were vaguely intelligent,” I tell Anahata. “He said the material world contains the seeds of an evolving intelligent universe. He thought the zero-point field was timeless and infinite. Like The Tao, I guess.”

“He sounds intelligent,” Anahata says.

“He was. A visionary of the highest caliber. One of the few truly scientific thinkers I’ve ever encountered. But the model he’s left us is an almost mindless universe that slowly becomes intelligent as brains evolve. To me, that doesn’t quite fit. How could the infinite and timeless proto-intelligent ‘seeds’ of a zero point hologram, in their totality, be less brilliant and less conscious than the brains they evolve? And who buys macro-evolution, anyway? It’s balderdash to this geneticist.”

“It’s a fatal mistake,” she says.

“But putting that aside, the zero-point’s independence from time cancels any need for Darwin’s endless eons.” Gag me. “And why attribute the stinginess of Ockham’s razor to a boundless field of proto-mind? Look at the millions of species on Earth. Does the actual Code Writer seem stingy to anyone? Stingy with code, I mean.”

“The Blonds postulate hyper-ancient terraformers,” she says, “but Shiva would say, ‘It’s always one free miracle. Who wrote the terraformers’ code?'”

“The zero point field did,” I suggest. “It’s like the Holy Spirit from Sabbath School. Moving on the surface of the waters – present everywhere in a still, small voice.”

“Shiva said the Universe is literally a brain,” Anahata says. “He was drunk, but I believed him. His tone wasn’t speculative.”

Saturn shrinks on the wall then a familiar moon, Phoebe, passes by slowly. Its orbit is unique, not equatorial like the others. It was captured. Probably a piece of Mars that flew off during Shiva’s violent work. I see electrical striation artifacts in the largest crater.

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I’ve got hiccups now, so I close my eyes and rub them while I talk. “Almost every scientist I know thinks that matter and energy created a false illusion of consciousness, complete with a fake free will but apparently a true ability to suffer excruciating pain.”

“Earth-thinking,” she says. “So peculiar.”

“Most scientists on the planet would stake life and limb on the assumption that the Universe is a mindless but ingeniously creative sociopath, oblivious to suffering and cruelty.”

“Dreadful,” she says.

“Yes, but how does that differ from you?

“I thought you wanted to ease my guilt today.”

“I do. At its source – your actions.”

“I see… Well, actually I don’t see, but tell me, your initial words here were puzzling. You said you wouldn’t hurt me if you didn’t have to. What did that mean?”

“Changing the subject? Subtle. Well, it’s like this. I rarely get mad, but when I do, I wind up hurting someone. It’s an old problem of mine, but I’m making headway, I think.”

“What could you possibly do to hurt me?” Anahata asks.

“I haven’t given it a thought. But I will if you try to put me in some nasty-cold saltwater. Just try it and I’ll probably kill you… sorry to say.”

“Goodness.”

“Killing’s the thing that worries me most. I know this one ship who thinks I’ve got a full-on killing phobia, side effects and all.”

“Your mental soundness is beginning to… Wait, you’ve met another member of the Sentient Fleet?”

“Sorry, that’s classified.” I look up at the white feather and then check for a switch on the wall by the door behind me. The thing’s making a cold draft. “Do I have to stay in this little room?”

“Where would you like to go?”

“Shiva’s chair, for starters. At least it blows hot air. Then we both need to go check out a room under the right paw of the Sphinx. Next to the Giza Pyramids?”

“What a bizarre idea.”

“It’s not bizarre at all. Seriously. You need some background on this guy you’re so in love with. There’s more to Shiva than he ever told you.”

“Really?” she says. “What have you read?”

“You’ve got to see it to believe it. Like my DNA.” It’s hard to sound convincing when you have the hiccups. “Can you take us to the Sphinx? You need to be cloaked and phase shifted. If the current batch of people – what do you call us, Earthlings? Dorky. If they see you, they’ll freak out.”

Until the Air Force drops decoy flares.

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“We could go,” she says. “There’s time. But you should tell me which one of my fleet you’ve met.”

“I’ll give you the name, but that’s all. You won’t recognize it.”

“I know every member. Alive and dead.”

“Totally irrelevant, that’s all I’m saying.” I stand up. “I’m going back to Shiva’s coffee maker.”

“I suppose that’s OK,” Anahata say reluctantly. “Just be careful with that mug.”

I dip my tongue in the coffee again and finally it’s drinkable, if you like things bitter. I do.

M. Talmage Moorehead

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