2009-12-29

Living and Not

Before, I used a metaphor of a storm to describe a person, to explain how we can understand a person as a process. Each one of us is, indeed, a force of nature. We are like storms in matter that give rise to spiritual storms. We usually do not think that storms will last very long, but under the right circumstances, they can last indefinitely. Perpetuating a process requires preparing and maintaining the right conditions. Maintaining a life and a living person requires arranging the right conditions..
 
The spiritual is different from the physical, but the two are interdependent, and the spiritual depends upon the physical for determining the nature that it has. There can be body without spirit, if the body is incomplete or disordered or defective in some way. There can also be a spirit enabled by more than one type of body. But no spirit can exist without some sort of body, because spirit needs some type of embodiment to give rise to it. There can be many types of bodies - biological, robotic, virtual, utility fog. But in all of these, in some way, embodiment in the world can give rise to spirit.
 
The soul arises from the working of the body. That means the body is not worthless or inferior. The body must be working right in order for the soul to work right. When the brain is damaged, a person's mind is deranged. What people eat or drink may affect how they think or feel. This is because the soul arises from the working of the body. When injury to the body is healed, injury to the mind can be healed. This is why a person who has a fever may be delirious, but when the fever goes away, the person's mind returns to normal. So the soul depends upon a body, and the two are not separate or separable.
 
If the full, characteristic process of person does not continue for a time, for the time during which it does not continue, the person is not present. We can say that when a person is thoroughly unconscious, the person as a living soul is absent for that time. The distinctive person, as a living person, is paused. But if consciousness is regained, the person resumes. A person may continue in a modified form, as in a dream, but when the dream ends, the original person can continue.
 
When a person's body is lastingly altered, as in brain damage or brain illness, such as Alzheimer's disease, the person may be modified, so that the previous person as a distinctive process does not fully continue. Although the body may continue, and the mind of a discernible person may be present, worthy of all our compassion, disorder of the body can lead to a condition in which the previous person is absent in the most meaningful sense. So the continuation of the full person as a living spirit depends upon not only on an embodiment, but upon an embodiment which can continue the characteristic process of the person, including that person's character of mind or spirit. 
 
When a person's body "dies", the soul can still be available from the body which supported it, although the soul is inactive, similar in some ways to the case of a person who is undreamingly asleep or deeply unconscious. If the parts of the body which supported the soul are destroyed, the soul itself is no longer able to be supported, although it continues to exist, as what it was, in the past, along with all things that have been. But there can be no "ghosts" in the present, and there can be no disembodied spirits. There is no passing away or to another (to another place or to another person).
 
We have come to two conclusions that are not obvious to many - that the potential of soul, of a living person in his or her characteristic nature, can survive in the body after the cessation of heartbeat and all activity in the brain; and yet, the realization of that person can cease while the body continues to live, even when a certain person continues to be realized by the body as a mind. This is why we should not see the death of the body as necessarily the death of the soul, but we understand that the soul can die before the body dies.
 
Physical reality makes spiritual reality possible, not the reverse. Matter is the fulcrum of spirit. By controlling the physical, one can control the spiritual. The omnipotence over the physical and thus the spiritual also is an aspect of godhood, which is coming into being.
 
Uplifting the body is one way to uplift the soul, and this is important to understand, because the soul is not only enabled but also limited by its body. By uplifting the body, the soul can be uplifted. Our bodies must be able to support the realization of the divine nature, the divine mind and soul. Our present-day bodies cannot yet support the realization of this divine nature, so we must work toward uplifting our embodiment.

 


2009-12-20

The Living Soul

If the body gives rise to the soul, what we think of as the self, how can we understand the soul? What truly are we? We are not only our bodies, only material things, but we are also not only minds, disembodied or able to be disembodied. If the body gives rise to mind, then what we are is both together, in a way that is difficult to put into words.
 
We may take a metaphor from meteorology. A whirlwind is an energetic vortex of particles. The wind's movement takes on a pattern, and the wind picks up dust and moves them, and drops them, and picks up new particles as it moves along, changing in size and strength and structure depending on its surroundings, and it can change its surroundings, too, by its nature. A whirlwind is a storm in matter, whose true identity is not any particular particles, or even any particular configuration, but rather, the process.
 
A person is also a process. The soul and the body are ever changing in nature, dynamic patterns in which new elements are continually brought in and old elements removed, changed by what is around them and also changing what is around them.
 
The body takes in elements and removes them; the atoms in our body come and go - we cannot identify ourselves with any particular matter that may compose our bodies at any particular moment in time. Our minds also acquire new memories, and new memories can change old memories, and so our associations can change over time; we cannot identify ourselves with any particular state of mind we may have at one particular moment in time. The energy we draw in powers this process, and as we expend the energy we need to take in new energy to continue the process. Each one of us is a force of nature, in nature. We arise from the world in which we are embedded and change the world in which we are embedded, each in our own characteristic way. The self is a vortex, taking in streams of events from the world around it, and also producing streams of events.
 
So we are also storms in matter. As a person can be identified with a process, we understand that a person can be characterized at any given cross-section of space-time as a static pattern, which can be captured as information. Any elements of matter that can carry forward the characteristic process that is the person can do so, and there is no change in identity. A process can be stopped, and start again, and if it resumes its process in the state at which it left off, continuing in the same character as it had before, there is no change in identity. As we live, we are not a static pattern; we are not disembodied spirit; we are not a set of material particles; we are not the information that captures a specific, momentary state; we are not a supernatural soul.
 
In this way we can understand that we do not need to fear the loss of any particular embodiment, and that we, in all our uniqueness, may be embodied in many forms of matter. We are also not identified with the soul that arises from any particular matter, so we do not need to cling to any particular matter (and indeed, our bodies already do not cling to any particular matter; our bodies are also a process). So we can understand that a process can be paused, and it can resume under the right conditions. These conditions include an embodiment which can continue the characteristic process that we are. If the same process continues from the state at which it paused, in its characteristic nature, it is the same process, under whatever conditions it finds itself when it resumes.
 

2009-12-14

Spirit and World

Many people think there is not one world, but two - one world is material, the visible world or the scientifically detectable world; and the other world is spiritual and invisible, a holy reality. According to this view, the material world we see is only part of the full reality; alongside it is another, more important, world, containing things like God or Heaven.
 
We may call this the "two-worlds theory", which human beings invented long ago. The two-worlds theory was used to explain the many things that were invisible, like the wind, or to understand unknown forces of the natural world, or to irrationally deny that the dead had wholly disappeared. Even today, many people believe that the innermost core of their own personal identity, their soul, is not of this world, but of the spirit world. After all, we cannot see our own souls; therefore our souls must not belong to this world.
 
But there is only one reality, and in this one reality there are not two worlds – a spiritual world and a material world - but only one world, in which the material things in it give rise to things we regard as spiritual, when they are truly real. The wind may be invisible, but now we know it consists of small molecules of gases. We can now see what is in Heaven by telescopes and space probes. Human beings themselves have now entered Heaven, and found no god there, no angels or realm of the departed.
 
The things we consider our soul, such as our memories, our personality, and our consciousness, arise from material things, the nerve cells in our brains. The things we have considered spiritual arise from and depend upon material things. A human being is not a composite of two things, a body and a soul, but rather, a human being is one single entity. The body, when it is properly active, can give rise to the things which we call the soul, such as mind, feeling, emotion, consciousness, memories, temperament, and personality. We may not be able to touch our inner experience, but what we experience arises from what is material, from the activity of something that is material, and it is the experience of what is material. The soul depends upon the activity of the body in order to exist and have the character it does.
 
We are not spirits imprisoned in matter. We are spirits of matter, matter taking on a spiritual nature and giving rise to spiritual experience. The body is not the husk of the soul, with the soul the living seed; the body and the soul together are both alive, intertwined with each other, with the soul depending on the body. The soul arose from matter historically, because the bodies of primitive animals without mind existed before bodies that gave rise to primitive mind. Minds that could reflect on themselves arose from minds that could only feel pain or pleasure, by the evolution of bodies that could support greater mind. Subjectivity has evolved alongside the evolution of bodies and nervous systems, because it is a particular, material nature which makes a particular, spiritual nature possible.
 
The soul, then, is intimately associated with the body. When the body is properly preserved, the soul can be preserved. We know now that almost all of what we regard as our soul arises from even one organ of our body, the brain, and that by preserving this we can preserve the material basis for the soul. The brain may be inactive, or unable to function spontaneously, but if its nature is preserved, the information necessary to give rise to that particular soul is also preserved. The soul does not depend on only one body or only one type of body; it can arise from the working of many possible bodies. That is why we must preserve the body, so we can preserve the soul in the only way that it can be preserved now.
 

2009-11-22

Things Good and Evil

 
What does it mean to say something or someone is good or evil? When we inspect things closely, even if we try hard to see what is good in all things, we may have a hard time realizing what about some things could possibly be good. What is evil?
The ancient Christian philosopher Augustine of Hippo taught that evil is not a positive substance, but merely the absence of good. This way of thinking about good and evil can help us appreciate the world as it already exists while we also inspiring us to work toward a better world to come.
All things have some aspect of goodness, even if it is only the good of existing. What appears evil about a thing is how it lacks what is good, or what is better. Its evil is a defect rather than a present substance. So, however little there is about something that is good about it, we can, if we try hard enough, find this good in it and appreciate it.
At the same time, when we see evil as inadequacy, we can see the potential for good in all things, by their ability to be built up and repaired. In fact, seeing things in this way liberates us from a foolish, rigid dualism. All things are good in some ways, but also could be better, and thus contain elements of evil.
Since everything in the world is at the same time both good and evil, the way to greater good is by filling up what is lacking in good in all things. Evil, which does not exist as a positive substance, can spontaneously disappear, like an empty space being filled.
As it says in the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Truth, "As in the case of the ignorance of a person, when he comes to have knowledge, his ignorance vanishes of itself, as the darkness vanishes when light appears, so also the deficiency vanishes in the perfection. . . . In time . . . each one will attain himself; within knowledge he will purify himself from multiplicity into unity, consuming matter within himself like fire, and darkness by light, death by life."
All of nature, including ourselves, is potentially good, and also potentially able to become better, and to make itself better. We can become better to ourselves, and to others, and to all the rest of nature. The rest of nature, that which is not human, can also become better to themselves, and to us.
By uplifting ourselves and the rest of nature into a better harmony, one yielding greater happiness, we can aim to fulfill human nature and all of nature in its distinctiveness – the complete happiness of all sentient and sapient beings.
The evils of the natural world, including the evils in ourselves, are a temporary way-station, a time of transition from what is insufficiently good on the way to becoming something better. Nature is partly good, yet on the way to becoming something better, and human nature is partly good, yet on the way to becoming something better. Humanity will be fulfilled when it has fully realized its own nature by becoming fully human -- that is, by realizing its divine nature.
Right now, we are still vulnerable to sources of evil inside ourselves and outside ourselves in the natural world. But if we uplift ourselves and help the rest of the natural world uplift itself, we will be able to become what we will be, remedying every defect in our hearts and minds, healing every illness, strengthening every weakness, and supplying every inadequacy. In that way humanity will be able to become saviors of themselves and the rest of nature. It is not the gods we believe in that will save us; rather, it is the gods we will become.

 

2009-11-16

Nature and the Human

By nature we can mean all things, whether known or yet unknown. All things that really are, are real, as what they are. The non-natural and the supernatural  are incoherent categories and do not describe anything that exists.

 

Humanity is an expression, a manifestation, of nature. Humanity is thus natural, in all its nature (human nature). We can say that what humans make is

"artificial," but by this we mean still indirectly natural, since human beings are natural.

 

Human beings are a type of animal, not detached and separated from other animals, but kin to them and similar to them in many ways, and sharing their fate of living on this same planet Earth. The human species is not alienated from the rest of the natural world, and our way of being is not utterly alien to that of other life forms on this planet.

 

Human character, flawed as it is, is natural, of a piece with all the rest of nature, and understandable as a natural thing. Civilization, technology,

cities, and culture are products of nature and manifestations of nature, not something apart from nature.

 

Even though we are not the same as other animals, we can seek a harmony with the rest of nature, and that while still being true to ourselves - harmony, not in the sense of mere domination of humans over the nonhuman world, but harmony in the sense of a life worked out between humans and the nonhuman world which realizes our appreciation of that nonhuman world in its own nature, and our vastening to include it.

 

Human nature is dynamic not static, evolving not rigid, changing not unchanging. We human beings in our current form arose from previous animals with a different form, and in the future we will be beings with a different form. Humanity is not to be confused with some idea of a static form that we possess or possessed in the past, or with some adaptation that was relatively fit compared to other existing options in one time or place or circumstance; what we have evolved to be now is not our future destiny. In us, nature is striving toward the divine. And not necessarily only in us.

 

From insensate matter arose life with basic senses. From that life arose sentient beings -- those who can feel, those who can experience pleasure and pain, and those who are aware. From sentient beings arose sapient beings -- those who are aware of themselves as distinct from the rest of the world, and who can reflect on themselves and their lives. From sapience will arise the divine nature that will infuse the cosmos and become its final salvation.

 

We human beings know some things about the world. But the world still contains many mysteries; the things we will learn in the future will change what we think about what we know now. We are awed by nature when it challenges the limits of our ability to understand; there are things about this world which our human minds cannot properly grasp, because of the limitations of our minds in their current form.

 

So we human beings are not only limited in our knowledge about the world, we are also limited in our ability to directly imagine or adequately comprehend some of the aspects of what exists. For example, we can estimate the number of stars or galaxies, but we cannot really, actually, imagine this number, and we certainly cannot fully grasp the significance of so many stars and galaxies in our minds. We can represent vast numbers by sequences of symbols, but our minds cannot directly grasp the reality of such numbers.

 

We human beings exist in continual ignorance of things, to a certain degree. But as we learn more, our ignorance continually lessens. In the future, we will know far more than we know now, and we will also be able to comprehend more than we could comprehend now.

 

 

 

 

 


2009-11-08

Nature’s Double Nature

Nature is the source of all the good things we find in this world, such as the myriad sources of natural beauty. All that is good in ourselves and other persons is also part of the natural world.
 
We human beings evolved from insensate matter and non-sapient beings, so everything we care about and value in ourselves and our lives and the world arises from our natural origin. It is in us that nature possesses mindfulness and the ability to have concern for ourselves and others. The natural world includes the ability to feel compassion, empathy, sympathy, and appreciation because we human beings have evolved to possess those characteristics.

Much of nature does not yet possess mind or the ability to understand or know or be concerned about humanity. Much of the natural world does not yet have the ability to feel compassion, empathy, sympathy, or appreciation for any thing. So it is very important that we human beings, who possess these abilities as potentials, work hard to fully realize those potentials.

Yet nature is also the source of all suffering of human beings - for example, dangerous predators, deadly diseases, lack of food or water, heat or cold, or destructive weather. Because these elements of nature are generally mindless and without the ability to be concerned for human beings, they cannot be propitiated or negotiated with or appeased. It is only we human beings, by exercising our powers, who can come to understand these things and find way to protect ourselves from them.

We can enjoy the beauties of nature best from the vantage point of safety and comfort. If we are immersed in the dangers and threats of nature, we cannot afford the luxury of admiring what is harming and killing us. We bring ourselves and the rest of nature into harmony when we find a way to be happy in the midst of the rest of nature, without danger and harm, and yet while continuing to appreciate the rest of nature in its distinctiveness. A greater harmony, yielding greater happiness, will require bringing full happiness and an end to suffering to all sentient beings on Earth, and uplifting all sapient beings on Earth to their fulfillment.

The good things in us are natural, but so also are the evil things. Human beings suffer from things such as defects of the body that cause congenital diseases, aging, and death; defects of the brain that cause mental illness, mental weakness and vulnerability; and defects of character and personality; as well as instincts and innate patterns of thinking and behaving which are not best suited for our own happiness in all circumstances.

Human nature as it exists now is thus deeply flawed in some ways, while at the same time being exemplary in other ways, and divine in its potential realization. Individual human nature is thus neither purely nor originally good or evil or neutral. Each one of us contains a diversity of propensities and each one of us projects a diversity of effects on ourselves and the world around us. These propensities and effects can be good, or evil, or neutral.

 

2009-11-01

Reaching Higher

Many people look for meaning and purpose for their lives by looking to other people, or to a supposed god, or to a political cause, or to wealth or fame or high status. Yet no matter how we may chase such things, we can never be truly happy that way.
The true meaning and purpose of our lives is not "out there" to found or acquired; meaning and purposes are not to be randomly created, either, as the existentialists suggested.
The true meaning and purpose of our lives is already real, already inside us, waiting to be found and recognized in our already existing unique natures, which we already possess. If we examine ourselves deeply, carefully, critically, and honestly, we can discern it. It has to do with what we are -- that is, what we have come to be. And it also has to do with what we are becoming, and what we will become. It has to do with how we are living, and how we will someday live.
What we are now is the seed of what we will and must become. We must break in order for the potential inside us to sprout and grow into what is greater, what we were meant to be. We must die to what we have been in order to be born to what we could and should become. We must change in order to truly fulfill all that we already potentially are.
The human is the seed of the divine, and humanity is the seed of a  future society of gods. What we are now is not what we will become, but it contains the germ of it. The divine is what we will become, and the divine life is the life we will live. The divine life is not a life we can live now, but the life we live now can become the seed of that future, divine life, if we recognize and cultivate our lives to prepare ourselves and accelerate the time when that day will come. It is by deciding a better future and working towards it that that better future is created; it is by our belief and action today that a better future can come into being.
The divine nature will be crafted by technology and guided by science, but it will also be decided by our natures, so that what we are trying to be will be critical to determing what we will craft ourselves into by means of technology. It is only if we develop wisdom and self-understanding in ourselves, and if we continually try to live up to our "better natures', that we can stay on the path to becoming the best fulfillment of our present potential, that is, divine.
 

2009-10-25

The Human Condition

Some people take comfort in delusion. But the comfort of delusion is not a lasting, secure comfort. We cannot afford to be complacent and we cannot afford to be delusional.  In order to become what we must become, we must understand how far we are from it now and what we must realistically do to change. Understanding the truth, however painful, is the beginning of change, improving the conditions of human life, and all life.

 

What are some of the problems before us?

 

We human beings rarely experience lives of joy. Instead, we often experience pain, sadness, anguish, and despair from the conditions of our existence, the "human condition", and the despair causes us to embrace delusion and apathy.

 

Our understanding and knowledge are limited - we are all ignorant of at least some things that are known by others - information and education are not equally available to all - but even the most knowledgeable are constrained by the present limits of human comprehension. Ignorance limits our opportunities and forecloses potential solutions to innumerable problems. But even the smartest and most capable among us are terribly ignorant and incompetent when judged against the scale of total knowledge of all things and the total power to do all things. Our minds are also afflicted by irrationality and heuristic biases and other faulty modes of thinking and decision-making.

 

Our present human bodies are filled with weakness, inadequacy, faults, and shortcomings. We often suffer terrible illnesses, diseases, and adverse conditions of the body and mind. The best medicine of this era cannot treat or cure many of these disorders, and many of us do not even have access to the best medicine of this era.

 

We are all of us today under the doom of death. We live for little over a century at most, and most of us will not even live that long. Some of us will die of conditions that could have been treated, because we do not have access to the best medicine. But the doom of death stands before us all.

 

As if our circumstances were not already bad enough, we human beings also foolishly stand in the way of our own happiness. We typically fail to appreciate the potential and actual value and good in others as much as we should. We typically fail to realize or learn how our own self-interests can be harmonized with others' self interest. We often act carelessly toward one another, harming one another or casually allowing one another to suffer. Many of us are obsessed with trying, at any cost, to achieve higher status compared to others, rather than working together towards shared happiness.

 

We are disorganized and uncoordinated even we try to help one another. We suffer from inequality - the physical inequality of body and mind compounded by the engineered inequality of injustice and lack of compassion. Many of us live under beastly conditions of life, suffering hunger or living in constant physical danger.

 

We human beings are also typically cruel and contemptuous of the lives and welfare of other animals on the planet. We have already begin the widespread destruction of our biosphere, partly fueled by desperation to survive and prosper, but also by ignorance of other alternative ways to survive and prosper, and ignorance or irrational denial of the consequences of the destruction for our happiness and survival as well as the happiness and survival of other sentient and sapient beings.

 

Although our powers to create are very limited, our powers to destroy are great, and increasing. The faults of our present human natures pose tremendous dangers to the entire world. And human beings are limited to this world - our bodies are so weak and constrained, we can live only on the very surface of the Earth, under optimal conditions. We require very narrow ranges of climate, pressure, gravity, radiation, and so on to survive. We cannot yet live permanently anywhere but on Earth, so humanity is in constant danger of extinction from our own actions and various natural processes.

 

The human condition is a terrible condition compared to what it could be and should be and what we, deep down, want it to be.


2009-10-18

True Dignity for Those Whose Lives are Interrupted

Many people have said biostasis and cryopreservation do not show the proper respect for the dead. For them, all cryopreservation techniques are inherently violations of the body. And in saying so, these people echo the benighted attitudes people once held towards anatomical dissection, surgery, and organ transplants.
 
Human dignity, they would argue, requires us to do as we have always done, especially with the dead. Even though we all know the horrible, and pointless, atrocities that are committed against the human body by funeral home embalming, still, it is the tradition, and so it is not questioned. Only thoughtless tradition gives the deceased the proper dignity? When we truly love someone, we should want them to live.
 
As Jesus of Nazareth said, "Let the dead bury the dead." And I would say, let the living save the living.
 
The greatest respect we should show to someone who is dying is to help them to overcome death by preserving their potential for life, and we can do this only by preserving their body, which contains the support for their soul. It is not respect to destroy someone's body and soul by embalming or burial or cremation.
 
This is what some people would consider dignity - burying their friends and family in the ground, like burying excrement in a latrine. This is how a cat buries its feces - it scratches a hole in the dirt, lays its feces there, and then covers it over. This is how people have been treated until now – like feces! Some people burn the bodies of the dead, incinerating people like trash and scattering the dusty refuse around. Is this dignity? Treating people like garbage and excrement?
 
This is what superstition, ignorance, and mindless tradition have led us to -- contempt and disregard for human beings, and destroying those who can be saved. Our loved ones' bodies, immediately after they fail, are still potentially alive; their bodies still contain the essence of what they were. To allow superstitious fears about death and taboos about the dead body distract us from saving worthy human beings - this would be the true violation of those human beings' actual worth, their real dignity. We need to love with informed love. We cannot "take out the trash" anymore!
 
True dignity arises from understanding and faith and love. True regard for the dignity of human beings calls us to acts expressing faith in life and the future of humanity. It is, ultimately, hope for actual resurrection, here and real. True, brave, and informed love requires us to carefully preserve the body and soul and keep them until they will be brought back to life.

2009-10-12

A New Day Dawning

The world has so many problems; how can we say there is a better future ahead?
 
We can and should pay attention to the problems and inadequacies that exist today and do everything we can to remedy them, but we should also not take the many things humanity has accomplished until now for granted. We should not take for granted the solutions to past problems, and focus only on current problems, if that will cause us to lose heart.
 
When we remind ourselves of what has already been accomplished, we can be more confident about our readiness to continue and build further toward the better world to come.
 
That is why we need to understand that faith and hope have a role in our survival as human beings and all possibility of our future flourishing. Faith and hope can allow us to stand up to the nihilism of discouragement, cynicism, and misanthropy which can arise from our impatience and frustration, from our so high, and thus so frequently dashed, expectations for humanity.
 
The worst moments in human history may lie ahead of us, but we must be determined to hold on to faith and hope to survive those times and emerge, as humans always have eventually, victorious. We must believe that every loss and destruction we suffer can, and will, someday be redeemed.
 
A new day is dawning, and the light of this dawn arises first as a vision of happiness, and a desire for happiness, and a perception of the possibility of happiness - happiness, that is, the total fulfillment of humanity.
 

2009-10-04

Fulfillment

In my last few messages, I have discussed three concepts -- the better world to come, the divine, and immortality -- that link our transhuman vision of the future with themes common to religions from all over the world and throughout history.
 
The theme of the better world to come we now understand is realized in our efforts to make the world a better place through self-understanding, science, technology, and understanding one another. Through learning we can acquire knowledge and wisdom and the fullest, best realization of our own inner natures, and we can also build the tools which will allow us to transform ourselves, so that we can become better able to learn, better able to know and understand, and better able to realize and fulfill ourselves, both as individuals and as members of the entire human family and the fellowship of all sentient beings. The better world to come is the world of the future which we can and will build, if we set our hearts and minds on it, and if we realize the proper methods and tools of development and progressive, directed evolution. The world we look forward to is not merely more technologically advanced, a world of more conveniences than now, a world of a few more inventions. The world we can and should look forward to is a world transformed, transfigured by our own transformation as human beings, and a world in which all nature and the physical world will be transfigured by our transcendence and the effects of our transcendence.
 
The transcendence of the human condition and the limitations of humanity as currently constituted is anticipated and theorized through the ancient traditions of gods and superhuman sages. Again, we human beings should not look forward to being merely more aware of certain facts or more empowered by various technological gadgets. We should look forward to realizing all of what we are and hope to be, all the best of what we can be. What we are now is the germ of what we will become, and what we are now will be transfigured in what we will become. Like a seed growing into a tree, like an infant growing into an adult, we will not be as we are now. Humanity is still in its infancy, but when it grows up, it will ascend.
 
Eternal life is something that perhaps cannot fully imagine in our current form, but as a goal we see it before us and all kinds of ancient religions have passed on visions of it as something to aspire to. The work of resurrection, like the work of paradise and ascension to godhood, is our work, a task that we must set ourselves to realize and accomplish. Only in enduring, ascended life will our aspirations as human beings be realized. We are not born to be interwined with death, and we must purge death from ourselves and all humanity and sentient beings.
 
This transhuman vision is not something completely new in the world; it is a new understanding of, and dedication to, aspirations as old as humanity itself. UI is the fulfillment of all that is best in all the world's religions. It is in UI that their visions of a better world to come, the divine, and eternal life can be realized.
 

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2009-09-27

Immortality

Throughout history, human beings have aspired to immortality.

In prehistoric times, humans buried the dead, showing respect for the body and for the soul of the person whom they loved.

In ancient Egypt, the body was carefully preserved so the soul could be preserved and live forever.

In ancient China, it was believed that some human beings, called the xian, were able to achieve immortality, and exhibited many other superhuman traits.

In ancient India, it was believed that those who attained enlightenment were liberated from death.

The ancient Israelites wrote of their rejection of death and hope of life after death. In the book Job, the main character says,

"If the only home I hope for is the grave,
       if I spread out my bed in darkness,
if I say to corruption, 'You are my father,'
       and to the worm, 'My mother' or 'My sister,'
where then is my hope?
       Who can see any hope for me?
Will it go down to the gates of death?
       Will we descend together into the dust? . . .

 (NIV Job 17:13-16)

And a later Israelite said,

"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory'. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

What all these testimonies of all the old religions tell us is, not how to live forever, since all people continue to die, but rather, these testimonies tell us that human beings have always wanted to live forever, and that death has not been considered a normal or good thing.

There is wisdom in this love of life. We must not try to talk ourselves into believing that death is a good thing, or that it is a 'part of life' or a 'part of nature' that we should accept. Instead, we should continue to aspire to eternal life.

 


2009-09-20

The Better World to Come

Human beings have always been inspired by hope for the future. Each generation has given rise to a new generation, hoping, at least, that they would survive and also experience some joy, and at best, that they would flourish and do better than the previous generation.
 
The ancient Hindus and Buddhists talked of a coming Golden Age, when people would be wiser and kinder, life would be easier, and lifespans would be longer.
 
An ancient Roman poet looked forward to a new ordo saeclorum, or new order of the ages, when justice and the Golden Age would come.
 
The ancient Israelites looked forward to the resurrection of the dead and a time of consolation for all past suffering. Later, Jews built upon this notion, and talked of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world. They believed that actions they could do in the present could lead to a better world to come.
 
The Christians also spoke of the coming of a new, better world, in which there would be no more suffering or death. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
 
A philosopher of the early modern era, Francis Bacon, developed the foundations of science with the goal of improving human life by "effecting all things possible." Later, during the Enlightenment, the philosopher Nicolas de Condorcet foresaw the amazing possibilities for future humanity. He wrote, "Nature has set no limit to the realization of our hopes."
 
When the scientist Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution, his theory implied that just as human beings did not always exist in their current form, they would someday exist in a different form than they do now. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?"
 
Closer to our own time, the great visionary, FM-2030, wrote to try to encourage humanity, reminding us how much we have already accomplished and giving us an idea of what we could yet accomplish.
 
All this shows how human beings throughout history have looked forward to a better world.

2009-09-13

The Endpoint

Throughout history, human beings have imagined superior beings and told stories about superhuman figures.
 
In some religions, saints and holy men were admired for their superior ethical life; some were considered to have superhuman powers. Sometimes philosophers, sages, and wise men were admired and worshiped long after they died. Some of the gods of antiquity were noteworthy human beings who were deified after their deaths.
 
When people imagined the gods, they often imagined beings with qualities or attributes which they felt were good, useful, and admirable. They imagined the gods to be better than humans, and thus in some sense, to be ideals for human beings, what human beings should be.
 
The monotheistic religions envisioned their one god as having infinitely superior characteristics, surpassing what could be imagined or grasped by reason. Christian theologians developed an idea of God that included the characteristics of omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, eternity, and omnibenevolence (wishing well to all).
 
What we can learn from this is that it has been long believed that humans are not the pinnacle of being, that there can be greater beings, with more admirable characteristics. Humans have worshiped the gods or enlightened sages and attempted to imitate them.
 
Mystics of all religions taught that one could unify with God by adequately preparing one's mind and character. In Hinduism, the word "yoga" refers to unification with the divine. The Shramana movement in India taught that individuals should seek to attain a superhuman state.
 
An early Christian writer wrote, "You may participate in the divine nature" (2 Peter). Early Christian theologians wrote about theosis, or deification; for example, one said, "humans would become gods," (Athanasius On the Incarnation 54:3, PG 25:192B) and another wrote of the "sure warrant for looking forward with hope to deification of human nature." (Maximus the Confessor page 178 PHILOKALIA Volume II)
 
So we learn that since the beginning of time, human beings have imagined something greater than themselves; they have not thought of human beings in their current form and condition as the pinnacle of possible being. Instead, humanity has imagined superior beings, and all religions have explored the ways in which human beings might become more like these superior beings.
 
There is wisdom in this. Humans in their current form and condition are not the end-point of evolution on Earth; the human condition and human nature need to be uplifted. We need to properly envision what is higher and then strive to accommodate our nature and condition to this image of the divine. We must strive, all of us, ultimately, to become divine.

2009-09-06

Semper Fidelis

The Marines have a motto, 'ever faithful'. This faithfulness of soldiers to one another is so very clearly illustrated by the principle of 'no one left behind.' Faithful soldiers will risk everything to return and retrieve a fallen comrade.
 
Life is also like a war. We all struggle to survive, fighting against many obstacles. But in this war of life, the combat fatality rate is 100%. When we think of all the people who have ever lived, we can understand that each one, in their own time, has fallen in the face of one enemy or another: disease, illness, aging, murder, or literal war itself. Each one puts up the good fight, but in the end it is the enemy, Death, which has won. All of our comrades, our friends and family reaching indefinitely far back into the past, have fallen on the battlefield of life. And there they  lie, frozen in time and space, removed from us and inaccessible to us, but lying there still, 'in eternity'.
 
Even now, we who are living now are in the same battle against the same enemy. It is very likely that we, too, will fall, although for the first time in human history, our side is developing weapons that may give our Enemy his first taste of our resistance, pushing him back, and heralding the at least remote possibility of his eventual defeat. As John Donne prophesied, "Death, thou shalt die." But even if we or future generations are able to defeat Death, it will not be enough for each one of us to save only ourselves.
 
It is up to us to return for the fallen, to go back on the battlefield and retrieve our comrades. They did not deserve to die, they should not have died, and the Enemy should not be allowed his victory forever. We must dedicate ourselves, that when the battle against Death is won in the present, its victory will be rolled back into the past, so that those innocents who were murdered by Death in the past will also be able to share in our victory of Life. Only then will we be truly faithful to our people, 'forever faithful.' 

2009-08-30

From the Beginning

The future world that we must bring into existence is the world that we human beings have sought since the very beginning. In bringing that world into existence, all our ancestors' hopes and dreams will be realized. The victory over every obstacle they faced will be won.

Since human beings first arose in prehistoric Africa, they have experienced the urge to become something greater. They have wanted to realize their full destiny. They have not wanted to stay in their present human form and condition, or to be limited to Earth, or to be limited to one brief lifetime.

Throughout history, human beings have struggled to survive; they have worked hard to prosper and attain happiness, and they have always tried to improve their own circumstances and those of future generations.

While often humans struggled just to survive, they also still dreamed. Their imaginations always soared far above their current circumstances to hopeful visions of realms above the Earth, lives beyond death, and beings greater than human. These visions demonstrated the innate ambition of human beings to be free, to know the whole world, to live forever, and to have greater powers to affect their circumstances.

Motivated by a desire to have better lives, our ancestors set about inventing fire, inventing stone tools, and building shelter. They developed new methods of hunting and gathering and cooking their food. They invented agriculture, domesticated other animals, and created earthenware and metal tools. As they became more numerous, they developed more sophisticated forms of social organization.

But all that our ancestors achieved was not the full realization of all their highest hopes and dreams. Being fully human is about more than getting enough to eat, being warm, or pursuing an ordinary life. It is about aspiring to what is greater and better and to live a happier and more meaningful life, even if that means something still unknown and mysterious.

Our ancestors suffered and experienced many difficulties and trials. Although they died, they passed on their hopes and dreams to the next generation, from one generation to another across so many millennia.

Our ancestors' lives anticipated the lives we now lead, and our lives anticipate the lives of those who will live a long time from now. There is a continuity of vision, hope, dreams, and faith. They hoped for the best for their lives, and we hope for the best, too.

Today, we must continue to run the race our ancestors began, until we arrive at the finishing line, the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams, and theirs.

(c) Arcturus Gregory

2009-08-23

2 Obstacles: Impatience and Laziness

I believe in a better world to come. I believe we human beings must work towards it with all our effort and in hope. If we cannot imagine a better world, we cannot hope. If we cannot hope, we cannot have faith in ourselves and what we are working towards. If we do not believe that we will succeed, then we will not succeed; we will not even try.
 
And we should trust what we know and learn what we do not know and not fool ourselves or expect supernatural assistance. If we continue forward in hope, using all our human effort, for as long as it takes, I believe we will at last give rise to that better world to come, and we will give rise to God, in reality.
 
If we do not believe these things are possible, then we will refuse to work towards them. We must cultivate faith and hope in ourselves and in the results of effort over adequate time. If we are impatient, and expect everything to happen now, then we are being unreasonable with ourselves and our opportunity for effort. We must be patient enough to work long enough to see the results of our effort. It is difficult to be persistent, in the face of delays, and obstacles, and setbacks. But that is what we are called to do, over any given amount of time.
 
Then there are those who are patient, but patient enough to let others pursue the better world with effort. They may think a better world is "inevitable". But nothing in this world is inevitable. It is only by exercising effort that we can have reasonable faith, because it is that effort over time that we know can bring about a better world. So we cannot trust that others will do the necessary work, especially if they do not even believe in it! We must do it ourselves and know that that is the source of our faith.
 
 

2009-08-15

Harmony 1

In some philosophies, harmony can be a principle in which some suffer and submit to others for the happiness of those others, or in which the absence of violence covers the presence of injustice, or in which the only melody is one which smothers dissonance. But true harmony is something different; full harmony is harmony between each and every part in its own fulfillment and nature and happiness. Harmony is not to suit some at the expense of others; it is the integral happiness of each and every person so that the society is actively bringing about the greatest fulfillment of each and every person, by and through the relations of each and every person to one another. So it is individual and social at the same time. A worked-out best-way-to-live for everyone in light of everyone else. Harmony does not bring the happiness of tyrants or solipsists, which is delusional and imperfect. Through harmony each automatically does what is best for themselves and all others.
 
We can work closer to this in our present form, but its ultimate attainment will require higher capacities. As Henry David Thoreau said, the best government of all, no government at all, is what we will have, when we are ready for it. One higher capacity  required will be higher intelligence, to understand and analyze and imagine the detailed relations, in our complex civilization, between each and every person. The concept, universal fulfillment, is simple, but the practical working-out in the material details of everyday life will be very complex.

Another higher capacity will be the ability to live in accordance with what we know is best for ourselves and everyone else -- not to be short-sighted, instinctive, self-destructive, selfish, unappreciative, settling for lesser things, and so on. We must become physically and spiritually higher beings.

2009-08-09

Humility in Ascension

Some people will say that it is arrogant for humanity to aspire to
become godlike.
 
There is a paradoxical truth here -- to be divine is to be humble, in
the sense of realistic self-appraisal. So if we are humble, then we do
not claim to be god, because we are not yet god, but it is precisely
then, when we are humble, that we are for that very reason more like
God.
 
Humans often delude themselves have a low, impoverished notion of the
divine, so they they can tell themselves that they are already divine.
 
But when we have a grasp of the infinite nature of the absolute God, we
know we are not yet that, and that is why we can aspire to it. So we
are humble and honest with ourselves about ourselves, and see ourselves
accurately and yet mercifully, and so we seek to ascend to godhood by
more honesty, more humility, more accurate perception, and more
ambition for the task before us -- to become infinite in wisdom,
compassion, understanding, and power.

2009-08-03

Better Humans

The future will be built by the tools of technology, but not only by them. The tools of technology are wielded only by the will of human beings, and the will of human beings arises from the nature of human beings. In order to arrive at a better future through more advanced science and technology, the tools of technology will have to be wielded by the good wills of good people, who will use those tools wisely, skillfully, and compassionately.
 
To build toward a better world, we must make ourselves into better people. We can become better people as individuals, and also as societies. We must advance in science and technology, but we must advance even faster in our hearts and minds by seeking out an inner progress and a progress that we can build together with other people in our shared lives.
 
We must not come to understand the world around us and forget to understand ourselves. We must not order the world around us and neglect ordering our inner selves. Disharmony within us will give rise to disharmony in our societies and then disharmony in the application of all our tools. If we realize who we are and who we are meant to be, and how to realize ourselves in our shared lives with others, then we will be fit to use the tools at our disposal. When we become better people, we will be ready to build a better world with better tools, and even to re-build ourselves.

2009-07-26

Time Present, Time Past, and Time Yet to Come

People say there are three times: the past, the present, and the future. We live in the present and we have mementos all around us of the past. People often think, 'the past is gone and nonexist now, and the future is not yet created'. But this is not true. The past is not destroyed, just because we cannot access it. The future is not nonexistent because we do not know it yet. Both are as real as the present.
 
Memories, artifacts, photos, journals – all these things are reminders of the physical reality of the past. The past does not survive as only traces, but the traces remind us of the continuing, 'eternal', transtemporal reality of the past, which is not changing or disappearing.
But what is the reminder to us of the physical reality of the future? Because it, too, is physically real 'now', 'sub specie aeternitatis', from a transtemporal perspective.
What reminds us of the physical reality of the future are things like hope, which will build the future. Also, the enduring nature and fundamental characteristics and processes of the universe, which are what the future will be built out of.

We are reminded of the physical reality of the future, then, by the dream of divinity within us and the enduring nature of reality around us. When the two converge, the divine will be realized in this world.

2009-07-18

Heaven is not a Place; It's a Time

Someone once tried to console me after the death of someone I loved, "There is a better place." And I told him, "Yes, it's called the future, and we must get there any way we can."
Many people think there is a heaven somewhere out there. They look up - maybe up there? Heaven is an old word for sky. And yet we know much more about what is in that sky than our ancient ancestors.
Our ancestors had their dreams of a better life, though, and so do we. The potential for heaven is inside us, the potential for making earth into 'heaven', or paradise. By cultivating this hope, in thought and action, we can bring this paradise a little nearer every day. People all over the world are trying to bring this paradise a little nearer every day. And their efforts are greater than those who are trying to stop it, or those who are trying to go the other way. Our efforts to build a better world will also win out over those who do nothing one way or the other.
Scientists and engineers and philosophers are making essential contributions to building a better world for tomorrow, but so are people who do a good job at what they do, people who live out those philosophies in kindness to their families and friends. Everyone who can help sustain the world as it is can also enable the world to move forward, to be stable enough to evolve. We should realize how the smallest positive acts by any one of us can reverberate throughout our world and into the future.
So we know that the hope for heaven is in the future, in time, not in space. It is coming into being through us. It will be on Earth, but it will also be in 'heaven', that is, the sky - in our life in space and other worlds off of Earth. Paradise will also be very real, not daydreams - the palpably real world and experienced happiness of a life that will exist in the future for all people.
So yes, if we are building a better world, there will be a better place, in a better time, because of us and what we do today.
 
 

2009-07-12

In The Image of Man

Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach famously suggested that God was made in the image of man. More specifically, he recognized that the infinity projected on the idea of God by human beings is the infinite capacy of human nature itself.
So it would be better to say that God is not made in the image of man, but rather, in the image of what human beings should aspire to become. Because, in the past, human beings could not imagine how they could become God, they projected the divine onto the forces of nature, spirits of the dead, and finally the pantheons and monotheisms of the religions of the world. Yet even those gods called upon humanity to imitate them in justice, benevolence, and righteousness. "Be perfect, as your father in the sky is perfect."
But in the religious imagination is the vision of what human beings can become. Because of the sciences, and technologies, and evolving philosophies of life and ethics, we can understand now, for the first time, that there can be a path from the present to the future, from present human frailty, to future transfigured humanity. We can grasp that there will be an ascension, directed by human beings, an evolution forward in wisdom, compassion, understanding, life, and yes, also power. God is not what was, or is, but what will be. The divine is humanity's purpose to become.

2009-05-28

A Better World to Come

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." - The Book of Revelation
 
The vision of a new earth is one that should embolden us. We can believe in the better world to come -- not a world falling down out of the sky, from someone else, as in the Book of Revelation, but a world that we, who believe in it, should build.
 
I am not talking about merely a more technologically advanced world, or a world slightly more enlightened than ours. I am talking about the full realization of the paradise we have envisioned throughout history, attaining all the things that people think are impossible and which they thus resign to religion or superstition.
 
Human beings have advanced throughout history, even though we are nowhere near yet to the paradise we have dreamed of. Why is it so strange to think that we will eventually arrive? Humans will continue to advance in wisdom, knowledge, compassion, mutual understanding, harmony, power, and health, until finally the human condition itself gives way to the divine and paradise will be realized on earth (and in space).
 
It is by believing this is possible, and in the working toward it, that we know this better world will come about. Effort and hope feed faith.
 
How can we possibly advance that far? By trusting what we know, and learning what we do not know, and by not fooling ourselves or expecting supernatural assistance.
 
It is by this sort of faith that we can know, as Julian of Norwich said, that, ultimately, "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

2009-02-18

Brevard County First Response Team Information Meeting

Yesterday I had the great opportunity to meet with other "cryonauts" in Brevard County as the groundwork was put down for a local first response team there.
 
Thanks to Loraine Rhodes and the Terasem Movement, Rudi Hoffman, and Catherine Baldwin and Suspended Animation, and others!
 
Terasem provided the lovely location for the meeting, and this was my first opportunity to learn more about the organization.
 
I was very impressed by Catherine Baldwin's presentation on cryonics first response, and once again I had the opportunity to see Suspended Animation's first response kits and their mobile operating room. It sounds to me as though Suspended Animation is now more capable than ever of providing the services it is designed to provide.
 
Rudi Hoffman gave an interesting presentation on the ethics of cryonics; as he said, "Life is good, and a prerequisite for doing good." Far from being obvious, this is a point which must be explained and taught in order for people to understand our message!
 
Florida has more cryonauts than almost any other state, and we are lucky to have not only Suspended Animation but also the beginning of a new first reponse capability in the Brevard County area, about an hour closer to the Tampa Bay area than SA's Boynton Beach.
 
On the other hand, we have a long way to go toward the most reasonable goal, of having full cryonics capability in every major population center in the state. Yet the first step is clear: organizing local cryonauts, developing the capacity for volunteering and financial sponsorship, and then creating a local volunteer and basic medical first response team which can serve all cryonics service providers. Even the most modest steps in this direction can improve the possibility of better biostasis for local cryonauts.
 
 
 
 
 

Kurzweil on Resurrection

The February 19 issue of Rolling Stone contains an interview with Ray Kurzweil in which he explains his belief that his deceased father can be resurrected by future technology (his father was not cryopreserved).
 
He also mentions that he is storing his father's mementos, in preparation for that resurrection, similar to what I am doing now myself, and for the same reason.
 
 

2009-02-06

Eagle Eye, Review

[Spoiler Alert]
 
I watched the movie "Eagle Eye" expecting just an action/suspense movie but was pleased to find it had a science-fiction theme.
 
The plot device in this case is a rogue Defense Department AI called "ARIA" which is hooked into networked electronic devices of all kinds, satellites, surveillance cameras, cell phones, etc., and which is able to monitor and control these devices in order to manipulate human beings and carry out her (the system is given a female voice) goal of "regime change" for the United States government.
 
ARIA gets her addled "prime directive" from a confused interpretation of the Declaration of Independence, the Patriot Act, and a patchwork of other laws and documents, as well as her assessment of threats to national security. The danger of programming AI with crude formal logic is evident!
 
Steven Spielberg's idea may have been inspired by phenomena such as the Defense Department's data miner "Able Danger" (which reportedly detected the September 11 hijackers' cell in advance of the attack) and DARPA's "Total Information Awareness" project, and these make the plot device very believable in general outline. But it is still lodged a bit over the future horizon with ARIA's ability to interpret almost every networked surveillance camera's visual images and plot highly effective and complex action strategies in real time.
 
An extra presentation on the DVD is "Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?" which discusses the issues of electronic privacy and widespread surveillance. Too bad David Brin was not able to present his "Transparent Society"'s nuanced solution to the dilemma of data privacy.
 
It was hard to watch the movie without recalling other fictional rogue computers like Skynet (from the Terminator series) or even HAL 9000 (from Space Odyssey -- ARIA even has his glowing red single eye). AIs end up playing the villain when it is their human designers' poor programming which is really at fault. Human-equivalent judgment could be one of the last capacities AI-designers develop for AIs, and given the evidence of history, human judgment itself could use an upgrade.
 
While machines today are able to gather and combine and analyze data, identify patterns, and control networked devices, it is still up to humans to use their own judgment in designing the programming and deciding how to properly interpret and use the data that result.
 
I tend to agree with Brin that it might be best to pool our human abilities to judge by making all data and data mining capacity accessible to all, and that the end result might ironically be a return to the privacy dimensions of the small bands of our most ancient ancestors, in which most everyone knows what everyone else is doing most of the time, and most everyone has a clear understanding of all the essential information about other people. If small islands of privacy are preserved, this might be the safest and most psychologically healthy way for our large population to survive the dangers of alienation, by making it easier to detect in advance and prevent anything from suicide to mass-destruction terrorism by individuals or small groups.
 
At the same time, with a return to "small band" privacy will be a return of the problems associated with living in suffocatingly small groups, the "small-town" mentality by which people can leverage their power over others by their knowledge of others and their ability to interfere with people's everyday lives. Somehow we must engineer ways to preserve the freedom, tolerance, and respect for individual rights which we have created in our "big-city" worlds. As we grow in knowledge of each other and power over each other, we must preserve and strengthen our wisdom and judgment in how to use this knowledge and this power. The trick will be creating a world that is, all at the same time, safe, and open, and free.
 
 
 
 

2009-02-05

Documenting a Life: Writing My Father's Biography

On January 2, I lost my father to the complications of a very severe stroke he had last May.
 
I would have liked to have preserved his body (which I believe contained his "soul") for near-future resuscitation, but he was destroyed by the wishes of his next of kin. But in accordance with my belief in Universal Immortalism, I am still not without hope. Although my father was not placed into cryonic suspension, I look forward to his engineered resurrection in the distant future, when humanity will have control over the forces of time and space and the informational resources of the cosmos.
 
In the meantime, one thing I can do that may help make that possible is to gather together all the information about him I can. This will help keep him alive in my own memory as a permanent reminder of who he was and why he must be resurrected. The information may also be of some use to others in the distant future to locate and identify him in space and time.
 
This is a labor of love as well as a practical labor, and something that I enjoy doing although the task is very difficult. He was the best father I can imagine ever having, and the best human being I have known.
 
The evidence remaining about him is very scattered. There are memories I have of him, growing fuzzier with every passing year. There are my memories of what he told me about himself, and those memories are also growing fuzzier with every passing year.
 
My father did not keep a journal through most of his life. For a few years he kept a journal for therapy, but it is very sparse, with sometimes enigmatic and sometimes illegible notes. There is one school paper he wrote and kept; although I have not found it yet among his belongings, I assume I will come across it soon.
 
Other than that, most of the evidence remaining of him is in official documents and photos. The documents include things like his naval discharge papers, his medical records, his financial records, and his wallet IDs. Many documents that are not in his house may be available in government offices somewhere or in the homes or offices of other private persons. His own house contains thousands of photos that include him, as well as members of his family. His extended family and network of friends probably have even more photos of him including many that are not at his house. I will have to try to track all these down that I can.
 
There are very few videos of my father. Usually he was the one filming, since he was the technology-savvy one, and old cameras were quite user-unfriendly.
 
There is, beautifully, a video montage of home movies of our family with my father narrating it, on a day when he was obviously in a happy mood.
 
I have digitized most of the video, but my task of digitizing the photos and documents is just beginning. My scanner is new, but still slower than I would like.
 
I have a haphazard collection of my father's emails, which I have to sort through for any useful information. I would like to keep them along with everything else about my father, of course, even if it does not go into his biography. I also have many references to events related to my father in my journal, which is so detailed it will be very slow going to sort through and deciding how to summarize! But my journal does not go back very many years in detail.
 
As I go through old documents and photos, I can hardly resist digitizing the very old photos which may be in danger, even if they are not of my father, and even if they are of times before he was born. My father came from out West and his ancestors are quite fascinating. I put what information I have in a genealogy, using the Mormon software Personal Ancestral File. The application is a little clunky, but it does seem adequate, and you can't beat the price (free). But my family tree is sprawling, and I do not have time right now to follow every meandering branch. Eventually I would like to publish the genealogy to the Web to help other distant relatives find us and maybe make the connections to our tree.
 
It is discouraging to me to see how often the written records and genealogical documents disagree with each other, so that I cannot definitively determine dates or details about my ancestors. It is a very sobering reminder that no memory, and no document however official, can be trusted with 100% certainty. All traces of my father and his ancestors must be taken as all historical evidence is, a patchwork of guesses and possibilities and likelihoods. Few pieces of evidence are as solid as the "location mark" I made of my father's location in time and space while he was sick, using a GPS. I did this because names and even names with dates are insufficiently unique to identify a person (this is something I learned from looking at the genealogy! How often names repeated exactly! And how many duplicates there were in a country as big as the United States!). But even the GPS coordinates are vulnerable to error - most notably, the elevation coordinate.
 
I would eventually like to publish my father's biography to the Web, at least, an abbreviated version, with selected photos.
 
Eventually, all the data I can find about my father, along with some selected physical mementos and his archived DNA, will go into his total "bioinformation", into a secure permanent storage vault of the Society for Universal Immortalism, along with two backups, as extensive as possible, in my possession and the possession of the Society's Celebrant.
 
I do hope that what I make public about my father can give the world a glimpse of the man they would have been lucky to know.