During the writing of my novel, The Righteous One, my eighty-three year old father suddenly passed away. This heart-wrenching event shifted my intention from what started out as a lighthearted adventure story into an exploration of the connection between our physical body and our eternal consciousness or soul.
The plot of The Righteous One focuses on the quest of the protagonist, Moshe Potasznik, a humble cobbler and tzaddik, who is sought out as the reluctant hero who will destroy the soul of the evil gangster and rasha, Solomon Blass. As Moshe learns, this deed can only be accomplished within the unbounded freedom of the dream world.
During the writing process, I pondered what had become of my father’s soul. At the funeral service, I heard comforting words from his rabbi, who offered the Judaic version of the afterlife. But I wondered if there was more of an understanding than the one espoused by one’s faith. I wanted more substance to help me understand the destiny of the consciousness once the body had passed.
I’ve read about theories implying that the death of consciousness simply does not happen. One interesting analogy offered that we receive our consciousness the same way a computer receives a WIFI signal and that signal does not just disappear at the end of the computer’s life but continues to broadcast. This caused me to wonder: could our consciousness exist without a human body to contain it?
Let us circle back to our dreams. In The Righteous One, Moshe learns of the power and freedom of dreaming while lucid. This is not just a casual experience for Moshe, like watching a movie, but more a demonstration that dreams have no physical limit. And perhaps, if you allow me to extrapolate, neither does our consciousness.
Recently my father visited in my dreams. I could have chosen to believe that this was a random occurrence stirred up by my subconscious. But what if it was his consciousness, no longer restricted by his physical body, was making a purposeful visit?
Many cultures, such as the Ancient Egyptians, sought to preserve and honor the deceased body instead of disregarding it as merely the vessel of our former selves. Numerous groups or religions consider that the soul lives on after the body dies. The burial rituals of Orthodox Jews demonstrates such a belief, their law stipulating that the body must be placed inside a plain wooden coffin and buried as quickly as possible to allow the body to decompose quickly. The body is never embalmed for display purposes.
For those interested in limiting our footprint on this earth, there is a recent and intriguing idea: Italian designers Raoul Bretzel and Anna Citelli have devised something called the Capsula Mundi, which translates from Latin into world’s capsule, a biodegradable burial pod in the shape of an egg in which the deceased body is placed . Once the egg is buried, the body and the shell biodegrades, allowing the nutrients from its remains to nourish a sapling tree planted above it.
What if we knew for sure that our consciousness lived on and that lucid dreaming was a way to connect with our immortality? Would this not create the impetus for humans to perfect the techniques of lucid dreaming? Workshops and conferences touting its wonders would be offered, graduate degrees in its advanced methodologies would be taught at universities, and its practice could be handed down to our children.
What do we experience by being aware in our dreams? Of course, there are fun things to do such as flying like a bird or singing on stage like a rock star. Sexual desires and exploits can be fulfilled, and we can act out behaviors that repressive societies deem taboo. Humans would have an accessible psychological outlet for many suppressed emotions, thus providing us with much-needed release. The therapeutic moments spent in the dream world would effectively shift how we perceive our awakened lives, thereby improving our interactions with our family, friends, and coworkers.
More significantly, there would develop an understanding that the consciousness is chained to the body by the power of the ego. The adventure of opening our minds in the dream world would contribute to breaking this bond and allow us to pursue callings higher than seeking ways to reduce stubborn belly fat.
Indeed, if it were proven that our consciousness was immortal, could this knowledge not blossom into mankind’s next evolutionary step? Of course, we should consider and beware of unforeseen consequences of such explorations that, like the destructive aspect of social media, might need to be taken into account. After all, everything in life requires balance.
In the meantime, we can certainly ponder the idea that the consciousness is on a continuous journey, moving from body to body and from place to place either within a single dimension or, as some illustrious authors and scientists have theorized, among multiple universes.
In any case, it is stimulating to try to put such a metaphysical question with its esoteric ramifications into words, and I welcome your comments, and thoughts.
Neil Perry Gordon achieved his goal of an author of historical-fiction with his first novel, A Cobbler’s Tale, published in the fall of 2018. With dozens of reviews praising his writing style, he released his second novel, Moon Flower, the following year. His creative writing methods and inspiration has been described as organic, meaning that he works with a general story line for his characters and plot without a formal and detailed outline. This encourages his writing to offer up surprising twists and unexpected outcomes, which readers have celebrated.