Logic of Nonsense

Neverland, Nonsense, the Afterlife, and Wisdom for Living

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The story of Peter Pan has long been described as a metaphor for childhood and immortality.  The new ground breaking work Nonsense, by Dr. Raymond Moody,  now shows that the story may also be a metaphor for understanding how nonsense is a key for creating new language and thinking re: the afterlife.  Perhaps more important, understanding the afterlife may offer key wisdom for living today.

The J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, shared that Neverlands are found in the minds of children, and that though they always seemed to be more or less an island, and they have a similar resemblance, they are not exactly the same from one child to the next.
For example John Darling “had a lagoon with flamingos flying over it” while his little brother Michael “had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it.”  Like Dr. Moody describes in his research on Near Death Experiences (NDE), the descriptions are similar but not exactly the same.

Barrie further shares that Neverlands are small enough that exciting adventures are never far away and that a map of Neverland would parallel that of a child’s mind with no boundaries at all.  This observation also seems to parallel the common NDE in that the place is small enough to navigate but the recall of one’s life and encounters has no boundaries at all.

Barrie further shares that time in Neverland is unclear.  He mentions that there are many more suns and moons there than in our world making it difficult to track time.  While Peter Pan is the icon of the boy who never grows up, Barrie shares that the children eventually do grow up and then have to leave Neverland.  Barrie also shared that the fairies lived relatively short life spans.   This is an interesting observation of NDE’s as well in that people who have these experiences all eventually have to leave.

So how does one get to Neverland?  Walt Disney popularized the directions to Neverland by giving the nonsensical directions “Second star to right, straight on til morning”.  In the novel however, Barrie said the directions were “second to right, straight on til morning”  

This is a great metaphor both for both entering the dream world and dying.  One second to the right is the difference between being awake (alive) and being on your way in flight in dreams (death) til you wake up in the morning (make your passage to the new afterlife realm.)

Barrie describes as the flight as being assisted by fairies.  The fairies are primarily the allies to the lost boys, the source of the fairy dust that powers their flight, and they act as guides for persons or parties traveling to Neverland.  The fairies are also charged with collecting the abandoned or lost boys from the Mainland to Neverland.  The lost boys are the ones who have fallen out of their prams or strollers and thus disconnected from their secure life as they have known it.  

This also seems a good metaphor for the NDE’s where people report they leave their bodies in flight and are guided thorough a passage way to a new place, their own unique Neverland if you will.

Barrie says “when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces.....and that was the beginning of the fairies.   Barrie goes on to say that the Neverland fairy can be killed by the vocalization of human disbelief.  We also later in the story when Tinker Bell is poisoned by Captain Hook, that fairies can come back to life.  This happens when both children and adults in both Neverland and the Mainland call out “I do believe in fairies”.    

In other words, only when we allow our minds to give up that attachment to solely rationale thinking can we really begin to understand Neverland.  To enter the story of Neverland and all its fun adventures, a child must first accept the nonsense directions of “second to the right and straight on til morning” coupled with some fairy assistance.  Once the child can accept this nonsense, the way is cleared for the entire story to make rationale sense.

Raymond Moody’s brilliant observation that discussion of the afterlife requires a new language of nonsense to begin real understanding seems to work in much the same way.

Those who have studied the Buddhist sacred book  the Bardo Thodol, commonly known as “Tibetan Book of the Dead”, realize that the book is just as much, and perhaps more so, a guide for living as it is for dying.  Yet to read the book on the surface with its 49 days of instructions to most seem like nothing more than nonsense.

In his forward to the Evan Wentz translation Carl Jung states:  “The Bardo Thödol [Tibetan Book of the Dead] began by being a closed book, and so it has remained, no matter what kind of commentaries may be written upon it. For it is a book that will only open itself to spiritual understanding, and this is a capacity which no man is born with, but which he can only acquire through special training and special experience. It is good that such to all intents and purposes useless books exist. They are meant for those queer folk who no longer set much store by the uses, aims, and meaning of present-day civilisation.”  — Carl Jung

In the Christian tradition Jesus states in the Gospel of Matthew “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the realm of heaven.” - Matthew 18:3

Both Jung, and Jesus seem to be confirming Dr. Moody’s conclusions, namely it takes some new nonsensical awareness like that in Barrie’s novel Peter Pan to be able to intelligently converse on a subject like the afterlife.

Perhaps more importantly is the awareness that the ability to learn from the wisdom of nonsense maybe be a key to living more lovingly, peacefully, and sustainably on Earth.

In my doctoral dissertation project studying the health, wellness, and psychological profiles of prisoners in the county jail compared to four other groups, I observed two key differences of the prisoners in their psychological results for the other groups.

The Prisoners consistently scored lower on two sub-scales of the psychological test administered.  They were the sub-scales of synergistic awareness and flexibility in the application of their values.

I became interested in what other groups scored low in these two personality traits and researched other groups with similar patterns.  I learned that other groups that also scored low in these two sub-scales included:  delinquents, psychiatric patients, psychopathic felons, alcoholics, drug addicts, and members of fundamentalist religions.

Synergistic awareness is the ability to see opposites in life as meaningfully related.  For example a person with low synergistic awareness would not be able to understand how a person’s work could also be his or her play.   It would be even more difficult for people with low synergistic awareness to understand how some people at times act in a way that may appear ruthless out of real kindness.  There is certainly a need for a higher level of synergistic awareness to understand the ability to think in the nonsensical or metaphoric language of children.  Yet, understanding that such nonsensical thinking might be necessary for beginning on a deeper level a rationale and scientific discussion of the afterlife.

Flexibility in the application of values is not with about whether our values tend to be traditional or conforming to the cultural, or whether they are more independent and self-actualized.    It has more to do with how we apply whatever value system we have for the different situations that life presents.   A good example of this is the person who told me that they would never participate in a Native American spiritual ceremony because they saw Native Americans foolish to be smoking tobacco as part of the ceremony.  By allowing that one value to be so rigid this person lost the opportunity to learn and experience a whole new way of thinking and being that they could have learned and grown from.   In the same way people who believe that their particular religious belief is the only way to think or act, limit themselves from ever discovering new insights, truths, and wisdom for living that their particular tradition may not offer.  Furthermore this rigid form of applying values can lean to conflict and even war for what can become a dehumanized other.

When people score low in both synergistic awareness and flexibility in value application, they may be described as people with very black and white world views coupled with a very rigid way of responding to the inevitable conflict that their world view presents them.

Dr. Moody’s brilliant case for understanding wisdom and new language through nonsense is also a way to assist people in increasing their synergistic awareness and flexibility in applying their values to life situations.  This in turn is a path for reducing war and conflict and moving toward a more loving and sustainable path.

Years ago my good friend and mentor Bob Samples published a book titled “The Metaphoric Mind”.   The book makes the argument that we have become to overly dependent on the left brain and lost touch with the deeper more creative parts of ourselves.  In the book Bob states:   “For centuries astronomers have searched the heavens looking for light.  When they stopped, then they discovered such phenomena as neutron stars and black holes in space.  The Metaphor of light and darkness  have for centuries been considered opposites, yet only a moment’s reflection will reveal they are so mutually interdependent that they are one.   As a culture we often look for answers and write our rules merely on the basis of where there is more light.”  -- Bob Samples

Dr. Moody has now provided a roadmap to look and explore places beyond the rules.  His work has given us tools to increase our synergistic awareness.  He has helped open the new doors of nonsense so that we can obtain greater understanding and wisdom for living and loving ourselves, others, and the planet.

Join us at the Logic of Nonsense Conference January 17-18, 2014 at the Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort.

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Citation

Randle, D. (2013). Neverland, Nonsense, the Afterlife, and Wisdom for Living. Retrieved from http://www.trunity.net/katiefoundation/view/article/51db2a7d0cf2b3d06e25977f