Silver Cords and Golden Bowls: On Consciousness, what it is and where it goes

For Greg, who wanted to know “what” changed me.

A few days ago, the idea dawned on me that explaining some of what I believe to people is extremely difficult. It’s not that I think I am smarter than anyone else, or have more experiences or that I’m insane (even if that last one is debatable), it’s because my view on life and the afterlife has essentially evolved over the last several years. All the books and articles I’ve read over forty-some-odd years of my life have shaped my opinion, but delving deeply into the Bible has solidified a lot of what I’ve suspected and contemplated over all that time. It is a journey of understanding, one that can’t be encapsulated into a few bulleted speech points.

So rather than try to explain in detail how I changed, I just try to get across to people what led me to change my life for the better. It boils down to belief in God, in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But how did I get there? I had to start somewhere.

Someone once told me that I spend too much time in thought, ruminating over stuff that doesn’t really matter. But that’s also a matter of opinion, and to me, the Bible is indisputable fact. Consciousness matters. The fact that we are able to even ‘think’ at all does matter. That’s where I started, with the age old statement, “I think, therefore I am.”

I learned to stop focusing on and wallowing in my misery and instead began to question it. If someone is constantly complaining about their life, why don’t they try examining their belief system to figure out how they arrived at such a state? If you are correct in your assessment of what life is, why are you so miserable? You have to start with a fundamental Truth. Jesus, the Word of God made flesh and Who conquered death, IS that Truth. I know it’s true because I’ve seen more than my fair share of evidence proving that the human soul does indeed exist. Not only that, the Word itself is literally alive.

Using if/then logic, you can’t arrive at any other conclusion than this: If there is such a thing as a human spirit or soul, then something -Someone – created it. We weren’t created to be miserable.

The Constant Pursuit of Happiness

Most of what we argue about these days has to do with some group’s idea of utopia – the perfect life. Everyone’s got ideas on this subject, ranging from living a simple agrarian lifestyle all the way to living the high-maintenance existence of a Kardashian daughter. Most of us fall somewhere in between, including me. Because I became aware of my own existence and exposed to death at a very early age, this is a subject that my mind constantly chews on, laying it down for a day or two then coming right back to it. And after years and years of thought on what we are, who we are and what our purpose is, my long-ignored Bible finally gave me a foundation to build on. It comes down to whether or not we believe that Consciousness exists separately from our physical form.

I’ve often thought of my consciousness (soul, spirit, whatever you want to call it) as a balloon, attached somehow to my physical body here on earth. During the day, I follow along with my body as it does its daily chores and goes about tasks like eating, using the restroom and getting from one place to another. My body is a vehicle for my consciousness and I’ve treated it as such for a long time. We all learn early on that what our bodies / vehicles look like to other people somehow matters, especially when it comes to things like sex and procreation. Marriage, too, matters but people have forgotten why it matters. People treat it like a financial agreement when it is actually a covenant between two people to love, honor and protect each other. It is a spiritual thing, a covenant for the spirit, not the body.

In recent years, the fleshly body has become far more important to mankind than the soul or spirit. Since God and His Word, Jesus Christ are considered lofty, spiritual and intangible things, most people have turned away. They have developed an ant’s eye view of the world. They see only in two dimensions – what’s right in front of them. They forget that just above them, in the higher dimensions, their soul is following along, neglected.

Go to the ant, O sluggard;
    consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
    officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
    and gathers her food in harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6 (ESV)

There is no curiosity in an ant’s perspective – just obstacles that occasionally arise and we must somehow go around them. Finally, the ant runs into an obstacle it can’t get around – death – and like Monty Python’s parrot, it ceases to be. The whole time it never occurred to anyone with the ant’s eye perspective that their spirit keeps going on, floating over the obstacles like a balloon now untethered, on to other places.

Proof of the existence of the soul: One mundane example

I’ve been fortunate not to have had any family members who had to deal with Alzheimer’s disease, but I’ve seen friends go through it with a parent or  loved one. For them, it is extremely heartbreaking to watch a mother, father or sibling slip away slowly, piece by piece until just a shell of the former person remains. They can no longer care for themselves and become almost infant-like in their helplessness. They are often placed in homes or hospices to die, finishing out the course of the disease because they become so difficult to take care of. At that stage, Alzheimer’s patients needs are often beyond the ability of family caregivers to handle. It’s not their fault, and it’s horrible for them to have to lock away a person they love, knowing they really have no other choice.

I watched a video of a young man who secretly taped his mother as he spent the day with her. She was able to get up, walk around, eat lunch, and chat with him, but the problem was she had no idea that she was talking to her own son. At times during the video, he seemed to be upset with her because she couldn’t remember, and he grew impatient with her. Then, at the end of the day, he recorded a monologue while sitting alone in his car. He began to cry, saying that it felt like his mother had already died. He’d been spending the day with someone he didn’t know. I felt so bad for him, and even worse for her. It wasn’t her fault that her consciousness – that “thing” which made her his mother – had gone away, leaving her functioning body behind to continue on until she finally passed away.

In a way, Alzheimer’s disease is the most visible, physical proof of a human soul. This young man’s mother had already left. While her body, her “vehicle” was still running in fairly good condition, her soul or “driver” had gotten out and departed. He was left to deal with the empty, still-running vehicle. It was then that I visualized that woman’s soul as a bunch of balloons. She gradually let each of the strings go, one by one until the last balloon floated away, taking “her” with it.

To me, that’s what Alzheimer’s disease is – a gradual release of the soul. In some ways, it is a gentle way to die, if you believe in such things as souls. Which I do. You just float away; there is no pain or being caught in the agonizing throes of death like my own mother went through. (She struggled like crazy to hang on to that last balloon).  Just let go of the strings and off they go into the great unknown. It’s not easy for their loved ones, though, because they still see the fleshly body as their loved one. And they have to deal with it.

There is a Bible verse that describes this very thing.

“…5Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. 6Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.…” – Ecclesiastes 12:5-7

This verse is often said at funerals, even though the funeral-goers pay little attention to what it actually says. “The silver cord is broken” describes the tether between our spirit and our fleshly bodies. The “golden bowl” is our brain, or better worded, the “physical seat” of our souls. The vessel (cistern, pitcher) is broken and the contents released. Our physical bodies are described in the Bible as “clay vessels” and God is the potter who made them. We are beings capable of only seeing in 3 dimensions and perceiving a fourth – the passage of Time. There IS a fifth dimensional (and higher) aspect to us that many refuse to acknowledge simply because we have an ant’s-eye view and refuse to look up.

New Age thinkers have more or less grasped this idea, (many new Agers claim to have seen a “silver cord” during an OBE or Astral Projection episode), but the problem is that they refuse to acknowledge God, or else they recreate God in their own minds as whatever they visualize Him to be. You can’t reinvent God. He is who He is, and He does not change Himself to suit the desires of mankind.  Truth is that which is solid, fixed and never changes, therefore God IS truth.

If you see the Bible as Truth from cover to cover like I do, you understand that God is the Father, the Creator. He is unknowable to us, at least now in our present form. He took a part of Himself and sent it to earth in the form of human flesh, which is His Only Begotten Son, so that He could look out at us from our perspective for a time. He walked amongst us, here in our own lower dimension and taught people everything they needed to know about the spiritual world that God dwells in. We cannot comprehend God because He is a higher being than we can ever understand, but we can come to know His love for us.

For a while I looked into NDE’s or “Near-Death Experiences” as well as listened to reports from hospice workers who related stories of people seeing other people in the room that weren’t there. The closer each person came to death, the more the Veil that separates our world from the next began to fall away. My own mother reported seeing “electric people” and a “firework dust” that was, as she said, “rather entertaining to look at.” On her last day, she reported seeing a man standing in her room that she didn’t recognize, simply standing there as if waiting for her. She didn’t feel threatened by him, at least from what the nurse said. In my view, once Mom finally let go and let herself float away, she would recognize the man as either someone she once knew or maybe it was an angel or even Jesus Christ Himself. No, it wasn’t just the drugs they gave her. I know this for one simple reason: I’ve seen the “fireworks dust” for myself, and I wasn’t on anything at the time I saw it.

I believe that the “fireworks dust” that Mom saw floating around her hospice room was the Holy Spirit, because that’s how I saw the Holy Spirit once in a dream I had. I saw a floating, glittery cloud of golden dust that enveloped me and two of my friends with the most indescribable feeling of love –  pure Love.  How do I know this wasn’t just “any dream?” At the time I had that dream, I hadn’t yet given up my worldly ways. My two friends who were in that dream were also bigtime partiers as well. So far, five years later, one of my friends and I have become dedicated Christians who love the Lord. The third friend is still out there somewhere, doing her usual thing. I believe that before it’s over, though, she will find God in Jesus Christ.

Anyway, the point of my ramble here is this: If you want to find peace in this life, you have to understand what it really is. It is a chrysalis stage of our existence. We are put here to learn. To even begin learning, you have to come to believe there is a soul, a spirit world, and a superior being we call God. In order to do that, you have to open your eyes and look up. The best way to start is to wipe off the dust from your Bible, pick it up and get to know the Word.

Until later,

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