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Uplifting Thoughts for the Isolated and Depressed in Times of Plague

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Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
I shall post and encourage others to add positive thoughts of life in this time. Those who reject or disparage religious faith are welcome to their beliefs. But please to not attack mine here.

In the hymns he wrote for the Christian church, 17th-century German theologian, pastor, and hymn writer Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) provides some answers. Gerhardt lived through plague, war, the deaths of his parents during his youth, the deaths of his wife and four of his five children, strife in the church, and lengthy periods of unemployment. Yet his hymns never falter in testifying to the hope and comfort found in Christ.

The evening hymn “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow” is a lullaby for all ages, bidding the Christian to sleep in peace, knowing that Christ watches over him: “Lord Jesus, since You love me, Now spread Your wings above me And shield me from alarm. Though Satan would devour me, Let angel guards sing o’er me: This child of God shall meet no harm.”

 
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Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
Paul's Ecstatic Utterance of faith in the Letter to the Romans

For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us.

What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?

No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 

minyoo

Onlooker
Thank you for introducing us this beautiful music, and wise words.

It is indeed a hard time, but through friendship and goodwill, love and faith (for any beliefs and philosophies) we will stand strong.

I will introduce another piece of music. I hope this music of beauty and grace will give consolation to you.

 

Silent_Water

Magistrate
I probably had spent too much time at universities and learned too much scientific skepticism to be still a true believer in any kind of our established religions but I always found relief in the conviction of some scientists who I admired that our existence most probably does not end with our death.

In order to explain my personal belief, I once posted these arguments in another thread and I want to repeat them here because some other readers seemed to have had similar thoughts or liked such thoughts:


My personal explanation is sometimes - only sometimes, because I am so "scientifically spoiled" that I am also restlessly questioning my own explanations - much more stranger than most of our rational Western societies are accepting:

1. I "sometimes" really believe that the human consciousness can be separated from the body in case of death. One example is the re-animation after heart-attacks because when "the line to death" is crossed, the body obviously feels no longer pain and relaxes completely. When the patient is re-animated by a defibrillator or s.th. like that, the pain and spasms are back immediately without any delay or retardation. The patients later often remember that moment and say that they had no more pain at all but they were still conscious and sometimes after this moment, the so-called "out-of-body-experiences" are starting.
My rational point in this explanation is that no doctor, no medical treatment, no endorphine works that fast in a second like a switch-on / switch-off the pain. So, I guess, there is really a certain line between life and death and obviously, people can remember that line at least in parts even after they have crossed it.
This means most probably that human consciousness can survive the death of the body. I do not know how long or in which shape or if it is the same as "the soul" but I really think, this is the case.

2. If you accept this case, your consciousness (or soul?) may not only survive one death in one body.

3. I once met a protestant priest who was convinced he lived already at least once as a "Ger - Man", that means a "Ger" ("g" spoken as in "great") once some thousand years ago was a spear for hunting used by ancient German tribes and he was absolutely obsessed by the idea of running through a forest holding his right hand up ready to throw the spear after a deer he was hunting. I also liked this idea somehow and since then, I ask myself if there is a kind of collective subconsciousness for men and women to like postures which may have been the normal kind of living for ten-thousands of years or if we sometimes have flashbacks into former existances of our (partly?) immortal consciousnesses.

4. If you accept the idea of an at least partly immortal (sub-)consciousness, some of our today-obsessions could also be flashbacks to the most challenging, most shocking or most compelling situations which our immortal (?) (sub-?)consciousness might once have experienced.

Maybe, I am totally wrong, but if so, then please prove me the opposite and please start by point 1. by telling me an endorphine which works in less than a second like an electrical switch.
 

poem21045

Magistrate
I shall post and encourage others to add positive thoughts of life in this time. Those who reject or disparage religious faith are welcome to their beliefs. But please to not attack mine here.

In the hymns he wrote for the Christian church, 17th-century German theologian, pastor, and hymn writer Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) provides some answers. Gerhardt lived through plague, war, the deaths of his parents during his youth, the deaths of his wife and four of his five children, strife in the church, and lengthy periods of unemployment. Yet his hymns never falter in testifying to the hope and comfort found in Christ.

The evening hymn “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow” is a lullaby for all ages, bidding the Christian to sleep in peace, knowing that Christ watches over him: “Lord Jesus, since You love me, Now spread Your wings above me And shield me from alarm. Though Satan would devour me, Let angel guards sing o’er me: This child of God shall meet no harm.”

Thanks for the thread, PP!
Here's my two uplifting songs:
 

Servus Venandi

Executioner
I shall post and encourage others to add positive thoughts of life in this time. Those who reject or disparage religious faith are welcome to their beliefs. But please to not attack mine here.

In the hymns he wrote for the Christian church, 17th-century German theologian, pastor, and hymn writer Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) provides some answers. Gerhardt lived through plague, war, the deaths of his parents during his youth, the deaths of his wife and four of his five children, strife in the church, and lengthy periods of unemployment. Yet his hymns never falter in testifying to the hope and comfort found in Christ.

The evening hymn “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow” is a lullaby for all ages, bidding the Christian to sleep in peace, knowing that Christ watches over him: “Lord Jesus, since You love me, Now spread Your wings above me And shield me from alarm. Though Satan would devour me, Let angel guards sing o’er me: This child of God shall meet no harm.”

I was fairly religious in my childhood and youth, but eventually stopped believing in my early to mid-twenties. This was followed by a period of skepticism and hostility toward theistic religions. I never considered myself an outright anti-theist, but sometimes I probably acted like one.

Today, now with a bit of age of on me, I'm still not a believer, but I've made a sort of peace with Judeo-Christianity. If hymns and scriptures bring some people peace and comfort, then more power to them.
 

fallenmystic

Executioner
...but I always found relief in the conviction of some scientists who I admired that our existence most probably does not end with our death...
Your post reminds me of Phaedo, in which Plato so beautifully argues both for and against the imortality of soul through the mouths of Socrates and his followers. Despite my appreciation of the arguments present in that book, however, I managed to have remained as an agnostic regarding such matters.

I don't find anything to fear if there would be only nothingness after my time in this world ends. If I feel nothing, I won't feel any such negative emotions like fear, regret, or boredom. So it wouldn't matter to me anymore because I won't exist.

And I don't see immortality necessarily as a boon or consolation. Buddhists, for example, believe that our soul will incarnate into a different life after we die, but they also see it as a form of torment rather than as a blessing to be trapped in such a cycle, having to suffer things like famine, illness, old age, pain, and death just to start all over again.

Personally, I believe a major part of the reason why we cherish or have high esteem of certain things is because of their transient nature. We rarely value such things that are always present around us like air or water. It's only through the privation of them that we realize their value.

As such, if we could live forever, probably most of the things that we now hold dear would become meaningless soon. We may love some one very much, but can we really love that person for another million years? If we can live indefinitely, we can learn everything, do everything. It may sound cool, but it also means sooner or later, there won't be anything new to us anymore.

We value and cherish something only because we know that it may not last forever, and we find things interesting because they are something new to us. If everything is eternal and unchanging, it is equivalent to the state of maximum entropy, and to death.

So, even if I don't like to grow old and die, I can still appreciate such a transient nature of my existence because that is what makes the time I'm given in this world so special and precious while it lasts.

On the other hand, if I would remain in some form of existence after I die, I may have something more to be concerned with. I'm not a religious person and I have no idea if there would meet any god after I die. But if there to be one, all I wish is that he or she wouldn't be so omniscience as to know all the things that I read and write in this community, or at least know what kind of things that I normally fancy when I pleasure myself.

And if that deity would judge that I should go to hell for all that, I'll just refuse to recognize him or her as a god, since that being would be just another narrow minded idiot in my mind.

Not sure if this could count as an 'uplifting thought' but still...
 
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Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
Buddhists, for example, believe that our soul will incarnate into a different life after we die, but they also see it as a form of torment rather than as a blessing to be trapped in such a cycle, having to suffer things like famine, illness, old age, pain, and death just to start all over again.
In an interview in Playboy magazine (yes I did read the articles - no I didn't go to them first!) Timothy Leary (a burned out acid-head, but also an intelligent and widely read man) interpreted the two great eastern faiths this way. Paraphrasing from memory over 50 years ago.
"Life goes on forever, birth-death-rebirth, our immortal soul or our children or our cousins are on the treadmill wheel forever."
"The Hindus try to ball their way out. Breed as much as you can and earn over the generations of rebirth a higher and higher status until you are a god."
"The Buddhists choose to step off the wheel, not care about this life or the next, achieve a mind-state that is so unmoved by life and death that all is unimportant and has no effect on you - Nirvana!"
 

Gibbs505

SERVORUM DOMITOR
Desiderata
GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
 

Apostate

Administrator
Staff member
Desiderata
GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
I’m posting this point by point refutation of Desiderata not because I am an evil man, but my soul is pretty much coarse and degraded, which is not quite the same thing.

Some of the early 70’s references may be obscure to some many, so feel free to ask for clarification.

 

Wragg

Chronicler of Crux
Staff member
You know, sometimes I wonder if we try too hard to justify our beliefs or disbeliefs. Whatever we think, the universe doesn't care. But I do know this, music in all its forms, great art, great poetry can ring harmonies in the depths of our souls.

So thank you @Praefectus Praetorio for starting this thread, which is indeed just what we need.

 
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Silent_Water

Magistrate
Your post reminds me of Phaedo, in which Plato so beautifully argues both for and against the imortality of soul through the mouths of Socrates and his followers. Despite my appreciation of the arguments present in that book, however, I managed to have remained as an agnostic regarding such matters.

I don't find anything to fear if there would be only nothingness after my time in this world ends. If I feel nothing, I won't feel any such negative emotions like fear, regret, or boredom. So it wouldn't matter to me anymore because I won't exist.

And I don't see immortality necessarily as a boon or consolation. Buddhists, for example, believe that our soul will incarnate into a different life after we die, but they also see it as a form of torment rather than as a blessing to be trapped in such a cycle, having to suffer things like famine, illness, old age, pain, and death just to start all over again.

Personally, I believe a major part of the reason why we cherish or have high esteem of certain things is because of their transient nature. We rarely value such things that are always present around us like air or water. It's only through the privation of them that we realize their value.

As such, if we could live forever, probably most of the things that we now hold dear would become meaningless soon. We may love some one very much, but can we really love that person for another million years? If we can live indefinitely, we can learn everything, do everything. It may sound cool, but it also means sooner or later, there won't be anything new to us anymore.

We value and cherish something only because we know that it may not last forever, and we find things interesting because they are something new to us. If everything is eternal and unchanging, it is equivalent to the state of maximum entropy, and to death.

So, even if I don't like to grow old and die, I can still appreciate such a transient nature of my existence because that is what makes the time I'm given in this world so special and precious while it lasts.

On the other hand, if I would remain in some form of existence after I die, I may have something more to be concerned with. I'm not a religious person and I have no idea if there would meet any god after I die. But if there to be one, all I wish is that he or she wouldn't be so omniscience as to know all the things that I read and write in this community, or at least know what kind of things that I normally fancy when I pleasure myself.

And if that deity would judge that I should go to hell for all that, I'll just refuse to recognize him or her as a god, since that being would be just another narrow minded idiot in my mind.

Not sure if this could count as an 'uplifting thought' but still...
I think I had often the same thoughts like you and I asked myself what the sense of our existence might be in the very, very long run, because even the stars have a kind of life in which they can give life to their planets - but looked at it in a scale of billions of years, stars also destroy the planets they "nourished" as our sun will do.

In approximately 5 billion years, our sun will become a "red giant" and absolutely everything what we ever saw and cherished during our lifetime will be cooked, vaporized and turned again into a new kind of atoms without any life as we know it. The Earth will exist no more.

So, what could then be the sense of life on this planet at all?

Maybe, one of the best possible answers was given by one of the best (in my humble opinion) Science-Fiction-Authors in my lifetime, Arthur C. Clarke, and I will insert here the part of his most famous book, which surprised and astonished me the most because he here outlines at the same time how mankind could have (been) developed, develop itself and what could be the sense of our existence: To save life and its spirit and intelligence before it falls again into "nothing".
(Sorry for possible mistakes but it is a fast translation from my German version of his book back into English again.)

Arthur C. Clarke:

Those who started the experiment so long ago weren't human - not even human-looking at all. But they were flesh and blood, and when they looked through the depths of space they felt shy and lonely. As soon as they were able, they made their way to the stars.

During their voyages of discovery, they encountered many forms of life and had the opportunity to observe the evolution of the world on a thousand worlds. They saw how often the first weak points of an intelligence flared up - and froze again in the cosmic night.

And because they found nothing more precious than the spirit of higher developed life forms in the entire Milky Way system, they helped its development wherever it was present. They sowed like land planners in the fields of the stars - and sometimes they could reap. But sometimes they had to weed, too.

The era of the great dinosaurs was long gone when their research ship came into our solar system after a journey of a thousand years. It left the icy outer planets behind, paused over the deserts of dying Mars, and finally came to Earth.

The pioneers saw a world full of life below them. For years, they carried out investigations, collected and registered. When they knew enough, they started making a selection. They tested many species on land and in the sea. But which of their experiments would be successful was only tob e known in a million years.

They were patient, but by no means immortal. There was a lot to do in the universe of a hundred billion suns, and other horizons lured. So they drove away again into the great emptiness, knowing that they would never come back here.

But there was no need for that either. They left forces that made it superfluous.

The pale moon shining on the glaciers of the ice ages hid its secret in its depths. Civilizations emerged and disappeared in the vastness of the Milky Way. Strange, wonderful and terrible empires appeared and disintegrated, but their knowledge was not lost, but was transferred to their successors. The planet Earth had not been forgotten, but a new visit was not necessary. It was just one of millions of silent worlds, few of which would ever give a sign.

Outside, in the midst of the stars, evolution drove to new heights. The first visitors to the earth had long since reached their limits of flesh and blood. They kept on developing. As soon as their machines were better than their bodies, they took the consequences unwaveringly. They transferred their brains first, and then their bare thoughts in shiny metal and plastic cases.

In these cases they moved in interstellar space. They no longer built spaceships. They really were spaceships.

But the age of the animated machines passed quickly. In their continuous experiments, they had figured out how to store their knowledge in the structure of the room and their thoughts in the waves of light. So they finally freed themselves from the tyranny of matter and became creatures of radiation and light.

So they turned into pure energy, and on thousands of worlds the empty shells that had stripped them wilted and dusted away.

Now they were the masters of the Milky Way and independent of the fourth dimension: time. They were able to walk between the stars without barriers of space and time. But despite their godlike power, they had not forgotten their origin in the warm mud of a long-gone ocean.

And they were still following the experiments that their ancestors started aeons ago.
 

Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
And then there is the sublime, J. S Bach

Albert Einstein: “This is what I have to say about Bach – listen, play, love, revere – and keep your trap shut.”
Ignoring Einstein:

Not Brook but Ocean should be his name. - Ludwig Van Beethoven
("Bach" is the German word for "brook")

Now there is music from which a man can learn something. - W. A. Mozart (on hearing Bach motets in Leipzig)

Whether the angels play only Bach praising God, I am not quite sure. - Karl Barth

Bach is a colossus of Rhodes, beneath whom all musicians pass and will continue to pass. Mozart is the most beautiful, Rossini the most brilliant, but Bach is the most comprehensive: he has said all there is to say. If all the music written since Bach's time should be lost, it could be reconstructed on the foundation which Bach laid. - Charles Gounod
 

KvK

Tribune
This is a beautiful thread.

Here is my contribution to it.

It has been noted for some years now that there is a link, an inverse relationship, between the human immune system and stress. That is to say, the more stressed we are, the lower our immune function is.

This damned virus, like others of its kind, preys on those with weakened immune systems.

As hard as it is to actually implement, there is one thing we can all try to do to help ourselves.

We can try to reduce or control our stress.

For me, this is a daily battle because I cannot go out and see my loved ones who are not well. I hate myself for not having told them enough that I loved them when we could still talk face to-face.

But, each day, I try to exercise. Exercise gets my focus away from my emotions (like stress and helplessness) and onto concrete things like breathing in and out at the right time, number of reps, number of sets.

I also refuse to give up. I wake up each day missing those I cannot see, and I become determined to fight on. I fight on by controlling my stress, by eating even when I have zero appetite, and by calling those of my loved ones who I can call.

The first and hardest thing we ever have to do is to believe in ourselves. After that, many things simply become a question of "How?"
 

Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
This is a beautiful thread.

Here is my contribution to it.

It has been noted for some years now that there is a link, an inverse relationship, between the human immune system and stress. That is to say, the more stressed we are, the lower our immune function is.

This damned virus, like others of its kind, preys on those with weakened immune systems.

As hard as it is to actually implement, there is one thing we can all try to do to help ourselves.

We can try to reduce or control our stress.

For me, this is a daily battle because I cannot go out and see my loved ones who are not well. I hate myself for not having told them enough that I loved them when we could still talk face to-face.

But, each day, I try to exercise. Exercise gets my focus away from my emotions (like stress and helplessness) and onto concrete things like breathing in and out at the right time, number of reps, number of sets.

I also refuse to give up. I wake up each day missing those I cannot see, and I become determined to fight on. I fight on by controlling my stress, by eating even when I have zero appetite, and by calling those of my loved ones who I can call.

The first and hardest thing we ever have to do is to believe in ourselves. After that, many things simply become a question of "How?"
Fine advice. Thank you so much!
 
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