Beyond the highest, Aconcagua's peak,
Lives a lady of fragile health,
Known by the name Mireya.
Her glance, her smile are all I seek,
Are more to me than worlds of wealth,
The ailing lady, Mireya.
Her steps are slower now, embraces weak,
So I will pray for her in stealth,
For the life of my love Mireya.
She was a lady from a distant land,
Beyond Aconcagua's peak.
Her time was short, she took my hand
In hers - she had no need to speak.
She was a lady from a distant land
Whose love was sure, embraces weak,
Whose love was true, and yes, is still
With me deep inside, said she,
Her living silent soul to fill.
Her lonely land was distant though,
beyond Aconcagua's peak,
I came too late, so I'll never more know
Her glances, the smiles I used to seek,
The loving embraces, even though weak,
Of the lady known by the name Mireya.
To anyone reading this poem it will be obvious that Mireya meant very much to me. Please, however, do not imagine some kind of passionate, tragic love affair. In fact, we only ever spent a total of three days together spaced over several years, in two different countries, continents really, and during only one unbroken twenty-four hour period. So the love that existed between us, although also physical, was mostly “spiritual”. It may also be true that the brevity of our relationship precluded the possibility of anger fits or boredom, phenomena of usual occurrence in the best of marriages.
I have some of her many letters, which I will refrain from quoting, because the reason for this report is not to prove or even to illustrate the truth of the poem. In fact, the poem itself is all the evidence I need to proceed with my thesis in good conscience.
Mireya and I could not have been more different. I was an American businessman, she a teacher of handicapped children in a distant Latin land. I watched her with the children and she watched me watching. I do hate to use a corny expression like “love at first sight”, so I won't. However, what I felt was more like recognition at first sight, that this was someone I already knew, although I had never seen her before.
A year passed before we met again, with me popping in and out from the airport to a hotel, to business and finally to her school and her home, for she was recovering from an operation for lung cancer.
She died when I was thousands of miles away, literally on the other side of the world. I was not surprised for, although she seemed to be improving when she journeyed to Switzerland and we spend those 24-hours together with a view of Lake Geneva, I knew as did she) that lung cancer almost always turns out badly. Not long afterward, months before we planned to meet again in the south of that distant land, I received a telegram from her friend, Mónica:
QUERIDO FRANK, MIREYA FALLECIO DOMINGO RESURECCION CON PESAR MONICA
(Dear Frank, Mireya passed away on Easter Sunday . Sadly, Monica)
A lack of surprise in one thing, another is a feeling that our relationship was not over. And yet I knew that it was over... here, not only in Switzerland and that distant land, but on the planet Earth. Please don't think that I was expecting to meet her again in heaven where we would be bored stiff from floating on a cloud from here to all eternity. I believe in immortality all right, as does she (of course: she's experiencing it). But not that kind. You see, I have studied the work of Rudolf Steiner, as did Mireya. In fact, the school where she taught was based on Steiner's pedagogical teaching. A fundamental aspect of Steiner's thought and activity, which he called anthroposophy, is reincarnation and karma. Now these things are almost always associated with eastern religions and mysticism. But along came Steiner and applied them to western philosophy, which he expounded in many books and literally thousands of lectures (in German) which were preserved in shorthand, then transcribed to clear script, typed, printed and published.
The idea of reincarnation had long fascinated me, even before I encountered Rudolf Steiner, who explained it in clear, logical, but not abstract language. After all, what is the meaning of life if it's over almost as soon as it begins, decades if you're lucky, much less if not. If you need proof, take nature, which is intelligent and beautiful, although often cruel. Well, you could say instead that nature acts intelligently. (Plant growth needs rain, so it rains...usually. It also needs light and warmth, so the sun shines and gives warmth … except when it doesn't. Beings mutate.) I know, I know, Darwin's theory of evolution sees this and much more as random, as “natural selection” – a contradiction in terms if I ever saw one: How can a random occurrence “select”, when selection requires at least a modicum of consideration, which requires intelligence and even thinking? Ergo, if nature is beautiful and true and good, then a thinking-being or beings must have made it so. The only thinking beings we know of, however, are human beings, but these beings did not create nature. Therefore, an other thinking being or beings must exist, so intelligent and capable that they could create nature. Now let's take a step beyond nature, for such beings would hardly be satisfied with only nature and all its living components, including insects, animals and, yes, even man. They would also be concerned with love and compassion and justice. And the reverse of all that.
Now I think I know that Mireya's suffering and early death are simply not fair. But what, just what, if it's unfair for a reason or, in fact, not really unfair?
After all that, what's the meaning of it all? No, that´s going a bit too far too soon. The important thing is the conclusion that there must be a reason, because it´s unimaginable that such an intelligent being (or beings) would go to all that trouble for no reason. Unless they are playing a game. But even games have reasons for being played, like winning or just learning to play well. So let's admit that we don't know the reason, but insist that there must be one, or more.
When experiencing the death of a child, a gringo friend once cried: “It's not fucking fair!” Although perhaps expressed differently, it's hard not to agree with him. There are so many things in life that are “not fucking fair” that one could one could easily despair. As many have. The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard reasoned that things are so unfair that a real philosopher could only commit suicide – if there is no hope. And the only way to have hope is to have faith in God and/or in Jesus Christ. Well, it worked for him, according to him. But with all that science has learned since then about how things work (not why) and the decline and corruption of the churches, it has become increasingly difficult to have the kind of faith K advocated. That's where reincarnation enters. It furnishes hope by teaching that we are all on a path of development and that wrongs will be righted and rights will be rewarded on the path of said development, during which freedom will be obtained through love … or vice versa. We should not only wonder what happens after death, but also before birth, and so view the path of evolution more clearly.
According to the stretchable laws of reincarnation, we have all lived many times previously as steps on the path of development; some of us have done well at it, others not. And we are programmed [sic] to live many future lives until …. it is no longer necessary?
An important question arises, however: how to explain the population explosion. Or rather how to accommodate population increase with reincarnation. Where did all the seven billion inhabitants of the earth come from if there was only a small fraction of today's population a thousand years ago, or even a few hundred years ago, or – to be extreme – not so long after Adam and Eve? An explanation I've heard is that conditions have changed so rapidly that it's necessary for most souls to reincarnate more rapidly as well, or that there might even be new souls.
According to the present official theory, around 13.7 billion years ago everything we know of in the cosmos was an infinitesimal singularity – sort of a really tiny black hole over-stuffed with stuff. Then some unknown trigger caused it to expand and inflate in three-dimensional space. As the immense energy of this initial expansion cooled, light began to shine through. Eventually, the small particles began to form into the larger pieces of matter we know today, such as galaxies, stars and planets.
One big question with this theory: Is ours the only universe that resulted from this “big bang”? With current technology, we are limited to observations within this universe because the universe is curved and we are inside the fishbowl, unable to see the outside of it (if there is an outside.) Nevertheless, there actually is quite a bit of evidence out there for a multiverse. And some of the biggest names in science have taken the idea seriously. Stephen Hawking was probably the most famous scientist who dabbled in the parallel universe question. Indeed, his last work described a theory which reduced the quantity of possible universes – from infinite to reasonable, so to speak. Either way, a smoothly running reincarnation system (cum karma) doesn't seem compatible with the cosmos presently understood, as one universe or, rather, one earth. So Isn't it reasonable to consider the possibility of multiple universes, which give us more room to roam, if only – for the present – as a thought experiment? What if they, all those souls, or many of them, came from a parallel universe, or universes? That's what I was thinking when I asked my old friend Roberto Fox what he thought and, after pulling on his earlobe so hard that his hearing aid fell out, he told me.
That was a long time ago in a vegetarian restaurant in Buenos Aires. My office was close and I had recently decided to give up eating meat, so I had lunch there almost every day. Roberto was also there often and we began to nod to each other, then sat at the same table and conversed, first with small talk, then more interesting things. He was twice my age, but looked twice as healthy and fit. I asked him if he was a vegetarian and he nodded. “you?” He asked. He used the informal “tú” which was all right because he was so much older.”Not sure yet,” I said, “but probably. Anyway, what an idea! Parallel universe. Don't the quantum mechanics folks buy into that? I don't mean reincarnating souls, but that parallel universes actual do exist?”
“Yes, some of the experts certainly do like to talk about parallel universes existing, mathematically at least. But I don't think that helps us much as far as reincarnation is concerned,”
“Why ever not, Roberto? It seems to me it does.”
“Well, according to quantum mechanics the exact same things would be happening on a parallel universe that are happening here.”
“Weird, and boring.”
“Right, so our parallel world, earth that is, would have to be more or less the same physically as this one and follow the same physical laws.”
“Yeah, but would we, I mean the people there, also act the same as here?”
“Well, according to Darwinism, since the conditions are the same we'd pretty much act the same.”
Roberto laughed. “Easier said than done. But the question is whether quantum physics in some way explains or makes possible parallel universes, which in turn would solve the seeming contradiction of population explosion and reincarnation.”
“You don't think it does.”
“I do not. According to Stephen Talbott all physical scientists, in an effort to understand reality, take their stand upon a tiny island of knowledge, surrounded by an immense, fathomless sea of ignorance. And, according to the celebrated physicist, Richard Feynman, 'we have no knowledge of what energy is. Nor, for that matter, do we know what a force is.' And the same is true of all the foundational terms of physics. Matter, the supposedly solid ground of material reality, remains an enigma that has only grown more perplexing along with advances in quantum physics."
“But,” I said, knowing that I'd be shot down, “according to quantum theory a sub-atomic particle can be at two different places at the same time. So, I mean, is it completely unfeasible that a universe, which is really a huge amount of particles, be at the same place as a parallel universe at the same time?”
“If what you call particles were more than theoretical constructs lacking sensible qualities, perhaps.”
“I don't know what they are, and apparently neither does anyone else. But I do know that they are not miniature bricks that you can build a universe with. Or even a house.”
I must have looked very disappointed, for he went one: “Do you like to read novels, Frank?”
“Depends on what kind, but sure.”
“Not necessarily, but at least an ending of some kind, which isn't always the case. If there's no real, I mean plausible ending it seems unfinished.”
“Perhaps we should treat life as an unfinished story, let's say an unfinished work of art. So if someone like your Mireya, a really good person, dies young because of a terrible disease, you consider it unfair.” I was about to interrupt, but he didn't allow it. “There are also stories which are 'to be continued'. In real life you are anxious to know how it continues, for it affects you directly.”
“You mean that reincarnation is the continuing?”
“It's what provides the next chapter, so to speak. If there were no reincarnation life would remain forever unfinished.”
“Okay, I'll buy that,” I said, “but how will we know?”
“You can only know within yourself; you have to look there. And as you know, there are millions of galaxies out there in the universe full of planetary systems. So maybe it's unnecessary to depend on a parallel universe which might not exist when there is so much possibility within our own.”
The conversation continued for several hours more and touched other questions of a spiritual nature, but I had learned from Roberto how to realize that when Mireya suffered and died it was only the end of a chapter in a real-life book about her in which I am also a character, one who appeared late, and when it continues we will be together, or at least we should be, once more.