Monday, May 31, 2010

52

Weeks, arms of giants, DC Earths (witless), and of course... Secret 7.

The Absorbascon: The Shape of Things To Come

The Absorbascon: The Shape of Things To Come

The Ashes Of His Fathers

But the Consul’s brow was sad, and the Consul’s speech was low, 
And darkly looked he at the wall, and darkly at the foe. 
‘Their van will be upon us before the bridge goes down; 
And if they once might win the bridge, what hope to save the town?’ 
Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate: 
‘To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. 
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, 
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods, 
Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul, with all the speed ye may; 
I, with two more to help me, will hold the foe in play. 
In yon strait path a thousand may well be stopped by three. 
Now who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?’ 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

LOST: Eyes, part 3; Sci Fi Eyes, part 1


Why LOST Sucks - bandwidth exceeded again!

Why LOST Sucks is down again due to exceeded bandwidth... A tribute to the cool factor of the threads there, the sheer disbelief and outpouring of hatred from the LOST fan equivalent of the Tea Party Movement, and the massive interest in unfettered uncontrolled debate on LOST.

And despite all the majority of the lamestream media AND the blogosphere "news sources" are in the tank for the makers of LOST, flying in the face of the unbiased results of every survey on the subject- LOST ended up sucking, and sucking hard.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned From LOST, Part 2

Drugs:
Are AWESOME. They are never addictive unless it's dramatic and withdrawals only ever last four days or until someone hangs you. Also drugs make you grow a beard. Even if you're a woman. If for some reason you can't grow a beard whilst drugging, false beards are available.

Coffins:
Indestructible.

Tennis Shoes:
Little known fact: 7 out of 10 corpses prefer to wear white tennis shoes.

Staring:
When trying to communicate with someone, never forget- it is up to THEM to make the first and indeed all subsequent moves, for THEM to use their telepathy to understand you. ESPECIALLY when they want answers to simple questions. NEVER answer a question or make a simple statement when there is an opportunity to simply stare vacuously at someone.
If someone is staring at or near you, NEVER interrupt them unless or until they cease staring of their own accord, an overweight person runs up to interrupt you, a fight breaks out within earshot or you hear a whooshing noise.
Remember: staring at the object of your affection is NOT creepy, it means you really love them. Any fool can kiss them, tell them how much you care for them etc. It takes a GENIUS to communicate essentially random thought processes or dangerously long flashbacks by simply staring at someone. Or near someone. Or at all.

Flashbacks:
Although modern science in its ignorance will try and tell you that memory often presents us with a first person perspective, rarely remembers colors accurately and is frequently disjointed, in fact memories are simple compartmentalised miniature stories that all begin and end with a whooshing sound, have simple and unambiguous beginning middle and end, and occur in a third person perspective, frequently with a variety of visual effects, changing angles of view and filters.

All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned From LOST, Part 1

It would priceless if some hack did an “All I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From LOST” type book.

How to get information:
murder someone. Then ask them questions as they are dying. Do NOT under any circumstances ask even close acquaintances let alone loved ones, spouses or friends any normal questions. And NEVER under any circumstances voluntarily share information.

How to form close sexual relationships:
constantly hector and undermine the object of your affections, or simply ignore them or treat them like they’re retarded. This is such a turn on you’ll have them eating out of your hand or anywhere else you desire. Also, the sexiest imaginable place to get it on is a deserted beach on an island filled with hostiles and traps, or a massive cage. In any event make sure some creepy group of people is watching you make love- be it Others, undercover police on stakeout, or whatever.

Parenting:
All fathers are evil. All mothers are useless. Or evil. Children are best ignored. Unless you can get them kidnapped.

Medical Treatment:
A wizard did it.

Faith:
Something that requires proof.

Science:
Something that you have to take on trust.

Morbidly Obese People:
If they like Star Wars (and let’s face it, pretty much all of them do) they’re wonderful.

Psychosis:
Makes you more functional and gives you an eerie intuitive ability. See Locke, John; Reyes, Hugo; Lucia, Ana. Also means you aren’t responsible for any of your actions. Including ones you take when sane.

Sanity:
Vastly overrated, and extremely dangerous since it doesn’t match reality at all. It’s far better to be strung out on drugs or simply insane. See: Psychosis, Faith, Science

Catholicism:
A religious equivalent of the Californian attitude to illegal immigrants. Also little more than black suit wearing version of Buddhism, which is itself basically equivalent to Islam, Confucianism, Zen and Satanism.

Religion:
Good, evil- they’re both excellent choices. Whatever floats your boat. Like M&Ms, they all come out the same color anyway.

LOST Finale. Love it or hate it?

So What Was The Smoke Monster aka Smokey?

In the third bardo the soul encounters the Lord of Death, a fearsome demonic deity who appears in smoke and fire, and subjects the soul to a Judgment. If the dead person protests that he has done no evil, the Lord of Death holds up before him the Mirror of Karma, "wherein every good and evil act is vividly reflected." Now demons approach and begin to inflict torments and punishments upon the soul for his evil deeds. The instructions in the Bardo Thodol are for him to attempt to recognize the Voidness of all these beings, including the Lord of Death himself; the dead person is told that this entire scene unfolding around him is a projection from his own mind. Even here he can attain liberation by recognizing this.


Ringing any bells?

LOST finale answers

The Tibetan Book of the Dead
 
The Tibetan Book of the Dead, whose actual title is "The Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Intermediate State" or "Bardo Thodol", is traditionally believed to be the work of the legendary Padma Sambhava in the 8th century A.D. The book acts as a guide for the dead during the state that intervenes death and the next rebirth. He is considered to be one of the first persons to bring Buddhism to Tibet. The Bardo Thodol is a guide that is read aloud to the dead while they are in the state between death and reincarnation in order for them to recognize the nature of their mind and attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

The Bardo Thodol teaches that once awareness is freed from the body, it creates its own reality as one would experience in a dream. This dream occurs in various phases (bardos) in ways both wonderful and terrifying. 

Overwhelming peaceful and wrathful visions and deities appear. Since the deceased's awareness is in confusion of no longer being connected to a physical body, it needs help and guidance in order that enlightenment and liberation occurs. The Bardo Thodol teaches how we can attain Nirvana by recognizing the heavenly realms instead of entering into the lower realms where the cycle of birth and rebirth continue.

On the second day, there appears the second-highest God in the Buddhist pantheon - in fact, he is actually the Second Person in the literal Buddhist Holy Trinity. At the same time, there dawns a smoky light from hell; and here we note that, just as the Buddhist heaven is not a permanent, eternal state, neither is its hell. Even the most wretched souls will eventually work their way out of even the deepest pit of hell, just as even the highest and purest souls will eventually lose their footing in heaven and descend again into the cycle of death and rebirth. Liberation is the only way out.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Ambrose Bierce
A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees.



An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

by Ambrose Bierce

A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners--two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as "support," that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest--a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.
Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground--a gentle acclivity topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway of the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators--a single company of infantry in line, at "parade rest," the butts of the rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock. A lieu tenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.
The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good--a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well-fitting frock coat. He wore a mustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.
The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace. These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgment as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his "unsteadfast footing," then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move, What a sluggish stream!
He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift--all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by--it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and--he knew not why--apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.
He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. "If I could free my hands," he thought, "I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader's farthest advance."
As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man's brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.


II

Peyton Farquhar was a well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with the gallant army that had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in war time. Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.
One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only toe, happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from the front.
"The Yanks are repairing the railroads," said the man, "and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order."
"How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?" Farquhar asked.
"About thirty miles."
"Is there no force on this side the creek?"
"Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge."
"Suppose a man--a civilian and student of hanging--should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel," said Farquhar, smiling, "what could he accomplish?"
The soldier reflected. "I was there a month ago," he replied. "I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tow."
The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.


III

As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened--ages later, it seemed to him--by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well-defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fulness--of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!--the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible! He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface--knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. "To be hanged and drowned," he thought? "that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair."
He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort!--what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor! Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. "Put it back, put it back!" He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire; his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!
He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck. He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf--saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant-bodied flies, the grey spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass. The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies' wings, the strokes of the water-spiders' legs, like oars which had lifted their boat--all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water.
He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two privates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic.
Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a grey eye and remembered having read that grey eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.
A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking into the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears. Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieu. tenant on shore was taking a part in the morning's work. How coldly and pitilessly--with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquillity in the men--with what accurately measured inter vals fell those cruel words:
"Attention, company! . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready! . . . Aim! . . . Fire!"
Farquhar dived--dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out.
As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther down stream nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.
The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning.
The officer," he reasoned, "will not make that martinet's error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!"
An appalling plash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, diminuendo, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps!
A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken a hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond.
"They will not do that again," he thought; "the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me--the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun."
Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round--spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men--all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular horizontal streaks of color--that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In a few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream--the southern bank--and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange, roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of Æolian harps. He had no wish to perfect his escape--was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken.
A whiz and rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest.
All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman's road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation.
By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famishing. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great garden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which--once, twice, and again--he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue.
His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue--he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet!
Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene--perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon--then all is darkness and silence!
Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

LOST explained in one short sentence

To paraphrase the fifth Doctor from Doctor Who:

"Gary Troup? Why that's an anagram of... How interesting." *



* Gary Troup = Purgatory

If Video Games Had Real Life Endings

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why LOST Sucks is back among the living. Brotha.

http://www.whylostsucks.com

Not commercially motivated or hidden agenda censored, therefore sensible place to discuss.

The Smell Of Lime preview pages

The Smell Of Lime #1 will be available fairly soon. No idea what the RRP will be, but as low as possible. At this stage it will be print only, gloss full colour 108 pages of content, colour covers etc. too. ;) It's chapters 1 through 5, #2 will be chapters 6 through 10.

What is The Smell Of Lime? Humans (and others) are abducted or otherwise conducted to a mysterious planet orbiting a gas giant. The planet has little bits of their home planets deposited on it... Maybe...
But there are deeper mysteries even than the explanation for their abductions, and there are a series of recurring visions and dreams some suffer that seem to point to either an alien conflict... or an incredible multi-dimensional struggle...

The Smell Of Lime (TSOL). My ongoing.

The shakespearian sci fi noir is still getting finished off but TSOL will be what I chip away at from now until I finish the stories it involves.

PS I actually can read and write Ancient Egyptian (cf Queen of Tears) so if any turns up in TSOL you can rest assured it's 1. meaningful and 2. as accurate as possible. :)

6-8-End

4815162342

4815162342.com is back up, possibly server overload due to the fan split after the finale, but the forum is still unavailable. On The Fuselage which is in a particularly egregious censorship mode and has been for a while nevertheless someone running a mainstream site has already announced they've axed it, given up on LOST, finito due to the finale and their dissatisfaction with it.


If there is the slightest remotest glimmer of a LOST movie or telemovie series it would seem the fan war will put paid to that. Especially since the "answers aren't important" is the eyepatch the creators have decided to wear. Hurm.

LOST: alleged: Bad Robot source speaks

Good stuff on here! I can finally throw in my two cents! I've had to bite my tongue for far too long. Also, hopefully I can answer some of John's questions about Dharma and the "pointless breadcrumbs" that really, weren't so pointless ...

First ...
The Island:

It was real. Everything that happened on the island that we saw throughout the 6 seasons was real. Forget the final image of the plane crash, it was put in purposely to f*&k with people's heads and show how far the show had come. They really crashed. They really survived. They really discovered Dharma and the Others. The Island keeps the balance of good and evil in the world. It always has and always will perform that role. And the Island will always need a "Protector". Jacob wasn't the first, Hurley won't be the last. However, Jacob had to deal with a malevolent force (MIB) that his mother, nor Hurley had to deal with. He created the devil and had to find a way to kill him -- even though the rules prevented him from actually doing so.

Thus began Jacob's plan to bring candidates to the Island to do the one thing he couldn't do. Kill the MIB. He had a huge list of candidates that spanned generations. Yet everytime he brought people there, the MIB corrupted them and caused them to kill one another. That was until Richard came along and helped Jacob understand that if he didn't take a more active role, then his plan would never work.

Enter Dharma -- which I'm not sure why John is having such a hard time grasping. Dharma, like the countless scores of people that were brought to the island before, were brought there by Jacob as part of his plan to kill the MIB. However, the MIB was aware of this plan and interferred by "corrupting" Ben. Making Ben believe he was doing the work of Jacob when in reality he was doing the work of the MIB. This carried over into all of Ben's "off-island" activities. He was the leader. He spoke for Jacob as far as they were concerned. So the "Others" killed Dharma and later were actively trying to kill Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and all the candidates because that's what the MIB wanted. And what he couldn't do for himself.

Dharma was originally brought in to be good. But was turned bad by MIB's corruption and eventually destroyed by his pawn Ben. Now, was Dharma only brought there to help Jack and the other Canditates on their overall quest to kill Smokey? Or did Jacob have another list of Canidates from the Dharma group that we were never aware of? That's a question that is purposley not answered because whatever answer the writers came up with would be worse than the one you come up with for yourself. Still ... Dharma's purpose is not "pointless" or even vague. Hell, it's pretty blantent.

Still, despite his grand plan, Jacob wanted to give his "candidates" (our Lostaways) the one thing he, nor his brother, were ever afforded: free will. Hence him bringing a host of "candidates" through the decades and letting them "choose" which one would actually do the job in the end. Maybe he knew Jack would be the one to kill Flocke and that Hurley would be the protector in the end. Maybe he didn't. But that was always the key question of the show: Fate vs Free-will. Science vs Faith. Personally I think Jacob knew from the beginning what was going to happen and that everyone played a part over 6 seasons in helping Jack get to the point where he needed to be to kill Smokey and make Hurley the protector -- I know that's how a lot of the writers viewed it. But again, they won't answer that (nor should they) because that ruins the fun.

In the end, Jack got to do what he always wanted to do from the very first episode of the show: Save his fellow Lostaways. He got Kate and Sawyer off the island and he gave Hurley the purpose in life he'd always been missing. And, in Sideways world (which we'll get to next) he in fact saved everyone by helping them all move on ...

Now...

Sideways World:

Sideways world is where it gets really cool in terms of theology and metaphysical discussion (for me at least -- because I love history/religion theories and loved all the talks in the writer's room about it). Basically what the show is proposing is that we're all linked to certain people during our lives. Call them soulmates (though it's not exactly the best word). But these people we're linked to are with us duing "the most important moments of our lives" as Christian said. These are the people we move through the universe with from lifetime to lifetime. It's loosely based in Hinduisim with large doses of western religion thrown into the mix.

The conceit that the writers created, basing it off these religious philosophies, was that as a group, the Lostaways subconsciously created this "sideways" world where they exist in purgatory until they are "awakened" and find one another. Once they all find one another, they can then move on and move forward. In essence, this is the show's concept of the afterlife. According to the show, everyone creates their own "Sideways" purgatory with their "soulmates" throughout their lives and exist there until they all move on together. That's a beautiful notion. Even if you aren't religious or even spirtual, the idea that we live AND die together is deeply profound and moving.

It's a really cool and spirtual concept that fits the whole tone and subtext the show has had from the beginning. These people were SUPPOSED to be together on that plane. They were supposed to live through these events -- not JUST because of Jacob. But because that's what the universe or God (depending on how religious you wish to get) wanted to happen. The show was always about science vs faith -- and it ultimately came down on the side of faith. It answered THE core question of the series. The one question that has been at the root of every island mystery, every character backstory, every plot twist. That, by itself, is quite an accomplishment.

How much you want to extrapolate from that is up to you as the viewer. Think about season 1 when we first found the Hatch. Everyone thought that's THE answer! Whatever is down there is the answer! Then, as we discovered it was just one station of many. One link in a very long chain that kept revealing more, and more of a larger mosiac.

But the writer's took it even further this season by contrasting this Sideways "purgatory" with the Island itself. Remember when Michael appeared to Hurley, he said he was not allowed to leave the Island. Just like the MIB. He wasn't allowed into this sideways world and thus, was not afforded the opportunity to move on. Why? Because he had proven himself to be unworthy with his actions on the Island. He failed the test. The others, passed. They made it into Sideways world when they died -- some before Jack, some years later. In Hurley's case, maybe centuries later. They exist in this sideways world until they are "awakened" and they can only move on TOGETHER because they are linked. They are destined to be together for eternity. That was their destiny.

They were NOT linked to Anna Lucia, Daniel, Roussou, Alex, Miles, Lupidis, (and all the rest who weren't in the chuch -- basically everyone who wasn't in season 1). Yet those people exist in Sideways world. Why? Well again, here's where they leave it up to you to decide. The way I like to think about it, is that those people who were left behind in Sideways world have to find their own soulmates before they can wake up. It's possible that those links aren't people from the island but from their other life (Anna's parnter, the guy she shot --- Roussou's husband, etc etc).

A lot of people have been talking about Ben and why he didn't go into the Church. And if you think of Sideways world in this way, then it gives you the answer to that very question. Ben can't move on yet because he hasn't connected with the people he needs to. It's going to be his job to awaken Roussou, Alex, Anna Lucia (maybe), Ethan, Goodspeed, his father and the rest. He has to attone for his sins more than he did by being Hurley's number two. He has to do what Hurley and Desmond did for our Lostaways with his own people. He has to help them connect. And he can only move on when all the links in his chain are ready to. Same can be said for Faraday, Charlotte, Whidmore, Hawkins etc. It's really a neat, and cool concept. At least to me.

But, from a more "behind the scenes" note: the reason Ben's not in the church, and the reason no one is in the church but for Season 1 people is because they wrote the ending to the show after writing the pilot. And never changed it. The writers always said (and many didn't believe them) that they knew their ending from the very first episode. I applaud them for that. It's pretty fantastic. Originally Ben was supposed to have a 3 episode arc and be done. But he became a big part of the show. They could have easily changed their ending and put him in the church -- but instead they problem solved it. Gave him a BRILLIANT moment with Locke outside the church ... and then that was it. I loved that. For those that wonder -- the original ending started the moment Jack walked into the church and touches the casket to Jack closing his eyes as the other plane flies away. That was always JJ's ending. And they kept it.

For me the ending of this show means a lot. Not only because I worked on it, but because as a writer it inspired me in a way the medium had never done before. I've been inspired to write by great films. Maybe too many to count. And there have been amazing TV shows that I've loved (X-Files, 24, Sopranos, countless 1/2 hour shows). But none did what LOST did for me. None showed me that you could take huge risks (writing a show about faith for network TV) and stick to your creative guns and STILL please the audience. I learned a lot from the show as a writer. I learned even more from being around the incredible writers, producers, PAs, interns and everyone else who slaved on the show for 6 years.

In the end, for me, LOST was a touchstone show that dealt with faith, the afterlife, and all these big, spirtual questions that most shows don't touch. And to me, they never once waivered from their core story -- even with all the sci-fi elements they mixed in. To walk that long and daunting of a creative tightrope and survive is simply astounding.

Source: SpoilerTV


This is in my opinion a real inside statement. It's also total bullshit and damage control. The truth is, as stated above, that the ending was written along with the pilot. Ponder that. That means we have the first four eps of Season 1, and the end of the finale.

THUS: the show was, as many predicted, originally nothing more than an elaborate and beautifully executed version of "purgatory" (actually the Bardo) with a judaeo-christian Hollywood tinsel-mysticisim veneer. Everything between episode 1.4 (roughly) and the end of the finale was pure money making filler. Check previous true statements: they had no idea what was behind the hatch, they just thought it would be cool. Etcetera. In other words, the entire show was Incident at Owl Creek redux. The inconsistencies hurled into the mix and the retcon of the purgatory flashes in season 6 are just frankenstein stitched-on afterthoughts to get the detour back on the rails by the end of the last episode. So watch the first few episodes, maybe Exodus, because it was beautifully done, and fade from the end of Exodus to the end of the whole show- and that was the original plan. Eveything else was pointless, however entertaining at times.

This is why the whole Dharma Initiative ARG and all the rest of it up to the LOST University was extraneous to the televised show. It was literally and figuratively fantasy, diversions of dying synapses as the soul travellers went through not one purgatory in a Christian sense but through six stages of the Bardo and eight degrees of consciousness. The final speech by Christian is what should be ignored or at least interpreted extremely closely.

Anti purgatory fans have said that the whole show happened other than the purgatory flashes. The only evidence for this is Christian Shepherd's statement at the end. The same statement where he says there is only an eternal now. In other words people can "die" (ie change level within the afterlife) at different times and end up at the same "place" at the same "time". Of course they can- it's a spiritual journey of snakes and (Jacob's) Ladder.

LOST where are they now?

LOST alternate endings

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why Lost Sucks

The website Why Lost Sucks has gone down, bandwidth exceeded. Hurm.

Looks like www.4815162342.com is also gone as in gone and not coming back. Slight shame, I was a member there for several years. But it heavily traded on the "it is NOT purgatory" line, so with that being horribly proven wrong... Teardrops must fall.

LOST 101 -=- basically reprinting what I typed at the Fuselage 5 years ago

Can't sleep. Got woken up by international call. Grr.

So. LOST finale explained.


The LOST finale confirms the old, old OLD theory that LOST = purgatory or more accurately, the BARDO from Tibetan "Buddhism". The more you read about it, the more resonances with the "mythology" of LOST you will find.

Six Bardos

  1. Shinay bardo (Tibetan): is the first bardo of birth and life. This bardo commences from conception until the last breath, when the mindstream withdraws from the body.
  2. Milam bardo (Tibetan): is the second bardo of the dream state. The Milam Bardo is a subset of the first Bardo. Dream Yoga develops practices to integrate the dream state into Buddhist sadhana.
  3. Samten bardo (Tibetan) is the third bardo of meditation. This bardo is generally only experienced by meditators, though individuals may have spontaneous experience of it. Samten Bardo is a subset of the Shinay Bardo.
  4. Chikkhai bardo (Tibetan): is the fourth bardo of the moment of death. According to tradition, this bardo is held to commence when the outer and inner signs presage that the onset of death is nigh, and continues through the dissolution or transmutation of the Mahabhuta until the external and internal breath has completed.
  5. Chönyid bardo (Tibetan): is the fifth bardo of the luminosity of the true nature which commences after the final 'inner breath' (Sanskrit: prana, vayu; Tibetan: rlung). It is within this Bardo that visions and auditory phenomena occur. In the Dzogchen teachings, these are known as the spontaneously manifesting Thödgal (Tibetan: thod-rgyal) visions. Concomitant to these visions, there is a welling of profound peace and pristine awareness. Sentient beings who have not practiced during their lived experience and/or who do not recognize the clear light (Tibetan: od gsal) at the moment of death are usually deluded throughout the fifth bardo of luminosity.
  6. Sidpai bardo (Tibetan): is the sixth bardo of becoming or transmigration. This bardo endures until the inner-breath commences in the new transmigrating form determined by the 'karmic seeds' within the storehouse consciousness.
Saddharmasmrity Upasthana Sutra (正法念處經) classify 17 Bardos with different experiences.[2]

Bardo

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This is an article on a Buddhist concept. For other meanings of the word Bardo, see: Bardo (disambiguation)
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The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva.
Fremantle (2001) states that there are six traditional bardo states known as the Six Bardos: the Bardo of This Life (p.55); the Bardo of Meditation (p.58); the Bardo of Dream (p.62); the Bardo of Dying (p.64); the Bardo of Dharmata (p.65); and the Bardo of Existence (p.66).
Shugchang, et al. (2000: p.5) discuss the Zhitro (Tibetan: Zhi-khro) teachings which subsume the Bardo Thodol and mention Karma Lingpa, terma and Padmasambhava and list the Six Bardo:
In the terma discovered by Karma Lingpa, Guru Padmasambhava introduces six different bardos. The first bardo begins when we take birth and endures as long as we live. The second is the bardo of dreams. The third is the bardo of concentration or meditation. The fourth occurs at the moment of death. The fifth is known as the bardo of the luminosity of the true nature. The sixth is called the bardo of transmigration or karmic becoming.[1]


Tibetan Buddhism has concentrated more attention on helping the dying person cross the borders of death than any other living religious tradition. The Tibetan Book of the Dead and other sources give detailed descriptions of the stages of death and afterlife, as well as instructions about how the dying individual should confront and react to these mysterious places and events. Dealing with a tradition that contains so many lineages, deities, and philosophical subsystems in a short article will necessarily involve generalizing about the tradition. Though the material is complex and sometimes difficult to interpret for a Westerner who must rely on English sources, the author will describe the stages of death, and attempt to show how they are relevant to our discussion of spiritual travel.


The Bardos or Stages of the Afterlife
The realm of the afterlife is called the world of the bardo. The term bardo is a general term which literally means "in-between" and in this context denotes a transitional state, or what Victor Turner calls a liminal situation. The bardo concept is an umbrella term which includes the transitional states of birth, death, dream, transmigration or afterlife, meditation, and spiritual luminosity. We focus, in this essay, on the bardos of death and transmigration. For the dying individual, the bardo is the period of the afterlife that lies in between two different incarnations.
In Tantric Buddhist cosmology, existence has a foreground which consists of the many worlds of incarnation, and also a background which is the space between these worlds which is called the bardo world. The stars are the many worlds, and bardo of the afterlife is like the night sky which is the backdrop or the space where the stars are hung.
The first stage of the bardo of the afterlife follows the initial experience of the dissolution of the four elements of the physical body at the time of death. These consist of something similar to the concepts of earth, fire, water, and air in the West, and are related to the progressive dissociation of the soul from the physical body. This dissolution follows a prescribed progression: the senses fail and the muscles lose their strength as the body becomes inert and still resembling physical matter (earth), there is loss of control over bodily fluids (water), the body loses its warmth (fire), and the breath fails (air). All this is experienced in sequence by the dying person when the person is able to remain conscious during the bardo of death.
Note here that the "soul" in Tibetan Buddhism is only a collection (or bundle) of karma (credits and debits based on previous actions which mold both the habit patterns of the individual and the kinds of conditions encountered in life). In Buddhism, the soul has no substantial nature but otherwise the soul and this "collection" seem very similar and are functionally equivalent for our purposes. We therefore use the term soul above even though it is a not a Buddhist term.


The First Bardo
Following this, the person's experience of the first bardo of the afterlife commences. However, for most individuals, it passes by in a split second and goes unnoticed. Only those who have undergone training in and practiced meditation, contemplative prayer, and similar spiritual disciplines will likely even be aware of the first bardo state. For some of those fortunate souls, there will be several opportunities to meet with spiritual beings and enter the realms of enlightened beings. One description of the kind of meditation done by advanced practitioners consists of a conscious effort to "dissolve space into light", which if successful will propel the dying soul into an a state of light and bliss beyond the continual cycles of birth and death to which most souls are subject. For those less familiar with such formal meditation practices, the act of remembering very bright light (such as, for example, remembering an experience of staring into the sun) and seeing that light as a source of pure awareness or divine love would produce a similar effect. A series of meditations and understandings that can be helpful as one enters the bardo can be found on our Death Meditations page.
For those experienced in spiritual travel who were able to enter spiritual states of light, sound, and emptiness during life, the first bardo may offer an opportunity to enter into these areas shortly after the time of death. Also, those with a devotional disposition who were able to develop a strong bond with a deity during life may have similar opportunities to enter into one of the heavens of that deity during the first bardo. The devotion must usually be intense and concentrated to draw the deity's attention in this circumstance. Also, those who were devoted to a guru or spiritual guide during life can call upon that being and ask for guidance. Although the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is not primarily devotional, it like most of the world's great religious traditions contains devotional aspects where practicianers are encouraged to focus on powerful teachers or saints of the past or present as well as dakinis, bhairavas, Bodhisattvas, Buddhas, and other helpful beings.
The spiritual aperture that opens briefly at the time of death presents a wonderful opportunity to those who can control their thoughts as the first bardo begins. This is probably why there is a common folk belief in the Hindu tradition which puts much emphasis on controlling and directing the last thought of the dying person. If this thought is strong, clear, and of a spiritual nature, it may permit the person to enter through this doorway into a spiritual world immediately at the time of death, and thus avoid the confusion of the second bardo.


The Second Bardo
If the first bardo passes and attempts to access spiritual states were unsuccessful, the next bardo begins. The second bardo or the "bardo of becoming" is a stage in which the desires of the individual are said to carry the largely helpless soul through a great variety of intense emotional states. Good thoughts bring great bliss and pleasure, and hateful or negative thoughts bring great pain and desolation. The soul bounces from thought to thought as a torrent of thoughts and feelings come like a waterfall. Existing thought habits and desires are said to define the experience of the soul during the afterlife in this way.


Spiritual Travel and the Second Bardo
It is here where some experience and training in spiritual travel and out-of-body experience may be of greatest help. It may first help the individual maintain a state of detachment. The spiritual traveler who has experienced the inner world during life can take the whirlwind nature of inner world following death with more calm and detachment. Those who have read examples of the kinds of states encountered in spiritual travel located on other pages of this site will understand that some experimentation and discovery in the inner worlds may prepare the soul for many of the dynamics of the states it may encounter after death. The similarity of certain aspects of the near-death experience (a temporary bardo state) and elements of spiritual travel experience (the "tunnel" experience for example) show some common qualities between certain spiritual travel states and these bardo states.
The soul experienced in spiritual travel is less likely to be disoriented by this inner torrent of psychic experience. To put it another way, while the spiritual traveler or yogi swims through the ocean of consciousness, the inexperienced soul may feel more like it is drowning in that ocean. But as with a drowning person, the most important thing is to have a direction in which to swim to safety. The point of orientation or goal for the person in the second bardo may be a deity, a mantra, a prayer, a heaven, a guide, or some similar spiritual goal but the spiritual traveler must be able to focus and move towards that goal using meditative techniques learned and practiced during their former life in the physical world. This is the active approach of the spiritual traveler.
The second advantage is that the spiritual traveler has entered the waters of consciousness consciously on many occasions and is practiced at directing his or her experience in the inner worlds.
The greatest problems of the soul in the second bardo are negative emotions like guilt and fear (which results from a lack of familiarity with the inner worlds), and lack of conscious control over its own experience. Fear is particularly harmful because it fragments the self making concentration on one thing difficult or impossible, and this can lead to confusion and loss of conscious control.
The soul in the second bardo is many times caught in a dream state sometimes unaware that it has died, and incapable of taking action to raise its state of consciousness to a threshold level of awareness where it can direct its attention towards spiritual states.
This is one of the reasons it is important to do a regular spiritual practice during life. Doing meditation or prayer every day establishes a pattern of spiritual activity. It then becomes automatic and the habit of seeking after the divine reality continues during the after-death state where it can have powerful results. A daily spiritual practice differs from other more common spiritual practices such as going to church or temple because it is done more often than once or twice a week. Meditation therefore establishes a stronger habit pattern in the individual and is a valuable addition to group oriented spiritual activities such as attending church.
Regular meditation can also be more powerful because it is usually a less passive activity than church since it fully involves the individual in the meditative process rather than making a spectator out of him or her.
What the soul in the second bardo needs to do is "wake up", as in a lucid dream, and begin a meditation or mental exercise that draws it towards a desired stable and more conscious state of awareness where it can have some control and continue to evolve spiritually. The opposite of conscious control is a dream-like state where the individual experiences only the results of his or her previous actions, and mechanically moves from thought to thought based on thinking patterns developed during life.
Waking up within a dream is one of the activities the spiritual traveler practices when he or she leaves the body to travel the inner planes. Beyond this, the traveler is also always practicing and perfecting the art of directing his or her attention towards some desired state. It is the contention of the author that experience with meditation and actual spiritual travel experience during life can both be of great help in rising above the semi-conscious state characteristic of the second bardo, and moving into a more conscious and desirable state following physical death.
For those who practiced a devotional tradition in life, some will semi-consciously repeat a religious or a meditative ritual asking gods or intercessors to draw them out of the second bardo world. We see an example of an attempt to create such a ritual in the Catholic rosary, where Mary as intercessor is requested to
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death ...
This phrase is from the Hail Mary Prayer. One effect of the repetition of this prayer fifty times in the rosary is that such a prayer for help and intercession may become an automatic process, which will repeat itself in the bardo. For those fortunate enough to be more conscious in these bardo states, a petition to a god, guru, guide, saint, or intercessor can be made in hopes that the individual will be lifted or guided out of the bardo worlds by one of those entities. But here again, the call must be concentrated and the ability to ignore the surrounding chaos somewhat developed. When such grace is given, it is a form of salvation where the individual is saved from the discomfort and confusion of the "outer darkness" of the bardo by a powerful entity - usually one that individuals formed a bond with in their former life. To use the swimming analogy, here the individual calls out to a lifeguard in hopes of being rescued from the turbulent waters of the bardo state. This is the more passive approach of the devotee.
We should also note that souls in this bardo are thought to be very sensitive to the thoughts and attitudes of those they knew during life. The Tibetans therefore put great effort into doing chanting, reading of sacred texts, and other religious rituals to help the dying soul on its journey in the afterlife. Praying for the peace and happiness of the dying person therefore has great value and provides a benefit to both the living and the dead. This process of sending good wishes to those who have recently died can create a positive spiritual atmosphere which can orient and bring peace to the person in the bardo realm, and can also counter some of the sorrow and upset that accompanies the loss of a loved one.


The Third Bardo
The third and last bardo consists of the stage of reincarnation where the soul is pulled into another body to start a new life, often but not always in the physical world. Tibetan Buddhists believe that the most desirable world to be born in is the physical world, since it affords the most opportunity for spiritual growth and realization. The third bardo consists of a series of images determined by the soul's karma that lead to psychic vortices that draw the soul into a womb. The soul's reaction to the images (attraction or repulsion) determines which vortex the soul enters and in which womb the soul ends up. The Tibetan tradition gives detailed advice on which representations to choose and which to avoid in order to gain a desirable rebirth.
This ability to choose a good incarnation requires discrimination, and a certain degree of conscious awareness. The new age approach to reincarnation which claims we choose our new incarnation is idealistic and not always true from this vantage point. Many souls desperate to escape the confusion of the second bardo will grab on to the first opportunity that presents itself like a swimmer who grasps a log in dangerous rapids in hopes of making it to calmer waters. Choosing the first object (or incarnation) that comes along may not be the wisest choice.
The average person is said to spend a period of about forty-five days in the second bardo. However, passionate souls with strong desires or those responsible for evil acts in their most recent life are said to reincarnate almost immediately. In exceptional cases, the individual can stay in the bardo state for longer periods, and be drawn into its currents awaiting rebirth.
If the individual does not reincarnate in the physical world, he or she will go to one of the other five worlds of rebirth. These are the heaven worlds, the hell worlds, the world of hungry ghosts, the asura (demigod) worlds, and the animal worlds. Each of these is believed to be limited and inferior to obtaining another body in the material world. This is because they exist mostly to receive good or bad karma (the results of previous actions), and are not considered places to create new karma.
The least familiar of the above worlds is the asura world which is a place of conflict and struggle where kings, knights, and warlords battle each other for dominance. Persons who were fascinated with gaining and exercising power over others during life are said to be likely to incarnate in the asura realm.
The asura realm also offers the potential for rapid learning where the individual's actions produce clear and dramatic effects without generating the powerful karmic ripples that would normally occur in the physical world. It can thus be a kind of remedial world for those who are caught in negative repeating patterns which incline them to make bad decisions in the physical world incarnation after incarnation.
The hungry ghost realm is a place of need and desire where souls are denied fulfillment or given only small rewards. Here souls experience states of continuing anxiety and frustration. The animal world is reserved for those whose extreme instincts for violence, gluttony, or sexual gratification dominated their previous lives in the physical world to the extent that they devolved into the instinctual and unreflective state of animal existence. The heaven and hell worlds have wide variations, but it is interesting that the Tibetan tradition has both burning hells (as in the Christian tradition) and freezing hells.
Heavens are not entirely desirable in many Buddhist traditions because they are places where little learning takes place, and they do not allow for much creativity or compassionate action. They are thus viewed as vacation spots that promote happiness for the inhabitants but accomplish little in the way of spiritual maturation. They are also viewed as temporary and not eternal.



The Freedom to do Spiritual Travel in the Afterlife
One factor that helps the soul achieve the freedom of conscious control and spiritual travel during the afterlife is acceptance of death. Those who have not accepted death will resist the process of dying and introduce conflict into the bardo stages. This is why it is important for people to take care of any unfinished business as they near death so they can let go of life completely.
In Brahmanical Hinduism, there is a stage of life called the forest dweller or vanaprastha stage in which the older individual who has finished raising a family is supposed to begin letting go of pleasures and attachments to life in preparation for death. However, in the West the goal is to keep spending money and maximize enjoyment up to the end of life. This makes it difficult for many to make a graceful transition into death. Intense attachment to the material world makes it difficult to do spiritual travel both during life and after death.
It also usually helps to have faith in something beyond the material world at the time of death. Those with a strong faith in Jesus or another religious figure will be more calm and relaxed as they enter the bardo realms. While the religious person can look forward to heaven at the time of death, the spiritual traveler who has been trying to do spiritual travel all his or her life can also look forward to death in certain respects. This is because the opportunity for exploration and spiritual travel will hopefully be greatly expanded after death when the physical body and its needs will no longer be a major distraction. Of course the areas the spiritual traveler wishes to explore are the heavenly areas and beyond, and in that sense, he or she has much in common with other more conventional religious people.
Both have a distinct advantage over the secular individual because they expect to enter into a positive afterlife (heaven), and expectations have great power in the inner worlds. This expectation combined with love and devotion towards some religious ideal can propel the religious individual towards a heavenly state just as the practice of spiritual travel does. The secular individual with no faith or expectation of heaven is more likely to flounder after death and get stuck in some intermediate gray area surrounded by thoughts and emotions from the past waiting for something to happen.
A brief mention of ethics is appropriate when discussing the state a person enters at death. In general, both the state of mind of a soul and the world it inhabits is presumed to be the result of its past thought patterns and actions (karma). Trauma and intense pain whether experienced by the soul, or inflicted on another during life will tend to fragment the self and make conscious control after death difficult. Violence, cruelty, and hatred expressed towards others in life will almost certainly have a limiting effect on the soul's freedom both in the after death state and in subsequent existences . This is true even for souls who have become proficient in spiritual travel during their life. Unethical actions during life seem to separate the soul from the knowledge and wisdom attained while living, and leave it helpless to experience the results of its actions in the afterlife.
Interestingly enough, some of the Western ideas of heaven and hell can be accounted for by the Tibetan notion of the second bardo. The saint or righteous soul will find itself in places of bliss, happiness, and light based on the kinds of thoughts it was in a habit of thinking, while the evil person will lead an existence of fear, anger, and torment in the afterlife. However, the second bardo is a temporary transitional state that actually precedes the longer term experiences of heaven, hell, or rebirth in the physical world which can occur following the third bardo.


Spiritualism as an Alternative View of the Afterlife
The focus of Buddhism in the afterlife is similar to its approach to earthly existence. The emphasis is on passion, and its restrictive and destructive consequences. It is therefore not surprising that the Buddhist view of after death states concentrates on desire as the mechanism which turns the dead into machines who must live out a karmic destiny in the afterlife. These individuals will exist in a depleted state of awareness with little freedom of choice during the bardo.
As an alternate and competing view of the afterlife, we will briefly examine the Western tradition of spiritualism which has been around for more than one hundred years, and is still popular in some quarters today.
The central conclusion of the data provided by the spiritualists and trance mediums is that dead people have scarcely more insight and wisdom in death than they had while alive. Such a proposition emphasizes the importance of learning spiritual skills such as spiritual travel while alive instead of hoping for spiritual redemption and transformation after death. Though the spiritualist's view differs from Buddhism in the specifics, it supports the contention that people should not wait until death to begin learning since such a delay can result in a very limited and routine afterlife. We examine the spiritualist's view on the page titled A Spiritualist's Approach to After-Death States.
Kabir, the Hindu-Muslim poet of India, talks about the afterlife in an ambiguous way describing it as the "city of death" which could be consistent with either the Tibetan or Spiritualist's view of the afterlife. He offers the following words which support the notion that a person who is limited in life will also be limited in death.
O friend! Hope for Him whilst you live, know while you live, understand while you live:
   for in life deliverance abides.
If your bonds be not broken whilst living, what hope of deliverance in death?
It is but an empty dream that the soul shall have union with Him because it has passed from the body:
If He is found now, He is found them,
If not, we do but go to dwell in the city of Death.
If you have union now, you shall have it hereafter.
Bathe in the Truth, know the true Guru, have faith in the true Name.
Kabir says:
      It is the spirit of the quest that helps;
      I am the slave of the Spirit of the quest.

            Songs of Kabir (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1991), pps. 46-47