Transcending Boundaries


“Sixsmith, I climb the steps of the Scott monument every morning and all becomes clear. Wish I could make you see this brightness. Don’t worry, all is well. All is so perfectly, damnably well. I understand now that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.”

— Robert Frobisher. Letter to Rufus Sixsmith (from the film, Cloud Atlas)

In the recent film, “Cloud Atlas,” conventional boundaries of every sort are explored, transcended, and obliterated through a process of being transposed across generations of time, limitless space, and through the amazing interplay of personal liaisons which, in some way, contain a haunting awareness of connections that defy our commonsense notions of our temporal “limitations.”

Each of us, no matter how obscure or prominent we are in our day, are connected in ways that we seldom appreciate fully. There are many ways in which people can be connected, but certain connections are especially prescient, when we find ourselves confronted by the presence of particular kindred spirits, whose character, personality, or personal history, resonate so well with ours, that we are compelled to engage them, without necessarily understanding precisely why we feel so compelled. In his novel, “Cloud Atlas,” Mitchell expresses this idea well:

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

As we all know, the heart is not a logical organ. It can bring us to our knees in moments of pain from betrayal, or when the pain of separation strikes. Such circumstances not only affect us emotionally, but the pain we experience can be accompanied by confusion and bewilderment on a scale which exceeds our ability to cope. Imagine, if you will, this very same pain being accompanied by the inclusion of memories that clearly could not have taken place during that period of temporal incarnation. Ordinarily, such experiences would be thought of as unusual, encompassing a most controversial and speculative subject. However, it is not without precedent, nor are such beliefs uncommon in cultures throughout the world.

©2014 yuumei

“Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the theory of relativity and principals of uncertainty. Phenomena that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Yesterday, I believe I would never have done what I did today. These forces that often remake time and space, that can shape and alter who we imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment. That each point of intersection, each encounter, suggests a new potential direction. Proposition, I have fallen in love with Luisa Rey. Is this possible? I just met her and yet, I feel like something important has happened to me.”

― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

I have had, throughout my entire adult life, difficulty adjusting to the awareness of memories which clearly do not seem to have been possible to acquire during my current existence. Periodically, since the initial encounter with the story of Jonas Rice, the character at the heart of these recollections, I have encountered individuals who have brought these issues, sometimes abruptly and inconveniently, to the surface. Each encounter with this kindred spirit in Massachusetts, whose presence always seemed to precipitate such extraordinary experiences, led me to pursue intuitive and occasionally obscure paths and directions in the course of my investigations. I do not pretend to completely understand what it was exactly that led me to become aware of this information, and while it stretches the imagination just to entertain the notion of the possibility of connections between lives over generations as depicted in the film, “Cloud Atlas,” I can only report that I sensed these kinds of connections profoundly in my own experience, and cannot offer much in the way of empirical proof beyond my own subjective recall of these experiences and my vivid personal sense of their integrity. I have not wished for any of it, and quite frankly would rather have been a wiz at math or a Maytag repairman.

Over the years, I have endeavored with all my strength to avoid these thoughts and to deny them to myself. I have spent countless hours in a variety of different forms of pain–seemingly endless stretches of unavoidable suffering, attempting to evade even acknowledging that such thoughts existed within me. There were even times when, for brief periods, I was able to convince myself that I had gotten past the danger, and that by somehow dodging and not confronting them for a long enough time, I could quell them and silence my mind. But each new encounter brought me within proximity to a miracle–a spirit so dynamic and wondrous, that whenever I drew near, my very life force trembled. I seemed to abandon all my senses; my psyche would be flooded with memories and feelings that made me feel as though I was someone else–assuming a different identity and personality–acting in ways that I could not explain even to myself.

–next time….the reckoning before the journey overseas…

3 thoughts on “Transcending Boundaries

  1. Hello John,

    Obviously, I respect your thoughts and feelings regarding the possibility of multiple lifetimes being reborn over and again. The theory is not new, as you clearly stated because several cultures adhere to the belief in reincarnation. Old souls just being reborn again and again. Many take great comfort in the concept but I am not a fan of this ideology. If I accepted this theory even for a nano second, I would find the nearest bridge and end this miserable life hoping to be reborn into one that held less suffering and more financial stability. Admittedly, I have not seen the movie, nor have I read the book but your concise summary gives me the gist of the storyline. I believe many are attracted to this theory because they romanticize it thinking their lost loves will find them again in their present and future lives. However, for folks who are suffering in one way or another would be foolish to finish out their lifespan if they had the option to be reborn into different circumstances. To me, this Earth and my broken body is a prison and I have been sentenced to a lifetime of torture and suffering; therefore, if I thought there was a viable way out for a chance to be reborn into something better then I would be gone before the sun rose tomorrow.

    The implications of this ideology, if readily accepted everywhere would be a grand comfort for those who fear death and are currently living a privileged life. Consider the masses who are suffering beyond human comprehension, what hope does this ideology offer them. They die and then have to start their miserable lives all over again. I would surely go mad in such a scenario. I strongly grasp the belief that we have one go around on this rock and then we are are done. Personally, I believe in Heaven and Hell; therefore, I will be spending eternity in paradise after I am released from this broken body.

    Then you must consider human monsters being reincarnated, such as Hitler and his followers, serial killers, etc. Once upon this planet is enough for me and during many times in my life that in and of itself has been a mighty burden to bear. So I respectfully decline the opportunity to live again, in fact, I long in earnest to see the end to this go around.

    Thanks again for providing a thought provoking post! I hope you are well and that your journey has been devoid of obstacles.


    1. Tina,

      First of all, let me say that it is painful for me to know that you are suffering in the way you describe, and in spite of all that you say, it seems very likely to me that your presence in this lifetime on this planet is having a positive effect on the world. I can only speak definitively from my own point-of-view, but I have no doubt that the value I receive from your contributions to this life is recognized and shared by many others. It is my hope that you will find solace and respite from your suffering as often as possible. Let me see if I can clarify a few of the ideas you brought up in your thoughtful message.

      Reincarnation, literally “to be made flesh again”, is the belief that the soul, after death of the body, comes back to earth in another body. According to some beliefs, a new personality is developed during each life in the physical world, but the soul remains constant throughout the successive lives. According to most sources on reincarnation, there is no correlation between the person who perishes and the person who is “reborn,” except that the spirit within the new body is the same. The personality and character and station in life is never the same, so there is no repeating births of tyrants or serial killers in any of these belief systems. The central theme is that the soul is constantly being “reborn” until such time as it achieves the necessary level of knowledge and accomplishment spiritually to be released from the cycle of birth and death. If you investigate the many sources of information about reincarnation, you will find many different ideas about how it all works, and it doesn’t necessarily follow that a subsequent “incarnation,” would be better or worse than the previous one, only that the opportunity for whatever the soul requires to progress will be presented in each subsequent “rebirth.” Also, most of the literature casts a negative view on opting to end one’s life prematurely, so that really isn’t a solution worth considering even if you do believe in reincarnation.

      My own views on spiritual matters are not aligned specifically with any particular religious doctrine or organization, and my experiences are not directly accounted for by them either. It seems completely possible to me that certain aspects of our human nature are supported by, and have as an essential component, aspects which are non-material or which may originate in non-physical realms or dimensions not accessible to us as temporal beings in the physical universe. There are several different approaches that might possibly explain the resonance between generations of living beings, and the film, “Cloud Atlas,” offers only one, and it is clearly presented as fiction. If you get a chance, I recommend viewing the film to appreciate how subtly this resonance is presented, and how differently each of the characters is portrayed in their subsequent lifetimes. It does require a certain degree of focus to follow along, since they jump between several scenarios, but with patience it is at least interesting and entertaining in the storyline.

      I agree that we should focus all our energies on the living of this life as best we can, and to appreciate the beauty and wonder and mystery, while enduring the trials and the inevitable suffering that comes with every life. As I once wrote in a blog-post entitled, “The Abundance of Life and Love,” from January 2013:

      “Don’t attempt to compare the portions of joy or sorrow in your life to anyone else’s. We earn it sometimes, and at other times it just arrives unannounced. Be glad for what joy may come, and don’t allow what sorrow may come to prevent the return to joy in due time.”

      Your current circumstances may seem daunting in view of your predicament health-wise, but I hope you will endeavor continuously to find the aspects of joy that I know are there somewhere in your life, waiting for you to discover them. You have talents and perspectives that enrich your readers, and which are definitely appreciated when you share them with me.

      Warmest regards….John H.

      1. Hello John,

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to my thoughts. I greatly appreciate your further explanation of reincarnation. I must admit that I have only researched the surface of the idea because the thought of being subjected to another lifetime was so abhorrent to me that I avoided further research. Obviously, that is always a foolish decision as more knowledge allows us to grow and understand. Yet, any belief or thoughts of returning to this planet in any form is extremely loathsome to my spirit and mind. I have had suffering on multiple levels beyond the physical; however, I do find joy in my life in small glimpses of paradise. I love learning and interacting with other fascinating people with remarkable minds, such as yourself. I find great joy when I interact with nature including my own three pups. I do make the most of the bright lights in my life and those are what I hold onto in order to survive this existence. Nevertheless, my existence was borne into hardship and suffering as many others have been and I have had few examples of positive human interaction. No, humanity has proven to be the instrument of much of my misery in several instances but I say that in a historical context.

        At my darkest moment, I prayed in earnest that God would show me examples of good people, specifically good men as the ones in my own family had stolen my innocence beginning when I was eight. Hence, trusting others did not happen for a long time but now it has become less difficult. Admittedly, I do not trust easily but my prayer has been answered in abundance as God has put me in contact with good people and many, many good men. I knew one or two males in my young adulthood who I considered good examples of non-harmful men but I had written off the gender as toxic until God began showing me an abundance of men who did not have malice, greed, or thoughts of harm in their minds or hearts. It has only been in the last two decades of my life where I have begun to broaden my perspective of humanity. Of course, higher education opened my world to vast knowledge sources that helped greatly to open my mind and heart. I also prayed that God would show me why all the terrible things in my life has happened, to show me the reasons and allow my mind to connect the dots. He also answered that pray affirmatively because everything I have endured and continue to endure has been used to directly help another who may be struggling along their life’s journey. I am committed to finishing my journey and to help as many people as I can along the way. I am limited physically and financially but my mind, heart, and soul are free to share and utilize to help.

        Thank you so much for your blog and your interactions with me as I find your thoughts extremely stimulating and challenging even if I do not always agree with your perspective. I count you among the growing number of examples of ‘good men’ God has brought into my life. I look forward to your next post. I still have a bit of catching up to do with your past posts; hence, I have no lack of reading material! Be well John and keep those thoughts flowing!


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