In a world of information, without any moral direction for planetary cultures, what choices does a person have to come to peace with existence, and more specifically with the self?
In a world of analysis where every word spoken and every image portrayed can have a meaning unique to the viewer where is the synthesis? Only the consensus reality dictates whether an opinion is too far to the left or too far to the right. And who among us is able to say that Heaven's Gate is not part of a larger reality that we know nothing about?
How did the incident in Waco ,Texas affect people? How did the Ruby Ridge, Idaho1 incident affect people? How does the moral imperative of a nation affect people? What really does go on in these bastions of independent thinking that causes so much social turmoil in cultures across the world?
The Story Begins
How close to home does an incident like Rancho Santa Fe have to be before it affects us at our "reality construction level"?
What is a "reality construction level" anyway? What parts of the world are needed to feel comfortable psychologically?
When disatisfaction with a perceived reality takes place what alternatives are available to replace the perceived reality?
Many people the world over are totally against the rulership of the countries they live in. Peru2, East Timor3, and yes...even within the USA there are people who do not feel like the government is honoring the citizens. It is truly astonishing how many different factions can exist within a country, and yet the ability to accept those different factions is often times, and more often than not, impossible to achieve. Palestinians4 want their own homeland which has become a religious battle field with international repercussions. China5 will begin to experience trouble in Hong Kong if they take away the political freedoms that have been developed.Teenage suicides6 have increased dramatically over the last ten years without any clear understanding why.
Putting reality together is no easy task. Much of the media portrayed the Heaven's Gate community as a mishmash of Star Trek, X-Files, Christianity, New Age, and pseudo-science. The reality that was constructed from this media exposure was a cult that made preparation to leave the body (container) and join an alien race that was following the comet Hale-Bopp.
Lets look at another reality construction.
Return to |Top
You develop a system for people whereby anything can be bought or sold, and within that system games and music videos are offered which promote violence and death. The children who see these items then perpetrate the same actions in the real world. As much as parental control, label warnings, and ratings exist these products are in the system called the consumer market place. It is difficult to count the number of teenage suicides that could be attributed to a world of futility and anguish as portrayed in these products. That reality construct with these products is still there, but because it is a part of a larger system which has acclimated everyone to its ways the products remain at the buyers own risk. Is that any different than how those 39 people interpreted their reality, and the choices they made for their reality construction?
There are thousands of organizations, and millions of people who see reality very differently than the media representation of the party line, and most people know that. If anything the Rancho Santa Fe incident presents, in a shocking way, how other individuals wish to interpret reality. Their actions were conducted in peace, however, the media has made the aftermath an event of horror.
There are many in the United States who promote the right to die, but it is always rejected. Where does that rejection come from? It comes from a moral position that only God has the right to take a life. The existence of God, the belief in an after life, and all the other variations for the direction of your soul when we die, is very much dependent on the system we are most accustomed to. In a society where the separation of church and state is in full swing it is unfortunate that both sides have reeled in disbelief over the actions of the Heaven's Gate followers.
Rancho Santa Fe received very little respect, less consideration for their actions, and were all cast into the luny bin of nuts as so eloquently expressed by Ted Turner who is one of the moguls of mass media. It is very easy indeed to make of these people fools who lost their minds. However, what aspect of the mind lends itself to this action? What was the reality construction for these people? How were the pieces of the event world assembled? Garbage in garbage out may be appropriate for computers, but the hallmark of being human is the feeling and emotive powers humans possess. It is the ethos and pathos that makes the human drama so rich an experience. These 39 people went to heaven, and heaven is a very special place that many people want to go to. But for all of us, the question is how do we construct a reality we will be content with. If by chance a person has available all the major reality constructs then a choice enevitably arises. The choice the Heaven's Gate people selected made a lot of people question their own reality as well as affirm the reality they already had. How is it possible intellegent people would do such an act as preparing their bodies (containers) for entry to another race, another world? The questions everyone asked led many to feel inadequate with their own reality constrcution because here were a group of people who dramaticlly left this world on the tail of a comet. Did we all miss something?
Return to |Top
We are creatures, we humans, that emote and aspire. When we construct reality we use these elements of our humanness to approach existence in order to negotiate with existene. Heaven's Gate did exactly that; they acted from and opted for a belief in a better existence.
Hale-Bopp was hardly known by most people even after it was discovered. Most people can not even pronounce Hale-Bopp. However, for those people that knew of the arrival of Hale-Bopp, well in advance, there emerged countless stories, works of art, and anticipation of another planet arriving with a new civilization on it.
If you take yourself to the countryside, where it is dark and without the glow of city lights, there moving in the evening sky is Hale-Bopp. It glows so beautifully, as a passenger in this great universe of ours. We have a celestial visitor. It is truly magnificent to behold, and if you feel its majesty it is very easy to feel a part of your own beingness riding along as well. There is an ancient feeling associated with Hale-Bopp having passed by here 2,400 years ago when the pharohs reigned over Eqypt. It was thousands of years ago, and it will be thousands of years into the future before humanity will experience this glorious visitor again. And when humanity stands to look into the night sky in the year 4,400 AD I am sure the myth of Heaven's Gate will outlive all of those people today who ridiculed these people so unfairly. In the year 4,400 AD there will be honor and admiration, and for all we know songs and voices filling the night sky as those happy souls who took that journey will be looking back on their home planet seeing ceremonies and praises for their existence. We must ask ourselves what are myths made of really.
When the book Irrational Man, by William Barrett, was first published there was a break through in mass consciousness in the West indicating that there are other sides to our psyches that can not be equated with the logic paradigm followed so closely by science. Thirty years later and science joins metaphysics with the discovery of the fall of parity, the uncertainty principle, and the unique understandings which come from quantum physics. From a synthesis approach to understanding reality construction the Heaven's Gate people assembled some very diverse sources of awareness to bolster and fortify their world view. Some of these sources included the possible association with writings from Mark Twain. Don Lattin, religious writer for the San Francisco Chronicle April 6, 1997, came up with this discovery. As you recall each member of Heaven's Gate had a 5 dollar bill, and three quarters in their pockets. Why? Twain was very cynical about religion, and once wrote that,
"The fare to get to heaven on the tail of a comet was $5.75."Interestingly, Halley's comet appeared in 1835, the year Twain was born, and appeared again in 1910, the year he died. Twain wrote of Halley's comet in 1909:
"It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's comet. The almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'"That small piece of information was a potentially significant contribution to the irrational poetic side to Heaven's Gate philosophy.
Similarly, another myth maker of the American culture was Timothy Leary, who died at 12:44 a.m. on May 31st, 1996, who said:
"We are the light. We are the light bearers and our purpose here on Earth is to shine that light on others."
Return to |Top
Carol Rosin, Founder and President of the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space and Coordinator for the World Space Commision, asked Timothy what he wanted to with his body after he died. Tim replied:
"I want you to get my ashes into space."On April 23, 1997 Celestis7, Inc. from Houston, Texas is the first company to officially launch cremated remains from Spain. They agreed to launch Timothy Leary with up to twenty four others including Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, Gerard O' Neil, a physicist who designed space technologies, and other space pioneers. When Timothy saw the beautiful Celestis video which showed the re-entry vehicles's burst of light, he said:
"Finally, everyone will know I am the light. And I'll go out in a blaze of glory."Heaven's Gate was a deep follower of Star Trek, and even had Thomas Nicholes, brother of actress Nichelle Nicholes, who played Lt. Uhura on the original "Star Trek" television series. Is it any wonder, therefore, that Heaven's Gate was able to construct reality, taking elements from real life, and weaving them into a philosophy and ultimately a belief system to act upon? Prior to Hale-Bopp arriving many thought it was the long awaited 12th planet predicted by Zecharia Sitchin, author of the well know Earth Chronicle Series. As mentioned above , poems, songs, and celebrations have been performed around the world in recognition of this celestial visitor.