Da Vinci’s Code?

Love shows itself more in adversity than in prosperity; as light does, which shines most where the place is darkest.” Leonardo Da Vinci

No one can argue that Leonardo Da Vinci was a remarkable artist but what some don’t realize is that he was also a man of science way ahead of his time.  His creativity and artistic talents were paralleled with an insatiable zest for discovering some of life’s greatest wonders.

leonardo-da-vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

A true Renaissance man, his intellect spanned across a vast area of knowledge including philosophy, sculpting, carpentry, anatomy, mechanics, drafting, chemistry and painting.  He was even employed as a military engineer to design weaponry.  His inventions included the 33 barrel gun organ, triple barrel cannon, crossbow machine gun and a covered tank.

Da Vinci had a fascination with flying apparatuses and designed plans for prototypes of an airplane long before the Wright brothers.  True, he was a genius but being a prodigy like him means far more than being super smart.  What separates someone like Da Vinci is his unlimited creativity and his ability to see beyond what can be seen with the naked eye.

Recently, I was watching a special on Ancient Aliens about Da Vinci.  The show questioned how he could have obtained such a vast amount of knowledge and whether or not he may have obtained information from extra-celestials.  I have no idea whether that theory is true.  But what struck me is the similarities between Da Vinci and Nikola Tesla.

In 1943, the Supreme Court granted full rights to Tesla for the invention of the radio.  He also built the first working alternating current generator.  As a result of his genius, we are today able to take advantage of all the modern conveniences of A.C. (alternating current) electric power, and many others.  Other inventions include: remote control, robotics, x-rays, the electric motor, laser technology and wireless energy.

Some speculate that Tesla, too, obtained information from extra-celestial beings. The US Patent Office has hundreds of patents registered to Nikola Tesla and it is also said that he is responsible for creating many, many more inventions which were never patented.

Like Da Vinci, Tesla was able to conceive of the invention in his mind without any need for experimentation. Many inventions have been linked to Da Vinci including the parachute and scuba gear. He is noted as saying, “There is no result in nature without a cause; understand the cause and you will have no need of the experiment.”

Despite the inventions, Da Vinci is still most markedly known for his famous works of art including his Last Supper and Mona Lisa.  His detailed sketches and unique painting techniques continue to set him apart.

More recently, there has been renewed interests in Da Vinci’s paintings because of so-called hidden codes and messages.  The eyes of Mona Lisa are believed to contain various signs including the letters LV in her right eye.  It is also noted that Da Vinci carried the painting of the Mona Lisa with him everywhere in a protected case.

But perhaps no other painting has been the subject of so much scrutiny as his Last Supper.  For example, unlike previous artists, Da Vinci depicted Jesus and his disciples without halos supposedly indicating that they were mortal.

More recently in 2010, Sabrina Sforza Galitzia calculated both mathematical and astrological signs in the painting of what she believed indicated that the end of the world would come in 4006. In 2007, Giovanni Maria Pala, an Italian musician, stated that she found hidden musical notes in the painting.

Of course whether or not any of these codes are real is purely speculative.  So much attention has been placed on these so called hidden messages in recent years that some forget to recognize what is in plain view.  Although he may have not been credited because his inventions often did not go beyond sketches, he made incredible contributions to almost every field of science and the arts.

So much has been written about Da Vinci’s religious and spiritual beliefs. While some say he was catholic and followed the teachings of the church, others say he was more of a heretic thinker or rationalist who based his beliefs on reason.  The latter holds that truth should be sought by fact and reason and not faith or religious dogma.

Of course, we cannot know for sure what his beliefs were.  However, I came across a quote by Da Vinci which truly resonates with my own beliefs and what I’ve learned in my afterlife research.  “While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.”  Although there are many opinions as to the meaning of his words, I take it to mean that he finally understood that life and death are one and the same.  I think this may well be Da Vinci’s “code.”

People often ask me what my research has taught me.  In researching life after death, I’ve learned what it means to live.  I’m not writing about death; I’m writing about life.  Death is not an end but a transformation.  Once we can understand this, we will know that we are far more than the physical body.

Advertisements

 You Have to Earn the Title

“Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given.”

Hussein Nishah

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine.  We were discussing whether respect should be given or earned.  For example, if you’ve been friends with someone for 20 years, does that mean you have to automatically respect them?  Does the fact that someone is a family member mean you have to automatically respect them? Should we just give out respect even though they might not deserve it?  What happens when that same friend or family member treats you rudely?

respectWhen I did a quick google search for the definition of respect, the following came up: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. This definition brings up a good point.  Respect is something you feel for someone based on their qualities among other things.

My friend said something that stopped me in my tracks.  “Josie, you have to earn the title.”  Truthfully, I hadn’t thought of it like that.  There are many people out there who feel like they are entitled to respect but unfortunately don’t give respect.  There are people who expect the world from others but are willing to give so little themselves. So her point was respect is not a sense of entitlement you have to earn the title. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he wrote, “Men are respectable only as they respect.”

Being in a position of authority does garner a level of respect. But how many times have you worked for a boss you didn’t respect?  Was that because he or she demanded respect without portraying the character to deserve it?

Children, of course, should respect their parents.  Growing up in a large Italian family I was raised to respect my elders and know that family comes first.  But what happens when a family member is abusive?

We should always treat people with kindness.  But if you want people to respect you, you have to be the kind of person and do the kind of things that maintain respect.  Likewise, if people want you to admire or respect them, they need to be deserving of that admiration.   As the Bible states, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

Simply put we have to feel admiration and respect for someone before we can truly give it.  And as my friend wisely said you have to earn the title.

Peace in Korea?

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”  Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace 

Ahh!  Peace.  The absence of war, a state of tranquility, calm, and security.  With last week’s summit meeting between President Moon Jae-in in South Korea and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un some claim we are now living in the most peaceful time in history. The historic event marked the first meeting between the two leaders and an agreement to finally end the Korean War, 65 years after the truce and ceasefire.

Peace is not just a topic of holiday greeting cards.  It is something we all long and hope for but are we living in the most peaceful time in history?  That will depend largely on how you define peace. After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union fought a war of ideas known as the Cold War.  The US, Britain and France controlled western Germany and West Berlin while the Soviet Union controlled Eastern Europe.

summit

Korea Summit Press Pool/AFP/Getty Images (CNN.com): North Korea’s Kim Jong-un prepares to shake hands with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.

At the same time, Korea was divided into South Korea and North Korea.  South Korea was a capitalist country but the latter became communist.  North Korea later invaded South Korea and a war raged between the two sides until it ended in 1953. However, the two sides did not officially end the conflict until the symbolic meeting last week.  On Friday, for the first time since 1953, a North Korean leader crossed the line into South Korean territory.  Although many can argue over whether or not we are living in the most peaceful of times, we cannot argue that this historic moment was certainly a step in the right direction.

Kang Kyung-wha told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that President Trump deserves a lot of credit for bringing the two sides together.  “Clearly, credit goes to President Trump.  He’s been determined to come to grips with this from day one.”

In a major step toward the terms of the peace agreement, South Korea announced that it will remove loudspeakers along the border that have broadcast propaganda into North Korea for decades. Hence, North Korea has passed a ruling to synchronize their time zone with the South.  North Korea will no longer follow “Pyongyang Time” which put their clock 30 minutes behind South Korea.

After the success of Friday’s summit, world leaders have heightened expectations for the upcoming meeting between Kim and Trump.  Many questions remain unanswered, particularly how acceptable denuclearization will be achieved and how it will be monitored.

The meeting between Trump and Kim is expected in late May or early June and it is fair to say that a lot is riding on it. In the meantime, however, this historic movement toward peace has both sides of Korea along with world leaders enjoying a much-needed feeling of peace and freedom.

Both sides have agreed to allow the reunion of families separated since the start of the Korean War and Moon agreed to visit North Korea.  While skeptics may be doubtful of Kim’s true intentions and whether or not he will truly disarm his nuclear weapons, we haven’t seen such peace efforts in Korea in nearly 70 years.

President Ronald Reagan once said, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”  Disarmament of a rogue nuclear nation, families re-united again after generations.  The prospect of peace in our time.  The world stands hopeful.

When Will This Madness End? A Note to President Trump

“I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.” 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If I don’t make it I love you and I appreciated everything you did for me,” a student wrote to a parent. As I read these words, endless tears streamed down my face. As the mother of two teenaged girls in high school, I cannot even imagine getting such a text from my daughters. It’s not only heartbreaking but it’s also inconceivable. No parent should have to worry about sending their child to school. No parent should have to question whether or not their child is safe.

Yesterday, when I first heard reports of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the shooter was still at large. My heart raced as I thought not only about the students and teachers but also my parents and other relatives who live in Broward County.  It was a huge relief when I heard the shooter, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz was apprehended.

Thus far, the death toll stands at 17 with others wounded. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said, “This is catastrophic. There are really no words.”  No, there are no words. No words will ever be enough. We don’t need words, we need action.

trump

PHOTO: Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Mr. President, during your recent State of the Union Address you stated, “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream. Because Americans are dreamers, too.”

First let me say, I don’t envy you and would never want your job. I commend you for wanting to make America great again. You are 100 percent correct. It is your duty. However, it’s not yours alone. It is the duty of every American.

Sheriff Israel has repeatedly said, “If you see something, say something.” He also noted in a news conference earlier today that this is not the time to worry about saving money but rather about saving lives.

He went on to say that people are concerned about their rights but he questioned, “…what about the rights of young kids that go to schools with book bags and pencils, don’t they have the right to be protected by the United States Government to the best of our ability. . .”

Yes, they do! So the question is what do we do about it?  President Trump focused on the need to do more to identify and help those with mental illness.  While I think this true, it doesn’t stop there.  We do need more research to better understand mental illness and more resources to deal with it.  However, we also need stricter gun regulations.

Someone with a history of mental illness should not ever be allowed to purchase a gun. What continues to amaze me is that many of these shooters obtained their firearms legally.  In this case, Cruz obtained an AR-15.  According to Peter Forcelli, special agent in charge of the Miami field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he purchased the gun legally and no laws were broken.

Really? A mentally disturbed individual who had a fascination with guns and posted disturbing images on social media is allowed to obtain firearms and no law were broken?  I’m sorry but I wholeheartedly disagree. If no laws were broken, we need to change the laws. We need stricter gun control.

While advocates of harsher gun regulations fear for their safety, opponents fear the loss of their safety. While I understand both sides, something has to change.  We need to find a medium because what we have now simply isn’t working.

Although regulations differ from state to state, here are three key points:

*You must be at least 18 years of age and must be a citizen or legal resident to purchase rifles, shotguns or ammunition.

*People who are considered a danger to society, fugitives or patients committed to mental institutions may not purchase guns.

*A background check is required before anyone can purchase a firearm.

So if a background check is required, what went wrong? Obviously, Cruz should not have passed this background check but did. These background checks need to be more extensive. We need to do more to make sure that these guns to do get into the wrong hands.

We also need more law enforcement, not less. Although it saddens me to have to say this, we need an armed guard at each school. Every morning when I drive my daughters, I see crossing guards stationed at each school. At times, these crossing guards are police officers. So why not rotate shifts with local police officers at every school?

My daughter Lia thinks a better solution would be to have metal detectors at every school. None of this comes without more costs and higher taxes. But when it comes to the safety of our children, I think many parents would opt for higher tax dollars. If anyone out there has other ideas, I’m all ears. My point here is that we have to do something. We cannot let this violence continue.

President Trump, you said we need to answer hate with love and cruelty with kindness. I agree. What we all need to remember is that despite these evil acts, there is far more good going on in this world. But we also can’t just speak empty words. We need action.

Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott said, “The violence has to stop. We cannot lose another child in this country to violence in a school.”

No, we cannot. But this responsibility rests not only with our government and law enforcement agencies, it rests also with every single American. Let’s please make sure something is done about this cruelty and violence. Let’s remember that good will forever prevail over evil.

In the Face of Evil, Love and Compassion will Always Prevail

“There are no greater treasures than the highest human qualities such as compassion, courage and hope. Not even tragic accidents or disaster can destroy such treasures of the heart.”

Daisaku Ikeda

thI honestly can’t wrap my head around it. Violence seems to have become the norm in so many ways around the world. From school shootings to terrorist attacks at home and abroad, it has been overwhelming and extremely disheartening.

Yesterday, as my 16-year old, daughter Lia got into my car at the end of the school day, she asked, “Mom, did you hear about what happened in Las Vegas?” I looked at her sadly not wanting to discuss yet another mass killing with my daughter.  Lia proceeded to tell me that she rushed to text a friend who lives in Las Vegas as soon as she heard the news.  “My friend is OK,” she said with a sigh of relief.

“I don’t get it, Mom,” she said. “Why would someone do that?”  Unfortunately, I had no answers for my daughter and I still don’t.  It sickens me to have such grim conversations with my children. As a young girl growing up in the 80’s, I honestly don’t remember ever having such chats with my mother.  Don’t get me wrong.  Bad things happened then, too, of course.  But it just seems like they are happening far more often today.

At least 59 people were killed with over 500 injured, some critically, when a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday night.  It is being deemed the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.

Both the injured and the dead represent people from all walks of life. From police officers to teachers and adults to teenagers; the bullets did not discriminate.  An arsenal of firearms, including automatic weapons, were found in the killer’s (64-year old, former accountant Stephen Paddock) hotel room.  As of this writing, law enforcement officials can find no clear motive for such a horrendous crime.

As I said, I just can’t wrap my head around it nor do I have an answer for my daughter Lia. But there is one thing I do know and that is love and compassion will always prevail in the face of evil.  If you look at any of the recent terrorist attacks or shootings at home and abroad you will find the heroes.  You will find the compassionate souls who risked their lives to help complete strangers.

Sunday’s shooting was no different. My eyes filled with tears today as I read the many brave accounts.  I read about the mom who used her body to shield her daughter and the many who drove the injured to the hospital in their personal vehicles.  I heard about the young girl who once out of harm’s way decided to turn back into the violence.  When asked why, she explained that she wanted to help the victims.

Then there was also a bartender named Heather who held a stranger in her arms as he died. She then remained with his body not wanting to leave him alone.  If you look at the many pictures posted online, you’ll see numerous shirtless individuals who used their clothing as tourniquets to help the injured.

Many of these heroes were among those who lost their lives. If it weren’t for the selfless acts of so many caring strangers, countless lives would not have been spared.  President Trump summed it up well when he said, “Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today—and always will, forever.”

Very true. It is love and the countless acts of compassion that define us.  In the face of terror and evil, we are no longer strangers.  We are one; our hearts forever united.  In the midst of tragedy, the goodness of humanity stands unshaken.

 

This blog is dedicated to all the victims of Sunday’s attack. A special heart-felt thank you goes out to all the unsung heroes.  It is this love and compassion that will forever define us. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Is There Such Thing as Luck?

When it comes to luck, you make your own.”

Bruce Springsteen
 

When I was little, I remember spending hours combing the grass for a four leaf clover. According to tradition, the four leaf clover is said to bring good luck. And who can’t use a little bit of luck, right?fourleafclover

Luck of the Irish is a phrase which is generally thought to mean “extreme good fortune.” But as noted on mentalfloss.com, the term is not of an Irish origin but American according to Edward T. O’Donnell, an Associate Professor of History at Holy Cross College and author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History.

“During the gold and silver rush years in the second half of the 19th century, a number of the most famous and successful miners were of Irish and Irish American birth. . . .Over time this association of the Irish with mining fortunes led to the expression ‘luck of the Irish.’ Of course, it carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these fools succeed.”

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches us, many wonder if there is actually such thing as luck. Some say there is no such thing as luck and everything can be chalked up to taking chances in life. Still others say some people are just lucky. Let me give you some examples.

When I was working on my book, Visits from Heaven, I happened to contact ARE Press in Virginia Beach, VA, for reprint permission. When I did, they expressed interest in the book and asked me to submit a book proposal. They liked my book proposal and the rest is history. When some people heard this, they said I got lucky. But did I?

It was my book proposal that sold my book. I spent a long time researching evidential afterlife communication and interviewed some of the top experts in the field. So I don’t think it was luck in this case. I worked hard and it was noticed.

However, what you don’t see are the many rejection letters that I received on the way to final acceptance. One of my favorite quotes by Author Brian Tracy is “I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active.  Show up more often.”  So I kept pushing and showing up.  I believed in my book and wouldn’t quit.

It had more to do with my determination than luck. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in luck.  On the night that I met my husband John, it was freezing and icy outside.  My friend Sara showed up at my apartment wanting me to go out.  I did not want to go out.  I was comfy in my sweatpants and had no interest in braving the icy roads.

She persisted, however, and I ended up relenting. That night, I met my wonderful husband John.  So if you ask me, that night was due to a bit of luck.  But had I not decided to go out, I obviously would not have met John.

The point I’m making here is actions determine outcomes. If you want something, you have to make it happen.

What about the neighbor who won the lottery twice? You might say what a lucky guy he is! I mean who wins twice? The person who keeps taking chances and playing the lottery.  If you play, there’s always a chance you’ll win.  Although the probability of success may be miniscule, it’s still greater than zero.  The odds will always be greater when you at least try.

The Good, The Bad, and The Compassionate

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

It’s a pretty scary world we live in these days.  This month alone we’ve seen attacks on police officers in the United States.  We’ve seen unspeakable acts of terror in Germany, France and Turkey.  This week a priest had his throat slit by terrorists at a church in France.  And the other day in Japan a man wielding a knife killed and injured several disabled individuals because he felt they were not fit to serve in society.

We live in a world with both bad and good.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.”  But when we are overwhelmed with all the bad, it’s hard to see the good.  It’s hard but more necessary than ever before for all of us to remember that despite all the terror in this world, there will always be more good than evil.  Evil will never prevail because good will always be stronger.

I once read an interesting post which said evil and suffering is actually a necessary part of God’s design.  The writer’s point was if everything was perfect in this world, we would not learn the true meaning of such virtues as forgiveness, courage, kindness, justice, mercy, remorse, generosity and self-sacrifice.

True.  But I would add one other thing to the list and that is compassion.  I’ve read many differing definitions for compassion.  Some state that it literally means “to suffer together” while others claim it means the ability to understand the emotional state of another person and having sympathy for the misfortunes of others.  All are correct.  However, the most important part of compassion in my opinion is that it involves the willingness or desire to help others and alleviate their suffering in any way possible.

I was born with a disability known as cerebral palsy.  On April 12 of this year, I underwent surgery to my right foot and Achilles tendon area.  For several months, my leg had become increasingly spastic and painful.  I was told that my Achilles tendon had begun to fray pretty much like an old rope and I was also shown that I had a huge bone growth.

Removing the bone growth would require extensive surgery and a serious recovery so instead I found a doctor who is known for a procedure he pioneered known as SPML (Selective Percutaneous Myofascial Lengthening).  In addition to lengthening my tendon, several holes were drilled into my bone growth in order to increase blood flow to the area.

procarephotoTruthfully, I was not prepared for the extent of my recovery.  I am now suffering from nerve damage and cannot feel part of my foot and leg.  Hopefully, the feeling will come back sooner than later. I am currently going for physical therapy and have pretty much had to learn how to walk again.  According to my physical therapist, a wonderful-caring man named Dean, my muscles are not working properly so I have to pay attention to every step I take so that my brain makes the connection.  I can hear his voice now, “Heel, step, back…heel, step, back.”  Has it been tough?  Yes, absolutely.  But one of the things that has truly helped me through this ordeal is the compassion I’ve been shown not only by my family and friends but also by complete strangers.

Complete strangers have let me lean on them as I walked through parking lots to my car or have offered to put my bags in the car for me at the supermarket.  Friends have left food and goodies at my door anonymously and have sent flowers and cards to brighten my day.

There was one older woman that I remember most of all.  For some reason, walking on the hard floors at my local Shoprite would cause me a lot of pain and with that pain came more limping than usual.  On this particular day, I could barely make it out of the store.  I only had a handful of items to buy so I didn’t bother getting a shopping cart.  This was a mistake as I didn’t have anything to lean on.

As I made my way slowly out of the store, a woman came up to me and asked if I was OK.  “You look like you’re in pain,” she told me.  To this, I replied that I had recently had surgery on my leg and would be fine.

“Oh,” she replied, I can see the pain on your face.”  Then she reached forward and took the two bags from arms.  At first I tried to refuse her help but she was insistent.  So finally, I smiled gratefully and led this beautiful soul to my truck.

When we reached my vehicle, she put my two bags in the back and reached forward to give me a much-needed hug.  I was all teary-eyed as I thanked her for her kindness.  “God bless you,” she told me.  “We all have crosses to bear but everything will be alright.”

I stood there as she walked away shocked by her words and her compassion. As I got in the truck, the tears flowed.  Unbeknownst to her, I had been feeling so sorry for myself and her words and encouragement gave me a much-needed boost.

Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t even ask for her name.  But what I do know is that her compassion will forever stay with me.  Her kindheartedness will forever remind me that despite the immoral things that may be happening in this world, the good will always outnumber the bad.  It is this good that we all need to focus on.  As the Bible states, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 ESV)