body, goes into strange and unfathomable yet somehow familiar dimensions. The only certainty I came away with from my LSD studies is that I am not my body. Strangely enough, today many New Agers see this as heresy. They call it dualism. “I am what I eat. I and my body are one”, they say. True, I’m no more separate from my body than from the air I breathe, or from a rock, or from a worm, or from anything at all. So I wind up in a cosmic goo. But we have learned to name things so we can distinguish between what’s me and what’s not me. I am not my body any more than I am the air, the rock, or the worm. I think of my body as my spacesuit which I will discard once it has grown threadbare–but I wil1 go on. People in our culture think of death as the enemy, yet death is as natural as eating. There are two possibilities: either we die and everything is over, we’re just simply, you know, gone—so what’s there to be afraid of! Or else life is a spiral that is eternally ascending. We may or may not come back to this planet in physical form, but I think that we are travelers, and that our journey is endless. I don’t like the idea of being in pain and all that stuff that leads up to the actual death, but death itself doesn’t frighten me.
DJB: What are your thoughts on euthanasia? There is so much fear of legalizing it.
NINA: I can understand it. We’re all too human, and no doubt there will be abuses. On the other hand, to be spared the agony that precedes death is a blessing that many people would welcome. As for myself, I hope to be able to end it once my spacesuit is beyond repair!
RMN: I’d be interested to know your ideas on abortion, Nina. Is it a crime from the spiritual point of view?
NINA: The crime is to bring an unwanted child into the world. I believe that the soul enters the body at birth, and that the embryo is a spacesuit in the making. I see no reason to be any more sentimental about our biological container before birth than after death. To me, it is simply matter not yet or no longer animated by life. It’s interesting to note that the Catholic church is as ready to bring masses of uncared-for children into this overpopulated world as to bless troops that are going into battle. Could there be a connection, I wonder? Are these unhappy masses needed for cannon fodder? The pro-life stand of the church is a desperate attempt to continue to rule by appealing to the flock’s self-righteous emotions, and in many cases, this appeal succeeds.
Former generations took it for granted that it is woman’s destiny to bear children. Women were bred to be breeders, but when girls began to receive the same education as boys it became clear that not all women are cut out to be mothers. I thought that the pill and other contraceptives would generate a new approach to bringing children into the world, making the act of conception a free, conscious choice rather than a haphazard accident. Today, as in past generations, more than ninety percent of all children are the result of an accident, but even some who desire children do so for the wrong reasons. They submit to peer
pressure, or they wish to have something that belongs to them, something that will give them the love they can’t find anywhere else. A child is not property. It is an incoming soul–a visitor from another dimension who is entrusted to our care. The visitor needs to learn the native language and the use of the spacesuit and has to be taught, nurtured and loved. One of the best-kept secrets is that bringing up a child requires a great deal of self-sacrifice and the willingness to subordinate one’s own needs and desires to those of the growing child. Parenting can’t be done with one hand tied behind one’s back. In the utopia I envision, people will make informed choices about welcoming a soul into this world, and they will do so in the full knowledge that their children are not their children but the sons and daughters of life.
RMN: What is your personal understanding of God?
NINA: God! You know, devout Jews will neither write nor pronounce the word G-d, holy be His name! I think they’re right, because as soon as you try to define God, you’re no longer talking about the omnipresent power that set all this in motion and pervades all there is. I think the Jews and the Christians are wrong about giving God a masculine pronoun. God, as I conceive it, is neither a he, a she, nor an it. God is everything, or God is nothing. Trying to put a gender on the ineffable is like trying to drain the ocean with a sieve. When you question the Hindus about God, they say, “Tat twam asi,” which means, “Thou art that.” Or they answer, “Not this, not that.” Can we limit the illimitable by calling it this or that? My understanding of the divine is of a force that is the sum total of All There Is, which includes, but is not limited to, nature.
DJB: Why did you