I’m often puzzled by how trustingly I embrace all the beliefs my culture has created for me, as though they are the authorized, requisite truths that simply must be believed. These are beliefs that were born in the distant past and have somehow been shared through the generations and disseminated as the irrefutable facts about life. They say, for instance, and with utter assurance, that the body is more powerful than the spirit, that things are stronger than thoughts, that, in the end, death always and inescapably dominates life. These beliefs are so imposing, so unassailable, that they seem to make us fall to our knees in a dopey kind of devotion. It’s hard to ask “What if?” in the face of these seemingly irrefutable beliefs, but this morning I’m going to give it a try: What if the human spirit has secret strengths that can create far more power than the human body? What if thoughts can actually transform troublesome situations of all kinds into useful learning opportunities? And what if what we call death is not a disappearance of a life, but simply nature’s way of surely and systematically transforming one type of life into another, like leaves letting go of their trees to turn into wholesome soil? What if death is as natural and indispensable as darkness turning into daylight? What if forces like love and kindness can always and easily defeat death -- tell death it’s never the end but always the start of something new and fresh and essential?