“When you realize that eternity is right here now, that it is within your possibility to experience the eternity of your own truth and being, then you grasp the following: That which you are was never born and will never die. . . . (90)”
― Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor
It's so trite: the Now is all you have.
And this isn't me trying to joust with Eckhart Tolle and all other spiritual gurus of a similar ilk
It's asking you, again, to consider your direct experience of life.
What's happening right now?
(Please avoid reciting anything you've read or heard and go to your .)
You might want to sit for a brief moment to ponder the question.
You're here, right?
Or at least there's a sense of being here.
Cutting right to the chase, though, the moment your thoughts inveigle their way into your psyche they take you away from the present moment; and that's why I invite those people who I work with (qua coach — argh, I hate that label but it's the one people seem most comfortable with) to ask this question:
"What is there when there is no thinking?"
It's not me asking them to stop thinking — that's impossible — but merely to consider what is there when there is no thinking.
And the answer?
A happening of this moment which is bereft of any word or aphorism to describe precisely what is in play.
You could say: a moving, dancing, energetic expression.
Then again you might say: there is just this.
But whenever I've heard that way of describing the Now, I'm apt to ask the question, as only a lawyer might do, what or who knows that's there only this?
I'm getting off the point.
All of us at some point in our lives try to understand what's going on in an attempt to manage our situation. Rarely, as Socrates said, do we examine the unexamined portion of our lives. The joke, as they say, is on us because rather than inviting a more beautiful question than, say, How can I make myself happy? (which rarely evinces of an answer...), we rush around like crazed lunatics trying to patch up our lives and others in an attempt to keep our mood swings in check. But, in case you hadn't noticed, that's only because we're outwith the present moment and lost in a cacophony of thoughts, feelings and emotions.
And it hurts.
What if, instead of always going to our thoughts, we looked at the whole of our experience, namely our smell, our seeing, our tasting, our touching and our feeling sense?
Because you're all of those things, together with all of your other bodily functions.
(It might seem strange but we rarely, unless there's a problem, talk about the way our heart is beating — we take it for granted, right! — but it's as much of us, if not more, than our ephemeral thoughts.)
Why then do we take our thoughts so god damn seriously?
Ipso facto, we live in a dualistic world where we think we're separate and apart from everything else.
That's how we function.
And then there's everything else, or so our thoughts apparently tell us.
But, much like my contrived 'direct experience' exercise, here's something else for you to consider.
1. Everything changes;
2. Given 1, there are no immutable/fixed forms;
3. The labels we give to things are not describing the actual things. This is tendentious because you'll say: a glass is a glass, but is it? It's only that because (a) we speak or understand English, (b) we all use the same expression, (c) it seems to work when we want something, and (d) what else would we call it? Absent these things, we wouldn't know how to describe it; or we might even replace it with a completely different sound; and
4. When you were born everything was a moving, shifting experience and it's only as we're imprinted and conditioned that we start attaching meaning to (formless) things.
(If you think of the smoke rising from an incense stick, in one moment you might recognise the letter 'C', but the very next moment, it's moved on to something else — if it was anything in the first place. It's no different for all apparent forms, even mountains, save that they change a lot more slowly.)
But, and here's the kicker, how on earth can you attach meaning to a formless, unknowable expression of an apparent thing?
I know, pretty radical, eh!
But then again, as I'll keep saying in these posts, what is your direct experience of the Now actually pointing to or suggesting?
Always go there before you consider anything else.
Answers on a postcard.
If you feel so inclined 🙏.