William James, the “grandfather” of American psychology, once said: ”We add both to the subject and to the predicate part of reality” and “[that] enhance[s] the universe’s total value.” What does this mean? To me, this simply means that the universe enriches itself through self-awareness. Too grand? Too mystical? Too anthropomorphic? I don’t think so. Not grand enough! Not mystical enough! Not anthropomorphic enough!
There is no cup independent of the clay that it is made of. The idea of a “cup” can exist independently of clay but not the cup itself. Same with you, Mind. There is no mind independent of the body that it is made of. Except for the idea of “mind” in your mind…
This body is clay. And so is this mind. Rumi knew it. I know it. Do you?
Do you know that all that exists is stardust? Literally, not metaphorically. You are made of 14 billion year old stuff. At least! But, if you understand that nothing can emerge ex nihilo, then you know you are truly ageless, made of the universal clay that always has been and always will be…
Unborn and undying.
Mental health isn’t just about being symptom free. Mental health is about being capable of a sense of awe (however you arrive at it). Look at yourself in awe, Living Stardust that you are!
Within any given Now there is a mini-Past and a mini-Future and a mini-Now. And within that mini-Now there is its own mini-Past and its own mini-Future and its own mini-Now. And each and every one of these mini-Pasts and mini-Futures and mini-Nows is one and the same continuous Eternal Now that Ever is. Time to be (timeless) is always now: take a moment to notice a moment.
Related: The Thin Ice of Presence
“When you try to pick out anything by itself, you find it hitched to everything else in the solar system.” (Kenneth Bower in National Geographic, Oct 2012, in an article on the Mesoamerican Reef ecosystem).
Here’s another one:
“[I]t’s only when you stop trying to make sense of things that you start seeing.” (Eugene Richards also in National Geographic, Nov 2012, in a photo essay on the Arkansas Delta).
We tend to think of wisdom as a developmental accomplishment, as something that comes with age. I don’t think so. I don’t think of wisdom as a stage-of-life. I think of wisdom as a state-of-mind. As a state available to anyone anytime, as a moment of clarity in which you linger in the moment just long enough to see the never-finished unfolding of reality…
There is more I could say about all of this. But I think I’ll leave this blog unfinished, just as is. I think that’s wise.
A sense of being involves a degree of separateness from the rest of the world. After all, the verb to “exist” literally means to stand out. When you are present, your awareness of your own existence happens on the backdrop of time. Time is really just perception of change, of processes, of movement, of information flow. So to be, we have to experience ourselves as apart from all this flow.
Being is a contrast between our subjective permanence and the objective impermanence of everything that is around us, between our (subjective) timelessness and the constant timing (changing) of reality outside of us.
Like stillness, being exists in contrast with movement.
When we experience ourselves, there is a feeling that while we are fundamentally the same from moment to moment, the world outside of is changing. We begin to be. We feel reborn. We pop out of the incessant stream of “recycled consciousness” and mindless behavior. We reconnect with that immutable sense of “am-ness.” No longer lost in the world, we begin to experience ourselves in a relationship with it. We begin to register the experience. We remember that we are alive. We feel glad that we woke up and marvel at how time has slipped away.
Thus, to be – we have to slow down enough to notice ourselves being in time.
Adapted from Present Perfect
Everything that can exist – at any given moment – exists. Reality is entirely complete. It has no holes. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is amiss. The discrepancies that we see are the differences between the ideal reality that we have dreamed up and the actual reality that has manifested at a given moment.
Whether we like what we witness or not, whether it matches our definitions of perfection or not, it is what it is and it is continuously changing. This is the mind-boggling perfection of reality: it is ever renewing, progressing from one state of completion to another, with or without us, with or without our consent or approval.
My guess is that this stubborn independence of reality rubs you the wrong way. It threatens your sense of control. You don’t like this constant change (and resist it), you like status quo (and try to preserve it), and you struggle with constant succession of unfinished business (and seek closure).
Outside, with powerblocks in my hands, German volumetrics on my mind, and Pandora in my ear, I notice: trees, grass, weeds – all around me – are adding mass, stretching upwards in an endless sun salutation, growing their protean bodyminds.
Life is a thinking, feeling, sensing muscle.
No life without growth (or change) of some kind.
“No particle is still, each jerks about erratically, making tiny dashes hither and yon only perpetually to bounce back again. It looks perhaps like a milling crowd or a crowded dance floor seen from high above, or like a swarm of darting midges; and it is indeed a manifestation of, and the most direct evidence for, the deathless dance of molecules.” (1)
We are made of this Brownian motion and commotion.
Sit still for a moment.
Meditate on the dance that you are.
(1) R. W. Gerard, Unresting Cells, 1940.