The Power of Now

Day 67-80

Beware! I live!

Yes, dear readers. After a long, lazy, unproductive hiatus, I have returned. My camping trip ended a week ago and I still haven’t managed to get off my ass and update my blog. So I’m going to zip through everything and just get up to today so that I can start fresh with renewed commitment tomorrow. (Update: Also, most of Exodus is [forgive me Lord] boring as s***. I’ll get cracking on that tomorrow)

Actually, before I go ahead and write all this, I’m going to go draw a Medicine Card. Be right back!

I have drawn Raccoon, in the Contrary position. Let us look him up, shall we?

“If Raccoon has appeared in the reverse position, you may be robbing yourself of much needed strength at this time. Do you need an attitude adjustment?” Etc., etc.

Appropriate as always. It says a bit more about “feeling drained,” as well as giving energy to others that you may essentially revitalize yourself. Perhaps this is what I need. Perhaps the “other” in this situation is God, and my duty thereto.

Speaking of duty, I was reading C. S. Lewis while I was on my camping trip, and he is a positively amazing writer for those who wish to have a better understanding of Christianity. Granted, it is just one man’s perspective, but considering he was a former atheist, he has a great deal of insight and offers quite a bit of explanation. I shall have to list some of his books.

Anyway he mentions at one point that our worship our our devotion to God can itself become an object of worship. He at one point started to see his work on, I believe, The Problem of Pain, as becoming a temptation rather than a duty. I’m definitely not there yet, as evidenced by the fact that I couldn’t force myself to write this blog for a full week. So far, this is still duty. Which in a sense implies my lack of virtue, since I struggle against the Word and duty to God rather than rejoice in it.

If you’ve read my About page or some of my previous posts you know that I spoke of revelations that allowed me to grok the idea of “oneness with God.” My idea is/was that we and everything in existence are one with God, although I am no longer sure in what sense. We are reflections of Him, all good is His Good, all love is His Love, and all energy is His Energy.

If He is, as C. S. Lewis puts it, the Uncreated, and everything else (us included) is the created, then in a sense all of our matter and energy came from God in the first place. I guess this is sort of a roundabout argument that is going nowhere. The point is, I had this idea of oneness with God, of a spiritual and to some extent physical unity with some form of the Divine.

On my camping trip, I understood our separateness from God. I saw why this was so, and that it was, in its own way, Good. God, as one vast infinite Being could neither do nor love except to create. God, as an infinitely creative and loving force, could do nothing less. If God did not create anything, what would He have to love? Thus, the universe, I suppose.

And we had to be given free will because otherwise there would be no point. C.S. Lewis makes the point that God could have removed the consequences of the First Sin (the whole Adam and Eve thing) but then He would have had to remove the consequences of the second, and the third, and so on, and there would be no free will. But like prodigal sons all of us, we are allowed to leave in hopes that some day, some long day after we have been bruised and hurt, after we have hurt others, after we have lied and been lied to… we are allowed to leave in the hopes that after all this we will return. Return to our real “home,” so to speak, in the presence of and in a unity with God.

So how did all this come to me? Well, Mr. Lewis was a big help. My partner gave me some books just in time for me to bring them, and they were the perfect reading material on my trip. But also, in the form of a song! The following lyrics are to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, or if you prefer, John Brown’s Body.

Ahem.


In the creaking of the pine trees, I heard an open door

I have seen His praises written there upon the forest floor

Though I have eaten from His table, He keeps me coming back for more

His Truth is marching on!

(Chorus, if you like)

In the beauty of the briars, Man was born upon the Earth

He strains and pains, complains and blames; he wonders what he’s worth

But Christ who reaches out to him is heedless of his birth

His Truth is marching on!

(Chorus)

I grin, my skin is paper thin, my mind is like a sieve

I lie here in His loving arms that I shall never leave

Beneath the broken tree leaves lie the tangled webs we weave

His Truth is marching on!

(Chorus)

Here and there and everywhere, whenever we my ask

He is present with his children, regardless of our task

By His Grace we go about our days, in His Glory we may bask

His truth is marching on!

(Chorus)

As eagles fly down mountainside, my journey’s just begun

May my gaze be fixed upon His Grace until my days are done

May He burn himself into my eyes like the righteous setting sun

His Truth is marching on!

(Chorus)

The gift that You have given me exists beyond compare

The Glory You are showing me is more than I could bear

So You gave to me this human form to find You everywhere

Your Truth is marching on!


This is my anthem to God. I cannot think of any other way to describe it. He has given me and shown me so much. Part of me wants to discontinue this project but I know I will regret doing so. I must continue to work on this, and do “my best.”

This, of course, is laughable. I realize what “little” creatures we are, now. Lewis writes in The Problem of Pain

“Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis—in itself very bad news—before it can win a hearing for the cure.”

I finally understand the diagnosis. The cure has already been discovered; the prescription is written. But so many are in denial of the diagnosis that they will not accept the cure.

But as far as being “little,” as I have said… C. S. Lewis has this to say, from The Great Divorce:

“You weren’t a decent man and you didn’t do your best. We none of us were and none of us did.”

We are infinitely far from perfect; I grok that now. We are perfect in the sense that we could not in this moment be anything other than what we are, but what we choose to do with this moment and each successive Now is up to us. But in terms of being perfected, that is something we cannot and will not be, at least not in this life. Can we get close? Sure, in the sense that successively higher numbers appear to approach an infinitely distant point. But I have seen the truth in the old adage: nobody’s perfect.

Only God is perfect; all we creatures can do is trust Him.

Until tomorrow. Peace be upon you.

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Day 23

Oy, some days I just do not feel like writing much. After waking up after not enough sleep and going to a joyous tax appointment, I’m barely up for it. But a promise is a promise, and so here I am.

I’m just going to take a moment today to promote my Contribute! page. For those of you who are following or reading along, I’m always interested in people’s experiences or interpretations, and if you have some insight or opinion on a chapter or verse of the Bible, please share it with me!

Also, I’ll probably have a new page tomorrow or the next day: I’m going to start a list of book recommendations. These will be spiritual- or self-help-type books that I have read and that I highly recommend. Expect it by the end of the week.

Let’s get started, shall we?


Genesis 23

Sarah, wife of Abraham, finally passes away at the tender young age of 127. Abraham seeks to find a burial site for his wife, somewhere where she may be “out of [his] sight” (Genesis 23:4). This struck me as interesting, because it suggests that even our closest attachments in life can be put behind us. Abraham will not forget his wife and the time he spent with her, but she has passed; his duty is to live and keep living a godly life. He honors his wife Sarah with a burial, and he honors himself by moving on.

Adventure Time!

Adventure Time S5E16 – source: http://imgur.com/gallery/WvaQn

Now that I’ve posted the above image, I am reminded of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. In the book, Tolle explains that the state known as “enlightenment” does not come from a denial of the body or an escape from the present moment, but instead comes from acceptance of and presence in the now. Things and people come and go; living in the past or future can cause depression or anxiety. Living in the moment, in the now,is key. This does not mean to disregard or ignore the past or future, necessarily. It just means being wholly present, being aware of feelings and sensations, being an impartial observer and not ignoring what it means to be human and alive in this moment. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just being fully present is enough to be alive.

Abraham chooses life, and even though he loved his wife dearly, he buries her out of his sight. He puts the past behind him, for that is the land of the dead. Now is the only time to be alive.

Abraham speaks to the people of Canaan, the sons of Heth, and they tell him to speak to Ephron about the land he desires. Abraham does so, and Ephron offers him the land for free. Abraham has the ability to pay, and does not take advantage of Ephron’s kindness.¹ Ephron deeds the land to Abraham, and he buries his wife Sarah.

It is strange that I should feel sad about this. I am reminded of what I wrote the other day about death and dying (hard to believe it was a week ago). Even though death is a release, a release from this human realm of suffering, I am still imagining how Abraham must feel. After many long years with his wife, her time had come to an end; he grieved and he buried her.

I have never had to dig a grave for a person, but I have dug a grave for a beloved pet; that was difficult enough. I sang and I cried while I dug the grave; I am not ashamed. We can love so completely and so dearly, and letting go is hard. It is natural for us to be accustomed to others, to be accustomed to their presence and the joy or comfort that they bring us.

We forget, or perhaps many of us never even learn, that all the love and joy is within us. We spend so much time seeking love and seeking peace, hoping that it will come externally or in the future. The truth is that all the joy you have ever felt has come in the form of brain activity and neurotransmitters. Not so poetic, I know, but feel free to attribute this to the actions or presence of the Holy Spirit if that suits you.

My point is that with the right frame of mind, it is possible to realize the joy that is within. I know it is possible, because I did it. It was a fleeting feeling, but it came during intense self-reflection and meditation. I searched deep within myself, exploring my thoughts and my past, trying to understand some of my dysfunctions, trying to find the motive force behind my recurring problems.

I suddenly understood, and more importantly, felt the truth of the matter: the love I was seeking was within me. It was like a wellspring that had been forgotten and ignored, but I had rediscovered it. I have not visited that place, that state of mind, in quite some time, but knowing that it exists makes me feel better.

This well exists as a boundless love, love which as always implies acceptance. This acceptance is centered in the timeless divinity of now, the eternal peace of Being. The well is the love of God, the path comes from awareness and presence: a state of Being. The well is within us; the path is within us. And this is not a path that the so-called egoic mind can traverse. Only the higher consciousness, the Observer, the great “I am” can walk this path. And all of this is within you. This divine wellspring, this boundless love is within you right now, waiting to be found.

The well, the path, and the traveler; all three are God. These three aspects are one and the same; each implies the existence of the others. When one discovers this love, this peace, this presence… the moment before the realization, you feel a progression, you feel like you’re approaching a destination, you have a sense of the path. But the moment after the realization, you will realize the unity of it all. The truth is that you are at the well because you are the well. The love comes from within you, and it is only now that you are finding yourself.

Words are terribly insufficient for describing this phenomenon. I’ve tried like four times to write a sentence and I can’t come up with one. You’re not just finding yourself, though. You’re finding everyone else, and realizing that the every words “everyone else” are meaningless. I’m going to quote Don Miguel Ruiz from The Four Agreements and hope that it is sufficient:

“It is true. I am God. But you are also God. We are the same, you and I. We are images of light. We are God.”

My brain is officially wracked trying to explain something for which there are no words. Just be present, explore yourself, love yourself. Grok the meaning of “I am,” and never forget that it is one of the names of God.

Peace be upon you.


¹ Henry, Matthew. From http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=23

Day 17

Time is running short today…

I don’t know where you are or when you’re reading this, but it’s nearly midnight and I’m just starting. This would be a lot easier if this weren’t still a secret from my partner, but oh well. Maybe today’s just doesn’t need to be long.

Hitchhikers

Yesterday I did something out of the ordinary, for me anyway. I was driving to work and I saw two hitchhikers with a shopping cart full of stuff. They needed to go out beyond where I was going. I started to slow down to tell them I couldn’t take them, or to make conversation, or something really stupid, but when I pulled up and rolled my window down, they were so happy that someone had stopped that I just couldn’t say no. I pulled off and loaded all their things up; one of their bags had a very large knife, hunting-style, not kitchen-style, and I made sure it stayed put. I was a little paranoid but they seemed like good people.

It was a nice drive. They were wonderful people who were going through some terrible things. The man, when he worked, did hard labor, mostly construction-type jobs. He had dabbled in various kinds of drugs but only smoked marijuana these days. The woman used to do some sort of care-taking or behavioral health or some such related thing. I don’t know if this is cheesy bullshit or not but these people were vibrant. They didn’t look like much at all on the outside but I could just tell that they were living every single minute.

Perhaps they were not “conscious,” as Eckhart Tolle would say, but damn if they weren’t digging deep into life. I can’t say whether they would have traded it for stability. The woman, again just radiant beneath her dirty hair and sun-browned skin, her story was much sadder than his. She left her husband for the second time; they had been married twice. He never laid a hand on her, she said, but she suffered every other type of abuse. Her children had been taken away, some three years ago, and she had little hope of ever seeing them again. It was neglect, they said, but she called it a kidnapping. Armed officers showed up at her door and took her children and gave them to someone else. She was never found guilty, but her two little girls are somewhere else. Now she’s on the road, and she may never see them again. She started to cry in the car, and all I could do was stare uselessly at my empty tissue box.

Part of me wishes I’d spent the whole day with them, taken them out to dinner, talked to them more. But it was beautiful while it lasted. They were just so positive, heading down, hitchhiking out to the middle of nowhere where his dad lived. I guess that’s really all they had. I don’t even know how they met. Are they friends? Did they fall in love? Who knows?

The craziest part was when the man, all wild blond hair and long, ragged goatee, he tried to offer me money. Not once, but twice. The man had all of two or three dollars to his name and he was going to give it to me for giving them a ride.

And you know what? Honestly I don’t really care what they were. Some people would be so suspicious and worried and whatever and say that they were probably meth addicts or who-knows-what, but I just don’t think so. I don’t know why I stopped, but at that point I was in too deep to back out. The looks on their faces throughout the whole thing, the emotion, the sheer joie de vivre that they possessed in spite of everything. I’m obviously romanticizing the whole thing but I don’t give a shit. They smiled and they laughed and they cried and goddamn they were just out there living it. I can’t help but imagine that as soon as I drove out of sight, they vanished into thin air, two strange, tan, angelic hitchhikers that showed up in my life and were gone just as quickly.

But I hope they didn’t disappear, and I hope that wherever you are, Lance and Theresa, I hope you are doing fine. Damn, I wish I’d gotten a picture.


 

Genesis 17

I don’t even know what the hell to talk about right now. I’m just happy to have shared that story.

In Genesis 17, God outlines His covenant with Abram, who is now dubbed Abraham, for, as God says, “I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). The biggest part of this covenant is circumcision. Most of you are probably familiar with the Jewish practice.

robin_hood_men_in_tights_circumcision

Interested parties will direct their attention to the historical documentary Robin Hood: Men in Tights

God outlines the details for circumcisions, and also lets Abraham know that he will bear a son with his wife, now “Sarah” from “Sarai.” God blesses Ishmael, Abraham’s other son, but tells him that his covenant will be continued with Isaac, his son to be born in a year.

The important thing about this, apparently, according to Matthew Henry, is that Abraham obeyed God and trusted God with the circumcision decree. Granted, Abraham laughed at the idea of a son, since he is 99 years old, but he appears to be laughing out of joy or wonder.

Now I’m making a point not to read ahead, but good God, after reading this, how could I not?

“But let us remember that the true circumcision is that of the heart, by the Spirit, Romans 2:28,29.”

— Matthew Henry²

Just, wow. It’s a good point! A beautiful point. But seriously, read that line out of context. “True circumcision is that of the heart.” Read that a few times, and try and tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Good night, all. Peace be upon you.


 

¹ http://www.metacafe.com/watch/hl-6125628/robin_hood_men_in_tights_circumcision/

² http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=17

Day 16

I’m sure by now most of you have heard this song, and some of you are probably sick of it. I used to not listen to the radio much, and I still listen to it minimally, so I have the benefit of not getting tired of songs that are overplayed… mostly.

I had an amazing revelation yesterday. I was listening to this song on the radio, and thinking about it as it relates to the historical city of Pompeii; the song obviously relates to death and dying, the total destruction of the city. And it is romantic. It is so hauntingly beautiful, and it is not the only work of its kind. We often romanticize death, we romanticize people leaving or committing suicide, and dying. I realized yesterday that it is not so much a longing for death that afflicts us but a longing for rebirth. We romanticize death because it is a doorway, it is the next step toward something better. We want to die, and like Don Miguel Ruiz said, we are not afraid of death but we are scared of living.

On some level, I think we know that death is the next step, that part of us has to die. This human life, the world to which we are all so accustomed, the things that we’re all so convinced of… we consider this world, this life of sin and suffering to be inevitable. We believe that the way we live now, the way we exist is inevitable, and in a way we want to die. We want to die, so that we can go on to something else. We know that part of us has to die, that something has to go away.

And the part that is left will be beautiful. That something will survive after death, that some part of us will be reborn into a much better, happier, life… that’s dying and going to Heaven, that’s why we have that dream. We want to die and find peace, to find Heaven, to achieve Nirvana. We want to stop the cycle of death, of living “as if we are dead,” to quote Ruiz. We want it to end.

Regardless of whether Heaven is a literal physical place where the soul goes after the body dies or not, regardless of whether the soul literally transcends suffering and attains Nirvana, these stories, these ideas are present the world over because they represent the innate human desire to get away from all of this. Regardless of the truth, these stories are also potent metaphors.

If you’ve spoken to someone who engages in transcendental meditation or someone who’s taken psychedelic drugs, you may have heard of a feeling of “oneness.” Perhaps for one reason or another you have experienced this for yourself. There is a related but deeper phenomenon known as “ego death” that can be experienced in a variety of ways. “According to Stanislav Grof, ‘Ego death means an irreversible end to one’s philosophical identification with what Alan Watts called skin-encapsulated ego.'”¹

In The Four Agreements, Ruiz talks a great deal about a process that will lead to joy and freedom that he calls the “initiation of the dead.” This, he says, is a spiritual, symbolic death that destroys the wounded mind, destroys the inner judge and victim, destroys what Eckhart Tolle calls the “pain-body.” In this way, we cease associating with the body and the mind’s conception of the “self” and instead begin to see the bigger picture, so to speak. We begin to become aware of the Unity that is.

When we realize our oneness, our connection with all things, with things beyond ourselves, we find that we can love everything and everyone. It is not easy to do, and it takes practice and awareness. But according to Ruiz, this is the state of mind that has been called “Heaven.” This is the kingdom of Heaven that is within man; this is the Heaven that is in our midst (Luke 17:21). This is truly living, being fully alive.

Part of us has to die to get there, but fear not. Once you break through, you will realize that there is no “you,” and that instead, We have been here all along. That is the best way I can put it at this time. I’ll just leave this here:

“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.'”

— Alan Watts²

Genesis 16

Gen 16 describes Abram seeking a child. Sarai, his wife, tells Abram that he must have a child, and she tells him to marry her maid and father a child that way. Abram heeds her words instead of seeking a solution or a sign from God, and lo and behold, the trouble begins. Hagar, the maid, begins to despise Sarai, and the two women just about get into a fight.

Hagar runs off, and “an Angel of the Lord” finds her by a spring (Genesis 16:7). Matthew Henry states that this Angel is “the eternal Word and Son of God,”³ and considering that everything about the Angel is capitalized, that makes as much sense as anything else. Especially when one considers that the Angel blesses her and tells her the things which He will accomplish. I figured just by reading it that the Angel was in some way an extension of God.

Hagar says as much, when she asks, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13) This reminds me of a fun limerick:

“There was a young man who said ‘though

It seems that I know that I know,

What I would like to see

Is the I that sees me

When I know that I know that I know.'”

— Alan Wattsª

A name of the Lord given in Genesis 16:13 is “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees.” That limerick is lifted from “The Nature of Consciousness,”ª and I highly recommend it. Just from reading a few paragraphs I know I’m going to revisit it soon.

After speaking to the Angel, Hagar returns to the house of Abram, returns to that holy family and the righteous life, after having wandered off. I don’t think I need to explain this one; Matthew Henry does a fine job of that already.

Hagar bears Ishmael, and so ends Genesis 16.


That great illusion and tormentor, time, is pressing on me. My heart and mind are distracted by impending work. I feel as though I have said what I needed to say today, and I shall see you all tomorrow.

God bless, and peace be upon you.


¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego_death

² http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alan_Watts

³ http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=16

ª http://deoxy.org/w_nature.htm