An Eternal Moment

Hidden between the future and the past is the eternal moment. The point of interest is always right now, right here, where we are now/here, nowhere! We cannot get to this point because we are already here. We cannot leave this point because there is no place else to go. The point is both where we are coming from and where we are going to. We sit in eternity observing time, wondering 'Is that all there is?'

The root meaning of eternity is 'youthful energy.' The root meaning of 'time' is 'to divide'.  Time is a division of energy into past and future, an illusion, a moving image of eternity. Eternity is what's happening all the time!  Time is beginning now.

Photo by  Rod Long  on  Unsplash

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Being in this moment poetically (creatively) is an art we want to cultivate. 

Between what matters and what materializes is the game of life. 

It is too simple. This is it.  We are either stuck here or we are freely choosing to be here now. The point is to choose. What do you say? Is this happening-to-us or is it us-happening?  We are too strange.  

This is the moment of possibility. Things are tense! Looking backward (past-tension) we don't see what happened, we see what we are now imagining happened. Looking forward (future-tension) we do not see what will happen, we see what we are now anticipating or expecting to come our way.  We don't expect much but we always expect something and so we get distracted from what is here.  We pretend that we are reporters and fight about the 'facts' and the 'truth' rather than take our turn as poets who speak with a creative voice. 

I coach people to find their poetic voice.

A Matter of Principle

Because we are committed to having spiritual awakenings and to ‘practicing these principles in all our affairs’, I offer a fragment on the nature of principles.   The more clearly we see how things work essentially, the more powerfully we can cooperate with the powers that give birth to our wills and our lives.

In the world of spirit, everything is connected to its opposite.

In Being, everything is connected to its opposite.

In Essence, everything is connected to its opposite.

In Existence, all the opposites seem to come apart.

This is important to state because in existence it appears that opposites can be dealt with separately.    I call this—looking for a one-ended stick.  It is as if we became enamored by the positive pole of a stick magnet and didn’t notice that we felt an equal and opposite repulsion towards the negative.  We might break the positive end off—thinking to liberate it and ourselves from everything unwanted.  We are nonplussed to find a new negative has joined us and we totally fail to notice the old negative end has been complemented by a new positive.  We think we can have the long end of the stick without the short end being attached.  Likewise, we are deathly afraid of getting the short end of the stick with no blessings included.

Spirit doesn’t work that way. Being doesn’t work that way.  Words don’t work that way.  Language doesn’t work that way.  Not even sticks work that way.

It is not immediately obvious that fat and thin are rigorously united.  We think we can focus on getting thin without paying attention to the nature of being fat.  We think we can focus on being successful while ignoring anything related to failure.

This is why I keep quoting Nietzsche’s statement that, “Health is the amount of disease we can transform.”  The opposites are always interacting.

In spiritual kindergarten we learn to unite the opposites.  We gain sobriety by honoring its connection to drunkenness.  We gain power by accepting powerlessness.

In the realm of spirit, before opposition occurs, desire and aversion complement each other, attraction and repulsion dwell together, love and hate are at one.  Atonement is the way things are before they are separated by existence.  In existence this essential unity comes apart or ceases to appear.

It is so collectively obvious that pleasure is infinitely preferable to pain that we can hardly even begin to help each other to a larger, more fruitful perspective. How will we learn to touch the stone (“pain is touchstone of all spiritual growth”) if all our lessons teach us to avoid it?

A huge part of this insanity is perpetrated by the fact that we are not trained to examine our principles.  We may not even know that we have principles; but it is the job of our principles to make sure we prefer some things to others.

The word principle is made up of two roots 1. Prince (which means first—like the prince is the first son) and 2. Cept (which means to seize hold of—as in fore-cept or per-cept.)  Aprin-cept tells us what to seize before what.  So the pleasure prin-cept tells us to seize pleasure before pain.

Who doesn’t prefer feeling good to feeling pain, or being right to being wrong?  Or being smart to being stupid?  These things are so familiar to us that it is very difficult to get our attention on them.

We will continue to examine this play of opposites but for the moment it would be fruitful to develop the habit of noticing what is connected to what and what are our principles.

In the world of spirit everything is connected to its opposite.

Originally Posted February 22, 2013

A Threefold Disease: Unfolding

“This is how it is, spiritually understood, with us human beings.  We have a suspicion about ourselves; we gradually become conscious that we are not really sober…and that is why we conceal ourselves in the same way as Adam hid among the trees.”  -Soren Kierkegaard

Everyone in recovery kind of knows that we have a three fold disease, yet we have not yet mastered distinguishing these three folds or observing how they interrelate.

It makes perfect sense to each of us that we should think about what we need to do.  We have immense respect for our intellect’s capacity to solve problems.  We want to use our knowledge and at least some of that now infinite supply of information available to us, to figure out how to get our lives to work.  We each have certain important areas of our lives where we actually know what to do and know that we can in fact do it.  We all know how to loose some weight or save some money or get organized.  We know how to not speak harshly, or start fights, we know we do not need to get into a rage over the driver who cut us off on the highway, or the person who cut ahead of us at the supermarket or the theatre.  In short we know what to do and know we can do it.  This is in fact why we get mad at ourselves when we don’t do that thing we committed ourselves to do, or we did do the thing we promised ourselves we would never do again.

This is what I would like to look at today, this clarity with which we get angry at ourselves for not doing what we know how to do, or feel guilty when we know we could have done better.  This anger or guilt would obviously make no sense if we didn’t know for sure that our minds are in charge of our bodies, so we can put that down as one of the deepest certainties of human beings, and a great source of misery to virtually every one of us.  We doubt many things but we do not doubt that we, and others, can do what we know how to do.  We do not doubt that knowledge is power.  Even if we learn about alcohol that ‘self knowledge avails us nothing’ we will not fully apply the lesson to our finances, our romances or our projects of self discipline.

We think that the world we are thinking about is the same as the one we are walking around in, we know that the friend or spouse or stranger we know is the same as the one we are looking at.  We overlay the mental fold onto the physical.  Whether or not this is cunning, it certainly is a baffling and powerful illusion.  I know my wife’s fears about her work and since I know this I don’t notice how I never take up the task of listening to her words, to take in the concerns she is seeking to share in this moment.  I’m so occupied by what I know that I don’t hear what would genuinely make a difference.  It often seems as though our minds are in charge of our bodies.  I think I will raise my right hand and up it goes, so obviously I’m in charge and ought to be upset with myself (or others) when I see that self control is not exercised by myself or them.

We believe that knowledge is power and that knowing is the source of doing.  This is so deeply and unconsciously embedded in our minds that it just doesn’t occur to us to question it–and yet moment by moment, in some of the most important concerns of our lives we demonstrate over and over that self knowledge avails us nothing.

Alcoholics have sort of known about this for years.  I used to figure out, every time I got drunk, what went wrong and would convince myself again and again, each time I had failed that now I was in control–I felt it with certainty.  I never really saw through this phenomenon until another drunk explained to me that this is the nature of powerlessness common to alcoholics.

The neuroscientists have actually discovered an area in the left hemisphere of the brain that they call the interpreter.  They can now, for example, give an instruction to the right hemisphere which it will carry out without the left hemisphere knowing the instruction was given.  “The left brain interpreter will nonetheless construct a contrived explanation for the action, unaware of the instruction the right brain had received.” “Although the concept of the left brain interpreter was initially based on experiments on patients with split brains, it has since been shown to apply to the everyday behavior of people at large.”  “the facile explanations provided by the left brain interpreter may also enhance the opinion of a person about themselves and produce strong biases which prevent the person from seeing themselves in the light of reality and repeating patterns of behavior which led to past failures.” (

So our minds are obviously designed to operate on the principle that they are in charge of our bodies and yet, just as obviously, our minds are not in charge of our bodies.  Our minds and our bodies are in completely different realms.  Something obviously is in charge, the body follows rigorous patterns, even immensely painful patterns of behavior that we consciously do not want to repeat and yet we do repeat them over and over.  These patterns are obviously automated and if you have been following this blog you can remember that the etymology of the word auto-matic means “self willed,” and thus indicates our dis-ease at work.

This auto-mationalso governs the mental process.  Not only are our minds not in charge of our bodies, they are not even in charge of themselves.  We are not consciously thinking our ‘happy’ thoughts.  We think things we do not want to think and imagine things we do not want to imagine and remember things we do not want to remember, this is the real experience of ‘mental dis-ease.’  We think and imagine and remember what is consistent with our will’s concerns.  Our behavior and our mental processes are in the service of our will and our will is ill.  Thought and action seem to be correlated to each other because each is correlated to the same third force: our will.  We are always willing to do what we do; willing to think what we think (remember, imagine, etc.) and we don’t even notice this.  Will is transparent.  We are always willing to justify our resentful behavior and gather evidence for the truthfulness of our resentments.  Our minds are always willing to make up reasons, explanations and validations for what our wills will.

I am always interested when I hear a scientific validation of something my spiritual discipline has told me of for years.  I respect science and envision a converging of narratives among disciplines as things progress.  I do not expect anything to occur in the physical domain that does not obey all the laws of physics.  I am not, however, inspired to turn my will and my life over to the care of my local neuroscientist, nor to live in the constant delusion that my mind is in charge of my body and that I will gain satisfactionand happiness from this life if only I manage well.

I observe the repetitive behaviors in the physical domain, I assume neuronal patterns are at work.  I observe the same with my mental phenomena.  The same patterns of thought, of denial, the same images of failure etc. are repeated over and over.  I imagine it is all very scientific how this occurs.  I am glad to hear of neural plasticity.  I couldn’t really prove it for myself but I believe pretty much what one believes in these matters, in our time.

But now I remember that no amount of self knowledge relieved my pattern of drinking and, for me even more painfully, no amount of self-knowledge or understanding altered my financial behavior.  Observing and admitting that I was ‘willing to under-earn’ clarified things for me, and supported me in surrendering my will and my life over to the care of my higher power.  Of course, in order to observe this I had to wake up a lot.  I had to radically increase my level of consciousness and making this admission still requires a humbling process, but then I witness my body behaving in ways that relieve me of my fear of economic insecurity and I enjoy the thoughts of being aided by a power greater than myself and I envision a world where we actually help each other wake up from our auto-matic state and free ourselves from our ‘mind forged manacles.’

Originally Posted February 11, 2013