Tuesday, March 6, 2012

This is it

A detail of  "Garden Gathering,"
Painted and polychrome glazed tiles
Iran, 1st quarter of 17th century
Islamic collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY 

Back when I first got sober, over 30 years ago, I would say the Lord's prayer every night as I went to sleep. I didn't know where else to turn; it's one thing to read a book such as In Search Of The Miraculous telling you that all men have lost their way; it's quite another thing to discover it organically and be faced with the task of overcoming a disease that is trying to kill you. One thing is certain: in extremity, when you see you need help, you ask for it.

 Over the last 30 years, the practice has developed into one where I use the Lord's prayer in almost every sitting, examining it and the inner taste of the words, the meaning, the sensation, at the beginning in order to to establish an inner foundation. This isn't, of course, anything like what is “conventionally” taught in the Gurdjieff work; but this is my work, not his, and this is the way I do it.

I'm bringing this up because I have an interesting observation that occurred to me this morning in regard to the prayer.

The Lord's prayer has an air of anticipation about it; a situation in which one is expecting that at some point in the future, the elements of the prayer may come true, and my wishes be granted. It has an air of request: I don't have my daily bread yet, but I would like you to send it, God. My trespasses aren't forgiven yet, but I'd like you to forgive them. I'd prefer you not lead me into temptation. And so on.

 Taken from a different perspective, however, the prayer all takes place now. Our daily bread is already here; God has already forgiven us; no one is leading us into temptation. We can compare the idea of the Lord's prayer as an instance of now to the sermon on the Mount, in which Christ explains that the kingdom of God is already here, right before us; we just don't understand that.

I myself live in an internal state of anticipation, where enlightenment is out there. Life is out there. But nothing is actually out there, anywhere. There is only one where, and it is here. Both in here and out there are here. It's consciousness, the act of seeing, that blends in here and out there—the sacred and the profane, the then and the now.

There isn't any "then."  This is it.

 The insight reminds me of some of the more profound experiences I've had in regard to the nature of consciousness. The property of anticipation dropping away.

There is nothing to anticipate; it's already here. The lilies of the field are already clothed in glory; there isn't any enlightenment or non-enlightenment. They both belong to consciousness, which marries them. This fallen state I am in arises, by and large, from my own anticipation: my failure to see that I already am and the world already is. This is another, a new, a more organic and compelling version of Gurdjieff's "disease of tomorrow."

The disease of tomorrow makes me believe that I must anticipate; that the goal is later, not now; that my wish will be answered later, not now.

Yet, in my estimation and experience, perhaps the whole point of the Lord's prayer is to understand that our wishes are already answered, now.

Is it only my own inner blindness that prevents me from seeing that; and is there is a threshold we all already stand on that, with a single step, might lead us across the river and onto the other side of this lack, where all of the abundance that Christ promised—and make no mistake, this is not a Christian abundance, it is also a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jewish, a Hindu abundance—is available to us?

 It's not out there; and it isn't far away. It is here; it is now; it is in me, in you, and all of us.

 Where is it?

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.


  1. It seems to me that you have had an authentic experience of the fact that there is no "time' per se; and it reminds me of a time long agog, when I was trying to slog my way through the entire bible, with all of it's begat this one and that one and so on and so forth endlessly when I came upon a simple sentence that stunned me into a knowledge that has never since left me.
    The line simply stated that "And God remembers the past".
    in that sentence participle I left "time" altogether, and clearly SAW that everything that exists in one gigantic NOW. That past present and future all exist in a simultaneity which is present to "God".
    This is of course nothing really new - "time" exists parallel to "Eternity", and eternity is where all things exist, drawn by a kind of magnetism (used loosely) towards a "future" that we see only as well as we know the turns in the road.
    How is it that we human beings can have clairvoyance and premonitions that we only recognize AFTER they have come to pass, finding that we have had foreknowledge only after the facts?
    Skrying and Crystal ball readers aside, how can it be that the I Ching can speak to us so eloquently, so clearly (if we have formulated a real question), and has become the inspiration for the modern computer?
    We live in a seeming to be flowing "now", but what is "now" without it's setting, like a gem stuck in the ground and not placed in a setting such as past and future, where it becomes One Thing.
    One Thing wherein God remembers the future as well as the past.
    Thank you for your thoughtful posts.

  2. I regularly say the Lord's Prayer. I guess some would think it very childish (smile) but I really don't mind! Your comments are valuable.

    I have been involved with the Argentine/German school of neurobiology/philosophy for more than a decade. The essay 'Palindrome' by Mario Crocco has some v. illuminating remarks about time and the now. Past and future exist in the present for empsyched creatures. You remember the past and imagine the future Now. This is the Jurassic transformed - we can't travel back to it!!! Unlike some time-travel scenarios...


    There is also an audio version of the essay recorded by yours truly.
    If you scroll down the main page you can find it:

  3. Holy Guacamole, Paul...

    is there a simplified version of the linked premises anywhere? A summary, so to speak?

  4. I would never state that human beings as they are in physical three or four dimensions could time travel, and I only had time to speed read through the Abstract that Paul gave us a link to, I have to make a technical note about one of it's first premises, that of:

    "What goes on in the universe manifests itself to natural scientists as an axiological palindrome, readable from more than a single vantage point."

    That is not the definition of a Palindrome, which indicates that some thing states the same phrase backwards as it is forwards. Allowing for "reading from more than a single vantage point" suggests something quite different from a Palindrome, as the Creation gained an asymmetry within a hairsbreath of the creation of Time and Space, and is as yet an unsolved problem in physics.

    There is clearly much in the Abstract that is of value, and I do not mean to disregard it solely on the basis of one misuse of one word.

    I fully intend to read the entire Abstract at much greater depth of attention that I am allowed today, so I have bookmarked it, and much thanks to Paul for showing us the URL of it...it is clear to me that it is worth a deeper study. --Richard

  5. I spent several years performing a novena to the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, to whom I made holy vows to early in this life. I always thought that there were inherent problems with the "Lord's Prayer", until I learned it in the vernacular of his day, which is Aramaic. I recite it in that language because I want to hear the sound phonemes that Jesus actually used, and not rely on archaic words like "hallowed". And the modern vernon in English has what I would call a "plumbing problem - a disconnect, in the line "May your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven" which is better translated from aramaic as "May your Will which IS Heaven, reach all the way down onto the Earth.
    Other than that, I use Sanskrit mantra regularly, having been initiated into the long form Gayatri.

  6. I know, it is a bit of a shock - took me years to get used to the conceptual vocabulary!!!
    I'm afraid there isn't a neat summary. But the basic idea is simple:

    "every thing and process in nature, including each mind, only exists within the physical instant, the preservation of memories is an effect of the absence of time course..."
    "Past and future situations only rise in the context of minds. They do not ex-ist outside of psyches: outside of minds only present situations occur. Past and fu-ture situations are only imagined, in a simplified way and certainly diversely. In this way – namely, by their being imagined now – their reality is in fact a part of the present situation; in this it exhausts itself. In other words, past and future situa-tions lack any other relevance for extramental reality, since they are neither found, nor do they cause effects, except as assemblages of mental contents envisaged by minds. Thus, all nature is actual only at a given instant, and each present situation determines its own time transformation; nonexistent situations cannot causally de-termine any transformation whatsoever."
    "So no matter whether unmindful or mindful, all realities of nature exist in only one of such intervalically thin instants at a time – “strange interlude in which we call on past and future to bear witness we are living,” as Eugene O’Neill put it"

    The trick is that the present instant or 'now' has a certain thickness. It is not infinitely divisible - Such is the so-called Chrysippus-Newton-Sommerfeld notion of instant, which supposes that the interval-like “thickness” of the present is null.

    Actually the version of Palindrome I linked to doesn't really deal with this! Sorry!!! Only the unpublished version does this.
    Also there is only one now - not lots of nows. As Mario 'explains':
    "Dear Paul,
    Maybe below I forgot to underline, that only one instant exists in timelike-thin nature.
    For ex., the present now is the same one
    it was exactly 3 x 10^17 seconds ago
    (= 300 000 000 000 000 000 sec ago),
    simply internally changed by efficient causality.

    However, the following link does summarize the argument of Palindrome concerning 'consciousness':

    Excuse the diversion. I would like to be able to say the prayer in Aramaic!

  7. I luv the 'pumbing problem'. Could you give us a translation of the whole prayer from the original - if it's not too big an ask.

  8. of course I meant 'plumbing problem'
    Actually it sounds exactly like something G would have said...

  9. ah, but as to this: "Thus, all nature is actual only at a given instant, and each present situation determines its own time transformation; nonexistent situations cannot causally de-termine any transformation whatsoever."

    —the existence of a mind anywhere that conceives of past or a future renders this untrue; for the mind of a sentient being can indeed act as an agent that directs an action consequent to its conception of past or future, and causally determine a present transformation based on what one might call a nonexistent situation.

    one might thus argue that consciousness does an end run around the non-existence of time. Gurdjieff's "using the present to repair the past," etc. what thinkest thou?

  10. Dear Paul,
    Actually my introduction into the possible meanings of the Aramaic (which is a "multivalent' language -- that is, as in sanskrit or ancient written Chinese, a word may have decades of meanings, only narrowed by context) by being given as a gift a slim book called "Prayers Of The Cosmos"
    But in this computer age one can google "The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic" and not only get several differing translations but also sound bites of the prayer; be advised that the closest modern language to Aramaic is Syriac, so that some of the Aramaic phonemes have undergone change. One should find the resonance for oneself... For instance, the term for "Our Father" is transliterated as Abwooon, the AB reflecting the word Abba, meaning "Daddy", the Woo indicating the feminine aspect of the Mother/Creator, and the Asperation of the lengthy Ooon containing the connotation of Immensity, as in the Sanskrit Brahman, pronounced with the accent on the aspiration BrAAAAHman, which also indicates the "Immensity". Good luck. My version has no need of either the trespassing or forgiveness phrases: the request to be kept from evil sufficing for both.
    There is a doxology at the end, but it was added later.
    My own English translation would read something like the following: (remembering each word is multivalent:

    Oh Father/Mother/Breather of All, Thou art Heaven.
    May your name be kept hidden, secret and protected.
    Come, Come, Your Kingdom.
    May your Will which IS heaven reach all the way down to Earth.
    Let us suckle the milk (lachma) we have need of for the day;
    And protect us from Evil,

    Good hunting to you Paul,

  11. Hmm, I wish I had said nothing! This could become wiseacring if I don't keep it real. I was inspired by you post about the now..
    Lee quoted:
    "Thus, all nature is actual only at a given instant, and each present situation determines its own time transformation; nonexistent situations cannot causally de-termine any transformation whatsoever."

    Lee wrote:
    'the existence of a mind anywhere that conceives of past or a future renders this untrue; for the mind of a sentient being can indeed act as an agent that directs an action consequent to its conception of past or future, and causally determine a present transformation based on what one might call a nonexistent situation.'

    I'm not sure I've even got the question!
    And I'm not a disciple of this school - just think of it as the most sophisticated attempt at thinking about psyches I have seen for a long time...
    I guess all I can say is that everthing exists 'inside' the instant, where time does not course.
    Past and future do exist for ensouled beings inside this instant - but they exist now...the past and future and memories exist where time does not pass...the 'past' exists in the present - for us....so it is not 'non-existent' for us.
    We can direct our attention to our memories which exist outside of time's passing.
    Hopefully we can repair the past because it is actually in the present moment.....where else could it be? Except inside the present?
    Ram Dass had it right with the title 'Be here now' - only thing is there is nowwhere else - we can be distracted - but we are still here now!
    The issue for the 'work' is, I think, different.
    When Pauline de Dampierre scolds me for never being 'here' she is referring to something different. An attention that is not dispersed...it's not that hard! Focussed in this moment. Speaking or writing with awareness - perhaps of one's hands on one's kness - or on the keyboard!!!

  12. Lee and Paul,
    The most important aspect for me is that I bicker over reality as it is, cursing that my shoes won't tie properly or that an object falls twice while i attempt to pick it up.
    I do not believe in a "past", only in an Immense Now that contains all and everything. My degrees of freedom are very slight, and yet with more degrees of freedom I cannot even tie a knot. It would simply fall apart, as two objects can co-exist in the same place and" time".

    So I should be grateful for this short period where there is enough resistance for me to "work", as in physics OR the "Work". I can work nowhere else but now, because I carry now with me, and here, because I also carry "here" with me. In eternity all exists as it is; I cannot make changes to it except NOW.

    So easy to be distracted and forget that THIS IS IT. As my Being attracts my life, so my life attracts events to surround it, and only in a vertical manner can I achieve anything like growth of being; not by being "good" or "evil", but by making more depth and breadth out of what I AM. Now, here and within IT. If I miss this moment I have missed all of life, as it slides through my squandering. I must beg, borrow or steal what is needed to come to a greater depth of "being here".

    Thank you both for your help to me, on my own path.--Richard

  13. One small thing. It occurred to me last nite that I should avoid any misunderstanding that awareness exercises should be done all the time. This would certainly make us 'candidates for a mental aslyum' to use G's fine phrase.

    There is a time and place for exercises.
    I guess it's also dangerous - one can fall into the trap of just being 'self-conscious'.
    A lot of the time when cooking, chainsawing (that's me) or swimming we don't consciously place our attention on our anatomy...We allow it to be 'ready to hand' to use Heidegger's term 'Zuhandenheit'. The hammer disappears in being used.....need need to disappear to - like me now!


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