Tuesday, April 29, 2014


‘To escape the self-trap, to be sane and decent and awake
and whole — that is all that matters.’ Vernon Howard.

You are the problem---on every occasion. Yes, you---and me for that matter. So, what is the problem, you may ask? Well, it can be any problem whatsoever, but the real problem is what the American spiritual teacher Vernon Howard [pictured left] referred to as the ‘self-trap.’ Please read this piece of wisdom from Mr Howard:

‘The attempt to escape a problem is the problem. There is logic in this. When a man tries to escape, when he moves away from the problem, he divides himself into one man with a problem, and another man who will escape the problem. In reality, there is no such division, so the escape must always fail, as the man sadly experiences. But, when seeing he is the problem itself, that he and his problem are one, he stops trying to escape because he sees there is no other course. In this state of intelligent acknowledgement of reality, he will not have the problem.’

I often explain it this way. In each of us there are many selves, and they are all false—false in the sense that they are not the real person each one of us is. When we ‘have’ (an unfortunate word in this context) a problem, there is the ‘self that wants to escape the problem,’ and there are many other selves in our mind as well, including the ‘self that doesn’t want to escape the problem,’ as well as the ‘self that thinks it will escape the problem,’ and the ‘self that thinks it knows how to escape the problem.’ None of these selves have any power in and of themselves, none of them can rise above their own level, and many of the selves militate, and even fight, against other selves in our mind. You need to understand that all of these selves are simply mental images in our brains. They wax and wane, they come and go, they vary in felt intensity from moment to moment, but they are all transitory, temporary and for that reason illusory. None of these selves are separate or independent from the real person each one of us is. In his book Esoteric Mind Power Vernon Howard writes about what he calls the ‘self-divided man’ who ‘consists of dozens of "selves" which fight each other in taking him over for a few minutes at a time.’ Howard writes:

'Living in a state of psychic riot, he is thrilled one minute and dejected the next. One part of him is a danger to another part. So what can be trusted? Nothing. The self-knowing man has cleared his mental streets of these rioters, leaving him with a whole and healthy mind, which can be trusted completely.'

Let’s say you have an anger problem. There is anger in you, so to speak, but the reality is you are angry because you have so identified yourself with the ‘self that is angry’ and the ‘self that wants to be [and stay] angry’ that you have become at-one with the anger. You and the problem are one in that special sense and, as the onetime Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple pointed out, ‘no effort of the self can remove the self from the centre of its own endeavour.’ Many others have said more-or-less the same thing. A couple of centuries earlier the French Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian, poet and writer François Fénelon wrote, 'The entire root of your problem is that you cannot get out of yourself,' and many more centuries earlier Jesus said, 'I can of mine own self do nothing' (Jn 5:30). Truth is truth. It never changes. It cannot change. If it could it wouldn't be truth. 

The reason 'self can't change self' (and therefore can't solve the fundamental problem of self) is simple---the ‘self that wants to escape an unwanted self’ is the same thing as the ‘self that thinks it will escape the unwanted self,’ the ‘self that thinks it knows how to escape the unwanted self,’ and the ‘self that doesn’t want to escape the unwanted self,’ and all the other damn selves as well. All of these selves are false and powerless---they're just mere images in our mind. The trouble is, we believe in them and act as if they were real. Now read what Krishnamurti [pictured below right], the Indian spiritual philosopher, has to say about this dilemma:

'I am angry, is that anger different from me? Me, the observer, who says "I am angry." Or that anger is part of me. It seems so simple. No? And when I realize that, that the observer is the observed, that the anger which I recognize is part of me, not something apart, then what am I to do with that anger? I am not separate from that anger. I am anger.'

Dr Norman Vincent Peale wrote, 'There needs to be a shift in emphasis from self to non-self,' but how is that to be achieved given that self can't change self? Clearly, a major paradigm shift is needed---but how? (First, don't ask 'how.') The good news is that you, the person that you are, has power to change---when you see yourself as you really are, when you make a decision that you really want to live differently, and when you are prepared to ‘drop,’ so to speak, your strong identification with your false self or selves. Krishnamurti would often say, ‘Stop trying to escape from the fact of yourself.’ You can’t do it, but when you drop the false, that is, see the false as false, and stop hanging onto and identifying with the false, the real is revealed. In the case of anger, for example, you need to observe the anger without recognition---without even using the word anger, which is a form of recognition.

Self-observation is the answer. You need to see yourself as you really are, without identifying in any way with any of your multitude of selves, thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, or actions. Do not judge or condemn yourself. Be impartial and objective, and simply observe without reaction and identification. Only in this way will you, the person that you are, be able to deliver the person that you are from the bondage or burden of the problem of the false self. You, the person who has chosen to be at-one with the ‘self that is [and wants to stay] angry,’ and various other mischievous selves as well, must come to see clearly that all such selves are false… no matter how much attention, identification, and recognition you have given them in the past.

Vernon Howard would often say, ‘You don’t have to create your deliverance, your freedom. You can have it, right now. It’s there for you, right now. Who has bound you? Claim your deliverance and freedom, right now!’ All that is needed, on your part, is what Mr Howard refers to as a ‘state of intelligent acknowledgement of reality.’

I will finish with this. 'No self. No problem,' said the Zen master when asked to explain the deeper meaning of Buddhism


Monday, April 28, 2014


There is a Zen story that goes like this. ‘Master, how do I enter Zen?’ asked the pupil. ‘Do you hear the sound of that little mountain steam?’ asked the master. ‘Yes, I do,’ replied the pupil. ‘Enter Zen from there,’ said the master. 

The pupil then thought for a while about what the master had said to him, before eventually saying to the master, ‘Master, I’ve been thinking … What if I had said I couldn’t hear the mountain stream? … What would you have said then?’ 

‘Disciple?’ said the master. ‘Yes, master?’ said the pupil. ‘Enter Zen from there,’ replied the master.

‘Enter Zen from there.’ What wisdom there is in those four English words!

If you ask, ‘What is Zen,’ you should not expect an answer---certainly not an answer that says something definite and intelligible to the conscious, rational intellect. You see, Zen is something inherently indescribable. Words fail to explain it or exhaust its meaning. However, if the Zen story set forth above says anything, it says this---Zen is to be experienced in the real and the ‘concrete’ as opposed to the abstract. 

In Western religion the Ultimate ('God,' if you wish) is sometimes referred to as Pure Being or something like that---a very abstract idea. In Eastern religion the Ultimate---Zen, the Tao---is more like Pure Be-ing-ness/Living-ness of life itself experienced as real, living things---something (actually, 'no-thing') much more concrete. Get the idea? (If you do, you can explain it to me. Just kidding.) In Western religion the Ultimate creates by making. In Eastern religion the Ultimate creates (not quite the right word here) by 'not-making.' The Tao, the very essence of life, is something growing and evolving. It is forever dynamic and not static. It must be found in the everyday things of life---for example, in the sound of a mountain stream, or in the absence of any such sound, or in those inexplicable and gratuitously unfair things of life such as the death of one of your children.

The Chinese refer to this Ultimate as wu-wei---wu (mu in Japanese) meaning ‘not’ or ‘non-’ and wei action, doing, striving, making, and busyness. So, wu-wei refers to a state of mind that is characterized by ‘non-graspingness’ or ‘non-strivingness.’ It is not so much non-action, non-doing, or not-doing, but the ‘action of non-action.’ It is a mindset that is totally and openly accepting of what is, of what unfolds from one moment to the next. It is a mind which is constantly moving, both spontaneously and effortlessly, with and in response to changes that occur both inside and outside the mind. It is a mindset that is not fixed on any particular object.

Both Zen and mindfulness have each been described as the ‘method of no method.’ Each is the ‘technique of no technique.’ (All so-called methods or techniques are forms of brainwashing by some other person. They are means of control and subjugation, as Krishnamurti [pictured below] often said. Avoid them. Eschew them.) Living mindfully requires no method or technique as such. You just do ‘it,’ whatever the ‘it’ may be … mindfully. You just drop your attachments---and look and observe choicelessly.

Do you want to know the 'secret to life'? Well, start with this. There is no secret to life, and no ‘way’ or ‘path’ to Truth other than the moment-to-moment direct and immediate and unmediated experience of life itself as it unfolds from one moment to the next. 

Yes, the so-called ‘meaning’ (such an ugly word!) of life is to be found in the living of your days, in the very livingness of life itself. You will not find true meaning in anything or anyone other than in the real and concrete things of life. Those things include, of course, human relationships which can be quite meaningful. The intangible is to be found in the tangible. Indeed, the intangible and the tangible are one and the same. The extraordinary is to be found in the ordinary. Again, they are one and the same.

So, look for the Ultimate in the so-called ordinary things of life and nature---yes, in the everyday things of life, whatever they may be. Forget all about striving, straining, doing, and making. Most importantly, forget all about grasping and clinging. Instead, live mindfully, spontaneously, and effortlessly.

Calligraphy: (top left) mu [not, nothing, no-thing]; (below) mindfulness.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Now, please stand to attention ... and give me your full attention. Alright, can I ask for your 'bare attention'? 'What the hell is that?', I hear you ask. Well, let me explain. This post is all about mindfulness and, more specifically, a most important element involved in mindfulness called 'bare attention.' (No, not 'bear' attention, or 'bare' [as in 'barenaked'] attention, just bare attention. Stop being frivolous, Ellis-Jones.)

Let's begin. For what it's worth, my own definition of mindfulness goes something like this:

Mindfulness is the watchfulreceptive, deliberate, and purposeful presence of bare attention to, and choiceless awareness of, the content of the action (both internal and external) of the present moment … from one moment to the next.

The word ‘presence’ refers to both physical and psychological presence---of you, your body, and your mind. 'Watchful' presence means that there you are very much aware that you're aware of what is going on in and about you, and this alert and open awareness of your actual awareness proceeds deliberatelypurposefully, and receptively on your part. I will speak about ‘bare attention’ in this post. In at least one previous post I have written about the meaning of those words ‘choiceless [i.e. non-judgmental] awareness.’ I use the word ‘content’ because it is ‘content’---in terms of our personal experiences of actual occurrences of things in space and time---of which we are aware and to which we ought to give clear and single-minded attention.

That content may be internal (eg thoughts, feelings, mental images, as well as bodily sensations and the like) or external (sounds, sights, etc), and, as I say, we are talking about the content of actual events be they internal or external or as is almost invariably the case a mixture of both of those things. And it is action in the present moment; thus the recollection of some memory of a past event is a present ‘now’ experience. It is always experience in the present moment. However, as we all know, the present moment is ever so elusive and ephemeral. Life is a constant flow, and never static, and so we speak of the action of the present moment from one moment to the next.

Now, what do we mean by ‘bare attention’? One of the best books ever written on meditation, and insight meditation (or mindfulness) in particular, is The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, by the German-born Sri-Lanka-ordained Theravada monk, Nyanaponika Thera [pictured]. Before I go any further I need to make it perfectly clear that you don’t have to be into Buddhism to practise the type of meditation I write about on my blog. Not at all. Indeed, you don’t have to be religious at all. (Perhaps it helps not to be. Only kidding.)

Anyway, all you need is a purposively open mind---and, most importantly, a mind that is curious and receptive to whatever is happening in your moment-to-moment experience of daily life. And, after all, is it not self-evident that it helps to be purposefully alert, receptive, and attentive to what is going on in and about us? Whenever I mention that I'm into mindfulness some people immediately think of yellow robes, gurus, transcendental states of consciousness, mind-altering drugs, alternative medicine, alternative spirituality, out-of-body experiences, escapism, and just plain wackiness. Mindfulness is none of those things. Mindfulness is simply going about your daily, everyday life---with your eyes wide open and your mind open, curious and engaged. Got that? Then please never forget it---and pass the word around.

Back to Nyanaponika Thera. In his book The Heart of Buddhist Meditation the venerable monk and teacher defines, or rather describes, bare attention in these words:

Bare attention is the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception. It is called ‘bare’, because it attends just to the bare facts of a perception as presented either through the five physical senses or through the mind which, for Buddhist thought, constitutes the sixth sense. When attending to that sixfold sense impression, attention or mindfulness is kept to a bare registering of the facts observed, without reacting to them by deed, speech or by mental comment which may be one of self-reference (like, dislike, etc), judgement or reflection. … [original emphasis]

Now, I can hear you asking, ‘But what if I find myself wandering in thought, or starting to form some liking or disliking of the content of the experience---a reaction, in other words?’ Well, Nyanaponika Thera gives this advice:

If during the time, short or long, given to the practice of Bare Attention, any such comments arise in one’s mind, they themselves are made objects of Bare Attention, and are neither repudiated nor pursued, but are dismissed, after a brief mental note has been made of them.

One of way of doing the latter---and perhaps the simplest and least intrusive way---is simply to say, ‘Thinking, thinking,’ or ‘feeling, feeling,’ or something like that. In other words, any noting should be brief and perfunctory. Now, for heaven’s sake, never try to actively expel the thought, feeling, or whatever. Remember the law of non-resistance? Whatever you resist, persists. Be gentle, and use indirect means. Just ‘note’ and gently---yes, gently, indeed ever so gently---bring your mind back to a state of clear and single-minded awareness of what is otherwise happening in and around you. Observe each thought or feeling as it arises---then let it fade out in its natural manner ... as it always will, provided you don't resist it or get 'carried away' by and with it. 

One more bit of useful advice from Nyanaponika Thera. (Note. He has much more to say about the matter in his book. Please get a copy of it. I think it will help you immeasurably.) Your bare attention should not only be clear and single-minded, it should also consist in a ‘bare and exact registering of the object [of your moment-to-moment experience].’ In other words, let your concern be solely with registering---with passive detachment and objectivity---the facticity and actuality of things-as-they-really-are as they unfold from one moment to the next. Do not personalize this. Just watch and observe, as if it all were happening to someone else (that is, as if you have no personal connection with whatever you observe). That is not an easy thing to do, as we are all so accustomed to labeling, judging, interpreting, analyzing, and otherwise commenting upon things-as-they-happen. The inevitable result? We lose direct and immediate contact with reality. We are no longer with ‘it,’ so to speak. We are some place else. That is certainly not the best way to live. We all know that from personal experience. So, don't dwell upon or otherwise cling to thoughts and feelings. Let them fade out in their natural manner.

Only when we live mindfully, with bare attention, can we truly be said to be living in the 'now,' experiencing life right as it happens, so to speak. Sure, there is a place for labeling, judging, interpreting, analyzing, and otherwise commenting upon things-as-they-happen---but not every second or few seconds. That is not the way to go. Bare attention means being and living attentively, receptively, and purposefully in the so-called present moment ... for moments pass. As I write this, THIS (now past) moment has already gone forever …never to return. Such is life.

By the way, Nyanaponika Thera had this to say in his book about mindfulness. He said that mindfulness---the 'method of no-method'---provides 'the most simple and direct, the most thorough and effective, method for training and developing the mind for its daily tasks and problems.' That's what you really want---or at least need---isn't it? If so, please forget about costly, gimmicky and trademarked forms or so-called 'techniques' (oh, how I hate that word) of meditation, and go for the most simple, direct, and natural means available and proceed to apply it to your entire life. You see, mindfulness takes meditation---in the true sense and meaning of the word---and then applies it to one's whole life.

Happy bare-attentioning, everyone!


Friday, April 18, 2014


First, let me tell you what I can’t and don’t believe about Easter. I don’t believe that Jesus literally and bodily rose from dead. I like what the now retired but ever-iconoclastic and controversial Anglican bishop Dr David Jenkins [pictured left] said about that idea. He called the notion ‘a conjuring trick with bones.’ How wickedly funny! 

I do, however, know this---Jesus rose spiritually from the tomb. Punishment and death could not destroy the power of his personality and his spirit and his message. Jesus lives today, not so much in the lives of those who purport to follow him (most of whom show little or no resemblance in their daily lives to Jesus at all), but in the lives of those persons, the bulk of whom would not want to label themselves as Christians, who give constantly of themselves to others in practical service and self-sacrifice so that the troubles of suffering humanity might be relieved.

I now want to say a few words about what I refer to as the ‘macro and micro’ of the Easter story.

In a previous post I have written about the ‘macro’ of Easter, namely, that the Crucifixion is an 'object lesson' and acted parable or dramatization of the ongoing cosmic sacrifice---the self-limitation (crucifixion) of life itself---in which the spirit of life, the one absolute reality which antecedes all manifested things, ever descends into matter, ever offers itself, and ever gives of itself to itself in manifestation, so that life, in all of its multiplicity of forms, may be perpetuated. It is a mystery. It is a wonder. It is divine. What a tragic and terrible thing it is that conventional, mainstream Christianity has so totally literalized and carnalized this truly sublime myth, distorting---even destroying---its true meaning.

Now, the ‘micro’ of Easter. Easter, as we all know, is about dying and rising again. The end of every day is a ‘death’ of sorts. It is gone forever. Now, that is a very good thing, for if it were not to happen there could be no tomorrow. Every new day is a rising of sorts. But it’s even deeper than that. Every new moment is a new beginning---a resurrection of life. We must constantly ‘die’ and ‘rise again’ into newness of life.  Most importantly, we must die to self each moment of the day if we wish to be free from the bondage of self. I have often said that we are in bondage to self. All our problems result from that. Freedom lies in constantly dying to self and being resurrected into newness of life. No, not even Jesus can do that for you, despite what some misguided people may have told you. You, and you alone, must do ‘it’ for yourself. You, the person among persons that you are, can and must break the bondage of self---the prison-house of self you have made for yourself---if you want to really become the real person you were destined to be.

May you be resurrected into newness of life this Easter.


Friday, April 11, 2014


‘But how can I be constantly aware?’ a student said to me the other day. ‘Surely that’s impossible---not to mention very tiring!’

He’s right, you know. Yet so many books on mindfulness and meditation generally talk about the need to be constantly aware. For example, Krishnamurti wrote, 'True meditation is constant awareness, constant pliability, and clear discernment.' But how is that possible? Well, it’s not. It’s just a manner of speaking, so to speak. We must look beyond the words, as Krishnamurti would also say. ‘The word is not the thing,’ he often said. Good advice, that.

The fifth international president of the Theosophical Society, of which I am a member, was a very spiritual and enlightened man---N Sri Ram [pictured left]. He wrote much that I have found to be both inspiring and very practical. In one of his writings Sri Ram addressed the very matter I’m talking about now, namely, this idea of 'constant awareness.' He wrote:

At the same time it is not possible to be turning the attention to what passes in our minds all the hours of the waking day. We would find it too fatiguing, the attention would wander, just as when we try to meditate on a particular theme. To be constantly aware is a manner of speaking. When you try to meditate or contemplate something, you will find that the mind wanders off within a minute or two, and exactly the same thing happens when you try to pay attention to your thinking. This difficulty was put to Krishnamurti, and in one of his talks he replied, ‘play with it,’ that is, take it easy. He also lays stress on non-effort, that means it has to be done easily and pleasantly. …

Sri Ram goes on to refer to so-called constant awareness as simply the immediate perception of something taking place. ‘We have to become so sensitive that as soon as something takes place, whether outside or inside ourselves, we immediately perceive it, like a well-trained musician who becomes conscious of a false note as soon as it is struck. … This requires a certain sensitivity, without which one will not be aware.’

I have often written about the need for non-effort. ‘Resist not’ is the great wisdom of the ages. When we resist (something), there is an immediate loss of immediate perception. Straightaway we embark upon translation, interpretation, analysis, judgment, and condemnation. Meditation, wrote Sri Ram, requires a mind 'completely denuded of all previous ideas and knowledge.' Whenever there is translation, interpretation, analysis, judgment or condemnation, the 'past'---in the form of beliefs, conditioning, ideas, values, and so forth---is at work, and we are then no longer in the now. So, let any thoughts or feelings that arise fade out in their natural manner. Don't dwell upon or otherwise cling to them in any way.

The essence of mindfulness is the immediate perception of what is, from one moment to the next. The content of that which is perceived may be outside or inside ourselves. It will always be an uneven mixture of both. So be it. Such is the flow of life. Stay with it. Be with it … and live. Mindfully.




Sunday, April 6, 2014


There are many interpretations of this piece of Zen wisdom. Here’s my take on it---but first a few words on the mind and the brain.

The materialist view that asserts that the mind and the brain are one and the same---the so-called mind-brain identity theory is wrong ... very wrong. Recent discoveries in neuroscience as respects the mind and the brain, and in quantum physics as respects the nature of reality, have shown that the mind and the brain are not co-extensive or identical, and that mind or consciousness is the creator and governor of so-called matter. 

Now, the brain uses the mind---to think, feel, and so on---but the mind is ‘larger’ (for want of a better word) than the brain. The brain is infused with mind, as are all parts of the human body. Mind exists outside of and even beyond the brain. Mind is consciousness, and there is mind wherever there is life in any shape or form. The brain is a physical object that can be seen by the eye. It is perceptible by the senses, and like all material objects it has size, weight, and form. Not so the mind, which has no parts. The mind is non-physical, immaterial, and spiritual. (A 'spiritual' substance is something which, although real, is not perceptible by the senses. We only know 'it' by its effects.) The brain perishes with the human body. Not so mind, which is the very essence and substance of life itself. Life is forever changing shape and form, but life itself is indestructible.

In a sense, we have no mind at all. That means there is no mind to calm. So, what exactly are we---each one of us? Well, each of us is a centre---an inlet and an outlet---of consciousness from which all things are a matter of observation. We are made up of ‘mind-stuff’ and awareness or consciousness is the ‘stuff’ or very ground of our being. Yes, you have a body, but you are not that body. You experience sensations in your body, but you are not those sensations. You have a brain, but you are not that brain. You have thoughts, but you are not those thoughts. (Note. I didn't say, 'you think thoughts.' It is thought that creates the supposed 'thinker,' but neither thought nor the thinker has any permanence.) You have emotions, feelings and desires, but you are not those emotions, feelings or desires. All those 'things' are impermanent and insubstantial. So, what are you? You are that in you that lives and moves and has its be-ing in and as you. You are the impersonal, and you are the personal. You are your be-ing.  Life is be-ing, and its be-ing is your be-ing.

Mind is be-ing, or rather be-ing-ness, and only that is permanent. Mind is the All-in-All, overall all and through all. We are immersed in mind. We have our very be-ing in mind. Mind is infinite. Any attempt to find it will fail. Mind is life, and life is consciousness. Mind within you is the only presence there is. It is the ‘silent voice’ that speaks into visibility all the life there is. Mind---your ‘I Am-ness’---is what is, and that is what in truth you are.

There is no need to calm your mind. For starters, where is your mind? Can you find it? You cannot calm it---or for that matter do anything else with it---unless you can first locate it.

In the Zen exchange set out above the master does the only thing any teacher or so-called guru really can do. The master manages to get the pupil to have an enlightening experience in which the pupil comes to ‘see,’ know and understand for himself … perhaps for the very first time. Here, the master successfully leads the pupil to experience, in that Zen direct intuitive way, the fact that he (the pupil) has no mind to calm. All the pupil---and all of us for that matter---has to do is to … BE CALM. 

Stop looking for your mind. Stop analyzing and judging the contents of what you take to be your mind. And stop identifying with those contents as if they were you, the person among persons that you are. Do you want to be calm? If so, practise calmness. Practise stillness. Practise quietness. Practise silence. You see, the very truth of your be-ing is calmness, stillness, quietness, and silence. A good way to start---and finish for that matter---is to get the body calm. Yes, the body. If the body is calm, you will soon be calm. Be still ... and know.

That is all you have to do. It sounds too amazing to be true, but truth is always like that.

There, you see, I’ve calmed your mind already.

Calligraphy: Mushin---'empty mind.'





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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and
tomorrow is today's dream.
And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still
dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which
scattered the stars into space.
  ---Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.

Kahlil Gibran [pictured right] speaks of the ‘timeless,’ but what is that? Well, there is a state of mind or consciousness that is timeless in the sense of being beyond time. This timeless state is more than a state of mind for in a very real sense it is a state of ‘no-mind’ or ‘no-mindedness.’ The mind dwells on nothing, stops on nothing. It just is. The mind has even gone beyond awareness---that is, awareness of ‘things’ as such---although there is an awareness of awareness itself. Gibran refers to this awareness as ‘that which sings and contemplates in you.’ It is the self-knowing mind out of which all things came, that which fashioned and brought matter into existence. It still does. The mind that is aware that it is aware is the self-knowing, creative mind. It observes, explores, but never stays or stops. Some call this ‘Presence’ the Eternal Now, and that is not a bad turn of phrase at all.

Time is a scale we have created to ‘divide’ the occurrence of happenings into so-called past, present, and future. At best it is not a thing in itself (like a flower or a bus is a thing) but rather a medium in which all things exist and have their being. Space and time---they're really one---are largely 'tools' of the mind, with time in particular being a most ‘relative’ construct. The truth is we live both in time and eternity.

Eternity is a big word. Christian preachers talk about eternity as if it were something we ‘enter’ when we die, but the truth is we are ‘in’ (that is, immersed) in eternity right now. In a sense, we live out our existence in both time and eternity. For the most part, the difference lies in the quality of life being experienced by us. For example, when we are anxiously waiting for the expected occurrence of some future event we are existing---note, I didn’t say living---in time. When we are bound up in attachments and addictions we are also existing in time. But when we are truly and fully present in the Now, then we are living---yes, living---in eternity. Wow! What a difference there is!

Life is ceaseless movement and constant flux even though in and of itself life is timeless and spaceless and unchanging. Unchanging, yet forever changing. Nothing moves yet nothing stands still. What a paradox! Everything---and I mean every thing---is contained within ‘the Now.’ All time is total and complete---that is, has its fulfilment---in the Now. There is an eternal quality about the Now, for the Now is forever new. What we somewhat ambiguously call ‘the present’ is simply that content---occurrences, both internal and external, in space-time---which presents itself before us in consciousness in and as the Now. That is why Gibran speaks about the present embracing the past, the so-called present, and the future. The Eternal Now is that ‘present’---yes, it's a problematic word---which is forever renewing and re-presenting itself in and as each new moment. This Eternity supersedes time itself. In other words, there is a ‘present’ beyond the ‘present,’ but if you try to 'chase' the next present you will fail. Everything is---here now! Life is eternal, and we are in eternity now. Few people know that. Few people are truly alive. Most lead ‘lives of quiet desperation’ (to use Thoreau’s turn of phrase).

If quantum mechanics has shown us anything---and it has shown us plenty---it has shown that consciousness or mind is fundamental, eternal and all-creative, and that what we call mass, together with what we refer to as matter, is derivative, being constructed wholly from the interactions between massless---yes, that’s right, massless---elementary particles. Those massless elementary particles constitute the ‘innerness’ of all physical things, even so-called inert matter. I am not referring to some omnipotent creator God prior to and 'above' (whatever that means) time. Quantum mechanics appears to provide no support for any such hypothesis or religious belief, but it does provide enormous support for the proposition that mind or consciousness is both fundamental and all-pervasive, that is, that mind or consciousness constitutes the fundamental undifferentiated nature of reality.

So-called matter is a derived aspect of a process of reality that is, in essence, insubstantial. That seems to be where the discoveries of quantum mechanics are leading us, and it is all very exciting. The philosophy of materialism (or 'physicalism'), in its traditional and uncompromising strictness, with its central notion of the existence of solid material stuff independent of mind, is now a very damaged philosophical and metaphysical position. One might even say ‘discredited’ or ‘demolished,’ but I am trying to be kind. You see, I am still an Andersonian realist when it comes to teaching the law and logic, especially when explaining to my students what are 'facts' (namely, occurrences in space-time) and how facts are related to other facts (that is, facts always exist in spatio-temporal situations). The findings of quantum mechanics do not disturb any of that. You see, I have slowly come to the view---everything comes slowly to me----that idealism and realism are not in conflict at all, indeed they need each other.

Be that as it may, classical materialism---together with classical ‘static’ physics in terms of three-dimensional substances---belongs to a pre-quantum world. Materialism asserts that all of reality is reducible to matter and its interactions. Really? Thanks to quantum mechanics we now know---yes, know---that the universe is a single gigantic field of energy and that so-called matter is a 'slowed down' form of energy. Some quantum physicists refer to this energy as 'light’ (cf the Biblical metaphor of God as light [1 Jn 1:5]), with the purest ‘form’ of this energy or light being wave forms of probability existing within an infinite field of probabilitiesWe are immersed in a world of largely indeterminate flux (‘mind stuff,’ or ‘dream stuff’ in the words of the Polish-American physicist Wojciech Zurek [pictured left]) consisting of seemingly endless possible actions and a quantum field of potentialities. 

That's not all. What emerges from that quantum field depends to a very large degree upon---consciousness! Yes, mind or consciousness is primary and fundamental, ‘the creator and governor of matter’ (in the words of that great English physicist of yesteryear Sir James Jeans). Consciousness is an essential quality or characteristic—if not the defining one---of the quantum field … at least in potentiality. That is, consciousness may well be the ‘thing’ (that is, process) that produces so-called material reality from the quantum ‘dream stuff’ of potentiality. No wonder the great New Thought teacher and writer of yesteryear Dr Emmet Fox wrote, ‘Life is a state of consciousness.’ He said:

I believe the whole of existence is a state of consciousness in the Mind of God, being re-created perhaps a billion times a second. We might compare it to the electric sign with moving lights. It seems as if the light were travelling around the sign but we know that is an illusion caused by the each bulb lighting up in turn for a fraction of a second---what we might call metaphysically ‘flashes of consciousness.’ The same thing is true with motion pictures. The actors seem to move, but actually the movies are a series of still pictures.

Needless to say, the 'MInd of God' to which Dr Fox refers is very different from the traditional concept of God. (Thank God for that!) 

There is an eternal motion---the Now---of which each of us is a part, that never stops … not even for a nanosecond. Each of us, at the quantum level, is a frequency of consciousness, and there is something very timeless yet veridical about that. And, as Gibran writes, the timeless in one person is the timeless in every other person and thing. It was ‘there’ even before the beginning of time, it was ‘there’ when it scattered the stars into space, and it will be ‘there’ long after you and I have ceased to exist as conscious centres of life’s self-awareness.

Live that truth as the awe-inspiring truth that it verily is.