Thursday, January 1, 2015


I call it the ‘porthole experience’ or ‘porthole effect.’

Have you ever been in a cabin on a ship and looked through one of those traditionally circular portholes on the hull of the ship? At any moment in time you see in and through the porthole just a small fragment---and a moving one at that---of reality. Not only that, but what you see at any particular moment in time very quickly disappears from view, and becomes the past, only to be replaced by a new and different fragment of reality. And on it goes.

The porthole experience or effect illustrates that life is constant flux and constant movement. In that regard, it was the American spiritual psychologist Vernon Howard who said, ‘Real life is a timeless renewal in the present moment.’ That’s a great description of the porthole experience. In addition, the porthole experience illustrates that we experience life fragmentally, that is, in and through successive ‘portholes,’ metaphorically speaking.

Here’s a truth. So-called ‘time’ and ‘space,’ which are really one (‘space-time,’ they call it), are all so very relative. They are no more than mediums---more correctly, a single medium---in which all things exist and have their being, and are not 'things' in themselves. Life, however, is ceaseless movement and is essentially timeless and spaceless. Life is whatever happens at any point in time in the medium of spacetime. Here’s another truth. Everything---and I do mean every thing---is contained within ‘the now.’ All duration or time is total and complete in the now. There is an ‘eternal’ quality about the now. It is forever new. And what of the so-called present, past, and future? Are they separate and distinct? Not really. Let me explain.

The so-called present moment has its unfolding in and as the now. The so-called past, in the form of memories, inherited characteristics and tendencies, the so-called karmic consequences of past actions---all that is no more than the expression of a present reality, being a present ‘window link’ to the eternity of the now. It’s the same as respects the so-called future---that is, any ideas about or hopes for the future are present ideas and hopes. 

The omnipresent and ever-present present---what we call the present moment or the now---is simply that which presents itself before us, in and through successive ‘porthole’ experiences, as the now---the Eternal Now, to use a popular expression. So, the present embraces past, present and future. The Christian theologian Paul Tillich says as much in his book The Eternal Now. Tillich writes, 'The mystery of the future and the mystery of the past are united in the mystery of the present. Our time, the time we have, is the time in which we have "presence."' 

The now is the only moment we truly have. The now is the portal---the porthole, if you like---through which we experience the present moment, indeed every moment … but only one moment at a time. Each and every new moment of the day---every day---is a ‘new year,’ so to speak, and it’s a porthole through which we experience the ceaseless flow of life … moment by moment. One porthole experience after the other … then another … and so on. The ‘secret’ of life is to focus your undivided attention and awareness on only the content of the particular porthole. All too often we strain to look back on what was just a moment or so ago the content of our porthole, or we strain to look forward to what is yet to come into view in our porthole. That is not the way to live mindfully. It is living … yes, mindlessly. Life---the experience of the moment---dies on us if we look back or look forward.

To live mindfully means to constantly ‘die’ and ‘rise again’ into newness of life … one porthole experience after another. Most of us tend to drift through life mindlessly, but it need not be like that. We need to be alive to each new ‘porthole’ experience of the present moment.

Happy New Year, everyone!




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