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The Living Room General He probably never was alive
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He probably never was alive
One of my favorite hobbies is being alive.  I get around to it once in a while, not as often as I’d like.

It became immensely easier forty-five years ago or so when an unforgettable guru whose name has slipped my mind told us to “be here now!”  Is this sort of thing done anymore?

Being alive may have fallen out of fashion because it’s not all that easy to do.  Once you discover the difficulty it’s easier to just give the whole thing up, because being embarrassed because you’re so bad at being alive makes you want to not admit what you were trying to do in the first place.

But at my age you’ve had maybe a cumulative hour of being alive, and you can’t help but notice that these six or seven occurrences have had something in common.  

Why, just today I was alive for a little while… and it hit me, bang right over the head!  That guru was wrong.  He probably never was alive.

Forget now.  All he had to tell us is, be Here.

Ok, you think I’m nuts, but just try it next time you happen to be alive.  Time?  I don’t think you’ll feel time.  I don’t.  It’s all place.  Only when you’re not alive is there time.

In one of those acute moods of presence you’re in a place.  All the back stories grow spatial.  In the placement of things is their history.  Everything is in its place because of what has happened to it.  You know exactly what has happened to it because of its shape, its character and where it is.  And you too, are no exception—here because of who you are.

If time, then no love.  Things? things are capable of love as well as we are… we realize that they love when there is only place… in love when they leave time to appear in place, and can only be loved by us there, in return.

Lets not ask what’s so compelling about time?  We won’t ask why such status?  Not, why we feel we have to progress away from here.

Lets share something about how it feels being alive… how we do it, the mood of it, how it feels not to be alive, if it bothers us to spend so much time not alive, etc.  You know… guy talk.
Dr. Richard Alpert,  Ram Dass,  was and is very much alive. He worked in death and dying counseling for awhile: very "be here now" don't you think.  Having recovered from a stroke and written another book he continues to enjoy the present on tropical sands in Hawaii.
It seems that you are more likely referencing "Don Juan".
Me too - I love being alive, and I've blown off what I was "supposed" to be doing many times for the opportunity.  It's true that "now" is irrelevant, because "now" is going on all the time.

What comes to mind is the "now" I was supposed to spend at an important seminar in a windowless room lit by fluorescents, and ended up instead six feet across from an angry Bengal tiger, the roar rumbling my chest with bits of foam spraying at my face.  "Where" made a huge difference then. Had I been where I was supposed to be, that tiger would have been like the tree falling in the woods, but because I was there, he woke me up.

Perhaps this is not such a great example though, because the majority of my alive places have been so much quieter.  The one thing most have in common though is that they're usually free of other humans.  Hence the one time I did meet the late Richard at the Manhattan loft of a friend, neither he nor I seemed much alive, and I found it odd that he had a circle of admirers in his gravity field.  I didn't know who he was, and for some reason he reminded me of Jack - the beanstalk guy.  In any case - I'm pretty sure he's not alive now, but that goes into a different realm of discussion.

As to being alive . . .
I like this quote:  "go out of your mind, and come to your senses"

Being alive is a kinesthetic, olfactory, mindless place of flavour.  The one time I became suddenly alive in the midst of the human soup it was as though my skin dissolved and all of the garbage, cheap stores, winos, etc, of early 80s downtown was all me, melted all together, yet clear.

Most of my aliveness is not so spectacular, not worth recounting to others, yet somehow more important.  It just happens somehow while I'm doing ordinary things.  Everything dissolves, becomes brighter, smells become like food that permeates me, the outside pours into me in a soft flooding sort of way.  I know I'm not describing it well.  It's better not to give it too much attention anyway, because the moment the mind gets involved, it's pretty much over.
Celery, yes… the name wasn’t coming to me.  Ram Das.

Rhea,

Most of my aliveness is not so spectacular, not worth recounting to others, yet somehow more important.  It just happens somehow while I'm doing ordinary things.  Everything dissolves, becomes brighter, smells become like food that permeates me, the outside pours into me in a soft flooding sort of way…
well said!  You also say, I know I'm not describing it well.  Actually, the precipitous drop in my excitement with your disclaimer, it highlighted how well you did say it Rhea.  Your light flooding into you, and with it mine into me, present in reading.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Do you think we would welcome the change if suddenly we could have as our own the time-and-place experiences of someone else, their actual experiences?  If intuition grew so able that we could virtually be each other, perhaps even, inconceivably, actually.  If I grew able to experience the whole cloth of, say, you Rhea when you see someone’s skin dimple with the tip of an acupuncture needle you’re next pulse will push through.  Or if you could experience the how of what it is when this being who answers to Ted sees, hears, smells and feels a sharp chisel lift a microscope ready thin slice of wood, the living thing beneath on its way to being an artifact of human endeavor, the joy of that little movement with the wrists and fingers? 

With such a fundamental change in human capability the joy we have in bridging the gulfs between us would evaporate.  My spirit wouldn’t have raised an airy notch when I tried to convey the experience of carving wood.

These words we use, our languages get their magic; it seems, through their ability to approximate.  Not a part of Rhea’s experience, something can rise from proximity to it across space and time to reach proximity to Ted’s place of time.  Not actual experiences, these approximations we call language have value for us because they are inherently less.  Language based, we suffer because without the suffering of separation there would be no love or closing of distance.

Do we gain, the question becomes, because we, in fact, are incapable of communicating experience directly and truly? 

Art would lose its purpose. 

What function does pointing to have?  Certainly, pointing to is a vital part of ourselves.  No matter how many gifts I give to you, you won’t feel the love for you that my gifts mean unless I point to it with some kind of artful expression that means the same thing. 

That meanings don’t exist manifestly, that they come in the act of pointing out--the deficiency seems to be our biggest treasure. 

What weight would “be here now” carry without our clumsiness at life? 

Your words indeed gave me a sense of the how of you.  Separated by a continent we are unified because we are separated by even more, much, much more.  We aren’t always, and never, I guess completely, alive, none of us.  Each and every one of us has this yearning to be real that is somehow more urgent than the experiences we NEED to communicate.  And that is why we speak.

But speaking is never enough.  Speaking bridges.  But bridges need a void to cross.  The pain we have at not being able to live, our emotional selves must honor, even love it—the more so, the more poignant our needles and chisels.
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Latest Post: December 11, 2010 at 4:22 PM
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