Tag Archives: alan watts

The Present of the Present…

So, it’s another new year, and I’m looking for something new to say.

It’s my favorite holiday. It truly is. But it’s still completely covered with cliches. I mean, really. How are things going with last year’s resolutions? Did you lose that weight? Did you quit smoking?

Maybe you did. But if you did then you are the exception to the rule.

But still we keep trying. So why do we do that?

Why is it that in the face of almost certain failure, we keep resolving to do better? Why do we keep resolving to change?

Because somewhere, deep down, every one of us is starving for a new start.

You can hear it in the modern myths we tell. It’s often repeated as a fact that every 7 or 10 years every cell in our bodies dies and is remade. So every 7 or 10 years we are a completely new person. That isn’t really true, but our desire to make it true speaks to something deep inside of us.

We want a fresh start. We want to wipe the slate clean, set fire to everything, and start again.

All we are looking for is an excuse.

Because somewhere deep down we realize that we are caught in a trap. We are stuck in a loop of clinging to the past, and worry about the future. We are stuck feeling guilty or nostalgic for things that are long gone. And we are stuck feeling hopeful or apprehensive about the future. And we miss out on being where we are.

Alan Watts says it like this, “If my happiness at this moment consists largely in reviewing happy memories and expectations, I am but dimly aware of this present. I shall still be dimly aware of the present when the good things that I have been expecting come to pass. For I shall have formed a habit of looking behind and ahead, making it difficult for me to attend to the here and now. If, then, my awareness of the past and future makes me less aware of the present, I must begin to wonder whether I am actually living in the real world.”

And maybe that is what Jesus keeps trying to get at. If you look at his teachings you will notice a pattern. He says, “Let go of the past…your sins are forgiven.” And he says, “Stop worrying about the future. Today has enough worries of its own.”

In other words, “Be where you are!”

Every breath is New Years Eve! In the moment that you read these words, you are a unique expression of what God is doing with you. May we not miss God’s fingerprints because we are too busy trying to wipe away the smudge. The Kingdom of God is eternal life. And eternity is right here, right now, in this moment. Your past is reconciled. Your sins are forgiven. Your future will worry about itself. God is breathing life into you right now. In this moment. In this instant. If you need a resolution…resolve to be present in the present.

Love is the Word,

-a


it all depends on what your definition of “is” is…

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.”

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” – Philip K. Dick, “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later”

Sitting in my living room is an entertainment armoire.  It is golden pine.  It takes up a certain amount of space.  But wait.  It’s partially pine, but a lot of it is particle board.  On top of that, it has quite a bit of plastic, and metal screws.  On top of that, at the atomic level, it is mostly empty space.  At second thought, it’s a cabinet, so it is mostly empty space anyway.  And really, it’s not so much golden, as it is multiple shades of yellow.  There are also reds and browns.  And when you get right down to it, it’s only an entertainment armoire because I put a TV in it.  If I put it in my basement and filled it with junk it’d just be a storage cabinet.  And while we’re at it, this room is only my living room because it’s where I hang out and watch TV.  It could just as easily be a bedroom.   And it’s “my” because I signed some papers and send the bank some money every month.  It’s more like the bank owns it, and I’m renting to own.

I could go further, but I think you get the idea.  This is one small example of the ways in which our words define our reality.  How does this apply when we talk about God?  How does it apply when we speak of “us” and “them” and anything at all?  When I speak of my entertainment center, the only thing I have a hard time going back on is the fact that it takes up a certain amount of space.  There is something there.  It has qualities that we can discuss.  It has qualities like color and shape and size.  We can discuss them and get a decent picture of the reality of this armoire.  But they can never be the full reality of the cabinet.  A photograph of the Grand Canyon can never convey the reality.  As Alfred Korzybski said, “The map is not the territory.”

Our words about God, or anything else for that matter, while useful in getting the general idea, should never be confused with who God really is.  We each overlay certian ideas to our image of God.  But we must never confuse that with the reality of God.  Alan Watts said, “…a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all.”  The point being that we are clinging to a god that we can control by labeling.  A faith in a true God means that we have to be willing to let go of ideas about Him that turn out not to be true.  This is one of the reasons we have the Holy Spirit, to guide us and correct our ideas and presuppositions.  Beyond that is where the Bible sits.  The Spirit will never tell you anything that contradicts God’s Word.  Study the Word, open your heart and mind to the Spirit, and you will be one step closer to something that doesn’t go away when you stop believing it.

” A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.  Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” – Proverbs 17:27-28