“Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future and time future contained in time past.” These are the opening words of T. S. Eliot’s poem “First Quartet”, a strange and mystical religious poem. I have the first section memorized and may deliver it at our next Open Mic at our UU church: “What’s he talking about?” Ah, but I digress.

What I meant to mention here is an editorial review of Eckhart Tolle’s book, “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” on Amazon. Thanks, Chris Davis, for bringing this to our attention.

The author shares ideas about personal integration with uncommon eloquence and a deep understanding of the human condition. Our true identity is in our moment-to-moment experiences rather than in our past or future. Concern about anything but the present is an unhealthy identification with the mind that can only cause pain and an illusion of control. Being totally aware of ourselves in each moment actually requires little effort or direction if we stop our thoughts long enough to find the pure consciousness that exists in the gaps between them. These ideas will be radical for most Westerners, but they are so smoothly elucidated that almost all seekers of inner truth will find something of value in the program. T.W. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine– Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine –This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

But there is a problem, as I see it, perhaps a paradox. How can one plot and plan for projects in the future, project ahead as it were to what the project would accomplish, how it would function, etc., unless one steps out of the present moment in this process?

Another baffling paradox? “A most ingeniuos paradox, ah ha ha, ha ha, ha ha ha!”, sang a character from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

  1. barbara’s avatar

    Hi Mardé,
    I never took Philosophy 101 in college, but… I do think that we need all time references to be a full person.
    Yeah, I can’t put aside the future… Live today and of course, plan tomorrow !
    See you later, Mardé :)

  2. Mardé’s avatar

    Hi barbara,

    I never took Philosophy 101 either, and I agree we need a lot of aspects of time to function in the world. But I can also see that ignoring the moment to moment experiences would be a mistake too. What’s the way out of the dilema?

    Thanks, barbara, (I use small letter on “b” because that’s the way you use it:) for your message!

    Cheers, Mardé :-)

  3. chris davis’s avatar

    Hi Mardi-
    One plans for the future in the NOW; issues arise when we think about, project our want for results in, and grasp for the future, taking up precious now. If you think about it, how often do we think about the past, think about the future? Not in planning, but in trying to grasp it, trying in some respect to control it, or even more silly, we think about the past – ruminate, keep trying to see it from some vantage point that we, on some level, think will give us a boost up, in some way…
    The book is phenomenal in answering the many questions that come up; in fact, it is written in a question and answer format. My friend (a Buddhist) just read my copy and is getting one for herself, feeling that this book is a real keeper. Furthermore, Eckhart is not ‘into’ all the glamor some writers strive for; he is the real deal…

  4. Mardé’s avatar

    OK, I’ll just have to get the book. Thanks, Chris.

  5. chris davis’s avatar

    Hi Again Mardi –
    Yesterday’s sermon at the UU Church in Norway – Ben Tucker spoke of exactly this same NOW or being present with each moment, calling it instead “entering the silence” I think? It can be called lots of things, this being present. Where I find it most helpful, every second of my life, is in brining awareness to where I’m at. Am I in the future? Am I in the past? If I am driving, what is going on and on in my head? Thoughts of what I’ve recently said and how it was received, thoughts of what I’ll do upon my arrival to where I am going; worry about my son and what choices he may make – all this chatter, but what is happening to the creative potential of the moment? If I simply feel the steering wheel, see the trees pass, look fondly upon my brothers who are out on the road traveling also, it is here that I welcome in the creative force that is so so precious; just be there. If I get stuck in the mud while turning down a wrong road, will I sit there looking about and soaking in the beauty of the mud? Maybe for a brief second, then I will continue to be present every step as I take out the cell phone, or walk around and assess how I will get out of the mud. I’ll make every attempt at not comparing how it went the LAST time I was in a mud heap, or HOW VERY UNSMART it was of me to take this short cut – all unnecessary ‘stuff’ that my ego chomps on in its attempt to further define itself…missing out all the while on the simplest of notions, to be…here…now.
    Nothing new! But I like the way Eckart walks me through this, and for some reason, his words (I got the cd’s and listened to them SEVERAL times, and still I listen) really resonated with me, and I was able to soak them in …

  6. Mardé’s avatar

    Yes, you’ve captured the same way I feel about it, probably the same way everyone feels about it. It’s that focusing on the very present, the feelings of the moment, but also nourishing the beauty or joy or the essence of the moment. You were trying to think of Ben Tucker’s phrase, “In the Quiet.” I think he gave us a remarkable poem in closing his sermon using his “In the Quiet” phrase repeatedly.

    Not easy to achieve though. Clearly Eckhart’s book and cd’s help you. I’ll probably get the book at least. When I go walking in the woods alone, I get “in the quiet”. I much prefer walking alone in the woods than walking on the road to get my exercise. But, I have a lot to learn, even at my advanced age, or especially at my advanced age.

  7. chris davis’s avatar

    Bravo about the continued learning – I want to learn ’til the end of my days. I have found that whenever we ‘know’ something, we only let in sounds and thoughts that support that ‘knowing’, again missing out on all of the powerful subtleties.
    I know people, very otherwise wise people, who are so darn sure about the way things should be, or the way things are, all labeled and sectioned off, that I come away from them feeling frustrated, probably from not feeling free to enter that place of discovery with them…I must have something to learn myself here, or it wouldn’t mean so much to me…
    Happy Tuesday; and what a glorious night it was last night, with the wind swirling around sometime early this morning…

  8. Mardé’s avatar

    Yes, that’s a good point, Chris, about never being too sure and letting in only sounds and thoughts that support our view, when in fact there are always counter views or perspectives. But this is tricky. If the mind is too open, brains can fall out, as someone said. But the thing to avoid is too much self-assuredness and smugness, and maintain humility about our growing knowledge. Well, it depends on what we’re talking about too. Here we’re talking about “spiritual growth” and awareness of the world without, in my case, throwing out science. I guess that’s right.

    Thanks again, Chris, for your thoughtful comment. Keep ’em coming! :smile:


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