I’m OK Having Sh…I mean Swiss Cheese, for Brains

By | June 11, 2012

If you noticed that this post is similar to the one it replaced, I encourage you not to dwell in the past. After all, I merely replaced one illusion with another.

It’s all the rage to glorify the now. We’re told it’s the key to success in everything from golf to satoric bliss. The book, The Power of Now, is a perpetual bestseller. Glenn Helkenn has a fresh approach to time and space in his recent blog post, Time: the elephant in the room (I encourage you to sign up for his provocative blog at www.practicalprimitivist.com). He uses a Zen approach to show how imaginary elephants can give us insight on the Stone Age. (Yeah, Glenn’s a little quirky, but you’ll see that it works.) His premise is that our view of the Stone Age being a long-lost era is as much a figment of our imaginations as a pink elephant, and that if there are yet stones and the ability to grasp them, the Stone Age lives.

I’d like to get risqué and throw real elephants into the mix as well. From Zen perspective, we imagine our existence–everything is a mental construct, whether it be fantasy or flesh. Even if I can actually touch an elephant, he is still of my making. So often I have been certain of what I’ve seen or experienced, only to be shown otherwise. And then had what I was shown blown away.

Glenn goes on to show how we create time the same way we create elephants: past and future are just mental constructs. I’d like to throw the present–the esteemed Now–in the mix as well. (See a pattern emerging here?) The Zen mind shows everything, whether we see it as past, present, or future, occurring simultaneously. So whatever we imagine or remember is real and now, and vice versa.

Stone Age, then, never was or will be, yet always is. I can prove it is just an illusion of our past (click here for proof), and at the same time I can prove it is still alive (even if not well) by pointing to Amazonian tribes and Adaman Islanders), and then I can prove the potential for still living it tomorrow, just as Glenn did by touching a stone. Yet all I have proven is that I have an imagination.

Or have I? We can apply the same Zen perspective to show that the concept of imagination is as riddled with holes as our beliefs in reality and the now.

If our mental gyrations around time and matter don’t amount to anything anyway, what fuels our incessant preoccupation with the topics? I think it’s fear. We don’t know where either  ourselves or this mad world are headed, but if we can get a handle on where we came from and what is real, maybe it will point out a direction to head.

Therein lies our quandary: we look for stability and direction to allay our fear, so we set our minds to work creating a present reality and a future envisionment. However, we—and all of life—are designed to survive by continually deconstructing reality and avoiding time constructs. Be as a question. The only constant is change. We intrinsically know this, and we know how to live it. Our only remaining task is to step beside our blinding fear.


1 Comment

Alyosha on June 13, 2012 at 9:15 am.

So.. does that mean that I should question relying on my 401K ????!!!!

I see what you are saying. Making a belief system out of the past, or giving our power away to some set of rigid ideals about how future should be – leaves us vulnerable to fear and control, stifles creativity and flexibility, takes away from enjoying things and people just how they ARE, and decreases our survival potential. I remember reading in one place how a guy learned from his Bushmen friends that God is a semi-omnipotent love force that lives in the sky. A few years later, during a drought, God was a frog. The same guy wrote how he sees the role of healers (shamans) – they are people that help others move on – change from whatever they are stuck in, whether the dark or the light.
Yet I think that most of us are also wired to have a basic set of morality, which allows us to naturally function with respect for everyone and everything – that is our baseline (usually).
Great, great awarenesses!

Actually, this is what I really think:


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