future

When I Feel At Home

When I Feel At Home

"When I feel at home (or when someone else truly makes me feel at home), I feel comfortable, supported, safe, and relaxed, like I don’t need anything. At those times, my past ceases to be a neon marquee of regrets, and my future is no longer an unending to-do list, bullet-pointed by unrealistic expectations. Feeling at home is the feeling that I can just be myself."

~ Ethan Nichtern

Watching the Clock

Watching the Clock

"As conscious human beings, we know we die, and we therefore know our clock ends on, some level. So time just seems foundational. And I think a lot of the gymnastics that we do as human beings has to do with our relationship to the clock, or lack of a relationship to the clock. We squander time until it’s too late, et cetera. I love looking at the building blocks, the raw material, the irreducibles."

~ B.J. Miller

Stories about the End of Stories

Stories about the End of Stories

"The dominant story of modernity has been progress. Although still hardwired into our institutions, that story has lost most of its plausibility. new genres are taking its place: apocalypse and nihilism. Apocalypse is the imminent and triumphant conclusion of our most cherished stories. Nihilism is their collapse. Both are stories about the end of stories."

~ David R. Loy

A Vital Part of Aliveness

A Vital Part of Aliveness

"One of the beautiful things about the early twilight at this time of year, as it fades into the dark of the long nights, is that you can just surrender yourself to it. Allow the twilight to remind you that it is a time of consideration and renewal. Know full well that in this world the darkness and the light are one. There is no new dawn without the night; their seeming separateness disguises a unity that reflects the unity of life, an unfathomable dance of opposites. This paradox is the very essence of what it is to be alive—joy and pain, sickness and health, light and dark, wonder and fear."

~ Phillip Moffitt

Let Us Look Carefully

Exceprts from "Teilhard de Chardin's 'Planetary Mind' and Our Spiritual Evolution," On Being, Jan. 23, 2014: 

In these confused and restless zones in which present blends with future in a world of upheaval, we stand face to face with all the grandeur, the unprecedented grandeur, of the phenomenon of man. What has made us so different from our forebears, so ambitious too, and so worried, is not merely that we have discovered and mastered other forces of nature. It is that we have become conscious of the movement which is carrying us along. Let us look carefully and try to understand. And to do so, let us probe beneath the surface and try to decipher the particular form of mind which is coming to birth in the womb of the earth today.


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, from The Phenomenon of Man (1955)

Ursula King

The milieu in the French sense is the center, but we also use milieu in terms of the environment. Something comes together, like in a diamond...but then it radiates throughout the entire. God is everywhere, in a sense, hidden, not visible, but somehow reachable.

The Divine Milieu is a wonderful phrase. I think he has this dynamic awareness from his evolutionary approach. One could call his spirituality also an evolutionary spirituality, as some people do. And he feels that we are today at a very, very important threshold of immerging into a new phase of humanization, of becoming human, in a different way from the way our forebears were.

They pull from the future and towards the future. And he's less and less interested in the past and more and more interested in where are we going, what are we doing with the potential we have, with the imagination, the creativity, the consciousness, the complexification of people thinking together and acting together. What is all this aiming for?

David Sloan Wilson

Teilhard de Chardin thought of Christianity primarily as Christian love and as the leading edge of a belief system that was capable of uniting people from all walks of life based upon love. I don't think we're any more spiritually advanced today than during Teilhard's time. I think in some ways we've gone backwards. And when we think of what it means for spirituality to be the leading edge of evolution, we need to understand what spirituality means, what words such as spirit and soul actually mean and why we're impelled to use them in everyday life. And when we do that, I think we can come up with a very satisfying meaning for them, which need not require a belief in supernatural agents. 

We can speak frankly about having a soul and even our groups having a soul, our cities having a soul, and even the planet having a soul. That actually can have a straightforward meaning...

Evolution only sees action. Whatever goes on in the head is invisible to evolution unless it is manifested in terms of what people do. So if what's inside your head, if your meaning system does not cause you to act in the right way, then it is not very good as a meaning system.

We want a meaning system that causes us to be highly motivated to act and, of course, do the right thing. And in modern life, that needs to be highly respectful of the facts of the world. And then we also need to have values that we're more aware of than ever before and we must then use those values to consult those facts in order to plan our actions basically in a world that's increasingly complex and which requires management at a planetary scale.

Andrew Revkin

I share his optimism overall. I think our potential for good as a species has always dominated the potential for bad in the end and this just amplifies those same tendencies. None of the issues that we face on the internet are unique to the internet. They're all part of who we are. In a crowded room, the loudest, angriest people, whatever their ideology, tend to get the most airtime. So one thing I try to do on my blog is try to build tools to foster some input from the quieter people.

Another metaphor that comes to mind is it's as if we've been plunked at the wheel of a speeding car, but we haven't taken driver's training and there isn't even a driver's manual for the car. We're rounding a corner and the weather is foggy and we're accelerating [laugh]. So in a moment like that, you can either be hopeful or woeful, but it almost doesn't matter in the end.

You know, we're test-driving a new system here. Turbulence is normal, experiments in communication will fail as much or more than they will succeed, but I think our overall nature, to my mind — and it's an act of faith on my part as it was on his part.

State of Grace

December 2, 2012

Excerpt from The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector

Listen, don't be afraid: remember that I ate of the forbidden fruit and yet was not struck down by the orgy of being. So, listen: that means I shall find even greater refuge than if I had not eaten of life. . . Listen, because I dived into the abyss I started to love the abyss of which I am made. Identity can be dangerous because of the intense pleasure that could become mere pleasure. But now I'm accepting loving the thing!

And it's not dangerous, I swear it's not dangerous. 

Since the state of grace exists permanently: we are always saved. All the world is in a state of grace. A person is only struck down by sweetness when realizing that we are in grace, the gift is feeling that we are in grace, and few risk recognizing that within themselves. But there is no danger of perdition, I know now: the state of grace is inherent. 

Listen. I was only used to transcending. Hope for me was postponement. I had never let my soul free, and had quickly organized myself as a person because it is too risky to lose the form. But now I see what was really happening to me: I had so little faith that I have invented merely the future, I believed so little in whatever exists that I was delaying the present for a promise and for a future. 

But now I discover that one doesn't even need hope. 


See also:

A Philosophy of the Present

From “In Search of the Present,” by Octavio Paz (translated by Anthony Stanton), Nobel Lecture, October 8, 1990:

Reflecting on the now does not imply relinquishing the future or forgetting the past: the present is the meeting place for the three directions of time. Neither can it be confused with facile hedonism. The tree of pleasure does not grow in the past or in  the future but at this very moment. Yet death is also a fruit of The death mask of Sir Isaac Newton.the present. It cannot be rejected, for it is part of life. Living well implies dying well. We have to learn how to look death in the face. The present is alternatively luminous and somber, like a sphere that unites the two halves of action and contemplation. Thus, just as we have had philosophies of the past and of the future, of eternity and of the void, tomorrow we shall have a philosophy of the present. The poetic experience could be one of its foundations. What do we know about the present? Nothing or almost nothing. Yet the poets do know one thing: the present is the source of presences.

In this pilgrimage in search of modernity I lost my way at many points only to find myself again. I returned to the source and discovered that modernity is not outside but within us. It is today and the most ancient antiquity; it is tomorrow and the beginning of the world; it is a thousand years old and yet newborn. It speaks in Nahuatl, draws Chinese ideograms from the 9th century, and appears on the television screen. This intact present, recently unearthed, shakes off the dust of centuries, smiles and suddenly starts to fly, disappearing Venus of Willendorf through the window. A simultaneous plurality of time and presence: modernity breaks with the immediate past only to recover an age-old past and transform a tiny fertility figure from the Neolithic into our contemporary. We pursue modernity in her incessant metamorphoses yet we never manage to trap her. She always escapes: each encounter ends in flight. We embrace her and she disappears immediately: it was just a little air. It is the instant, that bird that is everywhere and nowhere. We want to trap it alive but it flaps its wings and vanishes in the form of a handful of syllables. We are left empty-handed. Then the doors of perception open slightly and the other time appears, the real one we were searching for without knowing it: the present, the presence.

[Thanks, Whiskey River!]

We’ve Seen it All Before

Excerpt from the introduction of Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up by Norman Fischer:

Taking Our Places Another characteristic of maturity — one that any of us would mention — is experience. A grown-up is someone who is experienced and, through having lived long enough to have seen many things, has a point of view and a measure of savvy about how life works. There is certainly no substitute for the experience that accumulates as the years go by, but it is also possible to be alive for a long time and not really experience our living, not really see our life. The human capacity for self-deception and blindness runs deep. We may be alive, but we have not necessarily lived. If we accumulate experiences without really engaging with them, then our experience tends to make us stodgy and boring. As we catalog and define our experiences, possessing them without ever really being possessed by them, we begin to expect that new situations will just be repetitions of old ones. Soon we feel as if we’ve seen it all before. We know what to expect. Our point of view gradually becomes a set of blinders rather than a searching flashlight.

But if we pay close and open attention to our experiences, life’s larger patterns begin to come into view. We see that all things are transitory and unique. Nothing repeats. We understand that, though always instructive, the past can never tell us what the future will be. Within the larger pattern that experience reveals, there are endless variations. Insofar as we see this, our experience increases our wonder at and appreciation of all that happens. With little life experience, we might be naively excited by the novelty of a person we meet or an event that occurs. But when we truly appreciate our experience, we respond to that newness with a deeper understanding of its meaning and wonder as we relate it to what we have seen before. Far from dampening our sense of wonder, real experience refreshes and mellows it.

A Real Fortune-Teller Knows

Excerpt from Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler:

“I mean, your left hand is your whole entire past! I wonder if one of my books deals with this.”

“If it’s my past, why do we care?” Liam asked. “We just want to know about my future?

“Oh, you can’t read one without the other,” Esther Jo told him. “They’re intermingled. They bounce off of each other. That’s what the amateurs fail to understand.”

She released his hands with a dismissive little pat that gave Liam a sense of rejection, absurdly enough.

“Let’s see if I can explain this,” she said. “You know how farmers can predict what kind of winter they’ll have by looking at the acorns and berries? Those acorns and berries are the way they are because of what has gone before — how much rainfall there’s been and et cetera, et cetera. A whole lot depends on the weather that’s already happened. And the farmers know that.”

She gave him a quick, self-confirming nod.

“We, just the same way, a real fortune-teller — and I’m not one to brag, but I am a real fortune-teller; I’ve just always had the gift, somehow — a real fortune-teller knows that your future depends on your past. It keeps shifting about; it’s not carved in stone. It keeps bouncing off whatever happened earlier. So, no, I can’t do a thing without seeing what’s in your left palm.”

The Most Fruitful Type of Mind Wandering

Excerpt from “Stop Paying Attention: Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State,” by Carl Zimmer, Discover (June 2009):

When our minds wander, we lose touch with the outside world. We don’t actually black out, of course, but we are more likely to make mistakes, fail to encode memories, or miss a connection. Zoning out makes us particularly prone to these errors. Schooler and Smallwood, along with Merrill McSpadden of the University of British Columbia, tested the effect of zoning out by having a test group read a Sherlock Holmes mystery in which a villain used a pseudonym. As people were reading the passages discussing this fact, the researchers checked their state of attentiveness. Just 30 percent of the people who were zoning out at the key moments could give the villain’s pseudonym, while 61 percent of the people who weren’t zoning out at those moments succeeded.

These results are shocking when you stop to think about them. Each of us has a magnificent hive of billions of neurons in our head, joined to each other by trillions of connections. The human brain is arguably the most complex organ in the natural world. And yet studies on mind wandering are showing that we find it difficult to stay focused for more than a few minutes on even the easiest tasks, despite the fact that we make mistakes whenever we drift away.

The fact that both of these important brain networks become active together suggests that mind wandering is not useless mental static. Instead, Schooler proposes, mind wandering allows us to work through some important thinking. Our brains process information to reach goals, but some of those goals are immediate while others are distant. Somehow we have evolved a way to switch between handling the here and now and contemplating long-term objectives. It may be no coincidence that most of the thoughts that people have during mind wandering have to do with the future.

Even more telling is the discovery that zoning out may be the most fruitful type of mind wandering. In their fMRI study, Schooler and his colleagues found that the default network and executive control systems are even more active during zoning out than they are during the less extreme mind wandering with awareness. When we are no longer even aware that our minds are wandering, we may be able to think most deeply about the big picture.

More…

[See also: Shinzen Young’s Focus Out strategy]

A Perpetual Possibility

The first lines from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets:

eliotTime present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.