A Million Different Things: ...And Night, Meditation #9

A Million Different Things: ...And Night, Meditation #9

Meditation #9 is concerned with perception and reality. This excerpt is from the free serialization of my book, A Million Different Things: Meditations of The World's Happiest Man. For a full index of the book on line, see: Gift of A Million Different Things.

David Stone, Writer

A Million Different Things: ...And Night, Meditation #9

When we invest our attention in a little learning about quantum physics, we find that our understanding of the impression we refer to as “Now” is critical. It’s all there ever was, is or will be. The facts are that simple and that profound.

The ground on which we stand now is at a central location among all that is. For us as Earth-bound humans, our place in the cosmos is well off the center of the Milky Way, an unexceptional galaxy containing millions of stars, on a small planet revolving in solar system that suits us perfectly. We are as much in outer space as any extraterrestrials we’ve imagined. It’s all in the perspective.

It’s important to keep in mind that what surrounds us, extending fourteen-billion light years in any direction, is the total collection of everything, every bit of it. The universe is as full as it will ever be. We can’t add anything or subtract from it. Since the space is already completely occupied, there is no room for a past or any future. Memory and imagination will have to do. Repeating the wisdom of Ram Dass, we have no choice but to be here, now.

Clock time has no independent existence in reality. We invented it to measure experience and to predict the future. Apart from the predictability of mechanically controlled measurements, however, we find more plasticity than expected. Time is irreversibly personal, tied to each of our perspectives. Each of experiences even mutual events in a time slice unique from anyone else’s. A flash of light may be filled with identical protons, but they way they are received by each of us is individual and never quite simultaneous. This is true of all the other information we send to our brains by way of our senses.

Our now is personal, and it contains everything. It’s hard to imagine any understanding as being of greater importance. We see or know this now only as history. The intricate interactions within our brains that produce what we know in our minds, together with whatever they are connected to, hustles to present our conscious eye with an impression of the present. By then, of course, the next moment has already launched and is relaying ingredients for our next present, our next now, up the sensory trail to consciousness.

We touch a soft, warm spot on a baby’s skin. Nerve cells record the sensation and instantly relay the impression along a neural network to our brains. The information is collated with related details flowing in from other senses. What does the baby’s skin look like? What sounds accompanied the touch? This is compared with previous experiences for context and expectation before resolution. While this is taking place, a thousand other influences are feeding other experiences into our heads. We accumulate as much as we can, assessing it, resolving to an approximate reality and preparing for whatever flows in next.

The complexity and amazing success in what our brains accomplish is almost as hard to appreciate as is understanding the intricacies of the active universe in which we live. At least, the universe has points of stillness. And we haven’t even considered the seasoning emotions inject in every experience.

What I’m circling back to is the ultimate importance of identifying the entity that “threw that rock,” mentioned earlier in this book. From whatever angle we look at questions about experience and how it all works, whoever throws the rock is the one forcing an imprint on everything else. I can finally tell you the good news now: it was you who threw the rock. That’s also the bad news. It’s bad because you probably haven’t been doing enough mindful rock throwing. Your rock throwing has probably been as deliberate as that of a kid tossing stones on a summer day, unaware of the water into which they are splashing.

Returning to our understanding that this moment, this now, must be the one and only that has ever existed or ever will, given that we see it only in hindsight, we learn that our practical lives are memories plus one additional thing–anticipation. Our experiences are taken among the already fully packed and active pieces of our universe. Then, we see them in our mind’s eye and call them the present. Our vision never pauses, and our misconception here is what prompts us to make the worst possible mistake.

Our mistake is that we don’t spend enough time looking forward as we become hooked on seeing backward. The future is not just equally important, it’s vastly more important, which doubles the penalty for our neglect. It’s more important because it’s the only essence we can do anything about. Let’s first take on the notion of who we are–you, me, everybody else and, most likely, every sentient being around us.

It’s a big question, isn’t it? The biggest. But is the answer difficult? Really, it’s the simplest answer of all, and unless something has swept away our conscious minds, we always know who we are, here and now. Our recognition of ourselves is unrestricted. If we don’t dig deeper or find out more, it’s our free choice, but we can’t ever escape the person we are right now, looking at the print on this page or listening to a recording. Around us, other things are going on, maybe a lot of things, maybe only a few distractions. We see everything we wish to see, plus some we don’t, after it has made its way to our brains and the “we” that we know to be us runs it through our filters and puts our stamp on it.

There is no escaping the inevitability of who we are. This is us, and there is no mystery. Get acquainted with the stranger. Close any gaps. The individual overseeing all our mental and emotional activity, the us managing our bodies and our connections to the world, is mightier and richer than any billionaire or military ruler the world has ever known. He or she or it, this genderless source of guidance and wisdom, wants to be our best friend. So, open the door. Let them the rest of the way in.

If still not clear on the unique entity you are, pause for a minute and ask who is suggesting that you keep reading to or to stop and even who is directing him or her. It’s easy to spiral off into infinite regress, chasing that trail of who’s behind who up and down our conscious minds, until we relax, at peace with that vital entity existing completely outside our experiences but trying to help manage them.

Scientists tell us that our consciousness is really an illusion nature has created. It gives us a picture of world built from our senses. Why intentionally observe or decide anything if it’s all mechanical and will happen no matter what we think or reason? Why did nature waste energy evolving such a fantasy? Our consciousness is as physical as everything else about us, contained wholly within our skulls, and when the rest of our body perishes, it will too. It’s just a creation of physical attributes and finite...

If you’re buying that one, you’ve already been sold the equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge and no con artist is needed to separate you from your valuables. You’ve already given them away.

Our conscious minds provide our connection to the physical world as well as our channel to the infinity into which we are rooted. That is the simplest declaration of who any of us are, in a general sense. We are extensions of energy expressed as material, and we are reveling, I hope, in abundant expression and experience. What we see with our mind’s eye can be compared to the broad windows of a craft always exploring the fields before it, acknowledging, assimilating, tucking it away in the vaults of history for many to share.

Finally, we come to the exciting question of who is in control of this miraculous craft. As we stand gazing forward, of course, we know it is us, only us, no matter how far back we follow the trail. Not that we skipped basic training and have no teachers. We do, but in the end, we call the shots. No proxies step in. We chose where to look and what to see. Much more, we decide how to see.

Do we look out from the deck and see an environment full of things to love and appreciate or one seasoned with threats and dangers? Probably a combination. The reason we see a mix is that, like anyone else, our eyes on the world have been influenced by all sorts of persuasions.

These come to us from teachers, parents, experts and authority figures, often without having asked. Teaching happens commonly by default. When we are young, no one tells us that our greatest responsibility is to become the master of our awareness. We grow up believing that we all know the same things. Most are already settled. We think of our senses as recording instruments. A net result is that we set our directions without knowing there is any choice about how we perceive our personal reality.

Is there any reason why we can’t take over the controls of our lives immediately? It requires accepting the ultimate truth about consciousness, our ownership, in other words, of our own mind’s eyes.

Start with our attitudes about the world out there. Let’s take for granted that there is one. What waits on the immediate threshold of our experience is an inventory of sensations far exceeding what we can collect. What we choose among them dictates what we get. Some may simply be adventurous, even dangerous, since adventure fuels our senses and must have some danger attached.

In front of us are fields of color, texture and density. Thanks to our many ancestors toiling through millenniums, we arrived well prepared to recognize and handle most of what we find.

Our parents, first, then others added to our aptitude for knowing so much about a complex world without having to learn every bit of it. We don’t arrive on Planet Earth as the clichéd blank slate. We are born with vast knowledge and capabilities geared to kick in as we develop. What we get to do is create within all the rest, and that means fine-tuning what we think we know, forever fine-tuning, and diving into what we don’t know to the best of our ability and the most of our desires.

See also: Tao of The Optimism Junkie

David Stone, Writer

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Comments 3 comments

Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland


Excellent and fascinating hub!!

David Stone profile image

David Stone 5 years ago from New York City Author

Thanks. Glad you liked it. I'm moving up toward the end of the book now, but I'll leave all the links up indefinitely.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Once again, this held my interest right from the beginning. Well done!

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