The Real World: Attending To The Here And Now

This is the typical human problem. The object of dread may not be an operation in the immediate future. It may be the problem of next month’s rent, of a threatened war or social disaster, of being able to save enough for old age, or of death at the last. This ‘spoiler of the present’ may not even be a future dread. It may be something out of the past, some memory of an injury, some crime or indiscretion, which haunts the present with a sense of resentment or guilt. The power of memories and expectations is such that for most human beings the past and the future are not as real, but more real than the present. The present cannot be lived happily unless the past has been ‘cleared up’ and the future is bright with promise.

There can be no doubt that the power to remember and predict, to make an ordered sequence out of a helter-skelter chaos of disconnected moments, is a wonderful development of sensitivity. In a way it is the achievement of the human brain, giving man the most extraordinary powers of survival and adaptation to life. But the way in which we generally use this power is apt to destroy all its advantages. For it is of little use to us to be able to remember and predict if it makes us unable to live fully in the present.

What is the use of planning to be able to eat next week unless I can really enjoy the meals when they come? If I am so busy planning how to eat next week that I cannot fully enjoy what I am eating now, I will be in the same predicament when next week’s meals become ‘now.’

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.

~Alan Watts

The Element of Surprise in Life

I saw then that my sense of me being me was exactly the same thing as my sensation of being one with the whole cosmos.

Fractal FlowerI did not need to have some sort of different, odd kind of experience to feel in total connection with everything.

fractal_stock_01302012_by_dsynegrafix-d4o3vjgOnce you get the clue you see that the sense of unity is inseparable from the sense of difference.

Fractal GapYou would not know yourself, or what you meant by self, unless at the same time you had the feeling of other. Now the secret is that ‘the other’ eventually turns out to be you.

FractalThe element of surprise in life is when suddenly you find the thing most alien turns out to be yourself.

fractal_stock_11912_2_by_dsynegrafix-d4mvlpfGo out at night and look at the stars and realize that they are millions and billions of miles away, vast conflagrations far out in space.

Fractal Stock 43You can lie back and look at that and say, ‘Well, surely I hardly matter.

Fractal DragonflyI am just a tiny little speck aboard this weird spotted bit of dust called earth, and all that was going on out there billions of years before I was born and will still be going on billions of years after I die.’

Fractal Valentine

Nothing seems stranger to you than that, or more different from you, yet there comes a point, if you watch long enough, when you will say, ‘Why that’s me!’ It is ‘the other’ that is the condition of your being yourself, as the back is the condition of being the front, and when you know that, you know you never die.

*Quotes by Alan Watts, Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life

Image credit (used with permission under CC license)–
“Fractal Flower” by Daniel Chapelle

“Fractal Stock 01302012” by DsyneGrafix

“Fractal Gap” by Barabeke

“Fractal” by Patrick Theiner

“Fractal Stock 11912-2” by DsyneGrafix

“Fractal Stock 43” by BFstock

“Fractal Dragonfly” by Christoph Zurbuchen

“Fractal Valentine” by Laura Harris