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Posts Tagged ‘time’

“People like us…know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
–Albert Einstein

If time doesn’t exist, which it can’t, then space can’t truly be said to exist either, since they are of the same “substance.” This is much harder to grasp (especially given our “normal” perception of reality), yet nonetheless true.

There is nothing else, nowhere else, but this. The universe was created for this moment of perception. You, sitting wherever you are sitting, reading this on whatever you are reading it, contain the consciousness of the universe in its entirety.

You, in a way, are the universe.

And you are nothing, nothing at all.

Me, writing this here…you, reading this there—simply one character wearing two masks, looking through two sets of eyes.

We don’t perceive this. But we can.

This is a time of great possibility—in the narrow sense, and the broader. Funny to speak of something that doesn’t exist as containing possibility, but there you have it. For the actor behind the mask to communicate with itself, the drama is necessary.

We are heading into Sukkot, the Festival of Booths and harvest, Zman Simchateynu—the “Time of our Rejoicing.” We’ve just emerged, are emerging, from the Days of Awe, the phase from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. I’ve been reflecting on that seed from my previous post a lot recently. It seems to me the entire period of Awe can be considered a seed. During the month of Elul, leading up to Rosh Hashanah, we prepare ourselves; draw furrows into the otherwise caked crust of our selves, hoping to soften the ground of our being and aerate the soil of our lives. On Rosh Hashanah we place the seed in the earth, and for several days following we become it; in the safe custody of this sacred time we reshape ourselves, re-orient our inner workings. We become, during this period, plasmic—no longer solid. We are given the gift of possibility—the opportunity to redefine, rediscover, recreate ourselves.

Yom Kippur is the final stage of the seed process. At Ne’ilah, as the long day of fasting and prayer draws to a close, the seed cracks open, and whatever work we’ve done, whatever truth we’ve discovered and strength we have found breaks through and begins to take expression, an expression that will unfold over the coming year.

At this time, still in this cocoon of holiness, our shoots remain beneath the soil—safe and nurtured. As we enter Sukkot, the time of ingathering, we begin to reap the harvest of the spirit. We move outside our homes, out into the world, and push above the soil to actualize the wisdom we have shaped within the seed of our lives.

During Sukkot, we dwell in temporary structures with roofs we can see straight through. We manifest, in the very structure we inhabit, the truth of our sojourn on earth—that the world we inhabit is itself, down to the last detail, a temporary dwelling place. The real harvest of this time is the spiritual harvest we gather from our inner work—the new eyes that look out at the world, the fields of reality. The eyes that see, god willing, a little more clearly; eyes no longer deceived by the masks of the actors who walk this stage; eyes that see through the roof of our selves to the infinite expanse beyond and within.

At this time, as we emerge from and enter into this holy time, I pray that over the coming year the seeds we have planted unfurl and flourish into new life, so that next year, as the plants we have nurtured over the year again yield their seed, our next harvest will be on a level of kedusha, of holiness, we can scarcely imagine from where we stand today…that the world we bring into being over the coming year bears seeds so robust we crack open altogether, see through the veil of this world, and enter the next.

A Peaceful Sabbath and a time of great rejoicing to you all,

Jonathan

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I’ve got this beach, and the Pacific Ocean, all to myself. I’ve just finished Tashlich, casting my sins into the living waters. As I was tossing tiny bits of my organic, sunflower bread failings into the depths, a family of dolphins came to dance in the waves before me, bearing witness and reminding me, as I was in the process of remembering, what life is really about.

I’ve been considering memory these days. This past weekend was Rosh Hashanah, the Head of the Year. One of the original names for this holiday, before it became know as Rosh Hashanah, was Yom Hazikaron—Day of the Memory.

What is it we’re meant to recall?

A hint, as it so often does, resides in the word itself, zikaron, which has the same numerical value as the word zerah, seed.

Rosh Hashanah, to me this year at least, is about this more than anything else: If I strip away all the encrustations, all the mistaken identities and voices I have inherited and created, if I nullify all falsehoods and remember the seed that was planted in the universe that has become and is becoming me, who am I? Yom Hazikaron, the day of remembering who we truly are, is an invitation to become that pure self, an opportunity to connect to and embody our truest identities.

This is a powerful time, especially as we had the double-blessing this year of Rosh Hashanah falling on the Sabbath. Judaism is, by and large, a religion of sacredness built into time—holiness comes in waves throughout the year; though the ocean is constant, the tides shift. But the amazing thing is, we determine the times; according to tradition, we set the dates when we look to the sky and declare the new moon. In other words, it is our responsibility to call sacredness into being; we choose the holy tide.

If anything, I pray that we learn—as a people, as humanity—to live up to this responsibility; that we look to the heavens—the constellate arc of our past, present and future—and say, ‘I see the new moon, a new era is dawning.’ I pray that we put down our distractions, our busyness, accumulation and competition, and together kindle the lights that usher in a sacred new world.

The choice is ours. The duty is ours. Ours alone. We have been conditioned to wait for someone else to heal this world, to remedy the ills that we’ve known to be unconscionable since we were small children, fresh seeds. This is the memory we are called to recollect—that the world is ripe for a new way of being; that we know this, and that we care.

I pray that at this time, when the world so desperately needs it, we all nurture these seeds within us; that our efforts to draw holiness into this world bear fruit, and that we all come to taste the sweetness of this sacred ripening.

A sweet and holy year to you all,

Jonathan

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Living as a mostly hermit, I’m not as in touch with the daily news as I suspect other bloggers must be. The fact that I knew, last week, that Chrysler was going under for its “surgical” procedure was a matter of chance.

I aim, little by little, to tune into news that doesn’t change. Ezra Pound thought that was literature; I’d like to think of it as truth. The problem is, what is true evades capture by those pesky things we call words and sentences; this makes it an especially challenging topic for a medium such as this.

One worldly news-like item I did read up on this week is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) they built on the Franco-Swiss border. You know what I’m talking about, the world’s largest particle accelerator that cost more than 6 billion to build, the one they had to shut down after only two weeks. I was aiming to disabuse myself of possible hype I’d heard that those tiny particles, if they ever actually do collide and break apart, could take the earth, or even the whole universe, along with them. The independent scientists hired to assess the risk determined there was none. Of course, since the whole purpose for building the thing is that we have no idea what will happen if there’s a collision, how they could know the outcome will be safe is beyond me.

Still, the thing is impressive. It is, essentially, a 17-mile proton racetrack buried deep beneath the ground; two actually, since they run in both directions. To keep them going round and round, the thing requires close to 2000 gigantic magnets, each weighing from roughly 30 to 2000 tons. Once they get that fake rabbit back up and running, and the protons are released from their paddock, they’ll gallop round that over-sized ring in a breezy 90 microseconds. That’s about 11,000 times per second, or .999999991 times the speed of light.

It’s the largest, most sophisticated and expensive scientific apparatus built in human history; thousands of scientists from all over the world have contributed to its design. All of this expense and effort to understand one of the most common things in the world; the scientists who lead this effort have themselves calculated that the kind of “experiment” they’re conducting happens naturally “many many many trillions” of times every second throughout the universe, all around us, all the time.

What this tells me is we don’t have a clue as to what’s really going on. In fact, some scientists, even those intimately involved with it, feel that the best, most interesting outcome for the LHC project would be if they find nothing at all—no new particles, no extra dimensions, nothing. The thinking is that a no show will show how little we have actually figured out, opening all kinds of new directions for physics to go in.

Even if they do find something, however, I’d like to venture a guess that it will simply be one more perplexing, plump babushka in the ever-vanishing succession of Russian dolls that makes up our universe.

The LHC is essentially, through us, an attempt by the universe to examine itself; this is why advanced physics is so weird. Let me explain.

The briefest way to characterize the LHC is as an attempt to understand the Big Bang. The Big Bang however, if that’s how things happened, was an episode that involved every point in the universe, all of space and time, being compacted into an infinitesimally small point, the singularity. That point is the seed from which the universe, in a sense, grew. But, and this is a Big But (ha ha), we cannot allow ourselves to think of that seed as having grown over time, since the seed itself contained, or inhabited, all of the time in which it would grow. The singularity of the Big Bang and the universe it spawned cannot be thought of as truly separate, in space or time. The seed, in effect, is the flower and the flower is the seed. The chicken and egg arise simultaneously.

So what’s my point?

We cannot properly think of ourselves as separate from the universe since we are, literally, a function of it. That cosmic episode, the one they’re trying to figure out, contained within it the possibility of us, the cosmo-genetic coding that brought us into being. Any attempt by us to apprehend it is, in a very real sense, navel-gazing. This is why we only see sub-atomic particles where we look for them, why they appear responsive to us. The fact that they could be virtually anywhere until we look for them means, in a very real sense, that they must somehow be everywhere until we do. And they are. And so are we.

If this sounds strange or troubling to you, get a grip. If you haven’t yet discovered that there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye in this world, it’s time you cottoned on.

What I’d like to suggest here is a shift in perspective. How do we come to truly understand the universe? It’s time we began to see that we are the experiment, and the microscope. Apprehending just how strange and magnificent the universe is is not something we can ever do with our eyes and ears alone. We will never see the nature of the cosmos, not even if we build a yet more dizzyingly expensive, colossal apparatus that reaches to the heavens, because it cannot be seen.

The only instrument we have that can come to appreciate the nature of all that is, is ourselves. How do we do this? We use the entire machine. What we are is an astonishingly sophisticated, fully-integrated, cosmically interpenetrating device designed, if you can call it that, as an opportunity for the universe to know itself. To grasp the universe and fully realize this opportunity requires employment of the whole organism—body, mind, spirit. It involves tapping into that integrated place where we effortlessly know the nature of the universe because we finally know our true selves. As expressions of the universe, the flower of that singular seed, knowing ourselves and understanding the cosmos are one and the same.

The LHC took decades to build and cost more than 6 billion dollars. We took 15 billion years to evolve from that crazy singularity, and the only way we’ll ever truly understand it is when we’re absolutely free.

Peaceful Sabbath,

Jonathan

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