Against Master Eckhart's Da-sein?
Eckhart Tolle's 'The Power of Now' is seen nowadays in New Wave circles as a parangon of wisdom. The awakening by recluding inwards, abandoning the past and the future to realize only the moment exists over and over again at first seemed to me a very sane thought. I attempted to live in the moment (long before I even heard of Tolle's ideas) on several occasions, unable to keep it up for a very long time (but then hey, time is an illusion, right?).
Traveling through India I read diagonally a few pages at the beginning of a book called something like "Sri Lalita Sahasranam", being a philosophical account of the Vedistic ontology. You can get the original text if from Scribd.
It is part of the ancient Bramanda Purana. The title means litterally 'the collection of 1000 names (attributes) of the divine power' and is the description of the Sakhta doctrine through worship of the Goddess (Lalita Devi), in the form of her and of her male appearance as Shakti. Lalita is the goddess of bliss and an avatar of Parvati, and etymologically stands for "She who plays". She's the creative aspect of Brahman (seen as an asexual principle above the concept of 'god' or 'goddess').
The book I read was a study on this, having geometrical drawings to explain the text, which at first looked very technical in contrast to a poetic text, but were great to clarify the interpretation. I haven't found what study it was, maybe from Swami Tapasyananda or from Amma Sri Karunamayi Vijayeswari.
I found this site showed all 1000 verses and an interpretation plus a large amount of quotes.
A few quotes I liked in this site:
"Mother is the first manifestation of power and is considered a higher idea than father. The name of mother brings the idea of Shakti, Divine energy and omnipotence. The baby believes its mother to be all-powerful, able to do anything. The Divine Mother is the Kundalini sleeping in us; without worshipping Her, we can never know ourselves. All merciful, all-powerful, omnipresent - these are attributes of the Divine Mother. She is the sum total of the energy in the Universe."
Swami Vivekananda, Inspired Talks, My Master and Other Writings, July 2, 1895, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, NY, pp. 48-49.
"Sophia is the Goddess for our time. By discovering her, we will discover ourselves and our real response to the idea of a Divine Feminine principle. When that idea is triggered in common consciousness, we will begin to see an upsurge of creative spirituality which will sweep aside the outworn dogmas and unlivable spiritual scenarios which many currently inhabit."
Caitlín Matthews, Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, The Aquarian Press, 1992, p. 5-9.
"Maya, avidya, and ajnana are terms of Vedanta philosophy usually translated by such words as ignorance, nescience, and illusion. They generally denote the same thing. Through ignorance, the Vedantic philosopher contends, the non-dual Brahman appears to have become the manifold universe; the Absolute, the relative. Ignorance has no absolute existence, for it disappears when one attains the Knowledge of Brahman. But it is not non-existent, like the son of a barren woman, for it is the cause of the names and forms of the sense-perceived universe. It cannot be described as either real or unreal, or both real and unreal; as one with Brahman or other than Brahman; as either corporeal or incorporeal, or as both corporeal and incorporeal. The real nature of ignorance is inscrutable, since the mind through which one understand it is itself a product of ignorance."
Swami Nikhilananda, Self-Knowledge, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1989, p. 122-23.
(The last one seems a great quote for Matthijs Van Boxsel's Encyclopedia of Stupidity! )
Now I was especially struck in this account by the idea that the point of contact between individual and Cosmic Consciousness is seen as the point where the duality of all existence is realized as the ultimate illusion. It's the difference between living in the world of creation and realizing there is no creation. I saw further links with the (zen)buddhist concept of the illusion of all being.
And I sensed in it an important source for the development of Kabbalah, at least the one I was taught, pertaining to the parts a comedian has to loose when quitting the stage: his body and his role. Transliterated: at the time of death, one has to not only abandon the mortal coil, but also to acknowledge that the thought of the 'I' one had of oneself was just a token identity, a role played on the stage of life; you are not who you think you are. The path to the true self can only be walked on by a good kabbalist (or so do kabbalists tell). Letting go the materiality (body) and the idea that 'me' is really me, and adding the third even more difficult predicament - total acceptance (dissolution into a higher, cosmic self) are the three conditions to elevate through death, or, for a few, through life.
Actually there is one major difference between the Sakhta doctrine and Kabbalah: in the latter the male principles in the right pillar of severity (from bottom to top the sefirah Netzach, Chesed and Chochmah) are considered active, creative and expansive; the female ones on the left pillar of mercy are seen as passive and conservative (Hod, Geburah and Binah). Male is the cosmic father Abba in Chochmah (wisdom); female is the cosmic mother Amma in Binah (understanding). Just the opposite from the female creative principle in the Hindu philosophy.
"Everyone knows 'I am'. there is the confusion that the 'I' is the body. Because the 'I' arises from the Absolute and gives rise tu buddhi (Intellect). In buddhi the 'I' looks the size and shape of the body, na medhaya means that Brahman cannot be apprehended by buddhi. ( ) Just get over the false conception of the 'I' being the body. Discover to whom the thought arise. If the present 'I'-ness vanishes, the discovery is complete. What remains over is the pure Self."
Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi p. 68, available on Scribd.
Mirrored or not, more and more it seems to me in this doctrine are arguments to partly incriminate the concept of 'now'.
A spiritual warrior, if assigning oneself to just one stage in awareness exclusively would hardly experience the effect of consciousness expanding. Shouldn't consciousness be stretched?
1. At first through the multiverse of viewpoints (POV), in the way described by Robert anton wilson or Aleister Crowley before him. One of Crowley's exercises consisted in convincing himself during one week of being a devout catholic. Wilson's exercises involve doing something totally out of one's habits. Therefore in effect, when taking another role,
2. Seems to me a similar line of thought can be had fot the illusory timetable. I think it is necessary to realize the power of now, but also of the past and of the future, simultaneously. Stretching the 'now' outwards, like Dr. Manhattan in "The Watchmen", might offer a better acceptance (realisation) of the illusion of reality.
Furthermore, the concept of grabbing the singleton that is the moment of now seems to have some flaws.
1. First I fear this might for some people bring them further away from an illumination into group mind, and closer to the 'I', and also indulge them into an extensive use of the verb 'to be'; some could even cross the barrier towards solipsism. I will not dwell here on the concept of e-prime which clarifies the dangers of the verb 'to be' and developped from Korzybski through Bourland.
Again: you 'are' not who you think you 'are'. Again, the illusion of all 'being'.
2. Second and most, Wilson, Bandler, etc. wrote a lot about the amount of time needed between an external impulse, the activation of the nerves, the electrical information send to the neurons, the discharges needed for the brain to actually realize an event (from the multitude of impulses surrounding us every instant, only an infinite drop catches our attention -conscious or not, while most are lost), and the symbolic buildup needed for us to acknowledge what we have experienced. So for me the 'moment' looks like a long chain of events, not the 'cause and effect' but different ways of mapping the same event.
"He was the cause-and-effect man: he kept at her astrology without mercy, telling her what she was supposed to believe, then denying it. Tides, radio interference, damned little else. There is no way for changes out there to produce changes here.
Not produce, she tried, not cause. It all goes along together. Parallel, not series. Metaphor. Signs and symptoms. Mapping on to different coordinate systems, I dont know ... She didnt know, all she was trying to do was reach."
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
Maybe the mathematical definition of
'NOW' = all the moments of your life put together seen as different facets of the diamond.
I think in this aspect also of Alfred Jarry's description of the moment total bliss in 'Les Jours et les nuits', as a single moment in which all eternity is experienced.
"And with strange aeons even death may die."
I remember another thought exercize by Bob Wilson, "Why are you here?", producing an infinite chain of events, in which he started from being invited to give a lecture at a bookshop and stopped at the dimishing amount of fish in Northernst Europe in the ancient times which forced the vikings to invade Ireland. I have a book called 'Et c'est comme ça que je me suis enrhumée' by French Etienne Lécroart, without any words. It starts with the big bang, moving through a chain of events until the last drawing of a lady , who was telling it all to explain how she catched a cold.
I feel a lot of appeal to the Ars Memoria, Dame Frances Yates wrote an excellent book on it called "The Art of Memory".
A memory of memory, an account of how people through all time have tried to live with - and sometimes in - the past. Giordano Bruno studied it, and after him, Raymond Lull and Robert Fludd. We grow as a civilization (group mind) because we build on the past.
I feel a lot of appeal as well to futurology, the science of trying to predict the future, which started with early science-fiction writers and went on with Bob Wilson, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Nick Herbert, Saul Paul Sirag et all.
We grow as a civilization (group mind) because we want to build the future.
And finally I can relate a lot to the power of Now, as the individual needs to free hirself from the boundaries of past regrets and future hopes, from the chains of guilt and pride, all born from the illusory idea of cause and effect, life seen through the goggles of a Goldberg device This can be seen as a differential approach to time.
I would see value in the development of a system combining memory, now and fantasy into a flow, more of an integral approach to time.