It’s About Time
Dad gave me this. Fifth birthday. He said, “Childhood’s over the moment you know you’re gonna die.” ~ Michael Wincott as “Top Dollar” from The Crow
We have been considering and concerning ourselves with awareness. The concept of awareness is simple; we each have a choice. We can either choose to be aware and active in our experiences, or we can be unaware and ruled by happenstance. Much of the oppression we feel is directly proportional to the amount of effort we make to be active in our experiences, to be more aware. Freedom, or being more free relative to as we are now, is the desired end-result of cultivating greater awareness.
Our pursuit of awareness, of choosing to not allow ourselves to be dictated by happenstance, has lead us in numerous directions, all very important and required. We have explored practical matters; the laws and values of society, our roles in the workforce and the economy, how we acquire those things which are substantive needs… We have explored matters of importance to and from the perspectives of the esoteric and exoteric; our relationship with others, our responsibility to ourselves, our society, our species, frivolity… We have pursued issues of a spiritual, or mystical nature; the meanings of words like “awareness” and “freedom”, personal evolution, weighing our relative connectivity and distinctiveness from all that surrounds us…
In this pursuit of awareness, I am wondering if perhaps all these divergent potential directions are rooted in one commonality: Time. I wonder if an exploration of the concept of Time may be an exploration of the foundation of all other efforts.
We are born, and from the day of our birth, the clock is ticking. If an individual lives out to the fullness of their lifespan, they have roughly 70 years of time. All spiritual arguments aside, based on what we can observe it is safe to assume that those years will be all that one ever has. When we consider what the mind of the individual is capable of, what wonders it has the potential to explore and questions it can conceive, 70 years seems like a paltry amount of time, like a cosmic joke on the sentient being. Your biological function; to reproduce and make your genetic mark of future generations requires neither sentience (as made evident by the thousands of people who reproduce in droves) nor the fullness of the potential lifespan. With this reality before us, our sentience seeks a purpose beyond our biological function to our species.
We’re not here because we’re free. We’re here because we’re not free. There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist. It is purpose that created us. Purpose that connects us. Purpose that pulls us. That guides us. That drives us. It is purpose that defines. Purpose that binds us. ~ Hugo Weaving as “Agent Smith” from The Matrix Reloaded
The issue of purpose is a question of whether or not purpose is predetermined by happenstance or “fate”, or if self-determination is possible. Three kinds of people seem to emerge in relation to this question. There are those for whom the question has no meaning. They are completely ruled by happenstance, guided solely by internal impulses and external influences. Awareness as we understand it is not present within them. Others have awareness, but have concluded that the thread of their life has already been measured, that they are fated, to one degree or another, to whatever end or whatever events may come their way.
Then, there are those of us who rebel against that idea, who seek to be free of happenstance and to be self-determined. “Fate” for us may exist, and it is something we can succumb to, but we have concluded that it can be resisted, or that “fate” is for those who lack the will to escape the gravity of happenstance. Awareness is our lever, the manner by which we seek to determine our “fate” for ourselves.
The issue facing us in this pursuit is time. We only have so much time to achieve our ultimate goals. In the short amount of time that we have, we must first develop to a point of physical and mental maturity where we can recognize the discrepancy between our potential awareness and our actual active awareness. The first mark of maturity of awareness is the comprehension of the fact that eventually we will die. This is, in my opinion, the end of our mental childhood and the beginning of our mental adolescence. Awareness that we have only a limited amount of time is often within us only cursory; we know it, but we do not understand it and therefore do not act accordingly. If we were aware of our limited amount of time and understood it, much of the frivolity and wasted effort that dominates our lives would cease.
We would have no time to waste.
Full mental maturity comes when we not only are aware that our time is limited, but also when we embrace that fact and begin living our lives accordingly. Those who believe that their lives are predetermined to a greater degree than what is self-determined embrace their limited amount of time with a marked serenity, a peaceful acceptance that I can only equate to sheep being herded for slaughter. Their arguments for this perspective may be sound, even convincing, but they are arguments that I cannot abide. When I look at history, when I look to the greatest examples of our potential as humans being expressed (those individuals who’s efforts and ideas shaped the course for our species), repeatedly I see examples of self-determination, people who did not go gently into the night but raged against the dwindling light of their short lives.
Time is neither our enemy nor our friend. If we are aware of it, the limited quantity of time we have, and that ultimately we do not know when our limit will be reached, then it is simply a motivator. Time is the reason to take action, to be decisive, to cultivate awareness and to seek self-determination. We cannot be certain of anything other than that our time is limited. Even those who conclude that there is the potential for some other manner of existence beyond this life cannot deny that this life is limited, and that our time in it must be of some importance, if only to ourselves. All time is now. Each moment is a precious stone which we can either use in building our monuments to ourselves in history, or which will be pulverized into dust.
Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time I do what I have to. ~Tommy Flanagan as “Cicero” from Gladiator
Time is the commodity which we all have that we trade for the things we want. Do you want a new car? You have to trade time for the money to pay for it (or time used to steal it, something I would not recommend but include for the sake of being thorough). Want to have sex with someone else? You need to take time to convince a partner (or to engage in an even more criminal activity than car-theft). All pursuits, all acquisitions, all goals require time. Our lives equal a quickly shrinking means of exchange for experiences, pleasures, and material goods. We all may have time, but due to its limited quantity and extreme importance for each of us, it is the most precious commodity we will ever have.
Time, like other commodities, has a variety of different values. We all talk about “quality time” and define that kind of time in different manners based on our drives and interests. I would suggest a scale that includes a transition through five distinct types of time.
Dross is waste metal, impurities purged during the smelting process. Dross Time is time that is wasted. A person may waste time in an ever increasing number of ways, but this particular kind of waste is due to a person not having the means to act on the time that they have. Their inability to use their time is due to pressures which are either internal or external in origin. The internal pressure which creates Dross Time are those feelings of helplessness, when it seems we have nothing but time but no means with which to use it. We may recognize a need, yet we cannot fulfill it. Internal pressures are usually due to a limited perspective, an artificial set of parameters we believe dictate our options. “We have no money, therefore there is nothing we can do” is an example of the kind of thinking which contributes to the internal creation of Dross Time.
The external pressures resulting in Dross Time often are due to having the means to use the time, but being kept in some fashion from doing so. A literal incarceration is the best example that comes to my mind of this kind of Dross Time; you could do anything, but you are limited to your particular cell. This literal interpretation is frequently and figuratively experienced by nearly everyone in our society. The limitations and walls placed around us that guide and define our behaviors encourage a feeling of oppression. We end up in a prison of the mind where apathy and complacency are encouraged. Our time is wasted as we are encourage to conclude that nothing we could do would matter.
The only value of Dross Time is to serve as a reason to cultivate better qualities of time.
Copper Time is better than Dross Time because it is time that is ours to spend, but it has little inherent value because it is spent frivolously with no particular direction. Copper Time is the kind of time we have been convinced in our society is “quality time”, time when we feel we have no demands or obligations, time spent doing nothing of value for ourselves or others. We are a society where mediocrity is the highest pursuit for the majority; where we want nothing more than to sit on our couches eating fast food and watching American Idol, as if time was limitless. The demands upon us, external and internal, and the obligations we have are not suspended, but during this time we struggle to pretend that they are. Still, we are encouraged by social conventions to resist having a direction or use for our time. The “norm” is to spend our time pursuing meaningless frivolities. Copper Time is unfortunately often “purchased” with a higher-quality time, Iron Time. The majority of us tend to trade that which has value for something that has less or no value at all.
Iron Time is time spent acquiring the things we need. “Need” here is being used in the “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need” sense of foundational needs: sustenance, shelter, and so on. The way we acquire these things that we need are either external, by performing a function for another, or internal, by producing something of ourselves that is of value to others. Without regard to other nuances in method, the internal Iron Time is of a better grade than the external. Those who produce Iron Time through service to others tend to take on the mentality of slaves, “buying” with their Iron Time the Copper Time with which they temporarily and artificially part from their masters and try to enjoy a moments respite as “free men”. Those who produce their Iron Time internally tend to invest it in time that is of a higher quality, seeking to improve themselves and reduce their reliance on Iron Time to secure their needs.
Silver Time is a grade of time spent in intentional action, not simply sustaining the self, but improving the self in order to reduce the amount of time required acquiring those things which sustain us. Silver Time is “bought” with Iron Time, time spent laboring, either for the self or for others. Silver Time is time spent increasing our skills, developing better processes, or shifting from Iron Time as labor for another to Iron Time producing things valued by others from our own resources. The more Silver Time we tend to produce, the less Iron Time is necessary. Silver Time is the beginning of self-determination.
Gold Time is time spent improving ourselves, like Silver Time, and is often purchased with Silver Time. The difference is that Gold Time is completely self-determined and is time spent improving ourselves as a being, not improving our functions as a gatherer of sustenance. Gold Time is the time invested in developing what Gurdjieff refers to as “the soul”, or what I would suggest is the monument we will leave in history in the minds of others about our deeds and our life. Both are concepts which carry the idea of self forward in time beyond our lifespans. Gold Time has aspects of all the other times except dross. Like Copper, it is time spent without external demands; like Iron it involves labor; like Silver, the time is spent improving ourselves. The results of Gold Time have the potential to evolve us and also evolve our species based upon the innovations we develop and our example. Whereas Silver Time improves that which exists already, Gold Time develops innovations and new functions of the self.
Every man dies, not every man really lives. ~ Mel Gibson as “William Wallace” from Braveheart
Time, from this perspective, is something which can be cultivated and bartered, not just for those things we need, but to actually improve ourselves and the quality of time we have. Being aware of our time and how we are investing it, each moment, we begin to “buy” our freedom and become more self-determined. To do so requires a commitment to ourselves to struggle to be more aware. Awareness of time can lead to few other conclusions than that its nature is precious, and that it should not be squandered lightly.
Life is for the living. Responsibility to the responsible. These are two concepts drawn from Satanism which address awareness and, in particular, the use of time. Life is for living, for the experience, because it is brutally short. Its brevity is what should inspire each of us to live it heroically and defiantly, seeking to become immortal through our actions despite the mortality inherent in our existence. Freedom is a life lived without fear of death, but with full awareness of its inevitability. Responsibility for our lives is ours to take or to ignore. We suffer either at our own peril. With freedom comes risks. Do we face life by taking command of our time and living it intentionally, or do we succumb to happenstance and squander the moments we have?
Choice. The problem is choice. ~ Keanu Reeves as “Neo” from The Matrix Reloaded
Very well put together. These are common themes you have been kicking around since I met you many years ago. It’s nice to see them spelled out, finally, in a manner that has lead to your personal epiphany expressed here.
You say, “Each moment is a precious stone which we can either use in building our monuments to ourselves in history, or which will be pulverized into dust.”
I have a couple of questions for you about this.
1) Do you think that all of the online interaction, the tattooing, the blogging, the Youtubing, etc. that you participate in on a daily basis is assisting you to build your monument, or will it limit you as distractions from a greater impact you could possibly create? The time we spend interacting with others plays a role in our direction, in our choice of how to spend our time. Sometimes, this interaction can be guiding and fruitful. Sometimes, it merely allows us the opportunity to remain engrossed in Copper Time. 2) In the moment, how do you recognize the difference, and where do you draw the line with your interaction?
It seems to me that many of the past “gurus” spent so much time isolated from interaction and influence of others. They spent their time on retreats away, locked inside a room with maybe one or two individuals assisting them on creating their end goal. Rarely do you see anything profound come from someone that later states, “Thanks to the millions of individuals that helped to make this happen.” 3) Do you think it’s necessary to isolate yourself from the outside world for a period of time to accomplish the more profound and lasting impressions on our society that you are referring to?
September 24, 2011 at 10:43 pm
1) Yes and no. The on-line interaction can go either way, as you well know. Sometimes you can be engaged in a meaningful conversation, and sometimes you can just be perpetuating drama. The value of your interactions on-line are relative.
Tattooing is either Iron or Silver Time based on my analogy, depending on what I am tattooing and the degree of challenge involved.
2) In the moment, you may not know the difference. How you invest your time needs to be intentional, in my opinion. You need to be aware of how you are using it. The higher grades of time most likely require some forethought.
I have been trying to focus on more meaningful or beneficial interactions, recognizing that both of these values are relative. I try not to get sucked into those fits of frivolity that are common on the ‘net.
3) I disagree. Newton made mention that “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Of course, he was mocking Robert Hooke, a rival who was short and hunchbacked, but you get the point. Not all important innovations were made while fasting in the desert. Isolation can have its uses, but growth usually does not occur in a vacuum.
Still, wandering into the desert to contemplate your thinking was a common practice of many historic spiritual leaders and prophets… and I could use a vacation.
September 24, 2011 at 11:34 pm
I believe freedom is a byproduct rather than the end result, but that might be splitting hairs.
Liked the essay. Well written and creative. However, I think focusing on the temporal aspects of our struggle might be a red herring or decoy. A lifetime is a subjective and human preoccupation. From an objective or cosmic scale, our narrow sliver of existence is almost inconsequential (excluding accomplished 4th Way practitioners, of course). Whether we have seven hours, seven years, or seven decades, our chief aim never changes: Awakening. If a particular individual died tomorrow, then whatever recycled parts of their essence would eventually continue where that individual left off.
Going along the lines of your essay’s illustration, would “Platinum Time” be efforts along the second and third lines of work?
September 25, 2011 at 10:55 am
I hope you’re enjoying your honey-moon.
It is my opinion that a lack of awareness is grounded in a disregard for the limited amount of time we each have. The problem, as I see it, is that we delude ourselves into thinking that there will always be time to do it later, we can work on ourselves tomorrow, we can put it off. Procrastination is a symptom of unawareness.
There is no time like the present.
From an objective cosmic scale, the time we have is miniscule, but we do not exist on that scale, and does that not make the time we have even that much more precious.
“I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” ~Brad Pitt as “Achilles” from “Troy”
An awareness of our limited time is, for me, a prime motivator to make an effort toward any end, especially awakening. Awareness of time is not the goal, it is the impetus that drives us toward the goal. Awareness of our limitations should always spur us toward overcoming or mitigating those limitations. Limited time is the one commonality that as of yet none of us can avoid. Once we are aware and embrace the fact that this is our moment, and that another moment may not come, then we become that much more driven.
The scales of metal used in my analogy are meant to be figurative. I refer to all time used by an individual to develop beyond their current state, to innovate and grow, as “Gold” or premium Time. There is no guarantee that efforts along any of the lines of Work; on the self, for others, or for the Work, will actually result in growth, but the effort along any of those lines is often time well spent.
September 25, 2011 at 11:49 am
You say, “The value of your interactions on-line are relative.”
While all of reality may be relative to the person experiencing it, we are all under the same laws, essentially living the same life. None are in a better or worse situation than us for we are each placed where we should be for our own development. I guess I wasn’t clear in my questioning. I wasn’t looking for your response to the masses; I was looking more for your personal interpretation of how you are spending your own time.
You disagree with my stance that many of the timeless gurus move into almost isolation in order to manifest their true will that lives beyond their physical presence. Yet, Gurdjieff talks of real Work being conducted in a School, isolated from the everyday man. It is said by many of his students that his greatest of legacies happened after his car accident later in his life when he participated less in his schools and more with a select few while writing his famous trilogy.
Interaction with the outside world is a necessary trail down our individual path. How will you know what you’re trying to wake up from if you’ve never experienced it? However, the true manifestation of our will is created when we step away from it, stop being distracted by the various influences, and tap into our inner stillness, spinning at full speed. This uninhibited opportunity of stillness allows you to be fully present in whatever you may be trying to accomplish. Taking the time to appreciate the stillness will enhance your self-observation in the limited TIME you have left to build your monument.
“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” – Maya Angelou
September 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm
Thank you for the thought-provoking article. I do disagree with you on some points, in no particular order of importance:
First off, I believe that your definition of Copper Time is a myth. I, personally, have never seen a modern person do absolutely nothing. I know that people talk about it. They’ll say: “I’m going on vacation next week, and I’m just going to vedge; I’m going to do absolutely nothing all week!” And then they either do stuff they feel they need to do (I guess you could say very low level Iron Time like errands/shopping) or they spend what you described as Dross Time.
I think that one of the prime characteristics of the average person (American, I mean, as it’s the only I know) is that they are incapable of not doing. If they were, I think they’d be better off because they’d see a lot of what they are doing for the waste it is. Though I agree with you that this non-doing time is part of higher level work. And, to connect my two points, I’m trying to say it’s the inability of people to spend time in this way that leads them to their inability to do higher work.
Though I base that on my own personal experience of not having seen anyone in recent years doing nothing. Perhaps I’m not in the right spot, like on a cruise line. But my belief is that those people are still frantically scrambling to find something to do. Or at least something to do things to them. Your Dross Time, in other words.
My opinion is that it is a fear of death (or death of the ego/false self image) and a fear of awareness that causes people to feel the need to keep spending time mindlessly. I also feel that it’s everyone’s dim awareness of impending death that keeps them scrambling for something that they perceive will allow them to live forever (like money, fame, fake-surface-health) or simply busy their minds so they don’t notice the passage of time closer to death.
I agree that there is a great benefit in being aware of your own mortality and how much time you have left, not because it’s unnoticed, but because it’s a huge lie being told to ourselves that to face helps to balance us out.
You had also stated that you see our society as encouraging us to want nothing but to sit and watch TV. Yet you brought up American Idol, which I think is the prime opposite example. I feel that we are all taught that we’re supposed to be famous, beautiful, and rich. But we’re not taught how to do that, we’re just fed other people doing it so we can live vicariously through it and keep purchasing things that part of us believes will get us there without effort.
I think – in general – that you are ignoring or overlooking the mental work that occurs in the average person’s head. At a complete guess, I would say that you’re attributing no thoughts to the average American. The problem actually is, however, that there is too much thought going on with most people. Instead of stopping the thought and being aware, they are constantly thinking about how they can get rich, quick, stay younger and prettier sooner, and market their lives so other people will tell them that they are wonderful. All these things circle around and around most people’s minds, or at least are their only mental focus.
So while they may look as if they are doing nothing in their recliners, they are in fact being tricked into spending their self-improvement efforts inward, pushed there by the TV in front of them.
Anyway, if I keep writing I’ll have written an equally lengthy co-argument. Once again, thank you for the efforts, thoughts, and work. Even if I don’t agree with it all, having said it has enriched both of us.
September 26, 2011 at 2:16 am
@Alex Kreitner I think our disagreement is in your interpretation about what I refer to as “Copper Time”. Where you read the word “nothing”, you missed the next two words: “of value”. People are engaged in all manner of activity when they engage in what I refer to as “Copper Time”. There is simply little or no value in their investment. It is time frivolously spent. Later in your response, you seem to express an understanding of that sentiment, and you seem to be in agreement with it (“a fear of awareness that causes people to feel the need to keep spending time mindlessly”).
Your statement on the fear of death being the cause of frivolously wasting time is spot-on. Time spent in quiet, calm reflection would be a better use of time (akin to “Silver Time” or “Gold Time” in my analogy) than the “busy-work” we choose to engage in. I think that it is an excellent observation that instead of facing death as a part of life and feeling empowered, our fear of death leads to an avoidance mentality.
I agree that there is thinking and activity going on with most people. I see it, however, as what Gurdjieff referred to as “wrong thinking” and “wrong action”… again, effort wasted frivolously. While what can be considered idle effort is relative from one person to the next, we can ask how the time spent has benefited the individual, looking for some measurable manner in which their lives are enriched.
I think our difference of opinion is simply a small error in communication, and you have pointed to a cause that I did not express (or consider), in the expression of this model. I was less focused on the reason for the existing state of things, and more interested suggesting a perspective that might motivate others in a different direction. Your input is well-taken and appreciated.
September 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm
I agree, they aren’t desperately different perspectives. Just some slight verbiage and angle we’re looking at.
I guess my confusion with your Dross Time and Copper Time is that some things I felt you were labeling Copper I would label Dross. And other things would be more toward your Gold Time. So I suppose examples of the two lowest would be good. Because, to me doing nothing of value is akin to wasting your time mindlessly, which is how I saw your Dross Time description.
Probably just a nuance in your mind I’m just not catching.
I absolutely agree about the “wrong thinking” and “wrong action”. I think the average person is clearly a case of having a goal that they want to reach, but having a thought structure that is bleeding energy out on useless tangents, leading to physical action that goes nowhere, because the entire system isn’t attuned or capable of purposeful action toward a goal. Most people are taught all sorts of goals to attain, but are also taught to reach them in self destructive ways that only deepen their misery. It’s like telling someone if they cycle across the country they will be happy and then giving them an exercise bike that they spend the rest of their life on.
Obviously our goal is to deprogram ourselves from this inefficient setup so we can actually reach our goals.
I also think one danger of any progressive path is thinking too low of the average person. Honestly, I see the average person as equivalent to a Ferrari that is caked and completely covered in crap that makes it look terrible and run worse. In my opinion, anyone can do great things, it’s just that the majority are so distracted and poorly tuned that they seem inherently useless.
I’m beginning to even get to the point where I belief that intelligence itself is trained or environmental to a certain extent. True, some people’s minds are inherently, physically damaged, and so can’t be used properly. But for people who aren’t damaged, I think they could use their minds to great effect if they could have the crap cleared out of them. Although I think different minds have different abilities and strengths.
September 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm
I would agree that The Dross and Copper designations are almost equally inferior. The distinction I chose to make was in regards to choice. With the Dross designation, the individual has no other options; either due to external pressures or internal perspectives. The Copper designation allows for choice, but the choice made has no benefit. If food were used as an analogy, Dross would be there being no food, Copper only potato chips or some other inefficient source of nutrition, the other metals ever more efficient sources of nutrition.
I guess I should also point out that I am by no means attempting to create a structure to define this concept for others. I am merely providing a model that is under development and mainly for my own effort to understand. I would encourage anyone reading this to present their own models. We may agree or disagree, but all will hopefully come through the discussion with greater understanding and potential for awareness.
With that in mind, I agree that it would be a mistake to underestimate the average person. Indeed, I would be mistaken if I considered myself anything more than average. I am striving to make different choices, and have experienced different things, but I come from the same genetic and cultural stock as many in the society I am struggling to distinguish myself from. Every person, in my opinion, has tremendous potential. Unfortunately, conditions are often established which encourage us to leave that potential unexplored. Most of us are “asleep” to who and what we are, and what we may become. Anyone has the potential to “awake”. Anyone who is not aware that we are in the same boat, but possess possibly different tools or even a different understanding of how to use our common tools is, well, simply not as aware as they might like to think.
I think you are correct that our minds, the parameters which define the different choices and values and limit the routes we see as viable, are largely trained by social pressures. By providing a common “education”, you engender a common set or reactions and predictability. Gurdjieff suggested that all this debris is the false-personality built-up around our essence. Personality should be a tool of the essence, but our society is geared toward the facade being that which is valued. Learning to think for yourself and becoming potentially more free involves a meticulous examination of the self, our convictions, our beliefs, and our behaviors. Observation is the foundation, with the germ of awareness being the question, “is this really what I am?”.
September 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm
I don’t have much to say except that I agree with you.
And thank you for the time clarification!
September 27, 2011 at 11:44 am
There is life and then there is the Work. The former is of lesser value than the latter. Watching American Idol (or X Factor) is a waste of time when compared to Self-Remembering. I think we can all agree on that.
If someone was motivated by a hyper-awareness of their limited time on this earth, then yes – focusing on such would be worthwhile. I don’t find that particularly motivating, however. Motivation follows passion. I’m not passionate about time running out. I’m passionate about creating something of value. Just as smokers aren’t swayed by the warning label on cigarette packs, I have a feeling that human beings wouldn’t use their time more efficiently even after reading your well-written essay, Jason. Which is a shame.
Didn’t take an actual honeymoon, but so far we’re enjoying married life. Thanks! 😉
September 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm
Motivation is where you find it. I’ll take mine from just about any direction. Awareness of Time may simply be the most important reason to follow your passions, to work to see your dreams come to fruition. When you may not have another moment, why waste it thinking that “it cannot be done” or worse “I’ll do it later… Idol is on!”?
I’ve written this opinion in another essay, but I think we use the term “human being” far too broadly. The automatons that have a potential to be human probably wouldn’t hear what I have to say, but then I speak only to those who have the capacity to understand.
September 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm
I do have to agree with Venger about time. I don’t think that fear of anything is proper motivation for movement forward. Joy about obtaining some level is a more pure motivator, in my thoughts.
But I guess whatever gets you off the couch is some kind of improvement, especially with the average person.
September 29, 2011 at 11:02 am
“I cannot separate awareness of the limited nature of the moment (it is fleeting) from awareness of the moment.”
Then how can you be completely in the moment if part of your mind is busy working on comparing that moment with all the potential moments ahead?
“The distinction we seem to be dancing around is the difference between awareness of the moment and identification with the moment. Being aware of a fact is not being obsessed with it.”
I think one of the issues here is your description of Now as “the moment”. Being aware in every second is not picking apart one of those seconds to analyze. Once you start analyzing, you stop living and being. And you don’t have to be obsessed with something, you only need a second of distraction for your attention to not be on right now.
And if you relax your mind enough to be in the moment all identification disappears and you are only aware. As soon as you point out something you’re aware of and where it might lead, you’re identifying with where it is going. In other words, being aware in the present means you have no concept of the length of your entire life and how much is running out. To do that you have to stop being aware and start identifying with your mortality. So you can’t be aware of the future seconds if your focus and awareness is only on Now.
“I understand that it may seem like a fine distinction, but there is a world of difference… and of course, one can only know this distinction for themselves and is unable to judge if that distinction is present in another.”
I agree. There is not just perfect awareness and complete, mental slavery. There are all sorts of degrees in between. I’m trying to compare perfect awareness/consciousness (our goal, I’d assume) with everything else. If you either stop paying attention to now to start discussing how many not-nows you have or you spend all your time fixated on imminent death you still aren’t conscious. Unless you’re just shooting for good enough.
“I disagree that fear is the basis for prudent action. Awareness of the moment and prudent action does not indicate identification and fear of consequences. It is, again, a distinction between what you assume must be the root (fear) when it is simply presence of mind in the moment (awareness).”
I think the miscommunication here is that I’m discussing prudent thought, not prudent action. If you are completely aware every action you make will be prudent, and you won’t need a second person to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. But as soon as you start over-thinking your actions you start thinking of prudence and then you start buying all sorts of safety gear, insurance, and begging friends to stand by while you do something the conscious part of you knows will lead you to injury. I feel prudent action will follow naturally from awareness of the present and discussing it is a waste of time and only brought about by fear of consequences.
“But, I would not be writing for such a person on this matter, would I?”
If I was completely aware then I wouldn’t feel the need to talk to you about it. Talking is just our human way of trying to make sense of things so we can do better.
October 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm
I think it’s definitely a matter of perspective, or just words. But I believe what I’m trying to say boil down to this:
I see the ideal as awareness of the now and then conscious movement from there. My concern in your stated opinion is letting something outside of the now (e.g. how many tomorrows there are) is what is driving your ideal action.
I feel action should come from within, not driven from something within one’s perspective of something without. If that makes sense. Though that may be an impossible fantasy of mine.
But I also recognize that it’s a matter of choice in the end. What you want to look at is your own and obviously I have no cause to say it’s not the right choice for you.
October 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm
I think we are in agreement.
“The first mark of maturity of awareness is the comprehension of the fact that eventually we will die. This is, in my opinion, the end of our mental childhood and the beginning of our mental adolescence. Awareness that we have only a limited amount of time is often within us only cursory; we know it, but we do not understand it and therefore do not act accordingly. If we were aware of our limited amount of time and understood it, much of the frivolity and wasted effort that dominates our lives would cease.”
It is not time that is in and of itself the source of motivation. Rather, it is awareness, with an awareness of time being a part of that overall awareness. Awareness is always internal.
October 1, 2011 at 10:48 pm
I think my only wording change would be “if we only realized how much time and energy we are wasting, we would stop wasting it.” If I have a dollar or a million dollars, I’d still like to spend them well.
But of course it’s all facets of the same gem.
October 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm