It’s so easy to feel discombobulated or unbalanced. We might rely too much on one person’s advice and lose sight of ourselves, or care so much about other people’s opinions we no longer know our own. Or we worry so much about a future event we lose touch with the present. We might get sick, anxious, afraid and doubt our ability to recover or face a threat. We might try to check emails while texting or do any two tasks requiring mental focus at the same time and can’t accomplish either very well.
Einstein described how space and time were not separated in two but relative to each other. Each needs the other to fully describe either. As far as I can understand it, since light, or the universe is always in motion, describing the distance between any two objects ⎼ or to describe any place anywhere we need both the where and the when. The apple tree by my front door on this gray spring day is so different from what it was last January, or yesterday.
If we try to do the impossible and hitch ourselves intellectually or emotionally to only time, then space zooms by. We always need a where as well as a when, the context or the whole of a situation to understand any part.
Such is true with any duality. If we consider just one half of any such linked pair, they both disappear. Try describing above without below, a parent without a child, or separating mind from body, self from universe. Or similarly, we might lose touch with ourselves by mentally dividing now from a wished for soon or a lost then. Or when it’s raining, we make ourselves feel even wetter and more miserable by imagining we could’ve been dry.
Yet, when we feel chilled, for example, it can be helpful to imagine a warm mini sun above our heads⎼ and its comfort spreading, inch by inch, down through our body. Or when it’s just our hands that are cold, we can picture and feel we’re holding a smooth stone, warmed by the sun cupped in our hands. Visualizing is one thing, but wishing or blaming doesn’t warm us at all.
A Zen Master from the 13th Century Japan, named Daito Kokuji, wrote:
No umbrella, getting soaked,
I’ll just use the rain as my raincoat.
I don’t think I can put into words exactly what this means. 13th Century Zen Master Dogen might have done what I couldn’t do, when he recorded his insight that time is not separable from being; that everything and every being is time, or “being-time.” The spring flower, this finger on the keyboard, this beating heart is time. We make a gigantic and painful mistake by thinking of time as only a phenomenon that ebbs and flows, or flies away from us, something we can divorce from beings and things. Dogen shows that when we realize this essential truth about the nature of time, the moment is absolutely alive, present, whole….
*The anecdote at the heart of this blog was published before by my own website and The Sunlight Press.
**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.