With our electricity off for a reason known only to God and Portland General Electric, my laptop’s battery is showing a quasi-ominous (given my normal weblog verbosity) “87% remaining.” So this is an excellent time to share some thoughts from Will and keep my writing relatively brief tonight.
Will, a new cyberspace acquaintance, said in an email that he had just stumbled across the Church of the Churchless. I’m glad he did. For his relatively brief message was sufficient for me to recognize a kindred spirit—both of us being fascinated by Existence.
Not the existence of things that exist, but the big “E” variety. The Existence that lies beneath time, space, matter, energy, and everything else that we can identify as an existent.
As Will says, pure and simple Existence (assuming “pure” and “simple” have any meaning when associated with the big E) is something that stands apart from all our usual naming, inquiring, analyzing, investigating, worshipping, and all the other “ing’s” that normally occupy our attention.
In my previous post I was trying to get at this difference between everything that exists and does things within space-time, and that “something else” which exists apart from all that. For lack of a better word, I call it Existence. Others say “God.” Still others, “ultimate reality.”
Like Will, I sense its presence. Not through my physical senses, obviously. Nor through thought or emotion. It’s hard to describe, but somehow Existence is just there as a presence that isn’t present in the same way other things are. That sensation is the closest I’ve come to what might be termed a “mystical experience.”
Yet it doesn’t strike me as at all mystical. Rather, it is an exceedingly natural sensation. I mean, if Existence didn’t exist, then neither would I. Nor anything else. So my nature, and the nature of everything in the cosmos, is nothing but Existence—when you strip away all that can be stripped away.
This, to me, is what meditation is all about. Getting down to basics. Finding out what my essential nature is. Exploring the possibility that there is something other than space-time. Opening up to Existence.
It’s here. It’s there. It’s everywhere. Got to be. Can’t shut Existence out of any nook or cranny, for nooks and crannies exist.
I’ve got this idea that when I’m on my death bed I’ll just keep on saying to myself, “I am.” When I don’t hear those words, I’ll be something else. Nothing. Everything. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I think it will still exist. But probably not as me.
Here are some excerpts from Will’s message:
I have a couple of comments on the matter of eternity, and the apparent necessity for it. It seems to me that if there were ever nothing, then nothing is all there could ever be. If we can accept this, at least tentatively, for purposes of discussion, then we have an unbeginning, unending, boundless in all directions, eternal reality existing.
The problem for us, at least for me, is that words are dichotomous, and are designed by and for converse with the phenomenological universe. They apparently begin and end. "Apparently" is my operative term because I cannot know this.
Anyhow, moving from the sublime to the possibly ridiculous, what we observe through our senses may be an illusion. Not an illusion in the sense that it doesn't have some tangible reality (via the finite senses), but in the sense that it goes away, vanishes in time.
When we try to apprehend the infinite, we just don't have the equipment, at least via the senses, to get far. We bog down in what Kahlil Gibran so elegantly noted as "man trying to comprehend God is like trying to pour the ocean into a drop of water.” Not actually so elegant -- but you get the drift.
…Anyhow, Brian, for me there is one thing that all existents have in common: existence itself. Simple stuff, really. And that existence is eternal and underlies limitless forms of being. It is truly miraculous (whatever that means). We are all connected to eternity all of the time. No other possibility.
I do not pretend to know what's going on here, but I do hold, with the Buffalo Springfield, that "something's happening here; what it is ain't exactly clear. . ." I love it, embrace it, and am sometimes (but not to the level of clinical diagnosis) carried away by it. And it never began, it will never end, and you are there (here).
Enjoyed your site. Look forward to more.
Ditto, Will. Thanks for the thoughts.