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Monday, July 20, 2015

No Time Like the Present

In seminary (philosophy/theology), a few of us experimented with cannabis and LSD. Once with the help of one of those substances (I can't remember which), I had an ecstatic vision.

I felt my body including heart and soul (wits and guts) as a whole pulsating I-don't-know-what stretching between some deep inner space and an outside living world, between a big bang point of creation to a spiraling, expanding universe, between my self here and every other self everywhere, between this very moment and every other moment in the past and yet to come.

I was studying Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger at the time. So after the moment passed I called it my Hegelian dialectical experience or M-P's pre-thematic consciousness or Heidegger's Dasein. It is an experience that I cannot put in words or design although I still try. (See below.)

I did not experience a God or another thing out there or in here. It was not a memory or ambition. I was with friends with whom I was very aware but went through them to some larger community which was somehow me. I know that neuroscience can stimulate that experience with chemicals or electric charges to the brain. But I also know that that experience is here right now as I write these words even though I am not attending to it.

The vision or experience still guides me and appears to me now and then when I hike in wilderness, or reach a runner's high, or float in Hawaii's ocean, or reach Half Dome, or sometimes just nothing. I still have clear memories, more erotic than cerebral, of those specific times and places.

It is a very simple thought that calls itself "presence" to which I can only point using complex words, formulas, and designs. Presence--being here, being now, being with, being in touch--so simple, so complex, so profound is this consciousness that drives poetry and art, science and philosophy, faith and hope, and love. Presence is the sense of unity we feel with each other, with every living being from the great minds who care for us to the slime mold that cleans our forests, with the universe from the quantum fluctuation of the big bang to the voyage of New Horizons past Pluto and into the space beyond our solar system.

Psychologists tell us that the present--the moment we feel right here now--is actually an event which has just passed. Presence is an illusion of the brain in which our adapting-to-environment organism with all its sensations, memories, and intentions are integrated into this whole body experience we call self, ego, or consciousness. Presence is an illusion. And it is our destiny, our calling to achieve and make it a reality.

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