First timers coming to the Ozarks often express their happy surprise at the friendliness of the natives. Nothing unusual, then, that I found myself yakking away with some open-hearted local, name unknown, at the Walmart in West Plains. Suddenly, a loud “Bang!” rang throughout the cavernous supercenter.
For a split second you could hear a pin drop. The entire place went silent. And then, as if choreographed, the din of normalcy started up right where it left off. No gunfire had followed.
For a moment, all superficial divisions and lesser interests ceased to exist. We literally came to our senses. Any distinction between male or female, race or creed, rich or poor had vanished. Every mind in the room was focused to its full capacity.
We have the capability to unite and act together on a level of intention beyond words. Both fear and comedy, for example, can easily spark this response. But absent a threat situation, what if we saw the opposite potential? Meaning, we could just as easily awaken the heart’s beneficence for our collective happiness.
This moment of mass clarity got me to thinking about what could move us out of mere potentiality, our current situation.
The flash of unity at Walmart was triggered by the instance of a falling box. Just last week, a man in body armor and an “assault rifle” was arrested in Springfield, and this came right on the heels of the carnage in El Paso and Dayton. Fear rode in through the supermarket doors like a form of static cling. We – all of us – are spring-loaded to share an apocalyptic moment in time. So why not not joy?
The word comes from the Greek Apo, meaning to uncover, and kalyptein, to cover or conceal. Just one moment before and the knowledge wasn’t yours. One moment later, and it is. Apokálypsis refers to the moment of receiving information by dissolving our process of egocentric lensing, a suspension of the covering self.
A personal insight, such as being struck by a new idea, is therefore an apocalypse. Surprise! How’d this here nighty end up in my golf bag? Enquiring minds want to know! But joking aside, what happens if a moment of happiness could be extended indefinitely?
Apocalypse originally meant personal illumination, and was not saddled with end-of-times overtones like it is now. How this happens is perfectly instructive. The “follow-the-sword” dynamic of Western materialism, has systematically and relentlessly followed the mechanics of an apocalyptic Endgame.
I describe an Endgame as an archetypal terminus, a final point to which everything in the Universe is fated to spiral towards a final point. This future, or Omega Point as coined by the scientific mystic and Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, subordinates our relationship to material reality backwards through time.
I take a more expansive view, which is that different modalities of consciousness lead to different endgames. Each represents a complete symmetry within itself, each has a different ending. Even modern science is coming around to the idea that here are a variety of futures. What is not emphasized is that we have a choice in the matter.
What evidence do we have to suspect this? A majority of Americans believe that time-jumping extra-terrestrials are vacationing in the skies above us right now without paying us for it. See the Zoo Planet while it’s still there! Outer Rim travel discounts apply! A deeper discussion of why they haven’t taken over (some claim they have), is tempting, but how this is done must wait for another time.
Now where was I? Oh yes, the way that we “tell the time” is an apocalyptic function rooted in our biology. Communication, as we conceive it, is rooted in a shared modality of punctuated time. By the act of speaking, we simultaneously shape the minds of others, and create the feeling of time-flow.
So whether we are talking, thinking, or reading, each word is microcosmically telling the time. That is, every bit of information comes in a sequential moment of revelation, an apocalypse. Of course, the entire form of our culture is permeated by this contagion, is functionally apocalyptic. Our imagination finds it difficult to configure around the Endgame alternatives that would be implicit in other forms of information exchange, such as might result from telepathic field awareness.
Any clock would be far more accurate if, instead of numbers, the word “Now” was painted on its face. Every time you checked, it would still read “Now.” There is, and forever will be, only “Now.” At some point, usually accompanying the decrepitude of age, we decide that we no longer need to be reminded of this fact, and ditch the watch in pursuit of the default position, “Do Not Disturb.”
It’s not difficult to get a concept of this “now,” but quite something else to remain in a stabilized, cognitive reperspective of timelessness that comes as a consequence of free attention. Free attention is the kind of open trust you find in children, the feeling of non-separation. It’s the un-fragmented substance of our true nature.
Jesus spoke to this trust, this wholeness of the undivided mind, when he said “Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3)
The “kingdom at hand,” doesn’t conform to the adult impulse to translate everything into a lifetime of meanings ascribed to an externalized system of reference points. Nope. Think about thought itself and you’ll be observing how the mind creates punctuated time in action. Every thought is a collapse of mind into interiority. We go from “out there” to “inside my head” each time the mind assigns a name, form, and meaning to a sight or sound. If we allow the eyes to take in the whole field, called “global vision”, we remain in a state of high level, non-specific receptivity, something every successful hunter knows all about.
Notice how the attention suddenly focuses (or collapses) around a bit of motion, or some object. These two powers, of sight and sound, are the gateways that open and shut the mind. “I see that you mean,” we say. The point is that to observe this process of mental collapse is to take a giant step towards living a deliberative life.
Our symbols of time-making frame more than the strategic separations of our personal lives, they tie us at deeper levels of communal expediency as well. My bet, though, is that even if we threw away our time-trackers, we would still function apocalyptically.
The Tenochas (Aztecs,) developed a fear-based, morbid style of an Apocalyptic Endgame culture. Talk about efficiency! They needed just one big calendar stone to keep everybody hopping to work, paying their tributes by April 15th, and enslaving their neighbors on a vast scale. Snooze alarms? They didn’t even invent the wheel!
At any rate, and well beyond the psychological components of anticipation, expectation, reverie or dread, the act of making a sound is implicit in punctuated communication. “Telling the time” is an act of naming, and as such, operates independently of circumstantial content. But it also defines us in profound ways.
We must “tell the time” if we are to sustain the illusion that we are separate from nature, and we’re left with the default position we got now: “Time is money!
All of us have the capacity to unite around a positive, sustainable, and self-governing future. As Carl G. Jung put it, “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
NOTICE from the Farm Resettlement Congress Message Board: Thursday August 15th 5:30-7pm You are invited to The Women of the Watershed (and men too) meeting to talk local food and meet Adrian Buff, the farmer from Ava’s Grison Dairy and Creamery. at The Little Farm Store on 520 Lucky Rd. Seymour, MO. Facing Hwy. 60 – Across from the Cedar Gap turn off.