Friday, 6 January 2012

Time/lessness: some quotes for you

Don't know about you, but I can get impatient with people who use quotes in order to present themselves as wise, or to demonstrate the breadth of their reading - in other words, ego games. Also, a string of brief quotes can cause one to glaze over.

I will now run all those risks, and say that these little quotes, jotted down decades ago by me and recently re-discovered (do you have a clear-out after 12th Night?) seem to me to be really worth considering, each one, in no rush. If only I could say I had been living by them for those decades!

They relate to the transitory nature of the present moment, which is yet our nearest moment to eternity. Because (vide the picture) "Time like an ever-rolling stream/Bears all its sons away..."

If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration, but timelessness, the eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.

All the people I meet make faces as if they were going to live for ever.
(don't know)

The shell of a cicada
It sang itself
utterly away

Quite apart from all religion, there are the plum blossoms, the cherry blossoms
(Nan pu ko)

Nothing endures, nothing is precise and certain (except the mind of a pedant.) Perfection is the mere repudiation of that ineluctable, marginal inexactitude which is the mysterious quality of Being.
(HG Wells)

'I have now seen the truth in this one instant,' Yang Shan said. 'But how can I apply it in everyday actions?'
The Master replied 'All that is important is that you see things correctly. I don't talk about your everyday actions.'
(don't know the source)

However hard you search for it, you will never grasp it; you can only become it.

Heaven and earth and self -
of one root,
the Ten Thousand Things -
they and myself are one body.
(ZaZenron - not to be confused with Da Doo Ron Ron,
who lived much later...)

If you want to see into it, see into it directly. When you begin to think about it, it is altogether missed.
(don't know - East Asia, for sure)

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is - Infinite.
(Blake - and don't blame him because too many of my generation thought they could do that with the wrong chemicals...)

Life comes to an end at the previous thought; it is resurrected in the subsequent thought.
(Shan Tao - remarkably, that is what neuroscience
seems to be saying too - and maybe it's in that gap
between the two thoughts that we can enter the
timelessness of mindful contemplation.)

I hope that between the moments of ecstasy and agony in your life, you can find eternity in moments of mindful contemplation.


  1. Lots of high octane mind food here, GM. Thanks. I have spent the day considering, and I shall shortly cut and paste.

    For me, just now, it's Nan pu ko by a few lengths, but that's only because of where I am mostly just now.

    If you'll allow me to bore you for a few mins... I was walking the dogs a couple of weeks ago. The day was as grey and inert as only a English winter's day can be and I regarded it with resentment. Then I recollected myself and recited my current mantra, 'It was fun', my daily memento mori. And as I monitored the alteration of my perception I saw that what I was permitting was everything to reveal itself, and within moments everything was beautiful. Since then I've worked hard at allowing things to reveal themselves. Revelation is my current big thing. So selective can our view of the world become that we see almost nothing. What do we omit when someone says, Pop your head out of the window and see if it's raining?

    It's also occurred to me that art is a means by which artists communicate revelation, and it's the reason why I love it. It's extraordinary how nature imitates art thereafter.

    But we can do a lot of this for ourselves if we practise mindfulness, which I'd never have come to without this blog. Cease, busy thoughts; there are the plum blossoms, the cherry blossoms.

  2. Thank you Charles for your most definitely unboring thoughts. Revelation of the world as it is; as it can be to us if we can be in it as it is, "in its own terms," as we rather lamely say. If we be it, not think it or strive for it.

    Do you remember that moment in the film "American Beauty" when he videos - I think it was just a plastic bag turning in the wind's eddies? The transcendent beauty of the ordinary, revealed to him by the frame of a video. But we don't need a camera, sometimes - we just need to be. Out for a walk with the dogs.

    Truth is a matter of direct apprehension, you can't climb a ladder of concepts to it - I remember reading that by Lawrence Durrell when young, and grasping something then of the power of revelation. Which you here re-focus for us.