Sunday, October 16, 2016

Standing in the Sensuous Present

    "There is a useful exercise that I devised to keep myself from falling completely into the civilized oblivion of linear time.  You are welcome to try it the next time you are out of doors.  I locate myself in a relatively open space─ a low hill is particularly good, or a wide field.  I relax at bit, take a few breaths, gaze around.  Then I close my eyes, and let myself begin to feel the whole bulk of my past─the whole mass of events leading up to this very moment.  And I call into awareness, as well, my whole future─all those projects and possibilities that lie waiting to be realized.  I imagine this past and this future as two vast balloons of time, separated from each other like the bulbs of an hourglass, yet linked together at the single moment where I stand pondering them.  And then, very slowly, I allow both of these immense bulbs of time to begin leaking their substance into this minute movement between them, into the present.  Slowly, imperceptibly at first, the present moment begins to grow.  Nourished by the leakage from the past and the future, the present moment swells in proportion as those other dimensions shrink.  Soon it is very large; and the past and future have dwindled down to mere knots on the edge of this huge expanse.  At this point I let the past and future dissolve entirely.  And, I open my eyes.  ...

    I find myself standing in the midst of an eternity, a vast and inexhaustible present.  The whole world rests within itself─the trees at the fields edge, the hum of crickets in the grass, cirrocumulus clouds rippling like wave across the sky, from horizon to horizon. ... I remain standing on this hill under rippled clouds, my skin tingling with sensations.  The expansiveness of the present holds my body enthralled.  My animal senses are all awake─my ears attuned to a multiplicity of minute sounds, the tine hairs on my face registering every lull and shift in the breeze.  I am embedded in this open moment, my muscles stretching and bending with the grass.  The present seems endless, inexhaustible.  What, then, has become of the past and future?"

-  David Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, Vintage, 1996, p. 202

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