the Promised Land

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have already given to you, as I promised to Moses..” Joshua ch1 v 3

Meditation: “Saying the mantra is like playing verbal hopscotch from now to now.”

Via Positiva

WHAT-DREAMS-MAY-COMEOne of the things our parents teach us if we are well socialised is to suffer the sweet pain of deferred gratification – resisting immediate sweetie rewards in order to receive a sweeter reward later. I swallowed it. I still had Easter eggs left over when I went on my summer holidays.

This capacity to resist the temptation of an immediate reward in anticipation of a later better reward can be seen either as sign of growing up or or a sign of being controlled by the grown ups or those in authority. Religion has cornered the market in deferred gratification with the trump card of heaven – put off eating all chocolate until you taste the resurrection egg.

This is neither biblical nor liveable. When God promised Moses the Promised Land He wasn’t referring to heaven but to the conquest of Canaan in the next generation and before Joshua crossed over God encouraged him with these strange words. “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have already given to you, as I promised to Moses.” The future promise is already a present given. Like a Russian Easter egg the favourable future outcome is already hidden in the womb of the present moment. Jesus said “the Kingdom is within you.”

That’s why there is a seed of truth in the second step of Skakti Gawain’s four steps to effective creative visualisation. “You should think of it in the present tense as already existing the way you want it to be.” The danger of living on a promise is that tomorrow never comes and you miss the gift in the present. You become addicted to the idea that there is something missing and you go looking for it somewhere else. As Lauren Britt puts it, “beware of Destination Addiction—a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, or with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.”

The other danger is only living for the present moment as though there was no promise for tomorrow – what has become our YOLO mentality of “you only live once” which confuses happiness with pleasure. The utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill puts this ‘pleasure paradox’ succinctly. “Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness along the way. Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.”

Which reminds me of something Charles Kingsley says. “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements in life, when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”

If you want to be happy find something to be enthusiastic about or, if you want to be uber enthusiastic like Soren Kierkegaard, find the idea for which you are willing to live and die for. It may involve a little deferred gratification following this path but you’ll be happy in the moment. What did the Buddha say? “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” I still don’t really understand what he meant. It is tautological.

The thing that separates us from our future happiness is time. If it wasn’t for time the happiness that you anticipate experiencing tomorrow in your promised land is already here now. Which is fortunate since all mystics agree that time is an illusion of the mind.

In the inspiring documentary ‘Taro – El Eco de Manrique‘ the artist Cesar Manrique says “time is a creation of the brain.” Living in the now is the surest way to the promised land.

“Here is the Promised Land. The eternal is here. Have you ever noticed that you have never left here, except in your mind? When you remember the past, you are not actually in the past. Your remembering is happening here. When you think about the future, that future projection is completely here. And when you get to the future, it’s here. It’s no longer the future.

To be here, all you have to do is let go of who you think you are. That’s all! And then you realise, “I’m here.” Here is where thoughts aren’t believed. Every time you come here, you are nothing. Radiantly nothing. Absolutely and eternally zero. Emptiness that is awake. Emptiness that is full.” Adyashanti



“The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra is like dismantling a wall that separates your true Self from union with God … each syllable a brick … each word a course.”

Via Positiva

eyeEinstein was a realist. As he said, “I like to think that the moon is there even if I am not looking at it”. Does the full moon shine in the forest if there is no-one to witness it?

Not if your name’s Deepak Chopra. He is not a realist he is an an idealist in scientific terms when talking about consciousness i.e. it takes an observer for anything to be ‘real’. This stems as much from his deep understanding of quantum physics as much as his deeply Indian influenced advaita – non-duality – philosophy.

In the recent Science & Non-duality Conference he delivers a very clear presentation on what science can tell us about the nature of the universe and the nature of consciousness … almost nothing. He makes the observation that our scientific observations reveal that 70% of the universe is dark energy leading to the expansion of the universe, the edge of which is apparently unknowable at 47 billion light years away, 26% is dark matter which glues it together both of which cannot be observed. Of the remaining observable 4% almost 99% is made up of hydrogen and helium (invisible to human observation) and the 1% of 4%, or less than 0.01% of the (un)known universe, is made of ‘stuff’ – atoms in galaxies, stars, planets and bones.

The most powerful MRI scanner exploring the “nooks and crannies of our neural networks” has not yet located consciousness. Deepak’s conclusion is that we know very little about what makes up the universe and what makes up consciousness. Either consciousness is, as Daniel Dennett argues, an illusion of a biological robot or a priori the ground of our Being … ”die Grunde’ as Meister Eckhart refers to it.

“There is existence and there is awareness of existence.”

Enquire into this your self and see what you find – who is the observer?



“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra is like a free floating space walk daisy-chaining with atoms, saints and galaxies.”

Via Positiva

gravityIn ‘Gravity’ at her lowest ebb high above the earth Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) gives up on life and turns off the oxygen supply in her space capsule.

As her thoughts turn to her imminent death she murmurs to herself “No-one taught me how to pray.” Without spoiling the ending, when she crawls out of the lake (like a creature re-born) she murmurs to herself “Thank you.” She taught herself how to pray.

At the end of ‘American Beauty’, Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) – who has just lost his life after finding it – says “I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me … but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst … And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life … You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry … you will someday.”

The strap line to ‘Gravity’ is ‘Don’t let go’. It should be ‘Let go’. As George Clooney as Matt Kowalski says as he floats off, “You’re gonna have to learn to let go.”

An attitude of gratitude is the daily mantra of the secular monk in all of us. We are priests to ourselves in our own lives.


between the ‘I’s’

“Where there is isness, there God is.” Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra – ma-ra-na-tha – is like walking on the slats of a rope bridge acrosss the divide from ‘I’ to ‘I Am’.”

Via Positiva

Next time you wake up watch out for your first thought – play a game of thought tag with yourself. Can you tag your first thought? What is it? It will invariably have a sense of ‘I’ about it. “I wonder what time is it?”

The first thought is an ‘I-thought’ and re-inflates our whole sense of ‘me’ – this ‘I’ in a body … embodied. But if you could squeeze the input valve of this blow-up dolly called you between finger and thumb BEFORE the first I-thought rushes in … who are you?

You are pre-thought … yet awake. Pre to-do lists in the head … yet alert. You are literally without a thought in your head. Yet conscious. Ask: who is the ‘I’ in this state – before the thoughts rush in? And who is this ‘I’ in between thoughts? What is your natural state before the constructed ego re-inflates?

You are Being. Awareness. Isness.

Try it out next time you wake.