Every step along this path is taken in the present moment. The discreet processing nature of our brain creates the illusion that we are going somewhere and becoming someone, while in fact we are actually just experiencing a flowing stream of “present moments.” There is no place to go, except here. There is no one to be, except who you are right now. This living in the present moment is an essential feature of this path. It is also the most difficult feature to practice. As soon as we actually turn to the present moment, a thought arises that directs our attention toward some future event or to something we should have done in the past. It is almost as if the present moment is actually too frightening to really experience. An internal voice suggests that we are in too much physical or emotional pain. It hints that we really don’t have the capacity to directly face this moment. It then presents an alternative from among the countless cultural diversions and distractions available.
We may also notice a voice that tells us, “If you live in the present moment, you will stop all forward progress. You will cease improving yourself and just drift through life.” This voice is full of “helpful” suggestions for self-improvement. “Some later day,” it suggests, “you will have things arranged well enough so that the present moment will be acceptable. Until then you’d better keep on striving.” That Voice is an Asshole, fuck that voice.
Other voices may suggest that the present moment is impractical, unrealistic, naive, selfish, lazy, dangerous, or impossible. They may present the usual habitual daydreams, fantasies, and mental babble in order to keep us distracted and unconscious. In any case we can get a sense of how difficult such a simple-sounding thing as “living in the present moment” can actually be. But, that’s what we must do if we wish to walk the Left Hand Path. Some are Theists, some Atheist, some Pantheist, but the one thing that unites us all is that the present moment is the only thing that matters, none of us are playing dice for a better afterlife.
The Left Hand path does not lead to the elimination of the uncomfortable or the painful, or the things and qualities we have learned to call “negative.” It would be more popular if it promised to lead in that direction. Instead it promises that we will learn to see the polarities of life in an entirely different way. It affirms that every polarity is absolutely necessary to the fabric of existence. The mysterious world of quantum physics reveals this basic truth. The electron with its “negative” charge and the proton with its “positive” charge exist within the atom in perfect balance.
Without this basic “yin and yang” of atomic structure, nothing would exist. Since we experience life within this physical cosmos, our basic perception of existence is that of polarities: here and there, us and them, up and down, love and fear, joy and sorrow, life and death. We naturally learn to prefer those things we call “positive”; therefore, much of our life is spent trying to experience them in isolation from their “negative” complements. This is an impossible task and only increases our fear and frustration.
No matter how hard we try to make it otherwise,
rising always gives way to falling; having always gives way to losing; and life always gives way to death. And that is where the Skulls and Demons and Devils come in on this shadowed path that we walk. These sights and sounds, smells and excrement expand our vision and leads us to a vantage point where we see all rising and falling as contained within a greater expansiveness. Life gives way to death, but death turns and gives way to life. We do not waste energy pretending otherwise, but instead trust the process of balance and return. We stop working to
change the processes of life and begin to work in cooperation with them. The negative becomes the doorway to the positive. The positive is enjoyed without clinging because we know ourselves to be capable of experiencing the whole of life rather than just the parts we prefer. Our experience is no longer limited by a dependence on circumstances. Freedom becomes a permanent quality of life available anywhere, anytime. Because, when the chips are down and the spells are cast, bones are thrown and cards are read, the only goal left is Freedom. All else is dust and shadows fighting on the wall by candlelight.
Just a few thoughts as I steal a few moments at work…Hope to write more in the days and weeks ahead.
Stay Gold everyone….