7. Lost In The Aquarium
We see many things in our mind and we think we see each other, but we don't. We see our reaction to each other. What we see is our memory of each other, our emotional reaction and our thoughts attached to them. It is much like looking through an aquarium at another person. The aquarium is really busy. You don't see the other person, you see the aquarium. You see all the thoughts and feelings going between you. You haven't seen the real person for years! You probably saw him the first time you met, then you had a reaction (that's one fish). Then you fell in love (that was a whole bunch of fish). Then you got angry and that was a shark! Then after a while, you got so wrapped up in the aquarium, so lost in all the movement and activity there, that you thought you were looking at the person, but you were really just seeing the aquarium. Oh, once in a while you may catch a glimpse of the person if a big enough fish swims by and startles you, so...be quiet. When you play with puppies they all come around. If you just sit there and don't do anything they start to leave. Fish are the same way. If you are too interested, or feed them, they all gather around. If you start to just look straight ahead to see that person, the fish may swim away and you might actually get a look at the person for a change.
Do you know of the book, "Be Here Now? Here Now Be, Now Be Here? "There is a lot said in esoteric teachings about "Be here now." And for observation, we'll start to show you that there is no other choice except to be here now! We talked about appearance, we talked about reality. There is an appearance of time, and an appearance of space. But we already know there is no time and there is no space. If we start to operate from reality instead of from appearance we are going to start to live differently. So let's say, we are here, now, in the eternal now moment. There are several things we can be doing in the now.
Regretting the past
We can be here, thinking about the past. For example, I was giving a speech and I went for the water and knocked it on the ground. "Oh! I'm so embarrassed." And I actually feel the embarrassment now. I see internal pictures of me doing it, I have internal verbal memories of people laughing at me and then I try to pretend it didn't happen, etc. When am I doing that? I'm doing it right now. That all happened three weeks ago, but when am I thinking about it? I'm doing that thinking right now!
When can I work on it? Right now! You can work on it right now. You can't work on it then. You can work on it right now, so you can change the past right now. You can't change then as it was then, but you can change now as it is right now for you, thinking of then. So, if you find you are thinking about the past, stop. There is no past - there is just you right now, having an internal picture that you think has something to do with the past. It doesn't have anything to do with the past, it is just a picture. Now through Self- observation all of a sudden you observe that you are doing that, reliving a past event. And then you observe your muscles are tight, and you are feeling embarrassment again. You observe that what you are doing right now is creating your life right now, so you start to have a choice about that. Is that what you want to do with this moment? Or not?
Imagine a man who gave a speech afterwards finding out that the whole time he was speaking his fly was down. He may waste a lot of time regretting that incident, running it over and over in his mind. As a result he gave that speech probably 500 times, and 500 times he forced himself to feel the embarrassment of his fly being down. I call that a lot of wasted effort! Observation of the tendency in oneself to relive the past in the present can be a signal, instead, to be here now.
Worrying about the future
We all have another negative tendency in addition to repeating the past. You could be sitting there right now thinking about the future: "Tomorrow I have to go before Judge so and so." "Tomorrow I have to go to class." "Tomorrow I have to make a presentation." "Tomorrow I have to take the kids to the dentist." And you'll notice the internal pictures of what it might be like, what the bad things are that will happen, or perhaps the good things. You notice your body react, and you have certain emotional reactions. When are you doing that? You are doing that right now. There is no future. You're just doing that right now. Self-observation will tell you, or ask you, "Is that what you want to be doing right now?" Because that is what you are doing right now.
Rather than you being in it, when you are not identified, you are observing yourself doing it. So, in family therapy, a family therapist will get the family to argue. The therapist does not listen to the content of the argument. He observes the process of communication. Where does mom sit? Where does dad sit? Where does the kid sit? Who talks first? Who interrupts? The therapist doesn't care about the content. If he gets caught in the content, he is no longer a therapist. It is the same with us in regard to being here now. Don't get caught in the content of what you are thinking about whether its the past or the future. Observe the process that right now you are spending your time thinking about the past or the future - that's the process. Is that what you want to do? Is it doing you any good?
Try to observe yourself sitting there thinking about the future. Then, when the future takes place, you will see that the one had nothing to do with the other. The future is seldom, if ever, what we think it will be. So let's suppose you observed yourself when you were thinking about the future, and then filed that memory for future reference. Now when the future is happening, you put them side by side, and you will see that one had nothing to do with the other! The future did not turn out to be anything like your thoughts about the future. And sitting thinking about it didn't help at all. So the next time you start to think about the future, forget it! Now there is such a thing as planning. Planning is planning right now, and that is very valuable. It is not a negative. Worrying is not planning. There is a big difference. You plan to meet someone next Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. You will be fully there. So don't worry today.
Be here now
The third possibility is, you could be here now. You could be present. Your senses could be open, all five of them. You will actually be looking at what you're looking at, hearing what you are hearing, seeing what you're seeing, and so forth. And you'll be aware of your thoughts, present in the now.
Just as there is no past or future in the now, so in the here there is no space. You can think you are in Paris, or think you are in Baltimore, but you aren't, you are here just now thinking you are in Baltimore. There is no space. It doesn't do you any good to be doing that. So, this made up space doesn't exist. The Paris in your head doesn't really exist. It isn't really Paris, it is just a picture that you have in your head. That doesn't seem very damaging, about places. It certainly doesn't hurt Paris to have you thinking about Paris, even though the thought in your head isn't Paris. For instance, if you had the thought that the Eiffel Tower was 300 feet high and it is really 1500 feet high, that wouldn't hurt the Eiffel Tower. It doesn't care.
Now let's say a new person comes into your town and you are walking down the road and you say, "Hi, how are you doing?" and he walks right by you because he was thinking about something else. Immediately you create a picture, "That person is a snob. What a stuck up!" And then you start to create data to prove you are right: he drives a Cadillac, shows off, and so forth. "That is the kind of person he is. I can tell by the way he treated me." Or, "Look at that dress! She is just trying to show off." Now that family doesn't exist! They only exist in your mind. But when someone comes to you and says, "Did you meet the new people that moved in?" you might say, "Don't even bother. Those people are stuck up." Now the person you are telling that to also has a picture in their head of a family that doesn't exist. The problem with that is, first of all, everything created was created by God, so everything is good, and the interesting thing is, evil wasn't created and it doesn't exist, but evil that doesn't exist can do a lot of harm.
Talk to a paranoid. He thinks everybody is after him. Nobody is after him, but he doesn't leave his house. It is creating a tremendous problem. An idea of something that doesn't exist is creating something that does exist; someone hiding in his house.
So now the family that moved into your community is being ignored - they are feeling rejected, feeling left out. Other people are starting to feel that something is wrong with these people, and a whole reality is being created out of something that does not exist.
What you have in your head right now in regard to places and things is very important. You have to begin to see that it doesn't exist. Then once you see that it doesn't exist, you might want to find out what does exist. Reality rather than fantasy. Truth rather than falsity. So it is important what we carry in our minds.
Now the whole thing, of course, is this: you could, if you wanted to, be aware of all of it. You could be aware of thinking about the past. You could be aware of thinking about the future, aware of making up things in your head about places and people, and that is called Self-observation. You could even be aware of yourself doing all that at once, and that would be called Self- remembering; not only observing it happening, but at the same time being aware of yourself observing it. In a state of Self-remembering you start to see the nature of the exterior man and what is going on and you see that you are as crazy as the next person. Then you start to see the possibility of being here - of really being here now. That means giving up our regret about the past and our anxiety about the future.
A related subject is hurrying because it is based on the illusion that we live in a world of limited time and space. The first thing to do about hurrying is to be aware that you are hurrying. Next, try to experience each sense. First of all experience sight; ask what am I looking at, what colors, what do I see? Then add hearing and try to maintain them both. See if you can get to experience all five of your senses.
Now you can be walking down the road to a train that you have to catch and still be present. Not hurrying does not mean that you can't walk fast. Not hurrying is a state of mind. It is not how fast your body is going. So when you are in a hurry, first of all, try to get in contact with all five senses. Then you can add a phrase to that. There are various phrases that you can use; "I am here now." "This is it." "Let go and let God." Some people use one of these phrases and it helps them have the experience called Self- remembering. Remind yourself I am not running to regeneration. I am not running somewhere. This is it. This is my experience. I am here now.
Once you feel all five senses, add whatever you wish to make you realize that this experience you are having is the experience that you could allow the Lord to change in you. You could allow the hurry to change. It says in the gospel, "Care not for the morrow." In Heaven and Hell we read about innocence and how the children don't think about the future, nor do the angels who are in innocence. If we are to come to that state of innocence we have to first be aware of the opposite; the hurry we have in us, the anxiety we have about the future, and the regret we have about the past. And we have to, in that space, start to allow a change to take place, no longer thinking about it or studying about it, but allowing our self to become different.
Allow the Lord to give you a different experience. Using the five senses is only a means by which you might become aware that there is a possibility that the Lord can transform that anxious state. He's asked you not to care for tomorrow. He's asked you not to be concerned with what you shall eat, what you shall drink and wherewithall you shall be clothed. He's suggested to you that He cares for the very hairs on your head, which are numbered. He takes care of the sparrow, and He takes care of you. We want to give Him the opportunity or allow Him to give us an experience of what He is talking about, not just the idea of it.
So any time you find yourself hurrying or feeling regretful about the past or being anxious about the future, go through your five senses. Be aware of being here now, that this is the time, this is it. See if you can allow the Lord to give you the experience of accepting yourself where you are and what's going on there. Expand your experience, rather than allowing the hells to focus you on that one thing that you are hurrying about, whatever that is, as if it is so important. And of course, the next time we meet, you will be very relaxed and calm. Swedenborg writes in his Spiritual Diary:
This is understood by the passage 'Give us our daily bread,' and that they must not be solicitous about the future as to what they may eat and drink, and that day by day they would receive manna. (Spiritual Diary 2188)
Conjecture about what is to come, and the remembrance of the past, are what take away every pleasantness and felicity of life. (Spiritual Diary 2190)
Examples: The red light seems longer than usual. The cashier is slower than you would like. The children are not moving fast enough.