Nathaniel on life among outcomes
Friday, December 15, 2017
4:50 a.m. Such a comfortable, familiar habit, coffee and slippers and robe, sitting at my desk—
All right, friends, ready to proceed?
Indeed we are. And glad you are ready as well.
I had printed out someone’s question, the other day, but now I can’t find it. So, more on decisions and changing timelines?
You needn’t clutch, trying to remember what we had listed as things to be covered. We made the list, we can follow the list. But, as we said, it doesn’t need to be done that way. The underlying question – how is it that find yourselves on this rather than that timeline – amounts to asking, why can’t you have everything your own way.
I remember my very little daughter saying one time, with a great sigh, that that’s what she would like, to have everything her own way. It was so funny, because I thought, yeah, wouldn’t we all.
Same old question, though – which you? And beyond that, what’s the fun in playing a game in which you win every time? And beyond that, how can you construct anything without resistance to be overcome? And beyond that – it isn’t only about you (although, in a way, it is), so how could it center only on you?
Beyond all that, you are not playing a game, or constructing something, or engaging in a competition – whatever metaphor you care to use – once and for all. Instead, you are engaged in what we might call permanent impermanence. Perpetual readjustment. Continual reaction and reaction and reaction, not in a passive way that leaves you only the acted-upon, but in a creative way that leaves you perpetually stimulated by what has been, and then contributing by your reaction – your chosen and unchosen reaction – to what has been.
I got a great visual of an intense handball or jai alai game. Intense, deadly-fast, intoxicatingly intricate, exciting.
Yep, that’s your lives. Even the boring parts are, let’s say, the background moments to a continuing movement.
Now, we know that the natural thing here for many of you will be to say, “But what’s the point of all this?” Wrong question, for the moment. A better question is, “How can this be true? It doesn’t feel that way.”
No, it can’t very well feel that way in any one given timeline, can it?
That is a very 3D way to look at it. We’d say it a little differently. That was a transitional concept, that many-worlds way of looking at things. It isn’t that the world is split by each decision – not in a physical-reality way. It’s that it is possible (inevitable, in fact) to split in a different way, non-sequentially.
I’m getting the idea, but non-sequentially isn’t the right word.
It is in a way, but it requires explaining. Try, and we will correct.
Yeah, it’s hard. All right, what I’m getting is that within conventional 3D thinking it is an endless series of Y structures. One splits to become two, each of which splits in turn. So, the guys told us it doesn’t happen as a result of decisions, but was a pre-existing set of equally real timelines created with the creation of the universe. That is, all possibilities always existed, so all timelines existed, only one seeming real at any one time in any one place. And now you are saying, I think, that we don’t traverse all those timelines in parallel – all the timelines don’t exist simultaneously in the way we’ve been thinking – but we don’t traverse them sequentially either. It’s more like reality flickers continually, like a fluorescent light in a way, always on, always changing, always more or less continual.
It is in the continual readjustment of the perpetual present moment that all timelines are traversed.
I’m almost ready to give up on words. I can’t explain what I’m sensing.
You know how people sometimes describe reality as ineffable? That’s what they are running up against. But it isn’t an absolute barrier. Experience plus intuition can convey what theory and mere words cannot. That is why there is no substitute for experience and a personal teacher. Fortunately, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Not necessarily in physical form, I take it.
Well – Let’s put it this way. In physical form is how you respond easiest while dependent upon sensory input. It doesn’t have to be a person. It may be a set of circumstances.
A book falling off a shelf, leading an intuitive person to buy the book.
Certainly. A chance conversation. An overheard remark. A connection drawn because you happen to be reading two very different books at the same time. There are millions of ways. It isn’t the circumstances themselves, it is the recognition of resonance.
But sometimes it’s a person. And the odd thing is that that teacher may function for you as teacher without either of you suspecting it. Your influence on each other’s lives is greater than you commonly suspect, and it occurs in ways you often are unaware of.
In any case, no need to give up on words. Remember, think of them as sparks, catalysts, not as in themselves the mechanism of construction. You can express something very sloppily and still strike sparks; you can express very distinctly, with fine modulation of meaning, and not strike sparks. And in either case, you’ll mostly never know on a 3D level. Nor need you. it isn’t your effect on others that is the point of your lives, but your effect on you. On you. You are your responsibility.
To clarify, I know you don’t mean, “Look out for number one,” meaning, do whatever you want to others.
Even that, in a way. If you are responsible in your relationships [I wrote this, but in typing it, I don’t understand what this clause means], you express who you are. In other words, you live your values. To be good to others may be who you are. To be indifferent to them, to view them with hostility and suspicion, to be actively malevolent – all these possible ways of being are part of the range of human reaction, and just because you disapprove of them does not mean they aren’t.
I get it: If you disapprove of evil, fight it by expressing your values, but the emphasis is not on the social outcome but on your own character development through choices.
Your own life is what you contribute to social outcome. This is not metaphor but fact. A John F. Kennedy, a Gandhi, a Hitler, will have a vast impact upon present and future society. That impact is an integral part of their lives. Nonetheless the lives were about their choices as individuals, as much as about their reactions to the influences around them. At the opposite end of the scale, someone nobody will ever hear of – a monk in his community, and we don’t mean Thomas Merton or the Dalai Lama or John Tettemer (or Mother Teresa; it isn’t a gender thing), but a truly anonymous monk – is still engaged in living his or her values. The invisible but very real influence of any of those individuals – who are connected to others by innumerable strands, remember – will have an effect, but they exert that influence, they have that effect, as a by-product, you might say, of living their values.
So you can say, perhaps, that “resist not evil” has as one of its meanings the importance of keeping your eye on the ball and not confusing your actions externally as reality and your actions internally as not important or even not real. One of its meanings.
Bear in mind, there can be no “final” result while the world continues to exist. It isn’t pastàpresent àfuture. It is one perpetually interacting present moment, playing out all possible scenarios. At any one time – Now listen to this! – at any one time, you are who you are, you exist in the existing web of relationships, you choose (actively or by default) your reaction to that moment. There can be no final victory or defeat, because there is no “final.” So, can’t you see, the stakes aren’t nearly as high as people sometimes think? If you come to the happy ending, only to find that the story continues (as it always does), or if you lose everything and all is in ruins, only to find that the story continues (as it always does), how much emphasis should you put on winning?
But that seems to imply that our creation and expression of character is equally evanescent.
In a sense, it is. That is no tragedy, and it is not pointless. Everything gets expressed, developed, extended. Then other qualities get expressed, developed, extended, and maybe they to some extent contradict or reinforce or complement the previous ones. Which is real? Which is important? Which is the point of your life?
All of them.
Correct. All of them, any one of them at any given moment. You don’t need to understand your present-day life, nor see the point to it, nor bemoan the things you “should” have done, nor those you wish you hadn’t done. It is always now; you are always tasked with choosing who and what you want to be now, this moment. And no “external “developments can ever relive you of that responsibility nor (what amounts to the same thing) rob you of your inheritance and legacy.
And that’s enough for the moment.
And it’s six exactly. Nice work. See you next time.