get present

What is the best way to arrest our skid toward extinction? How to live an ethical life? How do we advance “spiritually”? How do we create the shift necessary to avoid nuclear war, war in general, alleviate poverty, eliminate pollution and unsustainable practices? I have always been suspicious of one-sentence or one-word answers to big questions, but Eckhart Tolle’s take on these questions overcomes my skepticism as it embodies the beauty of simplicity and a strategy to address the full range of critical issues that plague the human family. As with all simple answers elaboration is required.

(Illustration by Tom Ferguson)
(Illustration by Tom Ferguson)

Tolle’s statement can begin that elaboration, “there are many questions, but only one answer,” presence. How do I respond to my perception that the momentum of history is leading us toward extinction? That the quest for profits, power and privilege, or mere survival, is devouring the life system? That the most successful in that quest use their considerable influence to insure that no alternative way of organizing ourselves gets a fair hearing, that their preferred mode undergoes no serious questioning? This is accomplished via their ownership of media and disproportionate impact on the political system and other institutional life.

We can use our minds to create strategies to propagate alternatives, we might do that. The traditional resistance to the oppressor, cited even in the bible, in one of its many moods, “When the spirit of the ruler moves against thee, yield not.” But what we are inspired to do out of presence is not predictable which is why Tolle doesn’t advocate specific actions like blocking logging operations, whaling ships, war materials and demonstrations. Get present, then, connected to the self-evident intelligence out of which flows evolution, you’ll know what to do. It could be those actions, it could be others, but it is known only through stillness.

On some level reality can be conceived as a frequency array. Human consciousness, or unconsciousness, can be seen as part of this array, anger vibrating at a different frequency than affection, judgment different from acceptance… and presence, the state of non-thinking awareness, is a frequency we can call joy or peace. An agitated angry self-righteous demand for peace is little different, frequency-wise, than a similar demand for war. The frequency array is shifted by mere presence and one’s contribution to that is the ultimate form of activism. Presence is the state we enter when obsessive thinking is stilled. That is attained by simply noticing the chatter, bringing it into consciousness where it dissolves, transforms into presence.

Now in presence, in the stillness of being, there eventually comes an impulse, an enthusiasm to act and that is the answer to the question, what to do.

Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

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  1. Well but, presence is not the end point. The end point is still doing or action. Therein lies the problem and the solution. The ill-intentioned, for the most part, do not do. They instigate others into action and, perhaps because they are deceptive, get the doers to do their bidding even in opposition.

    Would welfare have been reformed to deprive infants of intimate mothering if it had been left to the Cons?

    On the other hand, one may suspect that the PPACA is on the right track just because it is so violently opposed by the Cons. Because individuals having direct access to dollars is anathema to the highwaymen.

  2. Tom Ferguson

    I differ… we may “act”, be creative, yes, that’s what we will do and it will be “ethical” or “enlightened” only if it comes out of presence… that’s the theory anyway, of Tolle & others.
    And the world will be better for it since from presence we are not competitive, do not desire to dominate others, are sensitive & caring… all automatically for it is in presence that we realize ONENESS, the profundity of being and yet the illusion of this passing veil & paradoxically the beauty of this dance of life. tom ferguson

    1. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka: Obamacare”

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