Thursday, April 14, 2005

in the moment (a definition of terms)

The yoga instructor says, “With each breath, bring your focus to the present moment.”

My husband, Abraham, says, “Embrace the moment.” He is not the first to recommend this.

My son, Iz, and my dog, Zi, live in the present moment quite competently.

I don’t know how to do this even a little bit. Even during yoga. Even while running. Even while playing with Iz or Zi.

Maybe this “moment” everyone talks about is the secular equivalent, or my equivalent, of those medieval Christian thinkers’ eternity – beyond comprehension or explanation.

I should attempt to define my terms for “When Time Meets Eternity” (WTME):

Time, to me, means either a linear sequence (birth to death) or a cyclical repetition (the seasons). Are there other types of time?

Eternity is a tougher one to define in my personal, secular context. It is, perhaps, just another type of time, not necessarily time’s opposite. It is the present moment? Is it the entire past and future contained in some immediate experience? (The latter is closer to that medieval conception of god’s eternal time.)

Maybe the “eternity” I am adopting (and adapting) from those medievalists, who worried at the question of how human time could possibly understand or intersect with god’s eternity, is more of a concept of identity, present, or memory. I don’t think I accept or believe in a type of eternity related to a god or deity. It is too implausible and not useful to me. But that may prove the existence of eternity and god(s).

In the late eleventh century, Saint Anselm of Canterbury made the ontological argument the in his Proslogion that “proved” god’s existence by asserting that there must exist something “than which nothing greater can be conceived” and that it is impossible to think of this something if it doesn’t exist – since you can conceive of it, it must exist beyond your imagination because you can conceive of it beyond your imagination. Therefore, God and his eternal time must exist. Our inability to conceive somehow proved god’s, and eternity’s, existence. This makes my head hurt.

Moving on.

Is my eternity simply my memories and experiences, from my beginning to the present (though not yet through my end, since I don’t know my future), experienced all at once?

Or is it my identity, which, to some extent, is my memories and experiences in the present moment?

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Check out A Sideways Look at Time. You might enjoy it.