On the difference between truth claims and spirituality-talk
I was recently checking in on a musician turned spiritual teacher I know and came across him making the claim that “there is nothing but now.”
Before I go on to the main subject of this essay, which is the difference between making a philosophical claim about what’s true and saying some words which are intended to provoke a shift in consciousness, I want to take a look at what he said.
There is nothing but now.
There is not nothing but now?
If there was only now, there would be no past and no future. Which means there would be no causality. Which would mean nothing was happening.
Which would be pretty boring.
Pure “nowness” would, by definition, have no content whatsoever.
Further, who would this “nothing but now”- ness be relevant to?
There is no person moving through time and space who might reflect that “there is nothing but now” and feel better- such an act of reflection, causing a change in consciousness which is then felt a moment later, would require the reality of past, present, and future.
So what does “there is nothing but now” really mean?
I am going to suggest a charitable interpretation which will bring me to my main point.
It means “I am restricting my consciousness, as much as I can, to the present moment” or “you should restrict your consciousness as much as you can, to the present moment.”
Let’s put aside for a moment whether that is good or bad advice, doable or undoable or partially doable.
The person saying that clearly thinks it is good advice. They will probably point out that most disturbing emotions arise from focusing on either the past or the future: regret, guilt, shame, anger, fear, sadness, desire, lust, anxiety…. generally speaking this arise from thinking about the past or the future.
Are there any problems right now in this very moment? Probably not, at least probably not any problems we can’t handle. Even if we are very sick, for instance, we can probably manage the next breath, and concerns ober how…