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More anti-mimetic goodness
I’ve had many, many conversations over the years with religious and rational types, around spirituality vs. ‘secularism’ (for want of a better word). In particular, the idea that what many perceive as God, or some kind of spiritual agent in their life, could just as easily be perceived as the complexities of life in action. Coincidences appear to happen because you are on the lookout for something that just happens to pass by as you were expecting/hoping for it. The causes of that event are usually so complex that the brain reduces it down to two things, a) it happened for a reason, there must be someone/thing making it happen, or b) our poor brains could never begin to guess the complexities of what caused the event to happen, it’s all bit of a mystery, but it’s nice it happened then, just when I needed it to.
It struck me that there is a parallel between that debate and the argument of two very good books I’ve read in recent years – The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and Clarity by Jamie Smart. Both, I think, argue the same point; that by worrying about future events, or spending too much time in our thoughts and obsessing about the future is a waste of time, and that the true way to think is to focus only on the present moment. Eckhart argues his point from a quasi-religious perspective, Jamie from very much a rationalist/scientific perspective. Both achieve the same result.
I like this idea a lot and, if taken to its logical conclusion, can mean that life becomes one walking meditation or prayer. Difficult to maintain, but quite fulfilling, I would imagine, if you can pull it off.
Many find a future they cannot predict to be terrifying (particularly those of a negative disposition), but really that’s all it will ever be – a terrifying future in your mind. The present reality is rarely scary, and we are usually more than capable of dealing with unpleasant or bad things if they do occur.
Needless to say, the idea of maintaining focus on the present moment links directly back to mindfulness and the COAL attitudes. When you are being mindful and in the present moment, curiosity and openness naturally come to the fore. You aren’t worrying about the ego or what people might think of you (essentially future concerns). Consequently, this could be another useful tool in our anti-mimetic armoury. If we are firmly rooted in the present moment, we might be less likely to mimic other people’s desires.