Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Simplest Presence

Everyday I drive past an expanse of sea.
The simple present in English asserts our daily truths.

In Latin it indicates a belief which is felt to be true but not necessarily at the moment in time when the speaker speaks his piece.

Everyday I (am capable of) driving past an expanse of sea.

The simple present in Hindi like all Hindi tenses indicates more than what is believed in the moment--time is only one consideration of a Hindi verb tense.

I drive past an expanse of sea, and I suppose I do this everyday. But what is important to me at this moment is that today--as on all days--I drove past that expanse of sea again.

In Arabic, first off there is no "be", no "I am." The simplest expression of what we feel, think, hear, believe, know, love and hate can only be expressed as a continuation from this moment on and into the future, as though to say "I believe in God" is not sufficient for this moment, like no moment can be pinned down. I believe is "I believing". The "be" verb is superfluous, perhaps blasphemous. Like Hebrew, there is an auxiliary form, but it is only comes off the bench to emphasize a point.

Today I drove past an expanse of sea due to the grace of God as I did yesterday and God willing tomorrow.

I can define what it means to use the simple present in English--it defines and consecrates our habits, our comfortable routines, our beliefs--which to others are just opinions; it announces our immediate experience of the senses.

What I can't say is what it means to me to live in the simple present.

Like Latin, I can tell you how I feel and believe, love and know, think and hear at this moment--perhaps it is similar to the past, but it might not actually be --at this moment.

Like Hindi, what I tell you I believe right now is only the rock rolled in front of the tomb. It would take something greater than myself to roll the rock away. Hebrew, like Arabic, what is in this moment I feel to be my truth, could just as wel be untrue, because even as I speak it, that truth is running.

In the holy places I have been to--that is to say, in the Hindu temples, the Islamic Mosques, the synagogues, the revivals in circus tents, in the rooms where I go and listen to the experiences, the strengths and hopes of people who have also been able to feel more than many can bear, we all try to live in the moment because we have always lived there--er are living there now---ings, in continual movement away from the imperfect past.

I have gone looking for miracles and have often found them without knowing it until years later.

I have gone to learn tolerance, patience and how to not only give but how to receive without asking a hundred befuddling questions beginning with why do good things always happen to you, why bad things to me?.

I go to find out what it is like to be a reasonable man.

In the past, yes, every success was an assurance that will can be triumphant.

Today, after I drove past an expanse of sea,, I went to a mall and I encountered a Nepali guard whom I've met before and talked to before, who, when he sees me, exchanges a "Namaste" , using the appropriate hand gestures. He is a slight man, unassuming, tough steely eyed, and extremely mindful of all that happens around him. Still, when he sees me coming, he recognizes a Divine Presence in me--the same presence in all of us, as I seein him.

So we clasp our hands together, bow our heads slightly and whisper, "Namaste."