The Pondering Grapefruit
a blog of moments
This semester I took a class on Ancient Egypt. One of the most interesting things I learned was that according to their cosmological explanations, the God Atum is responsible for creating this earth. After rising from the primieval mound, as shown above, he created cyclical time, and then injected linear time, which we are more comfortable with in modern society.
And that's what gets me. Even though Ancient Egypt existed thousands of years before now, so many aspects of it are more advanced than us. Nowadays, our notion of time is so distorted in that we view life as headed in just one direction: perpetual progress, captured within a single line.
As for me, I do believe in cyclical time. My Buddhist upbringing gave me faith and familiarity with concepts of reincarnation and karma. After learning about Egyptian religion, however, I am starting to think that cyclical time and linear time can exist at the same time.
Perhaps our understanding of time is just one tangential line along a greater circle of time that represents eternity. Just as we are too small to feel the spin of the earth or sense the earth's curvature, our time on this earth is too limited for us to see the greater cycle of time.
I do have "evidence" to support my theory, and that comes from my experiences travelling. I think that we like to travel because it allows us to experience time in a different sense. When we are in our daily routines, time seems to fly by so fast. Between work, school, meetings, social engagements, and everything that normal life entails, we are encouraged to keep forging forward in a sick rat race. We watch the clock, keep our phones glue to our face, constantly aware of the loss of time. This obsession about progress instills in us a fear of failure, of moving backwards in time. Or of not moving at all.
I sense a lot of fear in myself and in other people when I walk around, especially on campus. Fear manifests itself in so many ways, as insecurity, as anger. As a need to prove oneself worthy by saying smart things or looking smart or walking smart. I think this comes from a need to feel like we are constantly progressing, and improving fast, and better.
In cyclical time, such superlatives don't exist. And we do have moments where we experience the power of cyclical time.
When we spend time with someone we love, time seems to stop existing. When we are mindful and in the present moment, we understand what it means to be suspended in eternity. When we take escape to nature, the clock softens its numbers, and time dissolves into serenity. When we travel to different countries, we experience different rates of time, the slower paced siestas in Argentina, the relaxed seconds of coffee shops on Paris.
I think, that in our life, it is important to incorporate both aspects of time. It is not possible to disregard linear time completely, for it is a byproduct of matter, atoms spinning. We are tied to linear time as long as we are corporeal. But, I believe, that humans are also part spirit, and our spirit sings when it can connect with the cyclical time of its nature. Does this sound new agey? Perhaps, but I think it's ancient.
So what's the point of this post? I guess it is an encouragement for everybody to question their notions of time. Perhaps it's not so linear as you think. And it's not something to be afraid of.
I haven't posted in a while. Things have gotten a bit crazy, in a good way, and this is also final's week. In the future I'd like to learn how to maintain daily blog habits even in turbulent weather.
I took a trip to New York recently to visit an old friend of mine. He is a monk who I met in Argentina when I WWOOFed way back when. We both planned on attending a conference together, and he told me that he also wanted to visit the UN meditation room. I had no idea that such a thing even existed. But it does indeed, and this is what it looks like.
I was struck by the design of the whole place. No windows, dim, reminiscent almost of Egyptian tombs with a large sarcophagus in the middle. Not to mention that it's triangular like a pyramid.
I was surprised by the look of this room, and I was also surprised that we were able to get in. One of the attendees of the conference, who works for the UN, told us that only a few visitors get to see the room, and that those who do get to see it must have a one day pass. But my friend and I decided to just try it on Sunday morning.
Every step of the way, we had barriers, but we ended up getting past them. My friend has his luggage with him, a rolling carry on, as he was moving out of his hotel then. We managed to get a visitors pass for the both of us, and when we arrived at the gates, the guards, who initially did not want to let us in with that luggage, decided to make an exemption for us. Once inside, the meditation room was locked, but another guard swiped us in.
Inside was all silence. Not even the light could penetrate the stillness of the room. The giant stone block of iron sat, inert, like the earth, human minds being lit on by a single light of divinity, enlightenment. We settled on the benches and mediated for half an hour, and it was the deepest meditation I had entered yet.
Once we left the room, we continued our tour of the UN complex, and I was able to run into some fellow Vietnamese people. For some reason there were loads of Vietnamese people there, which seemed like such a funny coincidence because I want to do work in Vietnam when I am older and have more capacities to help.
I am not sure what conclusions to make about this whole experience--only that it was unexpected, filled with luck, surreal, and just lovely.
About this Blog
I have no idea how to describe what my writing is about. I just write. I post when I can, which can be weekly or monthly depending on where the universe is taking me. As for the Grapefruit, my Vietnamese nickname, Buoi, means grapefruit.