Here’s one fact you can use to ground yourself, whatever your situation and no matter what is happening to you: for your entire life, in every moment you have existed, you have always been at the center.
You’ve been at the center of time, and you’ve been at the center of space. Behind you lies the vastness of the past, and in front of you, the future always awaits. Even in old age, when death seems to be approaching ever faster, deep down we know that the clock will keep on ticking when our energies change form. The past and the future stretches infinitely into both directions, but always away from us and the now.
The same is true for space. However far you manage to stretch your imagination, the vastness of the Universe will always be one step ahead of you. You could clone yourself and spend a lifetime travelling at the speed of light in two polar opposite directions from your current location, and both versions of yourself would still be in the center - at least from their perspective.
Most importantly, however, you are at the center of experience. Things are always happening; bad things, good things, neutral things. But when it comes to experience, we have only one stream of it, and it also happens to be at the center.
When we spend this much time in the center of things, it eventually becomes quite useful to simply drop the distinction between ourselves and the center. You and the center are the same. It happens to be that the thing called “I” is not only at the center, but it also is the center. This overlapping “is” and “at” is true for all of us. Does that mean we are the same?
For some of the smartest people that have graced this earth with their presence, that does indeed seem to be a logical conclusion. As we will see later, it’s also a useful one, especially for those interested in crafting a life of meaning and wellbeing, and creating peaceful, prosperous societies.
However, for now, it might be more immediately practical to take a moment to inquire a little bit into this peculiar state of affairs, of being in the center as the center.
What, if anything, can we know for sure about our experience here in the center? Pause your reading for a short while and turn your attention to your center. What can we take for granted, here?
At least one thing becomes obvious pretty quickly: our senses play a pretty big role at the center. If you are reading this article, as opposed to listening to it being read (which is unlikely), you can’t help but notice your field of vision, for example. Colors, shadows, blacks, whites - all these little games that your eyes and the light around you are playing all the time. It’s magical, but usually we take it for granted.
Before we move on to the other senses, can you notice that there is no boundary to this field of color and light? There are no edges, but it’s not quite infinite either.
Here’s a funny experiment you can do if you’re into such things: put down your phone or whatever you are using to read this, stretch both of your hands out in front of you with your palms facing you, and then slowly pull your hands towards your face again until they pass your eyes and end up behind your head, no longer visible.
If nothing else, this silly experiment proves that your field of vision is not infinite. But there is more to it. Note how hard it is to find the “border”, so to speak. The edge where your hand go from being visible to being lost in the ether that exists “behind” your visual field. If you’re like me and you really want to find the edge, you can try to use your hands to “frame” all of the things that your eyes are seeing. What you’ll find out is that whatever all of this is, it seems to be not rectangular, but not quite circular either:
Where’s the face?
One thing you can’t help but notice when you turn your attention to it is that your face is missing. Depending on your facial features, you might see your nose and the edges of your upper lip. You can perhaps do a silly face and see your lower lip as well. But no matter how hard you try, without the help of a mirror, you cannot see your face.
Others can see your face, sure. But not you.
I’ve never managed to turn this fact into anything else than a smile on my non-visible face, but for some, such as Douglas Harding for example, this fact alone can turn into a deep spiritual realisation.
Diving deeper into the center
In addition to your visual field, your experience of center is affected by at least four other “traditional” senses and even more “hidden” ones, such as proprioception: your magical ability to locate your limbs, even in darkness.
Sounds impinge on your eardrums, you can feel a sense of pressure from where your body comes into contact with your surroundings and if you pay very close attention you should be able to notice something that resembles a slight taste in your mouth and a smell in the air - although we humans are notoriously bad at picking up scents.
On top of this, the trained mind can start to notice thoughts, emotions and deep undercurrents of mood.
More than that, through evolutionary processes, our brain has been expertly trained to be constantly on the lookout for what could be improved with regards to the current situation. This results in a special kind of thought pattern that we usually call a desire or an urge. It is a conscious or unconscious pattern of energy that is the opposite of being peacefully content, and left to it’s on devices, it will take over your entire life.
It seems to me that the gateway to what is so loosely called “awakening” is realizing that all of this and more is happening in a single, unified field of experience that is both happening at the center, and is the center. For lack of a better word, we can call it consciousness.
What to make of this?
Developing and nurturing your relationship to the center, to your consciousness, is the first step towards long-term peace, joy and purpose.
It can become your safe haven and your creative getaway. The one thing that you can always take for granted, although you never should.
It is the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus spoke of and Buddha’s Nirvana.
The center is discovered and explored through meditation and spiritual introspection, and the most beautiful thing about it is that you can continue to dive deeper into it until, and perhaps beyond, the moment you die.
Learn to feel good in the center, and nothing will be able to prevent you from living a life of meaning and happiness. Help others explore their own centers, and we just might navigate our civilizational crossroads well enough to create a beautiful, peaceful world for all.
I’ll see you there.