22 Sep — God is in the details.
Disclaimer: the content of this article does not belong to the field of metaphysics; neither am I preaching to convince you of the existence of a higher power; I am completely agnostic myself (so that it’s clear that I’m not having any religious agenda).
Yet, I do state that God is in the detail. And here I explain how.
As you may know, this expression is commonly attributed to the German modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969). It became a proverb and for good reasons: it is a beautiful and concise way to advise us to do our best in whichever endeavour we undertake. It gives us a glimpse of how fulfilling it can feel, how spiritual the experience can become, when we thoroughly immerge ourselves, mind body and soul, into any project we deem important in our life. I would state that this way of thinking does not only apply to those who are busy with an artistic quest and the research for beauty but to every single one of us. Nor does it imply that one must believe in God (and if so, which one?) in order to have these kind of experiences. How did you feel the last time you completed something, anything, which required your undivided attention and dedication? Most likely quite good. Ecstatic? That’s for you to judge.
However, within the last four years of my life —during which I have implemented a daily meditation practice— another aspect of this same maxim has been imposed on me. I will share it with you but let me first shed some light on what I mean by meditation practice: it is most important to steer away from any New Age, occult or superstition based verbiage. Insight meditation (also called Vipassana in Pali language) when properly practiced is a tedious and strenuous training of the mind. Most of us in the West are so deeply identified with our mind and with every single thought it produces, that we tend to overlook the fact that our mind, like any other instrument, can be trained. By not doing so, we’re missing out the huge implications it has on how to enhance our life from the inside out. Identification with the mind also imply the fear that we might lose who we (think we) are in the process of training it. As a result, we have always preferred the training of the physical body (needless to say that it also has massive implications for a better life), oblivious to the fact that the mind can change as well in the process of becoming fitter. When training the mind, a new, richer and actually more detailed relationship with reality comes.
The human mind is a complex instrument and is therefore complex to train. There are many aspects of the nature of the mind on which it is possible to get a handle on. Yet, for the sake of this article, I will focus on its relationship to what I call ‘the fabric of Now’: the texture of reality in which everything, including ourselves of course, is an ever evolving nod. Especially when we manage to interact fully with it. That is, when we are integrally present to it. Which is by no means an easy thing to do. How many times a day have you caught yourself lost in some train of thoughts? How often are you mentally disconnected from what you are doing? It is sometimes possible to be disconnected from the context in which you find yourself, or even disconnected from the people who happened to be around you at that moment? How many times a day have you NOT caught yourself being distracted? What I mean is that more often than not we are not even aware of our mind drifting off. There is a wandering feature built into it which can constantly lead us astray in either past or future. I am not trying to diminish the utility of the mind here, neither do I want to tarnish the beauty of both human memory and imagination. What I’m trying to say is that whenever this wandering feature of the mind is out of control, it triggers emotions and an identification with those emotions —not to mention the damages on one’s mental health and relationships along the line. This is the direct pathway out of ‘the fabric of Now’, the present moment and its texture, in which life is in the constant process of happening. Who remembers this quote from Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”?
So yes, the mind is trainable. And it is possible to get a grip on this wandering feature of ours. Again, I’m not arguing that one should obliterate his memory and imagination capabilities. First of all it is impossible and I wish upon no one to have those features of the human mind erased due to an accident or a stroke. By simply having a handle on the mind, we grant ourselves access to this immense, unlimited and highly detailed ‘fabric of Now’ where we are no longer the center but a single nod (yet a very complex one mind you). Paradoxically, the more we train the mind i.e. the more we gain focus capacity (by focus I mean the possibility to narrow down attention to a very small focal point), the wider our awareness becomes and the more sensitive we get to the quasi infinite nature of each and every moment. Let me ask you please to ponder the following questions: How many leaves are moving so that you can hear the wind blowing in the trees? How many steps are needed to go from your house to your lover’s one? How many times have I scratched the paper with my pencils before a drawing is done? As you can imagine, the exact number would each time be utterly irrelevant. What I am trying to say is that we all live in this one block Universe, constantly unfolding, moment after moment after moment and so on and so forth. As mentioned earlier, my point is not to tell you that the Universe is being inhabited by any God. Maybe there is, maybe there is not. Neither it is to make you believe that in the Now you will find a supernatural and revealing power. My point is: Whether God is in there or not, DETAILS ARE SIMPLY ALL THERE IS. They are the basic building block of reality as we experience it. They’re falling upon us by the thousands at each and every moment. Learning to pay attention to them is thoroughly congruent to some spiritual growth and to a wider consciousness. Whether this lead to God or not is for you to decide.