The Ordinary Moment

By John Robinson

Today I left the structures of my mind and settled my attention in the present moment on the everyday things around me. I returned to the truest source of peace, joy and beauty I’ve ever known – the divine incarnation perceived in the radical now.

In the midst of worsening osteoarthritic hip pain, I prayed for one of those “big” mystical experiences, like the ones I have studied and written about for so many years and had been discussing earlier with my brother Hugh. Then, without warning, I made this shift. So powerful and yet so ordinary.

In a still, quiet, uncluttered and unintended moment, while gazing “absentmindedly” around my office, I gently focused my attention on whatever was directly before me and the room changed. I entered a different world. My grey crumpled sweatshirt abandoned on the long brown wooden bench, now painted in light and shadow, color and dirt, captivated me in pure three-dimensional sensory wonder, so exactly perfect, beautifully composed and enchanting as to became heavenly. I visually feasted on the creases in my old blue jeans, the pattern of woven thread in my knitted socks, and shiny brown desktop before me with all those scratches, each vision a Rembrandt canvas. Everything was incredibly beautiful. My perception had changed. I felt as if God were seeing through my eyes, or I was seeing through God’s eyes. Oblivious to my hip pain, I remained in this museum of light for a long time, its allure continuing throughout the day as I fixated on one beguiling scene after another – the clear sparkling water rushing from the kitchen faucet, the striated patterns in floorboard planks in the hall, the changing light as clouds drifted slowly across the sky, and the wild and colorful spring blossoms breaking out everywhere in the yard. I was repeatedly arrested by amazement.

I know a lot about mysticism but here is what I confirmed this day. To awaken spiritual consciousness, we need to learn how to see again. See without thought or purpose. See without judgment or expectation. See reality as a brilliantly realized painting – every detail perfect and complete exactly as is, exactly as it is supposed to be. Once I got the hang of it, the shift was not difficult to maintain, for the magic of seeing returns every time I focus awareness through the senses, and every time a sensory wonderland is revealed.

And I confirmed one more thing. This shift in perception always involves slowing down, seeing one thing at a time without rushing on to the next, and always focusing on what is nearby. In fact, reality grows ever more exquisitely and meticulously detailed and enthralling as I examine objects closer to me, for I am the source of this seeing miracle.

As the mystics have long told us, the present moment is the threshold of Heaven on Earth, and the perceptual gateway to this always-new world is this: Stop thinking. Come to your senses. See. Touch. Smell. Taste. Listen. And feel the being of your being. These simple and ancient sensory perceptions awaken the experience of Creation as divinity itself, including everything and all of us. Peace is found here. Happiness too. And Love. They comprise the fundamental nature of Creation. There is nowhere else to go that is more sacred or sane.

Real seeing unveils the divine world that we constantly ignore and abandon with our unceasing thoughts, opinions, judgments and goals. We live in an imaginary world of problems and conflicts, egos and enemies, projected like a movie by the fearful mind. Entering the still moment of Creation, we are invited instead to travel ever deeper into the living divine mystery of incarnation.

In one of Louise Penny’s wonderful novels, a character is asked what she fears most. The woman responds, “I’m afraid of not recognizing Paradise.” I was startled back into awe. This heartbreakingly-simple line captures divinity’s most precious gift – awakened perception, and humanity’s most dangerous failing – blind to the sacred Earth, we are capable of destroying it.


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