In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth … and this two-thousand word Michigan Daily article. Indeed, it is crazy to believe, insane to think the piece you’re stumbling across at this moment might’ve been planned out since the dawn of time. And while origins of the Universe remain the subject of much dualistic debate, there’s no denying that our mystifying fascination with the start stays stuck in our mind.
The start and the end remain divinely intertwined. One doesn’t have to look any further than Beyoncé’s Renaissance to witness how riveting a seamless transition from one song to the next can be. Upon first listen, I re-call, as do many others, feeling uncertain in my ability to distinguish the beginning of one track and the end of another. Such seamlessness can place us into a flow state so sublime, we apprehend the linear experience of time itself.
Similarly, September is certainly a time in which we can see the lucid interplay of beginnings as endings with the start of school followed by autumn’s imbricating advent devouring whole the remnants of a departed summer. In the enveloping, we too are squelched … by school/work schedules swiftly changing and weather patterns vastly re-arranging. Soon, we arrive in the underbelly of adversity, hardship and woe — fully estranged from the former glory of a season past.
Fall begins, foisting the forces of late-stage capitalism onto us in full swing. The damning compulsions of academic and professional life leave us as lifeless as the fallen leaves. Sordidly, we flounder in a frenzy of applications and auditions, mass meetings and recruitment, harrowing responsibilities and harsh deadlines. Summer feels like sustained heat and unrestrained youth. Fall feels like chills, chiming in exponentially, brisk but not as cold as the chains of autumn’s adulthood taking hold. For me, this fall in 2022 happened to fall in the humble beginnings of my adulthood — rolling forward toward the end of my post-secondary academic career all the while laying pregnant with the prospects of my future professional career.
All that to say: it’s the beginning of the end of my college experience. This month has mixed us seniors in a slew of last firsts. Last first day of school. Last first Game Day. Last first shows, last first articles, the last of the firsts which shall first and foremost last til we take our final steps on Graduation Day, having finished our formal time here as students at the University of Michigan … Personally, I ain’t thinking ‘bout that right now.
Right now, I been staying stuck in the right now, the righteousness of the eternal, now moment.
Now, my meeting with the current moment is not without significant consideration of the past, the future, the lasts, and the firsts which shall not go unforgotten. Instead, I realize that in reconciling our origin with our destiny, we can become intentionally aligned with our true self in the present, not neglecting our past nor future, but remaining undeterred by their detriments nonetheless. As Indian guru Nisargadatta Maharaj asserts, “When life and death are seen as essential to each other, as two aspects of one being, that is immortality. To see the end in the beginning and the beginning in the end is the intimation of eternity.”
Many of us have pondered our own destiny, whether consciously or unconsciously. We are all aware these lives are impermanent. We may ruminate on after-lives, heavens and hells, or opt out of such speculation perhaps out of anxious apprehension. Yet, shall we re-call that our endings are inseparable from our beginnings, then we might find ourselves not fraught with fear by death but in deep understanding of its overarching potential to serve as to what Japanese author Hiroshi Obayashi refers to as the “liberation of noble soul from bodily prison.”
But is this bodily existence a prison? Are we trapped here on Earth? Serving time for misdeeds done in past lives on previous planets or planes of being? What led us to live these lives in the first place? While ruminating on destiny can lead to deliverance, we ultimately must attempt to understand our origins in order to be fully aligned with our true self.
Pondering pre-existence can lead us to be more curious about the origins of everything in our life. How did we arrive where we are at this moment? Why this life? Why now? What events led up to this instance? How might we have ended up elsewhere? So often do we set out at the start of an experience with taut expectations and preconceived notions. Our ego wants us to be in control to be comfortable. Ironically, it is typically not til we embrace the discomfort derived from relinquishing our power to divinity that we feel most able to act. When we forgo our desire to control and trust that all things are working for our good, that this eternal moment is sacred and full of meaning, we find ourselves enriched by all the possibilities our Creator has in store for us. As English philosopher John Ellis McTaggart states, “A state of absolute perfection would render further death improbable.” In other words, without conflict we would lead a monotonous existence devoid of meaning. Once we acknowledge we are always arriving in the moment, conflict becomes an opportunity for growth.
In our pre-existent state — whether we believe that to be constituted by past lives or some form of previous consciousness — we undoubtedly acquired the qualities and skills inherent to us in this life which initially seem innate.
Much like how our previous experiences in high school, middle and elementary carry themselves over into college, much like how the residue of our long-gone summer dwells with us, now, well into the school year, the lessons learned in our previous existence (whatever that may be) certainly re-mains part of our self. As McTaggart claims, “If the same self passes through various lives, any change which happens to it at any time must affect its state in the time immediately subsequent, and, through this, in all future.”
This is not to say we are fully determined by what’s come before, as we know with our bodily experience that this is not the truth. McTaggart draws on the notion of forgetfulness in order to elucidate his point about us losing memories of important events that nonetheless have dutifully shaped our self, provided significant value and affected our essence. He maintains that memory makes us wiser, more virtuous and indicates to us that those we relate with have loved us and have been loved by us in the past. Yet while we do forget astounding instances, we do not necessarily regress. Their relevance endures on an energetic level.
It’s the feelings of déjà vu or delight that we get when we experience a moment that feels timeless or transcendent. When the music at home, in the car or at the club blesses with unremitting beloved bliss. When we hear a word, phrase or even a single syllable that sits with us, lingering long after being uttered. When seeing someone for the first time feels like a re-union at last. At the very least, we can re-cognize, fully re-Sourced, how subtly we’ve been informed by forces originating from lifetimes ago … and with this knowledge, know that our everyday decisions in the moment will in part determine our ultimate destiny, staying with us as we enter dimensions beyond in death.
I think about this now, as I am, like I said, stuck in the moment. I think about how little so much of what I do now will matter upon the academic death that is graduation. Moving on from Ann Arbor next year, I wonder how many relationships will fade, devotions disappear, fires inevitably extinguish, alliances and associations wither away. And while I know many of the ties I’m maintaining at the moment may not necessarily “matter” in nine months, when I’ve moved on, what will prolong, what will matter and what I will re-member is the supreme impression it all has had on my soul.
On a much more miniscule level, there’s always the day-to-day beginnings as endings that entreat us to treat our daily endeavors with an underlying episodic awareness. “The day is an epitome of the year,” as Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau remarked, and with that in mind, it becomes clear that each morning is a master class in springing back to life as is the month of March. When asleep we lose touch with our conscious self. Thus, our dreams do resemble a death of some sort.
As analytical psychologist James Hillman describes, dreams are children of the Night linked closely to Sleep and Death. He posits that, “We may believe we are living life only on the level of life, but we cannot escape the psychic significance of what we are doing.”
In between the start of a new day and the end of an old one, our dreams scaffold us into the dregs of the underworld. As Hillman postulates, dreams plainly put, ask us, “Where is my fate or individuation process going? … We know (exactly) where our individuation process is going — to death.” Yet upon waking, we are given life, yes? It makes sense then, why we often wake — if allowed proper rest unfettered from the reins of capital — regenerated, renewed, reborn. If our waking up is rehearsal for a future resurrection, then it would do us well to ensure that our mornings are filled with the most fine-tuned spiritual practice.
Needless to say, this is rarely the case. How frequently do we awake and find ourselves fixated on the first worldly pleasure we can find? Nowadays, our phone alarm so effortlessly facilitates us into the fold before we are even completely conscious. Every morning is now an immediate marination in the matrix of mass programming and corporate control. And if we’re not apprehended by the allure of our phone, then we’re likely caught in the clutches of caffeine, nicotine, marijuana, white sugar or sexual gratification. Wrapped in a wounding world of vice, we greet mornings with such wretchedness, leading me to wonder if we fear our most natural state.
Are we afraid to be alone with our thoughts? Alone in our body? Alone as our Self? It seems the social stratification of clock-time has constricted our ability to truly be on our own when white supremacy and late-stage capitalism prey on every minute of our day from the moment we wake up. Mandated early meetings, classes and work shifts are all imposed as absolutely important, subjecting us to punishment when we fail to meet societal standards which we did not agree upon. Even in isolation or supposed solitude, we are only one email, one phone call, one text message and countless social media applications away from connecting. Always allowing everybody to access us, even in digital space, at all times, has scathing implications on a somatic and energetic level. No wonder we’re so quick to quell our everlasting discomfort with deathly material delights.
Under our current cultural socio-economic system’s hierarchical structuring of social time, every awakening is a rude awakening. We are always tired. Our nervous systems are always dysregulated. We are always experiencing some form of physical, emotional and spiritual depletion. Collectively, we’ve been robbed of the relaxing joy of an early rise. No longer do we view our mornings as a revival in which we are to actualize our abundance upon opening eyes.
With that said, we might consider resolving to start our mornings with reflective, soul-enriching activities. Journaling, meditation, music, exercise and simply existing in the quaint glory of a quiet sunrise can allow us to clearly see, feel and witness the all-encompassing beauty of morning. Mornings build momentum! If we are to see the day, the planetary hour as our life and death cycle on display, then we can simply say that in the morning we are a mere child. But as the day goes on, and we drastically develop, have formative experiences, learn, love and lose til finally, we’ve aged, acquainting ourselves with the wisdom of the night.
It would do us good to embrace this wisdom, these nights which as we know, exist as beginnings in themselves. The day is on its deathbed but the night is still young. Especially on the weekend, our nights are rife with potential. Bountiful new beginnings open up at the end of the day when we roam and play in the darkness, in deep space, in divinity, in non-duality, in between in-betweens.
Of course, in between the beginning, the end, the morning and the night, there is the middle. Too often do we overlook the middle in which we are not straddling two extremes but meandering in the mundane. Just as summer situates itself as the high noon of our Earthly seasonal cycles, there’s something about the sustainment, the warm, endearing sensation of a mellow after-noon that invites us to be idle. To rest. To re-connect with others. To take life a little slower. To bask in mediocrity. In the middle. And at the moment.
And in the after-noon when summer is over, evening arrives, as does Fall. We fall back into place, once again arriving in autumn, not yet deterred by the dead of winter, of night, of self in slumber. Instead, we arrive — sensibly so in September — in autumn, in evening’s middle-aged maturity, reveling in the knowledge of setting sun. By then it seems we’re nearly back to where we began. At the end.
MiC Columnist Karis Clark can be reached at email@example.com.