HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 6, 2015 – 12:00am
I celebrated my 64th birthday last Monday, August 31. Throughout the day, I was thinking of an essay I wrote on my birthday 11 years ago. I wish to share it with you, and with anyone else who likes to ponder life and meaning on their natal day.
Allow me to refer to myself in the third person. Try to imagine the person writing this not as the Jim Paredes you know, but as the nameless one we sometimes refer to as Spirit.
Here it is.
Today is Jim Paredes’ birthday. He has had many types of celebrations before, from quiet family dinners, to loud and boisterous drunken sprees with friends, to sappy television birthdays where showbiz friends drop by and try to squeeze tears for ratings. (Ugh! I’m sure you’ve seen those!) This year, aside from the Ramon Magsaysay Awards at the CCP, which he will be attending as trustee, he will be doing a show with APO later in the evening. Meanwhile, allow me to wax philosophical about this day:
Jim Paredes turns a year older today according to some contraption called a calendar, which is man’s attempt to put reference points of order to something abstract like “time” — very much like setting up buoys in an endless sea. The body and physical entity, the persona that is Jim Paredes, is officially 53, or over a half-century in existence according to this ad hoc scheme called the calendar — time’s physical representation.
But let’s take a closer, more curious look at the celebrant. Let us for a moment be rude and imagine that Jim Paredes is only a Muppet (sorry, Jim!), albeit a very sophisticated though mortal one in human form known to his family, friends and society as “Jim Paredes.” Hmmm… Is that hard to imagine?
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And now, let us also try to imagine the one who operates the Muppet, the animator, the one who breathes life into it. A question arises: Does the animator have anything at all to do with Aug. 31, 1951? Or to put it another way, does Jim’s Spirit have a birthday, too? A bigger “hmmm”!
How can Spirit, which was never born and will never end, celebrate a birthday, or any anniversary at all? How can the timeless be measured by anything time-bound like a calendar, or any other instrument or gadget that purportedly measures time? Spirit, which is forever spacious, arising and eternally conscious, is free of time even as it has attended many of these birthday celebrations before. And it will attend many more, until such time as the birthdays stop coming.
And by the way, it does not fret or get frantic over this inevitability.
In fact, Jim’s birth and eventual death and everything in between, is experienced fully by the Spirit — probably more than Jim can ever experience them. Because as far as Spirit is concerned, every moment is the only moment there is. No past. No future. All present — in the present! Every conscious moment is a series of now points. It is all there is and those who are present know and live in the timelessness.
Spirit has no reason therefore to fret over death when it is just another moment. Everything unreal will come and go, like Muppet Jim, his friends, relatives, possessions, works, reputation, fortune, and only what is ultimately real will remain — Spirit! As paradoxical as it is, there is no time when Spirit is not timeless, and therefore, there is no time when essentially, there isn’t ONLY Spirit!
You cannot look for this Spirit,
for it is doing the looking.
You cannot see this Spirit,
for it is doing the seeing.
You cannot find this Spirit,
for it is doing the finding.
If you understand this,
then Spirit is doing the understanding.
If you don’t understand this,
Spirit is doing that.
Understand it or not,
just that is Spirit.
— Ken Wilber
Spirit greets Jim Paredes, Ramon Magsaysay, Jaime Cardinal Sin and all those whose natal day is calendared today, (and any other day) a happy birthday!
Here’s looking at you, Birthday Boy! Pass around the spirits, please!
This was written by Jim’s Guest Blogger: Spirit!
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This essay was inspired by Ken Wilber’s book One Taste!