Orienting Ego to Timeless Context

Timelessness is likely to strike any go-getting ego as a real yawn-fest. Doing life with the long haul in mind doesn’t hold nearly the ego rewards as doing life with immediacy. Responding to crises. Solving challenging problems. What is real though is investing in life for the long haul. Timelessness is all too easily dismissed by immediacy-trained egos as no better than navel-gazing, a challenge that results in a strong shadow being cast at all times on timeless context.

To say that timeless context has been challenging to define is an understatement. It’s been challenging to see! Like defining “boogey men” or whatever other fantastical representations we cook up to fill the strong shadow that is the projection of timeless context onto the immediacy concerns of now. Not the future itself, but the narrower mystery that is this: how our own time-constrained actions right now will actually matter?

While, as I make an effort to point out in the essays ahead, timeless context may resonate with certain truths when it comes to this question, what actually matters is the lived experience of our time-constrained actions letting us participate in a true way rather than catching us in contextual distortions. In a word, grace.

Mischaracterization of context in the longest haul of all (timelessness) is both opportunity and challenge. OKIC does long haul, timeless context, just not one ego at a time. The happy-ego-is-immediacy-ego assumption must however be examined. Then later in the essay I present grace in two templates, which are also like puzzles for you to piece together as you proceed through Part 1 of the essay collection.

To frame the issue, let’s get personal for a moment. Think of periods in life when you recognized you have limited time, perhaps demands are mounting from many fronts, you feel yourself getting along in years, or have a brush with death. You wake, are (eventually) alert, and get on with one after another series of meaningful, if not occasionally draining, dull, or rote activities. At worst, you may feel yourself “going through the motions.”

When you pause being busy, the “motion” ceases. Spent, you conclude that your awareness or cell-level purpose are not deep enough. When the motion of the day comes from a kind of autopilot mode, a tiny existential crisis awaits. Your ego recognizes that you need to be prepared to get up and go tomorrow, so you must resign the fleeting but internally promising admonishment to do something other than cater to the immediacy of life. You have limited time and are constrained by what (the motions) you know, and can know. Ego plods.

Yet going through motions can be understood just as well in terms of being “moved by grace.” Instead of living life, life lives you. Being quite productive, having rewarding moments, or filling you up with fascinating stories. Ego animates.

Timeless context is what puts the motion, and potential for grace, in experience, if experience is what gives meaning and direction to ego. Approaching it this way, it is easy to see timeless context as both orderly and dynamic. It even contains choices.

Humans make a mistake when we limit timeless awareness to a mystical state of limbo. While liberating for some, for everyone else, reflecting on timelessness tends to lack … vibrance. To the degree a person’s mystical limbo (call it “woo” if you must) loses them to a timeless vibe, they experience it even if they can’t effectively share it.

The real problem though is not ineffability. Timelessness without context, a mystical, woo vibe, neutralizes material relating. The question of what matters falls away. Until ego wants something. Then we’re back where we started.

In the sense you will come to understand through OKIC, the word “vibe” points to some of the special qualities of timelessness. Orienting to timelessness refers to the ability to wrangle our egos so as to attend to the objective time-constraints that move us along, and recompose the groove. In OKIC timelessness, we straddle willful ego and interested participation. It’s a balanced place where we can self-evaluate whether what we are doing satisfies a given mandate and engage in groove-wise activities like effective participation and planning.

Ego, despite the modern tendency to use it as a dirty word, is hardly all bad. Without it, we would have no grounds – and therefore no hope – for humility at all! But seriously. One issue is that ego is at once simple and complex. The word itself is Latin for “I.” Self that is able to reference itself. Has some degree of self-awareness. At its most sublime ego says, I have direct control over my preferences and choices and can effectively orient myself in any situation by recognizing and acting from that which I have direct control over.

Ego thrives when “I” perceive the motion of time as towards constraint, so as to reinforce and/or pattern time towards our own preferences and choices. Vibe is always at the leading edge of that process, so is part ego, part other. In effect, vibe is what arises to orient us to any immediate need or desire to contextualize novelty.

[x I communicate my preferences and choices. Yes. And also, ego plods, and ego animates. ]

Discernment (of reality) begins then with this most general tenant of context. In an existential sense, what context even is. Context is that which combines a perceiver’s current preferences and choices (if any), their complex physiology imprinted as it is with memory, represented meaningfully into a complete reality into which they participate.

OKIC completes the reality picture with a coherent set of timeless phenomena. They can be summed up with one overarching tension. Not egoic attachment v. careless attention. The tension is simple but profound. Context is perceived as patterned v. novel.

“I” who have preferences and choices will always experience myself as central. Still, a paradoxical choice has always presented itself when it comes to participation. When I make the choice to not fixate my relationality on my ability to control context, I free myself to orient through timelessness and grace. Rather than a self-serving map, literally or figuratively, you have trained and employed an inner compass.

Using inner compass to participate, perhaps even iso grace at a given moment, “I” orients to context in complex, adaptive ways. Free to adapt to context in a participatory fashion, “I” engage a timeless, perceptual process that supports the articulation of real possibilities. While the ego insecurely making efforts to control context tends to want to characterize timeless context as vague or obscure, when framed as participatory, it is not. Its critical for you if you aim to understand the revorelational underpinnings of Part 1 to hold this as a real participatory dynamic. Doubt will gnaw you to pieces unless you stay curious about understanding this basic tenant that participation is perceptually timeless.

The timeless context expressed in OKIC has been difficult to discern up to now because ego that prefers to control masks and shields it. Also, it is so pervasive as to require a special kind of attention to master. (That’s what I would argue is my special skill here.) Which brings us back to the central tension. Participation happens in graceful relational terms when tension about context is related to fundamentally as not a personal matter. (Consider that staying engaged while not taking a situation personally is a common psychological and coaching practice today.) Perceptually, “I” is adaptable in timeless ways that enhance participation because context is, first and foremost, either patterned or novel to the perceiving “I”.

Bear with me for one more layer to a timeless definition of participation, because some will see patterning and novelty as itself a trivial pattern. They generally also like to address the context issue by placing narrative at the center of human relating.

Next comes the recognition of a part of experience that is easy to take for granted, like gravity. Reality entails the profoundly non-trivial truth that, even when faced with novel context, we perceive order. It may be meaningless to us, but material reality persists and is orderly. As the ego that animates attests, it’s not enough to call this materialism. In the two puzzles later in the chapter, we begin to understand that the interplay of context between patterned and novel is key.

The other key this suggests and will come into greater focus throughout Part 1 of Everyman’s Collection is what it means to work intentionally with constraints. Wishful thinking only takes us so far. The timeless description of constraint is systematized tension. This is actually quite easy to perceive by thinking specifically about time constraints. With novel v. patterned context pointing always to participatory tension, constraint can also be understood more generally (timelessly) as systematized tension. Where time constraints give us “deadlines”, constraints can be understood as tension-lines within systematic analyses of context/situations, and thus within participation itself.

Some base the faith that goes along with letting go of control in participation as representing something simple. A mystical miracle. Intelligent design. The hand of God. Evolution. In the timeless terminology of OKIC, you will be introduced to its connection to our cosmic nature.

No matter how hard our egos try, humanity’s collective vibe-making (including sense-making) can never be, despite all variety of doubters, a futile game in which whatever is meaningful for a given individual can be dismissed on the pretext “you don’t care about the context.” The only irrefutable context as individuals is and will always be our own preferences and choices. And for better or worse, egos are the part that moves and grooves us such that reality takes notice.

Timeless context, as OKIC more than acknowledges, it explicates, connects ego with its inherent ability to structure and represent, and critically to also re-present for the benefit of others being able to relate meaningfully to, what we know and perceive. And while not obvious how (perhaps the topic of a later book), everything not named in OKIC, which is a lot, can and does nevertheless “map” to it. For the scope of OKIC, consider the promise that ego can move and groove in healthy (graceful) ways when it has the context-sensitive tools needs to re-orient without being thrown into personal crisis (losing one’s shit) or losing coherence of self (going bonkers).

Don’t be lulled though by the reassurances above, thinking that your ego won’t be challenged by OKIC. In an inner way unique to you, in reading OKIC, you are making your way through a reality reset. That means shining light on the predominant places in your own psyche as well as your social structure where doubt rules.

Get comfortable with feeling, variously, lost, confused, and wrong. These are re-orientative, emotional qualities experienced by the ego as disorientation. They are loosed whenever we meaningfully move and groove with doubt. Whatever doubts about yourself, others, and reality you bring to OKIC, each will get reflected back at one time or another. On the positive side, your ego preferences and choices will become increasingly real and engage-able, less reactively or artificially constructed, than before. Remember this promise as you take OKIC to heart, make a sincere effort to shed doubt to get at a deep sense (in place of purely mental certainty) about what is real and to meaningfully engage timeless context.