Enough – a Splendid Sufficiency

True story, Word of Honor:

Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer

now dead,

and I were at a party given by a billionaire

on Shelter Island.

I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel

to know that our host only yesterday

may have made more money

than your novel ‘Catch-22’

has earned in its entire history?”

And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”

And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”

And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”

Not bad! Rest in peace!”

Kurt Vonnegut

Is living a long life all that is cracked up to be? Is reaching old age enough?

What is enough?

When you were an infant, you never gave a thought to time or to your mortality. You lived in the moment, and that moment was not only a splendid sufficiency, it was, in its essence, the equivalent of eternity. Being alive, NOW, in the moment was enough.

The Present Moment & the Joy of Being

Let’s face it, if we count the time before we are born and the time after we die, we are somewhere else for way longer than we are here. You’re here; and POOF!, you’re gone. Not much more significant to the cosmic unfolding, to geological time, than a mayfly.

Would you rather have 100 days of drudgery, or one glorious beautiful day? Don’t answer too quickly. Contemplate this, as you would savor a tasty morsel, because as you sit with the question, you might find that so many conflicting thoughts and feelings arise.

Would you rather have a great sum of money, but only meaningless trinkets to buy, or a bit of money to buy one precious thing that you love?

Take someone who doesn’t keep score, who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing, who has not the slightest interest even in his own personality: he’s free.


Would you rather spend 80 years as a slave to tedium, yearning for freedom, or 8 days of freedom in which you felt fully alive?

By the time I was 16 I had lost my three closest friends to truly horrible illnesses.

Chris was born with his terminal illness. His disease kept him from many physical activities. We drank beer and smoked cigarettes together when he was 12 and I was 10. We played chess and battleship. We collected comics, read and discussed them. A child prodigy, he serenaded me with classical music, sometimes original. Chris (whose given name was actually Cristos) died at age 18. I can’t think of anyone who knew him that didn’t love Chris.

Robin was hit with an insidious, incurable form of cancer when we were in 6th grade. Heads turned when Robin entered a room—moths to the light. She was brilliant in both the intelligence and luminosity sense of the word, bright, funny, and fun. We wrote stories and plays together. We cast the neighborhood children in roles and enacted the plays for the whole neighborhood. We organized a caroling group for the Christmas holiday, learning both Christian and Jewish songs, knocking on all the neighborhood doors. We hosted inventive parties. When she was reading a book, you could ignite a bomb under her seat and she wouldn’t be distracted. She was 13 when she died, a month shy of 14. I can’t think of anyone who knew her that didn’t love Robin.

Carmen and I were to meet in Paris, to master the French language we couldn’t in high school. I’d met her in honors English. She was born in Barcelona. Castillian Spanish was her native tongue, and she spoke a beautiful English and a smattering of Italian. Clearly the French problem was the teaching and not the students. We sat on her veranda after school, drinking manhattans and listening to the music Charles Aznavour. With roses between their teeth, her parents danced on tables with us. She returned from Paris before I could join her and was gone within six months.

Three very short lives. Three people who lived more in the brief time they had than most live in 80, 90, or 100. While many think that my early bereavement was a burden—though it certainly was for a while—they rarely consider the gift. At a very early age, I learned that the quality of life was vastly more important than the quantity.

It was enough that they lived.

Video of father and baby by olia danilevich from Pexels
Bored woman photo by Min An from Pexels
Woman under starlit umbrella photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

The Illumined Human (Part 1)

From Being to Becoming: Time & Space

“Being is always there; it is what we are in the most fundamental way”. –

A. H. Almaas,
The Pearl Beyond Price

I see no reason why spiritual awareness or self-realization must be incompatible with a personal human life or that being an ordinary human, flaws and all, must be a hindrance to self-realization as an illumined human. Embracing humanness may very well be essential to spiritual awakening.

There was three year old child who kept insisting that she had to be alone with her newborn sibling. The parents, concerned that the older child through sibling rivalry or just lacking awareness might harm the infant, refused the request. But the child kept asking, insisting over and over again on time alone with the infant. Finally, relenting, the parents stationed themselves outside the closed door, having set up video and sound monitors in the room. Not being a religious family, imagine their surprise when they saw their daughter lean over the crib, put her head close to the infant’s head, and say:

“Please tell me about God. I’m starting to forget.”

Most people cannot remember anything prior to age three. Sense of self, or self-concept, is something that develops with time and experience. Children become self-conscious (showing signs of embarrassment or shyness) around age two to three. Also until around the age of three the child often doesn’t understand the concept of “I” and speaks in the third person (e.g. “Sharon want toy”).

The splendid innocence of the infant is that physical birth marks only its bodily separateness but not its differentiated psychological self. Over time the personality evolves through enculturation, experience and increasing levels of choice into a separate sense of itself—a self-concept.  Self is constructed. As that self continues to grow and become stronger, it creates a kind of amnesia of the Essential Being, its spiritual home. Veils descend that allow the ego to assert and sustain itself.

Time & Space: Relative Existence

Many who have experienced a near-death experience report that time does not seem to apply to reality. As one experiencer, Jeanie Dicus, put it, “Before we’re born, we have to take an oath that we will pretend time and space are real so we can come here and advance our spirit. If you don’t promise, you can’t be born.”


The tale of Er in Plato’s Republic gives us the image of souls returning to Earth drinking from the River Lethe (Lee-thee), the “River of Forgetfulness” that ran through the caves of Hypnos, so that they would forget from whence they came. The implication of the Greek myth is that we are hypnotized out of remembering our true nature so that we can adopt a new human identity. This would suggest that developing that identity is actually important.

Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity explains that time is subjective. An amusing anecdote, wrongly attributed to him, is supposed to explain this theory:

“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.”

While this is relatable and generally subjectively true, in this case time has not changed at all, only the perception of it is different, as can be measured by a clock.

The actual theory is that in the space-time continuum time does not move or flow. All of time is now. Time just IS; and passage of time is a result of limited human awareness.

People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”.

Albert Einstein, 1955

If the spiritual world is timeless, the physical world is not. Not only is time called into question but so is space or locality. We have an awareness of solidity, and yet we are both wave and particle. We occupy a location, but exist in a quantum state of non-local entanglement.  Another way to say this is that we merely appear to be here. There are fundamental contradictions between what are scientifically understood as proven realities. The cognitive dissonance that this creates—that existence itself is a paradox—can only be resolved by accepting that two (or more) contradictory realities can and do exist simultaneously.

  1. The material/spatial/temporal world is real. Deal with it. Study it. Understand its laws. Be in it, grow and learn with it. Embrace the experience of being fully human. Later, you will be mature enough to learn that it does not define you.
  2. The spiritual/non-local/timeless world is real. Deal with it. Be with it. Understand that this is a larger, truer you. Your earthly biography, like a story, has a beginning and an end. Don’t believe that the story of you is you. But don’t allow that awareness to prevent you from having a human life.
  3. Be at peace with both realities.