The growth and development of anyone or anything involves balancing inherent potential with actual achievement, so any experience that is “fully lived” in the present is like a focal point or fulcrum that balances all aspects of a person’s life, past, future, and present. From a spiritual perspective, when we are fully aware of a present situation we are in a very real sense “in the middle of things”; we are at a central point that brings whatever we are involved with into focus. And the purer our awareness – the less conditioned it is by past experiences and future expectations – the more we remain in tune with the eternal resources of life.
From In the Middle of Things, p.200
Currently, I live in a small city in the beautiful, mountainous interior of southern British Columbia, which I am attracted to mainly because of its diverse, yet cohesive and welcoming character. It’s a place I admire for being both keen on preserving a connection with its past and eager to look to new ideas about responding to future challenges. This combination makes it, in my view, a place that is ideally suited to responding to present situations in creative, life-affirming ways.
As anyone familiar with contemporary writing about spirituality knows, living in the present in life-affirming ways is as fundamental to leading a healthy spiritual life as breathing fresh, clean air is to leading a physically healthy life. For this reason, I am reluctant to draw too much attention to the biographical details of my life, which clearly pertain to the past, and much more inclined towards mentioning thoughts and feelings that are relevant to me at the present time. So, I will simply mention here a few biographical facts.
I was born in Toronto, in 1947, and at various times have lived in both large cities and small communities across Canada, enjoying the advantages both have to offer. My professional background includes working as a musician for most of my life (mainly as a teacher, producer, and composer), and academic work in the areas of educational psychology, philosophy, and theology (teaching and research). For readers of my book, In the Middle of Things, the significant aspect of my life’s work is that whatever I have done has been supported by a life-long interest in spirituality, which became in later years an interest that embraces the spiritual traditions of all major world religions. My major degree is a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies, a field that allowed me to focus on the study of spirituality from a wide variety of viewpoints.
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Being perhaps equally inclined towards musical composition and philosophical reflection, it is not surprising that I find writing about ideas that interest me “the most natural thing in the world” to do. For me, writing is the way I learn about anything most convincingly, and I think, most completely, because the act of writing involves both my intellect and my aesthetic sensibilities.
In common with what many writers have told us, writing happens largely because it has to happen; because a writer feels compelled to respond to the promptings of her or his “inner voice”. For a writer, necessity and freedom are not mutually exclusive, because he or she experiences “freedom” in the act of being “committed to” the act of writing. This is why I believe that writing, or any other activity to which a person is wholeheartedly committed, is a spiritual activity.
At the present time, perhaps the major concern I have that motivates much of my writing is the overwhelming impact of the mindset of science and technology on just about every aspect of life, including the way we understand spirituality. Under this compelling influence, I believe we tend to see (and think about) most things through the eyes of technology, which are eyes that are focused on objectifying things so as to control them and achieve predetermined goals. Seeing ourselves and our world in this way, I believe, is seeing them in a very incomplete and potentially debilitating way, because there is so much about life that tells us we live in a world that is grounded in interdependence, that is, in living with a genuine mutuality of interest as our fundamental reality. And living in a genuine “mutuality of interest” has little if anything to do with “being in control” or predetermining self-focused goals.
So, although we can hardly minimize the significant benefits given to us in recent decades by science and technology, there is clearly a need to reflect on the ways our overwhelming reliance on these two aspects of human ingenuity may be minimizing, obscuring, or even blinding us to our innate need to think, feel, and experience life as complete human persons. Surely we see ourselves and our world most fully and creatively when see through both the objectifying lenses of science and technology and our capacity for spiritual insight, for seeing beyond the finite world of objective facts into the mysterious infinite world of the wholeness to which everything belongs.
It is my hope that my book, In the Middle of Things, will encourage its readers to reflect on their involvement with everyday life in ways that stimulate their capacity for acting as persons who are as "fully alive" as possible.
[Book available at: Indigo Chapters and Amazon ]
Each droplet is one more sparkle in a sunlit waterfall . . .
Each moment is one more instance of an infinite presence . . .
Each person is one more telling of the story of us all . . .