How Big is the Now?

Harrison Owen hhowen at
Thu May 10 12:56:50 PDT 2007

Thanks Eric. Good stuff, some of which I am very familiar with. And before anybody jumps to the conclusion that I "created" Open Space as the magic carpet ride to the center of the Great OOOMMMM -- Relax. The martini story is still true. That said, it has always seemed to me that the experience in all Open Spaces, and particularly in some Open Spaces is that the restrictions of time and space fundamentally change, and may disappear to the point that people are bonded and united internally and externally all across what used to be time and space. Inside they experience themselves with a clarity and presence previously unknown, while simultaneously moving into an expanded world of possibility. The net effect can be mind blowing (no head), but also hugely productive of innovation and accomplishment. They think and do things they had never dreamed of, and it is all happening Now. A really BIG Now! Or something.

By the way if you really want the book, "Expanding Our Now" (Berrett-Koehler), it is not hard to find. will get you there. Just enter my name.


Harrison Owen
7808 River Falls Drive
Potomac, Maryland   20854
Phone 301-365-2093
Skype hhowen
Open Space Training 
Open Space Institute
Personal website 
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-----Original Message-----
From: OSLIST [mailto:OSLIST at LISTSERV.BOISESTATE.EDU] On Behalf Of Eric Lilius
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 10:02 AM
Subject: How Big is the Now?

Harrison wrote
And then, of course, if you want to get into some interesting 
philosophical, esoteric, not to say weird waters, you might ask yourself 
– How Big is Now? Could be a very small Now, in which case the 
opportunities and the responsibilities of infinitesimal. On the other 
hand, that NOW could be huge – like the whole Cosmos. Talk about 
opportunity and responsibility! Boggles the mind! Probably not worth 
thinking about!!

The title of your book, "Expanding the Now", which I have never managed 
to find, points the way to how big NOW actually is.
The Buddha, Zen masters, mystics in all traditions and more contemporary 
enlightened beings have pointed to the NOW as being all there really is.
Eckhardt Tolle has written a book "The Power of Now" . His book is full 
of little exercises to expand the now.

The following paragraph spoke volumes to me.

"If you no longer want to create pain for yourself and others, if you no 
longer want to add to the residue of past pain that still lives on in 
you, then don̓t create any more time, or at least no more than is 
necessary to deal with the practical aspects of your life. How to stop 
creating time? Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever 
have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you 
dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place 
in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal 
with the practical aspects of your life situation. Always say “yes” to 
the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to 
create inner resistance to something that already is? What could be more 
insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? 
Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life—and see how life suddenly starts 
working for you rather than against you. "

One of the great teachers in my life, Douglas Harding, spent his 
lifetime getting people around the world to experience the boundless 
nature of their true being. His most famous book is titled : "On Having 
No Head". There is a wealth of material at a website dedicated to the 
work that he shared.
The simple exercises that Douglas shared are there as well as many 
quotations from many traditions that point to way..

Here is his description of what he came to term his re birthday.

"The best day of my life—my rebirthday, so to speak—was when I found I 
had no head. This is not a literary gambit, a witticism designed to 
arouse interest at any cost. I mean it in all seriousness: I have no head.

It was eighteen years ago, when I was thirty-three, that I made the 
discovery. Though it certainly came out of the blue, it did so in 
response to an urgent enquiry; I had for several months been absorbed in 
the question: what am I? The fact that I happened to be walking in the 
Himalayas at the time probably had little to do with it; though in that 
country unusual states of mind are said to come more easily. However 
that may be, a very still clear day, and a view from the ridge where I 
stood, over misty blue valleys to the highest mountain range in the 
world, with Kangchenjunga and Everest unprominent among its snow-peaks, 
made a setting worthy of the grandest vision.

What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: 
I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or 
numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter 
died down. For once, words really failed me. Past and future dropped 
away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, manhood, animalhood, all 
that could be called mine. It was as if I had been born that instant, 
brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories. There existed only the 
Now, that present moment and what was clearly given in it. To look was 
enough. And what I found was khaki trouserlegs terminating downwards in 
a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of 
pink hands, and a khaki shirtfront terminating upwards in—absolutely 
nothing whatever! Certainly not in a head.

It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a 
head should have been was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the 
contrary, it was very much occupied. It was a vast emptiness vastly 
filled, a nothing that found room for everything—room for grass, trees, 
shadowy distant hills, and far above them snowpeaks like a row of 
angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world.

It was all, quite literally, breathtaking. I seemed to stop breathing 
altogether, absorbed in the Given. Here it was, this superb scene, 
brightly shining in the clear air, alone and unsupported, mysteriously 
suspended in the void, and (and this was the real miracle, the wonder 
and delight) utterly free of "me", unstained by any observer. Its total 
presence was my total absence, body and soul. Lighter than air, clearer 
than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.

Yet in spite of the magical and uncanny quality of this vision, it was 
no dream, no esoteric revelation. Quite the reverse: it felt like a 
sudden waking from the sleep of ordinary life, an end to dreaming. It 
was self-luminous reality for once swept clean of all obscuring mind. It 
was the revelation, at long last, of the perfectly obvious. It was a 
lucid moment in a confused life-history. It was a ceasing to ignore 
something which (since early childhood at any rate) I had always been 
too busy or too clever to see. It was naked, uncritical attention to 
what had all along been staring me in the face - my utter facelessness. 
In short, it was all perfectly simple and plain and straightforward, 
beyond argument, thought, and words. There arose no questions, no 
reference beyond the experience itself, but only peace and a quiet joy, 
and the sensation of having dropped an intolerable burden."

"When you eventually see through the veils to how things really are, you 
will keep saying again and again, This is certainly not like we thought 
it was! "...Rumi

I use the title of your book as a simple cue to release myself from the 
natterings of the future and the weight of the past and for that I thank 


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`·.¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ¸.·´¯`·.¸><((((º>
·..·´¯`·. <º))))><.¸.·´¯`·.¸.·<º))))>< 

Eric Lilius
Box 27
(1563 Eagle Lake Road)
Eagle Lake, ON  K0M 1M0
CANADA W78.34.12/N45.07.09
705-754-9860 (fax)

"When Jesus said 'I and the Father are one,' he meant that he was 
connected to the raw data feed of pure experience."
				Tim Boucher

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