In my exploration of Culture and the Now, let me use what just happened at breakfast. My wife is a creative oatmeal cook, mixing various ingredients so every morning there is a surprise. This morning I’m eating my porridge—and it was very tasty—and she asked if I could pick out the flavors. I couldn’t so I took a guess, Prunes?
No, figs and black walnuts. Then, having named them, I watched my mind formate and discriminate the tastes, and I could not help but taste the fig and the walnut. Before name and form, there was just present tastes, then with the overlay of the Known (I know figs and walnut tastes) I could separate the Presence of Tastes into a fragmented tastes. And with that selection of objects to taste, me as the taster also rose. This is very subtle because it is so normal.
https://youtu.be/736Izg48KVMCulture is the known, and the known is cut up into names and forms. Name something, you know it; know something you can accept or reject or change it. Knowing is control. Knowing creates the knower. They rise together.
So what is the NOW, using this kitchen story as metaphor? The Now is the Taste before the Culture of the known comes in and cuts it up into pieces of the known, each piece with its own story book of knowledge. One can spend your whole live studying prunes.
The Now, then, is transcendent of the Known. Once I tasted the fig and walnut, I couldn’t go back to the original innocent taste. Now my mind was involved, and I was tasting the words “fig” and “walnut”. The name had replaced the Now and all I could do was taste what is known…the Now, therefore, is the unknown, that which transcends the known, that is beyond or prior to the known of Culture.
Digging down into the metaphorical oatmeal of the unknown, the oatmeal as the unknown was not frightening; it is only when I create the duality (say I’m frightened of figs) that I’m frightened. “OH, no, figs. I’m allergic”. Then I would suddenly have symptoms. But before the figs were named I was not frightened. Culture is mind. To have No Mind (Zen) is to be in touch with the original oatmeal before it became mind. Oatmeal is a metaphor for the Unknown Now…where there is no fear.