© 2007, 2008 Jonathan Zap
Edited by Austin Iredale
Shame, and believing the lie that there is something wrong with you, fragments and disassociates you from the present moment. You don’t want to be who you think you are, and that leads to intense self-conflict, pain, and confusion, and this inner darkness can coalesce into a “shame contract,” and a key feature of the shame contract is that it exists as a “time grid.”
A time grid is a way of attempted escape from the present moment—in which you believe yourself to be no good and feel ashamed—by projecting yourself into an imaginary, idealized future. You make a shame-based contract with the future, and typically this contract possesses several key elements. The first element is self-improvement: you see yourself in a more perfected body, more together, more successful, accomplished, disciplined, etc. The second element is that you see an improvement in outside conditions: you are wealthy and successful in various worldly ways, have acquired shiny new gadgets, cars, clothes, houses, fortunes, etc. The third element is social and interpersonal: you see yourself as more socially successful or popular, and this may include specific interpersonal acceptances, typically including romantic and/or sexual fantasies. As you invest energy into this time grid, with its idealized images, the present reality seems ever more shamefully inadequate and inferior by contrast. You, as the presumed creator of the present reality, also seem ever more shamefully inadequate and inferior, and this causes you to flee the present moment, to fragment, and to invest and cling ever more nervously to the time grid. You become your own Wizard of Oz, trying to keep your attention focused on the grand holographic images of yourself projected onto the time grid, and you are ever more agitated by all the petty distractions that force your attention back to the man behind the curtain.
The quickest way out of the time grid is compassionate acceptance and embrace of the present moment, and who you are within the present moment. Lowering expectations of life seems to allow this. Lowered expectations of life don’t mean that you now have negative expectations of life, a grim acceptance of hardships, privations and diminished possibilities. It means that you have fewer expectations of any kind, positive or negative, because expectation is a time grid, and you are now choosing to live closer to the moment, closer to the pulse of life, and you are willing to work with what the moment presents rather than what you think should be happening. In making yourself more fully available to the present moment, you have more access to power and magic, because you are more whole, more present. You will defragment and have more access to the totality of who you are, including all your talents and abilities. Your intuition is greatly enhanced, and your coordination improves as your body moves only in the present, never in the future. You are a much more vivid, social/interpersonal presence as your energy flows into engagement with people now, as compared to hiding shamefully behind curtains while trying to project unreal images of the future.
Maintaining a time grid takes continual energy. It is an electrified grid that produces distracting holographic images, and it is your life energy that fires that grid, and has to keep firing the grid. When you reclaim that energy you have more vitality, more workable energy— the ability to do things and to be more fully alive—and when you’ve earned your access to greater energy you may find that it allows you to feel and appreciate things more fully. There may be pain in the present moment sometimes, but living on an electrified grid is always painful, is always a ghetto life filled with suffering and frustrated longing.
There was a cruel experiment done with monkeys many years ago. A baby monkey was removed from its mother and was placed in a universe consisting of two connecting cages. One cage had food and water, and the other cage had a surrogate mother, made of carpet attached to chicken wire formed into the shape of an adult monkey, with a ticking clock inside of it for a heartbeat. The baby monkey would cling to the surrogate mother all day except for brief moments when it would go into the other cage, get food and water as quickly as possible, and then come back to cling to the surrogate mother again. A time grid is like a surrogate mother made of carpet and chicken wire with a mechanical heart. We may cling to it, but it has no real nourishment for us, and, unlike the baby monkey, we live in a more abundant universe that can offer us real nourishment if only we will stop clinging to our surrogate life time grid.
If we live the time grid life, we use our magic to fire the grid and to generate the most convincing holographic images we can of our idealized, imaginary future. This is an exhausting magical practice, a high maintenance practice that degrades the present and leaves us feeling disempowered. One way to change this is to focus on deeds that are worthwhile to accomplish—however humble—in the very near time frame, and first state them as a magical intention by saying to yourself, in a very strong voice, “I will . . .” As in “I will clean this counter top,” “I will enter the post office,” etc. These may be humble deeds, but they are also magical accomplishments, as no one has yet satisfactorily explained how we translate our will into bodily actions. According to Aleister Crowley, magick is “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” In fact, Crowley says that “every intentional act is a Magickal Act.” By stating achievable goals in the very near time frame as magical intentions, you are retraining and re-empowering yourself from the self-castrating magic of the time grid toward a recognition of the power you are continually and successfully engaging in the present.
An extremely effective and grounded magical practice is to identify your big dreams, the missions you really need to accomplish in this lifetime. The test of a big dream comes from asking yourself, “Will I remember this well on my death bed?” If you have a big dream, you will probably find that to accomplish it will require a minimum of two hours of devoted activity per day. At the beginning of the day, make a short list of achievable, actionable “I will” statements that apply to today, and that move you, directly or indirectly, toward your big dream. The more direct ones are best, but the indirect ones, the actions that are necessary to maintain your practical life, also move you toward your dream because the neglect of them would sabotage your life in general. Now focus your energy, magic, and presence on accomplishing your “I will” statements. Note also that your “I will” statements do not have to apply merely to grim accomplishments, but also to fun and enriching things: I will see the movie that just came out, I will meet up with my friends at the coffee shop, etc.
Stop clinging to the time grid and fire up your life!