It can be shocking to see how much is really just abstractions. Although seeing this, abstractions can become useful tools for us rather than a way to create suffering for ourselves.
What arises in immediate experience, before any labels, is without abstractions. Everything and anything else is an abstraction.
These fragments of experiences – arising here and there in space – in the present, is all there is right now. And even putting these labels on it already is making it into an abstraction, a memory.
Anything in the past or future is an abstraction. Any memory is an abstraction. Any piece of information or knowledge is an abstraction. Any word is an abstraction. Any sense of continuity in time or space is an abstraction.
Abstractions are immensely useful to us. They allow us to orient and navigate the world. They allow for a functional human life, and adds to its immense richness.
At the same time, if we see abstractions as gospel truth, we immediately create drama and suffering for ourselves. When we see them as what they are, just practical tools to help us navigate, with only temporary and limited usefulness, then they become tools for us rather than an instrument of self-torture.
Footnote: For me this has become clearer at times when I do sitting practice and the music is on. The music – and everything else – falls into its components. Everything becomes just what it is in the present and continuity drops away. There is no “music” any longer, no continuity. Only the present arising always new, fresh and different.