No present, in two ways

 

There is of course a present in a conventional sense. There is something here – this human self and the wider world – and it is here now, not in the past or the future. 

At the same time, it is possible to discover – in immediate awareness – that there is no present in two ways. 

First, when I take “present” to be real and substantial, I have to take past and future as real and substantial as well. The three come in the same package. And when I recognize all three as mental field creations only, then “present” is left as a very useful pointer to what is happening in the sense fields. 

Then, when I notice that past and future are thoughts only, and as ephemeral and insubstantial as a thought, a question comes up: Is the present different? Is what “present” points to, what is happening in the sense fields, any more real and substantial than what a thought is? 

I can notice “present” as a pointer only, as a convenient mental field creation and insubstantial as any other thought. And I can notice what “present” points to – whatever is happening in the sense fields – also as insubstantial as a thought. 

All of this can be explored through the sense fields. And as I become more familiar with it, what happens? 

Do I notice past, future and present as mental field overlays, as they happen? Do I use “present” as a pointer only, to what is happening in the sense fields? Do I notice the sense fields to be no more substantial than a thought? 

What happens to a sense of me here? What happens to a sense of I? Are these also recognized as mental field overlays only? 

What is left? 

How does this human self function differently in the world when these are noticed? Does it need to look very different? Is there still a sense of drama? Does the drama tend to fall away? 

Also, is it true that I didn’t already notice this? 

All of this can be explored through the sense fields, and as I get more familiar with it, it has an impact to how everything is experienced. I notice past, future and present as mental field overlays,. What is left is what is happening in the sense fields, as emphemeral and insubstantial as a thought. There is a freedom from taking the mental field creations as real, as anything more than a sometimes conventient overlay. And a freedom from taking the sense fields as substantial. 

It may not look much different in everyday life. I may still live my life as before, but with less drama. 

 

……………

A convoluted initial draft…

There is of course a present in a conventional sense. There is something here – this human self and the wider world – and it is here now, not in the past or the future. 

At the same time, it is possible to discover – in immediate awareness – that there is no present. And that there is no present in two distinct ways. 

First, I can explore past and future. How do they appear in the sense fields? I find that past and future only appears in the mental field, and only as images and stories about a past and future. And these stories happen here now along with everything else, so there is only here now. 

If past and future only exists in the mental field, is that the case with the present as well? Yes, I can notice that even the “present” (aka here now) is a mental field overlay, and it is an overlay that implies – and requires – an idea of a past and future. The three go together, they come in one package, and they only appear as a mental field overlay. They are, quite literally, all imagined. 

They are very helpful, they help this human self orient and function in the world, and we all use them in everyday life. But all three are imagined. 

What is left is just what happens in each sense field. The “present”, as opposed to past and future, is imagined, yet it points to whatever is happening in each sense field. 

That is the first way there is no present: There is no present inherent in the world or experience. The present is a pointer only, and an imagination and mental field creation. 

Another question comes up here. If past and future have no substance to them, does this present – or more accurately, what that word points to – have substance? Is it any different? 

When I explore past and future, I find mental field creations, memories and scenarios. What are they made up? I find no substance. No solidity. It is ephemeral. A no thing appearing as something. A something made up of no thing. 

When I explore what the word “present” points to – whatever is happening in the sense fields here now – what do I find? What is whatever is happening in the sense fields made up of? Is that too insubstantial? Ephemeral? A no thing appearing as something? Is it made up of anything different that what a thought is made up of? Is it different from a thought, in that sense? 

This all can sound quite complicated, partly because I didn’t get it out in a very clear way. But it is also quite simple. 

First, is there a present? Or is there just what the word “present” points to? If I take present as real and substantial, I have to take past and future as real and substantial as well. But if I take the word “present” as a pointer only, a pointer to what is happening in each sense field, it can be quite useful. 

And then, if past and future are as insubstantial as a thought – since they are thoughts – is what “present” points to any different? Are what is happening in each sense field any more substantial than a thought is? 

………..

Initial outline…

  • no past, future, present
    • flavor one
      • past + future, mental field creations
      • so also with present – mental field overlay + implies the two other
    • flavor two
      • past, future ephemeral, insubstantial, a thought only
      • so also present
      • so also what appears here now (wider world + me + I)
    • and yet, something is here
      • no thing appearing as something
      • can be filtered through mental field overlay
      • and is a mystery
    • all a question, pointer for inquiry
      • if explore on ones own, can be very helpful
      • if take as a belief, less helpful (can get weird)

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