What is suffering?
The imagined not-now.
– Byron Katie
The imagination of what was. What may be.
The imagination of this moment lasting forever.
With added stories that this – what’s here now, including these stories – is not OK.
How does the mind do this?
By associating sensations with these images and words, so they have a charge, and seem solid and real.
Or, said a few other ways, by identifying with the viewpoint of these words and images. By taking itself as this viewpoint. By believing these stories. And it does so by associating sensations with the words and images, the viewpoints, the stories, making them appear to itself as solid and real, and sometimes even unquestionable.
Any not-now is imagined. It’s made up of words and images, which are placed on an imagined timeline. This is very helpful, and we couldn’t function without it. At the same time, it is all imagined, and it’s good to notice. Even the stories about the present, and the idea of a present, are imaginations, made up of words and images, sometimes associated with sensations.