How we notice change

How do we notice change?

By comparing our mental images of what thoughts label “now” with our mental images of what thoughts label “past” whether it’s a recent or more distant past.

Without mental representations, there would be no idea of change, and no idea of past, future, and present.


It was one of the things that was revealed when my nature initially recognized itself.

There have also been shifts in meditation where the mental functions that create and tie together ideas of now and past seemed to not function anymore, and there is only now. One time, I was listening to music, and it was not music anymore because nothing was able to tie the sounds happening now with the memory of sounds that just passed.

I have also explored it through different forms of inquiry, including The Work of Byron Katie and especially the Kiloby Inquiries (a modern variation of traditional Buddhist sense field inquiry).


I saw a post from an awakening teacher saying that Buddhism sees realizing impermanence as a result of awakening. She then criticized that straw man argument for more or less the reason I outlined above.

That’s misguided since it’s a misrepresentation of Buddhism, and it’s easy to see it as unethical for the same reason. She didn’t do her homework, which would have taken long.

Buddhist teachings and teachers use impermanence to help our nature notice itself, it’s a teaching and inquiry tool. It makes use of how consciousness works when it doesn’t notice its nature, to help it notice its nature.

For instance, we may notice that everything within our field of experience changes. In basic meditation, that’s one of the things we notice over time. The question then is, if everything within the content of experience changes, can any of it be what I more fundamentally am? If the experience of this human self comes and goes, if the mental representation of a doer or observer comes and goes, can any of it be what I more fundamentally am? Can it be what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience? This is a visceral noticing and inquiry that deepens over time in basic meditation, perhaps even without being consciously noticed.

Image by me and Midjourney

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