Experience of time and age

Earlier today, I met with two friends (BB and KL) I haven’t seen for a very long time. It felt like no time had passed. And it was also obvious that we all have lived a full life between then and now.

In the beginning, we also talked a bit about our experience of time and age.

It’s common for people to feel they are still young, even in old age. And that’s not surprising.

Fundamentally, to ourselves, we are consciousness, and consciousness has no age. This is more fundamental to us than our human self which obviously does go through life and ages.

I find I fundamentally am consciousness, and the world to me happens within and as consciousness. Time and space and anything else happen within and as what I am. I am what’s free of time (aka timelessness) that time happens within and as. I am what’s free of space (spacelessness) that space happens within and as. I am what’s free of things (no-thing) that things happen within and as. And so on.

Does all time happen now? Yes, to us it does

I remember having this experience in my teens, following the oneness shift. It was as if I could see, for my inner eye, all of time happening now, and I imagined that’s how time is to God. This was one of the early side effects of the shift, and it changed as I found more clarity about what was going on.

Since then, I occasionally talk with people who share a similar experience, often relatively early in the awakening process.

Is this topic important? Why do people experience it this way? And how can we explore it for ourselves?

IS IT IMPORTANT?

At a philosophical level, it’s about as important as other abstract philosophical topics. For most of us, it’s not very important in our daily life.

If it’s an experience – or a sense or intuition, then it’s often important for the ones having it.

And as a topic to explore in our own direct noticing, it can lead us to notice our nature. It can lead us home, to the home we already are whether we notice it or not. And for us, nothing may be more important than that.

WHY DO SOME HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE?

Where does the “all time is happening now” experience come from?

It comes from noticing reality. Not necessarily some absolute reality out there but the reality of our own experience.

To us, any content of experience happens within our sense fields. Any experience happens within one or more sense field – sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, mental representations, and so on.

And that includes our experience of time. Any ideas of past, present, and future, and any ideas of what’s in each of these, happen within our mental field. It all happens here and now.

Any sense of all time happening now also happens within our sense fields. It happens as a combination of certain mental representations (of a timeline and past, future, and present) and certain sensations in the body. Our mind associates the two so the sensations seem to lend a sense of solidity and reality to the mental representations, and the mental representations give a sense of meaning to the sensations.

That means that to us, all time happens now. It’s inevitable. It’s always been that way.

So if we experience that all time happens now, it’s because it does – to us. It was always that way. It cannot be any other way. It’s just that we don’t always notice.

And that doesn’t mean that this is how reality itself is. It’s just our inevitable experience because of how our mind works.

DIFFERENTIATING OUR OWN EXPERIENCE FROM REALITY “OUT THERE”

It’s important to differentiate the two.

To me, all time happens now. I cannot find the past or future, or even the idea of the present, outside of my mental representations. And they all happen here and now.

And that doesn’t say anything about reality itself. It doesn’t tell me how existence in itself is. What we call “time” is a mental overlay on (our mental overlays of) existence.

It says something about my own experience.

A POINTER TO MY OWN NATURE

More importantly, it says something about my own nature.

It’s a pointer to what I more fundamentally am, in my own first-person experience.

If I notice a sense of all time happening now, it’s an invitation for me to take a closer look. How does my mind create this experience?

This can be an invitation to explore our sense fields. To explore what’s happening in each, and how the mental field combines with physical sensations to create a sense of solidity and reality out of imaginations and sensations. (These imaginations are essential for us to orient and function in the world so there is nothing wrong with them, it’s just good to notice what’s happening.)

And this may lead me to find what I more fundamentally am. I may find that I more fundamentally am capacity for anything appearing in the sense fields. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

HOW CAN WE EXPLORE THIS FOR OURSELVES?

How can we investigate this for ourselves?

There are many approaches out there and what works depends on the person and situation. Here are a few I have found helpful.

Traditional Buddhist sense field explorations. For instance, pay attention to one sense field at a time and what happens there. Notice what happens in the mental field. Notice how the mental field interprets what happens in the other sense fields, how it interprets what’s not here in any other sense field, and perhaps even how certain sensations lend a sense of solidity and reality to some mental representations (give them a charge) and how certain mental representations give a sense of meaning to certain sensations.

The Kiloby Inquiries is a modern take on this traditional Buddhist inquiry. This inquiry usually requires a facilitator, at least unless we are trained and have some experience with it for ourselves.

The Work of Byron Katie can be helpful, especially if we explore this specifically.

Apart from sense field explorations, the most direct ways to explore this may be the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments. Here, we get a direct taste of any ideas of past, future, and present as happening here now, and happening within and as what we are.

Basic Meditation can do the same, although it tends to be a slightly slower process. Notice and allow what’s here. Notice that it’s already noticed and allowed. Notice how any content of experience comes and goes, including any ideas of past, future, and present. So what am I more fundamentally?

ALL OF TIME DOES HAPPEN NOW

So yes, all of time does happen simultaneously. To us, it does. It’s inevitable since time can only be found in our mental representations, and these happen here and now. I cannot find time outside of my present experience.

That doesn’t tell me how reality itself is.

And it’s an invitation for me to take a closer look, which may lead me to find my own nature.

Although much is important in life, we may find there is no greater treasure than that.

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Does our timeless nature mean we live forever?

I sometimes hear people say:

My timeless nature means I’ll live forever.

My physical body happens within me so I’ll live beyond this physical body.

For me, it looks a bit different.

TIMELESS IS NOT THE SAME AS ETERNAL

Yes, I find myself as what the world to me happens within and as.

I find myself as the timeless that time happens within. I find myself as the spaceless that space happens within. I find myself as what this physical body and the rest of the world, as it appears to me, happens within and as.

And that doesn’t mean that I – meaning this oneness the world to me happens within and as – will live forever, or continue to live beyond the death of this physical body.

IDEOLOGIES ARE NOT THE SAME AS REALITY

Yes, there may be many religions, spiritual traditions, and ideologies that say that we’ll live beyond this physical body.

There is even some research pointing to that.

And that’s all second-hand information. It’s not something I can test out for myself. I cannot know for certain.

MEMORIES ARE NOT THE SAME AS REALITY

My whole life, from early childhood, I have had what seems to be a memory from between lives and before this life.

When I look, I see that this apparent memory consists of mental images and words, associated with some sensations in my body.

Those mental representations and sensations are just that. They may not point to anything real. Again, I cannot know for certain.

BEING HONEST

I notice that if I tell myself I’ll live forever, or beyond the life of this physical body, it’s stressful.

I tell myself something I cannot know for certain. I tell myself that what to me is imagination is reality.

I know I cannot know for certain.

And that’s stressful. It’s also stressful to have to remember that imagination, recreate it, enhance it, support it, defend it, and so on.

What’s more honest for me is that I don’t know.

I’ll get to see when that phase of the adventure comes.

What I can find here now is my nature. I can find myself as what any content of experience – including time and space and this physical body and the world as it appears to me – happens within and as.

And that’s enough.

There is a joy in being aligned with reality.

In being honest with myself.

I am held by something older than time

I am held by something older than time

– a social media friend of mine in one of her posts

That’s my experience too.

WHAT’S OLDER THAN TIME?

I am held by something older than time in the sense that it’s more primary, more fundamental, and goes before time. It’s what any sense of time happens within and as. It’s what any sense of space happens within and as.

And that something is my nature. When I look, I find I am what any and all content of experience happens within and as. It’s what time happens within and as.

To me, it’s what time happens within and as.

It’s not something far away or for special people. It’s not something particularly mysterious in a conventional sense. It’s what I am already most familiar with. It’s what takes the form of any and all experience, including time.

My nature is older than time. It’s what metaphorically goes before time. It’s what time happens within and as. It’s the timeless taking the form of time.

HOW DOES IT HOLD ME?

This is what holds any and all experience. It’s what holds any experience of this human self. It’s what holds itself.

My nature holds itself and any and all experience, including of this human self and anything associated with it.

A SENSE OF IT VS NOTICING VS FINDING OURSELVES AS IT

We can have an intuitive sense of this. We can sense there is something here that seems older than time. That’s often what’s expressed in poetry and by some mystics.

We can notice and find it more directly. We can notice our nature as capacity for any and all experience, including time and space. And we can explore how to live from this, and invite the different parts of us – formed within and still operating from separation consciousness – to join in with this noticing and living from it.

And we can, also through grace, viscerally and undeniably find ourselves as that which any and all experience happens within and as, including time and space. And live from and as it, and invite the different parts of us to join in with this.

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Perception of time when we notice our nature

This is another article in a mini-series on how we tend to perceive when we notice our nature. I have written about our perception of distance and movement so far, and here is one on time. (Since I have written about our perception of time in several other articles so I will only touch on it briefly here.)

CONVENTIONAL TIME

In one sense, I perceive time as anyone else. I know how to use our ideas of seconds, minutes, hours, days, and so on. And my sense of time stretches and compresses depending on what I am doing and whatever states are moving through me, as it seems to do for most people.

TIME HAPPENS WITHIN ME

At the same time, I am aware that my sense of time happens within and as what I am.

Any ideas of past, future, and present – and what I imagine in each one – happen within my sense fields.

They happen within and as what I am. They happen within and as what a thought may call consciousness.

It’s all happening in the now that’s all I know and have ever known.

MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS

I am aware of my mental representations of time – of a timeline with a future, kind-of-present, and past, and that my mental field places certain events on this timeline and in one or more of these three times.

I have examined these through more thorough inquiry several times, which helps me recognize them in daily life. And it helps me recognize them as mental representations happening now.

These mental representations are essential for helping this human self function in the world.

TIMELESSNESS

Another aspect of all this is timelessness.

Since time happens within and as what I am, I find my nature is timeless.

My nature is no-time allowing time and different experiences of time, including the three times and the stretchiness of time.

SHIFTS HIGHLIGHTING CERTAIN FEATURES

When we are in a process of exploring our nature, it’s not uncommon to have experiences that highlight certain features of what we are.

One of these for me happened fifteen or more years ago. I was training a more stable attention (focus on sensations of the breath in the nose) while music was playing in the background. Suddenly, there was a shift where any sense of continuity of time fell away. There was no continuity in the music, only the shifting sounds here now.

This helped me see how my mind, and especially the mental field, creates not only a sense of past, future, and present, but also of continuity of time. Without it, there is only an always shifting now with no continuity. Without it, we couldn’t function as human beings in the world.

IN DAILY LIFE

In daily life, all of these are here and attention may highlight some aspects of this more than others.

I operate with time in a conventional sense, and with my cultural influences. (I like to be on time since I am from Norway, and I like to stick to schedules that involve others for the same reason.)

I notice my mental field creating and operating with representations of time – a timeline, three times, events on this timeline and in the three times, and so on.

I notice my timeless nature, either in the background or more intentionally.

And I am aware that without my mental field, there would be no sense of continuity in time.

Note: I have written similar articles on distance, movement, doership, the physical, and this human self.

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13.8 billion years old

It’s my birthday.

How old am I?

Am I the age my passport tells me? In a conventional sense, that’s my age.

Am I the age of this universe, if it really has a beginning? Am I 13.8 billion years old? That’s equally or more valid. Everything I am as a human being is the product of 13.8 billion years of evolution. I am the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. I am a local expression of what the universe has spent 13.8 billion years to form itself into.

Am I timeless? I can find that too. When I look, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me, and what forms itself into my experience of the world – including time and space.

As an individual, I am few decades old. Everything I am – all the dynamics, patterns, and processes I am – are the result of 13.8 billion years of evolution. And I find myself as timeless and capacity for time and all of these stories.

Photo: Crab Nebula (Messier 1), NASA / ESA.

Eternal life?

What does it mean to have eternal life?

Who or what has it? And what does eternal mean?

More practically, can we use the idea of the eternal as a mirror? Can we find what it points to in our first-person experience?

TIME IN RELATION TO WHAT I AM

When I look, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me.

I am what my field of experience happens within and as.

And relevant to this, I find that any sense of time happens within and as what I am.

Any sense of time and any mental representations happen within and as what I am.

It happens within and as what’s inherently timeless and free of time.

THE ETERNAL

One of the definitions of eternal is that it has no beginning or end in time.

When I look, I can’t find any beginning or end in time outside of my field of experience. It all happens within and as what I am.

The eternal, that which has no beginning or end, is here and allows for a sense of time.

The eternal allows for time and takes the form of time.

Gospel of Thomas, verse 18

(1) The disciples said to Jesus: “Tell us how our end will be.”
(2) Jesus said: “Have you already discovered the beginning that you are now asking about the end? For where the beginning is, there the end will be too.
(3) Blessed is he who will stand at the beginning. And he will know the end, and he will not taste death.”

– Gospel of Thomas, verse 18

(1) The disciples may not be comfortable with uncertainty and want to know.

(2+3) When we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, we find that all beginnings and ends happen within and as what we are. To us, all beginnings and ends happen here and now, within and as what we are.

Experience of time

We can experience time in different ways.

As a human self in the world, we are within time.

As capacity for the world, time is within us, as is space.

If we take ourselves as primarily a human self, then the within-time perspective is what we are most familiar with, although we may shift out of it for a while in flow states and so on. In these flow states, it’s as if the part of our mind keeping track of time is temporarily set aside.

When we notice ourselves as capacity for the world, we find time – the idea of time – happening within and as us, and we function with and within time as well.

The experience of time is created by our mind. Our mind imagines a past and future, and mixes imagination with sense perceptions for the present. We imagine a timeline and events and situations put on this timeline. I cannot find time outside of these images and imaginations. Time is created in the present.

For us, whether we notice or not, all time happens here and now, since it’s all found in images and imagination. (I wonder if this is why some imagine that, for God, all time happens now. It’s a projection of our own immediate experience, whether or not we happen to notice.)

I notice that what happened in the recent past seems like it just happened and also as if it happened thousands of years ago. I experience timelessness, and time happening within and as it. And it all seems a bit like a dream because, to me, it is. It’s all happening within mental images and within and as consciousness, just as dreams do.

The idea of time travel says more about our mind than reality

I have written about this too, several times, but thought I would briefly revisit it.

The idea of time travel says more about our mind than it does about reality.

In our mind, we can easily visit the past and future. Present, past, and future all co-exist. So it’s an apparently small leap to assume we can do the same in reality.

While in reality, we only have what’s here and now and our ideas about the past and future are all created here and now. For time travel to be possible, the past and future would have to be stored somewhere, and that’s very likely not how it is.

So the idea of time travel says something about how our mind works. It reminds us that we can easily visit some version of the past, present, and future in our mind, that we cannot find the past and future anywhere else, and that we sometimes mistake what’s going on in our mind for reality outside of the mind.

It also reminds us that all we have is what’s here and now. As far as we know, the past and future are not magically stored anywhere outside of our mind.

Of course, the idea of time travel in fiction is something else. It can create fascinating and fun stories, and those too can be used to explore and say something about us here and now.

Adyashanti: The present moment is actually creating the experience of the past

The present moment is actually creating the experience of the past.

– Adyashanti

The present moment is creating the experience of the past, and the future, and even the present. It’s all created here now. It’s a huge relief to notice this and invite it to transform me.

Time is love

I have received several mini-healings (and some not so mini) from people in the Vortex Healing community when I have needed and asked for it. They freely give their time to help someone else, sometimes even someone they haven’t met.

It reminds me that time is love. When people freely give their time to help someone else, it’s love. When we exchange our time for money, it’s also love – for ourselves and our family. When we do something in our spare time, even if it’s something as simple as watching a movie or walking in nature, it’s how we best know to use our time in that moment and an expression of love.

In the bigger picture, time is love since it allows things to happen. This universe, planet, and our own lives would exist without time. Time is life’s gift to itself, or existence’s gift to itself, or the divine’s gift to itself.

Time is also love in that our mind creates its experience of time so it can place things in an imagined past and future, and even present. Our mind imagines a timeline and places images at different points in the timeline. It’s a crucial element for this human self to operate and function in the world, and – in that sense – an expression of love.

As I wrote this, I imagined a couple of questions:

If we waste our time, is that an expression of love? “Waste” is an idea we place on it and not inherent in the situation itself. Also, we may need to relax and that’s how we decide to do it there and then. And we may be caught up in emotional issues or habits, and whatever we do is the best we know how to do at that moment.

I get that the past and future is imagined, but is the present imagined too? Yes, we place an overlay of mental images on what’s here and now, and what we imagine is not-here and now. We place mental images on what we can see, what we know – or assume we know – is behind us, or nearby, and also anything else we imagine in the world. When I see the candle in front of me, there is a mental image of a candle on top of it so I know what it is, how it works, and what I can do with it. When I imagine the house I am in, I imagine rooms and features I cannot see right now. When I imagine the town and country and the rest of the world and people I know who are not here, that’s also clearly an imagination.

When you say “imagined” does it mean that it doesn’t exist? Not necessarily. Imagined just means that we have a mental image of it that we use to label, understand, and navigate. If I imagine a friend in another town, and I call that person, it’s likely that the person will answer if he or she can. The person is there even if I rely on my images of that person to know they exist, who they are, and so on.

Of course, there is a component of this that is imagination or fantasy in the sense that we typically use those words. We assume things about something or someone, and although there may be some validity to it, it’s also assumptions. In a conventional sense, it may be more or less accurate. And in a more fundamental sense, what these images refer to are fundamentally different from the images and what we think we know about it.

How the mind creates its experience of space, time, solidity

Our perception of space, time, solid objects and a sense of reality to them all is central to our human experience.

It can be very interesting to explore this basic perception and how our minds create it, and inquiry – for instance the Living Inquiries – is a good way to do it.

In general, the mind creates its experience of the world through (a) sensory input with (b) an overlay of thoughts (images and words) combined with sensations. And sometimes, just (b). And that’s how it is with its experience of space, time, and solid objects as well.

Space. As I am sitting in this room, there is (what my thoughts label as) sensory input about the – visual, sound, touch. On top of that, my thoughts put mental images and words to make sense of it and make it into a room with floor, walls, ceiling, table, chairs and so on. And physical sensations combine with those thoughts to make it seem more real and substantial. When I close my eyes and see images of the table, and hear the word “table”, sensations – for me now, in the front of my upper body – lend a sense of solidity to those thoughts of table.

Time. Similarly, I have the word “present” overlaid on top of this room as it appears to me now. And I see images of a timeline with past, present, and future, and certain other images and words in certain spots on this timeline. For instance, for the part of the timeline that represents “this evening” I see “6pm SETI talk with Dan Werthimer” and “8pm Tallis Scholars concert” along with “Oakland” and an image of going there with Lyft and a map of San Francisco (where I am right now) and Oakland. Wherever my attention goes, images and words pop up to create content and an impression of past, future, and present, and more generally of “time”, with a range of events placed on it.

Here too, certain sensations are associated with each image and word to lend a sense of substance and reality to them. Sometimes, it’s just enough for my mind to think to itself “this is real”, and sometimes there is more of an emotional charge to it. For instance, I remember first learning to ride my bike as a child, and see an image of my father supporting the bike, letting go, and me cycling for the first time without support. I feel sensations in the forehead and front of the belly that lends a sense of substance and reality to these memories. These sensations, along with some other images and words, tells my mind these memories are “real”, they represent – more or less – what happened.

Substance. I have my laptop on my lap as I sit on the sofa with my legs outstretched. When I close my eyes, I notice sensations on top of my thighs along with an image of my thighs with a laptop resting on top of them. These sensations and images, along with some other ones, creates an experience of “thighs” and “laptop” and thoughts that these are substantial and real. My mind creates an experience for itself of these are real physical objects.

Looking closer. When I look a bit closer, I see it’s all created by thoughts and sensations, and it’s all made up by awakeness. It’s all happening within and as awakeness. As is space and objects in space, time and events in time, and anything else – including any ideas of a body, mind, universe, life, and even Spirit and awakeness.

If we continue to explore this, with some skill and guidance, we come to see our experiences more as just that – as they happen. And that can be quite a relief. The heaviness goes out of it, and the sense of it being “real in itself”.

Notes. As usual, I have taken some shortcuts in writing about this and there is always a great deal more to say about it. Any of the ideas used here are made up in the same way, including the most basic ones and also including “mental images and words” and “sensations”.

Also, when I write about closing my eyes to investigate, it just because it helps me see my own mental images – and other imaginations – more easily. These are here also when my eyes are open, but the visual impressions tend to “override” them so they are easily noticed, at least at first, with the eyes closed.

And the mind uses a wide range of imaginations, not just images and sounds. The mind imagines all the senses and uses all of it to create its own experience of the world. It takes sensory impressions, puts an overlay of imaginations, and combine these with sensations to create a sense of reality and solidity for itself, and sometimes also an emotional charge.

This is all lila – the play of life (or the divine). This is how we can explore lila in immediacy – right here now. This is one layer in how life creates its experience of itself here and now, and it’s the layer it’s most easy for us to notice and explore, and that has the most practical effects when we do so.

There is nothing new here. Individuals from all cultures and times must have been aware of this, in their own way, with their own take on and flavor to it. These are sometimes called mystics, but that makes it sound too special and far away. This is very simple, ordinary, and immediate.

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Byron Katie: Life without a future

Life without a future is magical.

– Byron Katie

It doesn’t mean having no images or thoughts about the future, or believing there is no future.

It means seeing clearly, through curiosity and investigation, that any images I have about the future are just that, images.

They are images and words, with perhaps sensations associated with them. If unexamined, the sensations will lend a sense of reality and solidity to the images and words. They will seem real, as if they reflect a real future. If examined, I see images as images and words as words, and feel sensations as sensations. It’s clear they are all happening here and now. I cannot find a future outside of these, happening here, and being images, words and sensations.

Adyashanti: Imagine there is no time

Take a moment and imagine that there is no time. Take a moment to just let go of tomorrow. What if letting go of suffering wasn’t possible tomorrow – that today, even right now, was all you had, and you had nothing else but today? All of a sudden, you would look at your whole existence through completely different eyes. See if you can feel what it is to exist only now. See what its like to completely take tomorrow, and yesterday, out of the picture.

– Adyashanti from Falling into Grace

A few basic things here:

In an ordinary sense, it’s of course fine and reasonable to postpone some things into the future – such as meetings, appointments, tasks and events. I’ll put some things on my calendar for the next few weeks, and even months, and do them (or not) as the day and time is here. It’s fine to put these into an imagined future, because it tends to work.

And yet, with certain “inner” things, it makes much more sense to do it here and now.  These may include…. finding love for what’s here, pulling discomfort closer, using a gentle inquiry to see what’s here, asking myself “is it true that what I am seeking is not already here?”.

Putting these into an imagined future creates a pattern and habit of postponing. It gives the mind a way out from doing it here and now.

It also tends to reinforce the idea of a real and solid future “out there” somewhere. Is there really a findable future, or even a past or present? Is the word “future” the actual future? Is this image of a future an actual future? Is this sensation associated with “future” an actual future? Can I find the future anywhere, outside of words, images and sensations (clearly happening now)? As I examine this and take it in, the option of postponing certain things into the future seems less attractive or real. Why not do it now?

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Knowing what will happen

It’s interesting to explore how my mind constructs what seems obvious from a conventional and unquestioned view, including ideas of time, space, control, body, objects, matter, a me and I, and even ideas of clarity and confusion, identification and so on.

For instance, there is a sense that I know what will happen, at least to some extent. So I look at the components of my experience: words, images and sensations.

Do I know what images will appear next? Do I know what images will appear to my physical eye? To my inner eye? Do I know what image will appear next second?

Do I know what words will appear next?

Do I know what emotions and body sensations will appear next?

Do I know what sound will appear next?

When I look at my images of what will happen at any point in the future, are those images what will actually happen? Are they the actual future?

When I look at my words of what will happen at some point in the future, are those words the actual future?

And I can do the same with time. Is the word “future” the actual future? Are my images of a timeline, of an abstract future, and of specific events in the future, the actual future? Are the associated sensations the actual future? (And what about the past, or present, or “time”, or space?)

Notice it’s new

Time does go by (or, more accurately, it feels as if time is going by) more quickly the older we get. In the first few years of our lives, anything we sense or do is brand new, and many of our experiences are unique, so they remain firmly in our memories. But as the years go by, we encounter fewer and fewer new experiences—both because we have already accomplished a lot and because we become slaves to our daily routines. For example, try to remember what happened to you every day last week. Chances are that nothing extraordinary happened, so you will be hard-pressed to recall the specific things you did on Monday, Tuesday, etc.

What can we do about this? Maybe we need some new app that will encourage us to try out new experiences, point out things we’ve never done, recommend dishes we’ve never tasted and suggest places we’ve never been. Such an app could make our lives more varied, prod us to try new things, slow down the passage of time and increase our happiness. Until such an app arrives, try to do at least one new thing every week.

– Dan Ariely in Why Time Feels Like it Passes Quicker as You Get Older

Another option is to notice that this experience is, in reality, new and never experienced before and will never be experienced again.

When we take our images and thoughts as true, there is a sense that things are the same. Our images and thoughts makes it look as if this experience is similar or even the same (!) as a previous or future experience. As we examine how our experience is created, and see words as words and images as images, this experience is revealed as what it is, new and fresh. And it’s not even “new and fresh”, it’s just what it is here and now.

How do I explore this? I can question thoughts such as “I have experienced this before” using The Work. I can look for the past, future and present, and any sense of boredom or that this is the same as a previous experience using the Unfindable Inquiry in the Living Inquiries. I can also look for any threats related to this using the Anxiety Inquiry.

Postponing, and taking an image of time & space as real

A belief in time is required for postponing something that can be done now.

Mind imagines time stretching out ahead of me, as a field or a line. Mind identifies with that image, and takes it as (reflecting something) real and true. And mind puts a task that could be done now into the future.

For me, I notice that I do with with more completely shifting allegiance from identified mind to nonidentified mind. There is a hesitation here, a less than wholehearted intention, because I imagine it can be done in the future. I imagine there is a future, that the future is something real.

As this is examined more closely, mind comes to see what’s actually happening. That there is no time outside of my images of time. That imagine putting it into the future is just that, imagination. And there is a shift to doing it now. There is a more wholehearted intention of doing it now, and a movement to find it now.

The same is the case with space. As long as there is a belief in the image of space, I can imagine it happening “out there” in others, and in another me in the future. Looking at this, I also see that the image of time is really an image of space. It’s an image of time stretching out into the future, and that image relies on an image of space. A belief in space – it seems – underlies a belief in time.

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Byron Katie: Time ends

Time ends when you no longer need to produce it.
– Byron Katie

Where do I find time? How does time appear to me?

When I look, I find an image of time, and on this image I place images of what has happened in the past, what may happen in the future, and even images of what’s happening in the present. Past, future, present – they are all images, all thoughts, their boundaries defined by images. I also see an image of time as a timeline, and images of events placed on this timeline. And it’s all happening within this timeless present, within and as awakeness. I cannot find time outside of these images.

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Being present

It’s popular in certain circles to talk about being present. What does it mean?

I don’t really know, but imagine two things:

One is in the meaning of intentionally being aware of what’s here and now. The simplest way of practicing this  may be through training a stable attention, for instance bringing attention to physical sensations, whether it’s the sensations at the nostrils of the in- and out-breath, the sensations within any other imagined boundary on or in the body, the sensations of movement or weight, and so on. This also makes it easier to intentionally bring attention to what’s here in everyday life – sensations, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and images and thoughts. I assume this is what’s sometimes referred to as mindfulness.

As any other practice, this is also inquiry. What happens when attention is brought to sensations? (It goes out of thoughts, which may be experienced as liberating.) Can I notice when attention is absorbed on the “inside” of thoughts, and bring it back to sensations? What thoughts did attention go to? (What do I find when I take these to inquiry?) Do I have thoughts about wandering attention? (It’s not good, I am not doing a good job.) What do I find when I take these to inquiry?

Another is to notice that whatever is here in the field of awareness, or whatever attention goes to, is already here and now. Sensations, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, thoughts are all here and now.

I sometimes ask myself a simple question: Is it true this – including images of past, future and present – is not already here and now? 

To explore this further, I sometimes explore the sense fields to see how the mental field creates images of time (as a continuum) and future, present and past (discrete times), and places other images (memories, scenarios) on these images. Sometimes, it’s taken as real, solid and really “out there” in the past, future or present. Other times, it’s all recognized as happening within the mental field in immediacy. Any sense of time then “collapses” into what’s here in immediacy. Whatever is here – my field of experience – is all happening within and as awareness, including images of time, and images overlaid on the other sense fields such as images of space, images of a me and I, images of an inner and outer world, and so on.

This helps me see – and feel – that time (as a continuum) and the three times (past, future, present) cannot be found outside of my images. Images placed on these images of time (memories, scenarios) lose a sense of really being “out there” in time, in past, future or present. And it’s all – images of time, of space, of a me and I – more easily noticed as happening within and as awareness.

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Why I am 13.7 billion years old

My birthday is coming up (again!) later this month, and I get curious about my age again.

I first notice that here and now, in immediacy, there is timelessness. Whatever happens in the sense fields happen within timelessness, and that includes any thoughts about past, future and present. Those are all labels. Interpretations. Ways to organize and make sense of what’s happening in the sense fields.

Among those stories of time, I find the most basic one is the story of time itself. A story saying there is a time line with past, future and present. This one helps place events where they seem to belong, and this helps me – as a human being in the world – to function and operate. It is not a flawless system (I edit and even make up memories of the past, and sometimes actually believe my own stories about time and what happened, happens, and will happen), but it generally works pretty well. It’s functional.

One of these stories of time says I was born so and so many years ago. It’s the story that’s reflected in my passport and birth certificate, and what most people in my culture use for themselves and when they think about how old I am.

Another of these stories is the deep time story. This universe was “born” about 13.7 billion years ago, and that’s how old I am. Again, in our culture, this doesn’t quite make sense. I am a human being, not the universe. But it actually makes a great deal of sense from another perspective. Everything I am, as this human being, is quite literally 13.7 billion years old. It is the product of the 13.7 billion year old evolution of this universe.

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Exploring space and time

A quick note:

I notice I find it equally helpful to explore time and space.

In both cases, I see and feel it is all happening here, in my own world of images.

I am caught up in stories about the world. Then, I recognize how the mental field creates a sense of space, and how all these stories are mapped onto this imagined space. It is all happening here.

I am caught up in stories about the past or future. Then, I recognize how the mental field creates a sense of time, and how all these stories are mapped onto this imagined time line. It is all happening here.

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Time

The most effective way to explore time I have found so far is exploring it through the sense fields.

How does time appear in each sense field, and in the combination of the sense fields?

How does time appear in sound, sensation, taste, smell, sight, thoughts/images? How does change appear? Do I find past or future there?

When I explore time this way, I find that the only place I find a sense of time is in the mental field. Any sense of time appears through an overlay of images and thoughts. An overlay of images of what has happened, what may happen, and what is happening “now”.

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Liberation is retroactive

Joel sometimes says that enlightenment is retroactive.

One of the many ways of noticing that is through inquiry. Especially when it is done in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.

I take a story as true, and it colors my past. It may even bring up sadness, grief, anger, regret and so on.

I inquire into the story, finding what is more true for me, and the story is liberated from being taken as true.

And here, I find that my images of the past has changed as well. Instead of – for instance – regret over a particular situation, there is now a gentle and heartfelt appreciation.

Often, it is bitter-sweet. I can see how I acted in beliefs back then, creating suffering for myself and others. It is bitter. And yet, in realizing that I was confused and acted on a belief, and now have a little more clarity around it, there is a sweetness, a sincere appreciation of the whole process.

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Experience of time

Our experience of time is fluid… expanded, condensed, not there at all. 

This morning seems like ages ago. And there is no gap between now and what happened decades back. 

When I do bodywork, seconds and minute details can unfold worlds of experience, yet a session is over in the blink of an eye. 

Noticing this fluidity in our experience of time is an invitation for inquiry. 

What is this experience of time? What do I find when I look into it?

Do I find past and future as mental field creations only? Do I find past, present and future as one package, all happening within the mental field?

Memories strung together. Scenarios of the future. Images of the present. All tied together into one seamless experience of time, and completely fluid and mallable because it is all imagined. No gap to something that happened years ago. An infinity of experience in a second. All happening within and as timelessness. 

In noticing this mental field overlay creating the experience of time, I notice all happening as timelessness. 

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Some things about stories

Here are a few things about stories, which can be explored through the sense fields…

Any story…

Is a projection of a story and a quality. Imagination is taken as saying something about the world, out there and in the past, present or future. And what that imagination is about is taken as being out there as well. When it is recognized as imagination, it can be a very useful and practical tool for our human self to orient and function in the world. When it is taken as truth, it becomes a blind projection. We are blind for it as an imagination. 

Is imagination, and the world we relate to is quite literally imaginary. It is an overlay of images relating to each other, and those images include images of me. Any drama happens among those images, mostly in the way other images relate to the images of me. 

Is a question, an innocent question about the world. It is sometimes taken as something more, as a statement, fact or truth, which itself is just a story about a story. 

Is a tool. It is a tool for our human self to orient and function in the world. And as any tool, it is sometimes useful and sometimes not. It has only practical value. 

Is no thing appearing as something. Any mental field creation is insubstantial and ephemeral. Like a hologram, it has form but no substance. When it is recognized as a mental field creation, it is noticed as insubstantial and ephemeral. As no-thing appearing as something. When it is taken as true, it appears real, solid and substantial. (Sensations combine with the story to lend it a sense of substantiality, and muscles often tense up to make those sensations stronger.)

Is a mental field overlay. It is a mental field overlay on top of the other sense fields. And separating it out in sense fields (sensation, sight, sound, smell, taste, mental) is itself from a mental field overlay.

For instance, there is a sensation, a story of “pain”, and additional stories of pain as undesireable. All of these create the gestalt of “pain”, and this appears substantial and real when the gestalt is not noticed as a gestalt, and quite differently when it is noticed as a gestalt. 

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Nothing will come from nothing

life_of_brian

I mean, what you got to lose? You know, you come from nothing. 
You’re going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing! 
Always look on the bright side of life! 
Nothing will come from nothing. You know what they say?
– From Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Life of Brian 

There are two ways of looking at this…

First, within (the story of) time. There was a time when none of this was here. No me, none of the ones I know, no humans, no living planet, no solar system, no galaxy, no universe as we know it. And there will be such a time again, so nothing is gained and nothing is lost. 

Then, here now. It all happens as the play of awakeness. Insubstantial. Ephemeral. No traces. 

The first one happens within stories, wihtin the creations and play of the mental field. The second can be an immediate noticing and realization outside of the mental field. (Although guided by and later reflected in/expressed through the mental field.) 

In both cases, it can be sad initially. There is a loss of the story of something happening. 

But then it is freeing. Since all of this will be gone, why not act in ways that align with what is really important to me? Why not follow my heart? And since it is all the play of awakeness itself, why not do the same? 

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Flavors of present

Some flavors of present…

Whenever there is a strong belief in the stories of past, future and present, they seem quite substantial and real. The present appears on the razor’s edge between past and future, and it is a difficult balancing act to “stay present”. It is easy to get absorbed into stories about the past and future and experience them as real and substantial.

“Being present” here may be taken as focusing on stories about the (apparent) present, and push aside stories about the past and future. (And then discover that it is not very functional.) Or there may be a temporary shift out of stories and an experience of the timeless now, but a switch back into experiencing the stories of the three times as real as soon as they come back.

As the identification with the stories of past, future and present is released somewhat, we have a more immediate recognition of them as stories only. As mental field creations with a practical function, a tool for our human self to function in the world. It is possible to engage with these stories while recognizing them as just stories.

Early on, it may be easier to recognize the past and future as mental field creations, as (often very helpful) imaginations.

As this clarifies, there is also a recognition of the present as a story, a mental field creation overlaid on the other sense fields. Imaginations interpreting what is happening in the sense fields, in addition to an overlay of the story of present.

The gestalts of past, future and present are still there, and recognized as gestalts as they happen.

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Experience of time

Time is a mental field creation, so no wonder our experience of time changes.

When I look at my own experience of time, I find a few different aspects…

First, a sense of infinite time between now and something that happened in the past. It seems very far away, even if it happened recently in conventional (clock) terms. For instance, between now and when I got up – which is only a couple of hours ago – it feels like a very, almost infinitely, long time. It feels like centuries or millenia may have past, although I of course know that is not the case. Right now, this experience is relatively stably in the middle or foreground in daily life.

Then, a sense of collapsed time. Of the time between now and a particular memory from the past – or scenario about the future – as nonexistent. It feels like no time between now and particulars in the past and future. No time between my birth and now. No time between now and my death. There is a sense of immediacy here. This experience comes into the foreground when I look at it, but it otherwise more in the background.

I can also access conventional clock & calendar time of hours, days, months and so on. I can easily funciton within this framework, although my experience of it is more along the lines of the other ones mentioned here. This one is available as needed.

And finally, a sense of timelessness. Of everything – including my mental field creations of time, memories and scenarios – as happening within and as timelessness, this timeless now. Everything happens within and as timeless awakeness. This is the context of all of the other ones, independent of how they show up. And it is in the background or foreground of experience depending on where attention goes.

Trigger: Sometimes surprising myself in realizing that something that feels like it happened a very long time ago, really happened just a few hours earlier or the day before.

New book from Almaas

A chapter from Almaas‘ new book The Unfolding Now is available as a free download. The book can be pre-ordered and should be out June 10.

From Amazon:

Product Description
In his most accessible work to date, contemporary mystic A. H. Almaas shows readers how being present and aware in the moment leads to the discovery of our True Nature. This relaxed condition of simply “being yourself ” allows us to be free from worries, attachments, feelings of inadequacy, preoccupation with goals, and efforts to eliminate experiences we don’t want. As we begin to embrace the truth of the moment, we feel more like ourselves, and this leads to greater self-acceptance, contentment, and harmony.

Almaas brings clarity and understanding to the intimate details of this inner work, which makes use of self-observation and the contemplative method he calls inquiry. Each chapter includes an “exploration session” with questions for the reader’s practice of self-inquiry.

About the Author
A. H. Almaas is the pen name of Hameed Ali, originator of the Diamond Approach, who has been teaching individuals and groups in Colorado, California, and Europe for some twenty-five years. He is the founder of the Ridhwan School and the author of numerous books, including Spacecruiser Inquiry, Essence, and The Pearl Beyond Price.

Thanks to John from open-secrets.com for letting me know!

Synchronicities

Yesterday, I listened to music while doing a sense field practice, exploring specifically how thoughts creates a sense of continuity. And as I did so, I noticed the lyrics I listened to:

Only this moment (Holds us together)

Which is a perfect reflection of what I was exploring. Only this moment holds it all together. Past and future, continuity, time, it all happens right here now. Thoughts happening here now is what holds it all together.

Only this moment holds it all together.

Röyksopp: Only This Moment from The Understanding.

Three layers to the experience of time

Visiting Norway, I notice especially well how my experience of time has three layers…

First, as timeless. Whatever happens, happens as this timeless awakeness. It is the always changing world of form, unfolding within, to and as awakeness, which itself is always and already free from time and space.

Then looking back on any length of experience, as a lifetime worth of experience. The richness of any stretch of experience makes it full and rich.

Also looking back, as having happened in the blink of an eye. Any experience is ephemeral, only reflected in a memory, and seems to have happened in the blink of an eye.

My life in the US has this quality. Having happened within and as this timeless awakeness. Full and rich, as a lifetime worth of experience. And ephemeral and quick, as having happened in the blink of an eye.

And the same is the case for my life here in Norway. My visit here this time, past visits, and my time here before moving abroad.

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Transparency of thoughts

I continue to explore thoughts through the practice of labeling the different sense fields: sound, sight, taste, smell, sensations and thoughts.

It is a great help in differentiating perception and thought, exploring the different interactions between them, and also how thoughts are really just another perception, mimicking the other sense fields and arising as anything else in the sense fields.

Some things I notice…

  • When I close my eyes, I notice how thoughts create images of what is in the space around this body, and of the body itself. In fact, thoughts create the whole experience of space, when the eyes are closed and also when they are open. An overlay of thoughts organize and makes sense of perception, creating a sense of space.
  • Attention is guided by thoughts in terms of sense field, location and boundary. For instance, with eyes closed or open, thoughts guide attention to any sense field, any location, and an area of any size. It can guide attention to sensations of my whole body, or the toe, or sounds from the street, or anything else.
  • Thoughts label perception, often just as an image or also with associated sounds, tastes, smells, sensations. Something arises, it is placed somewhere within the image of space, and an image guessing what it comes from is placed on top of it. For instance, there is the sound of a car from the road, it is located in relation to the space image, and an image of a car is placed there. This happens all the time, with most or nearly all sense perceptions.
  • Thoughts mimic the other sense fields: sounds, sights, taste, smell, sensations. It creates an imagined world that mirrors the world of perception, whether it is overlaid on or separate from perceptions arising here and now. In the first case, it is often not noticed. In the second case, we call it imagination or daydreaming or thinking about the past or future.
  • Thoughts create a sense of continuity. Thoughts mirror perceptions that just left, anticipate what may be about to happen, and string them all together into an appearance of continuity. There seems to be a funny mix of thoughts of past (perceptions from a while ago), present (perceptions that just left), and future (anticipation), and of perceptions arising here now, all together creating an appearance of continuity and time.
  • Through the labeling of nearly all perceptions, thoughts trigger responses and reactions. For instance, there is a thought of hunger (image/sensation), a thought of food in the fridge, and then the response of getting up to make some food and eat it. Or an image of me as man, someone else as a particular type of woman, images of a potential combination, and attraction. Or rain, me miserable in rain, and aversion. Without these thoughts, and an identification with them, none of it would happen. The whole world of attractions and aversions is created in this way, through these overlays of thoughts.
  • Thoughts create the basic organization of perception, such as extent/space and continuity/time, and also a sense of I and Other, with a particular boundary and content of each. The field of perception is filtered into Other, which is typically whatever arises as not this human self, and I, which is typically whatever is associated with this human self such as sensations, sights of this body, sounds made by this body, thoughts, and so on. Combined with this imagined I-Other boundary, there are thoughts of inside and outside, center and periphery, and so on.
  • The sense of I is anchored in whatever arises in the field of perception that falls inside of the I-Other boundary, and some of these more than other. For instance, within the sense field I notice how – for me right now – the sense of I is especially anchored in sensations in the upper neck/lower head area.
  • Thoughts also filter perception to create a sense of a doer. Something arises, and is seen as happening on its own or through the actions of someone else, of the wider world, of Other. Or it may happen within the boundary of this human self, and still for some reason be filtered as Other. Something else arises, filtered to appear within the boundary of this human self, of I, and of I as a doer, and there is a sense of this I being a doer of whatever happened.

And the interesting thing about all this is that it can be seen as it happens. Simply. Clearly. And in that way, thoughts appear transparent, and there is also a transparency in a different way in terms of how this whole sense of an I with an Other is created.

Creation of space and time, and projections

2nd-big-bang.jpg

I was reminded of an interesting parallel at a science pub last night…

In terms of our current scientific creation story, space unfolded from the Big Bang, and with it time (which is change within the world of form). There was no space before BB, so no time, so the question of what was before BB has no meaning.

Similarly, an overlay of thoughts on pure perception creates a sense of space and time, or of extent and continuity. Outside of this overlay of thoughts, there is no space or time. Prior to, or outside of, this layer of thought, questions of before or after have no meaning. (Other posts have more on this.)

So our story of the Big Bang mirrors what is alive here and now.

As any creation story, and any story in general, it is a projection of what is alive here and now, in two ways…

It is a projection of what is on the inside of a thought, making it appear out there, in the past or the future or at another location. In this case, making it appear in the past, as something substantial and real, even as it is all from just a thought.

It is also a projection of what is happening here and now. There is a field of awakeness and form, prior to and free from space and time. And there is an overlay of thought creating the appearance of extent and continuity, mapping perceptions in space and time. The story of Big Bang mirrors this process quite closely, and is projected onto the universe as a whole and back in time to the very beginning of form.

With an overlay of stories, a sense of extent and continuity is created, and this allows for the whole rich multitude of differentiations and processes we experience in our daily life. A whole universe is created from these stories, whether we see recognize them as just stories or take them as something more than that.

And this too is reflected in the BB creation story. With the BB, space and time unfolds which allows for a whole universe, increasingly rich and complex, to come into being and evolve in time.

Realizing the BB story as a projection does not take anything away from it, apart from its possible sense of solidity. It is only placed in a different context, and has another layer added to it.

Creation, salvation, doomsday and much more, here and now

All stories about creation, salvation, doomsday, end times, birth, death, heaven and hell, and so on, are projections of what is happening here and now.

It is probably easiest to see this with heaven and hell. The world confirms to my beliefs of how it should be, and there is heaven. There is friction between the world and my beliefs, and hell. In both cases, it is happening here and now, within this awake timeless present.

Salvation is also here and now, and happens when there is a disidentification with what arises, and specifically when there is a release from attachment to a story, when it is no longer held onto as absolutely true, when there is an opening there or a more full release.

Birth and death, and creation and destruction, are also right here and now. Within this awake timeless present, form continually arise in a new, different and fresh way. The world of form continuosly dies as what it was and is reborn as something else. There is continuos birth and death, creation and destruction, right here and now, in immediate awareness. 

For each of these, there is no need to look any further than what is right here now, alive in immediate awareness. What is alive here now is really all there is. Anything else is just a story, an abstraction, found only on the inside of a thought.

And thoughts arise within this awake timeless present, as ephemeral and insubstantial as anything else arising.

Appearance of space and time

I find three different ways space & time can appear…

First, when there is a belief in stories, an appearance of I and other, and I as a segment of what is, specifically an object in the world. As an object in the world, time and space seems very real, and I am at the mercy of time as space. Time and space has a life-and-death importance to me, and appear very substantial and real. I take myself as something within time and space, so time and space has to look very real to me.

Then, there may still be a belief in a separate self, an I with an Other, although now, the I is placed on the witness, seeing itself. Here, all form appears as a fluid seamless whole, beyond and including this human self and the wider world, and the boundary between the two is revealed as just appearing because of a story, of taking “I” to be this human self. In this case, I – as pure seeing, is timeless and spaceless, and something that time and space appear to and within.

Finally, when there is a Ground awakening, when void awakens to itself, and itself as awake void and form, the sense of an I with an Other falls away. It is only this awake void, free from time and space, arising as fresh, new, fluid form. Time and space is revealed as appearing when what is is filtered through stories about past, future, present and continuity.

Time and space arises within, to and as awake void and form, when what is is filtered through these stories.

It may be worth mentioning how everything arising is revealed as timeless and spaceless here. In short, void is absence of anything, so also absent of time and space. And when form is recognized as nothing other than a temporary form aspect of this awake void, form is also recognized as absent of time and space. It happens within and as this timeless and spaceless now.

The hills over there, and this hand right here, are both awake void, so no distance and no separation is involved. It is all the always fluid form aspect of awake void. At the same time, it is possible to create an overlay of space so this human self can talk about here and there, close and far, feet and miles, and function in the world.

And with time, everything happens as this timeless now, but also here, it is possible to create an overlay of time so this human self can talk about yesterday and tomorrow, and function in the world.

Deep time & Big Mind

I have been reminded of deep time this last week, from attending the archeology film festival, reading an article about the life and death of the solar system, to watching some snippets from Cosmos online. It is a revisiting of an interest I have had since childhood in these themes which are, in some ways, next door to Big Mind.

Deep time, the long now, infinite causes and effects, evolutionary spirituality, the universe story, the epic of evolution, the great story… all of these are in many ways one step away from Big Mind, they can lead us into it from the form and emptiness sides.

From the form side, contemplating the evolution of the universe and our place in it, almost requires shifting into Big Mind to hold it all… And from the emptiness side, realizing the utter impermanence of it all is an invitation to a shift into emptiness, the void, which is what is left when everything else is gone.

To really grasp for instance the universe story requires a shift into Big Mind, and to really grasp the impermanence of it all requires finding ourselves as the void. At least to some extent. It requires dipping into it, tasting it. And is an invitation to explore it further.

I am actually surprised not more Buddhist teachers use the universe story (and deep time, the long now, etc.) in that way… as a nudge, an invitation into Big Mind and finding ourselves as the void. It seems like a perfect teaching vehicle.

I would have jumped on it right away if I was in their position, and I guess many will in the future… maybe through a combination of multimedia and experiential activities such as the practices to reconnect and the Big Mind process.

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Resistance: revealing Spirit one piece at a time

I have mentioned this before, and the previous post reminded me of it again… the gifts of blocks and resistance.

As awful as resistance can be, in terms of the stress and sometimes suffering created from it, it also has some great gifts.

One of the main ones is that it allows for an exploration of Spirit (in its form and emptiness aspects) one piece at a time, filtered in space and time into mostly manageable portions.

Resistance slows down the process, allowing for a more detailed and thorough exploration of each without it drowning in the immensity of the whole. In some ways, it functions as a magnifying glass, allowing for one piece of the terrain to be explored, in detail, at a time. It holds us in place for a while, inviting a more thorough exploration of that particular area of the landscape.

Our personality certainly does not like resistance and its effects, at least not right away. But with time, there can be a great deal of appreciation and gratitude even for resistance and blocks, for these and other reasons.

(Resistance here refers to resistance to experience, which comes from a belief in a story, which in turn creates a sense of I and Other, seeing of some experiences as undesirable, and then resistance to them, which then leads to a sense of drama, stress and sometimes suffering… which is just about all it creates. Spirit refers to all of Existence, in its form and emptiness aspects, including our daily human experiences.)

Chronos: being devoured by, or itself food

A while back, I wrote a post about eating time.

Slow as I am, I didn’t remember at first that this is the Chronos myth, the Greek god of time eating his children.

Eaten by time

First, there is an identification with the seen, with our human self. We find ourselves as an object in the world, within time and space. There is a sense of precariousness, of being at the mercy of the whims of other objects and the relentless stream of change and time. I am clearly subject to birth and death, and there is a sadly limited span in between. I am being eaten by time, day by day.

Release from being eaten by time

But am I the seen? Am I really a segment of this content of awareness?

The seen, no matter what it is – sensations, sights, tastes, smells, feelings, emotions, thoughts, they all come and go. But something does not come and go. What it is that does not come and go?

The more I look, the more I find what does not come and go is this seeing itself, this clear awake space that the seen unfolds within and to.

Gradually, I may find myself as the seeing itself, as pure awareness, the witness of the seen, of this content always coming and going.

I also notice that time is part of the seen. It is the always changing content, and arises to the seeing. The seeing itself seem inherently absent of time. It seems timeless.

In this, there is a release from being eaten by time.

The seen is revealed as absent of any I, and I gradually become more familiar and comfortable with this. Gradually, there is more and more of a living from this realization. The seen appears to be absent of any I, and the I appears to be this seeing itself.

Eating time

Time, as the always changing seen, arises to me as the seeing. It is different from me. There is a release from being identified with it.

But where does the seen end, and I – as the seeing of it, begin? Can I find the line that separates the two?

The more I look, the less certain I am that I can find it. It is elusive. It seems to be just another idea, with no real referent in immediate awareness.

The more there is the looking for this demarcation line, the more it seems that the seen is not that different from the seeing itself. The seen really appears as awareness itself.

The seen and the seeing seem to both arise as this clear awake space.

And, surprisingly, there seem to be no I even in the seeing.

There is no I in the seen, because it comes and goes while something else does not.

And there appears to be no I in the seeing either, because the seen and the seeing are not inherently different from each other. They both arise from and as the same Ground.

Here, there is an eating of time of sorts. There is an absence of any I and Other. An absence of I in seeing or seen, so an absence of any separation.

Reversals

So there is a series of shifts.

First, there is an identification as the seen, as a segment of content of awareness, as this human self. An object within time and space, and at the mercy of time and space. I am eaten by time.

Then, there is a release from identification with the seen, and a finding of oneself as the seeing. There is a release from the drama of being at the mercy of time and space. I am released from being eaten by time.

Finally, there is the realization that even the seeing is inherently absent of any I. The seen and the seeing arises within and as Ground, as empty awakeness.

The seen, the seeing, the identification with the seen or the seeing, it is all Ground, inherently absent of any I. Even the identification itself is absent of any I. There is no drama there, even in the midst of the appearance of much drama.