Time – is there anything outside of the present moment?

293Most of humanity believes that time is a linear, unstoppable ‘movement’ through an ancient past, with an ungraspable present, into a hopeful, or for some, dreadful future.

But what is time? How can time be experienced? Where is time now in the here and now? Can you see it, hear it, touch it or sense it in any way, or just thoughts and stories about the supposed past and future suggest its existence?

When you look at a childhood picture of you, does this picture a proof that the past has existed? Or can the stories your parents tell about you as a little child be the proof that it has ever happened? Of course, thoughts would suggest that they have. But have they really?

Simply remembering the past and imagining the future is not a proof that past or future exists. The act of remembering of the so called past does not point to anything real. The past is just a current thought-image-emotion construct appearing in the here and now.

When a memory of the pas’ with a negative label on it is projected into the future, fear and anxiety can arise. Future is nothing more than a projected ‘past’ memory appearing now.

And yet, how many thoughts and stories emerge in a day or just in an hour lamenting on past regrets: “he shouldn’t have talked to me like that”, “my whole life could have been totally different than it is, if I hadn’t made that stupid decision 20 years ago” or “how much happier I was when I was only 20”. And how many worrying thoughts arise just in an hour about tomorrow, or fantasies about a better and happier life?

But what about the present moment, the only ‘time’ that ever is?

“If I could get enough money, had a beautiful body, the best lover, loving children, then I will be happy” – this is a story, a fantasy. It is only a dream because it is rooted in the belief that happiness is coming from outside and from a future state, and it is not accessible here and now. The ‘I’ wants to get completion in the seeming future, because of the conviction that ‘I am not whole here and now’. But is this really true?

Does the ‘me’ really live through time?

The continuity of ‘me’ is created from memories of the seeming past and then it is projected into an illusory future. There is no solid entity living in the body, neither a continuous, progressing time.

There is nothing at the end of the road in the seeming future.
Everything is ever desired is here, in the present moment.
There is nothing else, but the present moment.

The only past or future there can ever be is a conceptual one that arises as a current thought right now.

The illusion of time is ‘created’ by thinking.
Past and future are mere conceptual constructs, nothing more.

The present moment is all there is.
There is nothing outside of this moment.

Being lost in the story of my life

043.1How many hours a day do you spend in storyland? Can you notice thoughts coming and going, or you are just tossed around in the endless ocean of thoughts from one story to the other? In our everyday lives most of us do not recognize thoughts for what they are, just thoughts floating by, but rather spend most of our lives being zoomed into the contents of thoughts, taking them for granted.

Let’s have a look at an everyday scenario. On a sunny afternoon, after work, driving home on the motorway, the focus is mainly on the internal movie about what happened in the meeting earlier that day, instead of noticing what is happening here now. ‘My boss was so unfair with me. He shouldn’t have said that. I’m so pissed off…’ – and the story goes on. Tension and contraction arise in the body due to anger and resentment. Suddenly, a sense of hunger shows up, which triggers another story, a story about being at home eating my favourite pizza. Then, unexpectedly, a driver cuts me off, almost causing an accident, which sets off a new stream of story with images of being in hospital due to severe injuries.

In the meantime, I arrive home, unharmed, but the I hardly remember how I got there because I was mesmerized by the endless dream of thoughts.

And this is how most of us live, almost constantly falling in and out from one story to another hundred or thousand times a day; hardly noticing the blooming trees on the side of the road, the warmth of the sun on the skin, the whispering of the wind and the pleasant tingling sensations in the hands. All this is missed for only one reason: to keep the illusion of the self alive.

But the ‘I’ lives only in stories.
Without story there is no ‘me’.
If the stream of stories stops just for a second, the ‘me’ vanishes.
When there is no ‘me’ then there is peace.

Driving happens, seeing happens, steering the wheel happens but nobody is doing it.

It is not even necessary for the story to stop; it is enough to see the story for what it is, a stream of thoughts passing by.

‘Me’ is just another thought.
‘Me’ is nothing, an empty word.
‘Me’ does not refer to anything.

Waking up from the dream

After seeing that there is no ‘I’ to be found, the story of ‘my’ life could still arise. There is no way to ‘step out’ of the movie itself, since the one who could step out is just a fiction. But it can be seen that the movie is just an aspect of life, how wholeness shows up in a given moment.

007.1When this is clearly seen the thoughts and the story itself lose their mesmerisation, their stickiness. In the play of life, the appearance of the character still arise but without being taken too seriously. The character is seen for what it is… just another thought which seems to claim ownership of other thoughts.

And yet, wide range of emotions could still arise, like sadness, pain, happiness or satisfaction, but without an owner who would claim to be sad, happy or satisfied. Emotions come and go, free freely floating, without being anchored to anything or anyone.

However, when the ‘story of me’ is taken for granted, when it is not seen for what it is, simply thoughts floating by, the ‘I’ seems to exist as an enduring, real, living entity with volition and autonomy, who moves through time and space from a defined beginning, called birth, to an unforeseeable end, death.

But in reality, if you pay close attention to thoughts, not by thinking but by looking, you could discover that the character, the ‘I’, is born and dies with each and every thought in each and every moment.

Dream of life – as a 3D movie (part 2)

020If we view our lives as a movie projected onto the screen which could be watched from the distance, like watching a movie in a cinema, then there is an implied subject-object split. I, the watcher being the subject, who is observing the object, the movie of ‘my life’.

When this happens, there is another layer of identification with the notion of a separate self, hidden under the cloak of a witness, who is observing the happenings of  ‘my life’. In this way, the belief in a separate self hasn’t fallen yet, rather it just moved to a subtle form of identification, becoming an apparent witness.

To dissolve this confusion, Nathan Gill suggested a bit different movie analogy.

“…it is a multi-dimensional movie, being viewed from within the movie, not being viewed by a viewer from outside.”

“There is nothing outside of the movie. There is only the movie and the present registering of it from ‘within’ the movie.”

Nathan Gill: Already Awake (p. 58)

In this three-dimensional movie, when the thoughts are seen for what they are instead of being lost in their contents, the identification with the character is noticed ‘within’ the movie. All the problems and happenings can be watched, but they are no longer ‘my’ problems. They just appear and disappear as the part of the flow of life. There is no ‘I’ to stick to. Even if the thoughts of ‘my problems’ appear, sooner or later noticing happens, and the ‘me’ disappears from the nothingness where it came from.

There is no ‘me’ at all, not even as an observer, who could step out of the story and watch it from the outside. Watching just happens. And nobody does it.

Dream state – like a movie (part 1)

019The dream state is often described by the movie analogy. Imagine that you are sitting in a cinema and watching a very exciting movie. You are so immersed in the story that you even forget that you are in a cinema. It is so entrancing that you totally forget about yourself and ‘become’ the character on the screen. You can be so identified with the character that it could feel as if you were the hero in the movie. Emotional responses arise in your body (which is sitting in the cinema but you totally forget about it) when the loved one in the movie dies or when the whole universe is saved by ‘you’. This is a dream. A fiction. But you believe it into ‘reality’. At least it becomes ‘your reality’ until you wake up from this mesmerisation when the guy behind you sneezes. But soon, you fall back into believing to be the saviour of the world.

It can be assumed that dreaming is over when the film ends. You leave the cinema and the reality of everyday life is back again. Isn’t it? Or, you just have fallen into another dimension of ‘reality’, dreaming your life story into ‘existence’?

Awakening from the dream is about realising that there is a fictional story, called ‘my life’, with a fictional character ‘me’, projected onto the ‘inner movie screen’, with other characters coming and going and affecting the me-character, whom the story is supposedly happening to.

Questions may arise…
Is this story of ‘my’ life real?
What is behind the story?
What are you without the story?
Is there an I without the story?