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.

What is love?

Romantic love is often depicted in moves as a beautiful fairy tale. After many years of lonely nights and bad relationships, finally the beautiful girl finds her ‘soul mate’, who is perfect and special and loves her unconditionally. These stories promise a happy, fulfilling life, where love conquers all. But is this our everyday experience in our relationships?

118“I want you to love me. I need your love. I need you to accept me as I am.” This is what we think what we need. But these words can be translated into these: “I need you to reflect back a positive self-image to fill the hole in me. I need you to accept in me what I cannot accept.”

Relationships are mirrors. They mirror back our ‘selves’. Relationships reflect back our self-image. I am looking in others that seems to be missing in ‘me’.

The feeling that something is lacking is part of the life of almost all humans. We lack love. We lack acceptance. Therefore, we are constantly searching outside, seeking approval to fill the lack and to be complete and whole.

When ‘you’ and ‘me’ fall in love, it seems that we love each other. But actually, I love the story of ‘you’ I have about you, and similarly, you just love your story about ‘me’. We only love the images we have of each other. So we have an unwritten pact that we mutually fortify each others’ self-image; and if you dare to break these rules, I either try to carve you to fit into the image I have of you so I can feel loved again, or I withdraw my love because you have diminished my already frail self-image. The pact is about inflation, not about deflation.

My love is conditional. I love you only when you make me feel happy, whole and secure. My love can easily turn into hatred if you stop fulfilling your designated role. So, I need you to change in order to feel happy again… This is what we normally call love.

But can love be conditional? Is it really love or just a form of attachment? Of course, this is one of last things the ‘egoic mind’ wants to hear, because it shakes its illusory foundation.

Is love an emotion at all, or a state of being?
Can any state be permanent?

Love cannot be found in the seemingly outside world or in the apparent others; love is here and now, in this moment. When there is no resistance to what IS, so called ‘pleasant emotions’ can arise. But love arising from non-resistance is ‘different’ from the love we conventionally refer to. In this sense, love is not something that can be achieved by doing.

Love cannot be gained.
Love is not doing.
Love is non-action.
Love is non-resistance.

Love is acceptance.
Love is peace with what IS.

When there is no resistance, love naturally arises.
Without resistance, love is all there is.

Are annoying people really annoying?

281Imagine that you have a boss who is really annoying; the way he goes through the office, how he moves his hands, the tone of his voice, the way how he wants to persuade everybody that he is right. Every time you talk to him you become upset and feel tense. You even get irritated when you just spot his laptop on the desk, because it means that he is around and going to pick on you and give a lecture about how things should be.

He is really annoying. But is he truly?

Does he annoy me or have I become annoyed of him? Does his tone of voice have a power over my feelings and bodily sensations or do I get upset when I hear his voice? What does really irritate me, his voice or ‘my’ interpretation about his voice? He or my story about him?

The whole world is just a projection. An intricately detailed web of beliefs is projected ‘outward’ to the seeming ‘others’, which is reflected back to ‘me’.

So when he starts to criticise me, it is not his words that hurt me; the ‘hurtful feelings’ come because his words have been interpreted through these beliefs. ‘I’ project my fragile self-image onto his words, and if it hurts, it just means that there is a belief in action, a belief in a deficient, not-good-enough self.

The ‘annoying boss’ is just a reflection in the mirror.

And as long as there is a belief that my opinions, beliefs and thoughts are true and actual facts, there is also a belief in the seeming others’ opinions. But others’ opinions do not exist independently from ‘my’ interpretation. Both ‘my’ and others’ opinions are nothing more than concepts and they are not referring to anything real.

My boss’ opinions seem to ‘originate’ from him, but actually, his words are just the reflections of the belief in the deficient self.

Projection ‘fills’ the words by meaning.

When this apparent not-good-enough self is activated, “I feel little and inferior”. In order to compensate these feelings, the need for criticism arises. Every time I judge somebody, I feel better and superior because the fragile self-image is strengthened a bit, believing to be better than the apparent other. But all judgement comes from judging ‘myself’.

So, as long as the belief in the separate self is intact, there is a need for a constant reinforcement. “I need to feel superior, otherwise I am inferior”. But this reinforcement works only in comparison to something or somebody else, with an illusory separation, a division between ‘me’ and the rest of the world.

But in reality, none of them are real.
There is no separation, only thoughts suggest otherwise.
The world is nothing more than a reflection.
The other is just an image in the mirror.

Waking up in the dream is seeing that there has never been an inherent self.
There is no ‘me’ here, and ‘you’ there, just life flowing freely as it IS.

There are as many worlds as humans on the planet

When you are sitting in a cinema surrounded by a hundred other people to see the latest movie, what do you think how many movies are seen in that same room? Or, when you read a bestseller book which has been sold in one million copies, how many stories have actually been read? The general assumption would be that there was only one movie screened that had been watched by a hundred people, and just one book read by millions. But is this really the case?

025This assumption is based on the core belief that there is a stand-alone, independent world out there, which is totally separate from ‘me’. But when the apparent world is examined in direct experience, it turns out that this is cannot be further from the truth.

The whole world is a mirror.
We see the world through ‘our own’ beliefs.
The whole world reflects back ‘our selves’.

Because the ‘human mind’ cannot help but project.
The ‘human mind’ is literally a projector.

This is how it works, and this is completely ‘normal’. Projection is part of the functioning of the ‘mind’. Similarly to the digestive tract that digests, the ‘mind’ projects. All the sensory inputs are filtered through a huge and intricate web of beliefs and all happenings are interpreted according to them.

So going back to the cinema and book analogies, there are as many movies being watched as people sitting in the cinema, and as many books being read as readers who read them. There is no objective reality ‘out there’.

Nothing is independent from ‘me’. The biggest ‘enlightened’ guru who seems to emanate only peace and love IS ‘me’. He is my projection, my creation. I project peace and love onto him. I cannot feel others emotions, it is impossible. It only feels real, because ‘my own’ peace that is currently felt in the body is projected onto him. I cannot feel his emanation; I can only feel the sensations arising in this body that are labelled as peace.

Or, a ruthless killer is also ‘me’, but this is probably a bit harder to let in. ‘My own’ set of beliefs are projected onto him interpreting his actions through my convictions about sin, good or bad, life and death, what should or should not happen and how things suppose to be.

The world is ‘my’ face looking back from the mirror.
Others are who ‘I’ believe them to be.
There are as many worlds as humans on the planet.
Therefore, individuals can never really meet.

The ‘mind’ projects its ‘internal’ world, its worldview to the seemingly outside world, and thus twists and overrides what IS with its story about it.

The whole world is ‘my’ making.
Seeing this is freedom.
Without the story the world is not a dangerous place anymore.
Reality is neutral.

Fear is not fearful

249In order to better understand what fear is, we have to make a distinction between instinctual fear, which is genetically coded into the human organism, and the projection of fear, when a fearful story is projected into the future about what might happen.

Examples for instinctual fear could be a fear of falling from the edge of a cliff, or being frightened by a sudden loud noise. However, humans experience instinctual fear rarely. When it happens, there is an instant adrenalin rush in the body which signals the organism to move away from the danger. Still, the adrenalin surge is not the result of thinking processes. Although, a few seconds later, thoughts may come up interpreting what happened, saying that ‘I am afraid because I almost fell off the cliff’. But the surge of adrenaline works perfectly without thinking, and by itself it does not imply fear.

The same adrenaline rush could be tagged as ‘excitement,’ if I jumped out of an airplane with a parachute fastened to my back. Or, it could be labelled as a ‘sign of love’ when I unexpectedly spot my new lover at the other side of the street. Fear, excitement, love – the sensation is the same, only the label varies.

Even though instinctual fear is rare in our everyday life, we still experience fear quite often, due to mind-made stories being projected into the future: ‘I fear growing old’, ‘I’m afraid of being ridiculed in front of all my colleagues’ or ‘what if she leaves me’; the list is endless.

When my friend tells me that their company decided outsourcing a whole department, thoughts might come up: ‘What if my company will do the same? My job is definitely not indispensable, what if they will fire me? What would I do? I am too old to get a new job. How am I going to pay the mortgage?’ And the fear is set in motion.

But this fear is not caused by an adrenalin rush; it is caused only by believing the story – the story of ‘my’ life. It has no reality, except as a string of thoughts. It is real only as an appearing thought-story, but never its content. Only believing the story creates the emotional response.

When fear arises, is it really fear that is experienced, or is fear just another cover story? When I think ‘I fear that I might lose my job’, would not it be more appropriate to say that ‘there is a resistance to this story’? Do I really feel fear or I just resist what was made up about what might happen?

And what is fear anyway? How is it experienced? When the fear as emotion arises, it is nothing more than felt sensations in the body with the added thought tag ‘fear’. In direct experience, most of the emotions that are labelled as ‘negative’ are experienced quite similarly, as felt contractions in one or more parts of the body.

What is the difference in direct experience between fear, shame, guilt or anger? Is there any apart from the labels as ‘fear’ and ‘shame’? Does the felt sensation contain by itself any innate fearness or angriness?

Is fear real at all? Or is it just a resistance…?
With or without the story, reality is the same – neutral.

Fear is just an artefact, a fabrication. It is nothing more than a sensation in the body plus an attached ‘fear’ label. This is the case with all emotions. The sensations by themselves are not negative, positive, pleasant or unpleasant. They are totally neutral. Only the attached tags differentiate between them.

When this is seen, fear evaporates. It becomes an empty word.
Because fear is NOT real.
There is just a sensation.

Memory is not ‘me’

Visual illusion - Akiyoshi Kitaoka

Visual illusion – Akiyoshi Kitaoka

We were taught since early childhood that there is a solid, separate entity, a ‘me’ in the body, looking out to the world through the eyes. But this is just an assumption that has never been questioned before.

When the curiosity arises to look closer and challenge this strongly held belief, it turns out to our surprise that the ‘me’ is nowhere to be found. It is simply not there. Similar to visual illusions, where it seems that there is an animation in the picture, but it is just a trick of the mind.

However, reading these lines and believing that there is no self, is not sufficient to see through this illusion. In this case, just another belief would be placed on top of the idea of the self. The belief of the mirage of the ‘me’ needs to be seen experientially, and not covered up with another layer of beliefs.

The ‘I’ seemingly lives in memories and beliefs. But in the present moment, where is this ‘I’? Not in a memory, not in a future image, but here and now? Is it in the body? Exactly where?

A memory is nothing else than simultaneously arising mental images, thoughts and bodily sensations, which are firmly welded together and appear as a coherent and real depiction about the assumed past. But this mental construct of a seeming past experience arises in the present moment. There are no little shelves in the mind holding small segments of the past as memories. All memory is constructed again and again in the here and now every time ‘we’ think about it.

The image of me playing in the garden as a five-year old is not ‘me’. Although, the thought label of ‘this is me, playing in the garden’ is fused with the picture of the five-year old body and the bodily sensations of the associated emotions. But thoughts, mental pictures and emotions arise in this body, here and now. The emotions and the remembrance of warmth of the sun on the skin are felt now.

There is nothing outside of the present moment. The I-thought that emerges as part of the memory is nothing more than a thought.

There is no ‘me’ looking out of the eyes, who is separate from the rest of the world. The idea of separation is created by thought. Only thoughts separate.

Between two thoughts there is no ‘me’.
The sense of me emerges when an I-thought label is put on the felt sensations in the body. But the sense of self is NOT the self.

When a memory is dismantled into its components – thoughts, images, emotions, bodily sensations and beliefs – and each piece is examined closely looking for the existence of ‘me’, the glue that hold the memory together creating the sense of self, releases and dissolves. What is left is just the pure experience of thoughts, images, sensations and emotions, without a ‘me’ who could own the experience. There is no individual person.

This is what ‘we’ are seeking.
This is peace.

I cannot make you feel happy… it’s impossible…

137Can I make you feel happy or sad? Do I have the power to have an effect on your mood or feelings?

Assume that I am on the verge of telling you that I want to end our relationship, but I am not brave enough to bring the topic up because I am afraid of hurting your feelings. But do I really have the power to hurt anybody’s feelings?

If I leave you, you may feel sad, abandoned, angry or unloved. But is it true that I am the cause of your suffering? Can I make you suffer?

If I believe that I can do all of these to you, it means I am believing a story about my omnipotence. In the current version of the story of my life, I am playing god.

I have no power whatsoever on anybody’s feelings. It is literally impossible.

If you think that I am responsible for you feeling unloved and abandoned, it means that you project your own self-image onto me and blame me for your misery.

While the belief in the deficient, unloving self is intact, each person and situation reflect back, in one way or another, some version of this core belief. You cannot see me, you cannot hear me, because you perceive me and the whole world through this lens. No matter whether I treat you lovingly or not, you will see and interpret my actions as unloving.

When I decide to leave you, you find this as a proof of your unlovingness, which in turn, fortifies the core belief of the incomplete, unloving self that is the basis of your identity. Thus, it is projected outward again and again and making others responsible for your own creation.

You cannot see me; you only see your story about me, which is your story about your-self.

Reality is neutral. In the action of leaving you there is no inherent attributes of pain, abandonment or lack of love. Only your story about ‘me leaving you’ hurts you. Your thoughts are hurting you, not me. I cannot do that.

But if I believe that I can hurt you then I create my own suffering by feeling guilty or responsible for your feelings. I do this to myself by projecting the belief of my incomplete self onto you, which will be reflected back to me, and thus the story of the deficient self keeps going.

‘You’ and ‘me’, we are not that special.
‘I have no power to do anything with you.
Only you can hurt yourself by believing your story.
By believing that there is a ‘you’ that could be hurt.

What would you be without your story?
What is left?

Nature of thoughts

149One of the biggest calamities of the human race is that we take our thoughts too seriously and we suffer as a consequence. When there is a tendency to being lost in the content of thoughts, which is the habitual state of humanity, we are at mercy of whatever thoughts might pop-up in our heads. An almost constant flux of thoughts appears on the horizon which can trigger a wide range of conditioned emotional responses.

Let’s say you are working on a home improvement project and try to assemble some furniture what you never did before. At first, some enthusiastic thoughts may come up with images about your beautiful new table and the approving smile on the face of your spouse. This fantasy may trigger some pleasurable emotions with a feeling of contentment which enhances your self-image. Later, when you start working on your project, some disturbing thoughts might arise: ‘This is much harder than I thought. I don’t know how to do it. What if I screw it up?’ – accompanied with images of a badly-built, wobbly table and the face of your wife frowning at you. Feelings of disappointment and dissatisfaction go along with this story and your previously inflated self-esteem is now plummeting. What’s going on here?

Thoughts come and go as clouds on the sky but when they are believed they seem to become real for us. There is an emphasis on the word ‘seem’ because in reality – meaning in direct experience – a thought is real, but never its content. Its content is just a dream, a fantasy. When this is seen, the grip of the heaviness of thoughts is gone.

The function of thoughts is to make a mental description or concept about what IS for a later storage in memory, but this doesn’t mean automatically that this concept is accurate or real.

When thoughts are seen for what they are – mere thoughts passing by – their emptiness and powerlessness become apparent. They don’t point to any real thing.

The mind is a labelling machine.
Thoughts pop-up out of the blue, and ‘you’ have no control over them.
‘You’, who think you have control over ‘your’ thoughts, is just another thought.
There is no separate you to have thoughts.
Thoughts are real, but you, as an autonomous self-governed agency, are NOT.

When this is seen, there is freedom.
Freedom from the grasp of thoughts.
Freedom from the constant need to become or to appear as somebody in the eyes of the ‘other’.

What is suffering?

109In order to answer this question, first, we have to make distinction between pain and suffering.

Imagine that you have bought a beautiful framed picture and you are just up to put it on the wall. You position the nail to the marked spot on the wall, lift the hammer, but a sudden sharp noise distracts your attention and you hit your thumb with the hammer instead of the nail. Abruptly, you feel a sharp pain.

Just in a few seconds, a chain of self-referencing thoughts emerges: ‘What a fool I am! I should have been more careful. Oh, it hurts so much! What am I going to do now? What if I am not able to work tomorrow? I won’t be able to type, I’m sure. How will I explain it to my boss?’ – and it goes on and on. This is suffering.

The physical pain is real, but the suffering is optional.

When this string of selfing thoughts, which is a story put onto the experience of pain, is seen for what it is, and not believed or taken seriously, then what is left is just the raw experience of pain in the thumb.

Suffering is the byproduct of a belief in the illusion of the self, who ‘lives’ separately from the rest of the world. When the ‘I’-thought is seen through then there is nobody who could suffer from anything.

From the point of view of the separate individual the suffering seems very vivid and real, because all the thoughts that generate suffering are believed. Like in the movie analogy, when the character identifies with its role, all the happenings in the movie of the flow of life are taken very seriously. As the story of its life plays itself, the character is just tossed around in the endless waves of the ocean being at the mercy of the elements.

When the story is seen through, it becomes translucent and loses its sharpness and seriousness. It becomes lighter and entertaining as a movie intended to be. Even if the story takes a ‘darker’ turn in the form of sickness or some kind of loss – pain, sadness, frustration or anger may arise but they cannot stick to anywhere and linger, since there is no ‘me’ to stick to, who could suffer from them.

Suffering is optional.
Without believing thoughts, there is no suffering.