Mind and Time. Two opposing forces that influence our lives.
There are two opposing forces always at work in our lives. One is the mind, and the other is time. Mind is a place of growth and expansion. There is already a solid base of thoughts to work with, coupled with the daily intake of new experiences streaming in from the world. We build virtual places in our mind that may or may not align with external reality. A struggle we face is harmonizing and resolving the differences between the mind and the world. Time is the other force, and it works on whittling down the importance of the mind to eventually nothing one day. They oppose one another. The great efforts we put in to make the mind a comfortable place full of pleasures and fulfilled desires comes to naught one day.
At the beginning of life, there is little or no relationship between mind and time. The young and budding mind is full of innocent thoughts that do not stick. When thoughts do not persist in the mind, it becomes effortless to smile and laugh. When we are burdened with our thoughts, we start to turn serious, which then interferes with the enjoyment of life. It matters little to existence whether we are serious or lighthearted. We unwittingly carry an unnecessary mental burden that makes us sluggish and unhappy, which in turn makes life appear painful. The alternative is always there for us to consider. We can drop our mental burden without giving up our problem-solving abilities. Adversities can turn into interesting challenges with a small shift in our perception. It is easier to smile at a challenge than at difficulty. When we perceive any situation as a challenge, it can galvanize the mind, whereas when we view that same situation as adversity, it stalls the mind.
Along with mental burden we may carry, we also contend with melting time. Time is a great resource when it is plentiful. However, when we have a lot of time on our hands, we pay little regard to its value. Compared to adults, children in general use time more wisely. They are happy most or all the time. For children, simple things in life make them happy. As we grow older, our happiness gets linked to more complex and hard to obtain things. Simple things in life may no longer make us happy. When simplicity does not translate into happiness, there is a greater chance of experiencing misery, which further complicates life. Whether time is spent being happy or miserable, it disappears at the same rate although there is a perception that a state misery lasts longer than happier states.
The mind and time start to form a link early in life. Ego or the sense of individuality is the first strand that links the mind and time. Our awareness gets boxed in between mind and time, and we travel back and forth between the two. Accumulations in the mind give us the feeling of owning or having something, which makes us look at time differently. We seek a purpose to fill the time we have on our hands. Creating a target and its pursuit our goal in life is the quickest way to kill happiness. No matter how much we achieve, we will remain unfulfilled as long as we entertain the notion of life needing a purpose.
Life's purpose is not absolute and uniform. No one purpose fits all circumstances, abilities, and interests people may have. It is highly relative and based on what we know and have accumulated in the mind. A rich person’s purpose is very different from a poor person’s purpose in life. As long as the ego remains, it seems unimaginable to lead a life without purpose and meaning. When we claim a have a specific purpose, we are indirectly telling existence we are indispensable, and we bring something to the table. With almost every individual purpose there is also hidden expectation. Everyone would like his or her life’s mission to be the most important. When we seek recognition for our life's purpose, it is the ego at work.
Sandwiched between the mind and time is our awareness. We tend to point our awareness in the direction of mind. In the mind, there is novelty, growth, excitement, change, interesting company and much to discover. Time, in contrast, is relatively bland. The more we look at time, the quicker it seems to disappear. In the name of preserving life, we look away from time towards the mind. But our bond with time grows as our allotted time shrinks, as there is less distance for time to cover before we disappear.
Moving through the mind is like swimming upstream, while existence is taking us downstream on time's back. Life’s current is pointed in one direction, towards time and away from the mind. Even the mightiest river disappears into the ocean. For thousands of years, over a thousand rivers are emptying their contents into the oceans every minute. Despite this, the ocean levels remain the same. Similarly, no matter how much accumulated mental contents we dump into the river of time, it does not grow. Time is a constant and we are the variable.
Unlike the mind which is consumed by time, awareness cannot be touched by time as long as it is not in close association with the mind. The ego disappears when time ultimately consumes the body and the mind. In the meantime, we can work to free our awareness from being trapped between time and the mind. Freeing awareness from the mind is to leave the flow of time. By doing so, we become watchers. Through becoming a watcher, we sever the link between mind and time. Consequently, we no longer cling to the past and the future. When the past and the future are no longer prominent in our consciousness, we fall into the present. It can happen just as effortlessly as a river merges into the ocean. A river and an ocean go by different names, but drops of water constitute both. Names and forms live in the mind and are limited by time. When we become nameless watchers holding onto formless awareness, we become anonymous drops in the ocean of existence, beyond the reach or mind or time.