Rising above the mind into the present.
The entire machinery of the mind moves through the present along with the rest of creation. Through the mind’s lens, we cannot enjoy the true essence of the present which is a sense of timelessness. We can, however, experience glimpses. For example, as we are falling asleep, there comes a moment when the mind is barely active, and when sleep has not fully set in. Unless we are vigilant, this timeless moment slips away unnoticed. It is hard to remain watchful and observant in the interval between wakefulness and sleep. Staying alert without waking the mind up is an art that we can cultivate. We also get a glimpse of timeless moments of great ecstasy, when we are absorbed in the beauty of nature and when looking into the innocent and loving eyes of a child. The connect is instantaneous, and it comes from a very deep place, a perception that bypasses the mind. In the tiny fractions of a second it takes the mind to process and analyze these moments, a vast gulf is created between us and those moments. Unconsciously we are in search of ways to make such timeless moments a permanent part of our being. Through the present, we begin to enter the realm of absolute happiness.
The mind reveals itself behind the “moving line of time” and not in the future. The future is rough and unpaved terrain. The future isn’t ready-made and tailored to our needs and requirements. A lot of our energy in the present is spent on dreaming and securing the future. We can set up external circumstances to provide for our future, down to the minutest detail, but how we relate to that experience in the future cannot be predetermined. A lot depends on the state of mind and our thoughts as the future unfolds, which change minute to minute. There are too many variables to take into account. We may be able to say what our bank balance will be in a year, but we cannot predict our state of mind the next hour.
As the mind moves through the present, it functions as one of those gigantic road laying machines. Almost like magic, these slow-moving road making devices turn rough patches of gravel into a smooth and paved road. The past is like a smooth paved road on which anyone can easily travel. Each one has a unique past. The direction we point our mind during present determines the past. The mind is always moving, and as we move through the present we generate our past.
Our interests change over time, so does the orientation of the mind. When we look back at the past, we may see a confusing tangle of crisscrossing roads leading to different storehouses containing various life experiences. Certain milestones may clue us into specific experiences. Most of the details surrounding diverse life experiences are buried and lost somewhere in the mind. We use imagination to fill in those gaps during the process of recall. Everything that is stored in the mind has interested us at some point. Otherwise, it would not be stored for later conscious recall.
The bulk of the mind is our creation. We are at work continually building the mind, and this is done consciously or unconsciously. The basic framework of the mind is the same in all people. How we utilize that structure varies from person to person. Each person’s discovery of the contents of his or her mind is very different from that of others. Imagine going into a densely populated city with a maze of streets that have not been mapped and are unnamed. It is easy to get lost in such a place quickly. In this situation, it may be possible to ask someone for directions to where we want to go. The mind is like such a densely populated place with infinite pathways coursing in every direction. There is no one we can ask for directions as each person’s mind is unique. Neither can we rely on the mind to show us the way. It will only lead us in blind circles.
The deeper we venture into the mind, the more easily we fall into the trap of the past. The past and the present are poles apart. We can only be in one or the other. When we try to blend the two, we end up being conscious of the past and unconscious in the present. The same holds for the future. The future is the past imagined in a manner that fills the gaps we perceive in the present.
As we delve into the mind, we may encounter significant milestones, reflective of deep impressions related to specific life events. Those milestones may become anchors which bind us to a time that has long passed. Time by itself does not give us any experience, pleasant or unpleasant. Our attachments to experiences at specific time points give us the impression of a “good time” or a “bad time.” When we are attached to neither the pleasant nor the unpleasant, time and timeless, may become synonymous. Dualities such as pain and pleasure, good and bad, etc. live in the past. In the nakedness of the present, there are no such qualities. These can also exist as part of the imagined future, especially when fear is the catalyst.
The mind is preventing us from experiencing timelessness in the present. The mind covers the present and exposes the past as an experience and the future as the imagination. The more connected we are to the past, the smoother is the road that the mind builds. It is up to us to ask ourselves what we gain by traveling down the way to the past. The present may look unpaved and directionless as the mind has not had a chance to lay down a path. When there are no roads to the past, where ever we are in the present. Time needs context to become real. The body and the mind provide that context.
Awareness, when not colored by mind or thoughts does not provide any context of time. By remaining alert and watchful, we become aware. The first thing we perceive is the mind. We are so close to the mind, and it feels like we are part of the mind. But by merely remaining a witness to the mind, a gap opens. The past and the future stay in the mind. As when astronauts leave the earth in a rocket, they leave behind roads that link cities and places within them, we leave behind all the roads built into the past when we create a separation from the mind. As the separation from the mind grows, it becomes easier to remain alert and watchful. The past becomes featureless and distant. We are then free to look around and finally see the present without the obstruction of the mind in between.