Part Four of REALITY AND EXISTENCE.
One day I realized that everything I was trying to say in regard to the naturing of manifested phenomena had one, and really only one essence: duration. Which raised a question in my mind: What is awareness if there is no duration to it? I suddenly saw that awareness, in all its guises, was only that duration we ignore as we attempt to put our finger on its essence! Suddenly, a voice yells out: But wait! Awareness is cognizant! (cognizance implies duration) It knows! (knowing implies duration) It manifests! (manifesting implies duration) It is consciousness! (consciousness implies duration), It is presence! (presence implies duration), and on and on.
Everything we try to say about what exists incorporates duration in some way. In our mundane conventional view we say that things exist, meaning that they endure for some period of time. Seeing that there is nothing that endures through experience, we move the enduring into the nature of manifestation itself, and call it awareness. Even when we note that the real is not in time, that it is timeless, we are merely saying that what is real is beyond all that exists, because time is this side of the event horizon, thus we make the effort to distinguish what exists from the real.
But we have confused ourselves by holding tightly to the understanding that time is a container, rather than the naturing, of all manifested things. Failing to note duration, we fail to note that time is everything. What would awareness be if the unfolding of existence was not noticed because awareness did not endure? But saying that it endures, places it on this side of the event horizon, while we want it on the other side of the event horizon so that it is not confused with manifested things that are empty of an individual intrinsic self-nature.
I experience time, my life, as unfolding now. Whatever is happening in my life, even if I’m reminiscing, is happening now, so I intuit that now is not a time, nor is it relative to anything else, as accounting for time is, to the clock ticking away. I experience, in deepest samadhi, the now as pure presence, in which every form of time plays out as if on stage under bright lights. And this leads me to my sixth guide: time is the formal appearance of reality. It is the knowing of all appearances and the naturing of all appearances, for knowing and naturing are the same. These forms aren’t shapes, in the sense I am using form. There are fat humans, and skinny humans, and tall humans, and shorter humans, those are shapes, but a human form changes during it’s unfolding from a fertilized egg to worm-meat, an aspect of the whole of existence, but not independent.
I look around me and I don’t see a material universe, I see a formal universe, every form unfolding in the now. So for me these time-forms are all forms of beings, all forms of forces, all forms of energy, all forms of matter, all forms of planetary, stellar bodies, etc. Each time-form has a different complexity built up from a deeply-nested recursive organic structuring of forces, quantum particles, particles, atoms, molecules, elements and mixtures of elements, crystals, metals, gases, liquids, organelles, cells, organs, bodies, all the way up to our universe, all of it just different forms of time, and all of it, at every level, has the same immanent origin.
Each form is an organic whole within organic wholes within an organic whole, all natured together now. Yet each form has a perspective, the now. What arises as the unfolding of the form in this now is an attentional perspective upon that which is spontaneously manifesting within the possibilities inherent to such a form. Accounting time is just how we relate it all together in experience, mashing it all down into something fungible. Can a hummingbird see its wings flapping? You can’t. So this conceptual idea of awareness that we speak of is an attempt to grasp the truth that time is aware. We know that the appearances have no enduring self, so doesn’t this become obvious? If the appearances, and this includes us, have no enduring self, then what endures? Time does. Calling it time doesn’t change what we are experiencing when we say we are experiencing being aware, but it certainly flips the perspective around! Are things really changing, or is time just moving through the formal possibilities? Since there are no things, how can they be changing?
The other side of time? I chose to think of it as eternity, rather than reality, because reality encompasses it all, as I said above, so the true essence of reality is eternity, that effulgent, swollen with possibility, naturing of all times, which is not a thing in itself, naturing not a single entity, and which is unknowable because it is over the horizon. In fact, this is my only other veridical truth: When, in deepest meditative samadhi, that clearing that is the stage for all that appears as the unfettered presence of eternity, and is what we mean when we talk about pure presence, is recognized as the now because it is the venue for the appearance of all times.
There is a standard in science for evaluating the most likely true explanation for anything. It’s called parsimony, and it is a standard that says that things are usually connected or behave in the simplest and most economical way. A variation is called Occam’s Razor, which says that the explanation that should always be preferred is the one with the fewest number of entities at work in the explanation, for this is the simplest way for things to be connected or behaving. And this is my seventh guide: Although we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be ruled by the strictures of science, the truly great and wonderful insight in Buddhism is that there are no entities at all, thus reality is absolutely simple. Statements to the contrary, or that imply something other, are provisional attempts to guide you to the truth, and like all mental formations, must in the end be abandoned.
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