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Time is change

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 23 Jan 2023, 22:21

The mind is a mix of positive and negative tendencies. Some of which can remain dormant for long periods of time until the right causes and conditions in life occur to activate them. The potential for both good and bad lies dormant in us like karmic seeds. I think from what little I know about biology, DNA works in a similar fashion. We all have strands of inactive DNA which remain dormant until the environment around us changes in such a way that the conditions are ripe to activate it.

When a tadpole becomes a frog. During the different stages of mutation in the biological flow, what is it that transfers from one moment to the next?
What is left of the caterpillar when it becomes a butterfly?

This mysterious flow of life has no discernible beginning, even the Buddha said he could not see the beginning of Samsara, no matter how far back in time he looked he found no beginning to it. We have been entangled in this cycle of birth and death for an incalculable amount of time, becoming different beings over the course of our endless rebirths, playing different roles in this neverending story of self.

The Buddha said that the problematic behaviour that keeps us bound to Samsara springs up from three unwholesome roots: greed, hatred, and delusion. But because we are ignorant of their presence in the mind, these three poisons keep creating problems for us. And until we have properly uprooted them we are a mixed bag of karmic seeds, some of which can lie dormant in us for a considerable length of time, some for as long as lifetimes, waiting for the right conditions to sprout. A moral person can become immoral; and a bad person can become good. Beings can turn, sometimes quite suddenly. Angels can become devils, and devils can become angels.

There's a story in the Buddhist suttas which is a dramatic example of the way people can change suddenly when dormant karma becomes activated. (The story can be read here: Angulimala: A murderer's road to sainthood ) Angulimala went from a peace-loving model student, to a serial killer who tried to make the Buddha his 1000th victim, but after his encounter with the Buddha he became his disciple, and after a period of training Angulimala became a fully enlightened being that wouldn't harm a fly.

This story shows the fluidity of self, that nothing is set in stone, things arise and cease due to the causes and conditions that shape them. This knowledge can bring hope, because it means that we are not completely powerless, we can put in the right conditions to activate the wholesome tendencies of the mind and use those to put a stop to the unwholesome tendencies for good. When the mind is no longer clouded by greed, hatred, and delusion, it naturally becomes light and free, luminous like the moon coming out from behind the clouds.

The self is not what we think, whatever we identify with, that is not the self. The self is not a static entity. It is changing. Each mind moment a new moment of becoming. What went before has gone. We try to make the nice moments last, relive them, preserve them, but looking at a photograph is not the same, there's a kind of sadness with photographs, you see something that has passed, has changed, a moment that no longer exists. If you were to stitch photographs of your life together you would see the way we change from one self to another. We are a flow of energy. What we identify with changes. Our passions change. Everything changes. Even if you preserve a moment, and keep trying to relive the pleasant feelings associated with it, eventually it becomes tiring, one gets bored, this can happen with music, movies, books, video games, relationships, drugs. Our senses grow jaded, and our interests and personalities change, and what once excited us we no longer find interesting. This too is change.

I am a different person than I was when I first sat down to write this, and that moment has now gone, it no longer exists.

We die in every moment. Each tick of the clock is a new self.

Time is change.

There's something exhilarating about knowing that, it feels freeing when one can flow from one moment to the next without clinging to anything. In our day to day life, we do not realise how the sense of self with its identifying, its cares, woes, wants, and resentments weighs us down, we carry this stuff around with us like a concrete block that just gets heavier and heavier to carry, the story of self is tiring and burdensome; but when one lets go of the story. One feels lighter, freer and happier. Time feels different then.

 


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me

What is time?

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 19 Jan 2022, 10:16

I am practising regular meditation at the moment. And currently doing three sittings a day, one in the morning, one at noon, and one in the evening. Just for 30 minutes each time, although I am contemplating the idea of doing a 2 hour long sit on a Sunday afternoon, as I want to experiment with sitting for longer to see if it will help me settle into deeper states of serenity. Out of the three daily sittings, the morning one is the hardest, I often battle with drowsiness in the first sitting (even with coffee) and I was experimenting this morning with trying to remain lucid during the drowsy surreal states of mind that arise when one is on the edge of sleep. I sometimes experience what are known as hypnagogic hallucinations just as I am about to doze off which alters my perception a bit and things can get quite weird, so I practise staying still and being mindful during those experiences, which can generate some interest in what is happening and help me stay awake.

The easiest of the three meditations is the evening one I find, I seem to feel a much stronger connection between mind and body and a greater depth of stillness and can feel energy that at times feels otherwordly but profoundly peaceful, with some interesting visual effects behind closed eyelids. The evening meditation also seems to go by the fastest, and I am often suprised by how quickly the time seems to go in the evening sitting. The morning meditation however seems to drag on, one minute can feel like ten and it can be very challenging to stay sat there. 

It is interesting how one's perception of time changes, and how the mind seems to be able to alter how slow or quickly the passage of time goes by, but only relative to one's mind, everyone else's perception of time is not effected by ours. I am reminded of how Einstein said that time is relative, that time can be a unique experience to us all. This goes quite deep when you think about other species of life. Plants for example have a completely different sense of time to us humans. Their world seems very slow to us, but to them it is normal. Birds apparently experience time seven times faster than we do, and insects even more so, to insects we appear to move very slowly. And there are apparently bacteria that live deep under the ocean floor that are as old as 100 million years and reproduce once every 10 000 years.Yet despite our differences in speed, to each species of life their experience of time feels normal.

An interesting thing that I experimented with one time in music was slowing down bird song, and when I did this it sounded like a human singing, and vice versa when I sped up the human voice it sounded like a bird singing. I saw one time on a documentary that when humans are sped up seven times faster than normal on camera their movement looks similar to the movement of birds.

Perception of time is an interesting phenomenon, time really is relative. But one thing we can all be sure of, is whatever species of life - time comes for all.



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