Sunday, March 14, 2010

Time Change

Today is the start of Daylight Savings Time. It brings into high relief that such concepts of time are wholly human in origin.

In the present moment - what we call "now" - there is no time. It is always simply now. There is no past and no future, just a still point like that found at the center of a wheel. We perceive time through the impermanence of things as they move on the outer perimeters of the wheel: the changing of the seasons, our own aging, days and nights, cycles of the moon, and so forth. So it may be more accurate to say that we live both in time and in the "non-time" of now. 

The experience of "now" is always present and available to us. In the words of the poet Kabir, it is "a half breath away." In fact, there is a Tantric meditation from the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra that clearly illustrates this. In this meditation, the still point of now can be felt clearly at the end of the exhale.

Sit comfortably or lie down, and feel the inhale and exhale coming and going through the nose. Feel that the inhale arises out of a place of stillness, and that the exhale returns back to that place of stillness. Now focus your attention mainly on the exhale, and allow each out-breath to draw you inward and downward, ever deeper into a pool of stillness that is waiting at the end of the breath. Let yourself dwell in that stillness for a moment or two after the breath is gone, not holding the breath intentionally, but just letting it stop for a couple of seconds. Then the inhale will arise out of that stillness, turn to exhale, and return you again to that stillness, and so on.

After a while, you can begin to perceive the breath as merely a foreground movement taking place in front of an ever-present background of stillness. Soon, you can begin to place your primary focus, not on the physical breath, but on the stillness that exists behind the breath.

From this practice, we can begin to see that all phenomena in the physical world arise out of stillness, return again to stillness, and exist as a foreground event over an ever-present background of stillness. In this way, we can touch the "home ground" of our being, the ever-present now.

Radiant one, this experience may dawn between two breaths...
When breath is all out and stopped by itself...
In such universal pause, one's small self vanishes. 
~ Vijnana Bhairava Tantra



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