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  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
 
     
     
 
THERE IS NO TIME BUT NOW - Secret #12

THERE HAVE BEEN MOMENTS when my whole life made sense. I knew exactly who I was. The people in my life were all there for a reason. Clearly, and without a shred of doubt, I knew that the reason was love, so for that moment I could laugh at the preposterous notion that I had enemies or that I was a stranger in this world.
Perfection has a mysterious way of slipping in and out of time. Few people, I imagine, haven’t felt the kind of moment I just described, but I’ve never met a single person who could hold on to it. But people desperately want to, and often this hunger motivates their spiritual life. In the Buddhist tradition, there are a wealth of exercises devoted to mindfulness, a state of awareness in which you can be conscious of perfect moments. Let’s hope they all become perfect. But to be aware, you must first catch yourself beingunaware, which is difficult; after all, being unaware can be defined as not knowing that you aren’t aware.
I had a hard time with this slipperiness until someone told me, “It’s like being happy. When you’re happy, you’re just happy. You don’t have to think about it. But then a moment comes when you say out loud, ‘I really feel happy right now,’ and it starts to disappear. In fact, you can break the spell simply by thinking the words ‘I’m happy right now’ to yourself.”
That one example explained to me what it means to be mindful: You catch the present moment without words or thought. Few things are easier to describe and harder to do. The crux of the matter is time.
Time is as slippery as that blessed moment before you say “I’m happy right now.” Was that moment really fleeting or is it eternal?
Most of us take for granted that time flies, meaning that it passes too quickly. But in the mindful state, time doesn’t really pass at all. There is only a single instant of time that keeps renewing itself over and over with infinite variety. The secret about time, then, is that it exists only as we usually think of it. Past, present, and future are only mental boxes for things we want to keep close or far from us, and by saying that “time flies,” we conspire to prevent reality from coming too close. Is time a myth we are using for our own convenience?
Books are written extolling the virtues of living in the present moment. There is good reason for this because the mind’s burdens come from the past. By itself, memory is weightless, and time should be, too.
What people call “the now” is actually the disappearance of time as a psychological obstacle. When the obstacle is removed, you are no longer burdened by the past or the future—you’ve found the mindful state (and happiness, too—the kind that needs neither words nor thoughts). What makes time a psychological burden is ourselves—we have convinced ourselves that experiences are built up over time.

  • I’m older than you, I know what I’m talking about.
  • I’ve been around the block a few times.
  • Listen to the voice of experience.
  • Pay attention to your elders.

These formulas make a virtue out of experience accumulated not with insight or alertness but simply by hanging around. Mostly they are futile expressions, however. We all know at some level that carrying around a heavy suitcase of time is what makes people gray.
To live in the present moment means dropping the suitcase, not carrying it with you. But how is this done? In the one reality, the only time on the clock is now. The trick to dropping the past is to find out how to live now as if it were forever. Photons move at Planck time, which matches the speed of light, while galaxies evolve over billions of years. So if time is a river, it must be a very deep one and broad enough to contain the least speck of time and the infinity of timelessness.

This implies that “now” is more complex than it looks. Are you in the now when you are most active and energized, or when you are most still? Take a look at a river. On the surface, the current is fast and restless. At the middle depths, the flow slows down, until one reaches the bottom, where the silt is only slightly stirred before you touch bedrock, where the motion of water no longer has any effect. The mind is capable of participating at every level of the river. You can run with the fastest current, which most people try to do in their everyday lives. Their version of now is whatever has to be donerightnow. For them, the present moment contains constant drama. Time equals action, just as it does on the surface of the river.
When they become exhausted from the race (or feel that they are losing it) people in a hurry may finally slow down, only to be surprised at how hard it actually is to go from running to walking. But if you decide, “Okay, I’ll just keep going,” life brings new problems, such as obsessions, circular thinking, and so-called racing depression. In a sense, these are all disorders of time.
Tagore has a wonderful phrase for this: “We’re too poor to be late.” In other words, we race through life as if we can’t afford to throw away a single minute. In the same poem, Tagore gives a perfect description of what you find after all the rushing around gets where it wants to go:

  • And when the frantic race was over
  • I could see the finish line
  • Bursting with fear lest I be too late
  • Only to find at the last minute
  • That yet there is time.

Tagore is reflecting on what it means to race through your life as if you haven’t time to spare, only to find at the end that you always had eternity. But our minds have a hard enough time adjusting to a slower pace when they are so conditioned to misusing time. An obsessive-compulsive person, for example, is typically panicked by the clock. There is barely enough time to clean the house twice before company comes, barely enough time to line up forty pairs of shoes in the closet and still make dinner. Where did time go wrong?
Without being able to locate the source of obsession, psychologists have discovered that low self-esteem is accompanied by negative words likelazy, dull, stupid, ugly, loser, worthless, andfailure that get repeatedseveral hundred times per hour. This rapid-fire repetition is both a symptom of mental suffering and a futile attempt to find a cure. The same word keeps coming back over and over because the person desperately wants it to go away and yet has not discovered how to expunge it.
Circular thinking is related to obsession, but with more steps involved. Instead of chewing over a single notion like “the house isn’t clean enough” or “I have to be perfect,” the person is imprisoned in false logic. An example would be someone who feels unlovable. No matter how much people express love for them, the circular thinkers do not feel lovable because inside their minds they are saying, “I want to get love, and this person is saying he loves me, but I can’t feel it, which must mean I am unlovable, and the only way I can fix that is to get love.” Circular logic afflicts those who never become successful enough, never feel safe enough, never feel wanted enough. The initial premise that drives them to act (“I’m a failure,” “I’m in danger,” “I’m in need”) doesn’t change because every result from the outside, whether good or bad, reinforces the original idea. These examples bring us to the “paradox of now”: The faster you run in place, the further you are from the present moment.
Racing depression gives us a very clear picture of the paradox because depressed people do feel inert, trapped in a frozen dead moment without any feeling except hopelessness. For them, time is standing still, and yet their minds race with shredded ideas and emotions. This flurry of mental activity doesn’t seem like what should be going on in the head of someone who can’t get out of bed in the morning. But in this case, the mental flurry is disconnected from action. A depressed person thinks of countless things but acts on none of them.
When these problems aren’t present, the mind slows down by diving deeper. People who take time out for themselves are seeking the calm of solitude, where external demands are fewer. In its natural state, the mind stops reacting once external stimulation goes away. This is like escaping the waves in the river’s shallows to find a depth where the current slows down. The present moment becomes a kind of lazy circular eddy. Your thoughts keep moving, but they aren’t so insistent that they push you forward.
Finally, there are a few people who enjoy stillness more than activity, and they dive as deep as they can to find where the water stops running, a point so still and deep that one isn’t touched by the surface waves at all. Having found this stable center, they experience themselves to the maximum and the outside world to the minimum.
One way or another, we’ve all experienced these different versions of the present moment, from an exhausting race to motionless calm. But what about the now that is right before you,this now? In the one reality, this now has no duration—relative terms likefast andslow, past andfuture, don’t apply. The present moment includes faster than the fastest and slower than the slowest. Only when you include the whole river are you living in the one reality, and then you’re living in a state of awareness that is ever fresh and changeless.

So how do you get there?

To answer that, we have to look into relationships. When you meet someone you know well—let’s say your best friend—what happens? The two of you perhaps meet at a restaurant to catch up, and your talk is full of old, familiar things, which feels reassuring. But you also want to say something new, or the relationship would be static and boring. You know each other extremely well already, which is part of being best friends, yet at the same time you aren’t totally predictable to one another—the future will unfold new events, some happy, some sad. Ten years from now one of you could be dead or divorced or turned into a stranger.
This intersection of the new and the old, the known and the unknown, is the essence of all relationships, including the ones you have with time, the universe, and yourself. Ultimately, you are having only a single relationship. As you evolve, so does the universe, and the intersection of the two of you is time. There is only one relationship because there is only one reality. It’s been a while since I referred to the four paths of Yoga, but each one is actually a flavor of relationship:

  • The path of knowledge (Gyana Yoga) has a flavor of mystery. You sense the inexplicability of life. You experience the wonder inside every experience.
  • The path of devotion (Bhakti Yoga) has the flavor of love. You experience the sweetness inside every experience.
  • The path of action (Karma Yoga) has the flavor of selflessness. You experience the connectedness of every experience.
  • The path of meditation and inner silence (Raj Yoga) has the flavor of stillness. You experience the being inside every experience.

Time exists so that you can experience these flavors as deeply as possible. On the path of devotion, if you can experience even a glimmer of love, it’s possible to experience a little more love. When you experience that little more, then the next degree of intensity is possible. Thus, love engenders love until you reach the point of saturation, when you totally merge into divine love. This is what the mystics mean when they say that they plunge into the ocean of love to drown themselves.
Time unfolds the degrees of experience until you reach the ocean. Pick any quality that holds charm for you, and if you follow it far enough, with commitment and passion, you will merge with the absolute. For at the end of the path, each quality disappears, swallowed up by Being. Time isn’t an arrow or a clock or a river; it’s actually a fluctuation in the flavors of Being. Theoretically, nature could have been organized without a progression from less to more. You could experience love or mystery or selflessness at random. However, reality wasn’t set up that way, at least not as experienced through a human nervous system. We experience life as evolving. Relationships grow from the first hint of attraction to deep intimacy. (Love at first sight takes the same journey but in a matter of minutes instead of weeks and months.) Your relationship to the universe follows the same course—if you let it. Time is meant to be the vehicle for evolution, but if you misuse time, it becomes a source of fear and anxiety.

THE MISUSE OF TIME

  • Being anxious about the future
  • Reliving the past
  • Regretting old mistakes
  • Reliving yesterday
  • Anticipating tomorrow
  • Racing against the clock
  • Brooding over impermanence
  • Resisting change

When you misuse time, the problem isn’t at the level of time itself. Nothing has gone wrong with the clocks in the house of someone who loses five hours’ sleep worrying about the possibility of dying from cancer. The misuse of time is only a symptom for misplaced attention. You can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t pay attention to, and in your relationship to the universe, attention is paid here and now, or not at all. In fact, there is no universe except the one you perceive right now. So to relate to the universe, you must focus on what lies in front of you. As one spiritual teacher said, “The wholeness of creation is needed to bring about the present moment.”
If you take this to heart, your attention will shift. Right now, every situation you are in is a mixture of past, present, and future. Imagine yourself applying for a job. As you offer yourself to the scrutiny of a stranger, trying to handle the stress and make a good impression, you aren’t actually in the now. “Will I get this job?” “How do I look?” “Were my recommendations good enough?” “What’s this guy thinking, anyway?” It seems as if you can’t help tumbling in the mix of past, present, and future. But the now can’t be a mixture of old and new. It must be clear and open; otherwise, there is no unfolding of yourself, which is the reason time exists.
The present moment is really an opening, so it has no duration—you are in the now when time ceases to exist. Perhaps the best way to gain such an experience is to realize that the wordpresent is linked to the wordpresence. When the present moment becomes filled with a presence that is all-absorbing, completely at peace, and totally satisfying, you are in the now.
Presence isn’t an experience. Presence is felt whenever awareness is open enough. The situation at hand doesn’t have to bear any responsibility. Paradoxically, someone can be in intense pain, only to find that in the middle of his suffering, the mind—unable to tolerate the body’s torment—suddenly decides to abandon it. This is particularly true of psychological pain—soldiers caught in the terror of battle report a moment of liberation when intense stress is replaced by a rush of ecstatic release.
Ecstasy changes everything. The body is no longer heavy and slow; the mind stops experiencing its background music of sadness and fear. There is a dropping away of personality, replaced by the sweetness of nectar. This sweetness can linger a long time in the heart—some people say it can be tasted like honey in the mouth—but when it leaves, you know beyond doubt that you have lost the now. In the mind’s scrapbook, you can insert a picture of perfect bliss, and that becomes like the first taste of ice cream, an unattainable goal you keep running after, only to find that ecstasy remains out of reach.
The secret of ecstasy is that you have to throw it away once you’ve found it. Only by walking away can you experience the present moment again, the place where presence lives. Awareness is in the now when it knows itself. If we take away the vocabulary of sweetness and bliss and nectar, the quality that is missing in most people’s lives, the biggest thing that keeps them from being present, is sobriety. You have to be sober before you can be ecstatic. This isn’t a paradox. What you’re hunting for—call it presence, the now, or ecstasy—is totally out of reach. You cannot hunt it down, chase after it, command it, or persuade it to come to you. Your personal charms are useless here, and so are your thoughts and insights.
Sobriety begins by realizing, in all seriousness, that you have to throw away almost every strategy that you’ve been using to get what you want. If that’s at all intriguing, then carry out your sober intent to release those futile strategies as follows:

SPIRITUAL SOBRIETY

  • Getting Serious About Being in the Present
  • Catch yourself not paying attention.
  • Listen to what you’re actually saying.
  • Watch how you react.
  • Remove yourself from the details.
  • Follow the rise and fall of energy.
  • Question your ego.
  • Immerse yourself in a spiritual milieu.

These instructions could come directly from a ghost hunter’s handbook, or the hunter of unicorns. The present moment is more elusive than either, but if you want to get there passionately enough, sobriety is the program you need to set up.

Not paying attention:
The first step is neither mystical nor extraordinary. When you observe that you’re not paying attention, don’t indulge your wandering. Come back to where you are. Almost instantly you’ll discover why you wandered away. You were either bored, anxious, insecure, worrying about something else, or anticipating a future event. Don’t evade any of those feelings. They are ingrained habits of awareness, habits you have trained yourself to follow automatically. When you catch yourself drifting away from what’s right in front of you, you begin to take back the now.

Listening to what you’re saying:
Having returned from your distraction, listen to the words you’re saying, or the ones in your head. Relationships are driven forward with words. If you listen to yourself, you will know how you are relating to the universe right now. Don’t be thrown off by the fact that there is another person in front of you. Whoever you are talking to, including yourself, stands in for reality itself. If you are complaining about a lazy waiter, you are complaining about the universe. If you are showing off to someone you want to impress, you are trying to impress the universe. There is only one relationship.
Listen to how it’s going at this moment.

Watch your reaction:
Every relationship is two-way, so whatever you are saying, the universe is responding. Watch your reaction. Are you defensive? Are you accepting and moving forward? Do you feel safe or unsafe? Again, don’t be distracted by the person you are relating to. You are tuning in to the universe’s response, closing the circle that embraces observer and observed.

Remove yourself from the details:
Before sobriety, you had to find a way to adapt to the loneliness that comes from the absence of reality. Reality is wholeness. It is all-embracing. You dive in and there is nothing else. In the absence of wholeness you still crave a similar embrace, so you try to find it in fragments, bits and pieces. In other words, you tried to lose yourself in the details, as if sheer chaos and raucousness could saturate you to the point of fulfillment. Now you know that this strategy didn’t work, so back out of it. Remove yourself from the details. Forget the messiness. Take care of it as efficiently as possible, but don’t take it seriously; don’t make it important to who you are.

Follow the rise and fall of energy:
Once the details are out of the way, you still need something to follow. Your attention wants to go somewhere, so take it to the heart of experience. The heart of experience is the universe’s breathing rhythm as it pours forth new situations, a rise and fall of energy.
Notice how tension leads to release, excitement to fatigue, exhilaration to peace. Just as there is an ebb and flow in every marriage, your relationship to the universe rises and falls. You may experience these swings emotionally at first, but try not to. This is a much more profound rhythm. It begins in silence as a new experience is conceived; it moves through a period of gestation as the experience takes shape in silence; it begins to move toward birth by hinting at how things are going to change; finally there is the arrival of something new. This “something” can be a person in your life, an event, a thought, an insight—anything, really. Common to all is the rise and fall of energy. You need to connect with every stage because in the present moment one of them is right in front of you.

Question your ego: All this watching and noticing and catching yourself isn’t going unnoticed. Your ego has its own “right” way of doing things, and when you break that pattern, it will let you know of its displeasure. Change is frightening, but more than that, it is threatening to the ego. This fright is just a tactic to pull you back into line. You can’t fight your ego’s reactions because that will only deepen your involvement with it. But you can question it, which means questioning yourself from a calm distance.
“Why am I doing this?” “Isn’t this a knee-jerk reflex?” “How far have I gotten in the past acting like this?” “Haven’t I proved to myself that this doesn’t work?” You must keep asking these stubborn questions over and over, with the intent not of breaking down your ego but of loosening its reflexive hold over your behavior.

Immerse yourself in a spiritual milieu:
When you seriously face your behavior, you’ll realize that the ego has been isolating you all along. It wants you to think that life is lived in separation because, with that belief, it can rationalize grabbing as much for I, me, and mine as it can. In much the same way, the ego tries to grab spirituality as if it were a prized new possession. To counter that tendency, which will lead only to more isolation, immerse yourself in another world. I’m referring to the world where people consciously pursue experiences of presence, where there’s a common vision of transforming duality into unity. You can find such an environment in the great spiritual texts.

As someone who found untold hope and consolation in such writings, I can’t urge you more strongly to turn to them. But there is a living world to meet as well. Immerse yourself in a spiritual context, according to how you definespirit. Expect to be disappointed when you get there, too, because it’s inevitable that you will meet the most frustration among people struggling with their imperfections. The ferment you meet is your own.

Once you commit yourself to being sober, there is nothing more to do. Presence will appear on its own, and when it does, your awareness cannot help but be in the now. A moment in the now causes an internal change felt in every cell. Your nervous system is being taught a way of processing reality that isn’t old or new, known or unknown. You rise to a new level of being in which presence matters for itself alone, and it matters absolutely. Every other experience is relative and therefore can be rejected, forgotten, discounted, put out of mind. Presence is the touch of reality itself, which cannot be rejected or lost. Each encounter makes you a little more real.
Evidence of this comes in many ways, the most immediate of which has to do with time itself. When the only time on the clock is now, the following becomes your actual experience:

  1. The past and the future exist only in imagination. Everything you did before has no reality. Everything you will do afterward has no reality. Only the thing you are doing now is real.
  2. The body you once called yourself is not who you are anymore. The mind you once called yourself is not who you are anymore. You step out of them easily, without effort. Both are temporary patterns that the universe took for an instant before moving on.
  3. Your actual self manifests at this moment as thoughts, emotions, and sensations passing across the screen of awareness. You recognize them as the meeting point between change and timelessness. You see yourself as exactly that also.

When you find yourself in the present moment, there is nothing to do. The river of time is allowed to flow.
You experience the eddies and currents, shallows and depths, in a new context: innocence. The present moment is naturally innocent. The now turns out to be the only experience that doesn’t go anywhere.
How can this be true when I’ve said that the whole purpose of time is to unfold the steps of evolution?
That’s the mystery of mysteries. We grow and yet life remains eternal at the core. Imagine a universe expanding through infinite dimensions at infinite speed, completely free to create everywhere at once. To go along for the ride we need do nothing but remain absolutely still.

CHANGING YOUR REALITY TO ACCOMMODATE THE TWELFTH SECRET

The twelfth secret is about how to use time. The best use of time is to reconnect to your being. The misuse of time comes down to the opposite: moving away from your being. There is always enough time to evolve because you and the universe are unfolding together. How can you prove that to yourself? One way is through a Sanskrit practice calledSankalpa. Any intention or thought that you put your will behind is a Sankalpa. Included in the term is the whole idea of means: Having made a wish or had a thought you want to come true, how do you actually get results? The answer depends a great deal on your relationship to time (the root wordkalpa means “time”).

  • If timelessness is part of your being, the wish will come true spontaneously without delay. You have the power to play with time as you would any other part of your world.
  • If timelessness has a tentative relationship to your being, some wishes will come true spontaneously, others won’t. There will be delays and an uneasy sense that you might not get what you want. Your ability to play with time is shaky but developing.
  • If timelessness has no relationship to your being, it will take work and determination to get what you want. You have no power over time. Instead of playing with it, you are subject to its inexorable march.

From these three broad categories one can project three different belief systems. Consider which one best applies to you.

  1. I am pressed for time.There aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want. Other people make a lot of demands on my time, and it’s all I can do to keep everything in balance. What I’ve gotten in life I’ve earned through hard work and determination. As far as I know, this is the road to success.
  2. I consider myself pretty lucky.I’ve gotten to do a lot of the things I’ve always wanted to do. Although my life is busy, I find a way to make enough time for myself. Every once in a while things just fall into place on their own. Deep down, I expect my wishes to come true, but I am okay if they don’t.
  3. I believe that the universe brings you whatever you need.Certainly that’s true in my life. I’m amazed to find that my every thought brings some response. If I don’t get what I want, I realize that something inside me is blocking it. I spend time working on my inner awareness far more than struggling with outside forces.

These are just snapshots of Sankalpa, but most people fall into one of these categories. They represent, again in a very general way, three stages of personal evolution. It’s useful to know that they exist, for many people would find it hard to believe that there is any reality other than the first one, in which hard work and determination are the only keys to getting what you want.
Once you gain even a hint that wishes can come true without so much struggle, you can resolve to move to a new stage of growth. Growth is accomplished by awareness, yet you can resolve today to change your relationship to time:

  • I will let time unfold for me.
  • I will keep in mind that there’s always enough time.
  • I will follow my own rhythm.
  • I will not misuse time by procrastination and delay.
  • I will not fear what time brings in the future.
  • I will not regret what time brought in the past.
  • I will stop racing against the clock.

Try to adopt just one of these resolves today and see how it changes your reality. Time isn’t demanding, although we all act as if the clock rules our existence (or if it doesn’t, we still keep a close watch on it).
Time is meant to unfold according to your needs and wants. It will start to do that only if you give up the opposite belief—that time is in charge.

 
 
     
     
   
     
     
 

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