Thought Exists in Time

Here you may share how the words Eckhart Tolle have affected your life.
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Thought Exists in Time

Post by Sighclone » Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:08 am

But awakening is not a thought. Awakening is a non-mental experience. Some non-mental experiences do exist in time: the ebb and flow of feelings for those we love, a life-giving walk through a forest, hearing Debussey’s Clair de Lune for the first, and the 500th time, the first bite into an orange…and many others. Although the awakening event of course exists in time (first I was asleep, then I woke up), the experience marks, for a moment, entry into the timeless Now. It is a discovery, like a fish discovering water.

During meditation the recognition “I am having a thought” is common. Mantra-based meditations encourage us to replace that momentary experience of a thought with the mantra. A mantra is a mental vocalization, not a thought. But it allows the mind to clamp onto something. Minds love to clamp onto things, until they don’t. After awakening, they still enjoy thoughts, but they don’t need them and are content to be “mind-empty” as opposed to “mindful,” the popular new-age phrase. Being mindful, I am told, is being multi-dimensionally hyper-aware. I have no problem with that, but it takes a lot of mental energy…until it doesn’t. Resting in and experiencing the immediate “present moment” is a non-mental experience of pure stillness. We can all do it for a bit of time. It is worth repeating. Sometimes is it spontaneous...watch for it.

After a few months of Transcendental Meditation in 1974, I had a first experience of “transcending.” It lasted maybe 10 seconds. I recall that the first thought that came to mind was my name. And then life went on. What was not made clear was that that experience was very important, and how it was a portal. It felt comfortable but boringly empty. Boring because there weren’t any thoughts. I let it go for 34 years.

The essential thought is the “I thought,” according to Ramana Maharshi. And it becomes a core belief. “This person” is me. Relative to all other people, there is some truth: the “I” that is me is not him or her. But awakening means a shift in the locus of identity from the “personality-wrapped body” me, the “little” me” in this chair (something referred to as “ego”), to another, less local awareness of Self and actually another kind of awareness entirely. “I am” transposes into “am-ness is” (and that is horribly worded, mostly because it’s very hard to wrap words around it.) I could say “existence is” but what does that mean? My point is that the “I” just isn’t needed any more to define me. And yup, that sounds pretty odd, too.

You cannot think your way to awakening. The jnani path, however, was certainly my path, and I stayed hard on it until Eckhart reminded me that you cannot bite your own tooth. One value in the years of study, reading, seminars, meditating until my ass fell off was that when I finally had a shift, it was very clear to me that it was not another thought, because Lord knows, I’d had all possible thoughts about it, and this was a very different experience.
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce
The present holds the complete sum of existence - Whitehead

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Re: Thought Exists in Time

Post by Rob X » Sun May 02, 2021 11:53 am

Nice post Andy, thanks.

But I disagree with your assessment of what constitutes happening in time. I am present when I listen to Debussy, eat an orange or walk through the forest etc. All these exists in the timeless NOW. That’s the point of realisation - to realise that it’s never not the timeless NOW - never not THIS simply presenting - as it is.

The reflective mind/intellect keeps us locked in the past and future. It presents a world of memory, concept, rumination and abstraction. Through mind - and ONLY through mind - we get to participation in time. But in reality we cannot participate in time. In ‘real-time’ present actuality there is no time whatsoever - there is no actual existence outside this moment - as it is - including the walk in the woods. That’s the power of NOW.

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Re: Thought Exists in Time

Post by runstrails » Sun May 02, 2021 9:17 pm

Nice posts Andy and Rob! Hope you are both well.

Can one actually conceive of timelessness or eternity or limitlessness or formlessness? It's not possible for the human mind to do so. All we can do is to conceive of time or space or form and then negate it (to try to understand timelessness or formlessness).

While our true nature (consciousness) is the higher reality that is beyond time and space---our human minds are the lower reality that are time and space bound. And only through our minds can we even understand that we are the non-local, non-temporal high reality. All our experiences are bound by time and space. But the 'knowledge' that we are non-temporal consciousness sets us free. And this knowledge is understood and actualized by our minds (intellects).

Of course, I have an Advaita point of view--which is completely knowledge and intellect focused :D.

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Re: Thought Exists in Time

Post by Rob X » Mon May 03, 2021 1:57 pm

Hi RT, nice to see that you’re still around and also checking in now and then. :)

I’m not an Advaitin and have a slightly different take on things - but we don’t really need to go into that since I don’t think it necessary to get into Advaita’s high concept take on the metaphysics of time and space in order to grasp this sensibility.

Tolle’s use of the timeless is akin to what Buddhists call the natural state. This is the (essentially) child-like state of ‘beginners mind’. Imagine a tiny child; they have no conception of before and after, of yesterday or tomorrow. They live utterly in the unfolding present - which is without a conception of separation and time. This (in my understanding of Tolle) is what he means by the timeless. In this natural state we can walk in the woods or hug our child - being fully present and at one with what is - as it is.

Of course when we get back from our walk we can calculate that it took two hours or whatever. This we know as clock time - which is really a measure of change in relation to another changing process - the hands on a clock, the movement of the sun etc.

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Re: Thought Exists in Time

Post by runstrails » Mon May 03, 2021 4:22 pm

Thanks Rob. Makes sense now. In Advaita we would call it a 'samadhi' of sorts or a 'flow' state. Always a pleasure to chat with you :D.

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Re: Thought Exists in Time

Post by Rob X » Mon May 03, 2021 8:40 pm

Yes, samadhi and flow fit the bill. Likewise - always nice to chat and hear other perspectives. Take care. :)

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Re: Thought Exists in Time

Post by Sighclone » Thu May 06, 2021 5:21 pm

Hi Rob X!

"But I disagree with your assessment of what constitutes happening in time. I am present when I listen to Debussy, eat an orange or walk through the forest etc. All these exists in the timeless NOW. That’s the point of realisation - to realise that it’s never not the timeless NOW - never not THIS simply presenting - as it is."

My point was not about those events existing in time - they do exist in relative time and in the timeless NOW, as do all events. My point was that they were (are) non-mental. The experience of awakening was, for me, non-mental. It was a recognition, a knowing, a discovery.

Hi RT!

"Can one actually conceive of timelessness or eternity or limitlessness or formlessness? It's not possible for the human mind to do so. All we can do is to conceive of time or space or form and then negate it (to try to understand timelessness or formlessness)."

Totally agree. But we can experience samadhi. It is not necessary to conceive of it...that conception is a product of the mind which is sorely handicapped to define a non-mental experience. This is not to say that a whole litany of descriptive words are not good pointers. They just aren't the moon.

Thanks, both!! It's always great to hear from you!

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce
The present holds the complete sum of existence - Whitehead

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Re: Thought Exists in Time

Post by Rob X » Sat May 08, 2021 6:32 pm

Sighclone wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 5:21 pm
Hi Rob X!

"But I disagree with your assessment of what constitutes happening in time. I am present when I listen to Debussy, eat an orange or walk through the forest etc. All these exists in the timeless NOW. That’s the point of realisation - to realise that it’s never not the timeless NOW - never not THIS simply presenting - as it is."

My point was not about those events existing in time - they do exist in relative time and in the timeless NOW, as do all events. My point was that they were (are) non-mental. The experience of awakening was, for me, non-mental. It was a recognition, a knowing, a discovery.
Understood. Thanks Andy.

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