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How Long Is Now?

by Tim Freke


Excerpt from "How Long Is Now?" by Tim Freke.  Published with permission from Hay House, www.hayhouse.com



When we dive deeply into the deep awake state, we become conscious of our essential nature as the daemon or spirit. This doesn’t exist within the dream of life; it is the life-dreamer itself. So I want to complete our journey of awakening together by helping you fully appreciate something truly astonishing:

Your essential being does not exist in time and space.

I want to invite you to contemplate two powerful koans with me, which will forever change your understanding of who you are. I’m going to share with you the insights that arise for me, and I invite you to check out my insights to see if they are true in your own experience. What I want to show you is so far beyond our normal way of looking at things that it can seem difficult to grasp at first, so take your time. Really focus on the question and pay attention to the reality of the moment. The more you look, the more you’ll see.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

I’m paying attention to the moment, looking for clues, but it seems to be an impossible question to answer.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

If I look at it one way, it’s obvious that "now" is an instant so short I can’t measure it. It’s gone before I’ve had time to register it.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

But if I look at it another way, it’s always now. Now is forever. The present is timeless.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

Now is too brief to grasp and so constant that it has no beginning or end.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

Right now I’m awareness witnessing a flow of thoughts and sensations. The appearances are in permanent flux, which is why the moment seems so brief that I can’t catch it.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

My experiences are changing all the time. Indeed, "time" is what we call the everchanging appearances.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

But if I focus my attention on my essential nature as awareness, I see that it has the polar-opposite quality. Awareness is a constant presence that is always present. It never changes because it has no qualities that could change.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

Awareness is a continual stillness witnessing all the changes. Awareness is not in time. Awareness is witnessing time. This is why the moment seems eternal.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

Now is a polarity. Now is the coexistence of time and eternity. Now is impossibly transient, and it goes on forever.

HOW LONG IS NOW?

Tim is a person in time, but my essential nature is the timeless presence of awareness. When the mystics talk about the experience of "eternal life" and "timeless eternity," it can sound like something amazing that we may experience when we die. But the experience of eternity is actually always available to us here and now. In the normal waking state, we’re immersed in time, but when we pay attention to our essential nature as awareness, we become deep awake in the timeless moment.

Now-here and Nowhere

Let’s go even deeper by contemplating another powerful koan together. I’ll report my insights just like before, and I invite you to check them out in your own experience. Once again, it’s important not to hurry. Really pay attention to the moment. If you do, you will find that your world turns inside out . . . literally. And that’s quite a rush!

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

I am conscious of myself as the "I" of awareness witnessing this moment, but where is the "I"?

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

Usually I think of awareness as existing inside my head. But this simply isn’t true. If I asked someone to crack open my skull and take a look, they’d never find awareness. Not even if they looked with a microscope. It’s just not there. My head is full of brains, but awareness is nowhere to be found.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

Clearly, awareness doesn’t exist inside my skin.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

It’s not something I can sense or imagine . . . and it doesn’t exist in time.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

Awareness can’t be found in my experience, so where the hell is it?

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

As I examine the moment, it seems to me that awareness is nowhere and everywhere.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

Awareness isn’t within my experience, since my experience is within awareness.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

The world is arising within awareness like a dream.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

Everything that I am experiencing right now exists within awareness.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

My thoughts exist within awareness; if they didn’t, I wouldn’t be conscious of them. My sensations exist within awareness; if it didn’t, I wouldn’t be conscious of them. Tim exists within awareness; if he didn’t, I wouldn’t be conscious of him.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

I’m the spacious presence of awareness, and Tim is an appearance that exists within me.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

Awareness is an emptiness that contains the world. And this is why the Buddhists say that to know our true Buddha-nature is to experience the void of nirvana within which the appearances of samsara are arising.

WHERE IS AWARENESS?

As I contemplate this koan, something extraordinary is happening. . . . Everything is becoming incredibly simple, and I can see that this moment is characterized by the polarity of awareness and appearances . . . emptiness and form . . . nirvana and samsara . . . life-dreamer and life-dream.

I have reduced my appreciation of life to the polar simplicity of spacious awareness and the appearances it contains. Now everything is going into slow motion . . . and the two become one. It feels as if the moment has frozen into a pulsating stillness. Awareness is one with the flow of appearances, just as space is one with the objects it contains. The dreamer is one with a dream. I’m not separate from what I’m experiencing. All is one, and I am that oneness.

The "I" Door

I’d like to contemplate the present moment once more with you, because I want to explore how the "I" of awareness is like a doorway out of time and separateness and into eternity and oneness. I’m going to do this now and describe what I experience—and, as before, I invite you to make the journey with me. As I pay attention to the "I," it feels as if I’m withdrawing within and separating myself from the world . . . my personality . . . everything. I am retreating into the center of my being, which is such an impossibly small point that I can’t find it. And then in a sudden reality shift, the world turns inside out, and I’m an emptiness that contains everything.

What just happened?! A moment ago the "I" was an impossibly small point within . . . now the "I" is a spacious, timeless nothing. The "I" is like a wormhole in the time-space continuum . . . which leads from here and now to everywhere and always. It’s like a secret doorway out of the appearances and into the mystery. On one side of the "I" door is oneness, and on the other side is separateness. On one side of the "I" door, I’m the primal awareness, and on the other side, I’m this person known as Tim. On one side of the "I" door, I’m the life-dreamer, and on the other side, I am a character in the life-dream. On one side of the "I" door, everything is just perfect as it is; and on the other side, I’m a player in the great evolutionary story of one and all, which is full of joy and suffering, heroism and cruelty, hope and despair. A story that is propelling us ever onward to our collective awakening.

If you get this grand vision, it will transform your life. If it seems elusive, keep being conscious of being conscious—I assure you that sooner or later, you’ll pass through the "I" door, and the world will turn inside out. Then you might want to remember this little poem by the Sufi sage Rumi, as it will make you smile: "They said knock and the door will open, I knocked . . . the door opened, and I found I’d be knocking from the inside."

Timothy Freke is a clear, passionate and highly entertaining voice for our collective awakening. His books, How Long is Now?, Lucid Living, The Gospel of the Second Coming, and live performances have inspired many thousands of people throughout the world. Tim has an honours degree in philosophy and is an internationally respected authority on world spirituality. Tim lives with his wife and two children in Glastonbury, England. Website: www.TimothyFreke.com


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