How real can now be, except as an experience? If past and future is just a figment of an imagination of the mind, isn’t the now too another illusion? Consider that if a past memory is brought to my attention and because it is occurring in the now, it then becomes my reality; as an experience. My reality is defined by what I am experiencing now. If I am experiencing anguish from that memory, obviously this feeling that is so real and tangible now defines that what was in the past was and is still real. Similarly if I am experiencing euphoria from a past thought, this experience that I am savoring now becomes my reality and hence the mind concludes that what was in the past was and is still real too. What would it be like if a past event was met with a neutral feeling, say, as in remembering a walk by the street? It is still an experience to me as in now, though the feeling may not be relatively as intense as those from the earlier examples – as such it is still real, for me.
My “real” is defined by what I am experiencing now. Whether it is something that has passed or yet to arrive, so long as I am experiencing it, that experience is defining “my reality” – as in I, me or I am. The power lies not in the now, past or future but in experiencing itself.
If I am experiencing loneliness now, the feeling of it is my reality, along with all its thoughts; inseparable. The past doesn’t haunt us, but rather we haunt the past, or make the past real, by the meaning we give to our present experience. Experience defines me. Experience defines now. Experience defines reality. In truth, to say that the power is not in the now but in the experience is not entirely true too. To be able to recognize and realize that an experience is merely an experience and it does not have any bearing on the witness except as a passing moment and soon too, or rather as immediate as it arises, shall pass – is power itself.
Power as to mean influence. It is either the experience which influences me or I am not influenced by the experience. The former has attachment to it and the latter, detachment. When I am attached to the experience, I become a victim to it, hence the feeling of powerlessness. It does not matter whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant or even neutral. Either one leads me to desire, to adverse or to seek further. It is a similar game I play over and over again, as if there is something better coming up next. And yet it is a passing-by experience that I am savoring as I can only experience it when it has arisen, not while it is arising, though in my space I seem to have the perception that it is constantly here. Merely, an illusion.
Power lies in the ability to be awake, to observe and to realize that experiences are merely a phenomenon, arising and passing away as quickly as a bubble, as meaningless as dust, each moment independent of itself, with a period upon it. Unless and until we see them as unreal, each experience becomes dependent on the past and future and thus grips us, as another story, another drama, another continuation of suffering, having happiness or sadness, with all their relatives in it.
Power is not found in the Now but in Wisdom itself – seeing the world, merely an illusion.
Just as a bubble may be seen,
just as a faint mirage,
so should the world be viewed
that the Death-king sees one not.
– Dhammapada 170
(Look at a bubble. How impermanent it is? Look at a mirage. What an illusion! If you look at the world in this way, even the king of death will not see you.)