..Miriam Nelson-Gillett..

Stand Up to the Illusion of Time

People talk about living in the past, as if it were possible to do such a thing. We're intrigued by the idea of time travel, but so far no one has accomplished it. There's only living right now, wherever you are — and perhaps thinking a lot about the past.

As an analogy, I could say I'm living in Beirut, or I could say I'm living in New York and thinking a lot about Beirut, which implies I have the power to do it differently any time I choose. We're up against a lot of conditioning with this time thing, and even though "living in the past" doesn't actually mean anything, when someone accuses you of doing so, it can still make you feel bad.

Maybe there's another way to look at time.

People aren't trying to be ignorant; it really does seem like we live in the past or the future at times. Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of NOW, says that the concept of time is a delusion and essentially the source of all of our suffering. He offers, "Ask a tree what time it is. The tree will say, 'Why it's now, of course.'" The truth is, it is always "now" and most importantly, now is safe.

Let's do a quick experiment. Close your eyes (but keep reading - ha!). OK, please read through this short paragraph first and then do the experiment. Close your eyes and let your mind relax. Don't imagine that you are going anywhere, don't think of light or chakras, don't imagine anything. Just be here. Does anything seem to be missing in the fullness and safety and peace of now? Open your eyes.

That's now. It's always like this now.

Why do we cling to the past and fear the future? I think the dominant component is that we fear the future because of our conditioning, accompanied by a fundamental misunderstanding that says the past dictates the future.

Clinging to the past and fearing the future are two sides of the same coin, drop either one and the other disappears as well. For example, let's say your parents didn't seem to think you'd amount to very much... and that has always been painful because you feared it might be true... and it does seem that most people don't have much faith in you... and you don't have as much confidence as you'd like and maybe don't try things... so you can't succeed at them and sometimes it looks as though your parents were right!

But what if you thought that, although your parents weren't very encouraging, it had much more to do with them than with you. In fact, it is basically irrelevant in terms of who you are. It may have affected some aspects of your personality, but you are much more than your personality. Who you are is pure possibility, God itself! From that vantage point it doesn't matter what they did. You might have compassion for their misunderstanding. There's no need to cling to and replay the past when there's no fear of the future.

We've bought in to some very scary stories about the future and because of this we resist being present — because that's where the unknown really is. We seek refuge in the familiar stories of the past, however grim and gory they might be. You may notice that they bear a strong resemblance to the grim and gory stories we make up about the future! That's a lot of mental activity. But that's all it is, and not even imaginative.

What if we could tolerate the mysterious unknown? We wouldn't need the escapist fantasies of past or future. We could widen the scope of our attention, which, ironically, would have us feel significantly safer.

Here's another short experiment.

Let your mind be quiet while reading, or read through this first then close your eyes, and go in to the unknown. Don't try to know it. Let it be unknown. You can't figure anything out when your mind is at rest, so just "don't know." This is the unknown. This is the future. It isn't written, but it isn't bad. It's not a horror-movie attic filled with tormenting ghosts. It might be murky because it is unformed, but it's beautiful, too. And completely safe.

So all we have to do is start expecting things to work out and relax, right? Actually, yes. But how do you really do that? Well, you know the old joke about the tourist who asks the New Yorker how to get to Carnegie Hall?

I found a wealth of relaxing inspiration on Rob Brezsny's website. Rob Brezsny is a brilliant astrologer and a wild-minded, divine genius. His weekly column, "Free Will Astrology" has run in the New York Press and the Village Voice and is on his website, freewillastrology.com where he generously shares chunks of his book, Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings.

Brezsny defines pronoia as:

"The understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It's a mode of training your senses and intellect so you're able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it."

And like the joke, it takes practice. The practice is to, "Act as if the universe is a prodigious miracle created for your amusement and illumination. Assume that secret helpers are working behind the scenes to assist you in turning into the gorgeous masterpiece you were born to be. Join the conspiracy to shower all of creation with blessings."

Brezsny writes, "You are a luminous being... You are a shimmering burst of spiral hallelujahs that has temporarily taken on the form of a human being, agreeing to endure amnesia about your true origins..." But,

"A genocide of the imagination is raging world-wide. It threatens to render our imaginations numb and inert and passive and tame. Too many of our brothers and sisters have already fallen victim. They have been cruelly fooled into acting as if their deepest desires were impossible lies. As a result they live lives corroded by chronic anxiety."

Do you sometimes believe that your deepest desires are impossible lies? How painful, and how untrue. How could a desire that comes from your deepest, truest sense of beauty and joy be a lie? Isn't it much more likely that a desire like that would be inevitably realized? That is the consequence of fearing the unknown; we'll take any answer or prediction as fact and give up our freedom, peace and joy for the illusion of safety.

Brezsny goes on,

"Your imagination is the single most important tool you have in your daily fight to be free. It is the source of every act of liberation you will ever need to pull off. I say it is time for us to re-consecrate and take back our imaginations! I demand that you seek out and create stories that make you feel that the universe is friendly and life is on your side."

Isn't that great? Will you take that on, to create stories that really make you FEEL that the universe is friendly and life is on your side? Not positive-thinking drivel you don't really believe, he's talking about ones that genuinely change your outlook. To help us with this, Brezsny compiled a list of extraordinarily cool facts about our world, called the Mirabilia Report. Here are a few of my favorites:

(events that inspire wonder, changes that inspire quiet awe, sudden deliverance from boring evils)

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research reports that the average cloud is the same weight as 100 elephants.

* Anthropologists say that in every culture in history, children have played the game hide and seek.

* With every dawn, when first light penetrates the sea, many seahorse colonies perform a dance to the sun.

* A seven-year-old Minnesota boy received patent number 6,368,227 for a new method of swinging on a swing.

* Because half of the world's vanilla crop is grown in Madagascar, the whole island smells like vanilla ice cream."

Imagine if all parents dreamed of taking their children to Madagascar so they could experience a world that smelled like vanilla ice cream instead of taking them to, say, Colonial Williamsburg to experience a battlefield. Imagine if that had been your childhood.

Didn't you, at some point, wish you could live in Candy Land? What would it be like if you KNEW the world was delicious all you had to do was breathe in the wonder of this moment? Breathing in the wonder of this mouth-watering moment — that is living in the present. Not much thinking about the future or dwelling in the past — the present is way too intoxicating, and so much more real! Have you ever watched a dog smell a tree? They can go on for much longer than you'd even want to look at the tree. There's no past and future to a dog, just now, and now, with a tree in front of him, is fascinating. It's a parade of senses and scents of other dogs and the tree itself, and the air, and oh it's all almost too wonderful to bear!

OK, 2 more.

"* Some piranhas are vegetarians.

* In hopes of calming flustered lawbreakers, Japanese cops have substituted the sound of church bells for sirens on police cars."

So go out there and enjoy. Seek out evidence that this, right now, is a beautiful world filled with delights created with you in mind. Not the world our generation destroyed....enough painful despair! This world. Where you can truly stop thinking for a moment and still be safe. Where the as-yet-not-written future is likely to be heavenly no matter what may have happened before (whatever that was, and please don't remind me, I'm watching the sunset!). Where time really can stand still, if that's a better way to understand our concept of time as a delusion.

And in this timeless moment, all that exists is truth.

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