Thursday, November 2, 2017

Rupert Spira - Time and Death

Time and Death

Questioner: Just one point here. That the gap of deep sleep is noted is by virtue of sort of falling into sleep and then coming out of it some hours later, beginning and ending. But in that period of time, when I’m not dreaming, and I’m in deep sleep, I’m unconscious. It’s not like awareness ends, but there is no knowing during that period; there is no knowing for, like, hours.

Rupert: How do you know?

Q: Well, I guess I rely upon memory.

Rupert: But that is quite a different matter. You’re relying on memory means the mind. So when the mind wakes up in the morning, you’re relying on the mind to tell you about an experience during which it was not present. What on earth can the mind know about an experience where it was not present?

Q: So, it’s the mind that wasn’t present, but not awareness that wasn’t present.

Rupert: Yes, yes. The mind is not present. Every time a thought comes to an end…, In fact, there is no such thing as a mind. There’s just the current thought. And every time a thought comes to an end, what we call the mind comes to an end. That’s all there is to the mind is thoughts and images. There isn’t a collection, a bag full of…, it’s just the current thought.

So, the mind…, because the mind identifies awareness with itself…, because the mirror thinks ‘I have my own pocket of light inside me. I’m not reflecting light from the sun. I generate my own light within me’…, in other words, the mind identifies awareness with itself. The mind thinks ‘When I disappear, awareness disappears’.

So, let’s push deeper into this. What is your experience of time?

Q: Oh, it’s quite fluid. You can meditate for a couple of hours and it seems like 5 minutes. Yeah, it’s very unreliable.

Rupert: Okay. But nevertheless, you experience something called time.

Q: Definitely.

Rupert: Can we agree on a definition of time as 'the duration between two events'? It’s not the only definition, but…

Q: Yeah, that’s a good one. I can go with that.

Rupert: Let’s take, as two events…, it could be two events in the past, an event in the past and an event in the future; it could be an event in the past and now. So, let’s just take the current event as one of the points, and let’s take an event such as dinner last night, as the second point. And time is the duration that we measure between these two points: now and dinner last night. Okay.

So, now…, we’ve no doubt that now is present now. So, this point, one of the points, is very obvious.

Where is dinner last night? Because in order to measure time, we have to find this second event.

Q: When you say where, in terms of where it occurred?

Rupert: No, just in terms of experience. We’ve got to measure between these two events. So first of all, we need to find the event in order to be able to measure the distance between them.

Q: How about 6:00 Saturday night?

Rupert: But where is that now?

Q: [Laughs]. It’s back there. It’s in memory.

Rupert: When does memory take place?

Q: Now.

Rupert: So, memory is an image, so that is the current event. Okay, that’s one event, the current image. That’s one event. But we don’t want the current event, we want another event that we’re going to measure the distance between them. So, we’re not looking for the memory of last night’s dinner, we’re looking for last night’s dinner.

Q: Return to that experience?

Rupert: Can you return to that experience?

Q: No, it’s over. It was delicious. It’s over. Right. I get how it all arises now. I mean, I’m good on that one, but …

Rupert: Well, you said, and you were very emphatic about it, you said definite, ‘I experience time’.

Questioner: Yeah.

Rupert: So, I’m trying now to find out whether we do definitely experience time.

So, another obvious way to try would be to step out of the now; because time means past and future, you can’t have time without past and future; so, if we experience time, we must experience a past and a future. Yeah? So, try and experience the past now. Which means stepping out of the now, obviously, because the now is neither past nor future. So just try stepping out of the now, maybe just a couple of seconds into the past or into the future. Can you go there?

Q: No.

Rupert: Have you ever experienced the past or the future?

Q: No.

Rupert: Could you ever experience a past or a future?

Q: As present experience?

Rupert: What other kind of experience is there other than present experience?

Q: That would be a ‘No’. [Laughs].

Rupert: So, you’ve never experienced the past or the future, yet you’re absolutely certain that you experience time.

Q: But, but, wait a minute… [Laughs]. I get where knowing occurs, it only occurs now. I get that. But, you know, I got 65 years on me here.

Rupert: What is 65 years though? The current sensation? The current perception? Or the current thought?

You have no other experience of the body, the mind or the world other than the current thought, sensation or perception. 65 years old [is] the current perception? The current sensation?

Q: Well, I don’t feel that old, but... [Laughs].

Rupert: No, but that’s a very good question. Why don’t you feel that old? Isn’t it everybody’s experience? When we get over a certain age, you have this…,

Q: It stopped at about age 20.

Rupert: Yeah, but this is very common, not only people who are spiritually inclined, everyone says, after they get to a certain age they say ‘You know, I don’t really feel I’m aging. I just don’t feel that I’m 70 years old’. That comes from a deep intuition. They’re on to something. Of course, they think it’s just some silly aberration of the mind, and that they really are 70 years old. But actually everybody…, haven’t you heard die-hard materialists say ‘It’s funny, you know, I just don’t feel 70. I know this body is beginning to get old’. They don’t feel 70 for a very good reason. It comes from a deep intuition that what they are is not 70.

Anyway, let’s be more scientific and experiential. [Laughs]. So, go back to ‘Have you ever experienced time?’

Q: The passage of time, or? I mean it’s something that …Only in the sense of a past or …

Rupert: No, but we’ve already discovered that you’ve never experienced the past.

Q: That’s right.

Rupert: The past is an idea and I’m not saying that it’s not a valid idea; it is a valid idea. But is it an idea that corresponds to your experience?

Q: No, it doesn’t hold up very well.

Rupert: Okay, alright. So, if neither the past nor the future hold up to experience…, and, as I say, that’s not to invalidate the concept of time; the concept of time is valuable. But we’re trying to discover whether the concept of time is just a useful tool that we use from time to time, or whether it actually describes our experience; whether there IS something called time.

And, you’ve discovered, you’ve admitted quite rightly, that you’ve never experienced the past or the future. And not only that…, nor could you.

Q: True.

Rupert: And if we asked anybody…, not just anybody in this room but any of the 7 billion of us: ‘Have you ever really experienced the past? Not have you had a thought in the present about the past, but have you ever actually experienced that past to which your thought refers?’ Everyone will have to answer ‘No’.

Q: Yeah.

Rupert: Now, if nobody has ever experienced a past and a future..., could it be that time is the movement between the past and the future? But if nobody has ever experienced these two spaces called past and future ..., could it be that time is not quite what we think it is?

Q: Well, that’s becoming clear. I mean, in the common understanding of time; I mean, yeah, it is a construct of some sort. But see, what I have trouble with is, um, there’s …, at the beginning of this conversation some minutes ago, and my words right now being with you right here, there’s been the passage of time. I mean, that’s just what we call it, ‘the passage of time’. [Laughs]. We’re being really present here, Rupert, you and me. But there’s been the passage of time. I don’t want to get caught up on definitions or, you know, caught on the horns of language again, but I …

Rupert: But this is not about language.

Q: Okay.

Rupert: It’s not about language.

Let me just give you another model as a possibility; that we’re not moving along…, that time is not cast in stone out there in the Universe where we are moving along this line of time. That’s the conventional model that we all think, or many of us think we experience.

Let me give you an alternative model, that in just the same way that this is always the same space, yes? Our meetings take place always in the same place. The space is not going anywhere, we come in and out of it, but the space is always the same. We think that our meetings take place at a different time, but always in the same place. Yes? They take place at 24 hour intervals, each meeting takes place at a different time, but they all take place in the same place. Yeah?

Q: Yeah.

Rupert: What about if time was like space in that respect; that the now was like space, but without the 3 dimensions? In other words, the now is the only now there is? And that, like space, it’s not going anywhere.

And instead of time being spread out in one long line from the infinite past to the infinite future [Spreads arms apart in both directions], and we move along a little segment of it…, what about if time was ever-present? In other words, what if there isn’t really time..., there is eternity. Which means, not the ‘everlasting now’ but the ‘ever-present now’.

This, the only now there ever is. And that thoughts appear in it, sensations appear in it; just like objects appear in the same space [this room], relatively speaking, here. What about if all the objects of our experience…thought, feelings, sensations and perceptions…, what about if they all arise in the same ‘not-going-anywhere’ now? ..., and that a thought then arises, collates all these different experiences, remembers them, and in order to house them all, imagines a line of time in which it can place all these objects…, and with that, creates the idea of linear time?

But actually, experience doesn’t appear in linear time. All experience appears now. And if I were to ask you: ‘Is the now moving along a line of time?’…, I mean, how fast exactly is the now going in your experience?

Q: It’s motionless.

Rupert: Perfect. It’s motionless. It’s not going anywhere. It’s not moving from a past over there [points left] to a future over there [points right] at a certain speed. It’s motionless. In other words, it’s ever-present. This is the only now there is. And everything appears in that.

And it’s only a thought. Because thought cannot see the ever-present now, which is awareness, it has to manufacture…, in other words, thought can’t see the space of the now, in which experience arises, because it’s invisible to thought. So thought thinks: ‘Ah, objects are coming and going. They must come and go in something. What do they come and go in?’ Thought looks around: ‘I can’t find the now anywhere, I can’t find awareness anywhere. I know; I’ll make up this substance called time. As soon as I make up this substance called time, then I can populate it with all these events’.

So time… is what eternity looks like… when viewed by the mind.

Q: That’s brilliant. Yeah. Write that down, somebody. [Laughs]. [Room laughs]. You’re so patient with bringing me along there.

Rupert: I enjoy this. I like the way that you don’t lay down too easily, and that you don’t just say ‘oh, yes, I don’t experience time’. It’s much better to be highly skeptical, and to push, push, push, push; because this is how you make the understanding your own. Your own experience. What I say means nothing…

Q: Yeah, but I follow you to my own understanding. I do. So, what about death? We’re back at death.

Rupert: Okay. So, having understood that time is a valuable concept, but not one that relates to our experience…, our actual experience is of the ever-present now. So, think again now…, in other words, time is created by thought. Yes?

Time is what eternity looks like when it’s filtered through the mind, filtered through thought. So, now look again.

Let’s take, to begin with, the experience of falling asleep and waking up, which thought says ‘One takes place 6 hours after the other’. But thought isn’t present in the gap to manufacture time. Yeah? So, isn’t it your actual experience that the moment of falling asleep and the moment of waking up happen, not 6 hours apart, but [touches two fingers together] this far apart? You fall asleep, and you wake up. There’s no gap of time between them. Why? Because thought is not there. And as soon as thought vanishes, time vanishes. In other words, deep sleep does not take place in time. Nothing takes place in time.

And now, expand that. You’ve got midnight [one hand] and 6:00 in the morning [the other hand]. Just go back in both directions [spreads arms in both directions] to birth…. and death. How much time elapses between these two moments, between birth and death? How much time really elapses between these two moments?

Q: I.., I…, I’m afraid my head is going to explode.

Rupert: But you’re right. Your head is going to explode, you’re right; because thought can’t go there. Because these two experiences don’t take place in two different times. [signified by arms spread as a line, with life on one side, death on the other]. They’re like falling asleep and waking up. [Brings two fingers together]. They take place at the same moment. It’s not a ‘moment in time’, it’s not a fraction of time. It’s the same eternal now.

We can’t think about this. Thought cannot go to the now. Thought needs time, and time needs thought. That’s why you, quite rightly, say ‘My mind’s going to explode’. We can go right to the edge of the now, but as we touch it, thought dies. It’s kind of frustrating.

So, what we’re doing now is just skirting as close as we can around the now; and we’re trying to make a model that makes sense to thought. Our model is an imperfect one, but it’s a good deal better than the conventional model.

Q: Yeah. This is very helpful. Very helpful. I’ll watch the video a few times. [He and Rupert both laugh together]. Thank you. I think I’m settled at this point.

Rupert: Thank you.

Thanks to Amaya Aum for transcription

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