Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.
28th November 2008
“A flowing river”
Man is in constant battle with life. His battle with life has not ended as yet, and it is anyone’s guess whether it will or not. Re-enforcements keep appearing in every generation and the army of man keeps increasing every generation; the battle with life is still on. Life defeats every generation, but generations get replaced by others to fight with the aim to defeat life. Man thinks he can defeat life because he is certain that he knows what it is all about. He believes that he is the doer and so can fight and conquer life.
Man’s commander in chief is God. He calls on Him to help him every time life appears difficult or challenging. He is advised by the religion he follows to accept and face a challenge. It is ironical that religion preaches that man should be brave and fight life, life which is manifested by God. Could man defeat God’s creation? In every generation man has not learnt that he cannot defeat life. Could he really defeat life? To understand this he needs to understand what real means and also whether his beliefs of life are real.
Real means that which does not change and is eternal and present everywhere. Man is unclear what reality is; he mistakes it for an appearance. Anything that disappears is an appearance and that which does not disappear is real. An appearance is always temporary and never permanent or constant. Anything that disappears is temporary and therefore unreal or illusory. Even life changes every moment and so cannot be real; the essence that keeps life alive is real.
Man believes he is certain of what is going on in every aspect of his everyday life: the present, personal, familial, social, national or in the world. But no man is ever certain of life from birth because no man takes birth in this world with a realisation that he is born. He does not even know that he is born at the moment of his birth; he comes to know that he is born – the proverbial birthday. Therefore, he is oblivious of life until he comes to know about it. He is very well informed about life for he and others speak about it in the present and the media is always ready to offer him a helping hand in his quest for information and discussion about life.
He is also certain about what has happened in life: the past; personal, familial, social, nationally or in the world. The past life keeps increasing every moment because the present life becomes the past every moment. Man speaks of life that has passed only in life that is in the present. Therefore, every moment he speaks of life that was, he is missing life that is present. So, he can never be certain of life totally as he misses life that is present, while he is speaking of life that has passed. All that man knows about the life that is has actually passed. He speaks about life that has passed and not the life that is in the present. Every word man speaks belongs to the past and never the present, though it may refer to the present. Life is faster than the mind and the moment man begins to talk life has already moved ahead. So, in fact, man knows more about life that was than actually is. He knows only life that was and never the life which he thinks is in the present - how ironical. Though man does not doubt life that has passed, he nevertheless wishes that life had happened in a better way.
Man is not certain about life that is yet to come, the future, for he knows that anything can happen besides his expectations. For ‘certainty’ to be real, man needs to be certain of life in the present, which he thinks he is. To determine whether he was certain of his past life would be impossible and meaningless. Every man is certain that it is impossible to be certain about life in the future. He takes life for granted, but no one can guarantee that he will be alive the next moment, the next minute, the next hour or the next day.
For certainty to be real, man needs to be certain about past life, present life and future life. He is certain about life that has happened, but he is not certain about life that is happening in the present. How could he be, for he could never know the life in the present, nor be certain about life that is yet to happen? How could life that has happened remain in the past when life that happens in the present can never be known? If life that happens in the present can never be known, would man be able to know life that he expects to happen in the future? Therefore, certainty is an illusory appearance in life, because life could never have happened in the past, for it cannot be known if life did happen in the present, nor can man know life which he expects to happen in the future.
Man is sometimes confused about what is going on in life, the present. If this were real, he should be confused about the past life as well, but he is not: he is certain about his past life. Paradoxically, he is confused about life which he thinks he can see in the present, but he should not be because he says ‘seeing is believing’. Man is not confused about life which he can never see, the past, but he should be for he cannot see the past, which is nevertheless real to him. This is a contradiction to the saying ‘seeing is believing.’ It makes one wonder how real man’s life could be.
Man is not confused about life yet to happen, the future; he is either anxious or worried about it. To be anxious or worried is not the same as being confused. Therefore, for confusion to be real, man needs to be confused about past life, present life and future life. But he is not confused about life that has happened, is confused about life that is happening in the present, which he can never know, and it is impossible to be confused about life that is yet to happen. How could life have happened in the past when life that happens in the present can never be known?
Confusion is an illusory appearance in life that could never have happened, the past, in life that cannot be known if it did happen, the present. How could something have happened in life when nothing could be known about life in the present and since life, which is not yet, the future, cannot cause confusion? To be confused in life is, therefore, illusory and not real.
Man sometimes regrets what is happening in life, the present. It is either present subtly within or is expressed overtly externally. Sadness, disgust, anger and hatred are all forms of regret. Man may claim that he does not regret life that has happened, the past, but deep within he harbours alternatives. To wish for an alternative is regret nevertheless. He cannot regret life that is yet to happen, the future. It is not possible to regret something which has not yet happened. Man is merely worried about the future, but worry is not synonymous with regret.
For regret to be real, man needs to regret past life, present life and future life, but he regrets life that has happened. How could life have happened in the past when life that happens in the present can never be known? Furthermore, man regrets the life that is happening in the present, which does not exist, and it is impossible to regret life that is yet to happen. So, regret is an illusory appearance in life that never could have happened, the past, in life that cannot be known if it did happen, for it does not exist, the present. And life, which is ‘yet to happen, the future, cannot be regretted. Therefore, to regret life is illusory and not real.
Man is not anxious about the moment that is; he is always anxious about the next moment. The next moment is the future and could never be the moment that is, but man is deluded into thinking of the future as the moment that ‘is’. It is impossible to be anxious in the moment that ‘is’ for it is timeless and thoughtless.
Man is never anxious in the present, but thinks he is. It is impossible to be anxious in the present because it does not exist. The present is actually the future of the past, but man is deluded into thinking of the future as the present. Thus, he is not anxious about the present but only the future. He is never anxious about the past life, because it would be meaningless to be anxious about it.
Man is anxious for the future and, if anxiety about the future were real, he should be anxious every night as to whether he will wake up the next morning or not, because the next morning will be and is the future. He is only deluded into thinking that he is anxious about the future, but has not clearly understood what the future is. Any moment that is yet to come is the future, and ‘yet to come’ means it never happens. So how could man be anxious about life that never happens?
Therefore, for anxiety to be real, man needs to be anxious about past life, present life and future life. But he is not anxious about life that has happened because it could not have happened: nothing could happen in the present for it to pass to be in the past, for the present does not exist in the first place. Man is not anxious about what is happening in the present because the present does not exist; the present is nothing but the future of the present that was. He is deluded into thinking of the future of the present that was as the present, and it is meaningless to be anxious about life that is yet to happen.
As nothing could ever have happened in the past, could the past exist? How could the past be known if nothing exists in it? ‘Past’ is just a thought, an auditory illusion of sound. Similarly, how could anything exist in the present when present itself does not exist? ‘Present’ is just a thought, an auditory illusion of sound. How could future exist, as the present that was, when both the present and past do not exist? ‘Future’ is just a thought, an auditory illusion of sound. So, to be anxious in life is illusory and not real.
For any form of duality to be real in life, it needs to be present in past life, present life and future life, as life is made up of the past, the present and the future. This is how man is made to think by life. It is not man who makes past, present and future, for he cannot even make the moment that ‘is’. Real means that which does not change, is eternal and present everywhere. Therefore, for past, present and future to be real, they are all required not to change, be eternal and be everywhere. But all three do change and the changes are very evident. They are definitely not eternal as time exists and dictates them, nor are they found everywhere because they do not exist in the first place.
Photographs can be argued to represent the past, which can be viewed in the present. They represent an appearance that existed in the moment the photo was taken, and this moment can never be accurately determined because life changes in units of time that are smaller than one ato second, which is one billionth of a billionth of a second. The mind does not comprehend such time-scales, nor can it recognise changes in such small units of time. Thus photos represent an appearance present in that particular unidentifiable moment and not the past. If the past, present and future are not real, how can the life found within them be in any way real?
Any moment is just the moment that is: it is timeless and thoughtless. The moment that is, therefore, is the momentary ‘now’ and not the present, as man believes. He is unclear about the meaning of present and mistakes the momentary, timeless ‘now’ for the present, but it is not. The momentary ‘now’ is timeless and thoughtless. The next moment is always the future and not the present, even though the next moment appears as the present. The future, on the other hand, is the present that was.
The past too is in the present. The star seen in the sky in the present is actually billions of miles away from man on earth. The light from the star to reach man has to travel that distance, and so the star that he sees is a star that was and not one that is. Therefore, anything that man sees in front of him, as a label, is the past that is seen in the present. Since life is the timeless and thoughtless ‘now’, a label just cannot exist: it requires time for it to exist in the present. In the same way, that past seen in the present cannot exist, for the present does not exist. Furthermore, if the past existed in the present, who could decide which is real, the past or the present? Both cannot be real as real is just one and not two.
Small Diomede Island, which is part of the USA at the northern tip of Alaska, is separated from Big Diomede Island, which is part of Russia, by the Bering straits at a distance of 1.7 kilometres. The international time-line runs between them and the time difference is 23 hrs. If man stands on the shores of the island, which is USA, at 10am on Monday and looks across at Russia, he will see Russia on Tuesday at 11am. This will mean that he sees the future while remaining in the present. Once again, who can tell which is true, the present or the future, for both cannot be the truth, as truth is one and not two? Hence, the past, present and future do not exist in life as a physical reality, but only as thoughts in the mind.
Man knows about the past, present and future as an illusory manifestation of sound in the timeless and thoughtless ‘now’, which is life. How could anything happen at all in life when the mind can never know life, which is the momentary, timeless and thoughtless ‘now’? The past, present and the future is just the mind and not life. Therefore, man’s everyday events, which he thinks happen in life, could never have happened as the present does not exist in life.
The feelings of man, including every form of knowledge, science, religion and spirituality in which he is imprisoned also cannot be found in life, for just the same reason. So what could pure seeing be? Pure seeing happens when labels present in the mind do not come into focus. This happens when attention becomes fixed to the eternal, timeless and thoughtless ‘now’, where the seer, the seeing and the seen are one, the knower, the knowing and the known are one, the observer, the observing and the observed are one.
‘Seeing is believing’ means that man believes without a doubt that what he sees is the truth. He sometimes does not believe what he hears for he cannot see words. He believes written words as he can see them and so they become the truth for him. But why are words that are heard not true to the same extent as written words? How could any of these be true when the present does not exist in life? Taste and smell are true to man, and they vary, so how could they be true? If taste or smell were real, they should have the same intensity for everyone, besides which they cannot be true for the present cannot be found in life. Everything exists in the mind as thoughts and not as an actuality in life.
Man believes what he sees and whatever he sees is reported by the mind. The mind identifies and identification convinces man of reality. He can see his body, organs and also the brain. He thinks he sees them because his mind says he does. But can man see his mind? He cannot, yet he believes the mind, which he cannot see, and believes what it says. How ironical. How brilliant is the illusory world, man and mind, and how intelligent is life to manifest such a magnificent illusion.
Man believes he is living life and is in control of it. But does he manifest and control the momentary, timeless and thoughtless ‘now’? Simply put, does he manifest the moment that is? Does man manifest the moment that sophisticates every moment? Is he separate from this moment? The answer to all three questions is a simple and humble ‘no’. Man is in the sophisticating, momentary ‘now’; he has been and will continue to be only as an optical illusion of light, which life is, and not as a physical reality in life.
The mind is in the sophisticating, momentary ‘now’; it has been and will continue to be only as an auditory illusion of sound and not as a physical reality in life. A singular moment sophisticates and so does the reflected optical and auditory illusion in the same moment. This sophisticating moment is the aging process of life, which is transformation happening to energy, which is life. Life is a singular, continuous, spontaneous, uncontrollable, unpredictable and precise movement that flows like a river, just to make man understand that he does nothing and possesses nothing, not even his life. This understanding is enlightenment.
© Copyright 2008 V. S. Shankar