Effortless Mindfulness with Loch Kelly

Why the Now Isn't the Present Moment with Physicist Piet Hut

April 05, 2023 Loch Kelly Episode 9
Effortless Mindfulness with Loch Kelly
Why the Now Isn't the Present Moment with Physicist Piet Hut
Show Notes Transcript

"Time is the greatest concept of all, hiding the dynamic, open nature of experience under the garments of the concepts past, present, and future," wrote Princeton astrophysics professor Piet Hut. 

Where do quantum physics and the great wisdom traditions meet? Here in the Now. The "Now" in Tibetan Buddhism is translated as "The timeless awareness that includes the three relative times of past, present and future." But the Now is not the present moment. We can not live in the present moment as moments are here and gone like the tick-tock of a clock, here-gone-here-gone. However, we can learn to shift into the eternal Now, which is always here as a ground that is both infinite and intimate.

Being here and now provides a doorway to an awake, open-hearted awareness that can be accessed experientially at any time. It is a field of compassion and well-being from which you can respond rather than react and experience flow states.

In this conversation, author, psychotherapist, and meditation teacher Loch Kelly and Princeton Professor and Astrophysicist Piet Hut explore everything from quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, nonduality, the nature of reality, and consciousness.

At the end of the discussion, Loch provides a glimpse meditation to help you experientially shift your awareness into the timeless, boundless Now. 

"Time is the greatest concept of all, hiding the dynamic, open nature of experience under the garments of the concepts past, present, and future," wrote Princeton astrophysics professor Piet Hut. 

Where do quantum physics and the great wisdom traditions meet? Here in the Now. The "Now" in Tibetan Buddhism is translated as "The timeless awareness that includes the three relative times of past, present and future." But the Now is not the present moment. We can not live in the present moment as moments are here and gone like the tick-tock of a clock, here-gone-here-gone. However, we can learn to shift into the eternal Now, which is always here as a ground that is both infinite and intimate.

Being here and now provides a doorway to an awake, open-hearted awareness that can be accessed experientially at any time. It is a field of compassion and well-being from which you can respond rather than react and experience flow states.

In this conversation, author, psychotherapist, and meditation teacher Loch Kelly and Princeton Professor and Astrophysicist Piet Hut explore everything from quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, nonduality, the nature of reality, and consciousness.

At the end of the discussion, Loch provides a glimpse meditation to help you experientially shift your awareness into the timeless, boundless Now. 

For more info about Loch, visit: https://lochkelly.org/ 

For additional information about this podcast, visit:  https://podcast.effortlessmindfulness.com/ 

For the Loch Kelly App, visit: https://effortlessmindfulness.com and to donate, visit:  

Piet: The wonderful thing about science is that it is completely shared by anyone on the planet, and anybody can do an experiment and check. The wonderful thing about contemplation is that in a way, it is more deep and more encompassing everything. But we have not even begun to get the cultural sharing and integration.

I think that will take a few hundred years.

Loch: Yeah.

Piet: In many ways, Buddhism may very well be closest to science in being more abstract- minded and theoretical minded besides being very deeply experiential too.

Loch: Effortless Mindfulness with Loch Kelly. Experience support for awakening as the next stage of human development through micro-meditations and conversations about non-duality, neuroscience and contemporary psychology.

Hi there. Today I'm honored to welcome as my guest, Piet Hut, who is a professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. Professor Hut has a PhD in particle physics and a second PhD in astrophysics, so he has some interesting things to say. During our dialogue, Pete and I try to shed some light on the topic of time from a physics perspective and from a contemplative view.

We begin by defining the now as the timeless awareness that includes past, present, and future. So we dispel the notion that the present time is any more liberating than the past or the future, and how we actually can't live in the present moment. Pete talks about how quantum physics changed our paradigm from the Newtonian clock model to one of interconnection or what's called entanglement at the most primary level. Dr. Hut describes how from the view of physics, our sense of self is the owner of experience is only one kind of appearance in a field of appearances. He leads a short meditation at the end, and then after the dialogue I offer an additional glimpse practice to help you shift into the now, I hope you'll enjoy.

Welcome, everyone. Nice to talk to you. I thought I would start out with a little poetic definition of the now from one that you may have heard from one of our favorite poets, William Blake. So here's the definition, poetically, of the now: To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.

And that's it. Thanks for-- [laughter]

It's one of my favorite quotes.

Piet: And this is actually not rehearsed, we just met a few minutes ago. I was surprised that you brought this up, but William, the reason that William Blake wrote poems like this is that he lived about a hundred years after Newton had made his clockwork like mechanistic model in theoretical physics, in mathematics, in which everything seemed to be perfectly explained, as a clockwork in this mathematical formula. And William Blake in England and Goethe in Germany both revolted against it. They hated it and they wanted science to be different, but fortunately scientists did not listen to them. They just went on with their science and by their own light a hundred years later, they stumbled on quantum mechanics, which unfortunately, Blake and Goethe didn't live long enough to see since they would've really loved it. It brought back the magic in the understanding of matter and nature.

Loch: Beautiful. Yes. Yeah, so just getting a feel for it. I know that as we talk, we're gonna get a little intellectual and a little just bringing science and different new terms and definitions from Tibetan Buddhism, but really try to get a feel for what the now is as we begin to define it as we begin to offer, just as William Blake did, a shift into experientially knowing the now, which is more felt than intellectually known. It's a direct experience from the Tibetan Buddhist point of view. And I'll talk a little about, maybe some simple definitions, just to clarify what often is talked about as the present moment, the present and the now.

So we hear as we're trying to be helped by a lot of spiritual, meditative, contemplative wisdom traditions. Be in the present moment or just be more present, or get out of the past and get out of the future and be more present. But actually the definition in Tibetan Buddhism for the now is the timeless awareness that includes the past, present, and future.

So it's that awareness that treats past, present, and future as equal relative times. And there are traps in getting too caught in the past and too caught in the future, but also too caught in the present in terms of the present time. Yeah? So one of the teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, Gampopa said, 'Don't invite the future, don't pursue the past. Let go of the present. Relax right now.'

So starting to get a feel of that difference. And I'll talk more about the ways that we get trapped in each one, but just then to define the present moment, which we often hear. And I believe that a lot of the people who say that and are actually just using the term present moment, the way I'm using the term now, so it's not like anybody who uses present be in the present moment, they often mean the same thing I'm calling the now, but one of the things you learn when you start to meditate is actually that the way that you aren't so solid and caught in this identification with everything and in this small sense of self is when you start to meditate, you start to notice that actually thoughts, feelings, and sensations are passing moment to moment.

So a moment in time is like this. Gone. It's gone. So there's almost no way that you can actually be in the present moment. It's like sitting at a riverbank, right? And you look at one area where the water is going over the rock. And if you try to be in that moment, the river's gone down already, so it's a new moment. That's new water.

It may look the same, but it's actually new water going by. And interestingly, if you look at the way we perceive in terms of those who know about film or that there's 24 frames per second of still moments, that when you link them together at exactly that speed, it seems like somebody's like this.

If it's too fast, too many frames, they look like this. If it's too few frames, it's slow motion. But our mind is taking these. Moments and experiencing them as a flow of moment to moment experience. And then we're aware from this timeless awareness, which is both spacious and pervasive, which is inherent and connected, but is open, not looking from a kind of point of view using attention, but literally dropped, and opened, and inclusive and spacious and all at once.

And from there, we can be in the now remembering the past, deciding what we're gonna do, writing a shopping list for the future, and then we can deal with the past, remembering what we need to go shopping for. Writing it in the present and deciding when we're gonna go for the future, right? So you can have past, present, and future, and there's no problem with past, present, or future if you're not caught in one.

So we'll explore a little bit more about what it means to be in the now and how we get caught in these three times and get fixated or small or enmeshed or obsessed or trapped in time. Clock time, psychological time. Yeah. What do you think about that?

Piet: If I didn't know anything about Tibetan Buddhism I would be really surprised, but for a very long time I've been studying science professionally and various forms of contemplative traditions actually from the end of high school, really as a very serious hobby. And it has always struck me that there are so many parallels between science and between contemplation. Not so much between science and religion because much of what is called religion is dogmatic, it's political, it's a power play, and much of it is very serious and very personal.

So the very serious experiential personal part, you can say spirituality, you can say contemplation, let me use that word. In both cases, in science as well as in contemplation, the real trick is a suspension of judgment. If you suspend your judgment, then you can be open to discover new ideas, new things, new aspects.

It means not believing and not disbelieving. So no superstition, but also no deadening skepticism. Superstition and strong skepticism are equally closing doors. So the challenge is to just try to be open and. In both cases in science as well as in contemplation, what leads to new insight is not a new idea.

New ideas are great, and especially in art and in many arts, literature, fashion, design, new ideas are wonderful, but in science and contemplation, the idea is to see what are the old ideas that hold you back. So try to see which ideas are blocking progress. So in both cases it is not an addition of ideas, but it is a subtraction.

Would that make sense?

Loch: Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. That there's a conditioned mind.

Piet: Yeah.

Loch: The conditioning is creating relative functioning, but is also blocking the creative mind. The naturally awake spontaneous mind that's bigger than just the information.

Piet: As an example, the beginning of modern astronomy, with Copernicus, who came up with the notion that maybe the son is in the center and the earth goes around the sun.

It was not a case that in the time of Copernicus, people were wondering: in the morning, is the sun rising or is the earth setting? Once you ask that question, then, you have two possibilities. Before Copernicus, in the Middle Ages. It was so obvious to us that the sun is rising. You don't ask the question, is that really true or not?

But once you start asking the question, then you have a possibility for a new opening. And it feels very similar to me in your line of business.

Loch: Yes. Yeah. The amazing thing about this contemplative science is there's so much wisdom now that's available both from texts that have been translated from around the world and meetings of minds from many cultures.

All the wisdom traditions are being met and understood and being dialogued from empiricism, meaning what's true, what works, which part is cultural, religious belief, and which part is what I call part of the human lineage, right? Which is the human consciousness, which is the part that we can definitely agree on, is what is reported by these wise gals and wise guys.

Basically that there's a wellbeing, there's a sense of compassion that's natural and it's already installed in us. It's available. It's who we are. It's equally the same in all of us, but as you say, it's covered over by not only ideas and beliefs, but literally patterns of organizing identity and safety and those patterns, we just keep reorienting because that's what we know because that's what the culture is supporting.

And so even when people have glimpses of this amazing freedom and joy and embodied community, they leave a retreat and a day later they're back and snap, they're back in. I'm sure a number of you have had that experience. You're back in the old way and you remember, oh yeah, remember that?

Whether it's I went on that retreat or I climbed that hill in that beautiful part of nature. And when I got there with my friends, we felt such joy that we had accomplished something and then we let go of the striving and we looked out over the vista. We felt this vastness and we looked at each other and smiled and just felt this sense of complete joy and connection and wellbeing to everything.

And our creative mind started working. And now, two days later, oh, when is my next vacation so I can go back to that place? Because that's where it is. And so the question is that where it is? Or is that natural condition which was brought on-- conditions which help to support it. Can that be accessed now because it is natural? And that's the kind of pioneer or revolutionary possibility that groups of people now are starting to support each other, to continue to wake up and continue to grow up.

And my thesis is actually that awakening is the next natural stage of adult human development. And that is absolutely capable, but there's so much resistance within us that the strong, sometimes the strongest ego development that led us to be able to consider that is what's preventing us from going beyond it.

Because it's got so comfortable and so protective and there's gotta be a kind of letting go. But once you let go into this now, that's aware, and embodied, and interconnected in which thought then becomes more of a tool. It's a whole new– it's like the Copernican Revolution.

Piet: Actually it is very interesting that in Europe, as much as in Asia and other continents, this sense of living presence, this sense of really being in the know, the way you said was always present in the traditions for those people who were interested to explore that.

But somehow between Copernicus and Galileo around that time changes in Europe happened, which put the really lived contemplative, experiential part of Christianity in the background. And I think it was a confluence of Protestantism. Protesting with good reason against many of the excesses of, and the corruption in, the Catholic church at that time.

Trying to go back and really make it simple, but then also throwing the baby out with the bathwater and really focusing on the spoken word, on the concepts, and often leaving out the lived ritual [inaudible] reality. And then this reformation came the contrary reformation within the Catholic church, the Jesuits, et cetera, who wanted to compete with them and also show that they could be rational and be better than the excesses of the past. And in that climate science grew. And science and humanism are often based on [the] intellectual rational part of our minds, and all of those together basically created a climate that mysticism was being pushed out.

And when we now talk about the word mystic, we think about things which are vague and not very clear, et cetera. But if you actually go back to the literature of the mystics in the Middle Ages, I often like to say, they always talk about the seven towers of this and 12 rooms in, in that building, et cetera.

They were the most quantitative people of their time and they attracted the best minds of their time. So if you look over a period of a few thousand years, rather than a few hundred years, every country and every culture has had both the inquisitive tendency to analyze nature as well as our own mind.

Loch: Yes. And what would you say in terms of time and space in terms of what quantum physics and kind of the big bang or Einstein and relativity? Anything that is would be helpful for us in terms of. Time that could be set in three minutes?

Piet: You said [ I'll] ask these very simple questions. [laughter]

I'll talk to him about the 12 Bodhisattva levels of enlightenment after this. [laughter]

I think the really nice aspect of both relativity theory and quantum mechanics is that as I said in the beginning already, that it has brought back a sense of wonder and a sense of magic really in our appreciation of the nature of reality of the material nature of reality. We started around 1600s by really simplifying things, and it was amazing that we could do that, that Galileo was dropping some balls, did some very simple experiments, and he had this vision that if you make things really simple and you analyze the motion of some simple objects that you can step by step unravel the riddles of material reality.

And by golly, it worked, very surprisingly. [inaudible] We had Newton and then things were more precise. You got electromagnetism, you got theories of gravity being even more refined by Einstein, and then quantum mechanics came, which showed that everything was really not that simple and that you could not start with a classical space and time like billiard ball type of stage and simple billiard ball players.

But that there is entanglements and objects are not just isolated objects. Objects are what they are, depending on how you measure them. So to say it in a very simple way. Science is empirical. And empirical means based on experience. And every experience, whether it is a sensory experience or a motor experience, whether I see a glass or I do something and lift or drink from a glass.

In all cases, normally we have a subject and an object and an interaction. And what science did 400 years ago is to study only objects, not interactions, not subjects. If different people in different ways handle the same objects, whatever is similar between their experiences, that is a property of the objects.

That was very radical and very naive. There were other cultures, in India and China, for thousands of years before 1600. And the wise people in those cultures had realized that this would be a ridiculous thing to do, to separate your objects from the rest. That the world is much more integrated, that the world is much more unified.

But somehow, the Europeans were naive enough and there are several theories why this [is]. That's a whole separate thing we can talk about. But they were naive to try and isolate the object. And they really got very far. They got a very deep understanding of the objectifiable part of nature. But whenever you do something, if you go deep enough, you run into the limits and you discover something new.

That is the beauty of really going into something and really keep going. Whatever it is, even if you have a wrong idea, if you go far enough and you are honest, you find more about reality because it's the one reality we live in. Scientific, spiritually, contemplative. This whole chasing of objects for 300 years, from 1600 to 1925, suddenly opened a new door of quantum mechanics where the interaction and the object were entangled.

You cannot explain the results of quantum mechanics by positing that each object. Has an internal structure, which can be measured by an objective measurement. That sort of model would be called a model of hidden variables. Imagine that each object has some properties, some states inside, which cannot be measured, that they found out very early on, but maybe there are hidden variables inside each object.

50 years after the invention of quantum mechanics, John Bell discovered that the mathematical theory of quantum mechanics can be used to prove that there are no hidden variables. Not only are the variables of reality hidden in the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics, that was discovered in 1925, but 50 years later, half century later, it was discovered that we can prove that there are no hidden variables, that any set of variables you might guess might be there, would be not compatible with the measurements. In other words, if two quantum states are entangled, two particles are entangled with each other, and they are being measured at very different places. The moment that this is measured, it influences the type of correlations you can measure there.

You cannot send signals. There is no causal correlation that would be very strange.

Loch: Yeah.

Piet: And that would not be compatible with our classical everyday experience, but the influence of the correlations if you posit it classically it has to go much faster on the speed of flight. So there are all kinds of things which break down.

And the bottom line, the way I would interpret, is to say in the invention of quantum mechanics, we realize that between subject interaction and object interaction and objects are entangled. And I think it'll be only a matter of time before subject and interaction object all will be seen to be given together.

Like all the great vision traditions have told us all along that the notion of itself is just an artificial pulling out of reality, just as the notion of an object is an artificial pulling out of the tapestry of reality. But you can do that to some extent. You can get very far. And then if you continue, reality will show you where the limits are and how you can go back to a more integrated way.

So I think this particular decade is the time that the understanding of the object and the understanding of the subject are forced to come together, whether we want it or not. The rapid progress of neuroscience, which tells us, which is so connected to who we think we are, and the rapid progress of AI and machine learning artificial subjects, we are now creating artificial subjects.

This finally makes science completely empirical, not only one third empirical on the level of objects. But also on the level of subjects and interactions. Yeah. So whether we want to or not, we will become colleagues at the end of this decade. So we better prepare for--

Loch: We might as well start now. [laughter]

Yeah, that's good. Yes. Yeah, so certainly the empiricism I think is some of the radical nature of contemplative practitioners who would be empirical even if they were in their religious context where they were learning, because of this means this. But the real contemplatives that were kind of pioneers would just look at it and say what's true and what's real?

And do we need that hypothesis of the religious assumption? Certainly one of the famous quotes of the Dalai Lama in his interesting dialogue with science, as many of you may know. He said to a scientist, you have this whole contemplative inner science. What if we proved that some of your assumptions were wrong about what you found?

And he looked at the person and said, "then we change our beliefs." [laughter] And so that kind of possibility of really doing subject science that then connects to object and subject science, and certainly within neuroscience, what they're finding now as they're looking within the brain is that there's a symphony, but no conductor can be found.

So there isn't a little mini-me in there pulling levers. And there are parts of ourselves functionally helping, but the sense of being, which you actually have less suffering and you actually more optimally function is in what, probably the closest thing in science, is called a flow state. So a flow state, or athletes talk about being “in the zone”, or musicians has been studied by a scientist called Csikszentmihalyi.

And the flow state is a way of being optimally functioning, where you don't refer to thinking about thinking. That you've done 10,000 hours of whatever you're good at, whether it's art, or science, or rock climbing, or sports, or knitting or anything, and you enter into this timeless now where you're completely aware of your body.

Everyone else, it seems like time slows down or one person, one of my students said it's like time is soft. There's a feeling that there's an interconnection with everyone and everything. I don't know if you can have an experience of some time or activity. In fact, most people, I think, who do activities for pleasure, whatever, think about what you do for pleasure, whether it's working out or walking or you probably enter the flow state.

As what you probably think of as a symptom or an after effect of what you're doing, but it's probably why you're doing it. Does that make sense? Anyone have a sense of that? That whatever you do for fun or your hobby or your leisure activity, fishing or whatever it might be, running, you get in the zone.

So [with] the flow state, you feel like there isn't an ego center? You're not referencing thought, time slows down. You feel an interconnection with everyone and everything. You feel like you're optimally functioning without secondary worry or judgment. As you mentioned before, you're not in the judge.

The judge is gone. You trust, you're in almost like your heart-mind. You're living from this level of interconnection and trust. And from here, this is an optimal way of functioning. So my theory, we've all done 10,000 hours of walking, language, talking, relating to other people. Whatever work you do, you have all those tasks, functional tasks as an adult. You've trained your functional 10,000 hours of life tasks. Now, if you shift into the now, the awareness that's embodied in this timeless awake presence. You'll actually be out of the judge. You'll be in this interconnected feeling with everyone else that you don't feel is judged and you feel a kind of natural arising of compassion and wellbeing, and you'll be optimally functioning.

You'll actually be able to respond rather than react. So one of the doors is the now into this. The main, really, quality is the different type of awareness rather than attention or mental judgment and self-referencing, is getting out of that into this kind of awareness based knowing that's embodied and open-hearted. That kind of brings you into the now.

Piet: I couldn't agree more. [laughter]

See, this doesn't help as a beginning of a collaboration, but I think what we are going to do, we may as well start now, is to have a dialogue between science and contemplation about these topics.

Loch: Yes.

Piet: But not by making a bridge, not by saying, here is science and here is contemplation, and here is a gap. Now we are building a bridge.

It'll be tempting to do that, to wine and dine, and to give a talk about the Big Bang, starting with light and Genesis starting with light and being very polite, and then nodding to each other. These things can be done and they are fun for a while, but the much more interesting thing is to go down into the gap. To go down into the canyon and to look at the roots of science and the roots of contemplation, starting with the suspension of judgment and starting with the empirical method.

Like where do the religious, contemplative, spiritual stories come from? There are traditions, there are lineages, but there are radical types who, who went against the stream of their time, who started these lineages. In science, challenging contemplation. So that is how we have to begin to see.

Where do we come from and how can we compare the roots? And the problem here is that science is much more limited than contemplation. It has focused on a limited subset of material, measurable, objective things. But, the wonderful thing about science is that it is completely shared by anyone on the planet, and anybody can do an experiment and check.

The wonderful thing about contemplation is that, in a way, it is more deep and more encompassing [of] everything. But we have not even begun to get the cultural sharing and integration. I think that will take a few hundred years. In many ways, Buddhism may very well be closest to science in being more abstract minded and theoretical minded, besides being very deeply experiential too.

For me, once I got a sense of some training in Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism and other forms of Buddhism, then I began to recognize the core experiences. For so far in my own modest way, I began to get access to that. I began to recognize it in medieval Christianity when I started reading about it in Sophism, and in Hinduism.

By the time you get a familiarity, you recognize that to start a dialogue between science and contemplation, I think we probably have to start at least at the same time, maybe even earlier, between the great experiential, contemplative traditions to get a little bit of a shared vocabulary.

And that should be easy. If you let the priests, and the mullahs, and all the political figures talk with each other, then you start wars. But if you bring Contemplatives together, they will bow to each other and recognize each other's accomplishment even without talking. So that should be the easy part.

Loch: Yes.

Piet: That I think is the program to look at. And in science you don't have that. If you do physics, and if you solve a simple problem in mechanics, you can even either choose a Langrangian, or a Hamiltonian framework. Let's forget about what it means. But it will be inconceivable that you have a Lagrangian church, and a Hamiltonian church, and that people start arguing with each other or people start killing each other.

It will be completely inconceivable. So I'm looking forward to the time that the much deeper contemplative tradition has learned from the new kids on the block, from the physicists, to integrate their different approaches rather than fight about it.

Loch: Yes. Yeah. A funny little story is [I was] at a big Interspiritual interreligious conference in India that I went to when I was studying there, thousands of people, a lot of big name people and all these talks. So by the second day I just was sitting in the back and I was everyone's being polite and just talking about kind of the religious aspects.

I walk out into the courtyard and all of a sudden I see there's two or three other people there, and then there's four or five, and then we all get together and these people became like my best friends. And they were all like the contemplative people who had burned out at the same time, and all went out for a break, and needed a little air.

But interestingly, one Sufi, one Cabalist, one Hindu Yogi, one more Buddhist, and it was a great meeting. So this sense of the now as being held by, that we're held in time, psychological time, we're held in clock time. And that the dualistic mind, the identification that's created with this little managing system keeps orienting and almost creates this feeling of a little identification. Almost like it's an entity in your head, behind your eyes, looking out, right? What's going on? What am I gonna do? And it almost co-ops your body's survival program, which is supposed to watch out for cars when you cross the street and is supposed to remember to get some food at the grocery store so you'll have enough in the refrigerator when you get home late at night and you. Have not planned for the future, and so it has to problem solve. But when this sense of not being in the flow creates this little mini-me, it creates a kind of what, in Buddhism, suffering is often defined as perpetual dissatisfaction.

Anyone identify with that? Yeah, we have a few. So that perpetual dissatisfaction. Is really that little judge or that problem solver on the level of identity. There's definitely issues and problems and stuff to be dealt with on the relative level. But there's the secondary. Who am I? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna get to satisfy me as a little thought based looping pattern that keeps trying to get something in time to satisfy it, but there's nothing for it to eat. There's nothing for it to satisfy because it's made of thought and it thinks it's a real being. It's a real person in there. So when that problem solver or that judge, judging part, relaxes, You can almost start to feel the awareness and the nowness.

So just simply try this simple inquiry and look with awareness. So no big deal. You don't have to close your eyes or anything. Just simply ask yourself this question and then look with awareness: What's here now when there's no problem to solve?

Just not looking up to thought, not looking to the past, not anticipating one moment into the future, just dropping, opening, feeling with awareness. What's this that's here? Alert and noticing thoughts, feelings, and sensations coming, going.

What's here? What's this like? Peace space. Nothing. Everything. Me. Quiet. Contentment. Yeah, so just noticing the quality of awareness, not what you're aware of, but the feeling of what's aware, and the feeling of time and thoughts and change just being allowed to happen without needing to get on the train of thought.

And just feel, what's the feeling of now, of awareness of being as moments come and go.

So just not what you're aware of, but what is the awareness? What is the nowness, the all at once-ness. It's just that turning of awareness to itself rather than what you're aware of, the breath, what is that awareness that's spacious and pervasive, interconnected and all at once. Nowness, in which time, moments, coming and going.

Piet: This is the beginning of the collaboration.

Loch: Yes, please.

Piet: Let me do something a little bit similar, but then starting with science.

Loch: Good.

Piet: So imagine that you are a hard-nosed scientist and this was all a nice game, but now you go back to reality and there is space and time, there is matter and energy and that's all there is.

So [I] look around and I see [a] piece of matter, my body, piece of matter, my brain, piece of matter. And then what? The first step is to realize that even if you are a hard-nosed scientist, then you realize that your awareness, your experience comes as an emergent property out of your brain.

So if I feel and see and am in touch with a piece of matter like this chair, I cannot put a chair in my mind. I cannot put the molecules of the chair in the emergent properties of my brain. Those are different concepts. Every hard-nosed scientist will agree with it. So what I consider to be matter is really my experience.

So let us switch from matter to experience. Now, once you have experience within the field of experience within this emergent field coming out of the workings of the brain, within my field of experience, there is a subject, and a baby has to learn, spend quite a few months to figure out what is the difference between self and other.

So in the experience of a baby and a beginning infant there is a self part in [the] other part, and they have to be polarized and being taken apart. I'm still talking like a hard-nosed scientist. And then we realize if we go back to that, that even for us adults, the fact that this is me, and this is something else.

Subject and objects are emerging properties out of the field of experience. So what is really the essence of experience? It is the appearance of the self and the appearance of the others. So now, we are in the third search stage of deeper honesty, what we consider normally as matter is more directly experience.

And the experience is really most empirically given as appearance, the appearance of subject and object. And we assign the experience to the subject and we call the world, the world of matter. So if we go from matter to experience, to appearance, And what can we say about appearance? And now here I am crossing over into your territory.

Loch: Wonderful.

Piet: If you look at everything as appearance, the only thing we really know is that it is here. Nobody can deny that something appears. Everything else could be an illusion. It could be the past. The future could be an illusion, everything could be illusionary or maybe not even there, even less than an illusion.

But the appearance of the illusion is what appears here. So the one thing we really can be sure of: each of us specifically, empirically, is the presence of appearance. So if you now spend a moment to focus on the presence of appearance, letting go of anything else, which letting go of all the stories around what appears.

If you can just sit with the presence of appearance for half a minute, maybe.

And part of the presence of appearance is the clock, which Tim told us to watch, and we are at the very end of what was given to us. So I think we now have to [ go].

Loch: The time is now.


So one interesting thing to consider is you can't be in the present moment, however, you are always in the now. So what's the difference between the present moment and the now?

Present moments come and go, like the tick talk of a clock. In fact, when we do mindfulness meditation, what we're observing is the arising and passing of mind, moments of thoughts, of sensations. These are happening in the present moment, and then the present moment passes from our conventional perceived experience. Mind moments appear as if they're continuous. So our vision is like we're looking at a movie, but a film projects 24 still frames every second in order to make movement of their images appear lifelike. So these frames are not where we want to live.

In Tibetan Buddhism, they say the now is considered the timeless time that includes the other three times of past, present, and future. So the timeless time is awake, awareness, spacious and timeless, which includes our everyday conventional time. So the ultimate level of reality is timeless and all at once, and the relative level is happening in conventional time. Now is the ability to observe from awareness while living in the world.

So let's begin by considering one of the famous Tibetan Mahamudra instructions, which is called the Six Points of Tilopa. It's also known as the Six Ways of Resting the Mind in its Natural Condition, and it just has six little instructions. Here's how they go.

Don't recall, let go of the past.

Don't anticipate. Let go of what may come in the future.

Don't think. Let go of what's happening in the present.

Don't examine. Don't analyze or particularize.

Don't control. Don't try to make anything happen.

Rest, relax naturally right now.

Don't recall. Don't anticipate. Don't think, don't examine. Don't control. Rest.

So let's try to experience this now in another version of this, which will lead you into the now through using some of our movement of local awareness that we've learned. So find a way of sitting comfortably. Your eyes can be open or closed. And take a little deeper breath, settle in and be here, now. It's as good as any way to start.

So notice thoughts moving through your mind and notice each one is a mind moment. Thought arises. Thought's here. Thought's gone. Now, let local awareness unhook from thought and have it move to one of your ears focusing on sound and vibration. That's changing, coming and going, focusing in this one small area.

And now just as awareness can focus in a small area at one of your ears, let local awareness open to the space all around. Notice the objectless space.

Nothing to focus on or examine. Nothing to think about or anticipate. Nothing to recall or examine. Nothing to control. When we're looking at objectless space. Allow awareness to mingle with space so you're aware of space, and then you're aware from space. Space is aware.

Let yourself rest as this spacious awareness, free of the past, future, and even present time. Feel this timeless, boundless unity.

And from this spacious awareness, now include your body, thoughts, emotions, sensations, so you remain open while feeling sensations and thoughts coming and going.

As you feel like the ocean of awareness that's arising, moment to moment, open to the now, that doesn't get stuck in present moments. Feel from the timeless, spacious awareness that you're aware of, present moments arriving and passing. Notice that you're both fully here and now.

So just look what is here, now. Simply remain aware from this spacious and pervasive field.

And see what happens if you don't go up to refer to thought, don't go down to fall asleep. Don't go back to the past. Don't even go one moment forward, to anticipate the future. Don't cling to passing moments. Don't look out to the world to create an object. Don't fall into daydreaming.

Feel the magnetic pull up, the thought, down to sleep, back to the future, forward to anticipate. Notice these feelings of habit pulling, attracting. And allow each of them to happen. While you rest in the now.

Don't look up to thought. Don't fall into daydream as your awareness rests equally inside and out.

Open to the now. And notice that everything is here all at once.

Feel the all-at-once-ness of movement and stillness, of change and a changeless, timeless awareness.

Let go and let be.

See what's here now, when there's no problem to solve.

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