by Christopher Kelly
In each moment, we swim in an ocean of experiences. All our senses send us reams of information each in their own way. Our eyes feed us millions of bits of color and shape and brightness. Our ears bombard us with sounds from every direction. Every square millimeter of our skin has something to say about this present moment. We feel inside our body as well: how our muscles feel, our organs. Our taste buds also have their say, as do our noses. We also have a proprioceptive sense, that is, a general awareness of how all the parts of our body are positioned, where they are with respect to each other. And we have a world-sense, a general awareness of where we are in the model of the world that all our senses are continually creating and recreating. And all of that is just our outer world. We also have a rich inner world of experience. All our thoughts, ideas, memories, imaginings, emotions.
Of all these experiences, there is one that will be the subject of this blog. I will call it the now-experience, but it has been called many other things. The now-experience is the ever-present experience. It is the only experience that is always there, no matter how the rest of your experience is changing (and it always is). It is the unchanging experience. It is always crystal clear, perfectly still, absolutely wide open. It is a direct experience of the now, and within it, therefore, is no time, no past, no future. The now experience changes so little that often it is said it is not an experience at all. Rather, it is the ground of all other experience, the source of our experiential life. It is like the air we breathe, ever-present, but transparent, invisible, necessary for life, but often taken for granted.
The now-experience is peaceful. There is nothing wrong in the now-experience. Nothing to worry about, nothing to fret over. And it is always available. No matter what experience you are having, no matter how scary, or stressful or painful, underneath that experience is the now-experience. And there, there is no pain; there is no stress; there is no fear. Another way of putting this: from the perspective of the now experience, fear, stress and pain are not a problem.
The now-experience is spacious. It has no boundaries. It can contain all your other experiences with space to spare. It is just nowness. Nowness extends to the edge of space and beyond. Nowness here and nowness there are the same wherever here and there are. But the now-experience is also specific, pointed, precise. It is right there no matter what you are thinking about, whatever you’re feeling. It is there whatever is happening. It will come with you no matter how wide or narrow you make your experience. You’re experience always happens now.
The now experience is an open experience. It has no judgement. It accepts everything that happens, whatever arises. The now experience is a kind of love, a love that wants nothing. It is a love that is based in being. The now experience loves without end, taking every new experience as the right experience, the best experience, a thing to be cherished.
At our core, past all our memories and desires, our fears, our hopes, our talents, everything external and internal that we use to describe ourselves, there is this sense of awareness, clean and pure, it is a sense of being. It is who we are when everything else is stripped away. It is your truest self, the self that is most pure, least dependent on changing circumstances. It is the self that was with you when you were born and knew nothing. It is the self that will be with you when you die. It is the self within which everything happens. It is the self to which life takes place.
All of this may sound abstract and dreamy. It may sound like a fantasy or a story. But the best thing about this fantasy-story is that it is readily available at any moment. It takes only a moment of attention, of attention placed in the right place in the right way, to notice this experience. Right now you can move your attention to your big toe. You can feel it, learn things about it. One moment before, you were unaware of your toe. It was there but you were unaware of it. With a simple shift of your attention, you become aware of it. You can do the same with the now-experience. It is always there. It is not always as easy or as obvious how to bring it forward to attention, but it is doable. This blog will discuss many techniques for doing just that, for making the now-experience readily available. The experience is simple but transformative. To know your true self, to see love in everything, are life-changing matters. You can try it now. Can you pay attention in this moment to nothing but the sense of nowness, letting everything else drop away?