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The Timeless Now

Time is a very relative experience. Sometimes time seems to go slowly, especially when we are experiencing something we don't want like traffic or a day at the dentist. Sometimes, as the saying goes, “Time flies when you're having fun.” Why is this true, and what is the experience of time during meditation?

One of our most basic faculties is our ability to keep track of time. We do it instinctually, although as we grow we may become more adept at doing it consciously. After many years of experience and association with chronological time, we may know what it “feels” like to experience 10 minutes, or an hour, or a year. That amount of time has a corresponding feeling to it that is more or less accurate to the feeling of going through that amount of time for us. We keep track unconsciously, and we learn what time feels like when it passes.

In meditation, however, we aspire to be present in the moment, which means to let go of thoughts of the past and future, and focus on the now. But what is the now? As soon as a moment goes by it is immediately followed by the next. In this experience, time is not something that takes long or short. If we were truly in the moment, experience is instantaneous ever-new radiance, and therefore doesn't take any time at all. It has no duration, because in the moment there is nothing to keep track of. No before and after, since the now is always the only thing you have.What makes an experience of duration is our memory and our concepts, thinking that before was and now is and the future will be. Meditation cuts all that out and the only thing left is the ever-new moment, free of any temporal qualification. This is why experienced meditators may feel like their time sitting in meditation goes by quickly, or without a concept of time passing, because they are so absorbed in the present that they don't consciously keep track of time anymore. May you come to know the timeless Now, free of any concept of time, one in which the mind knows its own freedom as well.

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