Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Illusion of Time and Reality
Florian Tathagata Schlosser

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Florian Tathagata

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The following was translated from german into english by Ingrid Zimmermann in Sept. 2007; the article has originally
been published in german in SEIN Magazine in September 2007

From the perspective of normal consciousness we mostly experience ourselves as “somebody” – an
identity however named – to whom time and reality happens. We experience the course of life as an
event which is separated from us and at the mercy of which we more or less are. Or we doing our best
to take some influence on it.

To explore the essence of time and reality as it really is, we first have to turn to “the one” to whom time
and reality seemingly occurs. The question is whether “the one” who experiences time and reality really
exists? Does an experiencing person really exist? And is the one we call the experiencing person – the
”I” which experiences – really separated from “his/her” experience?

But how can we explore what the “I” is and if it really exists? Let’s start together: Who is thinking? Is it
you who is thinking or are there just thoughts, which emerge and leave again? Who is feeling? Is it you
who is feeling or are there just feelings which emerge and leave again? Who has physical sensations?
Is it you who has sensations in the body or are there just sensations which emerge and leave again?

If you want to check this, then just try to stop your thoughts. Simply like that -STOP. Does it work? If you
are completely conscious and honest for a moment you will realize that it is not so easy to switch off the
experience of thinking, feeling and sensing.What you recognize is a never ending stream of movement
(experience) which just happens.

Now, to whom does this movement occur? Who has always been conscious of this? What is it exactly
that is conscious? Normally you will say: I am conscious. Check it briefly if you like: Are you conscious
of the present experience, whatever it may be, just now? Of course you are. Now, what is this “I” that is
conscious? It is consciousness itself. Therefore you are consciousness, aren’t you?

Time is movement in consciousness
As we find out by close investigation there is consciousness, in which the movement of thinking, feeling
and sensing in the body emerges and leaves again. This movement in the consciousness feels like an
occurrence (appearance) in time. But if you again allow a moment to be quiet and conscious you will
notice that time itself is an illusion, which is created by the ever changing experiences in consciousness.
Without the movement of thinking, feeling and physical sensations there is no independent time, which
can be measured i.e. experienced.

So time is not separated from experience but (an) included part of it, well, it IS experience itself. Time is
movement in the consciousness. And also the “feeling of I” is included in the movement and therefore not
separated from it.

Let us now stop for a while and strike an interim balance: We see that consciousness only comes into
being by movement. That is all. There is no one who experiences anything. It is the experiencing which
experiences itself as movement in consciousness – that WE ARE. What may confuse us sometimes is that
the movement of attentiveness is mixed up with pure resting awareness. Let us make clear this difference

The movement of attentiveness
Attentiveness is the natural ability to focus energy on a certain object, to observe it. For example this can
be an object “in the outside”, but also an object “in the inside”, like a thought or a feeling. So we can
focus with attentiveness. If you inquire precisely now, you will see that by mere focussing the feeling of
an ‘I-observer’ on the one hand and at the same time the observed object appears separated from you.
Observing only creates the feeling of an “I” and an experience separated from “you”. But both don`t exist like this. Neither is there really an “I” nor the object separated from “I” e.g. an experience. Both of
it only emerges seemingly as a dual reality when attentiveness focusses.

“I” nor the object separated from “I” e.g. an experience. Both of it only emerges seemingly as a dual reality when attentiveness focusses.

If you look closely you will realize that attentiveness itself is part of the movement. It is moving
permanently from one object to another. Similar to a monkey it jumps about. The faster and the more
restless attentiveness moves, the more varying is the experience of time. Abrupt, erratic movement of
attentiveness creates a rapid feeling of time. Slow and quiet movement creates a feeling of “having
time” and slowness. So not only time itself is an illusion but also the experienced speed (quality) of it.

Now back to consciousness again, through which all of this is recognized. So you – consciousnessitself – are conscious of the experiences including the movement of attentiveness. To make it clear once
again: you are already conscious of this – now -in this moment.

Experience comes into being by observation
Where is the border between consciousness and the experience (including the observing) that emerges and leaves again? If you investigate further you will find no border. The border does not exist. There is consciousness and in consciousness experience happens – but none is separated from the other one.

Consciousness – YOU – and experience are already ONE. There never were two. Or to put it in a
different way: the one who experiences and an experience separate from him has never really existed.
They have been and are being created only by the act of observing itself. Also modern quantum physics
realizes that there is a relation between the observer of an experiment and the outcome of the
experiment. But in fact the observer IS the observed reality. There is no separation. YOU ARE THAT
what is recognized in consciousness.

Does time differ from reality? And do both exist separated from us? As we have investigated so far, time
and reality cannot run outside of us, so to speak as an “external film” in front of our eyes. Rather
everything that happens is already included (comprised) in us. To remind you: YOU ARE consciousness
AND YOU ARE that which emerges in consciousness at the same time. Everything you see is always just
you. Nothing exists and happens independently of you.

Now the question arises whether anything happens at all, or whether reality itself is an illusion. As we
have already found out the experienced speed of time depends on the fastness of the movement of
attentiveness. It constantly varies how fast or slow time i.e. reality is experienced. What is it that
determines the speed with which attentiveness in consciousness moves from object to object? If we
again allow a moment and are conscious of the physical sensations of this moment we can find out: the
more stress energy is stored in the nervous system the faster and more erratic attentiveness moves.
Usually we can notice it as a kind of flickering energy and trembling excitement in the nervous system.
Similar to an animal startled by fright attentiveness is driven by stress energy. Connected with it are
restlessness, being driven, fear, restless thinking and feeling and physical tension. Exactly this unreleased
stress energy in the neuronal cells creates the tendency to observe and the speed, including the
automatic thinking, feeling and physical sensations. From there life appears to us as the habitual course
of time and reality.

If all this is correct – and you are invited cordially once again to think it over and to see for yourself –
then consistently the following question arises: as I AM consciousness and time and reality are an
experience IN ME – are they invariable forever? Or can experienced time and reality change if stress
is released from the cells of the nervous system and if it returns to its natural state of rest?
My experience is a clear YES.

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