What is NOW?
“Time” and “space” are the fundamental axes that give the fabric of our reality. As Einstein said, time and space are not parameters by which we really exist but more parameters by which we think. Understand it well: Our reality is defined by the way we think. Re-read that sentence. There is no such thing as past, present and future in the universe – only in a three dimensional experience on Earth. This is fundamental. This is how we can perceive the changes of seasons for example. However, limiting your reality to that experience is to live in an illusion. You have to grow beyond and transcend that view of time as linear. Astronomers do know that their observations of the universe are outdated. By the time light travels to us, the star may very well be dead by then. However, we still based our “present” upon the light from the star that we receive. That light defines our current state of the universe, and as such our reality as the “present.” But for an alien from that dead star mentioned above, it will see us as part of their past. Who is right, who is wrong? No one. It is simply a matter of relative frames of reference. Another example is if you pass close to a massive object in the universe, your clock will slow down in comparison to an observer far away. You will not notice it, so you will believe that this is “reality.” All of this to show you that time and space are certainly not absolute but relative to your frame of reference. So, what does it say about NOW? Now is the only frame of reality in the universe. Now can be seen both as an energy state in the subatomic reality and as a state of mind cherished by Zen masters and others.
Since time/space are the axes by which we think, it is then natural to find “time/space” in all languages through generic key words such as “here”, “there”, “tomorrow”, “yesterday”, etc. They mean something but only in respect to the moment you utter them. If you use those words everyday and in different places, they will certainly not mean the same thing but will help you relate your message or story. However, Now is the only word that encompasses both time/space at “the same time” and at a different level of consciousness. Thus, Now becomes more like a metaphysical concept and refers to a state of mind that bonds time/space in the same way the concept of gravity does in General Relativity (see section Gravity). And this is the power in Zen meditation and in Myoku as well.
From a Zen view point, Now keeps you alert and fully aware of what you are doing the moment you do it. No concern for past of future. You are fully and mentally engaged in the action you are performing. But do not confuse this with the lack of responsibilities to face your actions or commitments. Being absorbed in what you are doing to the point of forgetting your appointment does not mean that you are in the Now. It means that you forgot your appointment because of having been self absorbed, self-centered. When you are in the Now, you do not forget or are oblivious – on the contrary you are fully aware of yourself and your surroundings. You simply experience the world from a center point of consciousness – you do not forget time and space. Being in the Now does not mean not thinking of the future appointment or the past movie you saw. Being in the Now means being fully connected with the moment you are experiencing: if you are drinking tea, you do not project your consciousness into the past or in what it could be or would be in a different setting. The moment you drink tea is the feeling of the tea on your lips, in your throat, its perfume, etc. Your consciousness is in that single moment. When you are in the Now, you may speak of the past or the future through your consciousness of the moment you are speaking. This is very different from being self-centered and forgetting your appointment. This is actually mindfulness as explained in Zen meditation. This is why in order to be in the Now you need to be grounded, centered. If you are not in your body, how can you feel the moment you are in? Learn to feel every fiber of your body. Be aware of yourself on that level.
Now, seen as a state of mind, means something different. It is like taking your consciousness to a higher level of time and space that samurai called “mushin” (empty mind, empty heart). In martial arts many people confuse it with the level of spontaneity your body reaches – the moment you do not think anymore and just react out of reflex. But Now as a state of mind is more like entering an esoteric space of existence. It is an expansion of the mind; it is a different perspective on reality. You are on the same vibration as the light coming through your window, the same vibration as the tea you are drinking, on the same vibration as the music you are listening to, etc. Your senses are enhanced and your mind is one with the universe. You do not see forms and shapes particularly but wavelengths, vibrations, etc. (a poetic distortion of space). Your frame of reality is completely different. You may see things happening in slow motion while your opponent may see your punch coming at her/him at the speed of light (a poetic distortion of time). How powerful is that! At this level of oneness with the universe, it does not mean that you lose your “self” but on the contrary that you gain more awareness like having a big picture of the world. You still feel your centeredness, but your mind has expanded.
Now as a state of mind is even more than what I explained here. But suffice to say that you should not underestimate the power of the Now and see Now as a mere exercise in meditation. Now is the key to a new reality in your personal journey in Myoku. One step further: Try to place an intention when you are in the NOW, and experience what happens.
A Zen reflection: If you throw a pebble in a pond, the pebble hits the surface and sinks as it generates ripples over the pond. If you are the pebble, you keep your centeredness as you sink but expand your mind with the ripples. This is the combination of time and space in the NOW. Think this over and try to remain centered in training and life.