The Now,...and the Direct Path practitioner.
“Phenomenally, we can know no present, as it must be in the ‘past’ before our senses can complete the process of recording it, leaving only a suppositional past and future; noumenally, there is no question of ‘past’ or ‘future,’ but only a presence that knows neither ‘time’ nor ‘space.’ ” Wei Wu Wei
To the Buddha, the world is maya,…a mirage, an illusion,…and through the six senses, the only reality we know. To the Buddha, nothing is harder communicating with than a mind attached to the 6 senses for its identity.
ACIM says, "The ego [sciential consciousness that emerges from the sense organ of thinking] uses the body [sense organs of sight, hearing, touch, feeling, and taste] to conspire against your mind [sapiential conscious], and because the ego realizes that its “enemy” [the sapiential mind or heart of essence] can end them both [ego and body] merely by recognizing that they are not part of you [the heart of essence]; they join in the attack together. This is perhaps the strangest perception of all, if you consider what it really involves. The ego, which is not real, attempts to persuade the mind, which is real, that the mind is ego’s learning device, and further, that the body is more real than the mind is. No one in their right mind could possibly believe this, and no one in their right mind does believe it." A Course In Miracles 6 IV 5.
In exploring the absolute nature of Now, we must first differentiate between the relative or perceived now of the 6 senses, and the true, absolute Now understood beyond the 6 senses. Such a dialogue is very upsetting for most, because the ego considers the lie of the senses its reality, and realizing things as they are, confronts the reality that everything the senses thought was meaningful may actually be meaningless.
René Descartes said, “All that I have tried to understand to the present time has been affected by my senses; now I know these senses are deceivers, and it is prudent to be distrustful after one has been deceived once.” Descartes' observations only included the fives senses of sight, hearing, touch, feeling, and taste; not the sixth sense of thinking. The latter of which he was convinced came before, and thus manifested the “I am.”
Socrates even argued, "the senses do not grasp reality in any way." However, as the Shurangama sutra instructs, understanding of any one sense, dissolves identification with all six senses, and as consequence, realization of the Absolute Now.
One way to define the absolute Now is by way of pointing to what it is not, that is to say, there is no Now in time. It's impossible to have a Now, Present, or Instant in time,...because time is a measurement of perceived movement. Consider Heisenberg's uncertainty principle,...one cannot observe the position and momentum of a particle simultaneously.
Time is a concept contingent upon perception, which arises from the 6 senses, and the comparisons made between that perception. When most use the term "now", they are referring to a perceived now, which is a past that is very close to the speed of perception; yet is nevertheless still the past. The Six Senses cannot observe actual nowness; they can only perceive motion, and motion is an illusory construct within time. Nothing in motion can be seen in the Present. For example, say you jumped off a building,...you will be dead before your senses register the impact on the concrete.
The reality is, that the perception of sentient beings [which arises from the 6 senses] can only perceive the World that surrounded them, not the World that surrounds them. The Six Senses cannot perceive the Now. One cannot see, hear, taste, touch, taste or think in the Now. It’s impossible.
This absolute Nowness is what all Four Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma (Four Noble Truths, the nature of Emptiness, the nature of Tathagata, and the Fourth Way of Vajrayana) point to. A freethought understanding of either, thus all of those Four Turnings, is to realize Dependent Origination, which uncovers the threshold of Absolute Nowness.
This realization is accessible to everyone. The Buddha said, nothing is easier to enlighten than a mind on the Right Path. Even the re-membering of the non-sentient mind for the Right Path is easy. One such practice is called Lojong, or mind training.
"Relative and absolute,
These the two truths are declared to be.
The absolute is not within the reach of intellect,
For the intellect is grounded in the relative." Shantideva
Lojong ("mind training") aphorisms (or Atisha Slogans) are designed as a set of antidotes to undesired mental habits that interpret the world as it is perceived through the six senses, not as it actually is.
A Lojong is this: There is no Present in time. Or, Look at everything you perceive as a dream. In the first Turning of the Wheel of Dharma, the Buddha realized that suffering is a consequence of the desire for things to be other than they are. This is how relative nowness is perceived; as other than what we think things are. The Six Senses cannot perceive what is.
In the second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma, the Buddha told Anada, “You still listen to the Dharma with the conditioned mind, and so the Dharma becomes conditioned as well, and you do not obtain the Dharma-nature." Bodhidharma said, "The mind is always present. You just don't see it." Thus, the Second Turning focuses on the emptiness of form. The Third Turning focused of Tathagata, which is synonymous for one in the Now,..."a nature which is not produced and not extinguished." shurangama sutra 2:41 Or as the Diamond sutra says, "the Tathagata neither comes or goes or sits or reclines...neither whence nor whither, therefore is He called Tathagata. The Fourth Turning or Direct Path of Vajra, is about sustaining the "flash" of Nowness. The "flash" (quite literally a flash out of alaya into the Present) is unavailable to the unsurrendered mind. Chögyam Trungpa said, "the idea is to flash as much as you can so that you will finally be able to sustain it,...it is the lever where you can actually transcend the karmic force."
Many an ego is attracted to the idea of the Direct Path, but few are unwilling to surrender,…even some so-called Direct Path teachers, who enjoy material pleasures provided by students, thus resist in letting these students understand that being a devotee to a teacher and Direct Path practitioner are incompatible. Buddhas said, "A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real." Yet, so few have such recognition.
Leo Tolstoy said, "Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold."
That is how the Now is uncovered. Eckhart Tolle wrote, "we need to draw our attention to what is false in us, for unless we learn to recognize the false as the false, there can be no lasting transformation, and you will always be drawn back into illusion, for that is how the false perpetuates itself"
But as Goethe exclaimed, “Truth lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it.”
The Now is not ineffable; only denied to protect the false. The Now is uncovered at the liberation of sentient beingness.