by Karl Erb
For many this is the time of year when we look forward and look back, wish a “Happy New Year” upon others and ourselves, and reflect upon changes, what we’d like to change in ourselves, or “resolve to improve,” all dipping into the sense of renewal, of fresh start-ness, of a cycle beginning anew. Which is interesting as a cycle has no beginning…
This time of year is rich in intentions to leave behind what no longer serves us and to grow towards what nurtures and sustains us. Sometimes looking forward with hopeful anticipation, or looking back thinking next year can only be better… All over the globe, the drive and intentions are similar though the time of year may vary, indicating there is no intrinsic “right” time for this renewal, simply that it occurs.
All the diverse views, intentions, and sentiments around this annual renewal share two things:
– The seemingly innate drive towards contentment, towards feeling whole.
– The perception of time passing, of time being a factor towards that wholeness.
Embedded in the greetings of the period is the conclusion that everyone wants to be happy. There is no hesitation in offering this salutation, nor any resistance in its reception, across cultures. The resolve to better one’s self is also linked to the desire to be happy, content, whole… accepting of one’s self.
Implied in the desire to better one’s self, to improve upon oneself, is the sense that some action, some external source, internal thought, or behavior, can improve upon my self, and my happiness. Implied in a desire to change is the belief that “I” can be changed, and that the current state is somehow not acceptable to me. Likewise implied in the seeking is the fact that finding myself to be whole and acceptable to me is a reasonable, natural end. We do not seek to be sorrowful, or incomplete, so there is something in happiness and fullness that must be intrinsic to my nature.
The new year, new resolve will bring me closer, over time, to that desirable, happy self I long to be. Associating with desired ends, and disassociating with undesirable ends, dropping past patterns, stories, and habits all reveal my relationship to time. The change will occur over the new year, in a series of tomorrows unfolding one after the other. Such efforts are certainly healthy for sustaining the psyche and body, which undergo constant change, but happiness, knowing myself to be acceptable to me, is something altogether different.
What is changing? What simply “is”?
If we are to exercise choice and will to bring change, it is important to know what changes and what does not. While the the mind, body, senses, emotions and so forth are subject to constant change, to infer that such change can improve upon the “I” that experiences the mind/body/senses is worth exploring. Through chosen actions and thoughts we can bring change to the mind and body, affecting various levels of balance and healing in our physiology, psychology and so forth. I, the subject, am effecting change on the body and mind, both objects of my perception.
Being conscious of my body, my thoughts, feelings, body and thoughts become evident to me through senses and perception, thus “I” am the subject, and all that becomes evident to me are objects of perception. There is only one subject, I. What I perceive cannot be “I”, what I perceive is by definition not the subject. The eyeball does not see itself. To attribute the change undergone by the object, the body/mind, to the subject perceiving the change, “I,” is a flawed inference. If I see a house being painted, I am clear that I am not being painted, and yet with the body/mind/senses we are not so clear. Human tend to attach change of the body (object) to our very sense of self (Subject): The body ages, we say “I am old, I am aging,” the body is female, we say “I am female,” and so on.
Once I know that no external object can alter my essential nature, the challenges, wants and needs of the body/mind are handled in a practical way from a more stable, consistent, steadfast center.
So as we renew commitments to practices that are healthy and sustaining, we do it not from a place of feeling less than, or inadequate, or vain but rather because we seek practices that uncover our essence, our whole, adequate self, practices that disassociate us from identifying with the the body and mind and all their changes.
Now New Happy You.
So we set out in the new year to effect change, to drop certain things, leave behind certain things, and move towards certain things, to improve “ourselves.” And yet memory, habit, nostalgia, sentiment, and comfort in the familiar seem to keep the past affecting us, and the resolve seems to thin, spread out across so many tomorrows. In fact tomorrow never comes, the choice for change can only be today, now, moment to moment. There is only now, perpetually new.
I used language like “leave behind,” “move towards,” intentionally to show that in our perception time is a factor in this newness, and in this happiness, or “becoming” the acceptable self. Change, desire for change, happens in memory of past, or in imagination of future. Yet neither the past nor future exist in any real sense, and are rather constructs in our awareness. An event, person or object of the past is not currently affecting me, rather the thought of the event, person or object affects me, and can color my emotions in the present. The same can be said about events, people and objects of the future. These attractions and aversions in memory and imagination are what fills our heart/mind, our thought-life. Now is seldom in our attention.
Tomorrow never comes, there is only today, new each time. Within today, there is only each moment, now, and in that moment choices are made, not tomorrow. This perpetually new now is here all year round, every day, always new. And if I say I am present in this moment, how long is the moment? Each second can be broken down to a millisecond and so on… So even “now” happens as moments in time, motion in our thought/perception of time, thus in our awareness. Time becomes evident to me… Century consciousness, year consciousness, minute consciousness… all segments of time are objects of perception, occur in consciousness. “Century” consciousness does not take a century, nor does “second” take a second. “Century” consciousness IS, second consciousness IS and so on…
And if we think of “Now” consciousness, where is the object?
Now is simply consciousness.
So if we reduce “now” to its smallest part, past the milliseconds, we end up simply in awareness, that which makes me, the subject, aware of “now” as an object of my perception. And further still, truly awareness itself is the only and ultimate subject, the only “I,” not the mind aware of time, not the “aware-er.” And Awareness is always now, neither young nor old… a “new” with no opposite. Now is consciousness.
The non-wanting now self.
Wants and needs, desires and distastes, attractions and aversions all happen in memory or imagination, not in “now.” Free of memory and imagination, all wants, likes and dislikes fall away, our non-wanting self is revealed in “now:” Free of want, free of lack, intrinsically whole, full, not subject to improvement nor to demise. There is no change, no becoming. Always new, in fact outside of new and old, intrinsically happy. Or rather, since “happy” is an adverb qualifying the one who is happy, more accurate to say “intrinsic happiness.”
So really all we are dropping is the false inference that anything sticks to “I.”
No amount of changing behaviors, people, situations will bring wholeness to “I.”
There is no “moving towards” where I am.
The sun needs no light to illuminate its presence, to verify its presence. All attractions and aversions become evident to me, objects of my perception or inference; that “I am” is self-evident to “I,” the subject who is awareness.
Awareness, Beingness itself is free of want.
Now occurs within “I”.
Now is happiness.
I am happiness, the intrinsic non-wanting-ness.
And since there is only now in awareness, awareness is outside of time, not continuous, but timeless, no beginning, no end, like a cycle, always new.
So, Happy New to you.
Happy New is you.
“I am happiness.”
Again and again.
That’s all there is.
Sat – existence, never negated.
Cit – awareness, basis of all that is known.
Ananda – fullness, outside of time, without limit.