Chapter 6: Now Is Not Part of Time
Try to be so wakeful that you don’t fall asleep again. Remain so alert that the future is not allowed to deceive you again as you had allowed it before. What has become past is nothing, but once it is your future then you get deceived by it. Now it is past; now another future is arriving. Every moment future is arriving, and future can deceive you only if you are asleep. Then again it will become past.
Now let me tell you one thing: if you remain alert and you don’t allow the future to deceive you in the present, the past disappears. Then there is no memory left of it, no trace of it. Then one is just a clean slate, a sky without any clouds, a flame without smoke. That’s what the state of enlightenment is - so alert that only the witness is real and everything else is nothing but ripples on the surface of the water. Everything is passing, everything is a flux. Only one thing remains and remains and remains, and that is your consciousness, your awareness.
But we are caught in the net of the past. That which passes somehow remains in the mind. It passes, it is no longer there, but somehow the mind clings to it.
I have heard..
A man in the upstairs apartment yelled to Mulla Nasruddin downstairs, “If you don’t stop playing that clarinet I will go crazy!”
“Too late,” said Nasruddin. “I stopped an hour ago.”
People are continuously worried about things which have almost gone and disappeared. The past makes you crazy. You go on brooding, you go on playing with the wounds, you go on hurting yourself again and again. You go on feeding your ego again and again. The past seems to be your treasure. It is nothing - just bubbles, air bubbles. And the same is the future; and between the two is this moment of the present. Be alert, be awake. No other distinction is of any significance. Only one distinction is of significance, and that is of being alert or unalert.
Now I can tell you this: if you are unalert, then whatsoever happens is imaginary. If you are alert, then whatsoever happens is real. Were you alert in the past? If you were alert, then it was real. Are you alert right now? If you are alert then whatsoever is happening before you is real. Will you be alert tomorrow? Then whatsoever will happen will be real. So forget about reality and unreality; just try to become more and more alert.
Reality and unreality are not qualities of the objective world, they are qualities of subjective consciousness. For Buddha everything is real. For you, fast asleep, snoring, everything is unreal. Just think of it in this way: you are sleeping in a room and somebody is sitting by your side alert and awake. The room is the same. Both are in the same room, in the same space. One is fast asleep, the other is sitting by the side. Are they in the same room? Can they be in the same room? Because one who is asleep is dreaming, dreaming of a thousand and one other rooms except this one. Have you ever dreamed about the same room in which you were sleeping? - no, never. A dream is always somewhere else. That’s the function of the dream: to take you somewhere else.