Chapter 7: Awareness: The Fire That Burns the Past
Whether fulfilled in the present or the future, karmic experiences have their roots in the five afflictions.
As long as the roots remain, karma is fulfilled in rebirth through class, span of life, and types of experiences.
Virtue brings pleasure; vice brings pain.
Man appears to be in the present, but that is only an appearance. Man lives in the past. Through the present he passes, but he remains rooted in the past. The present is not really a time for the ordinary consciousness. For the ordinary consciousness, the past is real time, the present just a passage from the past to the future, just a momentary passage. The past is real and the future also, but the present is unreal for the ordinary consciousness. Future is nothing but the past extended. Future is nothing but the past projected again and again.
The present seems to be non-existential. If you think of the present, you will not find it at all because the moment you find it, it has already passed. Just a moment before when you had not found it, it was in the future. For a Buddha-consciousness, for an awakened being, only the present is existential. For ordinary consciousness, unaware, sleepy like a somnambulist, the past and future are real, the present is unreal. Only when one awakes is the present real; the past and future both become unreal.
Why is this so? Why do you live in the past? - because mind is nothing but an accumulation of the past. Mind is memory: all that you have done, all that you have dreamed, all that you wanted to do and could not do, all that you have imagined in the past, is your mind. Mind is a dead entity. If you look through the mind, you will never find the present, because the present is life, and life can never be approached through a dead medium. Life can never be approached through dead vehicles. Life cannot be touched through death.
Mind is dead. Mind is just like dust gathering on a mirror. The more dust gathers, the less the mirror is mirror-like. And if the layer of dust is very thick, as it is on you, then the mirror does not reflect at all.
Everybody gathers dust. Not only do you gather, you cling to it, you think it is a treasure. The past is gone; why do you cling to it? You cannot do anything about it. You cannot go back, you cannot undo it. Why do you cling to it? It is not a treasure. And if you cling to the past and you think it is a treasure, of course your mind will want to live it again and again in the future. Your future cannot be anything but your modified past - a little refined, a little more decorated. But it is going to be the same because the mind cannot think of the unknown; the mind can only project the known, that which you know.