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Looking Forward to Something

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    • #962
      Michael Gray

        Photo: Edge of the Future, by AnnaER from Pixabay

        I feel I move backwards into time. The future, unseen, is at my back and I can only see the past, rising up before me like a swarm of butterflies and hornets, fluttering and stinging through the memories that constitute my sense of being a person in this world.

        I wonder what it would feel like–if I could only manage it–to turn around and look into the face of a future arising like a sea breeze filling the sails, or like a gurgling brook flowing from far off mountains and sparkling happily in the afternoon sunlight.

        I tell myself that I am always thinking about the future, for instance glancing at my clock so I don’t miss my evening medications a few hours from now. But I don’t think that it is actually the future that is guiding my concern with the passage of time and with the actions I don’t want to forget to take.

        Such concerns feel more like the past projecting expectations and interpretations onto a screen situated in an unmoving present, which displays images that come out of my past through memory and out of that other past-centered event in time: expectation.

        To be in the presence of the future would feel different: it might include a sense that something that has never happened and may never happen is singing out of ocean depths; perhaps it is the haunting song of a humpback whale heard close by, but nothing can be certain about what resides in this future.

        Someone is hearing that song and following it, daring to row his dingy into the mist—perhaps fearful, perhaps not—willing to encounter a being much larger and probably more aware, more alive, than the one pulling on the oars. As the oars creak in the oarlocks and the tympany of waves drum against the hull, his face remains turned toward the water that he has already traversed.

        He doesn’t know if he will hit the side of a gigantic whale and be capsized, but he keeps moving into that future without any sure knowledge of what may happen next. He just knows that the future has his back.

      • #964
        David Filippone

          Hi Michael,

          I remember when we, and our mutual friend Remco, had a discussion about how painful it was for you being locked in the past after the death of your son, Jon.  You explained that your family endured tremendous suffering, and how you were even compelled to write a book about it to help clarify your soul, entitled, ‘Winter Came Early”, in which you say, “I learned that the winter years of a life in which I’ve outlived my son requires forgiveness of the past, respect in the present and courage for the future.”  Two or three years after your son’s passing, you and I, and Remco had our discussion about the past and your suffering.  Remco empathically suggested that maybe now is the time, “to turn around and look into the face of the future.”

          I think at the time you said it isn’t easy.  Those of us who have lost loved ones would certainly agree.  And, there’s nothing easy either about letting go of the past to stand naked in the face of an unknown future.   As you know, in the book, ‘Dynamics of Time and Space’ (DTS), Rinpoche invites us to engage in practice.  There are two I’m thinking of that deal with ‘turning around from the past to face the future’.

          The practice DTS Ex 4, Conducting New Knowledge, invites us to “Settle awareness at the very point where reality is conducted into being.”  This is sometimes referred to as the ‘edge of the future’, in TSK terms.  Not a projected future, in which we normally take our conceptualized ‘past’ ideas and project them into an imagined future, but instead, ‘settle awareness at the point reality is conducted into being’… just before or as thoughts arise, looking into the face of the not-known.

          Practice 4, leads right into DTS Ex 5, Abiding in Thought.  These two practices are worth a lifetime of focus.  While the Conducting New Knowledge practice takes us to the Edge of the Future, the Abiding in Thought practice shows us how to expand that moment and dwell in it.  It requires repeated practice, in my case anyway… not just a week or so, but regularly for as long as it takes.  In the ‘Comment’ following exercise 5, every word seems indispensable for recognizing the edge of the future experience, and allowing it to blossom. And while you could spend a lifetime on these two practices, that may well produce endless fruit… I mean working often with the practices, lightly without effort, until it dawns.  From then on, Rinpoche writes:  “Awakening to space accessibility, we see our task before us: to bring space forward, to allow it to appear, so that it can offer its abundance freely.

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