Commentary on a verse of “Death – The End?”

[Full song lyric]

It’s always been the present moment, since I first drew breath,
and yet my body falls apart as I approach my death:
if Now! is what Awareness is, its future will extend
without a break or limit – Hey, death is not the end!

As soon as we switch from believing knowledge to be what we think, to realising that true knowledge is what we know before we think, then the illusion of time is revealed. How stubborn is the habit of prioritising our way of thinking over our actual experience! How else could we miss the obvious fact that there is never any consciousness of a past or a future? Such an idea is merely the content of a thought, unsupported by evidence.

Not only do we never experience a future or a past – it is patently impossible. Experience is all we have, and it is only ever “present”. (The word “present” only exists to distinguish experience from ideas of another time; “Eternal-Now” or “Timelessness” would be preferable, since not only is there not another time – there is not time.)

If we conceive of an object, for example our body, then since it is only a conception within awareness, and awareness changes, it will have a duration. “Time is objects” said Dogen. In this example, the conditions we labelled “body” are never unchanging, there is no such fixed object, it is a generalisation, as concepts are. Compared to some fixed idea of a body, the reality may appear to vary by growing – and falling apart.

Since our awareness always appears as what we call the present moment, Awareness is actually the same as what we call “Now”. (I capitalise “Now” and “Awareness” as they are all we can ever know directly.) When we imagine a future, it can only consist of this same Awareness of “Now!”: it’s an Eternal Now, not separate or different from this Now! – there cannot in practice be a “break” or limit to it.

We can imagine a break or limit to the persistence of our concept of our body, or to the story of our life, but Awareness itself is an indivisible Now-ness by its very nature. The “moment of death” will be the same in respect of that Now-ness as “this moment” (the idea of moments is a fiction, remember) – and so will the next “moment”, after “death”. It wasn’t that the body was real and contained consciousness, and so it is therefore not that its death is real and will be an end for consciousness.

Now doesn’t end, so neither does Awareness.

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