I am writing to you during one of the most remarkable events of my life. I am experiencing an emotion I haven’t felt since 2001: shock. Powerful insights like this tend to hit you a while before you’re aware of them, and then they generally unfold over several days, with your consciousness slowly making sense of the radical new truth over time. Everyone’s had insights, it’s just that very few people turn these sorts of events into language by discussing them with others, so people don’t really recognize them as insights.
The first major insight I had was in the hospital shortly after my brain injury when I was five. That was when I first realized that if you could die at five, then the only point of being alive was to move in a positive direction until then. In my observations people were extremely consistent in that those who didn’t move in a positive direction were fearful and ultimately afraid of dying. I already knew death was inevitable, so going a positive direction until then seemed smart to a five year old so that is what I did.
My understanding that our thoughts create our reality was built very slowly over time because I discovered it through all kinds of secret experiments I rather callously conducted using virtually everyone around me. So the knowledge that reality was an inside-out manifestation came to me far too gradually to feel like a strong single insight. It was more like a slow and gentle awakening with no specific start or end.
My next major insight was in Budapest in 2001. The combination of a non-Latin-based language that left me mentally lost, the relaxation of a break after some intense work, and feelings of love and appreciation about the people and surroundings around me all lead to the perfect situation to have a profound realization.
As I’ve noted before, maybe it was a Bolte-Taylor styled stroke–there was a flash of whiteness and a deep tiredness immediately following it. Stroke or epiphany, however it came, a deep and abiding peace came over me and has stayed with me ever since that day.
Since then I’ve understood the perspective that provides our spiritual gurus with their unworried nature. Since then I’ve also understood formerly incomprehensible spiritual quotes. And most importantly, since then I’ve realized that not everyone understands that they’re always thinking, nor that their thinking is creating their reality. That was a big shock. In fact, it was the last shock I had before this one: you guys don’t know you’re creating your reality.
Of course I communicate with people who live in the ego-world full time, all the time, and I spend time there too, so I’m comfortable with it and I visit there often. But even when I’m there I know that ego creations are really an illusion of mind, which is why I’m successful at helping other people recognize in a very solid, scientific sense that our thinking absolutely does impact our reality. If it’s explained by someone who truly understands it, it’s very straightforward to come to the understanding that many things we take as real are in fact not-real.
My third major insight unfolded over the last few days or maybe even a week or more. Looking back, I can see signs that it developed over time, but because the insight directly involves time I’m not really sure how long it’s been unfolding. I just know my awareness has slowly been creeping toward reintegrating time into my consciousness.
I didn’t recognize this at first, but over the last 12 hours time has reformed into something I recognize. Of course I realized that time always should be kept track of, but losing track of its ongoing existence over longer periods of time was an oversight rather than a decision. I remembered the past fine, I just never noticed that I never noted when an event took place. I know it seems weird, but seeing time has been as weird to me as you not seeing it is to you.
Since my accident as a kid I was aware that time was mental construct. This fact is why NASA is struggling with what to do with time in deep space. Leave a pretty arbitrary set of rules behind and suddenly time becomes an extremely slippery concept. So NASA agrees that time is a fiction, but mathematically proving that and actually living outside of it are two different things.
I honestly don’t know if something happened slowly over time, as with my study and understanding of thought and reality, or if it came as a result of my own stroke of insight (to steal a phrase) in Budapest. Signs point to the fact that it began that year in Budapest but either way, at some point I began living so thoroughly in the present moment that I literally stopped noticing the passing of time. I had a few hints of this over the years, but I never added them up to a loss of that sense almost entirely.
I know this all sounds incredible but I mean what I’m saying quite literally. Because as any decent physicist could explain, if you don’t glue a bunch of now’s together with your imagination there is no time. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t be aware of a vague date, but at the same time I wouldn’t automatically plot that on a larger timeline in relation to other events. It would only exist between its two nearest points and then vanish. This was an extremely common practice a few hundred years ago before clocks, but for today it’s a very, very unusual way to live (in at least the modern world).
The benefits I get with no passage of time include no grudges or the harbouring of any other negative emotions. No worry, lessons rather than regrets, no blame, and in most cases I can switch emotions comfortably and quickly toward more positive experiences. I can still experience time pressures but I can’t hold onto them.
I am very available to human beings or living things when I’m present, and I feel a very strong sense of responsibility to others, but I don’t have a solid enough idea of a “me” to help me with a natural grasp of more conceptual things like time or even money. So a debt makes more sense to me than the dollars, does that make sense to you? I can add and manage both money and time very well, but their illusory nature makes them less sticky for my mind and I’m now aware I have to make their reality a much more conscious effort.
How much time has passed since this shift is what has shocked me. I’m not even sure what lead to me becoming aware of it having happened other than the fact that I appear to have caught up on my sleep for the first time in about eight years. Maybe it was a stroke and I just reconnected an old circuit. I suppose it could be that simple. But regardless of how, I suddenly became re-aware of time!
I’m still aware it’s an illusory state, but it was a complete mistake to not artificially integrate it into what was otherwise a very healthy understanding of reality. I suspect I would have accidentally hurt others due to this temporary displacement of time. In the past it was probably my other work and relationships that caused time to be kept more prominently in my mind. Without a regular schedule I lost my final mooring to the idea of time, at least until whatever brought it slowly back over the last week or two.
The net result of all of this is that I have a lot to catch up on and the books that are being completed are extremely important to me in that they represent what is really a life’s work in trying to understand what my accident taught me. So to ensure I have the time to live up to all of my existing responsibilities plus add some additional ones relating to a renewed dedication to time, I have no choice but to temporarily change the schedule of the blog.
This is a major insight that I’m confident all of us can learn from, so just as I took some time to write this one, I will add blog posts as I uncover this fascinating mystery. Already I’ve had an incredible amount of time-related insights, so I will add posts as circumstances allow. I really do have many very important things to take care of, but I’ll be sure not to waste this rising awareness. Hopefully my learning about how to move toward your sense of time will help you also understand how to move toward this very peaceful head-space, where time seems a little less tyrannical to you.
I know I have a lot of loyal readers for whom this will be very bad news and I am sorry. But these coming pieces should be very deep and similarly educational. Also, please always remember that the capabilities I write about here are always a natural aspect of you. You don’t need to improve or get better or learn something from me. I’m not creating you, I’m just waking you up.
You just need to forget there’s a you. That’s where the peace is that everyone’s looking for. Add to that an awareness of some key abstract concepts like time and you can find ways to combine your ego’s skills and spirit’s wisdom to create a much better life whether you are being taught to do so or not.
I thank you for your graciousness in creating this extra time for me. It’s still a very strange experience to suddenly become aware of something as basic to people as that. I’m sure it will teach me a lot to study it and reintegrate it and I look forward to sharing those lessons with you in the unknown future. Until then, please take good care of yourself and all those you love and I will see you all sometime soon.
With great respect for your time and attention, s
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
PS It’s just the most bizarre and incredible thing ever. And yet it somehow feels immediately natural. This is remarkable.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.