18 December 2012

The ego is a clock

Charles Naughton and Ray Milland in a promotional still for one of my favorite films noirs,
The Big Clock (1948,  dir. John Farrow)

In the PBS series, The Power of Myth, in talking about the Buddhist tradition with Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell succinctly states the first Noble Truth as: "All life is sorrow."

He elaborates by placing this assertion in the context of temporal culture: "All life is sorrow because life is temporal. Life is loss." We live in the passing moment, the present always just slightly out of reach because in the time it takes to point to it, to assert that we have found it, the present has passed already.

We live not in the present, but in the past perfect tense-- "has passed," as above. Time is the measure of loss associated with a life lived in the past perfect tense.

Perhaps we can counteract time and stay this loss, help alleviate suffering, by giving up our position in the past perfect and living in the ever-present moment. We might try to stop grasping toward the present, since it has already slipped behind us in the time taken to reach out, and instead just live the present tense. "Live" instead of "have lived." Do that which should be done right now.

The ego is a clock. It is the device which discerns time, points to its passing. Destroy the clock, destroy the measure of time, leaving only the awareness of now.

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