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Don't Give a F*** about New Year's Resolutions

thoughts & comment — 02 Jan 2014

MANY OF US MAKE New Year Resolutions at this time. It is a chance to change behaviours that are bothersome to us by resolving to take up new behaviours, whether it be eating healthily, meditating or being more loving.

I remember back at the start of 2000 how the whole world seemed different, filled with new possibility, at least for a short while. Of course, pretty soon we realized we we were back to business as usual, and the hope for a new beginning rapidly faded as the same old problems followed us into a new millennium. But just for a few days or maybe even weeks, we had that innocent hope that world would be forever new.

One of the ultimate cycles of time is of course represented by the Long Count Mayan calendar, which charts time cycles up to tens of thousands of years and more, something incomprehensible to the modern mind. This calendar finished a grand cycle around the winter solstice of 2012, although different researchers give slightly different dates. As with 2000, we felt the buzz of a new beginning… the start of a new world. Unlike the contrived cycles of the Gregorian calendar millennium change, these Mayan cycles seem to many of us more meaningful because they were defined by a civilization more in rhythm with the cosmos: a people who were unbelievably astronomically sophisticated, and who left a profoundly mysterious legacy in their treatment of time and their forecasts for the future.

Why are cycles of time feel so important to us? What is it about new cycles that feels so freeing?

The concept of time is important for us because it allows us to calibrate or catalogue experience as past, present or future. This allows us to construct a timeline. We think we know what past, present and future mean because we understand the model, but they are actually fictions.

The past and the future are stories or dreams we unconsciously construct that give ourselves a sense of separateness and specialness. Our story is who we think we are: 'I' did this, and that then caused 'me' to do that… or, 'I' will do this, which will allow 'me' to do that. The 'I' is predicated on time. Take the time dimension out of the equation, and suddenly the whole 'I' construct collapses — reduced to pure and simple awareness. This is what happens when we focus on the present moment… we weaken the sense of 'I'. In Buddhist teachings, this might be called mindfulness; in advaita or non-dual teachings, this might be called awakening to truth.

Time is the great validator of the ego. It allows us to have a unique story. And when new cycles of time begin, we get excited because we think that the ego will get a whole new way of validation. The New Age is all about the new ego… the spiritual self that is defined by a spiritual story. But this is just ego in a new 'loving' and 'friendly' disguise, one which we think will be the solution to all our present problems, individually and collectively.

But ego itself is the problem, not specifically nasty or unethical egos. Ego is the problem because it defines separation, and it is separation that fuels most of the major problems facing humankind today.

Cycles of time are actually the chains that keep us in bondage. And new cycles are just new links in the chain, no matter how earth-shattering or exciting they appear to be. And the only way to break time-cycles is to practice stepping out of time. That is where the real revolution begins. And in stepping out of time we drop into authentic union and resonance with all other beings. The question is: how do we drop out of time?

By realizing that time itself is an illusion. We look at our memories and our thoughts, and we realize that they are not real. We look at our future hopes and plans, and realize that in this moment they have no reality. All that is actually here is naked awareness — a presence — and everything else is a fiction. When we become that naked awareness that envelops and pervades everything, we have broken the chains of time and are no longer bound by its cycles. 2012 might have seemed important, but it is completely irrelevant when we realize that this moment… right now… 'this'… this is where the real revolution can happen. And unlike moments in time that are fleeting, this moment is here always, whether we acknowledge it or prefer to remain in our temporal fantasies.

So perhaps make this New Year's Resolution to let go of the fantasy of time: collapse the fiction of self to reveal the clear presence that has always been there underneath, a presence that does not give a f*** about anything or anyone because it fully and completely accepts all experience. And that is the paradox… when we don't give a f*** from this place of unconditionality, we actually make the biggest and most loving contributions to those around us. But when we 'think' we care, we are caught in the trap of thinking that the caring 'I' can change the world for the better. It can't and it never has.

Happy New Year to you all.