Experience is a substance held together by time.
Imagine the tension needed to hold together such a substance. Only consciousness can provide that tension.
The tension is not just the inherent stress of being aware. Think about looking back on a time nostalgically. You were already there once, but now you’re there again in a different and new way, recasting experience, reliving life, recreating being. Then think of how the present moment is just the now, and you only know it one way, yet it is available and amenable to be reflected on later, altering and reforming it.
So every experience, every moment, although it can only begin once, has the capacity for layers and depths, which are for all intents and purposes infinite. So every possible experience is undergirded by possible recreation of that experience in a new form, at a later moment. You as the aware person in the moment don’t know which moments will accrete a glow which makes it shine in recollection, as if a spark of eternity. That is the tension which holds together experience: that even when a moment will live forever in you as an experience, you do not know it at the time it happens. That tension, that every moment or experience may recurse infinitely, that tension running along the surface of time is what holds together experience.
This is the substance of experience, not thought. If you get Alzheimer’s and forget these moments, they have not disappeared, no more than time itself disappears. The substance of experience moves in time, but its material does not vanish like durations of time, because the tension which holds it together binds it into a material which reaches beyond the vanishing materiality of thought, which is dependent on being in time.
But you still don’t know the materiality of this supposed beyond. Don’t become anxious that you can’t conceptualize it. Take a deep breath, and go back to the beginning. Take a deep breath, take off your thinking cap. Let out the deep breath. Start again where we started. In that moment, when your two year old daughter was out of town, and you saw her pink hat on her helicopter toy in the noonlight, which you would later recollect as a representation of that time period when she was two, in that moment it first happened. . .Is it your thinking which transforms it? Do you think that experience, that image, of a quiet moment in an unremarkable afternoon, which would return to stand in for immense amounts of lived activity, do you think that experience into perpetuity?
True, it is by conscious thought that you are aware of that recurring experience, but not until later, and not by your own will power. The moment it happens its lifetime of recollection is suspended in a void, a place beyond thinkableness.
The substance of experience is held together by consciousness, which must die with the person, otherwise it’s not human consciousness, and yet the material created may live on long beyond its origination. How can we possibly describe this subtle material?
Is it not enough to say where, or from whom, it is sourced? Perhaps that is its very nature — to have no image, no concept, to be only a relatedness, only relationships. Is it not likely this material of the beyond is hewn by a tension of sources?