I’ve been thinking about time. Well not so much ‘thinking’ about it as being open to insight...
And I had a flash of insight this morning when I recalled the old saying that we are born anew each day and that, basically, all that gives us a sense of the continuity of ‘time’ are the thoughts and thought patterns in our minds. Without thought there would be no past and no future. Past and future exist as nothing other than thought. All that’s actually ‘real’ is the present....it’s the only reality. It’s all that ever has or ever will exist in terms of time. Nothing ever happened in the ‘past’ (it happened in the present moment; the form of which simply changes). Nothing can ever happen in the ‘future’ (it can only happen in the present moment). Is it the human mind that keeps us locked in a sense of ‘time’ - an illusory sense that is glued together by mere thoughts?
In Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’ he makes the point that if you were to visit a world where there were no humans; only animals and trees and could ask them what time it was (and assume that they could answer you!)...they would probably stare at you as if you were mad and answer simply ‘Why, it’s NOW! What other time could it be?’
If ‘time’ is simply a mental construct held together by mere thoughts...why do we cling to it so strongly? Is it because from our past we assemble a sense of identity (which can only be our ego identity, the false self, because the ‘content’ of this self is incidental and interchangable and therefore can’t reflect our TRUE, innate ‘identity’)? And do we need the notion of future simply to project onto it our desire for fulfilment and wholeness (which we mainly tend to seek by acquiring and accumulating ‘things’ and objects)?
Is this inability to be at peace, to appreciate and dwell fully in the present moment because we’re bound by the mental constructions of past and future an inherent human dysfunction?
When I say that past and future don’t really exist obviously I’m not denying the passage of ‘linear time’ as we experience it. Buuut....there is no succession of separate ‘moments’ really; there’s only one infinite present moment without beginning or end, and the form of this moment changes constantly (one moment I’m standing in this room, the next moment I’m moving into another room).
The thing is, we latch onto these changes and make stories of out of them and we cling to those stories and invest them with meaning and emotion and carve an identity out of them, rather than simply letting them go. We carry the ‘past’ with us rather than realising that it’s simply the movement of a dance. Once a particular movement has been performed it’s over; the present moment takes on a new movement. Why keep that movement alive in your mind and miss what's currently going on? And why project yourself into an imagined future to think about what the next movement will be, again missing what's currently happening?
I don’t know if I’ve expressed this with any clarity. But I know what I mean, at least. I remember Byron Katie explaining to Oprah Winfrey how we can deal with the ‘bad’ things that happen to us. I remember her saying that if someone hits you, for example, the good thing is that the moment it happens, it’s OVER. The only way it’s kept alive is if you keep replaying it in your mind and running stories through your mind about it. If you keep replaying it in your mind, then it’s not the other person that's hitting you - it’s you that’s hitting yourself. (This doesn’t obviously mean you ought not take action to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but it does mean that you immediately let it go, because it’s no longer real - it’s just a memory, which means it’s just a thought and nothing more). I found this tremendously liberating and something immediately ‘clicked’ in my mind.
Obviously we can't escape the measurement of time in this world of ours. We still need to operate by the clock in order to function in our society. There's no escaping 'clock time' But perhaps psychologically we can unhook ourselves from it and recognise it simply as a construct. The past is over the moment it happens and so we can just let it go. By all means, deal with whatever issues come up from it in the present, but then let that go as well. Just let go of all your baggage of ‘past’, and equally the baggage of ‘future’. Recognise it all just as thought. It has no inherent existence. All that’s real is this moment, right here, right now. The form of that moment is continually changing. Let's just flow with it and stop creating ‘time’ out of it.....