The Present Moment Myth & the Non-Existence of Time
What a time to be alive. I’m having the time of my life. Il be finished in no time at all. Oh dear im running out of time. I never have enough time. Time to go.
Time time time. See, we say time all of the time I think it’s time we stopped, doh!
To say that time governs most people’s daily experience is probably an understatement. When time is thought to be real, it then begins to feel real within our mind and then within our whole experience. We start to carry a mental perception of time with us wherever we go.
But what if people found out that time was not real! How would that change the way they experience themselves? How would that change the way in which they interact with the world? No stressful thoughts? No fearful or regretful thoughts? Think of the possibilities that would arise if a being were freed from a perception of time! To not be a slave to the past or a worrier of the future. To not be defined by the past or subject to an inevitable future! But instead to have the freedom to transform at will, with Infinite possibilities!
Well, I have some very good news. Yes it’s true…oh my lord is it true! Time is an actual illusion! It’s a mirage of thought! There is no time built into the fabric of reality at all! But don’t take my word for it, let’s thoroughly explore it together first…
What Is The Nature of No-Time?
For a lot of you reading this, the reality of no-time is not new. You have been a Spiritual Seeker on the path and have already had many glimpses of this timeless dimension. And for you guys specifically…I will invite you later in this article to explore the unorthodox concept called – the Present Moment Myth. But for those who would like to dissect the illusion of time further…let’s begin!
Imagine you are walking a trail through the woods. You are halfway along the trail and stop. You think back to the beginning of the trail when you first entered the woods. Now you imagine reaching the end of the trail and exiting the woods. The beginning of the trail is like the past, the end of the trail like the future, and you are stood halfway like the present. Have you got it? Can you picture that?
Now imagine rising up out of your body, going up up and up until you have a birdseye view of the whole woods. Now you can see the whole trail, the beginning, middle and end. But as you look from this higher view, is there really a compartmentalized beginning, middle and end? Or is there just the whole trail as one single unit?
In the very same way, reality is like this. What is called the past, present and future is actually all a reality coexisting simultaneously.
Now if you zoomed out even further so you could see the whole of planet earth, you would see that whatever is happening all over the planet, is also occurring at the same time. On one side of the planet it may be dark, and on the other light, but both are occurring together. Zoom out even further to the edge of the solar system and you will see all planets moving on their chosen course all at the same time. Go to the edge of the galaxy and you will see all solar systems moving in the same way. Go even further to the edge of the universe (uni-verse, one verse) and you will see the same in regards to all the galaxies themselves. If your sight was vast enough, you would see that all things are happening at the same moment.
Reality is like a ‘disappearing film reel’. With a normal film reel you have many many different frames. But now imagine that each time a new frame appeared before your eyes…the one before it immediately disappeared. And the one after it was Non-Existent. In other words, that you only ever saw one frame. This is like the timeless nature of reality. Life occurring in only one frame, one continuous Eternal Moment.
So reality is always infinitly immediate, and everything in the universe is occurring within it’s immediacy. All that is seeming to occur in this immediacy is change and motion not time. Time is has been created by humans when they sought to measure and calculate this change and motion. They wanted to quantify its nature. And so calendars and clocks were invented. Once calendars and clocks were confused for actual reality… that’s where the mental accumulation of time began. All of a sudden whole nations began to structure their societies on time, and people began to take a mental perception of time on.
Then people’s minds began to run by the clock. Always thinking in terms of time, and not having enough of it. This mental gathering of time runs deeper. People base their whole identity, and sense of what’s possible, from the perceived past. I am my past mistakes and successes they say. One then begins to solidify their identity and therefore their destiny with this false idea. Making it much more difficult to transform and be open to Infinite possibilities.
It’s like, imagine a boat sailing across a lake. As the boat moves it leaves a water trail behind. This water trail eventually fades, but the water still remains constant with the boat in it. In a similar way, we are like the boat, and the water is the immediate reality, and the water trails are the ripples we make whilst moving through the immediate reality. Whatever happens, like the water trail, fades back into the constant immediate nature of reality (like the calm constant lake itself). Most people perceive the water trail as the ‘past’, but in essence, what is called the past are only the ripples and the trail being made within the present.
Knowing this truth, we can never be a prisoner to the past, because the so called past was really the ripples that occurred within the present, quickly to fade allowing a fresh reality once again.
When a so called event from yesterday occurred…it occurred in the immediate reality. When the perceived morrow comes…it arrives as the now. So all is the immediate reality and the immediate reality is all. When people hold onto a previous now event, they experience it as a memory in the mind. A memory that is being experienced in the present. And when people imagine tomorrow, they imagine it only now in the immediate reality. So in reality…all things happen now and only now.
But when a person is not aware of this truth…they relive the past by focusing on the memory of it in the present. Or feel the future is real by being overcome by imaginations of what the morrow might bring. It’s a trick and illusion of the mind when it’s given too much attention and legitimacy.
It’s like going on a hike in a beautiful mountain range, a person may be so focused on how challenging the climb at the peak will be, that they forget to enjoy the views along the way. What a tragedy it would be to spend one’s whole life wasting time focusing on what the mind imagines, compared to the actual reality right before you. And yet this is what most beings do on daily basis.
Paying Attention to the Immediate Reality
So what can people do?
Well, first they can realise that time isn’t a real law in the substance of reality (as explained above). Instead they can realise that it’s only experienced in the mind by giving full attention to memories and imaginations. Then one can simply begin to bring the attention to the immediate reality and the objects within it. Relax all thinking and see all objects with a purity of attention (attention without thoughts, concepts or ideas). In this way, all things begin to reveal their true natures to the seer of them. Time melts away and the timeless reality is revealed.
Another shift of attention we can do, is to bring the focus into the being-ness of the heart and body. Feel what you are in this moment. In other words, come into the direct perception of being. Feel who you are in this moment. Feel a sense of existence within you, in every fibre of your being. It is the most fundamental sense of ‘existing’, the feeling that you are here, and that you exist. How does that feel within the body? Just stay with that primal sense.
Doing this, you shift from an illusory perception of time created by the mind, into a timeless feeling at the centre of your being. Here in this timelessness is the truth, and truth brings freedom, and freedom brings deep tranquillity.
So quite simply, every time you become conscious that you are lost in thoughts of past and future, turn your attention to the Immediate Reality before you and into the natural sense of existence within. Do this enough, and the sense of time will begin to fade like the water trail behind a boat (like the analogy above).
The Present Moment Myth
So as promised, here is an advanced concept for those who have been spiritual seekers for a while and have had many glimpses of the timeless nature of existence. For those, they may have been practicing ‘living in the present moment‘ with mixed success. Some days they feel they are really in the peaceful flow of the present moment, other days they seem to exist in a solid sense of time, lost in their thoughts. And so they seem to move in and out of the present consistently. So what to do when this is the case? How can they get constantly established in the “so called” present?
So here’s the real kicker…
What if firstly, i told you that the present moment doesn’t exist? It’s a myth?
No really… it’s a misleading myth.
It’s an idea that most spiritual seekers, and even material seekers, would probably find hard to accept. This idea of the present moment has been with us so long that it has never really been questioned. It’s a bedrock of the spiritual world and seeking. Let’s explore…
Here’s the fault with the present moment idea. As explored earlier in the article, there is only one moment, and more accurately it could be called ‘The Isness‘. Just what is occurring as it is. It’s just ‘this‘, that which is occurring in front and all around you as you read this. And this bit…and this bit.
There is only one of it. Whereas the word ‘present’ is implying opposites also. For instance, that there is more than one moment. That there are many moments, and that the spiritual seekers must enter the present one. This often makes the seeker feel that they can get it wrong. That they can miss it. That sometimes they are ‘present’ and other times they are in the ‘past’ or ‘future’. It may seem a very subtle difference, but at the more refined levels of a seeker on the path towards Self-Realization…it will make all the difference in the world! It will mean the difference between duality and non-duality. Between mental slavery or freedom!
So let me tell you a little secret that the Liberated beings throughout the ages realised. There is no past, present or future! There is only ‘this‘, or ‘that which is occurring‘. This truth turns the whole seeking game on its head! Because when a being realises this, they realise that the ‘moment’ is inevitable and always already here. In other words, you’re never not here. That means… it’s impossible to not be “so called” ‘present’. Even thoughts of past and future are all occurring in the ‘one moment’! All experiences, including sense objects, the senses, emotions, self-will, mind, thoughts, intellect and the ‘I’ sense, are all occurring in this ‘one eternal moment’. So whatever is being experienced is occurring always only here.
This has tremendously huge implications! It means that you are already always… inherently NOW! No need to ‘try’ and be ‘present’ anymore…
When this realization sinks in on a deep level…things will happen in a big big way within you!
All my love & respect. Christopher xxx