Posted 5 July 2017 by Sal
The Concept of Moving Through Time
I can see that all I experience is now. I can say there is nothing behind the curtain, and if I look, I’m now, and I’ve always been this now. I can see that! But there’s a feeling that the “I am” that is now, is because of what’s been before. Does that make sense?
What’s moving through time? You should be able to find something if it’s moving through time, right? If there’s something about you that is moving through time, what is it?
I would say this, just whatever this is.
Where is time? Whenever you look, when is it? Is it now?
Yes, and there’s the idea that if someone hits me on my arm, my arm would hurt, and that hurt would continue to be there even though the hitting was over. So, I feel there’s a causality and a connection.
The causality happens in the mind. The analogy that is commonly used is to the movie appearing on the screen. The screen is never moving. On the screen, there appear to be pictures that are moving, right? They’re all moving now, but the screen itself is not going anywhere. The pictures are just appearing and disappearing every millisecond, right? Every millisecond a new picture is appearing. Not in time because the screen is not going anywhere. It stays right there.
Not only that, the person on the screen isn’t actually a person, is it? It’s just light, but it looks like a person. There’s an appearance of a person, but it isn’t really there. It’s appearing and dissolving on this screen now, now, now, etc. This is a metaphor, so it’s not perfect.
Consider the screen to be you, your essential being, and on the screen of you is appearing now, now, now, now, etc. Everything is coming and going in no time. No time, not even a millisecond. It’s just like buzzing. Right now, there’s nothing behind the curtain, there’s only this moment. This is how I see it.
In this movie of now, if the mind tries to remember previous frames, it will create something called time. That creation of time, however, is just an appearance, isn’t it? It’s not actual. As you see for yourself, there’s only, always now. Your whole life is always now. It’s always been now. From the first day you can remember, it’s been now. Also, the moment you die, it’s going to be now.
On the screen of now, is just this movie playing here. Then the mind says, “Okay, this indicates time,” and it creates linear time, which is just a concept. Conceptually, it’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with having the concept of time. Conceptually, it’s true. Next week, you book your flight or schedule your dentist appointment, but it’s all happening now. When it comes, it’s still now, isn’t it? The concept of time in this manner is not at all harmful.
The harmful aspect of time is the psychological aspect of time. It is a thought that says, “Oh, when I was a child, that happened to me and that is why I am…” When we place value on these memories, it causes pain now from things that don’t actually exist, now.
Okay, I do see that is totally irrefutable.
The thing we want is to be free from suffering. Having the concept that someone hit my arm and it happened yesterday, is part of the movie. It’s fine, but the fact of the matter is there is only now. That’s true, isn’t it? There is no yesterday, is there? That’s the actual truth. Truth is only what you know, now. Anything else has to be in the mind.
Inquirer 2: Something you said previously about the movie screen helped me see something a little bit differently. It’s the idea that the current image appearing on the screen is absolutely independent of anything that previously appeared on the screen. This image can be here without it having had any previous image.
Let’s take a look. To use the—admittedly imperfect—movie analogy again, what is an image on the screen? It is just one still frame and that one frame stands alone. Alone, that frame is not dependent on the previous frame. But, when strung together, one frame after the other, it gives the appearance of movement through time and space. In truth, however, that movement is illusory. When the mind strings each individual thought together and collates the thoughts to create an illusory self, it appears that there is the movement of a “self” through time and space. The mind puts it all together to create a story, and it’s not a problem. That’s what makes a movie of life like that.
There are two ways to look at causality. One way is to look at the Big Bang as the cause of everything. Under this view, this moment is caused by everything else that has ever happened. What is, always has a previous event that caused it, and the causality always leads all the way back to the Big Bang. That view is in the play of mind. The second view—which is true because we can only know what is now—is that there’s nothing behind the curtain, and nothing has caused anything. There is only what is, this one frame appearing, now. This view is hard for the mind to grasp.
You can stop the mind now, for a second, and see that the only thing you actually know is this. Why is this now the way it is? I have no idea. Where did it come from? I have no idea. All I know is that, it is.
You have to see that the feeling of traveling through time is just based on a belief that you are the body-mind, and you are going through time. When you jump out of the body-mind (metaphorically), and you’re aware of yourself as just knowing, then you see that you are not going anywhere. You’re here. You’re aware! It’s only because you relate to the body-mind as who you are that you think you are traveling through time.