A Nature of Time
The Past is not a real place that we can (or should!) visit. In fact, what we think of as The Past is nothing more than our memories, often filtered through the perspective of our Ego, of events that happened prior to this moment and our emotional associations with them.
Likewise, the Future has not happened yet. I recall, throughout my childhood and adolescence, having suffered under an imposed lifestyle of perfection; if I wasn’t perfect according to the customs of my family’s culture, then I was essentially deemed as a disappointment to God and the godliness of the family. So, I had made it a habit to, in a word, daydream all possible scenarios of upcoming interactions – complete with the detailed playing-out of scenes in my head of what might be said and how I might respond, and all the various combinations of statements, questions, and answers I could conceive – thereby ensuring (in my mind) the greatest likelihood of success: preventing embarrassment of any sort. Needless to say, I’d wind up spending a good deal of time, effort, and concentration on these endeavors; oddly enough, it had become such an ingrained habit, that I wouldn’t even recognize the reality of what I was doing or the brainpower I was wasting. In fact, it wasn’t until I recently began the practice of grounding and mindfulness in meditation that I even began to perceive the existence of this attachment. Once I became aware, I immediately stripped this futuristic mental drama of all its imagery and perceived reality; and, suddenly, I was only talking to myself, in the Here and Now. And the whole exercise seemed silly.
After all, of all time and effort I wasted in planning in this way, as far as I can recall, all the future scenarios I’d planned for never once occurred as I’d intended. For, I cannot induce others to speak or interact as I want them to. I can only respond…
The Future is not here. The Past is forever gone. All we truly have is The Now, and that which we’ve brought with us to this precise moment, including the interpretations we’ve formed based on our experiential memories. Enjoy this very small snippet from the beginning of an awesome essay on Time by James M. Corrigan:
…we are only reflecting upon certain essences of existence that we discover once we have vivisected conscious experiences from the living wholeness of the world. “Duration” is a concept that we apply to certain essences that our reflective analysis of our conscious experiences – our lives – finds there. The concept “time” symbolizes these essences and not any particular existent. Are the essences merely artifacts of the vivisecting process of reflective thought?… The idea that time ‘flows’ is based upon the familiar unfolding of our experiential lives, and our asynchronicity with events that we remember, as well as those that we anticipate… what is the source of the continuity of our conscious experiences and also the source of the differences apparent in that continuity?… time is relativized into localized “frames” and those frames introduce what can be called perspective…. There is nothing about Time that necessitates that it flow in a particular ‘direction’, whether we describe that flow as Time moving from the past and flowing into the future, or as events that come from the future and recede into the past…. it appears that Perspective is something about the flow of Time, the contents of Space, and conscious experience. Yet we ignore perspective as a fundamental constituent of reality, and instead grant to Space and Time an ontological status that is only a convention, but a convention that confuses us… When we speak about the Universe, or the World…we are speaking of a conceptual construction that assumes a form for reality. This assumption is present as a pre-cognitive way of viewing the phenomena wherein we assume that what we are conscious of not only exists it is in fact real and separate from us. Our perception of Time and our conceptualization of its aspects are necessarily informed by this pre-cognitive view of reality as a world of separate physical things, and this occults reality from our awareness of it. When we reflect upon our experiences, this view structures the objectified memories of those experiences that are necessary for reflective thought. We can only respond naturally to either our perceptions or our thoughts about these perceptions (or about other thoughts), thus when we are attending to our thoughts when in a reflective pose we are necessarily dealing with experiences that have been vivisected from the ‘flow’ of our experiential lives.
The entire essay is indeed a great read!
Interestingly then, the concept of past lives, on our journey of cosmic evolution, is really a moot point. I really enjoyed this article on the interpretation of past life visions in a universe where you are All and in which Time is happening within The Now! Rather than search suppressed memories for our past selves for the anxiety of it, images of such experiences are more likely (and more helpful!) to be seen as allegory by which we can gain truth effective for our lives in the Here and Now. Thus, whether your vision of Cleopatra is a suppressed memory of you existing in a past form, or if it is instead a connection of two minds in the collective consciousness occurring simultaneously in this amazingly interwoven cosmic fabric, it doesn’t particularly matter. What matters is the lesson the vision holds for the Now.
All of Time is occurring simultaneously (perhaps as a result of our unfolding and overlapping multiverse), and we are All that is, our consciousness wedded to that of every being in the cosmos…
“The distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion, even if a stubborn one.” –Albert Einstein