Posted 5 July 2017 by Sal
The Concept of Moving Through Time
Inquirer: Experientially, 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. Does that make sense?
Sal: 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 the time? Whenever you look, when is it? Is it now?
Yes. So, there’s the idea that if someone hit 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 Play of Leela, in Maya, in the mind. Just like the movie happens on the screen. The screen is never moving. On the screen, there appears to be pictures that are moving, right? They’re all moving now, but the screen itself is not going anywhere. The now 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. It’s not even a person, it just 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., etc. This is a metaphor, so it is not perfect. Consider the screen to be you, your essential being, and on the screen of you is appearing now, now, now, now etc., 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.
So, in the movie of this now, if this 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 it’s 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 in the Play of Leela. 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. The thought that says, “Oh, when I was a child, this happened to me and . . . . “ When we hold on to these memories, it causes pain now from things that don’t actually exist, now.
Okay, I do see it is totally irrefutable.
It’s fine to have that concept. The thing we want to do is 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 actual truth. Truth is only what you know now. You can experience now as truth. Anything else has to be in the mind. The rest is at best, inaccurate.
Inquirer 2: Something you said previously about the screen and the movie helped me see somthing a little bit differently. It is the idea that the current image appearing on the screen is absolutely not dependent on anything that appeared on the screen before it, right? This image can be there without it having had any previous image.
To use the, admittedly imperfect, movie analogy again, what is an image on the screen? In fact, it is just one still frame. 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. But in truth, that movement is illusory. When one thought is strung together with another thought in the mind, and collated to create a self, then it appears that there is a movement of self through time and space.
That is how I see it.. The mind can put it all together to create a story about it, no problem. That’s what makes a movie of life like that. There are two ways to look at causality. One is to look at the Big Bang as the cause of everything. So, this moment is caused by everything else that has ever happened or this moment wouldn’t be this way. 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. It’s hard for the mind to grasp that.
Now, you can stop the mind for a second and see, the only thing the mind actually knows 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 you have that you’re traveling through time somewhere is just based on a belief. The belief that you’re the body/self and you are going through time. When you jump out of the body, metaphorically, and you’re aware of yourself as not body, just as 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 that you think you are traveling through time.