Time and "The Now"

Ahimsananda's picture

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Time is a difficult, but fascinating concept. I have often used it in my writing about "past" Spiritual events; to point out the way everything kind of "happens at once."

This was an idea that occurred to me many years ago when I became aware that time has no reality apart from that we endow it with. I became aware that the Eucharist I was attending was commemorating, participating in an event that was happening "right now". This was a stunning revelation.

In Non-Dual Spirituality, we spend much time thinking about Time. These days of "New Age" spirituality, or so called "Neo-Advaita", we hear much about "living in The Now". This is an interesting concept that I often think is not really carried to it's ultimate conclusion. We dismiss the "past" as living only in memory. We dismiss the "future", as living only in imagination. But we love "The Now". Let's examine this.

Past, "Now", and future exist in the mind only. We cherish the "Now" because we recognize that "we" are in it. The "I AM" exists in the "Now" only. The "Now" is the quite place. The safe place. The lasting place. But what of "Past" and "Future"?

The Past lives in memory. The future in imagination. Most of us agree on this. But does this not mean that the past and future are illusions? And if only the "Now" is "real", and past and future appear in the "Now" as illusions, what substance do they have, if any? The "Now", in this context, becomes part of Time.

Most of us read Scriptures that are hundreds, even thousands of years old. They are old, written in the past; the world of memory. We do not dismiss these books for being from the past, but cherish them. Why? Are they not from the memory? If memory is of the mind, how can books, no matter how noble or holy, possibly be of any value? The concept of Time here becomes the all important factor. Without the concept of Time, the reality is uncovered; everything unfolds at once. The Scripture is written now, you read the Scripture now, the Scripture is absorbed into the life that created it now. There is no need for Time. The Writing, reading, absorbing are a single act that appear in time only because the mind needs to understand the "progress".

The future is made of imagination. We are intuitively aware of the unfolding potential, but the mind fears the lack of definite "plans" and creates "possibilities" and structures to "make" those possibilities we like "happen". This too "happens" in the "Now".

This understanding that the "Now" can not be part of Time, but must be something out of time, and eternal, gave me a better understanding of the "real" meaning of "The Now" In my meditations, I could see that Christ is being crucified right now. Not an "incident" from the "past", but unfolding right now. The "Now" is the unfolding, not a part of "Time". When all is One, all is Love. The "Now" is the Love. The "Now is the unfolding life we see, feel, and are.

The sufferings of the world, as well as it's joys, are all "happening" right now. Past "happenings", and "future" potential all "happen" in the ever present "Now". Not a "Now" that exists in Time, as a sort of "middle ground" between past and future, but an unfolding of the universe. Ever opening, ever Loving.

Gilana's picture

What is interesting to me

What is interesting to me about this topic is that it has never been difficult to be conscious about for me. Everything happening now seems right. My mind can't understand it, but then my mind can't understand most anything. It can only analyse and give pros and cons.

Now is affected by the future and the past not as illusions, but as happenings, just as I sit here right now, I am conscious in all the now's of the past and future. Each affects the other, like a kite's tail...if it waves at the top it works it's way to the bottom, but it is all happening, there at one time.

My guru, while working with me on renunciation, said that it had to go all the way backward and all the way forward. So, it did not happen immediately, but I can see my perceptions changing as the work takes effect. Simply, I don't remember the same things I used to.

All that said and done, I still don't trust the mind to show the way in this or any other concept. I've seen too clearly the workings that are most affecting me, those that are beyond the mind, beyond it's potential to conceptualize. It's like watching a play where the set keeps changing, but you never see anybody moving the furniture! It just changes. And it is all happening in the now.

You said, "This understanding that the "Now" can not be part of Time, but must be something out of time, and eternal, gave me a better understanding of the "real" meaning of "The Now"

My guru says we are always at home, at the intersection of infinity and eternity.

Gilana | Wed, 08/18/2010 - 07:17