The Myth of Past and Future: Why Now is All We Have

Time is relative, not absolute. The present moment is the only reality.

The Tyranny of Clocks

We live in devotion to clocks. Our days are defined by seconds, minutes and hours, structured into calendars and appointments. Time seems to flow in one direction at a steady, unstoppable pace. The clock dictates when we wake up, go to work or school, take lunch breaks, reunite with family, and when we should go to bed. Our lives are circumscribed by time.

This mechanistic view of time as absolute permeated society for centuries. The “Newtonian” universe operated like a great clock, with time marching on uniformly. We constructed more and more complex clocks and calendars to track time with precision, highlighting our collective obedience to this external authority. We became slaves to the clock and to time.

The Liberation of Relativity 

But in the 20th century, Einstein’s theory of relativity shattered these long-held notions about time. No longer an absolute that uniformly marches on, time was revealed to be relative and subjective according to one’s frame of reference. Einstein showed time slows down or speeds up based on gravitational forces and velocity—the closer one moves toward the speed of light, the slower time passes. Space and time were inextricably linked as “spacetime”—a four-dimensional fabric from which the universe materializes.

Einstein’s revolutionary concepts of time shook up science and our entrapment by the clock. Time was no longer something objective that existed outside of us, but dependent on one’s perception and place within spacetime. We were no longer just subjected to time, we were participators in its very creation! 

The Power of Presence

This participatory view of time is spiritually liberating. As human consciousness observes and interacts with the world, we are not just in time, we generate time. The relativity of time emerges from our subjective engagement with space, matter and each other. Once we recognize our co-creative role in time, we are empowered to live more fully in the now. 

The past is recalled by the mind and thus subject to interpretation and meaning. The future is undefined, influenced by our choices and habits in the present moment. Time becomes malleable, shaped by our individual and collective relationship to being. When we focus solely on measuring time, we become imprisoned by it. Caught in mental divisions of past and future, we lose touch with the aliveness of now.

Why do we so easily lose ourselves in memories and fantasies about the past and future? Because the mind clings to what it knows to avoid the uncertainty of now. Being fully present requires vulnerability, faith and surrender. When we release the grip on past and future, we rest in the fullness of now. 

Inhabiting the Timeless Present

When we are fully awake in each moment, small experiences become infused with magic and meaning. We tap into intuitive wisdom about when to act, when to still, when to stay, when to go. No longer fighting time or fleeing the now, we enter the flow of life with equanimity.

Timelessness is found right here, right now. It is revealed through presence, not measured by clocks. When we stop conforming to external timelines and tap into the inner unfolding of now, we become more spontaneous, creative, and joyful. Unburdened by the past or future, each moment overflows with possibility.

Artists, dreamers, lovers, mystics, meditators, athletes, and many indigenous cultures inhabit this eternal now. Lovers lose all sense of time in moments of union. Athletes enter “the zone” beyond thought and time. Meditation roots us in the senses, quieting the past and future. Mindfulness immerses us in the depth of routine activities. In the timeless realm, the aliveness and beauty of now is everything. 

The Illusion of Time Past and Future

We assume the past definitively exists and the future lies set in stone ahead of us. But the past lives on only as memories encoded in mind, no more real or reachable than a dream. The future is entirely open, dependent upon choices made now. In truth, all we have is this never-to-be-repeated present moment. 

The mind clings to the illusion of time for psychological survival. The past gives us identity and the future promises security. But when we rest in the fullness of now, we relinquish fears about the future and regrets of the past. We entrust ourselves to the eternal unfolding of each moment. 

The now is eternity’s portal—ever open, ever present, beckoning us to step out of time and enter the infinite.

Time and Eternity Entwined 

May we discover islands of timeless grace—moments when we transcend time. May we create, play, and dance with time’s flow. May we laugh at the illusion of time past and future, and awaken to the endless now. For now is eternity seeding itself in disguise. Now is born afresh each breath, each thought, each interaction. Now is where we have always been. When we live fully in the present, time becomes not a tyrant to escape, but a tool to utilize creatively. We become masters of time when we live timelessly in each moment.

I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.

August 16, 2023

Marcus Dickinson

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