I believe that from an experiential perspective, time is an illusion and it doesn’t exist.
The only moment in time that exists is NOW. Right here. This moment you are currently within, that blends into the next. and the next. and the next.
The “past’ and the “future” don’t exist. They are just words to frame and give understanding to the present moment.
The “past”? When it was happening it was a – present moment. At the time the past was happening, it was the now.
Even when you look back on the past and remember it, you’re still doing it right here, right now. You’re not visualizing a past moment, you’re visualizing your memory of that moment, right here, right now.
When you feel the emotions associated with that memory, it’s all still happening right now.
Same thing with the future. The future is just a present moment that hasn’t arrived yet. When you’re thinking about and imagining the future, you’re still imagining it right now.
The present moment right here, right now, is all that exists, and all that will ever exist.
There’s profound wisdom to this if you can let go of/loosen your understanding of time and how it works for a little while.
There’s a reason why all of the “enlightened” ones from the Buddha to Eckhart Tolle to Mindfulness meditation teachers and Yogis alike all teach techniques that are meant to do one thing – bring us back to the present moment.
“Presence” is powerful, because now is all that exists.
The Buddha defined enlightenment as freedom from suffering. Why?
He understood that most of our suffering is created in the mind. That we create suffering for ourselves by the ways in which we think about and deal with the present moment.
He understood that if now is all that I have, why would I ever spend my now in suffering?
If the now is all that exists, if the present moment is all that we have, why would we ever create an unpleasant now for ourselves? Why would we ever create unnecessary stress, anxiety, frustration or anger for ourselves and ruin the present moment?
If the now is all that exists, we should do everything in our power to have the best NOW that we can!
To feel our best, right now! To think our best, right now! To act in our best interests…right now!
Again – if now is all that I have, why would I ever spend my now in suffering?
Hard times and pain in life WILL come to us. But we can choose how we respond to it. We can choose our reaction and response in the now.
Just because you have an excuse or a justification for your sadness/depression/anxiety doesn’t mean you have to take the bait. You can choose a different response in the now.
You can always choose to smile through a hard time. Laugh through a hard time. Make light of the fucked up shit that has happened to you.
When there is pain, you can choose to deal with it RIGHT NOW. Dive into it and feel it and express it so that your next now isn’t so painful.
If you’ve been avoiding something, you can deal with it now. If there’s some unresolved issue, you can deal with it now. If you’re stressed out because of work, you can deal with it right now.
Prolonging for the future doesn’t work because the future doesn’t exist. The pain that you have right now will be with you in the next now because you couldn’t handle it now. NOW never goes away, there’s no avoiding it.
It’s why champions, actors/actresses, and successful businesspeople alike all say the same thing – something along the lines of “I worked my entire life to reach a goal and when I finally reached it, I still wasn’t happy.”
Because they never learned how to remain in the present moment. All of their goal seeking and chasing was avoiding the moment that is right here, right now. They never learned how to pay attention to what is already right in front of them. They chased a future that didn’t exist because….all that exists is now.
It’s the quintessential, “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”
There is no such thing as a destination, the only thing that exists IS the journey. Your destination won’t bring you happiness, but your ability to be present and enjoy the journey will.
All goals, objectives, and pursuits, are realistically meaningless because of this. Goal chasing the future instead of enjoying the present moment right here right now. Focused on the destination instead of enjoying the journey.
The real test is our ability to enjoy the journey on a daily basis for ourselves. Our ability to remain in the present moment and feel as good as we can in the now.
The only moment that matters is right now. Take a deep breath. Feel that for a minute….
Don’t get me wrong – It’s not to say that the future doesn’t exist, it’s that your now creates your future. What you do right now will create your future.
In reality all I can do to focus on a better future (instead of worrying), is doing what I can do right now in this moment. If I can’t do anything right now, it’s fruitless to think about the future.
My future is an extension of my now, so the decisions I make right now are the most important of all.
Cultivate the best now that you can. It’s the secret to enlightenment, and theres a reason why it’s a consistent message across all spiritual practices.
Now is all that we have and all that we will ever have. Now is the only moment that exists.
Now, go out there and make the best now that you can 🙂
Also published on Medium.