“Time does not exist. We invented it.” – Albert Einstein
Before you read this, don’t take these words from me, take them from one of the smartest, most intelligent human beings who has ever lived.
Albert Einstein was not a liked guy because he challenged the status quo; in fact, he challenged it so frequently, that he ended up making one of the largest impacts ever known to man.
He is one of the greatest icons who’s ever lived and his work is looked up to today for answers about how the world works.
So before you close off the contemplation that time exists absolutely, consider that time may be, in fact, a belief of the status quo, but not absolute reality.
Look at your clock, you can see the second hand continue clicking.
Paying attention to consistent patterns that you have seen in terms of day and night and then day and night again, seeing the seasons change over and over again from spring, summer, fall and winter you have every damn right to believe that time exists.
I mean after all, these patterns are cookie cutter consistent with the time frames in which they sit in.
With most perceptions in this world, we are made to believe that if things are consistent with the way that we perceive them, then they must be absolutely true.
It’s like the law of cause and effect, for every cause there is a direct effect.
You know that for sure that night is followed by day.
You know that spring is followed by summer, summer by fall, fall by winter—rinse, wash and repeat.
Well, this would be the perfect reasoning to believe that time does exist, because if it didn’t, we wouldn’t have a clue about how to schedule appointments, have meetings, plan our days and be on time for things to get done.
Time has been invented by man so that we can properly communicate with one another.
These constructs we have created have their use, in the most practical sense.
And yet, because we believe in the absolute sense that time exists, we have become its slave, and because of this slavery to time, have been created massive amounts of suffering and anxiety.
Let’s break it down in a better way.
Take a look at the two components of time: past and future. Can you, or have you ever, directly experience the past or the future?
This is a rhetorical question, because the answer is “no.”
This is because there is only one existence, and that is the present moment.
There are a few definitions that can help us come to this conclusion without needing to believe anything.
If we are contemplating whether time exists, then the overarching contemplation is “What really is existence”?
First we have to consider what is existence before we can determine if time exists or not.
Definition 1: Existence
According to Google, existence is the state of living. Other words used to describe this are being and reality.
Definition 2: Reality
Reality is the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.
This means that they are in actuality or real.
But because you have never directly experienced the past and the future what would be left to experience then?
That is the present moment.
First let’s assume that you can only directly experience the present moment.
Where do the past and the future actually exist in the way that we use them then?
They exist as an imagination in our minds.
The paradox here is that imagination doesn’t actually exist, it is only based on the way we are perceiving the physical reality in front of us,which is filtered through the rest of the collective human race.
The past is imagined as memory and the future is imagined as anticipation.
But you are not directly experiencing that imagination.
We think of time linearly or in order from past to present to future.
But we only see time as linear so that the mind can digest time in order to understand it, so we can put our actions into the use for cause and effect.
However, because past and future are a thought, we have begun to think the present moment is a thought.
Which is why a good portion of the human race has never had REAL insight into the now.
Memory and anticipation happen through the mind, through thought, but the present moment is a sensation that runs through your body when you are aware of it.
This sensation that runs through the body is when the breath, the cells and every particle within feels its own existence.
The reason that this sensation (the present moment) is not a part of time is because it is instantly available NO MATTER what the clock says.
“The future is a concept, it doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as Tomorrow. There never will be, because Time is always NOW. That’s one of the things we discover when we stop talking to ourselves and stop Thinking. We find there is only present, only eternal now.” – Alan Watts
What Alan Watts is saying when he says “talking to ourselves” is that our thoughts don’t allow us to feel the present moment within because a thought cannot interpret the present moment.
This then takes us to the inner knowing that you cannot actually experience the present moment either.
“Beyond mind there is no such thing as experience.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj
The only experience that you ever have is what you are interpreting through the mind.
That experience is always born from the past, so it is not a sensation through the body that you are experiencing, it is your thoughts about what you have interpreted in this physical reality.
Essentially, your experience is your thoughts about your past thoughts, or perceptions.
The present moment, though, is not actually an experience, because that implies that the present moment can leave you and you can contemplate what it is with the mind.
So how do I know the present moment is here if I cannot experience it then?
Well, when you say “I,” what you are referring to is your interpretation of who you are.
The interpretation of “who I am” is generally looked at as personality, of self-image, or, in this case, as the experience itself.
But because a self-image and personality have a past, just as your mind has past situations/circumstances, what we know now is that past does not exist, so neither can your self-image in the absolute sense.
The future is generally looked at to enhance this concept I have of me but because we know the future doesn’t exist, it also cannot be me.
The future itself relies on there to be a past.
The only way to know that time does not exist is to find out who you are. To ask the question
So who am I?
You are the present moment itself.
But because as you can continue reading these words, they too will become the past, which means they cannot give you who you are, it must be felt on the level of the inner body energy.
This feeling is the feeling “I am”.
So because the present moment is not an experience, you know the present moment happens, when the present moment is aware of itself.
The present moment is not experience but it is awareness.
Well what’s the quickest way to feeling this presence?
This is where the 3rd definition comes.
Breath means to live, to exist.
Let’s just say in logical terms that the present moment is the breath, that awareness is the breath.
Well, how do you become aware then?
You become aware of breathing. You become aware of the in breath and the out breath; it is in the in and the out breaths that you feel your existence.
Once you can feel your existence, you will then know that you cannot live, because to live requires doing, which requires past/future, you now feel that you are life itself.
This is why, there is no reason to believe in existence anymore but to KNOW your being as existence.
Everyone says that imagination is something that you do. When it is your perception itself that is the imagination and is the way you perceive or imagine the world outside of you.
But because the mind is given an imagination and that imagination is subjective in its nature (from the fact that 7 ½ billion humans perceive differently) our imagination itself cannot be reality based.
Knowing that I am presence itself, life and existence itself I now know that my perception is not based on absolute reality but here for me to experience the world of duality until the body/mind is ready to dissolve from the world.
This imperfect perception is what allows me to enjoy the ups and the downs of life and to grow.
Clocks do exist, we are still going to use our imagination of time to make appointments, be on time, schedule meetings and so on, but from now on we will not let time keep us in slavery.
Everything you’re doing in this world is relatively important because it’s based on perception, what is absolutely important is your relationship with the now, thus consciousness.
From now use time (past/future) but know that it does not exist absolutely. Know that the self-image the mind has of itself exists in time but not absolutely.
Know that the present moment is not a thought, not an experience, but the inner body energy sensation that feels its own existence, regardless of what the clock says.
The inner knowing of this is a spiritual awakening.