Past, present, future…is any of it real?

Posted on November 21, 2008
Filed Under Experiments, meditation, Taylor Ellwood, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

In a previous post, Xi O’Teaz asked for more details about my perception of time, wherein I stated the present didn’t exist. He noted that many would argue that only the present existed, while the past and future were illusions. Intriguingly enough quantum physics seems to support my meditative trance perspective of time, as I’ll explain a bit further down in this post.

The perspective that only the present exists, while the future and past are illusions is a perspective that is easy to adopt in everyday consciousness, because the experience of time is a very linear, moment to moment experience in that kind of consciousness. You experience it once and then its gone, and was it ever real? It’s this kind of awareness of time which leads, I think to a lot of the short term thinking that has continually created problems for the world in general…too much focus on the immediate moment, while ignoring a more long term perspective.

In the meditative trance states I’ve hit, the sense of linear time fades right out. It’s replaced with a feeling of timelessness, or rather a feeling of time being a very fluid gel that contains every possibility you could experience and has all the past moments available as well. The present becomes just one moment among all other moments experienced. It is neither more real or unreal than any other moment.

In The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene, he explains that time is a continuum which we experience all at once. A moment that occurred in the “past” is still present…in fact space/time contains and encompasses all the events that occur within it, which means that all of those events are occurring at the same time. Wait a minute, though…how do we have free will, choice, etc., if this is all occurring at the same time? Also how do you explain linear time then?

The answer to the first question is that all events in space/time are really possibilities. They are simultaneously real and not real. They exist and yet they don’t exist. So how do we have free will, etc. This is where linear time comes in, because linear time is really about filtering all the extraneous possibilities and focusing on specific realities that are local to the person. Time becomes organized and laid out in a fashion that enables choices to be made, while limiting those choices. Linear time is also a way of keeping us sane, because experiencing all possibilties can make for a very heady experience, but also one where the variety of choices overwhelm the capacity to make a choice, unless you go in with an agenda focused on a specific set of circumstances, at which point it could be argued that you are imposing some linear time limitations on non-linear time in order to effect a choice.

So is the present real or is the past and future real? All are real, and all are possibilities. And we censor it all out to deal with set possibilities, to limit ourselves, and this makes sense on so many levels, and offers so much potential for how to change those limitations as well, provided we’re willing to brave the wilds of non-linear time to do so. There are ways to do that…meditation being one, the creative flow another, and of course magic, but a lot of it really comes down to changing the awareness of what is possible vs what can become real.

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