What would we do if there exists no time, just eternal now?

We hear about dif­fer­ent aspects of time like ‘now time’, ‘time clock’, time frame’, ‘time line’ etc. but the ques­tion about our actions “if there exists no time, but just eter­nal now” comes up in a time when time is so abun­dant and important. 

It’s hard to imag­ine what our exis­tence would be like with­out time. But, I’m sure it would be just inter­est­ing to find out what we would do in a sit­u­a­tion where there’s only eter­nal now and no exis­tence of time at all.

The ques­tion of the time­less exis­tence of phys­i­cal real­i­ty has entered into debate for cen­turies, with many claim­ing that there are no lim­its or bound­aries on human thought. If we could tear away the veil from our day-to-day life and see through our imag­i­na­tion to anoth­er dimen­sion, which may have unlim­it­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for us, this becomes an intrigu­ing idea.

Let’s dive deep into it…

What if there exists no time, just eternal now?

The goal of this arti­cle is first­ly to ana­lyze what time actu­al­ly is and then to dis­cuss its philo­soph­i­cal impli­ca­tions. It’s the notion that there is a “now time”. And also the ques­tion of whether this “now time” is real or just a per­cep­tion of our mind. 

In addi­tion, we’ll briefly shed light on some sub­or­di­nates of time like ‘time clock’, ‘time frame’ and ‘time line’.

Final­ly, we will try to imag­ine how dif­fer­ent would our lives be if there exists no time — just eter­nal now. What would be the impli­ca­tions on our lives in the time­less sit­u­a­tion? Would every­thing have same mean­ing as it does right now? Would the idea of life and death still exist as it is? 

Lets try to find out…

Does time really exist? (5 different definitions of time)

no time exists only eternal now

1) Time exists as a time clock

In one sense, time is based upon the idea that there are phys­i­cal instants and that these instants are “count­able”. In oth­er words, time exists only if it is pos­si­ble to mea­sure any amount of time — or in a time clock. Physi­cists often use a cer­tain type of clock called an atom­ic time clock to mea­sure the dura­tion between two instants. 

An atom­ic time clock is real­ly just an oscil­la­tor that sends out elec­tro­mag­net­ic waves through a microwave cav­i­ty at a fre­quen­cy that is pro­por­tion­al to its oscil­la­tion fre­quen­cy. Atoms con­trol these oscillations.

It’s also wor­thy to remem­ber Bud­dha’s expe­ri­ence about time. When expe­ri­enced enlight­en­ment under the Bod­hi tree, he became aware of this “eter­nal now” per­spec­tive and gained infi­nite knowl­edge about every­thing includ­ing reality.

2) Existence of time as a measure of change

Human life is often mea­sured in terms of the changes we under­go and our progress towards a desired state. We may say that we’re grow­ing old­er, or that our busi­ness is fail­ing. Time here also becomes a mea­sure of how much change has tak­en place. There are also dif­fer­ent con­cepts of time being expressed as “now time”, “past time” and “future time”.

Every moment of time is tran­si­to­ry. The exact ‘now time’ does not remain sta­t­ic even for a bil­lionth of a tril­lionth of a sec­ond. The ‘now time’ so quick­ly changes into the ‘past time’ that it’s no way observ­able for us. And so does the ‘future time’ to change into ‘now time’. This’s why we see the exis­tence of time a mea­sure of every change in the universe.

3) Time exists as an imaginary construct

From a philo­soph­i­cal view­point, time and time clock are dif­fer­ent in the sense that the for­mer is an abstract con­cept. Many sci­en­tists and thinkers have come to the con­clu­sion that time is sub­jec­tive. It means that, unlike a time clock, time does not exist inde­pen­dent­ly out­side the human mind. In oth­er words, our minds cre­ate the idea of time. Our per­cep­tion of time’s pass­ing depends on our mem­o­ry and expectations. 

The present moment — or ‘time now’ — does­n’t real­ly exist, which is in a con­stant process of change. We can only recall a past time line in mem­o­ry and no future time line we can expe­ri­ence or prove that it even exist (yet). That’s why we hear peo­ple say that “time clock” may go by fast or slow for dif­fer­ent peo­ple depend­ing on their atti­tude towards life.

It means that peo­ple’s atti­tude towards life is com­plete­ly a sub­jec­tive fac­tor. And, as we need to sub­jec­tive­ly view a par­tic­u­lar time line to under­stand it, we call time an imag­i­nary construct.

4) Time as a dimension in which all physical things exist

In clas­si­cal physics, schol­ars view time as a dimen­sion, means a time frame, in its own right. They con­sid­er time to exist inde­pen­dent­ly of events, in the same way that space exists inde­pen­dent­ly of events. If you assume that every­thing is made up of ener­gy, you could view time as the fourth dimension.

Accord­ing to Ein­stein, you need to describe where you are not only in three-dimen­sion­al space — length, width and height — but also in time. It means time is the fourth dimen­sion. So, to know where you are, you have to know what time it is.

It would make sense for the uni­verse to be made up of four dimen­sions. In them include three spa­tial dimen­sions plus one time dimen­sion. In the same “time frame” of the fourth dimen­sion, each phys­i­cal and abstract thing, includ­ing all the mat­ter, ener­gy and space — and the con­cept of the ‘eter­nal now’ as well — exists.

5) Time is made by human beings

The phi­los­o­phy of Zen Bud­dhism says that time does not exist, but rather it is some­thing made up by human beings. Like the oth­er four def­i­n­i­tions, we believe if you observe close­ly every­thing at a sub­atom­ic lev­el, time does­n’t seem to exist. Every­thing is hap­pen­ing all at once. 

In this view of time, the future time and the past time become just illu­sions cre­at­ed by our lim­it­ed per­cep­tion and under­stand­ing of real­i­ty. This per­spec­tive sup­ports the afore­men­tioned view in SH2 that time nev­er remain sta­t­ic and nobody can detect its tran­si­tion from one time line to another.

The question of whether there is a “now time”

if time exists, it's only now time and eternal now

When we say ‘now’, what do we mean? Does ‘now time’ even exist in the first place? Philoso­phers have pon­dered on this ques­tion for cen­turies, but still has no def­i­nite answer.

Imag­ine you are in a very dif­fer­ent dimen­sion and you can’t see into our ‘now time’. How do you per­ceive this dimen­sion? Or how do things in this dimen­sion seem to be hap­pen­ing? Can you say that some­thing is hap­pen­ing before it hap­pens or after it happens? 

The ques­tion “what is the ‘now time’?” becomes more dif­fi­cult because there is no phys­i­cal ref­er­ence for us to act upon. So we might ask “in what sense does ‘now time’ exist and what do we mean by the past time and future time?”

In a sense, we can say that all things exist simul­ta­ne­ous­ly right now, even if it does­n’t look like it. Time is a con­cept that is com­mon­ly used to help us orga­nize and under­stand things. In this sense, we can set time’s rules and its lim­its on phys­i­cal real­i­ty. But if time is not real or no time exists at all, what are we doing? And, if there exists no ‘now time’, how can we expe­ri­ence some­thing dur­ing an eter­nal ‘now’?

One thing that we can be sure of is that the human mind cre­ates the notion of ‘now time’ because it helps us to func­tion. So if there was any space between each moment, there would be noth­ing for us to think about and our con­scious­ness could no longer func­tion. Our minds need a time frame in order to exist. We there­fore use time-con­cept to under­stand the world, orga­nize our per­cep­tions of real­i­ty and expe­ri­ence the cli­max of the ‘eter­nal now’. 

But, if the world does not oper­ate like it does today, our abil­i­ty to per­ceive real­i­ty would be lim­it­ed. The source of time is in our minds — not in the phys­i­cal world — and if you look close­ly, time does­n’t exist even at a sub­atom­ic lev­el either. It means any objec­ti­fi­ca­tion of time — like now time, time frame, time line etc. — is just a prod­uct of our illu­sion. It means they all are only the prod­ucts of our mind — and so is the ‘eter­nal now’

Eternal now – is it even possible?

We believe if there was only eter­nal now, we would­n’t need to wor­ry about time-based phe­nom­e­na like life or death. If you were able to relive your entire life right now, you would see how all the events that took place in your life were impor­tant for you at some point. If you could relive your entire life, it would be like being able to review every moment from an eter­nal per­spec­tive and be able to see the big picture. 

This idea of reliv­ing our entire lives is not some­thing that peo­ple are aware of because we are so lim­it­ed by our human minds.

More about ‘eternal now’, you’d better watch the video below...

Unlike time, this con­cept of the eter­nal now is high­ly con­tro­ver­sial and most peo­ple would think it’s impos­si­ble. We know that the mind can cre­ate time out of real­i­ty, but can it go beyond time? Can the mind cre­ate a place where every­thing is hap­pen­ing at once and noth­ing can change? 

This seems like a utopia or an ide­al world that we would all like to live in. If such a place exist­ed, we could enjoy life more. It’s because we would be able to see every­thing as it is and have a clear­er under­stand­ing of reality.

The mind can cre­ate time out of every­thing in the phys­i­cal world, but it is impor­tant to remem­ber that time of any form does not exist on itself and now time, the past time and the future time, all are only illu­sions. The mind is the source of time and it is cer­tain­ly capa­ble of cre­at­ing a place where every­thing is hap­pen­ing at once. 

Related Post: What fraction of time is present?

But this place, or state (where only an eter­nal now exists), goes against log­ic because if you were there, you would­n’t be able to do any­thing. Your con­scious­ness would have lim­its to one thought/perception at all times (which quite often is already too much for us). If it’s true that the uni­verse is man­aged by thoughts, our minds are lim­it­ed. And they do not let us go beyond the ‘now time’.

In many spir­i­tu­al tra­di­tions, adopt­ing an eter­nal now per­spec­tive is one of the main goals. Achiev­ing this state of mind gives us a new lev­el of clar­i­ty and per­spec­tive. When we open our minds to new pos­si­bil­i­ties, we can final­ly see the big picture.

The next time you are wor­ry­ing about the future time or think­ing about the past time, remem­ber that it does­n’t mat­ter as much as you think. It’s because every­thing is hap­pen­ing at the right ‘now time’ and every moment has its pur­pose. The present moment might just be a small part of some­thing big­ger. And it may not even exist in our nar­row per­cep­tion of real­i­ty. If you live in the ‘now time’, you will be more in tune with your thoughts and emo­tions. It means liv­ing our best in the ‘now time’ makes it pos­si­ble to liv­ing in the ‘eter­nal now’ as well.

Eternal now and enlightenment 

As that of time through­out his­to­ry, most of the world’s great­est philoso­phers and thinkers have pro­posed this idea of ‘eter­nal now’. Among them were Her­a­cli­tus, Pla­to, Pla­to’s stu­dent Aris­to­tle, Plot­i­nus, St. Augus­tine of Hip­po and Niet­zsche.

For exam­ple, Niet­zsche said: “No moment ever dies or is past”. It’s also wor­thy to remem­ber Bud­dha’s expe­ri­ence. When expe­ri­enced enlight­en­ment under the Bod­hi tree, he became aware of this ‘eter­nal now’ per­spec­tive and gained infi­nite knowl­edge about every­thing includ­ing reality.

We hear ‚mod­ern physi­cists also say sim­i­lar things like “a real­i­ty that is always here”. They all agree that even though there might be an infi­nite num­ber of dif­fer­ent places and time/s, there is only one present moment — the eter­nal now. 

The past and future are reflec­tions of the present moment, which we can call real­i­ty. Our mind cre­ates the con­cept of some abstract time because it is lim­it­ed by its own thoughts. The mind cre­ates expe­ri­ences out of phys­i­cal real­i­ty because its own per­cep­tions lim­it it.

no time clock, no time line, no time frame - but only eternal now

The mind’s infi­nite pow­er to cre­ate any­thing out of the phys­i­cal world would be lim­it­less if the only thing that exist­ed was the eter­nal now. In fact, we think if all pos­si­ble real­i­ties were cre­at­ed right now, we still would­n’t be able to han­dle it. 

The mind is capa­ble of cre­at­ing absolute­ly any­thing out of real­i­ty. But by cre­at­ing some­thing that goes against log­ic, the mind cre­ates some­thing that it can’t han­dle. And it there­by cre­ates more lim­i­ta­tions for itself. 

Read: Will our Future Look Like a Video Game?

Does this mean that there is no val­ue of any­thing in life, then? Yes, it does — because there is a pur­pose. But it might not be what you are think­ing. We believe that there will always be a pur­pose for our exis­tence on Earth because oth­er­wise the uni­verse, the ways and the pur­pose of this uni­verse would­n’t exist. 

Life and the uni­verse are in a state of flux and always chang­ing. Every­thing is always in a state of becom­ing some­thing else. Life is every­thing if we view it from the eter­nal now per­spec­tive — it means it’s not only life as we know it today.

If you believe that thoughts man­age the uni­verse and our minds are capa­ble of cre­at­ing any­thing out of the phys­i­cal world, it’s easy to think that the mind can cre­ate a place where every­thing is hap­pen­ing at once and noth­ing can change. But even if this place exist­ed, whether we could han­dle this kind of real­i­ty might be anoth­er matter. 

When we adopt an eter­nal now per­spec­tive, we can­not think about things as they are. It’s because we’re not in a state to think clear­ly then. Our mind can’t han­dle such a real­i­ty. The rea­son behind this is it goes beyond any time frame, any time clock or any time line and log­ic. We believe that at times humans can enter this state of mind tem­porar­i­ly. It’s because they have found peace inside them­selves; but only for a tem­po­rary peri­od until their human minds take over again.

To be a bet­ter ver­sion of our­selves, we must become aware of how our minds cre­ate a hypo­thet­i­cal time line out of real­i­ty and why they do this. There’s no rea­son to waste our lives stress­ing about the past and wor­ry­ing about the future. We can make a change right at the ‘now time’ if only we are aware that we are doing it. There has to be a pur­pose behind all this, but maybe it is not what we think it is. 

In fact, there’s been no rea­son to cre­ate any­thing at all because every­thing already exists as it is. The way your mind cre­ates ‘time’ out of real­i­ty depends on what you believe about your­self and life in gen­er­al. If you don’t believe it is pos­si­ble to cre­ate any­thing out of the phys­i­cal world, you won’t wor­ry about mak­ing every­thing hap­pen at right the now time. 

There’s no rea­son to wor­ry because noth­ing could ever hap­pen — except in your mind and in your thoughts.

To conclude,

Nei­ther yes­ter­days nor tomor­rows — the time is only the ‘now time’. And the same ‘now time’ is the ‘eter­nal now’ — the ‘right now’! You can do some­thing about it right now! The now time is all there is. There is no time line such as past time line or future time line, but is only the eter­nal now. And, we are respon­si­ble for every­thing that our minds cre­ate out of phys­i­cal real­i­ty. We need to accept this and be aware of our mind’s infi­nite capabilities.

The eter­nal now per­spec­tive gives us an entire­ly new lev­el of clar­i­ty about our­selves and how we should lead our lives if we want peace and hap­pi­ness inside our­selves as well as allover progress and pros­per­i­ty. It’s because time does­n’t exist as we’ve always thought. 

Our minds are accept­ing phys­i­cal real­i­ty and cre­at­ing some­thing out of it. We can make a change right now — at the now time — if only we real­ize that our mind is cre­at­ing time out of some­thing that does­n’t have any time.

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