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?
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)
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”
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.