There is a picture that is making the rounds on Facebook of an old fashioned clock, and each number on the clock face is replaced by the word ‘Now.’
Although this is a fun picture to share, I wonder if in some ways it doesn’t give the wrong impression.
Is there a now, and then another now, and then another now, as if each now is different and separate from the other? Is there a now, now, now, which flows along in time and which changes, or in reality is there only the Now?
I think perhaps there is a notion that developed in some of the teachings which came after Vedanta that each ‘now’ is replaced by another, that each mind moment is followed by another. Okay, well, good, and true, but who or what is present to that?
In the teachings of Vedanta the notion that there is some type of flow of Now is negated, because in reality there is only one Now, and that Now doesn’t change in time.
This Now is seamless. Not because it flows along in time, but because it has nothing whatsoever to do with time. This Now is ever the exactly the same.
Now doesn’t carry on in time. Time carries on in the Now. Now transcends time and space, yet is ever present to them.
The Now that is here at this moment, is the Now that was here in the last moment, is the Now that will be present when the creation, and time and space themselves resolve.
Before there was a manifestation of duality there was Now. While there is a manifest duality there is Now. When there is no manifest duality there is Now.
Okay then a question: Can one be here now?
A better question: Can one not?
We get so caught up in the drama that changing circumstances present—we are so enamored, and in some sense obsessed, with events which take place in time—that we don’t recognize the Now in which events and time themselves take place.
So who or what is this Now?
It is you. That’s who you are. And your Now is not different from my Now, or the Now of anyone. The events which are taking place in time for your body/mind are different from those taking place for my body/mind, but our Now is exactly the same.
When the body/mind cease to exist what will be there then?
What will be there is what is always there, Now.
Try and get out of the Now. I dare you.
You cannot, for it is you.
Very incisive account of ‘Now’ v ‘time’, thank you. Can we say that in the same way that subtle space (akasa) is the (unmanifest) principle or metaphysical counterpart of physical space the Now is the (unmanifest) principle of time? ‘Before’ manifestation it cannot be said that these two are distinct and separate … they ‘show up’ in manifestation as … Presence, ‘what is’, in the modalities of ordinary (physical) space and ordinary (moving) time. Time moves (life is movement), but Now (its background) is always the same, as you so well describe. Is this correct?
I’ve see it explained this way:
If I try to find a demarcation between the present and the past, I can’t do it.
When did the past “end” and the present begin? One second ago? Two years ago? Where is that boundary? I can’t find it. Any thought or image I have of the “past” occurs NOW. So where is the past? I don’t know anything of the past, memory, except in the present.
Where does the now/present end and the future begin? One second from now? Well, I’m already there/here. But actually I’m not. I’m still here, now. So I can’t find a boundary between the now and future. I can imagine a future but that’s happening now. So actually I must be in now, I can’t ever get away from it. But actually I’m not IN now. I think maybe I AM now.
But for convenience and for living on this planet, in every day life, we need these
constructs and “shared illusions” of past, present, future. Maybe the real problem is that we forget to drop all this when we don’t need it and get so habituated to it that we forget. I think meditation, maybe, understanding through
Advaita and other streams of “not two” may help us to at least loosen the
habits to the point where we can switch back and forth between the
absolute and relative?
There is no switching. What you are describing is only conceptual. All of it, not just a part of it. All of this is just the imagination trying to make sense out of something that doesn’t make sense, like trying to find yourself. You can’t find yourself so why do we look? Playing all of these conceptual games with ourselves, we go round and round. What most people don’t understand is that there is ONLY Conceptual Mind. Now is nonsense and only exists in relation to its opposite, not now. None of these concepts make any difference whatsoever. You can’t live in the now. This is another dream we create to keep the sense of our self. It’s difficult to accept that we keep fooling ourselves with endless seeking for something to help us. That’s both the good news and bad news. Can we live with that? 🙂