How Can We Escape the Illusion of Time?

Because we have clocks everywhere — our phones, microwaves, TVs, cars, etc… — we live in a mindset of time. I’ve seen people in the woods and for the first time in their lives they’ve actually not known the time. At first, they say, “I wonder what time it is.” Then later, “What time is it? Should we eat?”

Soon they realize that their body will tell them when they’re hungry and when they’re tired. They even begin to realize how much attention they paid to what time it was and how much power over their lives they gave to time.
It is because of this subtle fixation on time that so many of us suffer far too much. We create expectations based on time. We become impatient because we live with a clock ticking inside of us.

But time doesn’t actually exist. Our concept of time is merely the comparison of this moment to the last moment. The earth spins a little more than it was a moment ago, it revolves around the sun slightly farther than a moment ago. Time is merely the measurement of movement, and movement is the comparison of something from moment to moment. It’s a comparison of the now to the past, or, in anticipation of the future.

When we think in time, we suffer because the comparison mindset is borne out of time. When we have dreams and goals that we feel should have already been achieved, we suffer. When we stare at the clock all day waiting for it to strike 5 pm, we suffer. When we even live in anticipation of some future joyful event, we miss out on the beauty and diversity, and complexity of forms all around us. And worse, we’re training our minds not to be present and so when that joyful experience finally comes around, we may have a harder time fully enjoying that moment and being present for it. We may already be thinking of the next thing to look forward to.

We may feel like there’s never enough time or that time is always chasing us down. But, when we can be fully present (which like anything else, simply takes practice and repetition to make it our new habit), we flow with time. What comes, comes. And what goes, goes without any resistance or attachment. Patience emerges as we repeatedly see — and slowly begin to believe deep down — that what is meant for us will come when it is meant for us. We only have to tend to this moment and all the future “present” moments will take care of themselves. This is how we tap into the eternal now.

We either live in peaceful eternity or we live on the rollercoaster of time. Yes, we can understand concepts of time in regards to setting goals and planning retirement and the like, but we can also put the future aside so we can get busy making it a reality in this moment.

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