Time is a concept

One of the funny things is that time does not exist for awareness. From the perspective of awareness only the present moment exists. Everything in the past or future only exists for the ego mind. I am not saying that time does not exist as a concept. It absolutely does, but it does not exist from the perspective of awareness. From a purely conceptual point of view, this makes some sense. You can’t travel back in time from your own perspective (from true awareness) because the past doesn’t really exist anymore and you can’t go forward in time because the future has not occurred yet. You can neither change the past nor predict the future because they are just concepts for an ego mind and does actually exist in this present moment.

Part of the ego mind’s hold on our sense of self is it’s ability to act as a tool to try to predict the future and learn from the past. This amazing ability to extend the moment of thought back and forth in time is one of the things that make us so god-like in our abilities in comparison to other animals. If the time veil of the ego mind stopped with just learning from the past or predicting the future, we’d all be just fine, but the ego mind plays a sort of game with time. It does it’s best to predict the future and because the ego mind is time oriented itself it has an emotional stake in the outcome.

When the ego mind predicts the future correctly it feels “good” and when something happens that it didn’t predict it feels “upset”. This emotional game plays out for the ego mind endlessly. The ego mind constantly creates versions of the future and using it’s ability to build a conceptual model of the world, it plays out future actions and reactions until it finds a result it not only thinks is likely, but that will move the outcome in it’s own favor. The ego mind “executes” the most beneficial prediction in each moment and compares what happens in reality. This ego mind obsession with prediction can get so out of hand that the predictions extend into the present moment. You can see this in conversation sometimes when someone is so busy thinking of the next thing to say to move the conversation a particular direction that they completely fail to comprehend the actual conversation happening.

All of this amazing play of the ego mind is still not a huge problem at this point, but here’s where things usually split from reality all together and end up causing a lot of suffering… The ego mind doesn’t like being “wrong” about it’s predictions. Being wrong means that the model of the world as the ego mind understands it is flawed in some way (or even worse, the ego mind sees the world itself as flawed). The choice here for the ego mind is to update the model to be closer to reality or find a story that makes some kind of sense using the existing model. Depending on the type of flaw in the ego mind’s model of the world, the perceived loss of past experience and re-building and updating the model can be overwhelming. In this case the ego mind re-interprets reality through the lens of it’s own inaccurate prediction and warps the perception of reality to make sense of it. You can see this play out when people argue – especially about something that is a core belief. Each person has their own version of what reality is in their ego mind and each one of them believe they are absolutely correct from their point of view, so there’s little chance that either one will update the flaw in their ego mind’s perception of reality because it would require them to have to let go of potentially years of flawed modeling and re-live all of the previous memories to update a new model.

Awareness doesn’t need to build models of the future – there is no future from it’s perspective. It is content in the ever changing moment to moment happenings as they actually are. There’s no “good” or “bad” prediction because there’s no future outcome. It responds to the moment – in the moment. It doesn’t have to prove knowledge of the future or attribute regret or attachment to the past. It doesn’t have to interpret a small set of information and work out complete concepts. It just kind of watches reality unfold as one never ending moment called now…

The ego mind is part of awareness, so again, it is not a separate thing to be overcome or removed. The ego mind part of awareness can mistake itself for the whole since there are no divisions between awareness and the ego mind. This relationship is sometimes referred to as a wave in the ocean believing that it is separate from the ocean itself. The wave (or ego mind) has a shape and form, so it seems kind of separate from the ocean (awareness) itself, but without the ocean it cannot exist. This kind of analogy is a stretch, but it is easier to grasp and it at least points to something that has the same kind of relationship as the ego mind has to awareness.