For those already on the spiritual journey, it is not common to realize that past and future are merely imagination of the mind. If we can “remember” the past and also able to “imagine” the future, what remembering and imagining each does is merely mental images in the now. The only difference with both functions is that one experience has the “feel” of remembering “backward” and the other imagining “forward”. Just as anger and jealousy are different due to its “feel”, yet they are ultimately ideas associated with unpleasantness – in the same way remembering and imagining too has the same nature – though they seem to be different yet they are similar considering that both are merely ideas of the mind.
If we were to explore a little further we will realize the flaw of these imaginative experiences. To remember we must have a past to exist whereas to imagine, we don’t need to have a future. If you are in the Now, both experiences becomes contradictory. If remembering and imagining are merely perception of the mind, then both must have similar nature – though they seemingly portray forward and backward.
Consider this: is it because of remembering, past came to be or because of past, hence remembering is possible? Both are different. The former has past as the effect whereas the latter has past as the cause. If you were to say because of past, only then can we remember, you are implying that past must be a cause for remembering to take effect. Now consider imagining – if both imagination and remembering are merely perception of forward and backward, then we are to say future must exist first before we can imagine it! But to our mind that cannot be true as the word “imagine” already means not in existence except a fancy thought.
Lets imagine the other way round – if past is a result conjured by the mind because of perception of remembering which is in tandem with what perception of imagining does to us, having future as a result – then it will equally be true to say if future can be exactly manifested according to our intent, past too can be created with our intent. Thus, if we have a meaning our past is uninteresting that make us who we are now, we can intent what we will like to be in the past and hence experience the exact result of that intent and experience it now. Having this thought can be equally bizarre, if not worst, then the earlier suggestion.
The explanation above is not to dispute reality but for us to explore deeply through our own experience whether there is any truth in both. It is always empirical to make what has shared practical – thus I invite you to imagine and remember – do you notice both are merely thoughts or ideas? Can one prove both exist? Even if photos of past is being shown, what we see is still in the now – images formed by the mind.
Thus Now is the only “realness” we can ever have – yet that is also untrue as Now can only come to be because of past and future just as middle can only come into existence with two end points. What then is Now – imaginary too? What about beyond Now? I will leave you here to your imagination. But do consider this option – if there is such a thing as “eternity” (differing from “being continuous”), as to mean unconditioned by time or space – beyond past, now and future; in other words beyond the grasp of the mind, which could also mean beyond the existence of mind, what is “seen” from eternity of past-now-future is merely an expression – meaningless, holographic, illusionary and non-tangible. If that is true, then the entire universe is merely a non-existential phenomenon – probably a dreamlike state and “we” are apparently part of it, which includes the body we are in. :D
The spiritual journey is not about packing our bags and go Home, if that is what you have in mind; rather it is about potential Awakening to what is already Home, here in the now – and that takes a paradigm shift of perception which can only occur with the help of Right Understanding. There is no Home to go or seek except to realize what is here is simply a dream.