I think about this stuff on & off through the years: My words, not Einstein’s. But he also thought about time, didn’t he?
If I go to the Past, then it is no longer the Past. It is the Present when I get there.
Once I get there, then to go back to where I started – that place exists in memory. I used to call it the Present but now that I have gone to what I used to call Past, I now call my starting place the Past. If I anticipate going back to wherever I started, then the imagined Past is now the Future.
If I somehow get back to what I used to call the Present, I will remember my trip to the Past which makes it definitely the Past.
But if I plan to return there, then it becomes the Future.
What’s in it for Me?
- Does the Past exist now and can we access it? (if we had a time machine) That makes it the Present.
- If so, can I go back and undo big mistakes?
- If I go to the Past will I bring the wisdom of age – so hard won – with me? Or will I be a clueless adolescent again? At this writing I am 74. If I go back to 1973, would I be 32? Or would 74 year old me make the trip?
- If I long for the Past – so I can have a second chance – I don’t really want to go there if I’d be as deluded as I was at that time. I want an enhanced Present. As I dream about it, it becomes the Future.
- Connecticut Yankee had his knowledge with him. So for him he was simultaneously in Past and Present.
- If I travel to the Future, that means it already exists, so it is the Present but has been inaccessible. When I get there, what I presently call Present, becomes Past in my mind.
- If I leave the Future and return to the Present, then the Future is a memory and so it’s the Past.
Everybody really ought to watch Idiocracy – Comedy or documentary?
Time continues even if we are not conscious of its passage. For instance, we may be cryogenically stored to be revived at some future date, like Luke Wilson playing Joe Bauers in Idiocracy. Joe knows how he got there when he wakes in the Future. Is it the same for people waking from comas? Do we go someplace in our heads even then? I know my poor mother did, waking up from heart surgery because she could tell me a bit about what she was seeing. A bit of that was angels dancing in her room. Eventually she came back to full awareness as we understand it, and she didn’t like it very much by comparison. Who would?
And once the individual does “wake up” do they still think the Present is a fixed reality? Joe Bauers wants to get back to where he began, but that’s impossible so he has to settle for being President in his new Present.
The Big Picture best expressed by others
Tibetan Book of the Dead speaks for itself far better than I can. Likewise the Tibetan concept of emptiness which underlies what I’ve been saying all along. Here’s a bit of it:
Sunyata, in Buddhist philosophy, the voidness that constitutes ultimate reality; sunyata is seen not as a negation of existence but rather as the undifferentiation out of which all apparent entities, distinctions, and dualities arise.
Here is beloved teacher Losang Samten explaining
Tibetan mandalas and the Wheel of Life