I remember having this experience in my teens, following the oneness shift. It was as if I could see, for my inner eye, all of time happening now, and I imagined that’s how time is to God. This was one of the early side effects of the shift, and it changed as I found more clarity about what was going on.
Since then, I occasionally talk with people who share a similar experience, often relatively early in the awakening process.
Is this topic important? Why do people experience it this way? And how can we explore it for ourselves?
IS IT IMPORTANT?
At a philosophical level, it’s about as important as other abstract philosophical topics. For most of us, it’s not very important in our daily life.
If it’s an experience – or a sense or intuition, then it’s often important for the ones having it.
And as a topic to explore in our own direct noticing, it can lead us to notice our nature. It can lead us home, to the home we already are whether we notice it or not. And for us, nothing may be more important than that.
WHY DO SOME HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE?
Where does the “all time is happening now” experience come from?
It comes from noticing reality. Not necessarily some absolute reality out there but the reality of our own experience.
To us, any content of experience happens within our sense fields. Any experience happens within one or more sense field – sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, mental representations, and so on.
And that includes our experience of time. Any ideas of past, present, and future, and any ideas of what’s in each of these, happen within our mental field. It all happens here and now.
Any sense of all time happening now also happens within our sense fields. It happens as a combination of certain mental representations (of a timeline and past, future, and present) and certain sensations in the body. Our mind associates the two so the sensations seem to lend a sense of solidity and reality to the mental representations, and the mental representations give a sense of meaning to the sensations.
That means that to us, all time happens now. It’s inevitable. It’s always been that way.
So if we experience that all time happens now, it’s because it does – to us. It was always that way. It cannot be any other way. It’s just that we don’t always notice.
And that doesn’t mean that this is how reality itself is. It’s just our inevitable experience because of how our mind works.
DIFFERENTIATING OUR OWN EXPERIENCE FROM REALITY “OUT THERE”
It’s important to differentiate the two.
To me, all time happens now. I cannot find the past or future, or even the idea of the present, outside of my mental representations. And they all happen here and now.
And that doesn’t say anything about reality itself. It doesn’t tell me how existence in itself is. What we call “time” is a mental overlay on (our mental overlays of) existence.
It says something about my own experience.
A POINTER TO MY OWN NATURE
More importantly, it says something about my own nature.
It’s a pointer to what I more fundamentally am, in my own first-person experience.
If I notice a sense of all time happening now, it’s an invitation for me to take a closer look. How does my mind create this experience?
This can be an invitation to explore our sense fields. To explore what’s happening in each, and how the mental field combines with physical sensations to create a sense of solidity and reality out of imaginations and sensations. (These imaginations are essential for us to orient and function in the world so there is nothing wrong with them, it’s just good to notice what’s happening.)
And this may lead me to find what I more fundamentally am. I may find that I more fundamentally am capacity for anything appearing in the sense fields. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.
HOW CAN WE EXPLORE THIS FOR OURSELVES?
How can we investigate this for ourselves?
There are many approaches out there and what works depends on the person and situation. Here are a few I have found helpful.
Traditional Buddhist sense field explorations. For instance, pay attention to one sense field at a time and what happens there. Notice what happens in the mental field. Notice how the mental field interprets what happens in the other sense fields, how it interprets what’s not here in any other sense field, and perhaps even how certain sensations lend a sense of solidity and reality to some mental representations (give them a charge) and how certain mental representations give a sense of meaning to certain sensations.
The Kiloby Inquiries is a modern take on this traditional Buddhist inquiry. This inquiry usually requires a facilitator, at least unless we are trained and have some experience with it for ourselves.
The Work of Byron Katie can be helpful, especially if we explore this specifically.
Apart from sense field explorations, the most direct ways to explore this may be the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments. Here, we get a direct taste of any ideas of past, future, and present as happening here now, and happening within and as what we are.
Basic Meditation can do the same, although it tends to be a slightly slower process. Notice and allow what’s here. Notice that it’s already noticed and allowed. Notice how any content of experience comes and goes, including any ideas of past, future, and present. So what am I more fundamentally?
ALL OF TIME DOES HAPPEN NOW
So yes, all of time does happen simultaneously. To us, it does. It’s inevitable since time can only be found in our mental representations, and these happen here and now. I cannot find time outside of my present experience.
That doesn’t tell me how reality itself is.
And it’s an invitation for me to take a closer look, which may lead me to find my own nature.
Although much is important in life, we may find there is no greater treasure than that.
I had trouble figuring out not the content of this article, but the angle, which is why I ended up with several draft fragments. I’ll include them here.
I have heard people say this, and although I am not so interested in the philosophy part of it, I am interested in the direct noticing aspect.
I am not so interested in the philosophy side of this since it doesn’t make much practical difference. And the direct noticing aspect of this topic is more interesting to me since it does have a practical effect.
I remember having this experience early on after the oneness shift in my teens, and I have heard other people talk about it.
I am only slightly interested in the philosophical aspect since it doesn’t make much practical difference in my life. But I am interested in the direct noticing aspect since that is directly connected with my perception and life.
As with so many topics, the more thoroughly we explore this one, the more we are led to notice our own nature.
WHERE DOES MY EXPERIENCE OF TIME HAPPEN?
TWO WAYS TO EXPLORE IT
We can explore this philosophically which can be fascinating and a nice distraction, although it will remain in the realm of speculation.
And we can explore it in our direct noticing, which will lead us to notice our nature.