I was reading the other day about a shared concept of time in physics and in certain philosophies. I'm not a physicist or cosmologist, nor am I a Buddhist. But I'll try to summarize what I understood and how I interpret it.
Time is an illusion.
There is no past. What we call memory is only a construct that currently exists in our mind in the now. It doesn't matter what we've done or what we might have done. Neither can change the now that we have. What the construct called memory can do is constrict the way we experience the now, limiting our ability to fully participate with the now that is.
The future is no more than an infinite array of possibilities. And none of them is predetermined. And none of them is actually real until we perceive it. But here's the catch. The only thing we can perceive is the now.
Mindfulness is a Zen concept that means to be in the moment, also known as the now. And Christ gave the same advise in the parable about the lilies of the field and birds of the air when he told his disciples to not be concerned about their future. There is no point to it. As long as you are in the now, as long as you are mindful, you have what you need. He also said to become like a child. I found this on a site called Zen habits in a post called 5 inspirations for being in the moment.
Children. There’s no one better at being present than a child. I love to watch my three-year-old son, Seth, as he plays. He’s not thinking about what happened to him yesterday, or what he’s going to do later today. He’s Spiderman, and he’s fighting the bad guys, and nothing else in the world exists. If he gets mad about something, he overreacts, and nothing else in the world matters but what has upset him. But he’ll cry about it, and then soon return to normal, happy again, the offending situation forgotten without a grudge. He has no cares about tomorrow, and for that, I love to watch him. We need to use children as inspiration, and try to be like them sometimes. Jesus instructed us, “Be as a child,” and those were wise words.
That makes sense to me. Being in the moment is not easy. And sometimes the moment feels painful. But when you accept the moment and become part of the moment, fully conscious of your being--your breathing, your thinking, the light and darkness around you, the sounds, smells, and tastes--everything seems to be in place. And what lies ahead are infinite possibilities. But you can't get to them if you insist on letting the "past" shape your perception of the now. I know. My own gets in my way all the time. And sometimes just being mindful feels as if it requires too much effort. But it is worth doing. Letting go of the past and letting go of the attempt to shape the future is a source of strength that makes any of those infinite possibilities possible.