George: Hello, can you talk about the reality of the past and future as concepts?
Rupert: Sure, thanks for the clear question.
To what extent is the past real or merely a mental concept?
Well, we can find out by exploring our experience of it.
Try to experience the past now and see what is real in that experience.
George: I can only go into a memory of the past, which is a mental image or a concept.
Rupert: Right, a memory of the past is a present experience.
But to find out if the past we remember is actually real, we have to touch the past and investigate what is really there.
Don’t go to the memory or the concept of the past, can you actually go there?
George: No, I don’t think I can.
Rupert: Even if you were watching a science fiction movie, that movie would still take place in the present.
Have you ever stepped out of the present experience into the past?
George: I don’t believe I ever have.
Rupert: And even if you asked all 7.8 billion people on Earth, would any of them be able to say that they stepped out of the present into the past?
George: I think in some insane asylums you might find people who claim they did, but even those people’s experiences would have taken place in the present.
Rupert: That’s right.
Experience can only take place in the present and does only take place in the present.
What about the future?
George: I don’t have any problems with the future.
Rupert: The future is clearly a concept,
but we need to establish that our normal concept of time as a line with the present as a moment along that line is not accurate.
We never experience the past or the future, all we experience is the present.
This present is ever-present, but the human mind conceives of it in linear time
because it is limited to thinking and perceiving.
There is a reality to what we call time,
but it is the human mind that conceives it as a construct.
George: If I have a memory, is that memory the source of it occurring now?
Rupert: The memory occurs now, but our interpretation of it as a past event may be a limited and distorted view of reality by the human mind.
I’m not suggesting there isn’t some reality to what we consider to be time, memory, or the past.
But our mind imposes its own limitations on that reality and makes it appear in a way that is consistent with its limitations.
The mind thinks in two dimensions, so it conceives of time as two-dimensional.
If our minds were configured differently, we would experience the Eternal now in a different way.
George: If I have a memory, what is it and where does it come from?
Rupert: Our interpretation of memories, that they occurred in the past, may be a limited and distorted view of reality due to the limitations of the human mind.
George: So you’re saying that our mind imposes limitations on reality?
Rupert: Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Our mind experiences time in a two-dimensional way and if our minds were configured differently, we would experience the Eternal now differently.
George: I see.
But if we understand this, why can’t we think about the Eternal now satisfactorily?
Rupert: That’s because we can’t perceive the nature of reality through the limitations of a finite mind.
It’s like trying to see white snow through orange-tinted glasses.
George: Okay, I get it.
Thank you, this is great.
Rupert: No problem, I’m glad I could help.
Nice to meet you, George.