1. Does the past exist?
2. Does the future exist?
3. Does the present moment exist?
No cheating, think about your answers before reading more...
The answer is “no” to all three questions. I got #3 wrong as I previously thought that the present moment was all the truly existed. Here is how the swami explained it to me.
The past does not exist; once it is gone, all that exists is our memory of it. We often chose to define ourselves from some past event, but in absolute truth it no longer exists.
The future has not come yet; so it does not exist either. Now, the choice we make today will affect our future, but it is not set in stone, and there are forces way beyond our control that could have a bigger affect on it than we could ever imagine.
Does the present moment exist yet? Here is why I got that answer wrong. The present moment does not exist because we never stop. We never stop and say, “this is the present moment.” The present moment is the blur of non-existent future moving into the non-existent past.
At this point, the swami conceded that he is talking about the absolute reality of existence. The present moment existence in what he calls the “Relative Reality” is all we experience. Because it is relative it is also referred to as an illusion.
Here’s an example, think about a movie being projected on a screen. The screen is the absolute reality of existence. It is pure white, static, cloth. But when a movie is projected on it, it becomes the movie. Therefore, the absolute screen can be anything in the relative world depending on what is projected on it.
You and I confuse the relative movie of life we experience daily with the absolute nature of true selves. If the movie screen had consciousness, it could choose to be happy at anytime, even when a tragedy or horror movie was being reflected upon it.
So the future does not exist, but I can anticipate your next question. “Matt, how do I experience the Absolute Reality instead of just the Relative Reality of existence?”
Meditation is the art of turning off the relative reality’s movie projector and experiencing the absolute blank emptiness of the screen.
What does the screen represent in the metaphor I’m using? Well, there are two possible answers. One is simply energy. Another is more complex, love!