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There Is No Now

personperson Don't believe everything you thinkthe liminal space Veteran

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/physics/2014/06/there-is-no-now/

I heard a brief segment where professor Marcelo Gleiser put forward this idea that only the past and future really exist. Of course, the common Buddhist (or really eastern philosophical) notion is that there is only now. So I thought maybe it would be fun to try to understand what he is arguing and stand up for our notion of now.

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Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    From what I have read there is no now. And the reason there is no now is that it (a notion of now) is defined conditionally upon a notion of past and future. So if it is conditional on a 'notion' that is not reality well then a 'now' itself is also a notion. It's the madyamaka logical process.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    From what I have read there is no now. And the reason there is no now is that it (a notion of now) is defined conditionally upon a notion of past and future. So if it is conditional on a 'notion' that is not reality well then a 'now' itself is also a notion. It's the madyamaka logical process.

    That's interesting, I wasn't really expecting anyone to agree with him. Nowness seems like it is a pretty sacred notion around here.

    I could try out a sort of counter argument but I'd rather wait to see what others might say.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    Yeah but I think 'now' is bound up with other ideas like 'mindfulness'. What I am saying does not really reject many of those things such as mindfulness. But actually my teacher disfavors the word mindfulness. But she often makes the point that the teachings are meant to get you to a point and sometimes words used (even in your own sangha and from your teachers mouth) do not work for an individual. Or maybe 1000 year old teachings don't take an individual to the point. So you might end up having to use your own words that work for you. She likes 'awareness' in preference to 'mindfulness'.

    And if you look at her instructions for meditation she does talk about letting go of past and future and being present. And it's actually in meditation when you might notice what your thoughts are including thoughts about how time works.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran
    edited April 2016

    I think it is not so much a question of now, past and future, as it is a question of what is. And that is this moment, in motion, with all the past manifest within it.

    Time, the idea that the past still exists in a form, and the moment-to-moment procession of the present, as well as any notions we might have about the future, are artefacts of the mind. Our memory maintains an imperfect but reasonably detailed record of what we have experienced, allowing us to re-experience things as we choose.

    You could argue that there is no Now because it is an infinitesimally thin slice of time, always in motion and always changing, like a wavefront on the ocean, but that is a sophist's point.

    personSwarooplobsterShoshin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I agree, on the basis of what @Jeffrey said. I have heard the same thing more than once. But like relative and absolute, we need some kind of marker to communicate and compare/contrast. The idea of "now" just seems to perpetuate dualistic thinking. "Now" is better than "then" just like "good" is better than "bad" but really we have to move past all of it because it all depends on the other for it to exist at all.

    personsilver
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    either past or future exists only in the mind

    Of course, the common Buddhist (or really eastern philosophical) notion is that there is only now.

    now also a given symbol to indicate a fleeting moment

    without symbols (words) 'we' can not make a conversation with 'others'

    personlobster
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    If you try and pin down "now" it has already passed........

    personsilver
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Mindful of Current Consciousness is more psychologically 'correct' than 'living in the Now'

    lobsterBunkssilveryagr
  • @federica said:
    Mindful of Current Consciousness ...

    That is a helpful term and it throws light on what @Jeffrey said about mindfulness. In fact the term 'present awareness' might be even less dualistic.

    I find @karasti point about the approximation of language relevant.

    We are of the now, we have a history/heritage and future nows. Sometimes now is a continuum that we spot a placement on, drifting between existence and 'Mind the Gap' ...

    ... And now back to then ...

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @Jeffrey said:
    From what I have read there is no now. And the reason there is no now is that it (a notion of now) is defined conditionally upon a notion of past and future. So if it is conditional on a 'notion' that is not reality well then a 'now' itself is also a notion. It's the madyamaka logical process.

    I don't know. That almost seems like picking one of the 2 truths as more true than the other when the reality is they are both true.

    In light of non-separation and the fact that we have found no smallest increment, I would say there is just this moment which has always been. The past is what now used to be and the future only represents what may happen. Really, the future only exists as probability and never gets here so if anything is illusory it's the idea of a future.

    Plus if now is only a notion then so is reality.

    Where does that leave us other than now?

    The fleeting moment, the passage of time, any distance or border is the mind working with duality and it is this separation that is the illusion I think.

    personkarasti
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I just wanted to say, I love the discussions here :)

    It's an interesting thing to notice that you are resting in the moment. That your mind isn't elsewhere. Yet the second you realize it, you are back in thinking about the past and wanting to get back to that state in the future. "They" say that masters live in that moment continuously. I can't imagine.

    David
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    My take is that he's trying to find it and pin it down to some discrete moment but is unable to find it as @Jeffrey pointed out similar to Madhyamika logic. I think he then makes the error to say that it therefore doesn't exist at all and the further mistake of saying the past and the future do exist.

    Now can't be pinpointed it can only be experienced, every event that ever happened in the past and every event that will happen in the future only ever actually occurs in the present. Does the past get recorded in some cosmic database that we could travel back in time and visit? That sounds like what saying the past truly exists would imply, but that sort of claim has no evidence to back it up. Does the future already exist in some tangible way, making events set in stone?

    I think the professor is confusing his ideas and concepts about a thing from the thing itself.

    Davidkarasti
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    If past, now and future depend on each other to exist then in my view they are really different reflections or degrees of the same process.

    @karasti said:
    I just wanted to say, I love the discussions here :)

    It's an interesting thing to notice that you are resting in the moment. That your mind isn't elsewhere. Yet the second you realize it, you are back in thinking about the past and wanting to get back to that state in the future. "They" say that masters live in that moment continuously. I can't imagine.

    If we could avoid the extremes of constantly living in the past or for the future then the middle way would be living in the now. I think it is possible to plan for the future and learn from the past if neither is being clung to.

    Being decision makers we can't help but shape the future of what now could be whether we are mindful of the present or not.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @David said:
    Being decision makers we can't help but shape the future of what now could be whether we are mindful of the present or not.

    If you think about it, it's pretty miraculous. Our sense of time is born out of knowing the immediate past, yet in order to actually happen anything we do must take place in the present. So we do all function on the edge of that infinitesimally thin slice of time we call the present, like surfers on the crest of a wave, without even being fully aware of it.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @David for householders I think avoiding the extreme attachments is about all we can do. People who don't have those daily concerns in the same way experience something different, I think. They often don't know what day, month or even year it is. Having to plan trips often requires someone to do it for them because their concept of planning for the future in that matter is not how they usually operate, where they would prefer to just show up at the airport and get a ticket and go, lol. That is how my teacher has explained it anyhow. It doesn't mean he doesn't acknowledge the past or future, there just is no focus on it whatsoever.

    It seems for most of us the focus on the future is often all there is. We aren't always strictly thinking or planning for it, but really, that is what our lives have become. Long term plans for how to pay for houses, cars, children, college, retirement, old age, health care, etc. Our lives are entirely based on looking to tomorrow most of the time.

  • @Bunks said:
    If you try and pin down "now" it has already passed........

    Perhaps the term "now" is inappropriate.
    As Buddhists, we can say we are in the moment (the present) and that the moment is always changing. In that vein, we can say we are always in the present or moment.

    If we say "now", it is the micromillisecond that is past before we can even begin the process to utter it.
    Without arguing the scientific timing, which could place our perception oh so incrementally in the past, we are, for all intent and purpose, always in the present.
    Being in the present is not the same as being in "now". Now being nothing more than a marker along the road or path.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    It's all in the flux capacitor....

    silverBunks
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    If someone reaches that point of (state of mind, perhaps) always being in the here and now, isn't that some sort of samhadi?

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @David i was interested in that mention of the two truths. From my understanding TTT is really just a view and I have heard presentations of flaws to the view. At the same time everyone teaches them including my teacher and her teacher and they teach TTT for a reason in that this view is valuable. But it is often even admittedly presented almost as an antidote to a nihilistic view. Indeed if my teacher is correct even starting with the heart sutra (in the Mahayana prajnaparamita sutras) we have already done away with the idea that the universe is a reality moreso than a view. So for practical reasons the two truths might be useful so we don't think it is meaningless if we run someone over on the road. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svatantrika
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prasaṅgika

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    I guess what I am saying about the two truths is that I don't think it disproves Nagarjunas analysis of time or suffering or non-self. Or rather I don't think Nagarjuna was preferring one of the two truths as you said. I think that already the skhandas are not the self. None of them from body to concsiousness. And thus suffering of a self that is not there is also illusory you could say. Sometimes I think people misunderstand the two truths and say that there is a 'relative self' that IS the skhandas and that relative self suffers. I think that's a misunderstanding. It makes me think that all of Nagarjunas analysis resulted in an "oh that's really cool idea of Nagarjuna and the prajnaparamita sutras but we are back to square one because the 'relative self' still suffers (and has time etc)"

    Yet at the same time there must be some value of the two truths concepts as well. I have seen it in Dzogchen even where there is the saying of Padmasambhava that his view is vast as the sky but that he respects karma like fine grains of flour. At the same time Padmasambhava also said:

    "When you realize that all that appears and exists to be your mind, there is no path of enlightenment apart from that... When samsaric existence is freed in itself, there is no awakened state to accomplish apart form that. Once you realize this, samsara and nirvana are not two."
    ~ Guru Rinpoche

    Bunks
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    I guess what I am saying about the two truths is that I don't think it disproves Nagarjunas analysis of time or suffering or non-self.

    Well, no why would it?

    Or rather I don't think Nagarjuna was preferring one of the two truths as you said.

    I never said Nagarjuna preferred one of the two truths as they work in harmony and neither negates the other. I think it confuses people when the objective truth is called absolute as many take that to mean the relative truth is less of a truth when it isn't.

    I think that already the skhandas are not the self. None of them from body to concsiousness. And thus suffering of a self that is not there is also illusory you could say. Sometimes I think people misunderstand the two truths and say that there is a 'relative self' that IS the skhandas and that relative self suffers. I think that's a misunderstanding. It makes me think that all of Nagarjunas analysis resulted in an "oh that's really cool idea of Nagarjuna and the prajnaparamita sutras but we are back to square one because the 'relative self' still suffers (and has time etc)"

    I don't see it that way and feel the Heart Sutra sums it up well in light of TTT when the objective truth is called that and the word absolute is left out.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @karasti said:
    @David for householders I think avoiding the extreme attachments is about all we can do. People who don't have those daily concerns in the same way experience something different, I think. They often don't know what day, month or even year it is. Having to plan trips often requires someone to do it for them because their concept of planning for the future in that matter is not how they usually operate, where they would prefer to just show up at the airport and get a ticket and go, lol. That is how my teacher has explained it anyhow. It doesn't mean he doesn't acknowledge the past or future, there just is no focus on it whatsoever.

    That sounds more like lazy mindedness rather than mindfulness of the present to me.

    It seems for most of us the focus on the future is often all there is. We aren't always strictly thinking or planning for it, but really, that is what our lives have become. Long term plans for how to pay for houses, cars, children, college, retirement, old age, health care, etc. Our lives are entirely based on looking to tomorrow most of the time.

    I try to limit that kind of thinking for practical purposes. It doesn't always work but it's like returning to the breath. We can be mindful of the present by planning for the future if we aren't supposed to be doing something else.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    David do you have any links to where 'objective truth' is used in (a translation of) the heart sutra? Or what do you mean by 'objective truth'? Do you mean as compared to subjective?

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    Here is how I have heard:

    "In the Buddha's tradition, the concept, or the presentation, of the two truths is very important. For that reason, in this first weekend course Rinpoche will give the presentation of the two truths through the various traditions of the Dharma. The two truths are the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. The conventional truth is the mode in which things appear, and the ultimate truth is the mode of being, or the way things really are."

    "When we hold on to the mode of appearance of things, the conventional truth, as having some kind of true existence, then the various kinds of sufferings arise, and the various disturbing emotions. So conditioned existence or samsara arises from holding onto the way things appear as being real, as being true, as having some kind of innate existence. So then, realizing the mode of the way things are, realizing the ultimate truth, pacifies or dispels all of the various disturbing emotions; from that one gains nirvana. Briefly, then, attaching to the mode of appearance as having true existence--this is the confused mind or the bewildered mind. Therefore, it is necessary to reverse that bewildered mind and to realize the nature of things as they are."

    http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddhism/cul/cul03.php

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @Jeffrey said:
    Here is how I have heard:

    "In the Buddha's tradition, the concept, or the presentation, of the two truths is very important. For that reason, in this first weekend course Rinpoche will give the presentation of the two truths through the various traditions of the Dharma. The two truths are the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. The conventional truth is the mode in which things appear, and the ultimate truth is the mode of being, or the way things really are."

    http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddhism/cul/cul03.php

    I do not wish to sound disrespectful so we will likely have to agree to disagree because yes, in my view this is a misrepresentation.

    Conventional yes. Not really here, no.
    Objective yes. Absolute, only in conjunction with the relative.

    I see it as the objective truth being the big picture and the subjective truth being perspective points.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @Jeffrey said:
    David do you have any links to where 'objective truth' is used in (a translation of) the heart sutra? Or what do you mean by 'objective truth'? Do you mean as compared to subjective?

    I mean absolute truth is a confusing translation for objective truth.

  • Yes and I don't want to sound disrespectful to you either. I have just heard differently. That is just how I have heard. Did you read the link that I posted to? That describes pretty much exactly how I have heard because the author of what I linked, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamptso Rinpoche, is my own teacher's root guru.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited April 2016

    I will look at the link shortly but it makes sense to me that separation is the illusion, not being here now.

    I mean... How can one be deluded and not really exist at the same time?

    Non-self doesn't mean no-self from my perspective.

  • So you are saying that if one is deluded then that shows that there is one there who is deluded?

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @Jeffrey said:
    So you are saying that if one is deluded then that shows that there is one there who is deluded?

    You'll have to excuse me as I was up all night at the hospital with my daughter and worked all day and that question confused me.

    Nouns are funny and self is more a verb in my understanding but yes, I would say the individual self must exist in order to be deluded even as it is impermanent.

    It would be pretty tough to get tricked into existing but you probably aren't suggesting that.

    Even the brief part of the link says there is a bewildered mind so how is mind distinguished from self?

    Without the conventional self there would be no way for us to wake up to the objective or absolute truth as far as I can tell.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    Basically what you are saying that there is some experience here? I agree there is an experience here.

    And we can talk about it later. Hope your daughter is going to be ok.

    Davidlobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    David do you have any links to where 'objective truth' is used in (a translation of) the heart sutra? Or what do you mean by 'objective truth'? Do you mean as compared to subjective?

    Well if you go to access to insight and look for the Two Truths, Thanissaro Bhikkhu has a great explanation of TTT and he uses objective instead of absolute for the same reasons I have pretty much. I will link to it in a bit when can get to my computer.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    Yes but Thanissaro Bhikkhu is not a Mahayana teacher. So he does not teach in light of Nagarjuna etc.

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine

    Origin and development[edit]
    While the concept of the two truths is associated with the Madhyamaka school, its history goes back to the oldest Buddhism.

    Early Indian Buddhism[edit]
    Pali Canon[edit]
    In the Pali canon, the distinction is not made between a lower truth and a higher truth, but rather between two kinds of expressions of the same truth, which must be interpreted differently. Thus a phrase or passage, or a whole sutta, might be classed as neyyattha or samuti or vohāra, but it is not regarded at this stage as expressing or conveying a different level of truth.

    Nītattha (Pāli; Sanskrit: nītārtha), "of plain or clear meaning"[6] and neyyattha (Pāli; Sanskrit: neyartha), "[a word or sentence] having a sense that can only be guessed".[6] These terms were used to identify texts or statements that either did or did not require additional interpretation. A nītattha text required no explanation, while a neyyattha one might mislead some people unless properly explained:[7]

    There are these two who misrepresent the Tathagata. Which two? He who represents a Sutta of indirect meaning as a Sutta of direct meaning and he who represents a Sutta of direct meaning as a Sutta of indirect meaning.[8]

    Saṃmuti or samuti (Pāli; Sanskrit: saṃvṛti, meaning "common consent, general opinion, convention",[9] and paramattha (Pāli; Sanskrit: paramārtha), meaning "ultimate", are used to distinguish conventional or common-sense language, as used in metaphors or for the sake of convenience, from language used to express higher truths directly. The term vohāra (Pāli; Sanskrit: vyavahāra, "common practice, convention, custom" is also used in more or less the same sense as samuti.

    Theravāda[edit]
    The Theravādin commentators expanded on these categories and began applying them not only to expressions but to the truth then expressed:

    The Awakened One, the best of teachers, spoke of two truths, conventional and higher; no third is ascertained; a conventional statement is true because of convention and a higher statement is true as disclosing the true characteristics of events.[10]

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine

    Indian Mahayana Buddhism[edit]
    Madhyamaka[edit]
    The distinction between the two truths (satyadvayavibhāga) was fully developed by Nāgārjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE) and the Madhyamaka school.[11] The Madhyamikas distinguish between loka-samvriti-satya, "world speech truth" c.q. "relative truth"[web 1] c.q. "truth that keeps the ultimate truth concealed,"[12] and paramarthika satya, ultimate truth.[web 1]

    Loka-samvriti-satya can be further divided in tathya-samvrti or loka-samvrti, and mithya-samvrti or aloka-samvrti,[13][14][15][16] "true samvrti" and "false samvrti."[16][web 1][note 1] Tathya-samvrti or "true samvrti" refers to "things" which concretely exist and can be perceived as such by the senses, while mithya-samvrti or "false samvrti" refers to false cognitions of "things" which do not exist as they are perceived.[15][16][12][web 3][note 2][note 3]

    The ultimate truth to Nagarjuna is the truth that everything is empty, sunyata, of an underlying essence.[11] Sunyata itself is also "empty," 'the emptiness of emptiness', which means that sunyata itself does not constitute a higher or ultimate "essence" or "reality.[22][23][note 4][note 5] Nagarjuna's view is that "the ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth".[23] According to Siderits, Nagarjuna is a "semantic anti-dualist" who posits that there are only conventional truths.[23] Jay Garfield explains:

    Suppose that we take a conventional entity, such as a table. We analyze it to demonstrate its emptiness, finding that there is no table apart from its parts [...] So we conclude that it is empty. But now let us analyze that emptiness […]. What do we find? Nothing at all but the table’s lack of inherent existence [...] To see the table as empty [...] is to see the table as conventional, as dependent.[22]

    In Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā the two truths doctrine is used to defend the identification of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) with emptiness (śūnyatā):

    The Buddha's teaching of the Dharma is based on two truths: a truth of worldly convention and an ultimate truth. Those who do not understand the distinction drawn between these two truths do not understand the Buddha's profound truth. Without a foundation in the conventional truth the significance of the ultimate cannot be taught. Without understanding the significance of the ultimate, liberation is not achieved.[25]

    In Nagarjuna's own words:

    1. The teaching by the Buddhas of the dharma has recourse to two truths:

    The world-ensconced truth and the truth which is the highest sense.
    9. Those who do not know the distribution (vibhagam) of the two kinds of truth
    Do not know the profound "point" (tattva) in the teaching of the Buddha.
    10. The highest sense of the truth is not taught apart from practical behavior,
    And without having understood the highest sense one cannot understand nirvana.[26]

    Nāgārjuna based his statement of the two truths on the Kaccāyanagotta Sutta. In the Kaccāyanagotta Sutta, the Buddha, speaking to the monk Kaccayana Gotta on the topic of right view, describes the middle Way between nihilsm and eternalism:

    By and large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by a polarity, that of existence and non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, "non-existence" with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, "existence" with reference to the world does not occur to one.[27]

    According to Chattopadhyaya, although Nagarjuna presents his understanding of the two truths as a clarification of the teachings of the Buddha, the two truths doctrine as such is not part of the earliest Buddhist tradition.[28]

  • "There is no now".

    In a sense I feel it is correct or until science can prove it to be fact. It is our own misinterpretation of "now" that makes us fail to see it's non-existence. Perhaps that is the practice. To understand it more, and to create less misinterpretations of it.

  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @federica said:
    Mindful of Current Consciousness

    federica you provide a food for thought

    thanks

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    Yes but Thanissaro Bhikkhu is not a Mahayana teacher. So he does not teach in light of Nagarjuna etc.

    Ok, then I'm having a brain fart at the moment. I could have sworn it was him and we had a thread @SpinyNorman started a few months ago where we got right into this.

    I'll have to come at this again tomorrow.

  • And I am not saying Thanissaro is wrong on basis of 'not a Mahayana' just that it is relevant to be aware they are from different schools and so there is expected just to be differences in view.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @namarupa said:
    "There is no now".

    In a sense I feel it is correct or until science can prove it to be fact. It is our own misinterpretation of "now" that makes us fail to see it's non-existence. Perhaps that is the practice. To understand it more, and to create less misinterpretations of it.

    If there is no now when do events actually take place? The past is made up of events that have already happened and the future is made up of events that will happen, so if there is no time when events actually happen then events are an illusion and so are the past and future because they are made up of events. Saying there is no now is nihilism, it means there is nothing.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    saying that 'now', past and future, are notions doesn't necessarily indicate nihilism.

    It is like saying our ideas about reality are wrong rather than saying there is no reality. It is an assumption to say that reality does not exist if our ideas about time are wrong.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @Jeffrey said:
    saying that 'now', past and future, are notions doesn't necessarily indicate nihilism.

    It is like saying our ideas about reality are wrong rather than saying there is no reality. It is an assumption to say that reality does not exist if our ideas about time are wrong.

    Fair enough, there could be other ways time exists

    People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect. But actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey… stuff. ~The Doctor

    The author of the article assumes the standard view of time though so at least from his point of view what he is proposing, I would say, is nihilism.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    I mean 'past' and 'present' and 'future' are notions like 'hot' and 'cold'. Or 'north' and 'south'.

    It's not a big non-descript ball. One of four features of the universe of truth (relayed by my teacher in a dharma talk and probably based on the tradition ie with scripture) is that it is finely organized and not a non-descript ball.

    So when 'the primordial ground of being' is mentioned in Dzogchen do you think that has a beginning and end? Is 'the primordial ground of being' just this silly idea to be made a mockery of?

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    I'm not sure I really get where you're coming from as I'm not that familiar with Dzogchen philosophy. Maybe another way to say it is saying there is no now is nihilism, saying you can't find it is Madhyamika.

    Also, no mockery intended, it's just one of my favorite lines from Doctor Who

    I need to get to bed now, so anything else will have to wait until tomorrow

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2016

    I'm not especially familiar with the Dzogchen philosophy either. but David and I were talking about Nagarjuna and the two truths and those are related to the Madhyamaka. What I know of the two truths is in this link http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddhism/cul/cul03.php and is a thorough discussion of points in Buddhism where to access the two truths which includes a lot of ideas on how to understand reality including time. If you read the link it covers many views that are access points to understanding reality and they include the Dzogchen but also include the views from like the Abhidharma (I think called 'hearer's'? in link)

    And the other three (of four) features of the truth are that there is flux, there is an emotional response to the truth (a heart so to speak ie we are alive and are examining), and that things come in and out of focus or manifest/non-manifest.

  • Perhaps now is the moment of death/emptiness/void when time as we know it ceases, both past and future. Perhaps the here and now everyone is wrangling over as a point in time and space is little more than a simulation/construct of a concept to reify the unstructured/non conceptual abstraction of sunyata. Perhaps, just so or_ just this_ are less limiting and harder to nail down in space and time or between past and future. The importance of now in a philosophy such as Buddhism stresses suchness rather than a time space relativity. It would follow then, that there being no now in the now is not what it is or what it is not. Just so.

    Jeffrey
  • And to edit my post above....

    from the link I add this to point out the limitations of the discussion in the link:

    So there are many ways of positing the two truths. Rinpoche is basing his teachings upon the teachings of the first Kongtrul Rinpoche, Lodro Thaye, who discussed this matter in the book The Treasury of Knowledge. This book is composed of the root text, which is called "The All-Pervasive Knowledge," and the commentary, which is called "The Ocean of Limitless Knowledge." If one were to ask why it is called "The All-Pervasive Knowledge," it is because it is describing or speaking about all phenomena--that is, all phenomena of both nirvana and conditioned existence. And it is describing or speaking about the way in which things are, their mode of being or the nature of all phenomena.

    The reason why the commentary is called "The Ocean of Limitless Knowledge" is that the knowledge of the Dharma that is being expressed is said to be without limit and without end. It is said to be like an ocean because the oceans of the world are very, very vast and very, very deep. The reason for studying "The Ocean of Limitless Knowledge" is that if in the path stage on the way to Buddhahood, one does not study "The Ocean of Limitless Knowledge," then at the fruition stage one won't obtain a Buddha's pristine awareness of omniscience or all-knowing.

    This text by Kongtrul Rinpoche, composed of the root text, "The All-Pervasive Knowledge," and the commentary, "The Ocean of Limitless Knowledge," is divided into 40 chapters. This presentation of the two truths is one of those 40 chapters. This particular chapter deals with the Buddha's three turnings of the wheel of Dharma, and with the two truths. It also deals with the links of interdependent origination, but in this particular section that Rinpoche is teaching, it is only dealing with the two truths, not the three turnings of the wheel or interdependent origination.

  • Scientifically speaking, there is no now for the moment something is experienced eg. seeing a lightning or hearing a thunder, the original event has passed.

    Experientially speaking, there is only individual moments of experience. A thought here, a feeling there, a memory appears, then a worry, a smell, a sound, a sight. All there is are fleeting moments.

    You shouldn't chase after the past
    or place expectations on the future.
    What is past
    is left behind.
    The future
    is as yet unreached.
    Whatever quality is present
    you clearly see right there,
    right there.
    Not taken in,
    unshaken,
    that's how you develop the heart.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.131.than.html

    lobsterJeffrey
  • In what branch of science is it postulated that there is no now? Can you cite the set of experiments from which this conclusion was reached?

    personDavid
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