• The time that has elapsed
  • A verb tense that expresses actions or states in the past
  • Earlier than the present time; no longer current

When is the past? Now? Now? Then? Now? By the time it takes you to read this it is already in the past. If you want to prove it, all you have to do is sit with a watch and look at the second hand…36…37…38…39…40…

All life is past.

So when someone talks about having had a past life, theoretically they are telling the truth! After all, your past life could have been just one second ago. One second ago you could have been a murderer, a drug addict or a dictator, but that was in the past. Now is now. And now is now. And now is now. Do you understand? You have to move fast to keep up.

However you look at time, it is never still, always moving; but we must not be fooled by our watch, that is a man-made device. All I know is that the sun comes up in the morning and goes down in the evening and repeats the very next day. This regulates my internal body clock and that of the planet. I also am getting older, which I assume has something to do with time.

For the sake of this discussion let’s talk about time in the way we know it. Seconds, minutes and days. Hopefully you now understand that the last word, “word” is now in the past, and no matter how much you try, you cannot force it to be in the future, or in the present, unless you re-read it.

As you approach “word,” it is still in the future, it is still not decided, but as soon as you the letter “w” you are in the present, if only momentarily. “O” follows, and now “w” is in the past. “R” follows “o” and now “w” and “o” are in the past. Utter the last letter “d” and now “wor” are in the past. As you complete it, the whole word, “word” becomes past! Confused? I am.

Ok, so as long as we’re clear, let us move on.

One of the things often said to older people is that they are “living in the past.” I’m sure you may have thought it about your grandparents, and I’ve even said it to my mother!

Old people like to reminisce, don’t they? “I remember the time when…” It bores me to tears. They repeat the same old story again and again. I am never quite sure if they know they are repeating it, or whether they even know they are boring us. For me, long drawn out stories about the war, and the “good old days” just aren’t interesting, but they are for older parents and grandparents. Why do you think that is?

My mother is 74 now. She is fit and healthy of mind. She goes to the gym nearly every day and does weights and yoga, yet I often become bored with her stories. As I have said in previous topics, my father left us when I was 14, and my mother has never gone out in search of another partner. She also has no close friends who come round to the house, although she has an extrovert personality; and so the only thing she does in the “present” is to go to her gym and go shopping. As someone who loves talking, she often tells stories, but the one thing I’m sure even she isn’t aware of, is that most of these stories stem from before she was married, or from times when she was happiest. I’m sure this is normal, after all, you don’t normally mention times that were unhappy.

“You’ve gotta get some new stories mum”

This is one thing I say over and over to my mum, and I’m sure it has started to upset her; but the reason she has no new stories is because she doesn’t do anything new, and if you don’t do anything new, the only place you can fall back on is the past. How many older people do you know who do the same thing?

How many young people do you know? Young people have a different outlook on life, don’t they?

Always exploring, ever challenging, always attempting something new. They can tell you something new they did one minute ago, then they’re off again. Older people just haven’t got the energy to do new things as often, and it must annoy them when we tell them to stop living in the past, but as we discovered a moment ago, the past can be as close as NOW.

The past they are talking about, is a place where they were happy, where they were enjoying life. A place where they had vitality and enthusiasm, not where they were tired, and old. But no matter how old you are, living in the present, the “moment,” which is NOW, brings a sparkle to everyone’s life.

I keep telling my mum to let go of the past, for it no longer serves her. It was an experience she had in the moment, but now it is gone, but it’s so hard to let go isn’t it? Especially if you’ve been hurt by someone, or a person you have loved has died. The human tendency is to hang on. We are angry in the moment, but by bringing that moment which was NOW with us to this present moment which is still NOW we are living in the past!

Being angry in the moment is ok as long as you let it go. This is the key to successful living. Live now and let it go. But we are so caught up with memory and the burning desire to keep things alive; things which are actually not alive, but exist in a space between your ears.

This outcome can only be negative, because it does not allow you to live presently in joy. Carrying the memory of someone or some event or some time is attachment, which is unreal, in that reality is NOW, not then!

Have I lost you? Ok, for now, let’s jump forward a moment from NOW to some point in the future, which is NOW, no NOW. Actually, a point we cannot define because it hasn’t come into existence yet. This is a very strange word because it comes with so many possibilities, yet we attach so much meaning to it.

The time yet to come

In the future… I want to be

My parents, my parents friends, and even my friends always wanted to know what I would “be” in the future. I could never answer, because at that time I was just living, as I was, with no thought for the future. Not because I was enlightened, but because I was a child, and children always live for right now! In fact I live there right NOW. This has been described by many people and you may call it living “in the moment” which we will go into later. For now let’s concentrate on the invisible we wish to make visible.

Although we all know the future is undecided, people always want to know it. In fact many people go to fortune tellers and palm readers to discover what their destiny holds.


An event (or a course of events) that will inevitably happen in the future

This is a word used by so many, but if the future is undecided, because it hasn’t happened yet, how can there be a destiny? Is it possible that there could be a path laid out for me that is inevitable, and that even with free will, I will reach, no matter what I do to avoid it?

One of the greatest destiny predictors is the palm, where we have a lifeline, where a person skilled in reading will tell you if you are going to have a long life (or a relatively short one!) I think I had my palm read once in my local pub, but as I’d had a few drinks, I can’t really remember what she said.

Looking at my palms right now, I really wonder what she saw in them. The thing is, if I close my hands slowly, the “lifelines” etc. just look like they are natural folds which help my hand to close efficiently. Have a look yourself right now. Examine your hands. See if these lines are real destiny predictors or not?

“Today, as the sun comes into mercury, and moves past venus, you will be at your most creative. Women will naturally be attracted to you, and you will find your deepest desires at the end of a bed in a house owned by a person whose name starts with j.”

For many years, the stars that surround our planet have been used for everything from navigation (helpful) to newspaper astrologers (not sure if they are helpful).

Professional astrologers (someone who predicts the future by the positions of the planets and sun and moon) as opposed to astronomers (a physicist who studies astronomy) will take your birth chart and give you a reading for a few pounds, which will hopefully help you understand where destiny is taking you.

I am supposedly an Aries. I was born on the 6th april 1969 at about six minutes past midnight, I think. Aries is the ram, which is an uncastrated adult male sheep, and has many characteristics which I seem to conform to. Having met many other “rams,” I have to admit they are quite like me, and I am quite them. Weird, eh?

So what does this all mean?

Most other people I have met say they are like their star signs too. Does this mean that people can gaze into planetary constellations and read our futures? Does this mean that someone knows what is going to happen in my life before it exists? What does that mean? Does that mean that someone else “knows” my life? How is it possible?

What forces are at work to foretell my life? Are there any, or is this future fortune-telling just an illusion?

Are we subconsciously just conforming to what people say we are like, because we were born in a specific year on a specific date at a specific hour?

Surely anything that shows some kind of preordained path, due to “heavenly” influences, must indicate some grand plan we are all involved in? And if there is a grand plan (or path) we are all following, does this mean we must accept that there is someone or something guiding us? It all seems pretty strange that my personality type can be deduced from my birth date, but then, maybe it can.

I am still a beginner at all this stuff, but maybe one of you can enlighten me. I have always been under the impression that when a child is born its mind is a blank slate, ready to be filled with unlimited knowledge, free to make the choices, he or she wants, regardless of the environment they are born into. Free to take their own path in life, with no preordination ((theology) being determined in advance; especially the doctrine (usually associated with Calvin) that God has foreordained every event throughout eternity (including the final salvation of mankind).

Astrologers, gypsy crystal ball readers, or anyone else concerned with predicting events which have not yet occurred, are all trying to do the same thing – give us what we want: Knowledge. Not of now, but of the future.

We want to know if we will be successful, if we will be healthy, if we will have children etc. We want to know what we will be.

Think about this for a moment. We are not concerned with creating what we are, we want someone else to do the hard work for us, and let us know we will be rich, happy and successful in life. Now we can rest easy, knowing that everything will be ok. We don’t care about exercising free will (the power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies) in our lives, we want someone else to let us know how it will be. Do you understand?

By letting go of free will you lose your personal power to make choices. You begin to live your life according to others telling you how it will be. That’s why so many of us consult fortune-tellers and ultimately turn to the greatest fortune-teller of all, religion.

If free will exists, there can be no such thing as destiny

Do you agree with this statement? Most of you probably don’t because we like the idea of “my destiny,” don’t we? “It is your destiny,” has a nice ring about it doesn’t it? As if we are on an important path, and we have an important mission to fulfil. Somehow just “existing” isn’t good enough.

Yesterday, as I was looking at lambs with their mothers, I noticed they had started grazing as well, and I realised that not only had their life just started, as far as we humans are concerned their life has ended as well. Do you follow? Their life is just one monotonous grass eating experience. Nothing more, nothing less.

They will do the same thing every day, from dawn to dusk until the day they die. They have to. It’s what they do. They eat grass to survive.

Nothing else is important. They won’t suddenly invent a new technology which saves them having to eat so much grass, and enables them to relax more, in fact, they won’t invent anything, because their brains are not structured for that kind of thinking. They are ruled by nature. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Procreate. Nurture. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Die.

We don’t want a life like that do we? We are homo sapiens, the most intelligent species on the planet, we can do anything we want, we are not constrained by a small brain. We are not locked into a biological pattern that only involves eating and procreating, are we? We are free! Free to make our own decisions. Free to take our own path.

So can someone pleeeease tell me why we are so concerned with knowing our future, which is a time not yet arisen, when the very act of inquiring into something non-existent robs us of what it is to be human. Namely, free will.


The period of time that is happening now; any continuous stretch of time including the moment of speech

So where does this free will exist? Where in time can it exist? In the past? In the future? Of course not. You exercise your free will. Right NOW. NOW. NOW and again NOW.

You sit outside the bank in your car
You pull your mask on
You get your gun at the ready
Your hand reaches for the handle

What happens next is up to you. Do you understand? Your hand may be on the handle of the car door, you may be about to get out, and about to run in shouting “get your hands up, give me all your money,” but you haven’t. Your hand is still on the handle. It is still the present moment.

Even though it will still be the present moment when you are waving your gun around in the bank, right now it is an event which is not even in the future, as the future is undecided. You have a choice to exercise your free will in the moment, to change the course of events. Nothing is decided until it is the present moment. At that time, and only for that instant it is real. Up until then, it is nothing.

You stop for a moment, become aware of yourself, you see a lifetime ahead not of riches and luxuries but of a grey cell, bars, and in that moment which is NOW, you take off your mask, put away your gun and drive away. Do you see? In becoming aware of yourself in the moment you have created a new NOW. The future that could have involved people being shot, where there is anger, fear, and ultimately ends with either you being killed by the police, or ending up in jail for many years, no longer exists. Because it never really existed. It was just a possibility. Like all things in life.

The future does not exist. It is an illusion. There is only NOW

Possibility vs. Probability.

There are those who would say that certain outcomes (something that results) are more probable than possible (if you put your hand on a boiling stove then you will burn yourself), but as each moment in the time leading up to the person putting their hand on the stove, it is still now. Therefore even though it is getting more probable you will burn yourself, it is still a future event which has not yet happened, and there is the opportunity in the Now to avert your hand and not burn yourself.

The key to living NOW is awareness. Awareness of yourself in action. Awareness that if you carry through an action it will have consequences, whether positive or negative.

Without the awareness, the statisticians measure of probability increases, although it is not certain.

Let us return to the scenario at the bank, but this time you choose not to be aware of yourself in action, and without a second thought….

You pull your mask on
You get your gun at the ready
Your hand reaches for the handle
You get out of the car and run towards the bank
Your hand goes to open the door

But just at the last second, you have a flash of awareness. You see the possibilities of the outcomes and you decide (free will) to run back to the car, take off your mask and drive home. Although it was becoming more probable you would rob the bank, right up until you do, it is an illusion, an event that is only in your mind. It is not real.

Stop for a moment. Which is now. Right NOW. And become aware of times in the past when you have not been aware of yourself. Events you have let happen because you were not aware of yourself in the moment; events you wish you had been able to change; events that up until the NOW, were only possibilities, and let them go. There is no use reliving events and wishing you had done them differently.

Let’s go back to the bank one last time and see what happens when there is no awareness in action.

You sit outside the bank in your car
You pull your mask on
You get your gun at the ready
Your hand reaches for the handle
You get out of the car and run towards the bank
Your hand goes to open the door
You run in screaming “Get down this is robbery”
“Give me all your money”
The customers scream, some cry, but one brave man tries to tackle you
You instinctively swing round. And you fire. Once. Twice
He goes down
“Give me the fucking money,” you scream
They hurriedly pack some money into a bag and you run off
But someone has raised the alarm, the police are here, you are surrounded
“Put the weapon down and come out with your hands up”
You do what they say and come out. Welcomed with handcuffs
You are tried and sentenced to twelve years in prison
You are driven to the place with the grey walls and bars and assigned a number

No matter how many times you reflect on your actions, it is too late to change them. They have already been completed, and they are, as you know, in the past, which was now! The only thing you can do with the past is to let it go.

This is not a topic about learning from your mistakes. This is about being aware in the present moment – the only reality. The NOW.

I make no apologies for repeating this word, as it is most important you understand it. Because it, and nothing else, is your best guide in life. You can only LIVE in the present moment. That is the time you are ALIVE. You are not alive in the past, that is just a memory, you cannot live in the future, that is just a mental projection. You live as your heart beats. Right Now.

So what about the people who “live in the past?” Our elderly parents and grandparents for example; what can be done to help them live in the present moment? Unfortunately, we become conditioned to living our life through memory, but by becoming aware of ourselves, and by enjoying life whatever it “throws” at us, we learn to de-condition ourselves.

It’s funny we all think life throws “stuff” at us, but life isn’t that clever.

We create the “stuff” through our own free will. We make choices we blame on “life,” but there is no such reality as “life,” only billions of free wills barging into each other all around the world. There is no good, bad, past or future, just our action in the moment and the outcome.

Let’s make each action in the moment a positive, joyful action. Let’s live for now, this second, this moment. Live it the best you can, for all humanity, for the animals, the earth, your loved ones, my loved ones, and their loved ones.

Let us interconnect in this moment which is now, and move forward, one moment at a time with love and compassion. I can see the outcome already, oops, but there I go predicting the future again!

Stop, and let’s enjoy this moment together.

by alan macmillan orr

‘the natural mind – waking up’



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