Time and the Self

The self has an innate aversion to change as it threatens the self’s artificial and unstable existence. To hold to a self is to seek to protect it against the inevitable flow of time. But change is a reality; we can no more avoid change than stop breathing or thinking. Change is inseparable from life and therefore the self and its worldview is a kind of denial of both. Change will assuredly happen whether we will it or not. We are time travellers born anew each day; a mind and body waking up just a little bit different. We are each riding a crazed horse into the future with no real control over speed or direction or even the horse stopping entirely. This is why the mind clings to a false consistency as time unspools. It’s frightening to leave the familiar and give up the illusion of control but to insist on this illusion is to grow within a stunted version of life. To relax into change, to give up our resistance to it is to simply embrace reality. 

There is a strange relationship between the forms of time and the self; the self is literally made up of psychological time, the two are the same thing. When time ends in this sense so does the self. But the progression of physical objective time is a threat to its sense of order, of permanence, even of its existence. Hence it lives in a type of time that’s purely imaginary and abstract and denies the only real concrete form of it.

Understanding as art and science