Stare at now and see that it is the same thing as next. How can we differentiate them? Even if we dot this immediate second and call it “now,” we know that that itself is made up of milliseconds or even the microunits running on a stopwatch, none to be identified as singular. Stare at what you think of as the present moment to grasp how it is simultaneously the next moment.
We can do this exercise to see that looking at what we call now also shows us our present action, the activity our body is engaged in, in the space it is physically occupying. Do the dot application again to see “this” action, i.e., the activity your body is currently in. Is it not, too, the same as your next action? The one you do after the one you are doing? Can we discern these two, or three, or four, or five? How do we set apart one moment or action from the next?
If we cannot distinguish this action from our next action when viewing now, how do we decide our next actions? Aren’t we already in them now? (This can equally apply to our thought process—when does one thought end and another begin?) How widely do we define a scope of time or the word now to signify a true moment or a true now? Could it not be a lifetime, or millions of lifetimes as easily as a second? Is there a specific time frame that indicates a definitive present moment?
If a moment is equally a lifetime as it is a second, this means our whole lifetime of decisions, choices and actions is implied at our birth, or our conception, or the beginning of time itself. This is because there is no way to consciously interrupt the flow of time or human activity to insert a desired action that is other than what we see our body doing now.
For me, this is a personal way of comprehending determinism and how it is that we could never have done otherwise or can never be doing otherwise than we did or are doing, which qualifies as having no choice, or, no free will. I understand this to apply to myself and every other being in the world, as mind-boggling and potentially distressing as that can seem. It can, however, be a relief to know that none of us can make a wrong move against nature’s reality, even if it flies in the face of all our brain-based moral consideration. Sigh. What will be will be, the good, the bad and the in-between. We may as well enjoy the freedom this knowledge imparts as it means we can surrender to what we are doing now without moral hesitation, fear or the prospect of genuinely endangering ourself.