Some would suggest that our current experience of the present is the sum total of our decisions, experiences, and actions of the past. A consequence of our thinking, feeling, and doing.
However, this misses a key aspect of the dynamic. Consciousness is the core causal point and the source of all experience. While the play of actions determines many of the details of our experience, there is an underlying movement of consciousness that is determining the direction and context of the flow.
The best way to understand this is the simple observation of how 2 people, put in the same circumstance, will not respond in the same way. Some of their response can be determined by past conditioning. Previous contributing experiences. We can even go into past lives and add the shadow story, the push of our accumulated past.
Indeed, there are excellent texts that describe fate or divine will as just the self effort of the past, the fruits of previous efforts, our karma.
But there is a deeper aspect to this movement or flow of life. The overall intention or purpose of our existence. What drove infinity to collapse into the point of attention that is you. The movement of consciousness or hand of God through our lives. Sometimes, that movement causes an unpredictable shift in consciousness, a guiding of the action or decision being made to create a certain result.
Awakening is one example. It is not predicted by specific actions but rather by consciousness itself. Actions may seem to contribute and support that movement. But they can never, in themselves, lead to that result. Action plays only in the field of itself.
Some may describe this direction as Dharma or purpose, but this is a term also associated with the larger movement of action through a life.
I tend to think of dharma as our path. The field of action is the route we actually take, wiggling back and forth, off on side roads, and back on the main through-road again. The focus of attention drifting around the routes on the map.
The path is going to a specific place and will encourage certain directions and experiences along the way. But the play of the details is through the myriad play of karma. How we’ve responded to what comes up.
That underlying path and destination is deeply intimate and ever present in our lives. Once seen, it is obvious and has clearly been at play throughout memory. It is the marker of who our soul is and what it will reflect in the apparent future. It is the thread that connects us to ourselves.
But what we and the other actors of the play will bring to the table in the near term is anyone’s guess. This is why you may have a good sense of where this is going but no clue as to how it will actually play out. Even if someone were to give you an accurate description of your future, how you will experience it has nothing to do with any idea of it.
This is why the future can be known and unknown at the same time. And of course, it exists only now, curled up in the present moment. The future is not some other place in time but rather now, over there on the right.