THE SPREAD MIND
Why our experience and the object we experience are one

Step 4: Existence is spread in time

The causal nature of existence is crucial what exists is defined at the time when its effects take place, which may happen years after the process begins. Thus, everything happens not at the time of the effect, but at that of the cause. A is a cause and thus A exists only when its effects take place.

Example. Seven stars shine somewhere along the Milky Way. Such stars are not a constellation until their joint effect occurs at some later time. Their light rays travel across space and time until they meet someone's eyes and brain (or any other suitable physical system). After that moment, they have always been a constellation. But before that moment, they were just stars. Suppose you look at the sky at 11pm, and suppose that the stars are 100 light years away. Before 11pm, say at 10:55pm, no constellation ever existed. After 11pm, say at 11:05pm, a constellation existed 100 years earlier.

Thus, an entity owes its existence to something that will happen in its future. Nothing is defined at the very moment in which it is taken to have happened, until something else, at some other place in some later time, takes place as an effect. The past is never entirely fixed.

Something cannot be a cause unless an effect has occurred.
Something exists if and only if it is a cause.

A constellation is not a constellation until the star-emitted light rays reach a joint end.

Riccardo Manzotti, January 27, 2015, (revised November 6)