“A fifth-century Buddhist treatise, the Visuddhimagga, or The Path to Purity, illustrates the same doctrine with the same figure: “Strictly speaking, the life of a being lasts as long as an idea. Just as a rolling carriage wheel touches earth at only one point, so life lasts as long as a single idea” (Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy I, 373). Other Buddhist texts say that the world is annihilated and resurges six billion five hundred million times a day and that every man is an illusion, vertiginously wrought by a series of solitary and momentary men. “The man of a past moment,” The Path to Purity advises us, “has lived, but he does not live nor will he live; the man of a future moment will live, but he has not lived nor does he now live; the man of the present moment lives, but he has not lived nor will he live” (I, 407), a dictum we may compare with Plutarch’s “Yesterday’s man died in the man of today, today’s man dies in the man of tomorrow” (De E apud Delphos, 18).
And yet, and yet … To deny temporal succession, to deny the self, to deny the astronomical universe, appear to be acts of desperation and are secret consolations. Our destiny (unlike the hell of Swedenborg and the hell of Tibetan mythology) is not terrifying because it is unreal; it is terrifying because it is irreversible and iron-bound. Time is the substance of which I am made. Time is a river that sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that mangles me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges.”
– Jorge Luis Borges, “A New Refutation of Time” (1944-47/1999), p. 332 of Selected Non-Fictions