Some Musings on the Complexities of Time

A Seattle Practitioner

PureInsight | July 15, 2002

The concept of time is a relatively simple matter to a modern scientist, usually represented by clocks, ticking away the 24 hours in every day. But, is it really that simple? Is time one-dimensional, or does eternity also play a part in this concept?

If so, then what would give us a picture of eternity, another puzzling concept, bandied about in such mundane phrases as “It took an eternity for me to reach my destination,” or, “It took forever to get his done.” “I don’t have enough time to…” By contrast, when we are bored, “time” seems to drag on.

Creating an analogy representing “eternity” is far easier than constructing one that represents “time.” One might imagine eternity thus: A tiny bird comes to Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on our planet earth, once every one million years, and, at each visit to the mountain, carries away only ONE grain of sand. The bird repeats this until the whole mountain, all 29,035 feet of it, has been flattened. Just image how many millions of years that would take!

Time, on the other hand, does not lend itself to such a simple analogy, nor is it merely representative of the span we call a day, that period of 24 hours. One dictionary defines “time” as ‘the general idea, relation or fact of continuous or successive existence- the past, present and future.’ Time, though, is a much more complex entity that does not lend itself to arriving at pat answers. The writer of an astounding book, Zhuan Falun, speaks in many ways of the complexities of time that exist in different dimensions, where it moves faster or slower, depending on that dimension and on the events happening there.

As far as we can presently determine, the universe consists of physical and material worlds and also of spiritual realms. They seem to have always been, and, on the surface, appear to have no beginning. But they do seem to have been altered from time to time, and have ended and been newly created, activities that took place when demons gained the upper hand and spirituality gave way to decaying morality and the deterioration of all matter in the universe. Several learned folks have addressed precisely this phenomenon over the eons and numerous classical texts attest to these findings, except most scholars did not realize the “why” of the deterioration and decay of the old systems. The paleontologists, archeologists, historians and religious scholars still debate the reasons for extinction of certain species and certain “lost” continents, and cannot explain the existence and/or demise of various phenomena. These same researchers also often err in their estimation of time spans that have elapsed since these phenomena occurred.

Man not only has to live in this physical dimension of time, but has also been given the responsibility to live in the spiritual part of that dimension. How human beings conduct themselves while living in this present time-space determines their future existence. Someone had said that the actual age of the universe is indeterminate. Only a great, magnificent god would know whether this statement is accurate. If we consider, though, that our souls never die, that they exist for eternity, assuming we live as morally upright individuals and do not risk total extinction, then does it not stand to reason to do our best not to risk extinction, not to forfeit such a tremendous opportunity to live forever? Such existence, though, can only be guaranteed if we pattern our lives according to laws that enable us to attain the merit needed for eternal existence, such a spelled out in the miraculous text, Zhuan Falun.

Over the centuries, Western and Eastern philosophers alike have wrestled with the concept of “time.” The ways in which they comprehend the phenomenon differ, but they do agree on one thing – that “time” has to do with change.

Looking at “time” from a different angle, the concepts of “slow” and fast” also enter the picture. But, what seems slow in this dimension might be extremely fast in another dimension. We don’t know how many dimension and time-spaces exist, but we can perhaps get an inkling if we consider the speed at which spaceships travel. We also often hear the term “light years,” the human calculated time span, the distance light travels in one year, 5.878 TRILLION miles, which is used as a measuring unit of astronomical distance. Such numbers are simply mind-boggling.

Our stereotypical thinking about the concept of “time” causes us problems. We cannot consider time to be an absolute, we can not rule out the possibility that “time” is merely one-dimensional, nor can we abandon the idea that “time is also a god,” as the writer of the marvelous book, Zhuan Falun, explained in one of his other books. Time is not a single-dimensional measure fixed by some imaginary “master clock.”

Old Hebrew texts are concerned with the quality of time, such as they relate to weather, the seasons, harvest, favorable or unfavorable days. Some people consider time to be nothing else but the span it takes for the earth to rotate on its axis, or the revolutions of the moon around the earth, or the time it takes for the earth to travel around the sun.

Many primitive agrarian societies also only consider time as it is tied to seeding crops, the seasons and the harvest. They patterned their early calendars, again part and parcel of the concept of “time,” according to crop and moon cycles. The ancient Greeks considered “time” a force and had at one time stated that “Time is the medium for the saving acts of the gods,” giving evidence to the notion they considered time as an abstract concept, in contrast to more primitive societies who considered “time” a tangible thing. Cambridge University cosmologist Stephen Hawking discusses the phenomena of “time” in one of his many books, entitled A Brief History of Time:

“There is a growing sense in modern American society that we are losing time. Our perception of time can change in a blink of an eye. ’Time stands still; time flies; time drags on; where did the time go? I just need a little more time; we had a great time; if only I had the time.’ We may choose how we time our lives, so we must be careful how we live.” (Quoted by Ronnie Littlejohn, Professor of Philosophy, Nashville, Tennessee).

Time, viewed subjectively, is that span that manifests itself to our sense of consciousness. Some thing or events around us seem to “happen in a flash,” while other events seem to “take forever.” Several individuals report that in certain times of stress, in a serous car accident perhaps, or in a state of trauma from surgery, during an earthquake, their whole life “flashed before their eyes” in mere seconds.

When life is fulfilling, the forward movement of time seems more obvious and appears to have greater quality. When we conduct ourselves in a morally correct way, time does not trouble us, because we are conscious of time well spent. On the other hand, it is quite possible that moral decay has greatly affected our existence in a negative way. Giving in to temptations from the dark side, temptations that serve us fleetingly and can destroy our chances for eternal life, gain us nothing but misery in this life and the next.

Many philosophers and sages throughout history have described a universe that goes through periodic cycles of rebirth, growth, decay and destruction. The best and most comprehensive description of and reasons for such events can be found in the book Zhuan Falun, not only for definitions of time, spaces and universes, but also why these events occur, because everything in existence follows the Law of the Universe, known as Zhen-Shan-Ren.

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