On the Threshold of a New Millennium
The Mystery of the Present
The Illusion of Solid Matter
The Mystery of Empty Space
A Cosmic Dimension of Life
The Borders of Human Knowledge
The Light of the Future
XIII. The gigantic collision of groups of galaxies 1E 0657-556 is the most intensive known energetic phenomenon in the Universe from the time of the Big Bang. The compound image simultaneously confirms the existence of the long searched for “invisible” matter.
A Paradox of the Present Time
As far as our normally acquired conceptions of time are concerned, Einstein’s thoughts and the fact that speed of light is constant, give rise to another surprising conclusion. If two objects are moving towards each other, it cannot be said that a certain phenomenon occurred simultaneously in both objects. In this respect, our conception about a simple and definite determination of a simultaneous momentum would not be correct. The following example is used to illustrate this. Let us imagine an empty railcar moving at a constant speed along a straight railway. A source of light is placed in the middle of the railcar. At a certain moment, a flash of light is emitted and a viewer inside the railcar can state that the ray of light reached the front and back walls of the railcar in the same time span. From his point of view, simultaneous actions are occurring. However, from the point of view of an observer, standing outside and not moving along with the railcar, a different situation occurs. The front wall of the railcar is moving away from the ray of light and the back wall is moving towards it at the same speed. This is why the ray of light first reaches the back wall and then the front wall. From the point of view of the observer, the light’s contact with the back and front walls indicates two events differing in time. What in the first case can be described as two simultaneous phenomena, does not agree with what the latter viewer can see. The relativity of the concept of the present time signifies yet another flaw in our common and evident view of the world. With this experiment of thought, it is necessary to remind ourselves that the speed of a ray of light does not increase or decrease with the railcar’s movement.
If we leave the world of physics, which theoretically and experimentally confirms an indisputable concept like the relativity of time, we can concentrate on our own, authentic and immediate experience of time. Therefore, we find ourselves on such grounds where we are not able to record phenomena which we observe with the aid of exact numbers or predict them on the basis of theoretical calculations. Although it is impossible to reach objective conclusions about relativity of time itself, due to the subjectivity of our emotions, we can remind ourselves that our perception of time certainly carries a touch of relativity. Apart from physical time, one sometimes also speaks of biological and possibly psychological time, which takes into account the subjective length of experiencing certain situations. Certain biorhythms, which have attachments with a specific form of internal time, fall under the area of biological time. There also exists one very important display of living organisms dependent on time which we call ageing. In this case, the difference between physical and biological time becomes apparent. There are individuals who seem to have defied the passing of time or at least have not fully accepted time’s usual speed in their lives. Others, on the other hand, grow old very quickly. Biological time is clearly not in accordance with physical time. We know the relativity of perceiving certain periods of time very well from everyday situations in life. We know moments of anxious waiting when minutes seem to last for hours and we know moments of pleasant calmness, when long hours are perceived as mere minutes. Relativity of time is present not only in physical equations, but also in our subjective emotions and in reactions of living organisms.
With a deeper look, even such a clear and matter of fact concept as the present time would show itself as relative. We have commonly gotten used to dividing time into three basic parts – the past, present and future. As it was mentioned previously, laws of physics show that time can stop and, therefore, the concepts of the past, present and future merge together. In this way, the conclusions of today’s physicists can bring us closer to the meaning of the mysteriously sounding words found in the records of ancient alchemists: “There is enough time for everything, there is time for all times to join.” If we understand the concept of joining times as a merging of the past, present and future, we will reach a level of thinking which combines the conclusions of modern-day physics and the ancient alchemistic sciences. In this sense, we can find even more common moments between today’s knowledge acquired from science and ancient spiritual teachings. In many spiritual texts, it is possible to find a reference to the fact that time is only a relative factor in human life and that a person, from the common level of consciousness, does not understand his true nature. It is also interesting to mention the so-called seed of time in ancient Indian texts, which should apparently represent the shortest possible time interval. We can come across a similar thought in the works of some physicists, who ponder about a certain smallest element of time, which cannot be further divided. Its length should be expressed by an insignificant number, whose first valid figure would be at the forty-seventh place after the decimal point. The idea that there exists a shortest, no longer divisible time interval creates yet another paradox in our understanding of time. From the stated indications, we can conclude that people in the distant past preoccupied themselves with the issue of time and that even here we can search for a source of information that is still topical for us today.
If we return to the issue of dividing time into the past, present and future once again, the reflections of Elger, who pursued the teachings of yoga and other spiritual systems for many years, can be very interesting for us. In his reflections, he bases his assumptions on the division of time into the three parts mentioned above. Without lengthy reflections, we can state that the past no longer exists and, in that way, gets out of reach of our immediate experience. In a similar way, an immediate experience of the future is out of reach because it does not yet exist. For our direct perception and immediate observation, only the time labelled as present remains. In what way though do we precisely delimit the concept of the present time? If we mark it with the word ‘now’, already during pronunciation, it stops being true and turns into the past. If we mark the present time as a time lasting one second for example, we will find that even this method does not correspond with reality. Even within one second, we can actually record the movement of time which, even in the case of such a short interval, automatically creates an aspect of the past, present and future. We can therefore decide to shorten the interval to a half, a tenth, a hundredth or any other fraction of a second. Even within such short intervals, however, there is a ceaseless movement of time which again results in the division into the past, present and future. Therefore, we get into a paradoxical situation. The more we try to delimit or capture the present moment, the more it escapes from us and we literally lose grip with it. It is also paradoxical that out of the trio of the past, present and future, the only one that has a touch of real existence is the present. However, if we want to ‘capture’ it somehow, we discover that it is beyond our effort and cannot be squeezed within the delimited borders created by time.
From our usual experience, we can state that living within time means living in the present. From the viewpoint mentioned previously, the present is beyond common measures of time and whilst taking a deeper look, it is as if it disappears. At this moment, we can again remind ourselves of the claim in ancient spiritual teachings which states that time does not essentially exist. Its perception is tied to the constant mental movement of our minds – so tied to the level of intellect. In these teachings, it is also pointed out that above the area of intellect, other, more delicate dimensions where time no longer acts exist. No matter which term we use to describe the part of a human being which belongs to this dimension – the soul, spirit, Higher Self or other terms – we are referring to the most important constituent of the human consciousness, which is not subject to changes in time and whose existence is therefore eternal. As it was mentioned previously, eternity in this sense must not be understood as an extremely long period of time. That again would only be a conception formed within the dimension of time. The concept of eternity should be understood as a different quality of existence, a different dimension where time does not exist. That is also why reflections linked to it do not have any justification. A whole sphere of absolutely different quality is opened to the human consciousness, as opposed to the usual area of our existence. However, its immediate experience cannot be gained on the basis of intellectual reflection or speculation, but through the exactly opposite path – by silencing our outer and inner verbosity, by stopping the never-ending chains of thoughts, wishes and fantasies. By silencing the whole human being, which only in deepest serenity can become aware of its own timeless nature.
In this sense, we can remind ourselves of the words of certain holy books. If we free ourselves from the childish vision of a heaven full of white-winged angels fluttering about, we can better feel the meaning of Christ’s words: “The Kingdom of God is Within You.” Also, the Biblical expression “I Am Who I Am,” can allow us to feel the timeless meaning of the words I am, and along with it, also the timeless meaning of the present. In the Gospel of John, we can read: “Before Abraham Was, I Am.” In a different part of the New Testament, literally: “There should be time no longer.” The ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead reminds us: “I am Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – I Am the Divine Soul.” The ancient Indian Vedas say to this matter: “That, which is beyond time and space, is the highest spirit.” Furthermore, the bible of ancient and present-day India, the Bhagavad Gita, deals with the question of timeless existence with the words: “I am unborn, a soul which never dies.”