We have discussed TIME in The Fluidity of Nature blog on this page as one of the important elements of Natural transformation. Transient and impermanent, the nature of things evolves through the mysteries of uncertainties to the future – yet in the order of duality and multiplicity. The process supports webs of activities to support each other and carry things forward. Forward? There lies the mystery – the fear of the unknowns – the fear that the established dynamic equilibrium pursuits could be dislodged.
Let us first try to have a glimpse of the views of philosophers and religious leaders on time (image credit: anon). Eastern thoughts had been fascinated with time since ancient times. Time was visualized as the mysterious deities and gods – as Kala and Yama with the powers to oversee, arbiter and grasp everything. Some say, Kala metamorphosed into the Hindu goddess Kali in the ancient matriarchal Indian South. With time there was no arguing – only the consequences defined by karma – the principle of dependent-origination of things – the universality of cause and effect, action and reaction. The concept of karma is a fascinating underlying idea in Buddhism and Hinduism. The after-life extrapolation of the principle – reincarnation is a message of both hope and caution – more so in Buddhism than in Hinduism. Hinduism invites divine intervention in the process of karma.
Buddhist Law (see Buddha - the Tathagata) of Impermanence - laid down the first insight on the nature of time - how it applies to the evolving canvas of Nature and Social Interactions, and what it implies. We all experience these aspects of the Law in our lifetime.
Ancient Western thoughts were not so much steeped with the futuristic view associated with time – rather with the near-sighted view of things. The good aspect of it is that social energy can be directed toward immediate gains. The undesirable aspect is that the notion can induce lackluster view of future consequences.
However, the ancient beliefs of heaven and hell, representing in a sense karmic interpretations associated with time – as a message of hope and fear, have crept into all religions. Real or fictitious visualizations, religious thinkers found the belief system very useful to include it in the scriptures in one form or another. The purpose was to convince people and convey the massage of reward for performing good deeds, and consequences or fears for performing otherwise.
. . .
How do the physicists look at time? Let us try to see it briefly. Until the ground breaking proposition of the Special and General Theories of Relativity by Albert Einstein (1879-1955), time constituted a rudimentary yet important element in the dynamic equilibrium of things, and in motions of speeding objects – in velocities (distance over time) and in accelerations (velocity over time). How about time in waves? The wave form – the fundamental mechanism of transporting energy looks exactly the same whether portrayed in terms of wave-length or wave-period. These two wave parameters, length and time, are related to each other through the celerity or the speed of propagating energy.
Time is also implicitly included in the dynamic pressure or kinetic energy of fluid flows. We have discussed the pioneering theory of Daniel Bernoulli (1700 – 1782) in the Common Sense Hydraulics blog on the SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY page (links in Widecanvas Home Page). Bernoulli has shown that in a frictionless flow, dynamic pressure is given by the product of fluid mass and the speed or velocity squired, V^2. Perhaps this basic understanding paved the way for Einstein to formulate his famous mass-energy equivalence in the very high-speed domain of the electromagnetic and gravitational radiations, E = mC^2, with E being the energy, m being the mass and C being the speed of light (671 million miles per hour).
Einstein’s theory deals with the macro-understanding of physical laws – in areas of motions dominated by the accelerations of heavy masses in the vast curved space-time field – time being the 4th dimension. The mass or its equivalent energy causes the space-time fabric to curve – the curvature in turn accelerates the motions of masses. Here again, we can take the help from Bernoulli theorem to understand Einstein. Unsteady Bernoulli theorem says that fluid accelerations can be a local phenomenon as a function of time only, or can be generated when a fluid motion is subjected to change direction in a curved field such as in a river bend. Therefore, any change in the direction of fluid motion due to curvature results in the convective acceleration of its speed – this reality is in fact nothing but the Newton’s (Isaac Newton, 1643 – 1727) First Law of Motion. Einstein’s brilliance lies in seeing this underlying physics of motion through the wave processes of electromagnetic and gravitational radiations to explain how very heavy masses or very high energies can warp the space-time frame.
Einsteinian concept of acceleration is able to explain the processes that happen in space and replaced Newtonian theory of gravity. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity has predicted the existence of gravitational cosmic waves that travel at the speed of light to transfer energy. These waves are created on the curved space-time field in the cosmos by gravitational energy radiated from heavy accelerating masses like black holes, or what happens in those masses. The existence of gravitational waves has been confirmed by experimentation in Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory or Ligo on February 11, 2016.
. . .
More on time? Perhaps its mystery can better be appreciated by seeing it through the eyes of a poet.
See time in everyday experience
It is like an arrow – heading to infinity
Each moment gone forever
With no turning back – only the forward motion to the future.
Past is nothing but memories, experience and knowledge
Future is uncertain and lies in visions and plans
Time is nothing but the continuous forward translation of the present.
Present – we have only the fleeting present
Live in the present to the fullest with wisdom
To build and to continuously refine yourself
To minimize regrets
To create a pleasant tomorrow.
See time as a recurrent realization
In changing days and nights
In seasons of weather change.
Time appears circular
In birth, growth, decay, death and birth again
In wave’s rise, fall and rise again
In emotions – rise and decay and rise again
In the duality of all existence – light and dark, long and short, high and low
The wheel of time rolls on to the unknown.
Time is the making of mind
In the relativity of our consciousness and judgment
Short to the fast and restless
Long to the slow and steady
Some equates time with money
Yet others like to see quality in it.
To those who has gone through a tragedy time is a healer
To those who wait and wait time is a killer
We warp time to meet our needs
Yet time is nobody’s and is merciless
Everything is transient in time – do not get attached to it.
Time is like a justice overseeing everything that happens
It does not discriminate – all are equal in the eyes of time.
Time is the lasting witness
To the transformation of Nature, life and society
To the dynamic equilibrium of all existence
To the translation of space – frames after frames.
Time is a reference to define the beginning and foresee an end,
Travel long distance – time translates to change in space
Travel deep into space – time melts into the vastness of space – into the void,
Where reality is unreal
The realm of no time no space – only the infinite expanse of emptiness.
. . .
Here is an anecdote to ponder:
The disciple said, “Sir, tell me something different. I am feeling very low today.”
The master looked at his disciple and smiled, “Take it easy, my dear. Don’t think that low feeling only happens to you. It happens to all. A superman does not exist in a real world. High and low feelings are part of the duality – one cannot exist independent of the other.”
“Are you sure, Sir? I think people are having more lows than highs.”
“As unfortunate as it may sound – it is right. Lows are becoming more recurrent than highs – we are seeing and hearing the symptoms almost every single day. Regrettably, economic progress is not translating to people’s happiness. It seems our governing systems are screwing up the social system and life. Who knows what human destiny is in the making?”
“Why do lows happen?”
“Well, there could be many reasons – worries, disappointments, hopelessness, and rude and inhuman encounters are some of them. Therefore, it is important to be strong both physically and mentally.”
“But Sir, what shall I do.”
“Think of taking a stroll. Tell something nice to someone. You will be surprised to see how words can make a difference, and find out that you can gain a lot by giving a little gift of kind words.”
“Any other alternative?”
“There are many others you can try. But try not to get bogged down doing the same thing again and again. There is something called fatigue that affects us all. Be creative to find something different. May be you can practice relaxation and compassion meditations now and then.”
. . . . .
- by Dr. Dilip K. Barua, 1 September 2016