Understanding Time

In classical physics, space and time were considered completely different and independent of each other. Newton considered space to have 3 dimensions and a separate single dimension for time.  Einstein with his Theory of Relativity showed that space and time where interlinked and he changed the terminology from ‘space and time’ to ‘spacetime’ and this space time had 4 dimensions. But, it’s hard to understand 4 dimensions, it’s not intuitive. We can visualize the 3 dimensions out there in space. We are used to the 3 dimensions. Time is supposed to be 4th dimension. Where is the 4th dimension? Where is it located?  How does this function? Neither Einstein nor science has given a proper explanation for the 4th dimension. Once we have a better understanding of time, the 4th dimension will be self-explanatory. So, let us start our investigation of Time.

Location of the Time Dimension

This is not an easy question to answer. Most people will answer that time must exist ‘out there’. They see changes in objects out there. Object was in location A, but now it is in location B. An object was 3 feet tall and now it is 5 feet tall. They see these changes in the objects and conclude that time is the cause for these changes and therefore time is the inherent property of space out there. They think Time is operating within the space out there. Is this correct? It is true that time is the cause behind all the changes we see in the objects out there, but it is incorrect to conclude that time is operating within the space out there. Out there is only the 3 dimensions, there is no place for the 4th dimension in space. Time must be located elsewhere, away from 3 dimension of space. But where?

To understand the location of time, we need to understand time better. If you look at time carefully, you can break down in the following 3 components

  • Past
  • Now or present
  • Future

Time is made up of these 3 components only. A simple question, can you look at the past in space out there? Obviously, not. The only thing you can see ‘out there’ is the present. Past is something which is gone, it cannot come back. The only way to see the past out there in space is to time travel and we know that is impossible. It must be understood that every passing event which we experience is stored in our memory. This memory is part of our mind. When the present becomes the past, that event is stored in the mind. This way all the past events without exception are stored in the mind (though we may not remember all of them). When we remember, we are bringing a past event from the mind. Time is associated with every past event. There can be no past event without time. We can see or remember past events only in the mind and not out there. This does mean that the time for the past event is available in the mind only.

Like we have just mentioned that what is out there is only the present. This present is the ‘now’ moment. It must be appreciated that what is out there is always the present. It can never be the past or the future. What is the duration of the present? According to the plank constant the smallest block of time is 10-44 sec. Once this tiny time duration passes, the current present becomes the past and it is replaced by a new present. We know these past events are stored in the mind. When we compare the current present with the past event in the mind, we get a sense of time. This comparison of the two events is important for the generation of time.

Let us imagine, we did not have any memory, this would mean that no past events will be stored in the mind. If there are no past events, there is no way to compare the present out there with the past event stored in the mind. What does this mean? It means that we will only see the present out there. We will always be in the present. Since we will always be in the present, time will be an unknown entity. There will be no Time. We will never have the need to understand time. This reasoning does indicate that mind is required for the generation or presence of time. The mind is the location and creator of time. Therefore, the location of the 4th dimension which is the time is present in the mind only. Space has the 3 dimension and the mind has the 4th dimension.

Vedanta has always been clear that time or ‘kala’ is present in the mind only. The source and location of time is the mind. Vedanta also teaches us that everything in the mind is subtle and is made of ‘vrittis’ or waveforms. Since we have shown that time is generated in the mind only, it must be made up or ‘vrittis’ or waves. It is quite difficult for us to understand or visualize the composition of this waveform, but one thing is certain that Time is subtle and therefore it is a waveform and is present in everyone’s mind and it creates time.

Origin of Time

We now know that time is generated and is operational in the mind. So, the next question is what is the origin of time and where does this time come from? The time waveform must come from somewhere, it cannot come from nothing. Time comes from Self-Awareness or SatChitAnanda. In other articles we have discussed that our inner core is Self-Awareness or SatChitAnanda. It is our inner bulb of Awareness. It is self-shining, full and complete. This Self-Awareness is unborn, it is formless, and it is unchanging. In this article we will focus on the unchanging nature of Self-Awareness.

Unchanging: Awareness is unchanging. It always remains the same and it will never change. It is the same now, it was the same in the past and will remain the same in the future. Nothing in this physical universe fits this bill. Everything in the universe keeps changing. If you dig deeper into ‘unchanging’, you can conclude that time is present in an unchanging environment but must be static and unmoving. Time is an inherent quality within something which is not changing but this time factor remains dormant. Because this time factor is not active, only for this reason any entity is unchanging. If for whatever reason, this ‘unchanging’ starts ‘changing’, time will and must ‘pop out’ from this unchanging entity. If something is changing, it means that what is now, is no longer the same. Since the two events are not the same, the time factor comes into play to connect the two events. It is not incorrect to say that time drives the change between two events. Self-Awareness is unchanging and the only reason it does not change is because the time factor is static or remains dormant.

We know Self-Awareness is non-dual in which the subject is the object and the object is the subject. Both the subject and object are rolled into one nondual entity. We have just seen that Time is an inherent quality within the unchanging Self-Awareness. We have discussed in many other articles that ignorance is a powerful force, it has the power to break up the non-dual Self-Awareness to duality with the object ‘other there’ and the subject ‘in here’. This ignorance is the source of the mind. This ignorance also breaks up the ‘unchanging’ Self Awareness to a ‘changing’ mind. When this unchanging Self-Awareness becomes the changing mind, the dormant time in the unchanging environment ‘pops out’ and becomes available and active in the mind. This Time than becomes operational in the mind. Everything in the mind is made up ‘vrittis’ or mental waves This Time is also made up of ‘vrittis’ or waveform.  The inner core of the time waveform is the unchanging Awareness made up of intelligence, but the outer coating is made up of the changing ignorance. This changing part of the time waveform is the driving force of the time we know and see.

Now that we know the location and source of the Time ‘vritti’ or mental wave, let us the study how Time interacts with other waves in the mind.

  • Time and Objects
  • Time and Space
  • Time and Energy
  • Time and Motion

Time and Objects:

Time is a wave in the mind and all the objects in the world are also a wave in the mind. Do they interact with each other? Of course, the time wave interacts with every object wave in the mind. When any seed body germinates (or is born) and becomes a wave in the subtle body, the time wave superimposes itself on the object wave. This subtle body then becomes the gross body. In the article ‘Life is Living Wave’, we have discussed how there is a fully functional subtle universe in a waveform. When a new object wave is born, it is the t = 0 or the birthday for the object wave. Right from the t = 0 moment, the time wave is the driving force for the object wave to modify itself, grow itself to play out the blueprint of its life. If there was no time wave, all the object waves would remain static and remain in the same state, with no growth. The time wave is the underlying force which moves this universe and object waves forward

  • The t = 0 for each object would be different. The t = 0 for the universe was 13.7 billion years ago. The t = 0 for the sun was about 4 billion years ago. In the same way every object in the universe will have its own t = 0 when it came into existence. From t = 0 to ‘now’, each of the object has gone through a history of events. From one moment to another, each of the objects modifies itself. As the time moves forward, the object waveform keeps changing, playing out the blueprint of its life cycle. It is like a small tree shoot coming out form the seed and then over time it becomes a fully-grown tree with branches and leaves and finally it decays and dies. The tree waveform plays out its blueprint as time moves forward. This life cycle applies to everything in the universe. It must be noted that the time wave does not change the object wave, it only moves it forward. The change in the object wave are due many reasons including the fulfillment of its pending karmas and interaction with other objects waves.
  • If you are looking at the sun, the sun will also be present in your mind as a ‘vritti’ or waveform. Let us try and visualize how the ‘vritti’ of the sun combines with the Time ‘vritti’. It will generate a superimposed waveform in the mind. The time factor is now added to the sun. It is like a mathematical waveform with time as a variable. If you think about it, this superimposed waveform will now provide a history of the sun. Since Time has been superimposed on the sun waveform, the new waveform will have the ‘potential’ to show the sun in all its stages of growth from its birth 4.6 billion years to right now. All the different Suns in the historical time line is present in the Vritti in its ‘potential’ form.  For example, you are on earth and you want to see the sun. Your mind will have a superimposed vritti of (Sun and Time). When this waveform collapses in the presence of the Observer, you will see an 8-min younger Sun. From all the possibilities, this 8-min younger Sun is present in the potential form in the combined Sun + Time ‘Vritti’. Let us suppose a person in a distant planet which is 1 million light years away and is looking at our sun through a telescope. He will also have the same combined waveform of the Sun and Time in his mind as we do on the earth. However, when his waveform collapses, he will see a 1 million-year-younger Sun. These two examples show that the combined Sun + Time waveform has the potential of all the historical Suns. Depending upon the Observers location in the universe, Suns of different ages will be observed.

This logic is not only applicable to the Sun but to every object in the universe, both living and nonliving. The Time vritti will combine with the waveform for every object in the universe, and this combination will contain the ‘potential’ history in time for all the objects in the universe. The Time vritti or waveform is extremely powerful, and it can create objects of different ages.

Time and Space:

Vedanta teaches that the subtle body creates the gross body. Time is subtle and Space is gross, it is therefore correct to conclude that Time creates Space. How to understand this? Science tells us that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. If a photon has to travel from beginning of the universe, it will take the photon 13.7 billion light years to reach us. 1 light year is the amount distance light travels in one year. The size of the universe will be the distance travelled by the photon from the big bang. This distance travelled by the photon is the outer limit of the Universe, because there was no universe before the big bang. If you assume the universe is 13.7 billion years old ‘right now’. After one second, the age of the universe will be 13.7 billion years + 1 sec. The photon now has to travel an additional 186,000 miles (speed of light) to reach us, which means the size of the universe has grown by 186,000 miles. After 10 seconds, the size of the universe would increase by 186,000 x 10 = 1,860,000 miles. After one year from now, the size of the universe will increase by 1 light year. From this reasoning it is quite clear that Time is creating the expansion of the universe. Every year the universe is expanding by 1 light year. As more Time is passing, the Space of the universe is expanding. It is therefore only correct to conclude that Time (which is subtle), creates Space (which is gross).

From the above discussion it is clear that time is the cause for the space out there. How is this space constructed and what is substratum of space? To understand this issue, it is important to understand the difference between space and spacetime.  

Space vs Spacetime: People use space and spacetime interchangeable. This causes confusion. Let us clarify this. When you look at space in terms of distances, it is space. However, when you look at the same space in terms of time, that space is spacetime. Space is ‘out there’ you can see it. Spacetime is not ‘out there’ it within your mind. It is a mental thing, you imagine the sun is 8 min away from you. You imagine objects are so many seconds away from you. All this imagination takes place in the mind only. Spacetime is in the mind first and then this spacetime is converted to space ‘out there’.

Pixels of Spacetime: We know an LCD monitor is made up of pixels. Pixels are picture elements which make up the surface of the monitor screen. In the same way spacetime is also made up of pixels. Since spacetime is time based, the pixels must also be time based. The starting pixel will be at t = 0, which is the start of the spacetime ‘fabric’, and the value of the time pixel will increase as you move further away on the spacetime fabric. How apart are these pixels in space? Well, based on Planks Constant, the smallest division of time is 10-44 seconds. So, spacetime is not a continuous and a homogenous thing. It is made up of time-based pixels which are 10-44 seconds apart. The entire spacetime is made up of pixels which are 10-44 seconds apart. The first pixel will be at 10-44 seconds, the second pixel will be at 2 x 10-44 seconds away, the third pixel will be at 3 x 10-44 seconds away. This progression will continue till the end of the spacetime fabric.

Substratum of space: We just seen that the spacetime fabric is made up of time-based pixels which are 10-44 seconds apart. In the post Awareness – the Infinite Energy Source’ we have discussed that the Awareness is made up infinite energy and this energy is available in the cosmic and individual mind. This pure energy in the mind combines with each time-based pixel in the spacetime fabric to give time-based energy to the pixels. What is time-based energy? Time based energy is nothing but the source of the electromagnetic waves. The moment energy combines with time you get frequencies and wavelengths. In school we learned that EM energy is made up of waves. Frequency and wavelengths are the two key components of the EM wave. Also, frequency is directly related to time.

f (frequency) x w (wavelength) = c (speed of light)

f (frequency) = 1/t (time)

A wide range of frequencies and wavelengths make up the spectrum of the EM energy. The known spectrum starts from Radio waves (300 Khz) to Gamma rays (3 x 1021) Hz. Each time pixels in the spacetime fabric oscillates in such a manner that it is a combination of all the possible frequencies in the EM spectrum. Each pixel is the source for the complete range of EM frequencies. Since time pixel is available in every part of the spacetime fabric. This means the spectrum of energy also covers the entire spacetime fabric. This EM energy provides the substratum for spacetime fabric. This EM energy and the spacetime fabric is still a mental event and this energy and spacetime fabric is projected out there as space.

Time and Energy:

Just like Time is subtle, and Space is gross, the same logic can be used for Energy and Mass. The famous Einstein equation E = mc2 is self-explanatory. Energy is subtle, and Mass is gross, they are both interlinked. Mass is the gross version of Energy. Just like Time is a vritti, in the same way Energy also is a vritti and is present as a waveform in an individual mind and in the cosmic mind. This Energy vritti when it superimposes with any object vritti, will provide the required potential energy to the object and when this object becomes gross, it will have the required mass representing that energy.

Einstein’s theory of relativity interlinks time and energy. This theory states that in the presence of energy, time curves or bends and time slows down. When you place any mass in a stretched-out rubber sheet, the rubber sheet curves around the mass of the object. In the same way if you place a mass on the spacetime fabric, the spacetime fabric bends and curves around the mass. This bending of the spacetime fabric slows down time.

We saw earlier that the time wave superimposes on the object wave, in the same way the energy wave also superimposes on this Time-Object Wave resulting in a combined Energy Time Object Wave. This combined wave then collapses in the presence of the observer, the resulting mass is placed on the spacetime fabric. The fabric will curve at this location and the time will slow down around this curve. The slowdown will depend on the mass of the object. Higher the mass, higher the curvature, slower the time.

Time and Motion: 

We see so much motion in the universe. Within planet earth, we see people walking, we see cars, trains planes moving around. If you look at our solar system, all the planets including Earth is moving around the sun. Then the sun and other stars are moving around the center of the milky way galaxy. The milky way galaxy is moving as compared to the other galaxies in the universe.

How is this motion generated? You will be surprised to learn that time is cause of motion. We have seen Time is a mental wave in the mind. We have also seen that all the objects are also mental waves or vrittis in the mind. The Time wave superimposes with the object wave to create a combined Time/Object wave. If all the objects are stationery relative to each other, the time wave in each object will function on the same scale.  The time wave in each object will be identical. When the time scale is identical in each object there is no motion relative to each other.

Now suppose there are two objects A and object B. You now want to generate motion for object B as compared to object A. These are object waves in the mind, it is not possible to move these waves in the mind to generate motion. This is just not possible. So, what is the solution? The solution is to slow down the time wave in object B as compared to object A. This slowing down of the time wave in object B will give a sense of motion to object B as compared to object A and vice a versa. If object A and object B both have a clock in them. To generate motion, just slow down the clock in object B, and you will get a sense of motion of object B as compared to object A. Physics teaches us S = V * t, where is S = distance, V = velocity and t = time.

When there is relative motion between two objects, the distance traveled between the two objects is the same. Object B moves S distance as compared to object A due to motion. Even though object A is stationery, it has also moved S distance in the opposite direction as compared to object B. The relative distance between object A and object B will always remain the same. If you measure the distance from object A to object B or from object B to object A, it will always be the same. If the distance S is always constant between these two objects. In our example the time wave for object B has slowed down. To cover the same distance, the velocity of object B must increase as compared to object A. If time slows down, velocity must go up to cover the same S distance. There is no separate motion wave in the mind, the time wave controls the sense of motion.

The Einstein theory of special relatively completely supports this. If you study this theory, you will understand that, where ever there is motion, time slows down. Faster the motion, slower the time clock. If you achieve the speed of light, time will completely stop. It must be pointed out that this theory gives the impression that there is motion, therefore time slows down. Motion is cause and time is effect. This is incorrect. There is no motion wave in the mind. Time slows in the combined time/object waveform and this slowing down creates a sense of motion of the object. Time creates motion. Next time you see a car going past, you can think that the motion of the car has been created by the slowing of the time in the time/car waveform in your mind. When this slowed down time/car waveform comes in the presence of the Observer, it collapses, and you see car in motion in the physical world.  Please read my post ‘Understanding Motion’ for more detailed analysis of this connection between time and motion. 

Time is King!