I have spent quite a bit time lately reading and giving some thought to meditation practices, kindness, the urgency associated with time, the vastness of Universal time (if it even exists) and how we deal with our own time on this earth. In theory our age matters not. Young or old we each can be here now even if we think about what tomorrow brings or how we have spent our time in the past. But can we? Does the idea of Time actually impede our ability to stay present? Do we gauge our value on how we use our time? Can we indeed experience ongoing happiness with the boulder of time looming over us, willing us to hurry along.
Stop and smell the roses tells us to ignore time for a moment and live the experience of now. But even if we stop, we stop for only a moment. The urgency of getting things done and moving along in life applying constant pressure. Always in the back of our mind is our time. Can we indeed view life over generations, over centuries, even over thousands of years? If we were all able to take such a long view, how would it shape our personal values, our societies, our ability to consider how the impact of today affects all those lives and life far into the future?
So just for fun lets explore how our perception of time influences our understanding of each day and each experience in our lives. Lets talk about Societies, Religions, Politics, Family Life, long term outlooks, short term outlooks, and just the daily business of living.
It is widely known that the Universe has emerged in stages over billions of years. Suns live and die. Galaxies so far have not yet died but there have been collisions that altered the future possibilities of both galaxies. Our own Earth has experienced many impacts and one major collision in its past. It is acknowledged that our own Sun will die sometime in the far far future.
We look at the rocks and see where long ago fossils used to be creatures. Atomic structures break down over a great span of time (?) which allows us to measure how distant in the past a creature existed.
All forms of life have built in rhythm clocks that tell them what to do and when. Our own internal clocks drive our behavior for sleeping and waking. We can choose to override it but not for long. There is a penalty for ignoring the restorative cycle both in physical health and mental health.
All frequencies of radiation provide us with important information about what is out there. We have determined that light travels at a given speed, slower at times but generally at 186,000 miles per second. So we are able to capture that light and witness something that happened yesterday or in the far far distant past. Part of what we see (Hubble pictures for example) happened Billions of years ago. What that area of the Universe is like today cannot yet be determined. We can look at our own Galaxy, own star system, and draw conclusions, but we really do not know for certain. We are looking into the past but the present in that part of the Universe can only be a guess, an educated guess, but a guess non the less.
All of this revolves around time, the past, the present, and as yet unknown future.
But does the Universe care about time? Is time real or just our conception of one thing happening now and something happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow?
Gravity brought all of this together but Gravity works its magic over vast stretches of time (our view). Does the Universe say a star will be born in one million years or does one event cause another event which, one after another, brings the ingredients together for a star to be born? Even the lifetime of a star is based not on time but the running out of elements to burn up. We say the star lived ten billion years but with a Universal perspective things were set in motion and things developed or emerged by cause and effect.
However throughout the maturing process, the whole has almost always been greater than the sum of the parts. So far analyzing the components of the human brain has not yet yielded the mind of a human.
The deterministic view says that one thing causes another, that everything is predetermined. Our ability to change direction is limited to the trivial. All else comes forth, as one event triggers another event. Good or bad, it is and will be as it was written. (an over simplification but close enough for this discussion).
An alternative view, the Universe is a living entity that evolves, develops, matures and dies. Our position, our role (as yet to be determined) is part of the whole process. We do not control the outcome but we do have an important role to play, and we can influence the maturing process in our little corner of the Universe.
Does it really matter if our species survives? Does it matter if any other species survives? In the far distant past the Earth Records indicate that major extinctions occurred. But life continued, where there once was fire and melting rock, there is now an entire eco systems of life in every form imaginable. If we set aside the miracle of this emergence we must ask the most important questions. Can we be responsible for our own extinction? Does our survival depend on the entire life cycle of the planet? Does the current mass extinction process now going on threaten our own survival, or is it a case of who cares, these extinctions do not impact us now or in the future?
If we determine that a primitive life formed 3 plus billion years ago ( a symbiotic relationship between molecules that replicated and molecules that metabolized external sources of energy to create its own mass) then we have to believe that life is a natural birthing process of the maturing Universe. A giant question is if we extinguish ourselves or get extinguished, what form of life would replace us? Is intelligence and awareness a one time event or an ongoing experiment?
Only time will tell. Only continued research and discovery will help us answer that question. But we can use our imagination and speculate. Take a guess. Explore the unknown with the tools we have at hand.
In the present moment we have events that seriously threaten segments of the Earth's ECO Systems. The Rig that is pouring oil into the ocean off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and who knows where based on the wind and ocean currents. Ice Sheets and Glaciers are melting which will over time change the availability of fresh water in all areas of the Planet. The noise of all of the ships wandering around in the Oceans of the world are seriously impacting the ability of whales and dolphins to communicate over vast distances. Species after species are being extinguished at a higher and higher rate. Our floating waste (plastics, gasoline containers and a hundred others) has created an island of danger in the Ocean as large as Connecticut.
Sea life is dying from eating this refuse.
Do we have the time to reverse these events? Does our view of time impact our ability to see into the future, predict what will happen if we do such and such, or even care about what life may be like after today passes? Many people are looking at our place on this Earth with a longer term view. Many are trying to solve some of our more pressing problems. Many are using Science, research and their imaginations to look at the present and consider our alternatives for the future.
But, these things that are happening divide our focus. The oil spreading everywhere from the oil rig is happening now, in our time. It is a crisis and we are responding to it. Species extinction, Glacier melt, waste and pollution, dangerous pesticides and many other issues sit on the perimeter of our attention. Our urgency is for the moment not a few years out. So although we are aware of the problems we operate only (for the most part) in crisis mode. Planning seriously to correct behavior now to eliminate the threat looming on the horizon can only happen if the issue is in the present. Tomorrow's issues will be dealt with tomorrow.
How do you convince someone who is only concerned about this election cycle or this quarters profits or food on the table to have a parallel sense of the future and what we are doing in the present to affect it in a negative way. Something very dangerous to our survival is happening on planet earth. Many people are investigating the potential impacts to our quality of life and possibly our survival. But because our time horizon is so short real change moves at a snails pace or does not occur at all.
It is interesting that so many things are happening to give warning and yet we believe we can respond tomorrow to the warning we receive today. While we are fighting wars now, the money and resources to deal with tomorrows climate change is parcelled out as though we had all the time in the world to minimize its impacts. Humanity is perched on the edge of a precipice by choice, only a few are investigating solutions.
The ability to see the future without being devoured by the future is essential for our survival. The Universe will continue at its own pace whether we are here or not. To remain a part of its future will require two significant shifts - our continuous level of awareness in all areas of our lives and an appreciation of the limiting effects of our human time horizon. Although many have projected the outcomes if such and such happened those who run the show are preoccupied with their own agendas. The Terrestrial and Universe warnings lie unheeded, pushed to the side, the door slammed shut on the need for a drastic change in our priorities.
Space time. We did not invent space or time. Everything has a forward movement. From one perspective tomorrow in this Universe will always take the place of today. Yesterday will not ever appear again. While we can see into the far distant past (light and other wave lengths), this past that we can witness today cannot be undone and everything that has transpired or emerged from that moment has had a forward momentum. The existence of Black Holes warps or bends space time while under the influence of the gravitational pull of the Black Hole. It seems true that space and time do not exist inside the Black hole. Maybe some time from now we will be able to see inside the Black Hole to understand what is really going on. But for now everything (no matter how long it has lived) is not permanent. Everything ceases to exist in the form it takes today.
I would guess it is this deep awareness of our own impermanence that makes us focus so much on the value of time. If everything in its current form is to die sooner or later don't we have to hustle up and experience more, do more, see more before our own time expires? This very state of mind limits our ability to project into tomorrow and alter today to correct if possible what we see. Logically tomorrow is not a given but because there have been billions of tomorrows tomorrow is treated as a given. So some invest in today to create a better tomorrow. Others invest in today to make today a little better. Still others spend so much time (of today) fretting about the past that a new and different tomorrow cannot come.
The Universe changes as each emergence creates the building blocks of the next emergence. If we were to adopt that basic vision and apply it to our own existence we might believe that we today are creating the building blocks of another emergence in the future. Then time would not be the bases of our existence but our existence itself would be viewed as a new and unique building block for something unique sometime in the future. Research and discovery are our efforts to understand our role in the Universe. If we were able to see within maybe just maybe we might imagine a human much different than we see today. Our species role might be understood differently and we would behave today as though today mattered, we mattered, all future humans mattered.
But to make it past our own extinction possibility everyone must re-evaluate what our species role is, what our value is, and how we can best make tomorrow a better day. We can only begin this massive change at the individual level. Organizations only have the awareness of that of the people who live in them, lead them, and rely on them. That is why our future depends not on Religious, Corporate or Government entities but on the individuals that call them home.
Our Time - The Forth Dimensional Human
The process of reproduction begins with the merging of two sets of instructions. After the merger the process of creating a three dimensional life form begins. Cells are altered to perform a specific function and told where to migrate to perform that function. The amazing thing is not that we have a heart and a brain but that all of what is us was organized from DNA that fit into a very, very, small organic package.
This amazing three dimensional structure can sense its environment, do what is necessary to survive and reproduce, and in the case of the Human (and maybe the whales and dolphins) able to reflect on itself. To understand not just the existence of a life or an object but to assign a value to it. Not just a personal value but a value to the larger picture, to this planet. Our birthing home can either be a junkyard or a well taken care of garden, something we take pride in nurturing or something we use and discard. Not a tough choice for most of us but in practice our short time horizon is a significant contributer to the disasters and harm we inflict on our selves and the place we call home.
I am an organic embodiment of structure and senses that allow me to operate and survive in a 3 dimensional Universe. I notice up, down, sideways. I can see in the three dimensions. My brain allows me to operate in this three dimensional world as I wander around and experience life and living. And yet there is a forth element, the mind that is aware of the mind. Self reflection. While the past cannot be changed I can imagine it, relive it as in a movie in my head, and carry forward feelings about it. I cannot create what happened in the past but I can remember most parts of it. I can imagine lots of things that I cannot see, feel, hear, taste or touch. I can keep these imaginings real in my head and act today to bring them into my reality tomorrow. Awareness and self reflection is like a forth dimension of our makeup. We live in both a three dimensional reality everyday and a forth dimensional reality in our heads. Sometimes we get confused as to which reality is real, which is more important, which one we should act on. Time gets warped in our heads as we feel intensely today what happened so long ago as though it was real today instead of a left over memory from the past.
Is there a function in the Universe that performs the same processing of the past or future that is not us? No one knows yet. We do know that no matter how small the organism of life, life is an intrinsic part of the Universe and over a vast span of time life emerges in many forms. I often imagine (see there I go into the forth dimension) What our experience with this life and living thing would be if we were all fully aware of everything within and everything without. And, if our concept of time no longer established the sense of urgency we all feel every day. I think of the enormous headache the Universe would get if it worried about whether or when a black hole was going to suck up all of the Suns it just created. Or, if the third rock from the sun would indeed harbor intelligent, self aware life. Or, if it was all a waste and the Universe finally felt the full impact of regret over a wasted life, all experiments a dismal failure and no time left to start over.
How big would that sadness be?
We project that sadness into our God or Gods but do not believe it can ever be over. God is eternal, the Universe is eternal for some, we are eternal if not in form, in soul and spirit. What would happen if we all kept in our minds and hearts the sense that the Universe "could" experience time our way. If it did there would eons of bliss and eons of pain or regret but most of all we would be sensitive to how we treated her, our forth dimensional mother and father.
The Great Divide - What we are - What we might be - What we can be
Honor thy mother and father. Feed, clothe, shelter, protect, educate, train, and love your children. Explore everything. Let age grow your wisdom and tolerance, not your fear, anger or bitterness. Contribute as best you can. Redirect the negative energy of conflict. Do no intensional harm. Do not kill. Fear and anger are survival tools, survive but do not let fear or anger consume you. Help others if you can. Find the space within where love sits, patiently waiting to be discovered. Pain is a warning signal telling us something is wrong. Remembering history is a learning tool not a club. No life is a waste. Regret should stir us into different behavior not deepen our depression, guilt, sadness or anger. Pursue knowledge, ignorance is not bliss. Let knowledge bring greater understanding and tolerance. Accept leadership with conditions. Following is not a bad thing but follow with awareness. Really bad people who want to do great harm exist. Really good people who want to contribute also exist. If we know the difference we follow the right leaders.
The challenge is to nurture compassion and empathy. Be nice even to your relatives. Honor your word. A promise is a promise. The pain that can be caused by willful indulgence is not an accident. Awareness of the impact of your actions is only half of the understanding. Choosing is the other half. Choice is the cornerstone of human conduct, whether to inflict harm and pain or focus on love and kindness. Reminders are always welcome, they help us stay on track. Our primary path in life is to discover an answer to the riddle of life. While we are asking why we are here can we also assume the answer matters and behave accordingly.
The Present Creates the Future - Does the practice of awareness and the changes it creates in the life of a single human being alter the future? Can we imagine our own evolution and what we could be as a species far into the future? Does living today and changing today allow tomorrow to unfold in a more unifying way?