Time, as we know it, is only an illusion. We usually think of time as having three parts - Past, Present, Future. But what is the Past - only a collection of memories. We can't experience the Past, we can only remember it. And we can only remember it in the Present (furthermore, our memories are noticeably unreliable). There is no objective thing that we call the Past; it can't be measured in any way; our only contact with it is in the Present.
And what is the Future - only a mental construct in the Present. We can't experience the Future until it "becomes" the Present. Until then it only a hope and dream. We can project what the Future may be like, but we are considerably less accurate than when we remember the Past. There is no objective thing that we call the Future; it can't be measured in any way; our only contact with it is in the Present.
That leaves us with only the Present - the ever changing Present. Time is an illusion we created to try and measure the rate of change of the Present. It's always NOW. But it's an ever changing NOW. In a effort to cope with the change, we have invented time. It's a handy mental device that helps us deal with the higher order derivatives of the rate of change.
This change that we experience in the ever present Present does have a "direction." Things change in the general direction of having greater entropy. Entropy is a measure of the amount of disorder in a system. That's why when we measure time we find it restricted to one direction (unlike when we measure distance) - things are changing such that the overall system has more and more entropy.
Although the illusionary nature of time is the deep truth in this matter, it's not particularly practical. To be totally in harmony with this truth, you'd need to wear a watch that always said "now". But you'd be late for a lot of meetings....
Written in honor of Kurt Gödel, who also didn't believe in Time (New Yorker ~ Feb 28, 2005, pg 80ff)
In light of it always being Now and always being Here, "Be Here Now" isn't just good advice, it's the only possibility. If you want to experience the deepest truth of things as they really are, you are going to have to be in harmony with being here, now.
Is "time" all in the mind? Is it real?
Physicists continue work to abolish time as fourth dimension of space
Discover Magazine: Newsflash: Time May Not Exist
Discover Magazine: 3 Theories That Might Blow Up the Big Bang - see #3 on page 3
NewScientist Magazine: What makes the universe tick?
NewScientist Magazine: Is time an illusion? (payment required to read article)
NewScientist Magazine: "time is no more than a mirage."
New Statesman: There's no such thing as time (2nd article)
NewScientist Magazine: Your Brain Is a Time Machine
Quartz: This physicists ideas of time will blow your mind
Aeon: No absolute time
'Time is the most frequently used noun in the English language.'
Before, Now, and Next: On McTaggarts philosophy of time
Sam Harris - It Is Always Now - 5½ minute youtube video
Why space and time have a secret connection - 2½ minute youtube video
Back to Essays
|Back to Leigh's Home Page||Site Map||Site Search|