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Is time fundamental?

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Is time fundamental?
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10/17/15 12:59 PM
Interesting discussion with a phyisicist who theorizes that, contrary to the predominant view in physics, that time is actually the most fundamental aspect of the universe. 

I am interesting in peoples take on whether this contradicts the idea of "timelessness" or the "emptiness of time" in spiritual circes, or, supports the Buddhist view that everything is impermanent...even the laws of the physical universe, or both. 

http://meaningoflife.tv/videos/32549

RE: Is time fundamental?
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10/17/15 5:32 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Buddhists aren't against time. They are against the idea that memory impressions (short-term memory: present moment/long-term memory: distant past) are existent things and unchangeable. This matches Einstein just fine. Time in reality is simply unceasing events with no absolutely discernable demarcation lines between cause and effect. As we zoom in and breakdown sub-atomic particles there still doesn't seem to be a partless part that can be found.

RE: Is time fundamental?
Answer
10/18/15 10:51 AM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Jason Snyder:
Interesting discussion with a phyisicist who theorizes that, contrary to the predominant view in physics, that time is actually the most fundamental aspect of the universe. 

I am interesting in peoples take on whether this contradicts the idea of "timelessness" or the "emptiness of time" in spiritual circes, or, supports the Buddhist view that everything is impermanent...even the laws of the physical universe, or both. 

http://meaningoflife.tv/videos/32549
I'm not sure there is an agreed on opinion on time in the spiritual community.  From my personal perspective, time may be a valid built in aspect of the physical universe as we know and see it with the selves we are conscious of.  But if that physical universe is actually 'empty,' or an illusion, and potentially so is the self, then time may be on the same unstable footing when looked at from an even more fundamental level than the physical.  It's like if Fred Flinstone asked if time were real, from his perspective, things happen in a certain order and follow certain laws, storylines happen in certain ways, but only because it was decided to have it that way for various reasons.  The pixels on the screen could have been made to be random, or time could run backwards, or we could have done all manner of things with the Flinstone universe, but instead we made it the way we thought we most wanted to see it.  Is Fred Flinstone real?  Is time in the Flinstones real?  If a character inside were to try to figure it out, he/she would be constrained by the reality we created and could only see using instruments of that reality, the outcome of such measurements having also been determined by the writers who made all the laws. 

Not saying every single aspect of our reality has a perfect tv allegory, but imo, we live in a storyline and our conscious selves are also part of the storyline, from viewed inside the storyline, as our scientists are doing, of course the storyline appears to be the only possible and measureable reality.  

But time is a weird kind of a perception that varies according to what kind of things are happening.  Time seems to go slow if the minutes are ticking by before you get to go home from work.  Time flies when you are having fun or under a hard deadline to get a project or math test done.  Or when working on art projects or left brain activities.  If you have intense new kind of experiences in your life, that time frame seems to be big, even if only a few days, whereas if your life is mundane and the same each day, time seems to go more quickly.  Perception of time seems to have a lot to do with change, novelty, and stress levels and how much left brain power is churning.  So the perception of time seems to have mostly to do with how many left brain activities have been performed, not many equals little time and a lot equals a lot of time.

If you go right brain, then the right brain seems to just experience things more without perception of time, if you dream, you can seem to actually live and experience the present, then the past, then new things, then whatever, all in a hodge podge, and those things and the order of them seem totally real at the time, your mind does not complain that time is not ruling your perceptions.   In the dreamtime it all seems totally real, but in the wake time, time is believed and perceived more rigidly and we assume only the wake time is real.  Dreamtime seems to have a different storyline than wake time, left brain a different story line than right brain.     
-Eva

RE: Is time fundamental?
Answer
10/18/15 11:23 AM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Jason Snyder:
Interesting discussion with a phyisicist who theorizes that, contrary to the predominant view in physics, that time is actually the most fundamental aspect of the universe. 

I am interesting in peoples take on whether this contradicts the idea of "timelessness" or the "emptiness of time" in spiritual circes, or, supports the Buddhist view that everything is impermanent...even the laws of the physical universe, or both. 

http://meaningoflife.tv/videos/32549
Only when there is thoughts is there time.

 When thought is absent there is no time.

If one has time to really think about it, that is  :-P ....  

Psi

RE: Is time fundamental?
Answer
10/18/15 12:26 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
@Eva: your reflection make a lot of sense to me. Experientially, I experience two distinct modes of time (wonder if they correspond to your 'left and right brain' descriptions)-

-discrete moments one following the other
-a kind of open continuum without discrete beginnings and ends but an open field of continuously changing sensations

Actual experience seems to be on a spectrum 'between' these two poles, to me, but I don't think I've invested much time in trying to isolate them in experience

RE: Is time fundamental?
Answer
10/18/15 1:24 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Hi Jason,

From a physics perspective, physicists are starting to rethink Einstein's formulation of time as being fundamental. In quantum mechanics, for example, it isn't. Quantum operations can run either forward or backward in time. As part of the difficult task of uniting relativity and quantum mechanics, Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute has published several papers exploring reformulating physics so causality, instead of time and space, is a fundamental property. Here's a link to a couple:

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1307.6167 : "The Universe as a Process of Unique Events", Maria Cortes and Lee Smolin
http://arxiv.org/pdf/1308.2206 : "Energetic Causal Sets", Maria Cortes and Lee Smolin

One consequence of Smolin's work is that it eliminates the time independence of quantum mechanics.

Mostly, causality runs from the past to the future as we would expect, but there are some cases, currently unproven, where it could run in the other direction. For example, certain effects that would result if the Large Hadron Collider started producing large numbers of Higgs bosons:

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0802.2991v2 : "Test of Influence from Future in Large Hadron Collider; A Proposal", Holgar B. Nielson and Maso Ninomya

For a spiritual perspective, of course, the Buddha said that causality was the basis of samsara, for example in the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta. Pratityasamutpada, translated mostly as "dependent origination" but I prefer Stephen Batchelor's translation "conditioned arising", forms the basis of the Twelve Links of Conditioned Arising (or Twelve Nidanas) which, in turn, are the process by which the mind generates suffering.

In general, I am skeptical of people who try to explain old spiritual texts and spiritual development using 20th century physics discoveries (remember Fritjohn Capra's The Tao of Physics?), but I feel in this case there may be some deep connection, kind of like between physics and math (re. the zeros of the Riemann zeta function corresponding to the energy levels in the atomic nucleus for no apparent reason) though not as easy to tease out.

RE: Is time fundamental?
Answer
10/18/15 11:51 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
@Eva: your reflection make a lot of sense to me. Experientially, I experience two distinct modes of time (wonder if they correspond to your 'left and right brain' descriptions)-

-discrete moments one following the other
-a kind of open continuum without discrete beginnings and ends but an open field of continuously changing sensations
Ok, maybe we were talking about diff things.  This here of yours reminds me of what I call consciousness as being 'pixelated,' if I look at my perception really hard with good concentration, it seems to be made of pixelated instances with space in between and perception only able to percieve one thing at a time, even though we kind of get an assumption that we are doing lots of perceptions at the same time, when we really look at it, it seems to exist in isolated snatches with tiny spaces in between, like if you blow up a image on a tv screen, you see it's really made of individual specks of light and is not truly a continuous image.  This is common mediation lore and I think has been discussed here multiple times.  I think I got that word I use from some Buddhist place as well.  It's also been mentioned in other spiritualist works.  That I think corresponds maybe with your 'discrete instances,' but not sure what you mean by 'open field of continuously changing sensations.'  Maybe you just mean regular consciousness without noticing the pixelation and feeling like continuous?  Thats my walking around default, I am not conscious of the spaces between the pixels most of the time, although my eyes will easily see a kind of flickering, but my thougths still feel continuous most of the time unless I make an effort.  
I was talking though more about how I seem to perceive the passing of time.  LIke if I am working for a while and then I wonder if the shipping deadline is near, I typically have a feeling of how much time I have been working and the approx time that will show on the clock.  But if I am doing art, that perception of time changes, hours can fly by quickly without me realizing it and suddenly it is midnight already.  My feeling of the passage of time depends on what I am doing and thinking and feeling, which is strange.  SHouldn't time always pass the same?  Why would my perception of time change so drastically?  It's not really about me noticed pixels, the feeling of amount of time that has passed since some previous point in my experience to some later point in my experience seems to depend on what experiences I had in between much more than what the clock was actually doing.  Strange!   

RE: Is time fundamental?
Answer
10/19/15 6:28 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
...
For a spiritual perspective, of course, the Buddha said that causality was the basis of samsara, for example in the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta. Pratityasamutpada, translated mostly as "dependent origination" but I prefer Stephen Batchelor's translation "conditioned arising", forms the basis of the Twelve Links of Conditioned Arising (or Twelve Nidanas) which, in turn, are the process by which the mind generates suffering.



Another angle of tradition bearing on the issue, in Ven. Nyanaponika's book Abhidhamma Studies – Buddhist Exploration fo Consciousness and Time (1949).

His overall thesis is that the "bookends" of the Abhidhamma outline mental space and time.

The 1st book of the Abhidhamma – the Dhammasangani ("Compilation of Dhammas") – explores the vertical, or spatial dimension of the 81 or so citta-s, or discrete states of mental process, as composed of combinations (and varying intensities) of the 56 or so cetasika-s, mental subqualities; change of the composing qualities (some gone, some added, some changing intensity) within a citta resulting in a different citta.

The last book of the Abhidhamma – the Patthana ("Conditional Relations") – explores the horizontal or temporal dimension: the 24 types of conditionality, the ways in which kamma (karma) and other factors replace one citta with the next.

Nyanaponika's last chapter – "The Problem of Time" – is perhaps the densest, beginning with:

"The formula of the Dhammasangani – "At a time when…" – implies a close connection between time and consciousness, which in a verse quoted in the Atthasalini [Buddhagosa's commentary on the Dhammasangani] is described as a mutual relationship:
    'By time* the Sage described the mind
    '
And by the mind described the time,
    'In order to show, by such definition,
    '
The phenomena there arranged in classes.'"
*samaya – time; congregation; season; occasion; religion. (PTS Dictionary)

re: Richard Zen (10/17/15 5:32 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.)

"Buddhists aren't against time. They are against the idea that memory impressions (short-term memory: present moment/long-term memory: distant past) are existent things and unchangeable"


Nyanaponika touches on this, in"Appendix 2" of the above book: "The Omission of Memory from the List of Dhammas".