All the time in the world

Kant wrote that since we grasp the world only through the structures of our brain we cannot truly know the world itself. Contrary to everyday experience, space is not a rigid Euclidean framework but is warped by objects, may be curved and bounded, is riddled with black holes and possibly wormholes and has 11 or more dimensions. The scientific theory of time and space is wildly out of line with the mind’s imaginings. Time is an empty, elastic form that must be filled by emotions and thoughts, and so we dictate how it flows, and each person’s time is individual.

Steven Pinker in The Stuff of Thought says it is almost impossible to eliminate time from one’s awareness, “leaving the last thought immobilized like a stuck car horn while continuing to have a mind at all”. Matter exists in space but consciousness exists in time, he says. But is it always so?

When we observe our own “present” it lasts as long as the thought, I am experiencing this moment, perhaps two or three seconds, the time it takes to hear a short melody, to recognise an image, to understand a spoken phrase. We straddle the moment with one leg in the recent past and another stepping towards the future. But there are other moments, in particular when the brain is producing alpha waves, when our experience of time is different. Experienced meditators will confirm that time seems not to pass at all when they reach stages of higher consciousness, and yet awareness is even greater than during everyday life. Transcendence of the present can also occur when athletes or artists are “in the zone”, when we contemplate nature or during sexual experiences. It is not surprising then that many religions have a spiritual view of sex.

These gateways to higher states of consciousness are usually associated with silence, stillness and profound well-bring. So consciousness does not only exist in time. It also exists outside of it. With enough practice, we can therefore stop time at will.

In states of higher consciousness aging is suspended.

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