Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

January 21, 2009 at 2:14 am 1 comment

If I asked you what time it is, you could give me an answer. Years ago I decided the world was full of clocks and I stopped wearing a watch. I can think of only a very few times that I really needed to know what time it was and there was no clock around. In those circumstances I went to my back up plan and asked anyone near me and I’ve always got a reply. Atomic clocks have made it possible to tell time right down to the nanosecond making it possible to precisely coordinate clocks around the world. We are obsessed with time, but as the group Chicago asked, “Does anybody really know what time it is?”

New Year’s Eve we get all excited while counting down the hours, then the minutes and finally the seconds until we rip the final page from the calendar and behold a whole new year. We are self-satisfied with our accomplishment of taming time, or at least of accurately measuring its passage. We truly live in a four dimensional world. Everything in our existence can be described in terms of length/ width/ height/ time. I like to use the example of the 6 square feet or so behind the pulpit of a church. Using complex calculations of L/W/H over a period of time one can come up with a hologram-like display of what has occurred in that space. I imagine that space from the time it was the forest floor and watch all of the activity flickering through it, right up until last Sunday’s sermon. How many people have entered that space? A hundred years from now, what will be in that space? This four dimensional world is our realm of space and time.

There is another realm though; the realm beyond space and time. This is what Christianity refers to as Heaven; the Kingdom of God, or the Afterlife. In this domain we assume there is no time. Existence is eternal. In order to attempt understanding this realm, we have been taught through parable that it is a place where we exist, much as in this life, except there are only good things and good times. The Roman church exploits this idea by instilling the belief in people that one must be deemed ‘good’ in order to experience this afterlife and luckily they have the answer for you.

It seems we live in this life, and then (hopefully?) progress on to the next life. Lately I’ve been pondering that maybe there is no afterlife. Maybe our realm of space and time is only a small part of the whole. The vast realm that incorporates space and time is actual existence. God encompasses this realm as well as ours. We are just a part of God’s existence, God’s life. We exist as part of God; perhaps that part of God that experiences the five senses and the inner battle between right and wrong. When the clock runs out on our temporal existence, the biological machine that our (God’s) Spirit occupied stops and decays while our (God’s) eternal Spirit lives on in the realm beyond space and time, or beyond physicality and time.

When I hear “Does anybody really know what time it is?” I wonder if there is a time system beyond our realm of physical existence. In other words, does God actually exist within a time frame? Is there an actual figure to describe what the actual time is in our physical realm? Does anybody REALLY know what time it is?

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Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

Happier than God Obama

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. goforwords  |  January 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Dave,

    As I read your blog I was thinking about how our preoccupation with time is conflated with the commercial, consumerist, work-driven culture we live in.

    Indigenous cultures have a very different sense of time than we do – their sense of time is very much tied to the seasons of the land, the rhythms of climate, the movement of heavenly bodies – in other words, to that which is much bigger than they are and yet that which connects them deeply to what gives them life. I think this contributes significantly to the fact that their spirituality infuses their lives to a much larger extent that it does for most of us in the Western world.

    Also, I was thinking about mystics as I read your post. Anyone who has had one of those “samadhi” enlightenment experiences returns to this world changed. There are themes to these accounts and one of them is the sense of having entered a timeless state. Another theme is the firmly grounded understanding that we are not our egos, or our personalities – that we are not separate from everything else. Everything is one. Another theme is the impossibility of expressing any of this adequately in words – all those who have had enlightenment experiences express their inability to convey what it’s really like.

    Thanks for the post.

    Sue

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