This article in Thursday’s Washington Post intrigued both my wife and I. It is a synopsis of a conversation between a reporter (Joel Achenbach) and Brian Greene, a theoretical physicist. This physicist, like many in the business, is working hard trying to validate string theory.
Hold on! Before you roll you eyes and click elsewhere this is actually incredibly exciting stuff. Physicists are closer than ever to being able to understand the most fundamental mysteries of life. The implications are mind-boggling.
One of the more controversial theories — which increasingly is being accepted by these theoretical physicists — is that which we call time is just an illusion. A lot of people feel the same way but physicists like Greene say it can be inferred from Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. Past, present and future are all equally real and timeless. But what is real? It is apparently not what we think, at least according to physicists like Greene. Space is real. Mass and energy are real. Gravity is real. But time is probably just an illusion.
I won’t bother to explain their logic since I am not a theoretical physicist. But the article (while it exists in its free form online) is worthy of reading. Physicists are not snake oil salesmen. They are scientists. They are trained to be skeptical. They are trained to use the scientific method and to work out the mathematical proofs. All the pieces are not in place yet to tie together Einstein’s discoveries on the relationship between matter, energy and time and the subatomic world. But it’s not unreasonable to suggest that sometime during our lifetimes this question may be answered.
So we are going to purchase his book “The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality” this weekend. We will see what we as laymen can glean from such a sharp and insightful mind. But it is interesting how sometimes the scientific world can intersect with the spiritual and metaphysical world. This may be one of those times. In the future these two universes, often perceived to be polar opposites, may turn out to be unified after all too.
In my metaphysical reading I consistently learn that after death we live in what amounts to a timeless state of energy. In that state we can review our life as many times as we want and run it back and forth like a tape recorder. I read about astral planes and astral beings and how after death we move out of the physical plain into the next astral plain and possibly into many more. I have one friend who assures me that she has through meditation already moved into an astral plain or two.
I don’t know how much of this stuff to believe. But I tend to believe it a lot more when I hear respected theoretical physicists make aspects of it look very plausible. Those of you who have browsed through my metaphysics archive will recall an early entry on deja vu. You will recall how creeped out I was by these experiences and how on some level I know they are true. Now perhaps theoretical physicists are agreeing with me that deja vu is what I think it is: some part of my mind is aware of my future in what I perceive to be the present.
If time is an illusion what exactly is a life anyhow? The only thing that works for me is that it is an experience. Perhaps we are all trills. A trill in Star Trek is an intelligent species that lives inside another intelligent “host” species such as a human. Perhaps our individual energy is what we call a soul, and our body is the mechanism for experience. And one aspect of our body is that because of the way it is constructed it has the attribute of perceiving time.
Perhaps one life is like a breath or a heartbeat in a larger life. Perhaps we glean what knowledge and understanding we can from our symbiot (the body) then depart and jump into another world, another body and another experience.
If time does not really exist then perhaps we experience a multitude of lives all at once. Perhaps we are everything and everyone. Perhaps part of me … of us really … is President Bush. Perhaps I am also Bill Clinton. Perhaps I was also Mother Teresa. Perhaps I am the cat on my lap at the moment and he is also me. (Maybe that’s why it feels so nice.) Perhaps we are all one entity. Perhaps I am you reading this, and you are me writing this. Perhaps we truly are just an aspect in the mind of God … which means we are God.
Perhaps we are all the same thing and yet all completely different. Perhaps we truly are Yin and Yang. Perhaps we are modeling infinite diversity in infinite universes and infinite times all in a timeless place we call the now.
I hope it is so. There would be no reason to fear death. Every life would be truly part of a great and much larger adventure. And my ramblings are not complete fantasy. Because with time likely to be an illusion and with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity demonstrating that we are all intrinsically connected and related we are neither dead nor alive. We simply are: different and the same, spawning colors in a gigantic universal kaleidoscope. And it is the relationship of all these colors that is the greater truth and beauty. And it is the relationship and the larger abstract picture that is this thing we call love.