Showing posts with label Time. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Time. Show all posts

Friday, July 10, 2020

What is TIME? What is Life? What is Lifetime?

Life is like a boat, floating on the river of Time.

The year 2020 has turned out to be a year to forget due to the unexpected, prolonged Corona crisis. 

"Oh God! Just waiting for this year to end soon", "2020 has been such a tragic year", "I just want to erase 2020 from my memories" have become part of our daily conversations these days. In other words, we want to press the 'fast forward' and 'delete' buttons on TIME. 

The concept of time has always fascinated me since my childhood days (I am sure it must be the case with most of you). 

Watching Star Trek and Indradhanush serials on Doordarshan, reading H.G.Wells novel Time Machine, watching Ray's Sonar Kella fueled my curiosity to grasp the concept of time. In high school days it was Stephen Hawking's book Brief History of Time and "मैं  समय  हु" the epic story telling of Mahabharat by समय (TIME).

This write-up arises from my exploration of the question What is Time? but in the middle of a pandemic why am I writing on time. Well, I am not doing this just for my intellectual pleasure (dare I waste your valuable time on reading it). I am writing this article to explore the practical understanding and applications of Time in our Life. 

Think about it, there are so many quotes on time, which we reflect upon for drawing life's philosophy, life lessons and solace:
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough - Tagore

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time - Leo Tolstoy

Better three hours to soon than a minute too late - Shakespeare

Lost time is never found again - Benjamin Franklin

The key is in not spending time, but in investing it - Stephen Covey

Time and tide, waits for none - folklore

The quotes of Tagore and Tolstoy explores the philosophical dimension of time, while the quotes of Shakespeare and Stephen Covey explores the management dimension of time. Taking few clues from these stalwarts, time is an abstract concept because it does not have a physical existence. In essence, time can't be perceived with our senses, only the effects of time is perceived by us.

Like all abstract concepts, time is also difficult to comprehend but if we can gain clarity in our minds about 'What is Time?' we will be better off physiologically, psychologically, spiritually and practicalities of life, because our life is so deeply intertwined with time. 

This write-up is an exploration of the perceived effects of time and it's practical implications on our daily life and about the wisdom we can draw upon and apply in our life.

  • It is difficult to comprehend the connection of Time and Life due to it's enormity, randomness, complexities and ubiquity.
These concepts of time and life are talked about in various ancient Indian texts and eastern philosophy. 

Stories from Mahabharat:

According to a folklore in Andhra Pradesh, once upon a time Karna on his way comes across a young girl crying because she had dropped her pot of milk on the ground and she fears punishment at the hands of her step-mother. Out of compassion, Karna took the wet earth and squeezes milk out of the soil back into the pot. The girl goes away happy but the earth-goddess is not pleased. She swears that one day she will squeeze Karna the way he squeezed her and that would be the cause of his death. 
During the climax of Mahabharat's war when Arjuna and Karna come face-to-face, Karna's chariot's wheel gets stuck in the ground (earth-goddess grab holds of Karna's chariot wheel). During his desperate attempt to set-free his chariot wheel, he gets shot and killed by Arjuna. 

In another story, Krishna was Rama in his previous life (avataar) and Rama had sided with Surgiva (monkey son of Surya the sun-god) and shot Bali (monkey son of Indra the rain-god). In next life, Krishna sided with Arjuna, who was the son of Indra, while shooting Karna, the son of Surya, thus restoring the karmic balance.

These stories, illustrates the enormity, randomness, complexities and ubiquity of the intertwined life and time. These stories, reminds us making a judgment of an outcome at a specific time point in life is pre-mature as the story of life is still unfolding and only time will tell (whatever that means).

The fictional story Nova Effect - The Tragedy of Good Luck, also illustrates how events in life which is perceived as bad luck now, results into unexpected positive outcomes in future. What is bad in my life now, may turn out to be good in my life in future.

Wisdom: Whenever a time point in life becomes overburdening, zoom out your focus because life and time is enormous, random and complex and these principles are ubiquitous. Don't draw conclusion and make judgement as this too shall pass and your life story is still unfolding.   

"It is impossible to determine if the outcome of an event is good or bad until the future is fully realized." - Alan Watts

Youtube link for the story Nova effect:

  • Predictions
In the age of Data Science, predictive modelling finds applications in all spheres of human society. Knowledge based on data points is extrapolated in time to make predictions. This curiosity of knowing the future and trying to predict the future has always been an integral part of human nature since antiquity. Astrology is one such example, where knowledge based on position of stars and planets is used to make predictions about a human being's life. But as we all know from our personal experiences, whether it is modern day Statistical Science or ancient future telling (astrology) they are not definitive predictions but it a probabilistic predictions. The number of unknown variables and their inter-play in a human life, in the world and time is humongous and it is in a dynamic flux. 

Take this very example of COVID-19 crisis. Just few months ago, human race was talking about space travel and now we are not even travelling in our neighbourhood. The variable of an epidemic hitting us was no where there in our collective prediction as a human race. In short, it's hard to make definitive predictions in the randomness of life and time.

Wisdom: It's wiser to take the prediction about a future outcome, or prophecy of one's future (destiny) as a guidance but we should not develop a fatalistic mindset of resigning to fate and not taking control of our present (now) to shape our future time (destiny). 

"Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny." - Vivekananda 

  • We are product of our times
How did the universe appear to our ancestors before the invention of telescope?
Most people thought Earth to be the center of the universe (Geocentric view).

The Greek astronomer Ptolemy (90 - 168 CE) described the Geocentric view of the universe in his book Almagest, which he wrote around 150 CE. People held this view of universe for more than 1,500 years as truth. 

When asked why an astronomer like Ptolemy held a Geocentric view, Carl Segan (famous American astronomer and cosmologist) replied: "Ptolemy believed that the Earth was at the center of the Universe and that the Sun, Moon, planets and stars went around the Earth. This is the most natural idea in the world. The Earth seems steady, solid, immobile, while we can see the heavenly bodies rising and setting each day. Every culture leaped to the geocentric hypothesis."

Copernicus (1473 - 1543) was the first person to identify mathematical errors in Ptolemy's Geocentric model and by 1514, he wrote a short essay called the Little Commentary, that explained the Heliocentric model (Sun at the center). Being afraid of the controversy and of the repercussions he waited for 20 years before he published his book, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in 1543, the year he died.

In 1597, 54 years after the death of Copernicus, Galileo (1564 - 1642) wrote a letter to Johannes Kepler his contemporary fellow scientist explaining his support for Copernicus - "I accepted the view of Copernicus many years ago. And from this standpoint I have discovered many natural phenomena, which cannot be explained on the basis of the more commonly accepted hypothesis. I have written many direct and indirect arguments for the Copernican view. But until now I have not dared to publish them, alarmed by the fate of Copernicus himself, our master. He has won for himself undying fame in the eyes of a few, but he has been mocked and hooted at by an infinite multitude....I would dare to come forward publicly with my views if there were more people of your way of thinking."

The belief system and cultural understanding of their times shaped up their minds. The social pressure of their times was a deterrent to change their collective minds instantaneously rather it happened gradually over a considerable period of time.    

Unless we reflect upon it, we won't appreciate this social and psychological phenomenon, 'We Are Product of Our Times'. Just think about it, in our times, it is so natural for us to just go to school and learn about heliocentric solar system, whereas just 500 years ago even to have this view, was such a big deal. 

Wisdom: The realization of 'We are products of our times' can make us less fixated and less rigid with our belief systems. It opens up the windows of our mind to look beyond, expand and grow with the flow of time, than remaining fixated forever.

  • Generation gap
Generation gap, one of the real life issue which many of us face is connected to the above understanding. Generation gap is when the present generation and their previous generation have a contradicting viewpoint on most of the topics and they are unable to make each other understand to come on common grounds. Everybody faces the issue of generational gap at some point in their life. The young today who are fighting with the older generation will also grow old one day and fight with their next generation. 

Wisdom: One should keep an open-mind, empathize and listen to other's point of view. This can break the cycle of generational gap and conflict.
The younger generation should understand that their previous generation grew up in a time of less abundance, without internet and technology, so their mindset will be different than theirs. On the other hand, the older generation should also understand the new generations are growing up in a different ecosystem and hence their mindset will be different. So it is not a matter of judging who is right or wrong, good or bad, rather it is a matter of acceptance of the difference of our times and their times.

  • Change is the only constant
'Time is ticking on' and 'Change' are synonymous. With time the socio-economic-cultural-geopolitical order and structure changes and in our generation this pace of change seems like time on a fast forward button due to technological advances. Change demands change management, adaptability and evolution to remain relevant and to be successful in the dynamically shifting newer times. 
Those who remain oblivion to the wind of change fail to move along with time and eventually become irrelevant. This stark reality is seen time and again for an individual, for a corporation, for a society and for a nation. 

Wisdom: Go along with the flow of time, rather than resisting and living in the past. 

"Adapt to change quickly. The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese." - Dr. Spencer Johnson, from the book Who Moved My Cheese? 

Few years back, I had written a post on Adaptability is the Best Ability (sharing the link, for a detailed reading on Change and Adaptability): 
  • Let go
We have heard 'Let go' so many times from our well wishers and we have said 'Let go' so many times as well wishers to others. Haven't we? Letting go of pain and emotional baggage essentially means letting go of the past time (memories) to which we are still clinging on, while we are in our present time (now).

Wisdom: Time is an abstract concept it cannot be perceived directly by our senses, only the effects of time are perceived by us. This understanding gives us clarity that much time has flown since then i.e. physiologically we are living and breathing in a different time but psychologically (in our minds) we are still living in the past. So let go.... and move on with time... 

"Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on." - Eckhart Tolle

  • Time and it's practical implications in life
Time is a resource spend it wisely, 10,000 hours of practice makes one an expert, Start early to get a head-start, Short-term vs Long-term gain, Time management etc, are the various scripts we consciously or sub-consciously run in our mind on a daily basis. Even though the concept of time is abstract, it's effects can be perceived and it does have a direct impact in our various endeavours in life. 

Assimilating knowledge, building career, nurturing relationship, maintaining good health, creating wealth, developing good habits, picking up new skills etc all needs dedicated time and efforts throughout one's lifetime. 

Wisdom: Human life is not a 100 meters race rather it's a long distance marathon and ups and downs along with the passage of time are inevitable. One should not give up when the journey becomes arduous, keep walking the times will again change and this too shall pass. 

 "Life is a marathon, not a sprint....Train for endurance, not speed." - Unknown

  • Autobiographies:
Biographies gives us glimpses of the unique journeys men and women have traversed during their life-times. The stories of the characters from our history also shows us even though their times were different, the fundamentals of human struggle and the triumphs of human spirit remains relevant to the struggles of our times and we can draw life lessons and inspirations from their life and time.

Wisdom: The fundamentals of human struggle and the triumphs of human spirit are timeless.

"Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory." - Benjamin Disraelli 

  • Life's Time is limited, Life's Energy is abundant
We all are here with a pre-paid card of Time. Only difference between this card and a mobile recharge card is that we are unaware of our time balance. Therefore the only thing, which we can manage is our life energies. This phenomenon is seen in the life's of individuals who managed to live a life large and bigger than their individualistic self. Just think about it, what Vivekananda managed to achieve in just 39 years of his life-time. Most of us who live double of that age, are unable to achieve a fraction of that greatness. When we introspect and reflect upon such examples, we can realise lifetime is not about just the time, it is about life energies and what we do with it.

"Life is a dance of time and energy. Coordinating both well is the key to a successful life." - Sadhguru

At a lesser philosophical level, Stephen Covey's book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People also mentions Time Management is a misnomer. It is about managing yourself, it is about managing your priorities. 

"Time management is a misnomer, the challenge is to manage ourselves." - Stephen Covey

Wisdom: We will be more effective if we focused on managing ourselves rather than living out of the conventional paradigm of time management.    
    • The Power of Now
    Though many years have passed by since I read the book The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle), the core message has stayed with me as if I read the book yesterday. It is because, a complex subject has been explained in such a simple manner, possibly a child will also grab the concept. 
    The author explains about Time and our perception of time, in these simple terms:
    What is Past? It is our memories of the time, gone by.
    What is Future? It is our imagination of the time, yet to come.
    So both are construct of our mind, as it is not the reality in this very moment (now).
    The only reality is this very present moment (now), in which we are breathing.
    Think about it, even when we remember the past (memories) and think about the future (imagination) we are doing this in the now (present moment). Isn't it?

    Wisdom: My present is the result of what I did with all the past Nows (time). My future will be the result of what I do with this Now (present). So rather than being a pendulum swinging between my past (memories) and my future (imagination), we should live and get involved with life in this Now (this present moment) and make the most of our life, because this is the only reality.   

    "The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment." - Eckhart Tolle 

    Coming back to from where we started. In this year, we are collectively going through once in a lifetime experience. Hopefully, this is the one and only pandemic we experience in our life time and this ends soon. But till this comes to an end and revival happens, let us stay safe and more importantly stay sane in our mind. Let us not loose our perspective of Life and Time.....this too shall pass. Who else can present it better than everyone's favourite, legendary singer Kishore Kumar in his iconic song, Aane wala pal, Jaane wala hain... 

    Youtube link: Aane wala pal Kishore Kumar song

    Take care....Stay safe,Stay Sane....this too shall pass.


    Big History:

    Adaptability is the best Ability: