A LOT of rubbish has been written about time and, unfortunately, much of it is generally believed to be true. Take for instance, the absurd notion that Time Travel will one day be possible. No, it isn’t possible. If you were to truly go ‘back in time’, all the atoms in your body were ‘doing something else’ at the time you are going back to. They can’t be in two places at once. Besides that, the entire Universe is in constant motion and would also ‘have to go back precisely to where it was ‘at the time’ for you to go back just so you could see Lady Godiva ride naked on her horse’. The Universe ‘ain’t gonna do that for you.’ - flux capacitor or not. Using the literary vehicle of time travel and other ‘what-iffing’, the general populations of nations have been led up the proverbial garden path to accept absurd things as ‘science’ that they shouldn’t. This essay will put forth a general format of what Time is in the Universe.
First, we need to know what the Universe is. The Universe is, “The collection of ALL Forms, both concrete and abstract.” Geometry tells us that Form is, “That which is bounded by extremes; that these extremes are ALWAYS in pairs and these pairs are ALWAYS opposite.” Equal distant between these extreme pairs - is the CENTER, which is FORMLESS. A concrete form is that which is tangible; like a table or a mountain and abstract form is that which is intangible, but nevertheless real; like the temperature of Space or mathematics, itself.
Science is based on observation and most importantly, MEASUREMENT. Units of Measure are any agreed upon forms which may be used to compare other forms for relative magnitude; like ‘How many hands tall is a horse?’ All forms can be measured by some smaller ‘unit of measure’. Most importantly, FORMLESSNESS, having no extremes, itself, cannot be measured by any unit of measure BECAUSE - it has no extremes. Think of the center point of a circle. You can measure how big the circle is and all sorts of forms within, but there is no means of measuring the true center point of the circle, because however small you make the unit of measure, the center point will always be in the middle between these extremes. That is an important aspect of Formlessness and it is just as real as the properties of Form. Be aware that abstracts of Form - can be measured but Formlessness - cannot.
Form rises out of Formlessness. Formlessness is not ‘nothing’. It is Formlessness. It has no extremes. It is unmeasurable. Formlessness is a real thing. Just as the ‘point’ is a formless location in Space. The Universe of Form is from Formlessness. The one attribute of our experience as Creatures of limited awareness that we can comprehend as possible in the Formless as well is AWARENESS. Just as we see the evidence of Formlessness in the center of all forms, we see the evidence of FORMLESS AWARENESS in the Mathematics that describes and created the entire Universe of Form. This is because before a thing can be actual, it must first be possible. Mathematics is the study of all True Universal possibilities. Mathematics studies ‘the Universe possible’ and Physics studies the ‘Universe actual’.
The units of measurement for time are among the most important tools as far as science goes, at least they are the most consistently critical measurements. What do ‘Units of Time’ measure? They measure the relative speed of the displacement or non-displacement of forms in space. “The train took two hours to go from Kansas City to Joplin.” or, “ I waited 3 hours at the station, but the train never showed.” They can also be used to measure abstract displacements. For instance, how long it takes to type this sentence or how long it takes to read it.
The abstract form of Time, like all forms, is bounded by extremes. These extremes are ‘the Past and the Future’. What we call the present of ‘Now’ is our formal ‘point’ of true awareness of the Universe around us. Like a formless center (or any point) you can’t measure ‘absolute Now’. You can only approach towards it. No absolute unit of measure exists for time because a point in time is formless. There are units of measure based on the familiar ‘circuits around the sun, or less familiar pulses of an electron. Time is a mono-directional dimension of measure because you can measure from one arbitrary extreme to another, as you do with a line, but it does not measure in ‘all directions’. In fact, the word ‘dimension’ simply refers to measurement in one direction. The three classical Euclidean single dimensions of Space are that of a straight line (monodirection), LENGTH can be combined where two intersecting dimensions measure AREA while three intersecting dimensions measure VOLUME. Time has been treated like a dimension, but does not fit the fundamental criteria of these Classic Euclidean dimensions. This is not a trivial observation.
The classical dimensions are all lines of measurement at right angles to each other.
A right angle is formed by ‘the intersection of two (or three) lines whose opposite extremes are ‘MOST DIFFERENT’ to each other.’
So a line whose opposite extremes are North-South is MOST DIFFERENT to a line whose extremes are East-West and both of these dimensions are at right angles to another line whose extremes are Up-Down (away from and towards gravity). In this picture, you can see that curves can also be at right angles. This is what led to Riemann’s considerations in Non-Euclidean geometry. But it is impossible to have more than 3 lines which are all at right angles to each other. Inserting another line into the intersection, only shows a line that is ‘Different’ but not ‘most different’. It is called a ‘slope’ and is measurable by the other 3 intersecting right angle dimensions. So the inclusion of Time can not be considered a fundamental dimension as are these three. The Greeks were cautious about this. They wanted to use Time as a fundamental dimension but warned there was no actual proof of this. They were right to be so cautious.
Enter Riemann, Bolyai and other mathematicians and eventually physicists who sought ways to fully incorporate Time as a dimension through applications of non-Euclidean maths. Basically, it is this, if you look at a curve it is a single monodirectional line, but it incorporates 2 dimensions within it. Think of a circle and you have measurements of both width and height (area). If you can justify the curve as a single dimension you can either ‘hide’ or you can fold another dimension into your work. This is how Einstein, for instance, got Time into his Theory of General Relativity - through a mathematical devise called the ‘Einstein Tensor’ based off of Riemannian Tensors (hidden dimensions).
The unspoken problem, buried deep in fundamental mathematics, is that a curved and a straight line ‘are not the same thing’. They are mutually exclusive elements. They are like oil and vinegar. Shaking them does not make them merge to become the same thing. Modern math is based on them being ‘reflections or extensions of each other’. It is why all mathematics is blithely expressed in terms of the straight line (the number pi, for instance is the number of translation for curve to straight line) as the most fundamental form while the curve is a derivative form of the straight line. This is an error and a big one. I won’t go into it here, though. I mention this only to help the reader understand perceptions of Time, be they from Physics or Philosophy. It helps explain where science could go wrong without knowing it and why they reach conclusions that they do, and what they miss.
As I wrote, Time is a form whose extremes are Past and Future and whose formless center is the Present (NOW). For each of us, throughout the Universe we are ‘formless points’ of Now. To each of us it seems that we are the center of the Universe, even as we know this is not true. That is the geometry of Form playing out in our sense of Awareness. As an exercise, try imagining the smallest, purest awareness of ‘now’ within yourself. This is something of what is done in meditation. Our own pasts are others’ futures and our own futures are others’ pasts. Our perception of the present is already our past when we stop to think about it. As you are reading this sentence, for instance, the act of reading the first word is in your past when you get to its last word. You cannot pinpoint your ‘Present’. It is enough for most people to simply know they are in it and aware of it. But how well aware of your present are you? That is the fundamental question of philosophy, religion and even science. It consumes us all in one way or another - be it in the bland disregarding of it all together and stuffing low experiences, drugs alcohol and material down a black hole of vague emptiness inside all the way to the delicate sensibilities of gifted musicians, artists, philosophers, aesthetics, scientists etc, as they try gain that clearer view of reality. It is all about the perception of Now within each of us.
So the key to understanding time is to understand the Formless Now of which we, personally, are continually aware and which constitutes who we are and what we call ‘the present’. It is the closest we get to the Formless Now from which the entire Universe of Form arose. Why? Because geometry, again, tells us Formlessness gave birth to Form and the point is Formless, just as the circle is the UNITY and the center POINT is the UNIT they are ‘one and the same’. Each point in a circle has exactly the same formlessness as every other point, including the center point. Your Awareness of the Present is as close as you can get to the Formless Eternal Now that gave rise to the Universe. And that Universe must also be described in terms of that fundamental relation - because there are no other terms.
Modern science and mathematics have lost sight of this, however. They have focused all their teaching, training for the last few centuries on Form and have disregarded Formlessness - even as a possibility. It is a maxim of Science that if they can’t measure a phenomenon, it is of no interest to them. BUT YOU CAN’T MEASURE FORMLESSNESS....which is a fundamental (and forgotten) maxim of Mathematics! But you must include Formlessness if you truly want to find ‘the Theory of Everything’.
So to the form of Time we have the two extremes Past and Future and the Center which is present. Each of us experiences time as a ‘point’ which has the same form as the center point - it is formless. It is from this beginning, that we can know all there can be known about time. Just as Geometry builds up from the ‘formless location in space’ (a point) to all the intricacies of form that present themselves in the Universe. Why should the form of Time be put to a different set of standards from all the other forms in the Universe?
A line is, ‘a similar series of points’. When you are concerned with one point on the line...and then another...the first point doesn’t disappear. It is still there. It is the same with time. The ‘now’ that you experienced years ago or 5 seconds ago....is still there. To you it is ‘in the past’. You are ‘now’ in the past of your own future as you read this. At some future now you will remember reading this during a past now. There is no measure of just what a ‘now’ is. Some theoretical physicists try to postulate a minimal unit of ‘now’, but they haven’t been successful to date, and I don’t expect that they will be, since ‘now’ is appreciation of a formless location in space. Postulating the minimal unit of time is the modern equivalent of trying to answer how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It is taken quite seriously by many people.
It is an unrecognized and important facet of Geometry, that you cannot measure the dimension from the same dimension. A straight line is considered to be a ‘one to one’ match with the number line (1+1+1+1+1.....). The problem for geometers is, you can’t know anything about the relations of a one dimensional line....except....you apply the compass, which is a tool of TWO DIMENSIONAL discovery ( a circle has both horizontal and vertical dimensions intrinsic to it). Once you apply the compass, you can find the middle of any line and any number of intricate numerical relations can be found and proved. But without the compass...you can unlock NOTHING about the intrinsic relations within a line. Something of the same sort again happens with 2 dimensional constructions. Three famous ‘impossible’ constructions, the Squaring of a Circle, the Trisection of an Arbitrary Angle and the Construction of an Enneagon (9-sided regular polygon) are IMPOSSIBLE, not because ‘they can’t be done’...but because you need a THREE DIMENSIONAL compass, - which is disallowed in Euclidean Geometry. Once you have that tool, they are easy.
Do you see what is going on? You need to examine the intricacies of forms of a lower dimension with tools from a HIGHER one. That there are only 3 dimensions, as I showed above, confuses people when they read modern physics or math books, which talk about multiple higher dimensions. I put it to you that these are tricks of modern math. They are not classical dimensions but symbolic ones or adulterated ones, as with the use of tensors. In the end, despite all protestations, all the theoretical play ends up having to be expressed or held prisoner to the conditions of the original Euclidean 3 dimensions.
Why do I say this? Because there are only 3 true dimensions to the Universe of Form. The so-called ‘4th dimension’ of Time...is actually the higher FORMLESSNESS from which all Form has been derived. This is why the Greeks wisely refused to call Time a ‘dimension’. Each unmeasurable appreciation of Awareness you have experienced, do experience and will ever experience are simply the state of Formlessness of Now.
Far-fetched? No one is capable of saying what the form of the Universe is, because the distances over which it exists are incomprehensibly vast. This Universe is so vast that light over the course of 14 billion years....has yet to reach the other side! The stars and galaxies one sees through telescopes are images of things as they existed up to millions and billions of years ago....Some do not exist anymore...but we see them in our Now. We still see their ‘now’ even as many ‘are no more’. When you throw in the notion that light probably travels in a curved path, instead of the straight line physicists rely on for their theories, we may even be seeing our own galaxy from billions of years ago as a distant object through a telescope because the light has traveled around the entire universe and returned back to where it originated! Except you wouldn’t know it was your own galaxy, because it would have changed! This is grossly simplified, but the entire Universe is moving - constantly. What you are generally looking at in the night sky isn’t necessarily in the place where you see it in relation to us here on Earth - now. Not only is the vastness of the Universe a barrier to knowing ‘what is really going on’ but so is the vastness of removal in time between Universal events and their observation here.
But we do have Geometry which is the study of form and it has one great advantage, namely, it doesn’t rely on measuring. In fact, it nearly forbids it. “A circle is a circle is a circle.” Size has nothing to do with the form of a circle. The same can be said of Time. It is a form. Form comes from Formlessness. The center of each and every form in the universe is ‘formless’ as well. The Universe of Form ‘swims’ in an ocean of boundless Formlessness. It is the one consistent thing throughout the entire Universe. Formlessness is the same on Earth as it is on the other side of the Universe...and every other part of the Universe. THAT is the common (and ignored) link to all this. There is one other incredibly important thing about our own Awareness and Formlessness no one comment on; Awareness is the ONLY universal property we can envision as being potentially Formless.
So, putting it all together, Formless Awareness is Aware of All ‘beyond time’ (which is a form). There is NO TIME in Formlessness. There is no movement, no displacement in space, etc. Time is only the local observation of displacement of forms in the Universe. Neither is time even a fundamental dimension of the Universe. If all movement stopped, Time would stop, but the Universe of frozen forms in space...would still be there. Time is how we creatures of form in the Universe conveniently mark the limitations of our Awareness. Our awareness is minutely focused down to a wee tiny portion which we call ‘reality’. That is what Form does. It individualizes the experience of awareness. If we were Formlessly Aware....we would know everything NOW - beyond time. That is the secret of the Universe....it was created to INDIVIDUATE the experience of Awareness for all creatures of Form within it.
We can’t say a lot about Formless Awareness, because every time we do, we bound it up with extremes and create it as a grand form in our own formal image. Whether you are talking about Zeus, Allah, Yahweh, or whatever, I am bound to point out that ALL these gods are created in the image of humans each displaying the limits of form (good-bad, jealous-loving, etc. i.e.). They are false idols. An idol based on false ideas is no less false than one of stone. THIS is actually the benchmark of how you can determine that some religion is false. The Creator of the Universe CANNOT be a creature of form. That is a profound contradiction.
We can say, however, that to Formless Awareness the Universe doesn’t have a past, present and future. It only has a now. It sees the Universe of Form as a complete creation. Its beginning and end are NOW....which means....the beginning and end of the Universe as we understand it - ‘never happened’ because they exist both together in the NOW of Formless Awareness. That is the neatest trick of creation...we only THINK there was a beginning of the Universe because we are inside the Universe possessing only narrowly focused awareness. To the Formless Now Awareness....the Universe always ‘is’. So a dinosaur that fell into quicksand millions of years ago, to the Formless Awareness is every bit as much alive ‘now’ as you are to it. All our births and deaths are ‘already done’.
The thing is ‘we don’t know that’. This is not some kind of Calvinist predetermined Universe. It is simply saying the Universe, to Formless Awareness, is One Thing ever Now just like Formless Awareness is. Our lives and choices are the result of our passions, determinations and laziness to accomplish or not accomplish the actions we do in life. We don’t know what these will turn out to be, because of the narrow focus of our individuated awareness. We are intensely engaged in the game we play. But, metaphorically, ‘billions of years ago’ (there really is no way to say this properly) Formless Awareness SEES us doing what we do today...and will continue to see us doing it billions of years from now. This is how It SEES not just us, but everything that is in the entire Universe. It is always PERFECTLY ‘NOW’ to Formless Awareness.