Part XXVIII – The
Paradox of Space and Time
Can we see space or more accurately can we
perceive space? Space is the distance between
objects or between two points that are separated.
If there are no two points, will there be space
as an entity by itself? Infinity and eternity
are beyond the concepts of space and time. In
discussing the big bang theory, we raised the
question: did the bang occur in space or was
space created with the bang too, as one became
many by fragmentation? One cannot be fragmented unless one
consists of fragments. Space cannot be fragmented, although
we try to divide it into my space and your space, etc.
The senses cannot perceive space directly and
the mind infers it, based on the object-object
relation. In fact, due to the separation of the
two eyes by nearly 7 degrees, I get a stereographic
image of the object and thus a perceived dimension
of depth. This aspect is used in 3-D movies,
where polarized light is used to take two images
and rotate each by at least 7 degrees and project
them onto the screen simultaneously. Polarized
glasses are provided, by using which the left
eye sees only one image while the right eye sees
the other. Both are resolved in the mind as one
image giving a 3-D perspective. If you close
one eye and watch the 3-D movie, you will not
see the 3-D. Space and a third dimension are
visualized because of the way the eyes are located.
But just as objects still exist outside, the
space between the objects also exists. Hence
space can be deduced by the movement in time.
Even a blind man can feel space by moving his
hands and thereby getting a sense of separation
between the objects. According to Vedanta, space
is the subtlest creation from Atma (AtmAnam AkAShas
sambhUtaH ...) There are essentially five primordial
elements: space, air, fire, water and earth.
These cover the fundamental states of matter,
vapor, liquid and solid, plus energy, a subtler
form of matter and space. Krishna says they are
my lower nature (vyavahAra) and my higher nature
is that which supports all these (pAramArthika).
Space pervades everything but is unaffected by
anything. But even this space is in my consciousness
which means that the consciousness that I am
pervades the space too. Hence, during the deep-sleep
state when the mind gets folded, the objects
as well as the space that separates the objects
get folded too. I do not have any concept of
space and time in deep sleep. But I am there
to sleep well. My existence is never dismissed.
Along with space, the concept of time is also
dismissed. I am not located in space but space
is located in me, since I can exist without space
but space cannot exist without me.
The paradox of time is even more revealing.
Einstein’s definition of Time is a gap
between two sequential events in space, observed
by an observer who does not change with time.
Two simultaneous events define space and two
sequential events define time. Vedanta defines
time more subjectively, since ‘subject’ is
included in the perception of time too. Time
is the sequence of two experiences by the same
experiencer who does not change with the experience.
Each event-observation is counted as one experience.
By bringing the experiencer and the mind associated
with it to observe and record the experience,
time is reduced to a concept in the mind. Hence
perception of time depends on the mind too. When
there is no mind, or to put it more accurately
when there are no thoughts, there is no time
either. This is what we experience in the deep-sleep
state, where sleep is considered as only one
experience and not two. Hence there is no time
or space in the deep-sleep state. Do time and
space have any validity, then? They are valid
as long as thoughts are there. The paradox of
time arises strangely with the notions in the
mind. There is objective time and subjective
time. The world continuously changes – starting
from sunrise to sunset – two sequential
events. We completely forget the time when we
are fully involved in one event, particularly
when we are happy, since we are with ourselves.
Proceed to the next