Time and Perception
When we speak about the paranormal, we tend to be speaking about that which we consider the unknown. The unknown is a very large word in the sense that it could mean anything beyond our perceptions; for example the unknown to me could be anything that’s behind me, I can’t see behind me so essentially what is behind me is somewhat unknown.
The unknown also hides within self-imposed barriers. These self-imposed barriers are beliefs; beliefs that are so powerful that we sometimes call them facts. A particular fact for example is the notion that time is a sequential affair. That is we all take it for granted that time extends in a linear fashion where there is a past and the future with us standing in the middle, a middle which we call the present. This is a fact, we believe.
But anyone who knows anything about modern physics knows that scientists within this field have now been able to prove mathematically that our perception of time is wrong. While Newton believed in a mechanical universe governed by laws of cause and effect, modern physicists have discovered that this Newtonian ideal tends to only hold true within our own perspective size.
Particle physics for example had to throw out cause and effect because within the realm of the subatomic, effects sometimes happen before the cause. Astrophysicists studying very large to near infinite objects have also needed to expand their ideas of cause and effect because of the incredibly powerful effects that gravity has on time. Newtonian physics and our ideas of cause and effect are largely responsible for our ideas of time, or it would be even better to say that the creation of Newtonian physics was due to our current ideas of time. Without this cause-and-effect, our ideas of time change and there is no longer a linear and sequential progression of action.
This sequential and linear idea of time is in many ways a Western centric concept. The Hindu Vedas for example conceptualize time on much larger scales and as a result conceptualize time in a more cyclical and holistic ways. Many ancient cultures see and saw time not as a string but as a plate where all existed at once just on different geographic regions on that plate.
One of the key tenants within Zen Buddhism is the idea of the here and now; they conceptualize life as existing only in this present moment. The past and the future are an the illusion created by the mind and the mind is a sickness that must be eradicated at all cost.
What if we were to take a radical new approach to time? What if we were to consider time as not existing in a linear sequence but as existing all at once? Since time for us is so directly linked to space, what if we conceptualized reality as existing all at once within one point. For a moment, try to conceptualize the idea that all things in the present, past, and future are existing now all at once. Any action that you took in the past to arrive at this present moment and any future consequence from the actions of this present moment exist now. As a fun exercise, try to imagine time in this fashion now.
If we are good visualizers, we can begin to see time in a totally different way. Seeing time in this fashion, it becomes a lot harder to pin ‘reality’ down in our minds and things can get a bit chaotic. We can no longer use a linear sequence to try and pin down the course of our actions and it becomes much harder to separate that which is within your subjective experience and that which is physical action. Time experienced in this way becomes much more a matter of intensities and far less a matter of self-imposed belief structures.
The present moment is now our most intense experience. As such even doing our imaginative exercise, we are still bound within the experience of our physical nature. But if you conceptualize this notion enough and if you visualize with enough intensity perhaps you could begin to see that there is a possibility that our present physical experience seems so ‘real’ to us because of our intense focus on it. For example if I were to intensely focus on a past experience and visualize this experience with incredible clarity then that past memory takes on an intensity that allows me to experience it as a present moment and it therefore becomes physically real and emotionally moving.
This is also possible with a future experience or a potentially future one. For example if a well trained hypnotist and a very good hypnotic subject conceptualize a probable event where the hypnotized subject comes into contact with a hot iron, then that hypnotic subject can actually experience that burn as if it were physically real and can manifest a blister on his or her body as a result.
Why is our conception of times so important when we consider the paranormal, the unknown? It is important because our hard bound ideas of time do not allow us to perceive certain events. Another way of saying this would be that our accepted ‘facts’ about time do not allow us to perceive certain events within certain contexts. Since we take it for granted that time is a linear and sequential affair, we cannot conceptualize a world where cause happens before effect or a world where cause has multiple effects. We are not able to easily accept the possibility that the one effect that we do see as physically real, is only one variation within an infinite set of probable events all existing now.
How can we make any headway into the unknown, into the paranormal, when our ideas of time have such rigid boundaries within our psyche. I explore ways to get out of this subjective labyrinth in my book “The Occult Experience”. If you’re interested I highly recommend it to you.