On a recent radio program, we heard that many individuals who experience near death experiences (NDEs), say or claim that they were in a timeless state. Some of these people think that time is illusory. Such an assertion is not really opposed to the idea that time is a dimension of the material universe and does not truly exist (as we know or understand it) on the spiritual plane of existence. From a Vedic perspective, we might say that the material universe is not ultimately real because it is temporary and constantly changing. The spiritual plane or universe is real because it is eternal. (The material is temporary and illusory. The spiritual is eternal and real.)
Boethius (died circa 520 A.D.) believed that God existed outside of time and that is why He knows in a single glance (what appears to us as) past, present and future. But, man knows time and the inexorable march of time on this plane takes his life away. As well, the suffering we experience in this world feels very real to us.
(As I believe in free will, God’s fore knowledge of our choices does not determine these. He just knows outside of time how we will choose. If we are conditioned by God’s fore knowledge of our choices and actions, then the idea of free will fails in my view.)
But, the idea that time is illusory and ultimately does not exist is an intriguing one, albeit an idea that is difficult to get one’s mind around.
We are taught in Christianity that God created the heavens and the earth. Some who have taken Genesis very literally have tried to calculate the date of Creation. What was that famous date? I seem to recall reading it was something like October 23, 4004 B.C.
If we believe that God has always existed and always will exist, does it strike you as odd that He would have only gotten around to creating sentient life a mere 6 millenia ago? If time is illusory, then God exists in a timeless state, so perhaps references to the past, a past, are meaningless. Yet, from our perspective in this physical, material world, we wonder about this.
Let’s say that we are not being deceived by what our physical senses and the physical, natural sciences (especially chemistry, physics and astronomy) tell us. The Earth is about 4.5 billions of years old and is orbiting around a star that is also billions of years old. The galaxy of which our Sun is a part is perhaps 10 or more billions of years old. And, there are many billions of stars in our galaxy, which is itself only one among many billions of galaxies in the observable universe.
Where am I going with this?
Is it so far-fetched to believe that God, who has been around an infinite number of years from our perspective, created other intelligent life forms previous to man on Earth during that very long time? In other words, can we really believe that God has been around “forever” (an infinite past) and He never created sentient beings until quite recently, say a few thousand, or even a few hundred thousand years ago? (It really does not matter to me whether God chose to create sentient life in an instant at various previous times and in various, diverse places, or if He chose to use an evolutionary process that He guided over time (intelligent design). If one believes that God is omnipotent, He could create life in any number of ways.)
Does the Christian view limit God’s creativeness? Does it chauvinistically make Man the center of Creation?
Again, from the Vedic view, this is not a problem. God has always existed and the material universe which He creates, sustains and eventually (periodically) destroys, has been around for a long time and was preceded by other material universes and will be succeeded by others in the future. It is only when a spirit soul escapes the ongoing round of birth-death-rebirth and attains to the spiritual abode of God that one is beyond the clutches and onerous limitations of time, and the pains and miseries of physical, material life.
We cannot “know” at present from our current position if there are other worlds with intelligent beings on them in this (our) universe. As well, we cannot know if there are other universes existing now (contemporaneously) alongside ours in other dimensions. Some theorists believe there are such other universes existing right now. Again, if we believe that God is omnipotent, then there would seem to be no limitations on His creative ability. The only limitation here is that of our rather puny human intellect that cannot conceive nor imagine what true omnipotence is.
A final thought for today is that we believe that consciousness is not dependent on, nor a by-product of the physical, protoplasmic brain. Rather, the brain is a vessel of consciousness, a filter, a reducing valve so to speak for living in this world. (Long time readers will recall that we have written words to this effect before.) A worthy goal is to try to elevate one’s consciousness to a spiritual level as much as possible during this life. A first step here is to accept that this world, this current life, is not all that there is.
Our feature image is of a beach scene on Mexico’s Pacific coast (from one of Lucy’s holidays in Mexico).
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