The fourth dimension: Time

Thanks to the mysterious power of the human mind, we are able to remember the past and even anticipate the future. Although the latter in particular is sometimes … not exactly … exact.

In order to consider the things that may go beyond time, we should first consider time itself. It is a fascinating phenomenon. We all know it, or that’s what we think. But do we really?

The world that we live in with our senses is a 3-dimensional world. We do not actually sense time, we reconstruct it by intuition. This is an important point for what I am trying to show, so please let me give it some time…

When I look at my computer screen, I cannot see it as it was an hour ago, or how it will be an hour from now. In fact, I can only see it as it is in this particular moment. Likewise when I hear something, I can only hear what sounds hit my ear at the moment. When I touch, I can only touch what is there right now. I cannot actually feel time. But thanks to memory, I can create the illusion of seeing time. By combining sense images from short term memory with newly arrived sense images, the brain constructs the illusion of movement and change, in other words the work of time.

But of course this illusion is not a delusion. Time really exists. We may not be able to sense it directly, but we reconstruct it inside our mind. What we perceive as time with our mind is very similar to the actual dimension of time that exists in the outside world. Or at least this is what almost all of us agree on. There are some scientists who think that time does not really exist, but they don’t have much effect on our actual thinking, since we all know from experience that time is real.

One time you have too much time on your hands, feel free to Google “Does time exist?”

If there is a consensus, it is that time certainly exists for humans, and presumably for the expansion of the universe and the increase of entropy, but laws of physics otherwise work just fine both ways. Entropy is a fancy word for “less order”, so perhaps we perceive time because the content of our mind becomes more and more messy?

In any case, the fact remains that time is real to us humans, and furthermore, it is useful. Thanks to our mastery of time, we can make cakes, and many other useful things.  Making cake requires not only ingredients, but also time.

While I am baking a cake, the cake does not yet exist, except in the future and in my mind. I cannot see it, I cannot touch it, and I certainly cannot eat it. And yet the cake is not a lie! I am so certain of the cake that I will happily tell people about it and even invite them to come eat it, even though it does not exist. It is not a hallucination, it is anticipation. You may search all over the house and conclude that no, there is no cake. I am quite aware of that, thank you! That is why I am baking it! Your insistence that the cake is all in my head is scientifically true but quite irrelevant, since the cake will arrive in due time if you leave me to my baking.

In order to bring forth the cake, I must follow the law that governs time, which is the law of causality, the law of cause and effect. It is not enough to wish for cake, even wish very strongly. It is not enough to visualize the cake and think positive thoughts about the cake. The Law of Attraction does not attract cakes until someone bakes them. So even though the cake is all in my head, it must also activate my hands in order to become real.

In addition to anticipation, we also have memory, which is why we experience time at all. If we did not have memories, or if they were not conscious, we would not have a concept of time. By all account most of our furry and feathered friends don’t have much of an idea of time. They can recognize things from the past, when they see them (or smell them). But they show no sign of being able to travel in time with their minds. We, however, do this easily. I can close my eyes and wander through the house where I lived a year ago, even though it was razed to the ground late last summer. I my mind I can walk from room to room. Again, this is not a hallucination, even though the house certainly isn’t there. I am not even in the same spot where it stood. And yet I have no doubt to its reality. It is just that it was real in the past, not in the present.

By our mind powers of memory and anticipation we can travel in time, but only with our mind. Our bodies remain drifting on the time stream along with everything around us. Yet when we return to them, we can use the knowledge we have gained from our time travel to steer our bodies toward the destination we desire. Well, if we get it right, which we often don’t. The future is hazy at best. Still, with more and more experience (and purging our tendency of wishful thinking) we can get better at navigating through time.

So even though we cannot directly perceive time, much less travel through it, we can still reconstruct it with our mind and get a pretty good picture of it. That is pretty amazing! Humans are awesome. But it does not stop there. If I am allowed, I will go one step further and visit the dimension beyond time, which relates to time in much the same way that time relates to the other three dimensions. And same as for time, it will all be in my head – until I act on it, at least.

But for now it is sufficient for me to show the nature of time as relates to humans. If you can grasp this, you are close to wisdom. Conversely if you are wise (and some of you are), you probably already know this. More about this next time, if any.


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