Monday, November 11, 2013

Yoga of time travel: time as a quantum experience, in yoga

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Free MySpace Animations! In yoga time is an illusion. This may seem strange because in our day-to-day living we experience time as an absolute concept. We experience it as a linear progression in which a past moment fuses into a present moment which, in turn, is inexorably moving into a future spot in time. But yoga does not accept these three stages: it says this three-part experience of time is actually an illusion. This illusion is part of the larger Maya that keeps our human consciousness trapped, just like a child's attention is mesmerized by a conjurer's sleight of hand. Amazingly, even quantum physics says time has a relative existence. When we enter the quantum experience, a new label, space-time, is given to explain how time acquires relativity. Here, time can dilate and change, to acquire a subjective reality just like distance, which can be also relative. Here clocks act mad and can give different measurements depending on where they are in relation to the observer's motion. Here quantum scientists will tell you that what happens with time can be more fantastic than anything science fiction can conjure up. But nothing is more fantastic than the fact that time as a concept itself disappears. There are several stories in Yoga Vashishta which Lord Rama's tutor Vashishta uses to demystify and explain this strange loop of illusion and tangles that time creates. It reads very much like science fiction. Or Sage Vashishta could well be a scientist using a quantum lexicon. All his tales lead up to a single fact: that the person who breaks through the veil that time creates has achieved the highest human goal, called kalathitam(transcending time) and nadabindukalatitham(beyond the three experiences). Hatha yoga, or the physical yoga, where it does not stoop to prop up an ego, is actually the first tool to prod you towards this stage. Though we are originally divine, born from a state of absolute stillness, we get caught in the race that time unleashes on us. Sage Vashishta uses the tale of Lila who is given lessons by Goddess Saraswati in the various veils that time creates: "Jiva is like a little agitation on the endless ocean of Brahman. It is like the flicker of a candle in a windless room." Elsewhere, the book explains, "Just as the world and its creation are mere appearances, a moment and an epoch are also imaginary." Fred Alan Wolf, scientist-writer, has examined this concept in his amazing book The Yoga of Time Travel, where he lyrically links the quantum take on time with yoga's own definition. The book shares his thrill at discovering that they are saying the same thing. He also observes that the possibility of time travel, which is seriously being studied by scientists today, was experienced by yogis who knew it as kala-vancana (time-cheating). The trick, he offers, is to go beyond the confines of time and space and to reach beyond their source, which is the mind. And yoga, he says, is the tool the ancients rishis crafted to achieve this delicate task.

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