Human beings are objects that exist in space and time. Part of understanding what it means to be human involves understanding our relationship with the universe in which we live. The brain is limited in its perception to perceive the universe as it really is. Our sense receptors, most notably vision, operate within a narrow bandwidth. And the brain mechanisms that process that sensory information are likewise limited.
Nothing about our relationship with the environment has as much psychological or spiritual impact as the matter of time. There is definitely a part of every human that is bound to time. Time is our master. Time is always a threat to existence, and it can be a threat to our efforts to build meaning. The more we conflate the Ego with the Self, the more time is the enemy.
Those of us who are spiritual feel that there is a part of the person that is a slave to time, and a part for which time is irrelevant. The literal meaning of “eternal” is, existing outside of time. When we think about what part of ourselves is bound to time, and what part isn’t, the question arises: what is time, anyway?
This is an important question that relates to the way we find meaning in life, and that’s just as important for people who aren’t spiritual as it is for those who are.
There are a couple of different ways of understanding time. We will talk about the subjective experience of time, and then we will talk about how our concepts of time changed radically when the special theory of relativity was introduced in the early 1900’s. We discovered that we are moving through a universe of at least four dimensions, in which time has a peculiar relationship with reality itself. I introduce the Minkowski formulation of space-time, which is about the clearest illustration of the concept I’ve seen. We will talk about world lines and relativity, and what these things mean to human existence.