[Advaita-l] perception of time

H S Chandramouli hschandramouli at gmail.com
Thu Jul 13 03:10:06 EDT 2017

Pranams Sri Sadananda Ji,

There was a discusssion in this list under the caption <<
"time" as defined in Vedanta pariBAsha.
​>> in Dec2016-Jan2017. I find you did not participate in the same. Many of
the points you have covered have been discussed therein. I am not sure if
any have been leftout.


On Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 10:13 PM, Aditya Kumar via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Recently I watched a documentary film 'A brief History of Time' which is
> also the title of a book written by Stephen Hawking. He mentions imaginary
> time but I am not sure if I have understood it yet. Anyway, Hawking makes
> two observations which I noticed that our Rishis already had knowledge of
> it. They are : 1) Time is Anadi (without beginning point) and 2) Time is
> cyclical. We perceive time as linear but actually, it's not. Suppose a tea
> cup falls from a table and breaks. But we never see the broken cup gather
> itself back and jump back to table. This makes us believe that time is
> linear, but Hawking explains that this is due to entropy. But what if we
> have to imagine such a scenario where the time is not linear? Does the cup
> ever jump back on to the table. No, Time does not reverse the direction,
> rather, it would go back to the past. I went -whoa! I knew it :D haha. Our
> Rishis also defined Time so accurately as consisting of three parts : past,
> present and future.
> This is explained in the video. Can be found on Youtube. So perhaps our
> Rishis were right when they didn't speak of origin of time, because it has
> no starting point. They have said it is anadi, without a beginning. Hawking
> gives the analogy of a Time in the shape of a tub rather than a pointed
> cone.
>  However, I am not sure whether the senses perceive Time or the mind.
> There is also a convention among the vedics that space and time are
> mentioned simultaneously as Desha, kala. So in that sense, we can say time
> is perceived by the senses not like the scent of a rose, but can be
> inferred (in relation to past or future events).
>     On Wednesday, 12 July 2017 8:32 PM, kuntimaddi sadananda via Advaita-l
> <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>  PraNAms to all.
> There was some discussion on the perception based on Vedanta Paribhasha
> (VP). There is a question of the perception of time and continuous
> perception. Several years ago (around 2010) I was studying VP and posted
> series of articles on 'How Knowledge Takes Place'. Shree Dennis Waite had
> edited the writings.  The discussion of time and the perception of time
> came at that time, and the writing below was my understanding of the
> perception of time.
> I am aware that the traditionalists may not appreciate it but the question
> of time is important even from a scientific point. The fourth dimension
> represented by time is generally designated by square root i - meaning it
> is imaginary. Creation does not mention about time - even though in the
> sequential creation - akaasha ..vaayuH ..etc time may be implied. On the
> simultaneous creation as in the dream case - sequence is not involved -
> although subsequent dream involves time as recognized by the dream subject.
> However, the dream time scale differs from the waker's time scale, implying
> futher that it is subjective or more accurately inference by the mind.
> Anyway, I am posting here my old post, which was based on my understanding
> at that time, with one leg on Science and one leg in Vedanta. The topic is
> open for discussion in terms of how we really perceive
> time. -----------------------
> Cognition of time: Here VP follows the Meemaansaka’s view of cognition of
> time.  DA states   that even though time is formless (also includes
> colorless, tasteless, soundless, etc - essentially beyond the field of five
> senses), it is perceived by the senses, in the sense that perception of
> ‘this is a jar’ involves ‘I see a jar NOW’, since ‘is’ denotes the present
> tense.  VP does not discuss the perception of space here. To include space,
> cognition should be ‘I see a jar, NOW and HERE’. VP states that according
> to tenants of Vedanta when there is continuous cognition of the same
> object, there is actually a sequence of successive cognitions of the object
> (no reference is given for this, also not sure if this assumption is
> required –looks like digitization of an analog signal). Each cognition
> depends on the present perception and not on the previous one. Hence in the
> cognition, ‘I see the jar, NOW’ involving the perception of the present
> tense is not violated for the case of continuous cognitions of the same
> object. (The above conclusion can be arrived at without the need of
> digitization of the continuous cognition).
> From my understanding, Meemamsaka’s view of time is not appropriate as
> pramaaNa Lakshana for Advaita. We can state few objections and discuss the
> time aspects later. I must say that we have now the benefit of modern
> science which DA did not have access at his time. Hence these objections
> are intended to arrive at correct definitions rather than any criticism of
> VP.
> 1. In the cognition ‘This is a jar’, the is-ness denotes the existence
> aspect, which is beyond time, since existence can never cease to exist.
> 2. If ‘is’ denotes the present tense ‘Now’  the ‘now’ is also beyond the
> time concept, since it ever remains ‘now’. To define time we need two
> sequential cognitions involving ‘now’ and ‘then’ – ‘then’ involving memory.
> 3. At any time, senses can perceive only things progressing in NOW- Hence
> VP account of the tenants of Vedanta in terms of digitization of the
> continuous signal, although not necessary, can still be applicable not for
> defining time but for validating the perception at any time.
> 4. Time cannot be perceived by the sense organs, as their fields of
> operation is fixed and they do not include the past or the future as senses
> operate only in ‘NOW’, which is beyond time. Therefore Meemaansaka’s view
> that sense organs perceive the time is fundamentally not correct. Mind with
> memory is required to define time, based on two sequential perceptions.
> The gap between the two sequential perceptions by the same pramaata
> (knower) is the time gap. If each perception is related to vRitti or
> thought in the mind, two sequential thoughts are required to measure the
> gap. When there are no thoughts in the mind as in deep sleep state, then
> there is no concept of time.  In addition, if the mind does not look back
> but moves continuously on a single intense experience, I do not ‘feel’
> time, since I am all the time in ‘now’ state, in that continuous
> experience. (I recognize that we have a problem with words here. Continuous
> is a concept of time –but the one who is riding on ‘now’ even the
> continuity is also not recognized since the past is not recognized, without
> bringing in memory). I ride on ‘now’ when I am fully engaged in some
> serious action or enjoying some happy hours, and loose track of time (track
> can be followed only with the memory). These experiences, where one loses
> the track of time, show that it is not just the sequence of thoughts alone
> that defines the time.  The mind has to track back previous and the current
> thoughts or experiences to arrive at time.  Since only past and present are
> experienced, the mind can measure the time with reference to these two.
> Future, of course, is never experienced.  Sometimes one feels that time
> flies fast while other times, particularly when one is suffering, time
> moves slow, even though chronologically there is no change in pace. The
> implication is cognition of time is not direct and immediate like
> perception. It is a mental projection.
> We conclude, therefore, that time is not measured by senses as assumed by
> Meemansakas, but by the mind.  Inherently, it is subjective.  This is the
> reason why I can have a transcendental experience when I am always in Now
> –since ‘I am’ is neither past nor future but is a continuous presence in
> the present. PRESENT ALONE IS ETERNAL.  The present can be thought of a
> thin line where the past meets the future.  The gap can be made as small as
> possible – second – microsecond- nano second .. till no gap is left, where
> in the true present there is really no time either – what is there is only
> NOW. There is, of course, my presence since I am the one who is dividing
> these seconds. Hence present is just the presence of myself. That is the
> transcendental state since time is not there.
> One can make an objective definition for a time by taking a discrete
> objectifiable process, such as earth rotating around itself or around the
> sun, as a measure of time that everybody can agree by convention. We are
> making a subjective notion to objectifiable measure by convention, as
> chronological time. There is no objective time otherwise.  Even the
> so-called objective events have to be measured or recorded by the mind.
> Experiments involving isolation of an individual for days in a tunnel where
> no objectifiable reference is available to compare with showed that a
> person looses the chronological time. He slowly relays on his biological
> mechanisms to determine time. Due to the phase lag between the two, he
> slowly shifts from day to night and night to day, and subjectively
> determines when to sleep and when to get up, since there is no
> objectifiable reference for him.
> We can formally define time as a gap between two sequential experiences.
> This is better than Einstein’s definition where time is defined as two
> sequential events measured by an observer who does not change with the
> event.  Observer observing an event is actually experienced by the observer
> – His mind should observe the events. When we bring experience we are
> introducing subjectivity in the definition.  When we have one single
> experience as in deep sleep state, we have no measure of time. Some
> philosophers assume that saakshii measures the time in deep sleep state.
> From the Advaita point, saakshii is pure saakshii, self-illuminating
> consciousness and is not involved in any activity. It does not do the job
> of even illuminating anything, but things get illumined in its presence. It
> is like the Sun who does not really illumine any object, but objects get
> illumined in its light.
> The conclusion we can draw from this analysis is that the time is measured
> by the mind by bringing past event and present event as two sequential
> experiences.  The continuous flow of vRittis or thoughts itself does not
> guaranty the cognition of time. In the continuous flow of thoughts, Mind
> may be riding at any instance on ‘now’.  ‘Now’ is beyond the time concept.
> The mind has to stop and look back to note the time.  Cognition of Space is
> little tricky since we have a stereographic vision and stereo sound
> provided by nature by having two eyes and two ears that are separated. Even
> the sense of touch can feel the spatial distribution if the sense signals
> come from spatially separated different parts of the body. Simultaneous
> perception of spatially distributed objects provides the perception of
> space too. It is again mental cognition and not directly by senses. Each
> sense organ input is mono or unidirectional. Of course, beyond the sense
> and mind perceptions, Vedanta provides an independent means of knowledge in
> terms of creation of space as first of the five primordial elements that
> are created. There is no mention of the creation of time, as for as I know.
> The fact remains that time is not measured by senses, and is projected by
> the mind requiring the memory. It is subjective.
> Hari Om!Sadananda-
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