Is time linear or cyclic?

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Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby DaftChris » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:41 pm

Do you think that time is linear? That it has one starting point, will reach it's ending point and just simply cease to exist/continue?

Or do you think time goes in Cycles? Where each cycle has a starting and ending point, but restarts afterwards? Kind of like temporal rebirth.
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby duckfiasco » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:21 pm

Lacking scriptural knowledge or a good memory for teacher names, I've removed my post from here until I can remember exactly where the teachings that inform my viewpoint came from. The OP is welcome to contact me via PM if he wants a non-academic take :)

Sorry for misunderstanding the purpose of this forum! :heart: :buddha1:
Last edited by duckfiasco on Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby Tara » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:04 pm

Please note the Academic Discussion forum has specific guidelines:

The aim of academic argument is to explore a question, a proposition or an area of knowledge and achieve reasoned mutual understanding. It is not important who "wins". What matters most is the quality of the argument itself. Please offer your opinion complete with reason and support from academic sources.

viewtopic.php?f=102&t=6010
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby viniketa » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:41 pm

Perhaps the OP should be moved to another forum or re-framed, as the OP seems to ask for individual opinion.

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:44 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_u ... _questions

From the above this would seem to fall under #1, questions regarding the existence of the world in time.

I don't recall that specific reasoning is ever given for why these are imponderable, other than things like the parable of the arrow:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_arrow

I am not a scholar though and it wouldn't surprise me if later Buddhist thought starts to touch on these sorts of subjects.

Also maybe related, though more specifically from Jainism..i've always thought these are a good starting point for why some things simply aren't discernible:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sy%C4%81dv ... dv.C4.81da
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby lobster » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:13 am

As a non-member of the paradoxical and non existent Chronology Protection Agency
http://youtu.be/ogd2REUk670

I can confidentially say that all your ideas of time do not presently exist as theories that cover the nature of time :alien:

This message will self destruct . . . in time . . . :popcorn:
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:53 am

The question ought to be of 'history', not of 'time'.

i.e. 'is history linear or cyclic?'



I'm reading Eliade's Myth of the Eternal Return which addresses this idea. Will report back once I've finished it....







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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby Nothing » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:22 pm

There is no time.....hence it is neither linear or cycles.
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby kirtu » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:34 pm

DaftChris wrote:Do you think that time is linear? That it has one starting point, will reach it's ending point and just simply cease to exist/continue?

Or do you think time goes in Cycles? Where each cycle has a starting and ending point, but restarts afterwards? Kind of like temporal rebirth.


Time is neither because it doesn't actually exist (at least not ultimately). What we experience as time is actually something like holographic (really - take a look at the Avatamsaka Sutra for example).

Time in physics is mostly a mathematical abstraction dealing with entropy, so the flow of energy. Time in this sense can also be seen as holographic in a sense according to Kip Thorne (I think it was Thorne) who proposed that in a Big Crunch situation, time would replay itself (so it would appear to be cyclic) but all at once. So it might be experienced as a set of infinite reenactments of the past 16B or so years all in an instant, thus creating eternity in a finite space of time (in the end an infinitely short span of time). I'll have to revisit Thorne's thesis to make sure.

However Heat Death appears to be the case in the physical universe rather than the Big Crunch. So information in this universe will not be replayed in any form* although according to the multiverse people, there many be an infinite set of universes, setting the stage for taking Nietsche seriously when he mused about this universe being infinite and thus spawning infinite Nietsche's and thus a form of eternity. A truly infinite set of finite universes guarantees that a form of time is eventually replayed in an otherwise indistinguishable other universe.

Kirt

*but wait - time travel to the past is actually possible - you just need a cylinder along the axis of the universe, the length of the universe, rotating at the speed of light and according to Thorne again, you could travel to the past. So it's just a matter of engineering. :stirthepot:
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby viniketa » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:13 pm

I have to agree that time is non-existent. The Abhidharmasamuccaya of Asaṅga (the 100 Dharma list) categorizes time as citta-viprayukta-saṃskṛtā-dharma - a conditioned dharma separate (or dissociated) from "mind" (see Lusthaus' 75 and 100 Dharma lists in Buddhist Phenomenology).


MahaThera states:
What is time? Strictly speaking, it is a mere concept which does not exist in an absolute sense. On the other hand what space is to matter, time is to mind. Conventionally we speak of past (atãta), present (paccuppanna), and future (anàgata). Past is defined as that which has gone beyond its own state or the moments of genesis, development, and cessation (attano sabhàvaü uppàdàdikkhaõaü và atãtà atikkantà atãtà). Present is that which on account of this and that reason enters, goes, exists above the moments of genesis etc. (taü taü kàraõaü pañicca uppàdàdikkhaõaü uddhaü pannà, gatà, pavattà == paccuppannà). Future is that which has not yet reached both states (tadubhayam’ pi na àgatà sampattà).
According to Abhidhamma each consciousness consists of three phases—uppàda (genesis), ñhiti (development), and bhaïga (dissolution or cessation). In the view of some commentators there is no intermediate ñhiti stage but only the stages of arising and passing away. Each thought-moment is followed by another. Time is thus the sine qua non of the succession of mental states. The fundamental unit of time is the duration of a thought-moment. Commentators say that the rapidity of these fleeting thought-moments is such that within the brief duration of flash of lightning there may be billions of thought moments. Matter, which also constantly changes, endures only for seventeen thought-moments, being the time duration for one thought-process. Past is gone. Future has not come. We live only for one thought-moment and that slips into the irrevocable past. In one sense there is only the eternal now. In another sense the so-called present is the transitional stage from the future to the past. The Dictionary of Philosophy defines time “as the general medium in which all events take place in succession or appear to take place in succession”. Atthasàlinã states that time is a concept derived from this or that phenomenon. And it does not exist by nature, it is merely a concept. (Taü taü upàdàya paññatto kàlonàma. So pan’ esa sabhàvato avijjamànattà paññattimattakoeva).
pp. 215-16 of the Abhidammattha Sangaha


This points toward at least two aspects of time, one that is "dissociated" from mind and one that is an artifact of perception, but both "conditioned". These descriptions, originating at least 2600 years ago through sheer observation of the "outer" and "inner", are consistent with contemporary views of time in physics and philosophy. Conventionally, time is cyclical (or some non-linear variation thereof) but perceived as linear.

See also:

"The Buddhist conception of time and temporality"
Abhidhamma studies: Buddhist explorations of consciousness and time
Work of G. J. Whitrow

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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:18 am

Any infinity is characterized as a circular form. Time is definitely cyclical, and this is why Buddha describes time as beginningless. A circle has no beginning or end. Because of the enormity of the universe, you cannot expect to perceive this with instrumentation. It can only be perceived in yogic direct perception. See Swami Vivekananda's excellent commentary to the Yoga Sutras about this.
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Re: Is time linear or cyclic?

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:21 am

DaftChris wrote:Or do you think time goes in Cycles? Where each cycle has a starting and ending point, but restarts afterwards? Kind of like temporal rebirth.


There is no starting point. The only ending point is in the path which is completely beyond time.
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