Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Inertial Time

It is interesting to contemplate that we are spinning at about 1,000 mph around the earth, orbiting at about 67,000 mph around the sun, journeying with the solar system at about 43,000 mph through the galaxy, and drifting with the rest of the galaxy at about 483,000 mph through the great wide open.  Yet we feel like we're standing still.  How can that be?  Because constant, steady motion, inertial motion, is not experienced as motion. 

Is there a temporal equivalent to inertial motion – i.e. inertial time?  In physics, probably not, unless it be the very speed of time itself as a photon would experience it if a photon could experience. But I would like to suggest that inertial time is an analog for a goal common to much spirituality – living a sense of timelessness amidst the cascade of time.

Throw some acceleration and angular momentum into our smooth motion, and then you experience the tilt-a-whirl of motion.  The spiritual equivalent of acceleration and de-acceleration is our desire directed toward future goals and our yearning and regret for the past – both make us acutely aware of the passage of time.  The spiritual equivalent of angular momentum is the call to respond to the world, whether emotionally or rationally, with approval or anger, with excitement or boredom.  All of it stirs our temporality the way the tilt-a-whirl stirs our sense of motion.

To experience timelessness amidst the stream of time one needs to be without desire and attachment.  The more desire and attachment, the jerkier the ride.  Some people like the wild ride, the rickety roller coaster. This is as it should be.

Some of us like peace.

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