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River of Time

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The image above is a sphere image. Click on the image and drag in any direction to see up, down and all around. To see it as a full screen sphere image of New Caledonia click here.

This is a time thought experiment.

You can make it into a field trip by visiting a river of your own and repeating the ideas in your mind while:

Imagine the river from the perspective of the water molecules in it.

To us, standing on the shore, it looks like the water is flowing fast here, slow there. But to any one water molecule, the other water molecules next to them are moving at the same velocity as they are. They would experience acceleration and turbulence, but the molecules would experience this together. Perhaps temperature would seem - on the molecular level - the most notable ambient force.

As we flow along, it seems to us, that the bottom, the rocks, are always flowing in one direction relative to us. As we come close to objects in the river, or as we flow from a narrow stream into a lake, we notice a change in the level of excitement of the molecular community as the water molecules are pushed this way and that by the rocks.

Looking at a rock in the river, from an outside viewpoint, we can see that when the water comes against the rock it pulses - sending a series of waves up current, against the flow of the river and against gravity.

Waves reflecting off a rock move upstream, against the flow that creates the waves. ©

Those waves are not the water itself, nor are they the flow of water down the river. They are something new resulting from the interaction of the rock with the flowing water molecules. The waves flow in an arc, away from the rock, moving opposite or at an angle to the direction the water molecules are moving. They are a different KIND of phenomenon, moving against gravity and the current of the river.

Suppose we apply this observation to ourselves.

We are standing on the shore, looking at the world around us, we are immobile. The only thing that seems to be moving - the rocks are standing still - is the water and time flowing by. We are absolutely certain the water is flowing down hill with gravity and time is flowing by in its usual direction, past to future. Both flows working just as they should, and just as they always will.

Now to us, it seems like that's the only way things can be. But, as we move along through our world, as time and events seem to pass by us, flowing downstream in our lives, every once and awhile we run into rocks. We go through periods of turbulence. We enter into lakes of various sorts, people getting more or less excited around us as we pass through history in its uncertain and mobile river bed.

Sometimes, as we enter into certain areas of the collective behavior of millions and millions of people, something odd happens. We find, perhaps, there is a dam that bottles up the behavior of the people or a rock in the flow. Now the rock is a behavioral situation - an event - like a war, market crash or whatever. And the rock creates waves. And those waves flow outwards from the crash of people into it.

It's possible that those waves, which are not the same thing as our individual behavior, might traverse in a direction counter to the flow of gravity and time. Perhaps they could alter the behavior of people before they reach the rock. Just as the water molecules change their behavior before they reach the rock in the stream. Maybe the behavior of people is altered by future events before they happen.

Time Waves

The river seems to stay the same though the water flows through it. © The waves created by our behavior pattern, in the texture of time, might change behavior patterns over greater intervals than those that we are personally aware of, actually flowing counter to the direction of what we think of as time.

In actuality, every molecule of water in this river is here in the same present. As they move from one area to another they are still the same water molecules. Always in the present. And the behavior of that wave pattern around that rock moving against the flow of the water, against gravity, that behavior of that wave pattern is here and happening in a continual exchange in the now. It does not flow anywhere, in actuality, it is an apparent motion. Just as the river does not appear and disappear just because the water flows through it.

Thought models

Our ancestors, alongside this river 10,000 years ago, would never have thought of the idea of gravity. Or time. Nobody thought of these concepts until some bright spark decided to think about time and formed a model of how it works. That conceptual model is time, but it may not reflect the actual phenominon.

Just because we manufacture watches that represent the passage of time according to our conceptual model does not mean our model is correct either. Watches tick off the seconds of the day and from our standpoint time really does seem to flow from the past into the future and we think about things in the past and in the future and then we decide to do something. We do it. Then we can't change what we have done but hope we can change things in the future. And we do. So that gives us a model of flowing time.

Look again at the water passing down this river. If we were two water molecules linked to each other, we wouldn't be changing our position relative to each other. If we were able to be aware of each other, it would seem like we were standing still and the rocks would be moving by us.

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Now suppose we entered a lake. We'd notice things were quieting down around us. The millions of other molecules calming down, moving with less energy. But we would not know that the behavioral change in the collective community resulted from a dam further downstream.

An observer standing outside the system might be able to see the barrier ahead.

You and I can see the quiet water ahead because we are outside of the system, standing on the side of the river. We know the water molecules passing by us now will quiet down when, in the future, they arrive in the lake. We can predict and explain what is going to happen to the water molecules that move by us right now.

But from the standpoint of the water molecules, the dam and the lake does not exist until they enter it. They can neither predict nor explain what is going to happen to themselves. They would not know something in their future was going to effect their future.

From the standpoint of the logic of the water molecules, it would be impossible for a rock to do anything to them before they reached it. But we, standing outside of the system, can see the waves rebounding from the rock. We know these waves change the course of the water even before they reach the rock.

The water molecules that move through the system, through the waves, never stop moving downstream. It's the waves that move upstream, not the water molecules. The waves are not the same thing as the water, they go against all the logic of all the water molecules that know everything always goes one way.

To the water molecules, the bottom always does and always will move in the same direction. It is a law that can't be violated. But the waves - waves that do alter the behavior of the water molecules - do move in the other direction even if the water molecules can't conceive of such a motion. Even if they could detect the slight oscillation up and down, the increased turbulence approaching a rock, it would not reveal the collective, upstream, wave motion to any kind of detector they might devise. Their model of how the world works would never be violated.

But the waves exist anyway and do violate that model.

Perhaps events in our supposed future can project their influence backwards, against time - like those waves move backward against the flow of water. Perhaps they can and do alter our behavior before the events appear on our time horizon.

Even if such waves existed, people flowing through a time system would be totally unable to perceive the wave pattern. Some people might sense the increase of turbulence, the up and down motion, before the event. They would have an advance warning of "something about to happen" - a big rock ahead - a dam perhaps - a waterfall. Others, in other parts of the stream, would not detect it because they are not in the correct position to be altered by the waves reflecting from the rock.

Just as only some water molecules are involved in the waves from the rock, only some people are involved in the waves that project backward through time from the future. Those people are saiid to have prescience. They are able to know something is going to happen before it happens. But not all people in the waves are going to perceive it or correctly interpret it. And even those with the ability to sense the waves from the future don't do it all the time nor do they understand or imagine that our collective model of "time" may be incorrect.

A different perspective

To us, standing here on the river bank, from our viewpoint, all that will happen to the water molecules is explainable, sensible. And we also see it happening in the same NOW for us. The lake is down there, the rock is here, water molecules are riding the waves before the rock and slowing down as they enter the lake and settled in the lake all at the same time. It's all now. The river does not come and go. It's just our perspective of it that comes and goes.

Our human river of time is a system of thought and behavior - not a system of water molecules flowing through a system of rocks. We create the dams and the rocks and the deep lakes by our collective thoughts, ideas, and behavior. Someone in an office far away can make a decision that damns your future. The person makes the decision based on thoughts and behavior that you are totally unaware of, like macroeconomics or political changes in Moscow. These behavioral rocks will alter our future as we flow through time. Perhaps it is possible to be aware of these future rocks.

They seem to be in our "future", but if the whole river exists at the same moment, and we are only small beings flowing through it, maybe it is possible to sense the thoughts and behaviors that will change our lives and those around us.

Of course we all do it to some degree. And when we do, we alter our own thoughts and behavior. We sense a concept, we sense an idea in another part of the stream, in the future, and it changes what we do. And that changes what happens next.

Predictions change the thoughts and actions in the future. A vision of the future changes the future. The Gypsy or the stock broker makes a prediction and it will, if you believe it, move you into a different part of the river. You are always flowing down the river of time, but there are waves flowing backward through what we think of as time. And the waves create a feedback system that actually creates future thoughts and actions.

This feedback system, then, regulates the residue of change. It makes the whole system work. It self-creates the future from the past and the past from the future. By altering behavior according to our fears or desires - based on reflections from waves of imagined futures - we create the rocks and dams that then changes the behavior of the people moving with us through the river of becoming.

This is the same feedback system that fashions the brain. That directs the cells and molecules that create us moment to moment. It dictates how you react to the next future event. How you will interpret the next sight you see. If you will be anxious and do this, or if you will be happy and do that.

And that's all based on a system of awareness, of a thought level, that your cells don't have. The awareness of the cells is like the little water molecules in the stream. They have no idea of what it is that is causing their excitement as you go through your personal rapids, lakes and waterfalls in the river of human time.

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