WHO HAS THE RIGHT TIME?
FROM INTERCOURSE ON GROUNDHOG DAYS
BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS AND MELINA COSTELLO
September 19, 2003
Dear Madame Melina,
I often wonder, does anyone have the right time?
The application of the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence denies the objective existence of time because it destroys the standard spatial and temporal relationships between the births and deaths or lives of different people in their complex surroundings.
By ‘standard’ I mean objective time as measured by a unit all sensible observers agree on, say a complete rotation of the Earth about her axis in space, in respect to another object in that objective space, such as the Sun.
Obviously, if I die two years after my mother dies, and I am, according to the Doctrine, reborn immediately, I could not be reborn into her world because she is only two-years old there. If I die two years before she dies, then I could be reborn to her in the same world, but I could hardly live the same life over again there for it would be long gone. For the doctrine to apply, I would have to be reborn to her not in the same world but to a ‘duplicate’ of her in a different world, identical at the present moment in my latest world with a past moment in my last world.
It might be said that, at the instant of death/birth, I would be merely time-travelling into the past of the same world. But the present I left behind would continue apace. The past of a world is permanent, is always past. No existent in a world or that world itself can exist ‘backwards’ and persist; therefore, each moment of the past would have to be recreated as a duplicate with all its spatial facts, hence would be a new world, a replication of another world’s past.
Individual cyclical repetitions are ‘moving forward’ by generation. Under the doctrine of eternal recurrence, not only would I live my life over and over ad infinitum, but so would my descendants. The Doctrine requires endless replication, or an infinite number of parallel worlds. It would be more logical for each soul to live different lives in a single universe until it ends, at which time perhaps the entire cycle would be repeated – no ‘arhat’ could be ‘saved’ from it for any change would destroy it. And it would be a prison, although the inmates would not know it.
I believe the $64,000 question should be: What is time? Some say time does not exist except as an illusion of common sense. In that case I suppose anything is possible, including the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. That might surprise Ouspensky, for I suspect that he presented the Doctrine to cause people to think for themselves and to declare the Doctrine absurd; if they could or would not think for themselves, he provided them with a way out of the vicious cycle.
And with that, no matter what time it might be,
I wish you well,
Your Curious Groundhog