Our reality is composed of four dimensions. The first three are made up of space, which is the plane we live in. Stuff is able to exist because simply put, space allows it to exist. The first dimension of space can be represented by a line. If we only lived in one dimension, instead of growing up, we would just continue to grow outwards, either until we reached a point or continued on forever. A line is actually just a visible representation of how we perceive a one dimensional world (looking at it from the third dimension) but is no where near an accurate depiction of how it would be to live in one.
The second dimension connects these lines to form shapes, like a triangle. If our reality were composed of only these two dimensions, we would have more variety than one dimensional world but would still be pretty plain. Everyone would be constantly bumping and interacting with each other trying to pass by. Moving around an object would prove to be very difficult. You could jump over something, but if your world was on a piece of paper, you could not jump off of the page, you would have to stay on the paper. Even one thin line would be enough to prevent Michael Jordan from reaching the basket.
This can be shown further by looking at how the original game of pong is played. In pong, the ball moves back and forth on a two dimensional field. If you were to introduce an obstacle, say a line in the middle of the field, it would then become a one player game. The ball could not navigate through or around the line and would just keep bouncing right back at you. Only if the line were shortened or disconnected from the walls could you then resume the multiplayer game.
The third dimension adds another element to our space, depth. Now Jordan can make his way around the line instead of having to charge through it. By looking around a room we can determine how far away any object is from any angle only because this third dimension exists. Our 3D triangle can now rotate and has length, width and height. If you were able to view a rotating 2D triangle there would be a point where the triangle appears to not exist because it has no depth. It is very easy to imagine the reality of a third dimension because that is where we reside.
Take the original Super Mario Brothers for NES, add another dimension and what do you get? You get Super Mario 64 for the N64. Instead of running only left to right on the television evading enemies by jumping over them, Mario can now move around Koopa and completely avoid him of he wishes. N64 Mario would look extremely strange to NES Mario, that is if NES Mario could perceive him at all. Life would be much easier for NES Mario, so it seems, if he could just step aside when the Gumbas were heading for him. However, attempting such a feat would be fatal for NES Mario who exists without the luxury of the third dimension.
These first three dimensions that make up space are easy to explain and comprehend. For the most part, they are basic and extremely juvenile when compared to the forth dimension, time.
What is Time?
Time is probably not what you think it is. Time is not a second, minute or hour, these are just labels we use to measure time. One hour is a measurement, a length of time, just as a ruler measures distance within the first three dimensions. If we take our triangle, you may say a triangle has 3 sides, each 5 cm, but the measurement is not the object. In the same way, time is not the distance or how it is measured, time is as the triangle is in space.
(Our labels for time are also not constant everywhere in the universe as Newton envisioned. Einstein proved that as the faster an object moves, the slower its perception of time. As it gains momentum and reaches the speed of light, time would simply freeze.)
So then, what is time? Time is what nature created so everything doesn’t happen at once. Simply put, time allows us to understand space. Imagine if we lived in space with no time. What would happen? Our perception would change tremendously. Perhaps everything would happen at the same time or maybe nothing would happen at all. Life could be an extremely chaotic landscape or as monotonous as a motionless drawing.
Isaac Newton described time as an arrow or line that is constantly moving forward. In other words, it’s like an archer shooting an arrow that stays in motion forever. However, this is not completely correct because it does not focus on how we experience time. In other words, time moving forward is just our perception.
It is possible that time could move backwards, but that is certainly not the case in our reality. If that were so, instead of a yell causing an avalanche, an avalanche would cause a yell. People would rise from the dead, slowly growing younger into babies who then finally made their way back into the womb. Cause and effect as we perceive it would instead become effect and cause.
The archer example from Newton only scratches the surface of what time is. Most people represent time as a line with certain events shown as dots on this line. However, time is NOT the line, the line is simply the measurement, just like the centimeter. Time is the dot. Time is completely stagnant.
This very moment is the only time for time. In other words, all we have is the present moment to experience and perceive our reality. The past and the future are simply illusions created by our “time labels” which we need to function in society. Can you imagine trying to plan a get together without measuring time? Even if everyone knew the correct location you would have to hope that everyone somehow showed up at the correct moment. You would be stood up for nearly every event.
Events only occur in the now, events never occur in the then (past or future.) You can plan, or measure, for events to happen in the future, but you can only experience them in the now or present moment. You can also think back to events that happened in the past, but you can never experience them again. Even if you were able to recreate a past event down to every last detail, it would still be a completely new and independent experience according to time, no matter how similar it felt to you.
Now and Then Dots
Time is a dot on a line and the line is measuring a distance. The dot is moving along the line as the years pass but you are always in the dot. The only possible time you can ever perceive anything is right now, this very second. As far as we know, time always has been and always will be, right now, this very moment.
Events occur in this present moment and when you sit back and just observe time passing, it’s almost as if time no longer exists. This is because you put away your tape measure and are no longer hurrying or rushing or paying attention to how many seconds are between two points. You simply just reside in your one and only point and allow everything to be as it is. You rid of your stresses and become fully conscious and aware. This is an extremely healthy and peaceful state of mind.
Of course, it is impossible to only reside in your “now dot” without worrying about future dots along the arrow of life. You should also take into consideration past dots that were experienced. However, just focusing on “then dots” and never taking the time to live in the now, which is the only time we actually experience anything, is a sad and insane way to live. You never are truly alive without experiencing time, our fourth dimension, as it occurs. Stop spending so much time measuring time and instead experience time.
Life in our four dimensions truly is something to marvel at. The first three make up our space and movement and the fourth allows us to comprehend it. Observing life happening, instead of applying any labels, is the easiest way to achieve peace. Allow everything to be, as it is, now.