Book Review: The Yoga of Time Travel by Fred Alan Wolf

This weekend I finished reading one of the most remarkable books, The Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can Defeat Time by Fred Alan Wolf. Time travel, a concept has always intrigued me including movies based on the same. This book surpasses every motion picture that I have seen so far.

Very deftly, Wolf has woven threads of Vedic philosophy into quantum physics and alternative philosophies like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

I can’t help but think I might have missed some quantum level implications. Perhaps, the future me will come and add the present overlooked quark elements in my writing.

Parallel universe is like pages in a book

Wolf starts his book by giving us the meaning of Yoga. Yoga is defined as going against the default setting of human behaviour. Acting in freedom than conditioned reflex responses.

In the Bhagavad Gita, When Arjuna asks Krishna to manifest as the Supreme Reality. It shows itself as an infinity of images in a single body, thus hinting the element of parallel universe lined up along side of each other like pages in a book.

The vision gives rise to the sub spacetime domain where the possibility of quantum waves emerges and offer multiple possible patterns of reality.

Concept of quantum wave implies that “wave function” encapsulates all data and information that is theoretically possible about the system. Thus, it cannot be seen as a subjective object but an element of reality of the system.

Perspective on time and light

Wolf then introduces the component of “time passing”. Time moves in cycles and each cycle is different from its previous version hence, we experience it in linear order and not cyclic.

There are three reasons why we cannot measure time.

First, there is nothing – relative quantity – to compare it with

Second, time has no objective quality and

Third, it is a projection of mind. Since projection has no physical existence therefore, there is no way to define or measure time.

Wolf comes up with second equally important parameter, that is, light. There are two main important things to consider when we talk about “light”:

1) how fast it travels and

2) the way it travels through our eye or measuring instrument

Time dilation effect

Moving on to its next sub topic, Wolf then introduces “time dilation effect”.

It means, time depends on motion, more specifically how that motion takes place. For instance, let’s say there are two spaceships – S1 and S2 and three watches – T1, T2 and T3.

Two watches (T1 and T2) each worn by the astronauts in S1 and S2. And T3 being at rest in S1. After moving on the same space, S2 drifts away from S1 and comes back after a while. Here, time ‘experienced’ by the three clocks would be different. Time experienced by T2 would be less than T1. While time experienced by T1 would be less than T3.

Time flies slowly for individuals who are in motion than objects that are at rest.

Time and space are a mental construct

Converging theology and modern physics, Wolf postulates that time and space are inseparable and that we perceive them as distinct entities, which actually is an illusion.

Neither space or time is real, nor are they separate from ego or the I-ness. In fact, this ego or the I-ness is embedded in time and space.

In dream, dreamer does not experience time and space. For instance, king forgets he is king and beggar forgets his identity. The I-ness or the consciousness of the body is not there too. However, the dreamer experiences the “dream ego”. This proves, time and space are a mental construct.

If spacetime is a just projection, then it is not real. Accordingly, limitation too is “unreal”. Moving a step ahead, he says, there is no past, nor future not even present moment. Taking a bold stand, his theory further suggests, that creation of the world has never occurred. Period.

Pure awareness vs ego mind

According to Patanjali: One, ego is in closely connected with space and time. and two, sensory experience gives rise to ego, which by nature is subjective. However, the chemical reaction working behind these senses, is same, that is, timing of neuron firing and spatial patterns of neuron firing.

Wolf goes on to say that mind has two classifications:

  • Inner mind or the pure awareness
  • Outer mind or the ego mind/I-ness

Once this ego mind is subdued, the inner mind of the pure awareness is revealed.

The ego mind experiences itself limited being. However, limitation of space and time vanishes for the one who is under the influence of pure awareness. Wolf here directly means to say, yogis, who marinate themselves in pure awareness, attain the power of limitlessness and hence, can easily perform time travel.

Is the yogic power possible to attain?

Wolf postulates two ways to transcend the spacetime complex.

I – Reflect on just one thought – Thinking about or focusing on just one thought consistently. This will replace all distractions in due course of time and ultimately, the thought itself would vanish.

So, what will remain?

II – The Pure Consciousness.

Most of the times, we are not aware of our own thoughts. Mind thinks between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. Yet we remain inattentive. The trick is to remain alert all the time. By being in mindfulness consistently, we might get the glimpse of body as an object shining in the light of our consciousness. And that is, our real Self.

In the Self, there is no Time – Space.

How to suspend your bodily awareness? Wolf suggests following two ways.

I – Contemplation on only one thought “I am not the body”.

II – Yoga asanas. It will bring mind to concentration and absorption by going beyond to discover the power and limitation of finite body.

Consciousness and singularity

Consciousness has the ability to comprehend Singularity. Gravitational singularity is a one-dimensional point in the centre of black hole. Body mind complex is incapable of deciphering its exact properties.

Here density and gravity become infinite and consequently, space-time curves infinitely. Also, the fundamentals of physics as we know them cease to operate.

Wolf talks about gravity with respect to spacetime in Einstein’s equations where gravity has, theoretically, shown distorting spacetime. Mass gives rise to gravitational field, which also means, mass too distorts gravity.

Black Hole

Since, time is inseparable from space, so mass can also be seen as the distortion of time.

To illustrate distortion of time, he then introduces the concept of “Black Hole”. Black hole is a region in space time where gravity is extremely strong. Light too cannot pass through it.

In principle, when an object drifts through a black hole at a speed faster than the speed of light, it would experience the black hole as a worm hole.

A wormhole is a speculative tunnel latticed in the fabric of spacetime that could enable rapid travel between disparate points. It potentially allows crossing galaxies like threshold from one room to another.

These speculations have led to the emergence of many science fiction movies related to time travel. Crossing huge space expanses within ‘no time’ via a tube in subspace.

Although laws of physics forbid time travel because of obvious paradoxes also, it violates the laws of causality.

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

However, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity predicts the existence of ‘closed timelike lines’. These lines are trajectories in spacetime fabric that follows a curious path where it eventually returns to the exact same coordinates.

This idea also speculates time travel to the past. Theoretically, when these trajectories are opened, they can make a way into parallel universes.

Existence of parallel universe

Laws of causation predict one outcome but as per quantum mechanics the observed outcome is only one amongst an infinite number of possible outcomes. Every possibility is weighted by a probability factor; this, slightly hints at the notion of existence of parallel universe.

Wolf suggests that all matter at atomic level is stable due to multiple appearances of these atomical objects in parallel universes, which reinforces one another. Thus, with this parallel universes’ idea, no laws of physics are violated.

Time travel would then be possible under current theoretical quantum physics. Here, Wolf has given a beautiful example of David Deutsch’s quantum computer.

Time machine with quantum computers

Classical computers are based on “bits” but quantum computer makes use of “qubits”. Qubits correspond to “number possibilities” than just numbers. Qubits and so quantum computers and undeniably quantum physics are deeply related with possibilities and probabilities. Therefore, there is a possibility of building time machine with quantum computers.

How?

A huge, probably impossible-to-build device of incredible mass, the “sphere of many radii,” when linked up to a quantum computer, could perhaps drive the minds of time travellers -like trajectories – forward or backward through the fabric of time.

Of course, practically this seems impossible specially to beat years and obvious paradoxes away.

However, Wolf suggests that unusual time travel, where physics and mysticism converge, not only is achievable but happens all the time.

Time and possibility

Time and possibility are closely related and that it is awareness that most influences changes from probability to possibility.

The outcome of any probability – less certain or more certain – depends on the act of awareness. If we talk about human brain, knowledge can be acquired or lost depending on the “awareness”. Similarly, in quantum physics knowledge is changed by “choice”, that is choosing A or B or any other from the present options.

Thus, the awareness or the choice changes probability into possibility; where possibility refers to something with a great chance of happening.

Possibility-waves transcends spacetime

According to Wolf, the existence of possibility-waves transcends the fabric of spacetime. Mystics call it imaginal realm, while for quantum physicists it’s an ‘infinite dimensional space’. Still some call it the Mind of God or Supreme Consciousness or the Higher Intelligence.

As per quantum physicists, mind can construct reality by altering possibility and probability. Engaging in activities like yoga and meditation enables us to consciously and mindfully affect our habitual behaviours.

Act of focusing and de-focusing creates time

Wolf suggests, our sense of time and sense of awareness or consciousness is the same thing. Another way to put this analogy is, as long as we aren’t focusing on a thing or an event, it does not exist, at least not in our consciousness. Or an outcome of an experiment is unknown till it is observed.

He goes on to say, many yogic and meditation techniques rely on a balancing act of focusing and de-focusing, done at the conscious level. This act of focus and letting go that we do actually creates time.

Subjectively, when we let go of old habits, we travel backwards in time. While we drift forward in time during habitual behaviours.

Therefore, the key to time travel is surrendering of the I-ness, or the mind body complex, the ego. Perceptually, when the relation between mind and body is altered, we get a glimpse of eternity or infinity. Thus, leading us towards the famous String Theory.

String theory: dense vibrating cosmic symphony

Before getting into the string theory, let’s talk about quarks. Although, quarks have not been directly observed but experimentally their existence have been proved. They are the subatomic particles carrying a fractional electric charge.

Conventional idea says quark is empty and is the end of matter however, string theory suggests otherwise. According to string theory, quarks are not empty rather there is a tiny filament of energy that produce particles themselves when vibrate.

So, a quark is nothing but a string vibrating in one pattern. Similarly, electron is nothing but a string vibrating in different pattern and so on.

Deep in every other piece of matter there is dense vibrating cosmic symphony, that’s the basic idea of string theory.

Coming back to our book, glimpse of eternity or infinity means, the timeless and spaceless nature of the universe that is predicted by string theory.

Letting go of attachments

Ego fixation means, repeating patterns and continuously drifting within gyres of self-created causation world. But letting go gives us access to parallel universes and possible alternative paths. When one is not under the effect of the conditioned reflex responses, one may tune into the universe’s symphony.  After all, things/objects/matter move in whatever way makes the universe more efficient.

One read is not enough for this epic work. I’m sure many threads would surface to a reader who will give it a second or maybe third read.

About Pooja Kashyap

A CPD certified Fitness Trainer, Pooja also likes to spend time reading and blogging the latest research and discoveries in science and how technology is shaping the world. Besides writing, she enjoys reviewing books and taking interviews of creative/innovative people. Currently, she is located in Noida, India, where she actively participates in marathons as well. She is also on Quora l Twitter and LinkedIn.