Non-linear thought

“How could they have known?”
This is a question I have often asked myself… how could those who have gone before us have known where to begin with an idea that has changed the human world. Take radio, for example. Wiki says that ‘James Clerk Maxwell showed in theoretical and mathematical form in 1864 that electromagnetic waves could propagate through free space…’ That’s all well and dandy, but why and how did he ever start thinking along those lines in the first place? What was it that made him start looking for ways in which it might work? Where did he get the idea?

Where do ideas come from? You can imagine that faced, for instance, with a sealed can of beans, someone might come up with the idea of a can opener… but where did the idea of the tin can come from? Or, for that matter, the idea of pre-cooking already-preserved beans and putting them in metal tubes? You can see where necessity may have prompted that idea, but a can of beans is, after all, a small thing when placed against the grand scheme of human evolution. What about the big ideas? Those that have transformed the human condition and fuelled a leap forward in knowledge and understanding?

“Reverse reincarnation…” Stuart‘s descriptive definition was perhaps less than accurate, but it captured the essence of the conversation perfectly. It was one of those long and involved discussions where inspiration flows as freely as water. We had been talking about time, evolution and how the very first spark of an idea might come into being.

The concept of reincarnation is, for many, not so much a matter of faith but one of inexplicable certainty. A study conducted in 2016 by the Global Research Society and the Institute for Social Research suggests that over half the world’s population believes in some form of reincarnation. The details may vary, tradition to tradition, but the basic premise is the same. The soul, that fragment of the divine at the core of our being, returns life after life, in order to learn, assimilating the knowledge and understanding gleaned during each lifetime before moving on to the next.

It is a commonly held belief in esoteric circles that what has been learned in a previous life can be rapidly regained in this one if a person is exposed to the right circumstances. It has also been argued that those exceptionally gifted individuals, like child prodigies and those who bring something special to the world may have ‘carried over’ skills and talents acquired in former lifetimes.

We are accustomed to think of reincarnation as a linear progression over time, with souls coming into being early in the life of the earth and evolving with it. Perhaps a lifetime in ancient Egypt…always a favourite… followed by Rome, then the Dark Ages, the Renaissance…and so on. What, we wondered, if this was not the case?

Within the Mysteries, it has long been held that time is not linear, only our need for organised perception makes it appear so to the human mind. It might explain those glitches in memory we call déjà vu. Science puts it down to a processing fault in the mind where we only think we have recalled an event prior to its happening. If time is non-linear, perhaps the explanation is simpler than that and the phenomenon is merely a momentary widening of temporal perception.

The concept of non-linear time is now being ever more widely explored and accepted by reputable physicists and, while we of the ‘lunatic fringe’ may rejoice at science and mysticism approaching each other by yet another step, it does raise some interesting questions. Some of them can tie your mind in knots or make your head explode, but they are well worth exploring…

What, we thought, if non-linear time means that we do not necessarily reincarnate in a neat and linear fashion? If all time is but one time, we could begin a new life at any point in past, present or future. What if the man who made, say, the first radio, knew at some deep and unconscious level, that it could be done… because he had already experienced it in a previous but future life? It could explain the birth of so many incredible ideas and so many of the apparent leaps mankind has made over the millennia…

The conversation went on for some time becoming ever more complex and convoluted…and throwing up many more possibilities for consideration. But how could it possibly be of any use in day-to-day life to think that everything that will happen has already happened? There is little point in theoretical knowledge unless it can be applied and fulfil a practical purpose.

Within the Mysteries we are taught to ‘ask the question’…and that is where such theories may find their home. If the soul stands outside of temporal constraints and carries with it the essence of all experience, life upon life…and if time is not a straight line, heading off into the unseen distance…then we each carry within us all the answers we will ever need. ‘The answers are within you’ is one of those oft quoted phrases that may offer little practical help to life’s problems. Yet maybe it is more practical than it seems… and maybe those elusive answers really are within us, because we have already lived enough to know…

22 thoughts on “Non-linear thought

  1. Wonderful thought-experiment, Sue. I have often pondered the concept of “simultaneous time” and have had similar thoughts. Good to read that I’m not alone in that.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

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  2. I think there are many everyday indications that time is not linear – or even that it exists in any ‘organized’ way at all. A very famous film, directed by Billy Wilder – “Sunset Boulevard” – is based on a construction which, in a rational world, should be ridiculous. The story is narrated by a man, played by William Holden, who appears in ‘the present’ throughout the film, yet is dead. Only at the end do we see his dead body floating in the swimming pool where he has been almost from the start. In a rational world, you’d think the viewer would, at that point, raise their eyebrows in disbelief and say, “What rubbish! If a man’s dead, how could he etc., etc?” But nothing goes against the grain; that massive dislocation in time is of no consequence. It’s as though there is some deeply intuited sense in human beings of the true nature of time – and it really does’t exist in any logical, linear way.

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    1. I think you are right, Jeff, we understand more than we know. I have become very conscious lately of how many things are intuitively understood, even when the facts and repeatable explanations are beyond our reach.


    1. I’m sure you’re right – there is something fundamental here. But you won’t find it by looking for it. Don’t ask questions of the mind – the mind deals only in the known. And this is unknown – but you sense its existence. You are not your mind, nor is your mind You. And that ‘fundamental something’ you want to ‘stumble upon’ is part of You.

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        1. Where would we look? In the world around? Within our memory? In books? And what would we use in order to do our searching? Our minds? But, as I said, the mind deals only with the known. Try it – try thinking of something utterly and completely original. It can’t. The most it can ever do is put together a hitherto ‘original’ compilation of knowns. But what you called that ‘fundamental something’ is not a known – it’s ‘felt’, it’s ‘sensed’. Like the beauty of a sunset; like the look in the eyes of a child. Our society has developed the mind to such an unbalanced degree that a great many of us – perhaps most of us – have lost ready access to our inner, primal, essential self. There is a centuries old Hindu saying – and I may not have the words in the precise order, but this is the essence – ‘The mind is the slayer of the real; to see the truth we have to slay the mind.’

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  3. What a fun and interesting discussion that must have been! And if time isn’t linear, does it follow that our infinite lifetimes exist simultaneously, or is the soul limited to one mortal body at a time? What a totally cool book that could make!


    1. Both are concepts I have thought about and I think it is entirely possible that our own lifetimes are simultaneous… and yes, it would only take a slight’ glitch in the wiring’ to get glimpses…an a superb plotline.
      As to the soul being limited, I can’t see how it can be. To limit the soul to one body of necessity makes it a finite entity.

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      1. Eternal soul but limited to one body at a time, but then that would require time to be linear to some degree rather than all just happening Now. 🙂 I think I just burst a brain cell. Ha ha. Love it.


  4. Fascinating possibilities! When much younger, I experienced deja vu many times and have wondered where those feelings of have been there and done this before came from, and I concluded as you suggest that they came from other lives. It never crossed my mind that those lives could be non-linear, but that makes sense if time itself is not a straight line, rather a circular or “jumbled” apparatus. Very thought provoking!


  5. The concept of non-linear reincarnation is making my head feel like it is going to explode. Add that to time travel for ideas around which my brain will not wrap. But fascinating because the more I don’t understand it, the harder I try to figure it out.


  6. I’ve often turned my mind inside out trying to find answers to the questions you’ve posted in your article. One theory I read about was akashic, (sorry if the spelling is wrong), records where all the knowledge is held and one can resource this knowledge through meditation and other things. I just don’t know and that is the beauty. Oh, I totally believe that time is not linear, got that idea from watching Dr WHo when I was a kid. xxx


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