Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Time Paradox

A direct link to the above video is at

A direct link to the above video is at

The above video features Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University, and promotes his recent book "The Time Paradox". There's a good insight revealed in this video, and it's one that connects very easily to ideas I've talked about in entries like You Have a Shape and a Trajectory, The Placebo Effect, and Changing Your Genes part 2.

Being in the "Now" is great when your life is good and everyone around you is happy. Living your life "one day at a time" (a slogan often used by Alcoholics Anonymous) is a good plan if you have kicked your addictions and stopped the negative loops that cause you to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

But when that's not the case, be more fifth-dimensional. Out of all the branches that lie before you, there are ones that will get you out of this "now" and get you to a better "then" that already exists within the fifth dimension. Keep your eye on that better "then".

Chapter 5 of my book is called Memes, Music and Memory. Here's a similar sentiment I expressed there:

Sometimes people get caught in loops of addiction and abuse that trap them into circles, causing them to go back again and again to bad relationships, alcohol, or other drugs, with a feeling that there’s no way out. This is one of the pitfalls that the fifth dimension can set for people, as it offers an easy path to fold back to the same negative repetitions over and over again. There’s not much to say about this except that the fifth dimension offers many paths for escape as well, and the hardest part of the problem is usually identifying what is triggering the negative repetition and finding a way to break the pattern. Unquestionably, this is a serious issue, and anyone who is having to deal with the negative repercussions of an addiction of any kind should seek help wherever they can find it. The good news is, there are always multiple fifth-dimensional paths available, and the one that leads back into the negative repetition is never the only option.
When Eckhart Tolle speaks of the "Power of Now", he might at first glance seem to be supporting the same "living in the present" pitfalls portrayed in Zimbardo's Marshmallow Experiment. While the "now" that Tolle is speaking of is a more transcendent concept that embraces our connections to the universal forces that underlie our reality, there is the same potential problem inherent in his message as there is in the AA slogan: if you believe only in now, you are living one day at a time, and that leaves you potentially in the same trap of saying with each new day "this is the last day I'm going to hurt myself like this". In that case, "being in the now" holds no hope for healing whatsoever, and the same repetitive patterns can continue to happen for a lifetime.

My song "See No Future" speaks to this idea as well, and refers to the need for thinking outside of "now", in a manner very similar to what Professor Zimbardo is talking about with his book. His "time paradox" shows us there are definitely moments where it's important to set your sights on tomorrow and stop existing within the traps you are currently held within.

A direct link to the above video is at

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

P.S. - over to the right you will see I've started a poll question that asks whether people believe the results revealed in The Marshmallow Experiment and reported in Professor Zimbardo's promotional video that started this entry. According to the results of that experiment, people who focus on the "now" rather than their possible future paths are more likely to be moody, indecisive, and envious. What do you think? Cast your vote.

P.P.S. - some of you have already noticed that I'm experimenting with a Twitter feed now, if you're interested in following along I'm at

Next: Dark Gravity Across the Dimensions

1 comment:

Inst Msgr said...

Focusing on "the now" is being misused here. Eckhart Tolle, for instance, advocates letting go of the illusions of future and past, which can not actually be experienced due to our movements within time.

While starting this process (as with any sort of spiritual practice such as meditation) the ego naturally will react with resistance and discomfort. This doesn't discount the value of living in the now any more then a slight burn in your legs during a jog discounts the value of excersise.

Furthermore - Tolle asserts that focusing on "problems in the now" is really just an extension of the illusion of future/past.

For instance, worrying that in ones current situation they do not have enough money. This is really a worry based on imagining a future event where one does have money for something in particular - or based on a past vision for oneself that they've not fullfilled.

Problems are really illusions of future/past of identified challenges (which almost always occur in singular instances in ones life).

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