Let's Stop The Clock

Sept 3, 20155 min read

Adi sasa-lapa se suki[du]hu sad-madale

Pavatu va-dahasak ek [da]vasak se mene[hi] ma (Sigiri graffiti 135)

"May (you) remain for a thousand years, like the figure of the hare, which the King of the Gods painted on the orb of the moon; (but that is) like one day in my mind." (Paranavithana translation) This was written more than a thousand years before Einstein proposed his Theory of Relativity. When time is relative, it is impossible to measure it, and clocks are of no use.

The clock should never have been invented. It has turned man into a machine, or we could say man has been enslaved by the clock. We wake up by the clock, eat, drink, work, play, dream, and then sleep by the clock. The only things that do not obey the clock are our birth and death. Not only have we become slaves of the clock, but we are trying to control lives of animals and plants and even nature by the clock.

It is one more cause for the disease called civilization. Among mankind, all the stress, frustrations, pain and suffering is because we have to watch the clock, all the time. We have to race against time. We have to meet deadlines, we have to draw timelines and timetables.

Agriculture and agricultural revolution is a mistake, but not as bad as industry and industrial revolution. Like all animals man would have been happy to have lived at complete leisure. The only issue about time would have been night and day, and to a lesser extent the seasons. He would wake up when he felt he had enough sleep, or when he felt hunger or thirst. He would go back to sleep only when he felt the need for sleep, not because he had to have a fixed number of hours for sleep, or not because he had to get up early the next day. He ate when he felt hungry, and not because his parents insisted on three meals a day, and at school or at work, because there were fixed times for tea or lunch.

When nature domesticated the early woman, she went out to gather her food when there was sufficient light in the morning. She would have fed her children when they were hungry. Even when she learned to grow a few vegetables or fruit trees, she did not have to do it at a fixed time of day. She harvested her crop when it was ripe. When she domesticated her man, still she did not prepare a timetable for him.

The woman did not have to record the date and time of birth of her children, or keep track of their age, to wean them, to set them free, or to teach them. When man made his own tools, he did not have to meet deadlines. It is only when man began to outsource, and pay for the services he obtained, the service providers had to meet the time set by his customer. But even then the stone tool maker would not work by the hour, but by days, counted probably by the cycle of the moon.

When some men tried to become more equal than the others, when out of greed one man amassed more wealth, more land and more resources, the less equal men had to serve the needs of the other. That is when exploitation of man by man began, and to squeeze every drop of sweat, blood and tears from the poor, the powerful and the wealthy had to make the others slave for the maximum length of time. That is when he needed a clock, to watch the time. He invented the concept of punctuality, created attendance registers with red lines, then signature clocks and today the biometric time-clocks. We all wear wristwatches, diamond studded or gold plated, we have the time on our phones, and wall and table clocks all over the office and the house, but we in our country are not concerned about punctuality, except when a time has been decided as auspicious.

The concept of time is a contradiction for most of us today. We either do not have the time, time is too short, and we are killing time, or do not know what to do with our time. Just as an example, we rush to the airport three hours before departure time, and then kill time till departure, and often kill more hours in transit than the total flying time. But we punish an employee who is five minutes late.

Most of us do not live in the present. Either we are sad about all that has happened in the past and what we have missed, or we are worried about the future, so that we do not have the time to enjoy the present. We are like the modern day tourists who spend all their time taking photographs, that they do not have the time to enjoy the places they are visiting.

Time travel has been used in legend and fiction for several millennia, the earliest probably is in Mahabharata, where king Revaita travels to Dwaraka to meet Brahma, where he had to wait while Brahma listens to a song recital, at the end of which he realizes that on earth 27 chaturyuga (648,000 years) time had passed. Another way of time travel, popularised by H. G. Wells, is to use a Time Machine to travel through time.

Politicians use time, to paint a future paradise and to remind of a past purgatory. Athletes try to beat the time on the track, trying to outrun the others, and most human beings are trying to outrun the rest of mankind from their birth to death.

Let us all find peace of mind. Let us stop the clock. Let us not think of the next micro-second, but only about the next eon or kalpa.

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