Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 30 Mar 2021


If the existence of time depends on matter, does the existence of space also depend on matter?

Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

[An online spiritual discussion was conducted on March 27, 2021, in which several devotees participated. Some of the questions of devotees answered by Swāmi are given below.]

[Śrī Ganesh asked: In a discourse given by You in response to Dr. Nikhil’s question, You have explained how time can be represented in terms of space. The last time I met You, You said that Einstein was wrong when he said that without matter, space cannot exist. But when I think about the explanation given by You, I recall that You implied that time cannot exist without matter. Time is meaningless without matter. Since time and space are basically the same thing (space-time), space too should not exist without matter. Please correct me if I am wrong. At Your divine feet - Ganesh.]

Swāmi replied: Space and matter (gaseous air, liquid water and solid earth) have independent status of existence separately. Space is very subtle form of energy. In that way, if energy disappears, space also disappears. Matter is condensed form of energy and hence, if energy disappears matter also disappears. If matter disappears, we can say that a portion of energy disappears. If all energy (very subtle energy called space, subtle energy and gross energy) disappears everything including space and matter disappears. But, if matter disappears, space and energy need not disappear. In this way, space (very subtle energy), subtle energy like X-rays, Gamma rays etc., gross energy like light, heat etc., and matter (condensed energy) are having independent status of existence. Energy is cause and space, matter, subtle energy and gross energy are its effects. Mud is the cause and pot and jug are its effects. If mud disappears, both pot and jug disappear. But, if pot (one form of effect) disappears, jug (another form of effect) and mud (cause of both forms of effects) need not disappear. Of course, if space disappears nothing can exist without space and hence, energy (the root cause of all forms) disappears thereby leading to disappearance of subtle energy, gross energy and matter. Based on this analysis, we can say that if space disappears, matter disappears, but not vice-versa. Einstein said this vice-versa because he treated space as nothing or conventional or geometrical entity, which is not correct. Space has independent existence along with other four elements (three states of matter and gross energy). The Veda says that God created space in the beginning, which means that space existed even in the absence of everything else, which means absence of matter also. Even if the entire creation other than space disappears, space (very subtle energy) can remain as it is.

Now, coming to time. It is relative to space and matter or energy. Space has three co-ordinates called length, width and height. Time is not the natural fourth co-ordinate of space because without matter or energy, time cannot exist in the mere three-dimensional space. If you take space and matter, time is generated in the sense that time is distance travelled by a materialised body in the space. If you take space and energy, time is generated in the sense that time is distance travelled by a quantity of energy in space. In this way, time is an additional co-ordinate of space so that we can call the total as four-dimensional space-time model. Time has no independent existence like the five elements (space, air, fire, water and earth). Therefore, time is not mentioned independently as an item in the sequence of creation by the Veda. Even awareness is a specific work form of energy generated in the functioning materialised nervous system. This means that if the five elements disappear, awareness also disappears. In this way, awareness can’t be told as the eternal God.