Oh, man, here she goes...
Let me try to explain what I'm thinking...
People in western European culture are used to thinking about time as linear and fixed....but, if you look at quantum physics or quantum mechanics, or the ideas about time in many hunter/gatherer cultures, there is a very different sense of how time works.A couple thoughts on mythic time:
The Australian Aborigines, for example, think of time as something that is happening backwards and forwards (and sideways, and up and down) all the time -- we've badly translated this concept into English as "Dreamtime." But a better one-word translation I've run across is "everwhen." I love that! They live in linear time but also in this "everwhen" time all the time -- even today. There's also a really interesting book called "Thunder Rides a Black Horse" by Carol Farrer about the Apache concepts of mythic time -- one example being time being defined as "participant time" (not their word for it, I'm sure!
) -- the right "time" for something happening emerges when everyone is ready, not by linear/clock time.Quantum stuff:
Einstein wrote that space and time were "reference frames" that were relative to the observer -- this is the spacetime continuum idea, where time and space co-exist in a single construct. This is, as I understand it, the basics of Einstein's theory of Relativity -- in Euclidean thought (which pretty much covers all Western thinking on this until Einstein) -- there are the three space dimensions, and time as a constant and universal fourth dimension. But Einstein discovered that the flow of time is different coming from different vantage points...other ideas that have followed (some from Einstein, some from other physicists -- that time and space are curved; and that as time expands, space contracts; gravitation is actually a warping of space time; and gravitation itself is a property of space time...
So -- a lifetime in human perception might be a nanosecond in another time construct, or another galaxy. The Greek philosopher Heroclitus believed that motionlessness was an illusion -- that all things are always in motion and changing. Quantum physics supports that theory.
So -- what does this all have to do with horses? I have no clue!
What I think is this -- I think that given the beginning discoveries about spacetime that refute our conscious, linear human sense of time opens up possibilities for much different perceptions of time by those creatures on our planet that think differently than we do, without the same kind of ego-based, external consciousness that humans have.
(This is why I need to read Jaynes' book on the bicameral mind that Donald suggested -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Origin ... meral_Mind
because I think, whether he's totally right or totally wrong, it could help give us insights into how other beings think. If we're at the beginnings of understanding quantum physics I think we're in the absolute baby steps of understanding different types of cognition and meaning making on our own planet...)Animal Cognition
Here's an article from Science Daily about research that was done with rats on how they perceived time:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 183024.htm
"These results, the researchers say, suggest that episodic-like memory in rats is qualitatively different from human episodic memory, which involves retention of the point in past time when an event occurred."
From the study designer:
"â€œThis research,â€ said Roberts, â€œsupports the theory I introduced that animals are stuck in time, with no sense of time extending into the past or future.â€"
I come to a different conclusion than he does -- I don't think they're "stuck" at all. Instead, I think his research suggests that past/present/future are all intertwined in a different way than how we process it -- because the "when" of what happened before isn't something that is stored, the then/now/soon is all part of the now. This is the "everwhen" of the Aborigines, and the "one time" I was talking about above. I think Roberts' sense of time is more limited than animals!
Have you ever had a moment where your consciousness shifts and you are suddenly aware of your self and the world you're in differently? That somehow you're "out of time" as we generally think about it? This used to happen to me a lot when I was improvising while dancing -- all of a sudden I'd look in the mirror and have a sense of myself there in that second, but also not there, being there in the future, being there in the ancient past... Or a moment where you look up and think "man, where did the time go?" when you're engaged in something deeply? (This is Tolle's "now" as I understand it). I think horses live there all the time -- and their "now" encompasses all that came before and all that may come. I have these moments occasionally when I'm really in tune with my guys -- time feels like space to me then, spiraling and connected.
And I think that the then/now/soon in horses' minds are based on emotions and sensations -- they don't think in words, obviously, so the language of their memory, I think, is in images and feelings (physical and emotional). I think this is why a horse might suddenly have a reaction to a current experience that doesn't feel different to us, but something about the smell, the sensation on their bodies, the light, the place, the energy, whatever, pops up a memory about something that happened that was unpleasant in the past. If they're not thinking "oh, yes, that happened ten years ago" but it's instead swirling, it's as much a part of the reality of the now as what's actually happening...
This is exciting to me for several reasons -- first, it invites us to explore the otherness of how our horses think and feel and remember as something to learn from, rather than to diminutize -- it is different, and powerful in its own right, not less than ours. We humans have a tendency to value things we understand, and life forms that process the way we process -- it's our way, so it must be the best way! -- I don't think that's necessarily true! (Don't get me started on plant cognition, for example...)
Second, I think that it offers some road signs that can help us better understand how our horses can learn. It can open up our understanding, patience, and compassion about a reaction we're not liking -- it may feel arbitrary to us, and therefore contrary, but I believe it's linked to something that has happened in the past that feels very real.
And third, I think it's something that we on some level yearn for -- I think it's part of what we find magical about horses and why they have sense of sense of being mythic and evocative to us. Thinking about time this way can bring you both outside of yourself (in a conscious, linear, goal-driven way) and into a deeper sense of yourself and the universe.
And I'll also spare you my theories on atomic vibration, resonance, and entrainment!!!
Hopefully this makes some sort of sense -- I've been mulling this over in my head for a while, but this is the first time I've tried to actually write any of it down...