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The Wheels of Time


"Eternity has no end, therefore no beginning; as a result, eternity is a circle."

- Ancient Egyptian Papyrus, 1320 BCE.


What is time? Is it real or an illusion? Is time a linear line stretching from point A to point B, or is it a circular cycle of infinite points we call 'moments'? We know that our past and present actions affect the future, but what if our future also influences our past?


According to theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, author of "The Order of Time," time is an illusion, and our pure perception of its flow is far removed from physical reality. Experiments conducted in 2013 support the idea that time manifests as an illusion.

Philosophers from Thales and Plato to modern times have constantly questioned the concept of 'time,' seeking answers to its nature. Greek philosophers viewed time as movement and change. They named the god representing quantitative time as Khronos, qualitative time as Kainos, and the god beyond temporal dimensions and infinite as Aion. Thales saw time as an aspect of nature, where change was cyclical, phenomena produced the same results, and things changed in the same way. The movements of the heavens were regular and cyclical; this movement was time, so time was cyclical.


In Indian philosophy, there's a story about the cyclicity of time involving gods Vishnu and Indra. After defeating the dragon Vrtra, Indra, the king of gods, decided to rebuild and beautify the house of the gods in honor of his victory. The divine craftsman Vishwakarma built a magnificent palace over a year, but Indra was not satisfied and burdened Vishwakarma with more demands. Tired of these demands, Vishwakarma's pleas reached the supreme being Vishnu, who decided to teach Indra a lesson. Disguised as a ragged child, Vishnu visited Indra and began speaking of countless universes and innumerable past Indras. He revealed the endless cycle of creation and destruction of these universes, which were impossible to count. At that moment, a procession of ants appeared in the grand hall of the palace, two meters wide, marching across the floor. The boy noticed them and burst into laughter. When Indra asked why he laughed, the boy replied, "I saw ants parading in a long line. Each of these was once an Indra; each rose to the rank of King of the Gods through their faith. But now, after many reincarnations, each has become an ant again. This army of ants is an army of old Indras..." Realizing the futility of his pride and passions, Indra rewarded Vishwakarma and gave up expanding the palace of the gods.


According to German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche's 'Eternal Return' theory, the universe and time are in an infinite cycle, and everything experienced will be repeated eternally. The Swiss director Baran bo Odar and screenwriter Jantje Friese's Netflix series Dark, inspired by the 'Eternal Return' theory, opens with Albert Einstein's words, "The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Dark takes its audience on an exciting time journey between 1953, 1986, and 2019 following the disappearance of high school student Erik. According to the series, our calendars are wrong, and a year is not actually 365 days. Hence, we can never fully synchronize, but every 33 years, the stars, planets, and the entire universe align in the same position again. The show's philosophy suggests:

"We trust that time is linear. That it proceeds eternally and uniformly. However, the difference between past, present, and future is nothing but an illusion. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are not consecutive. They are connected in an endless cycle. Everything is connected... Life is a labyrinth. Some people spend their lives searching for a way out. But there is only one path, which leads further in. You won't understand this until you reach the center."


If life is a labyrinth and time is an endless cycle, is there a way to escape the wheels of time and exit this labyrinth?

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