How Time Is Relative To Our Experiences

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An hour sitting with a pretty girl
on a park bench passes like a minute,
but a minute sitting on a hot stove
seems like an hour.

— Albert Einstein (paraphrased)

A day and a night in the Heaven of the Four Kings is equivalent to 50 years among humans… If we feel very happy on a given day, the day passes without our even being aware of it. We feel the day was very short. All of us are like that. Because it is blissful in that heaven, a day and a night there is equal to fifty years among humans

In the realm of humans there is continual disturbance and affliction, suffering and difficulty, fighting and quarrelling. People are busy from morning to night, and they don’t have any idea what they are doing. They are like flies in the air, flying north, south, east, and west without knowing what they are doing. You haven’t much bliss here, and so the time is very long.

Then again, a day and a night among humans is equivalent to fifty years in a hell, because the pain and suffering in the hells is so intense, and so the beings there feel the time is extended. From this you should understand that time is neither short nor long. According to Mahayana Buddhist teaching, time is fundamentally unreal and is the product of distinction-making in the mind. ‘Past thoughts cannot be grasped, present thoughts cannot be grasped, and future thoughts cannot be grasped.’ (Diamond Sutra)… Time is just each person’s individual awareness of long and short; that is all… Ultimately, time is nothing more than a distinction based upon each person’s awareness…

Buddhism A–Z
Compiled By Ronald B. Epstein

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