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Ng Xin Zhao 12,300 words.


Physics and Buddhism

by Ng Xin Zhao
Physics and Buddhism Book

CHAPTER 1 Time Travel and Causality

To end off the analysis with regards to time, I go to the most speculative topic of
all. Time travel. Specifically, time travel to the past. Because seriously, we are all
travelling forward in time, at different rates according to our velocity as determined by
special relativity and by gravity as determined by general relativity. So it is relatively
straightforward to go to near the event horizon of black holes, or go near the speed of
light, where time runs slow in order to fast-forward ourselves into the future, like what
the devas do. Backwards time travel is not that straightforward or easy or may not even
be possible. Once in the future, if backwards time travel is not permitted, there is no
coming back. We would be stuck in the future.
For those few who get confused about time travel to the future, thinking that the
future is uncertain, how can we travel to uncertain future? Just think of time travel to
the future is like you going to hibernation, suspended animation or a deep long sleep
like Sleeping Beauty. Time goes on without your participation and once you got out, you
find that many years had passed, the future had become your present moment and there
is no turning back. So for the rest of the chapter, time travel means time travel to the
Well, there are plenty of time machines discovered in Physics, so far none of
them works in our universe. Which might be a good thing. Time travel presents the one
of the ultimate philosophical conundrum of untangling the web of the chains of cause
and effect. Deep within our intuition is that causes precedes effect and that the past
cannot be changed.
With time travel, it seems our grasp on reality slips from us. If we can go back in
time and convince our grandfather to become a monk before he marries and have a kid,
then would we be born? If we are not born, then we cannot convince our grandfather to
become celibate, thus we would be born to convince him to become a monk. What
would actually happen? Would reality implode due to this time paradox? Would it loop
on indefinitely like a broken clock, spoiling time everywhere?
The principle which is broken here is that the past is changed, in which we
convinced our grandfather to become a monk. However, more importantly, that change
has ripples of causes and effects which stops the change in the first place, so the effects
is going back in time to before the cause. Yet there would be no problem had the effect
not able to influence the cause.
However, we should not be too hasty to lay blame on what went wrong here,
there is this thing called the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment which messes
up our intuition of how cause and effect should work in time as well.
Delayed choice quantum eraser is a delayed version of the quantum eraser. The
Delayed choice quantum eraser is a delayed version of the quantum eraser.
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quantum eraser1 is a simple experiment. Prepare a laser, pass it through a beam splitter.
In the picture of the photon, individual quanta of light, the beam splitter randomly
allows the laser to either pass straight through, or to be reflected at 90 degrees
downward. Put a mirror at both paths to reconnect the paths to one point, at that
point, either put a beam splitter back in to recombine the laser paths or do not. Have
two detectors after that point to detect which paths did the photon go. Instead of
naming the paths A and B, I use Arahant Path and Bodhisatta Path.

If there is a beam splitter, we lose the information of which paths did the photons
go. Light from both paths will come together to go to only one detector. If we take out
the beam splitter, we get the information of which path did the photon went, if detector
1 clicks, we know it went by the Bodhisatta path, if detector 2 clicks, we know it went by
the Arahant path.
So far nothing seems to be puzzling. Yet, let us look deeper, is light behaving as
particle of a single photon or as waves which travels both paths simultaneously? If light
is behaving like a single photon, then the addition of the beam splitter at the end should
further make it randomly either go through or reflected, thus both detectors should have
the chance to click. Yet what is observed is that when the second beam splitter is
inserted, only one of the detectors click. Light is behaving like waves, so that both paths
matters and interference happens at the second beam splitter to make the path converge
again and lose the information of which paths did the light took. Take out the beam
splitter at the end, then we can see which path light took, detector 1 or 2 will randomly
click, thus it behaves like a photon to us.
So how light behaves depends on our action of whether to put in the beam
splitter or not. Actually the more important thing is it depends on whether or not we
know which path did the light took or was it erased. More complicated experiment2
shown below adds a polarisation rotator (90o) at one of the paths and two polarisers
after the end beam splitter shows that even through the polarisation rotator can allow
us to tell which path did the photon took, the two polarisers (45o) after the beam
splitters can erase that information, making light behave like waves and only trigger one
of the detectors. If we try by any means to peek at or find out which path light took to
the end, light would end up behaving like particles and trigger both detectors.

Physics and Buddhism Book

Note that the second experimental set up did not actually erase the information
but rather just scrambles it. The information can be there, but as long as no one can
know it, light can behave like waves. It is potential information which can be known that
matters. So if we have an omniscient person like the Buddha, even he could not know
which path the photon took if the information is erased and inference happens so that
only one detector clicks. If he tries to find out and found out which path the light took
even by some supernatural psychic powers or special powers of a Buddha, then he
would have changed the nature of light to particles and make two detector clicks
Here is a bit more terminology to make you more familiar with the experiment
before we go on further. Light behaves coherently with wave phenomenon of
interference so that only one detector is triggered when information of which path it
took is not available, or erased. Light behaves like a particle, or photon, or decohered, or
its wave function collapses to choose a path, randomly triggering either of the detectors,
interference does not appear when information about which path it took becomes
available, or not erased, even in principle.
So now onto the delayed choice quantum eraser. It is the experimental set up
such that the light has already passed through the beam splitter at the start then we
decide if we want to know its path or erase that information. In the first experiment
above, just decide to insert or not insert the end beam splitter after the laser light has
passed through the start beam splitter and are on the way to the end beam splitter. The
paths can be made super long, but of the same length to make them indistinguishable,
and the decision to insert the end beam splitter or not can be linked to a quantum
random number generator so that it is really last split second decision and at random.
Our normal intuition tells us that light has to decide if it is going to be a particle or wave
at the starting beam splitter. However, it turns out that the decision can be made even
after that, while it is on its way along both paths as a wave or along one of them as a
Other more complicated set ups3 involves splitting the light into entangled
photons and letting one half of the split photons to be detected first, then apply the
decision to either erase the information or not to onto the second half of the photons,
which by virtue of its entanglement would affect whether interference pattern appears
at the detected first half of the photons. Note that this cannot be used to send messages
back in time, or receive messages from the future because we need information from the

back in time, or receive messages from the future because we need information from the
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second half of the photons to count the coincidence pattern of the first half of the
photon to reveal whether or not it has the interference pattern depending on our
delayed choice on the second half of the photon. So when the first half of the photon hits
the detectors, all the experimenters could see are random messes, regardless of what
decision we make on the second half of the photon later on. I skim on the details here
because it is not necessary and would be too much effort to understand.
Now back to the philosophical discussion, light has to retroactively become waves
or particles even after it got detected (first half of the photon in experiments which uses
entangled photons). If we think of our decision to either erase the path information or
not as the cause to decide the effect of whether interference pattern appears or not, then
the effect seems to happen before the cause. Yet we cannot know which effect happened
until we make the cause (decision).
So nature is tricky, not only does the past changes (or our description of what
nature light was) depending on our future decision; effects can happen before cause and
still not cause any time travel paradox! Comparing this with our analysis of the
grandfather paradox, the crucial difference is that the effects which happens before the
cause cannot influence the cause in the quantum case so paradox cannot happen. Or
that the past does not really changes in any significant way, maybe there is no reality to
quantum objects before they are measured, so light can be perpetually either wave or
particle as long as there is no decision to look at it to determine which it is. The problem
of quantum interpretations would be discussed more in the Chapter of Interpretations
of Quantum Physics and Buddhism's comments.
For now, we note that our basic intuition of nature may not be as fundamental as
we think. What about Buddhas insight into the nature of time? The law of kamma
obviously links causes to effects, it would be absurd to think of us experiencing the
effects of our kamma before we plant the cause. In many books on meditation, we are
taught that the future does not exist yet, the past is gone, so all we have is the present
moment, just come back to the present moment and be aware. Yet, if time travel is
really possible, the future becomes real, the past not so much gone, the present moment
not unique to us.
As for cause arises after effect, it is noted in the Abhidhamma as one of the 24
paccaya, meaning cause or condition At no. 11 out of 24, it called the post-nascence
condition. The cause is explained as expectations of what would happen in the future,
the effect is that as a result of the expectation, happens before the cause. So I expect to
make receive my salary at the end of the month, so the result is that I work hard, then
my cause for working hard comes later. This time inversion is a bit cheating in physics
terms as information or at least expectation about the future cause is known in the past
to produce the effect. So if in the future that cause does not happen, like the company
goes bankrupt and cannot pay the workers, the expectation of that cause has already
caused the effect, so no paradox would happen.
Time travel messes with our assurances that the future is uncertain, the past is
not able to be meaningfully changed by us and that the present moment is all we have to
make changes, and that we have some amount of choice (free will).
A note on the past cannot be changed meaningfully by us. The past can be
changed if we assumed that the nature of light can be changed by decision in the future.
However, that is merely a mental picture for us, it does not allow for sending messages
back in time, thus the change is not meaningful. Our memories can also be changed as
back in time, thus the change is not meaningful. Our memories can also Physics
beand Buddhismas
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we reconstruct our memories when we recall things, so that sometimes we recall things
which are not really there. Videos and pictures of the past can be altered digitally to
change the records of our past. History can be rewritten depending on who is in power.
Sociologically, this can be a powerful tool to control the masses. None of these changes
to the past is what is really meaningful in terms of time travel even if they do produce
real world effects. Convincing your grandfather to become a monk and never marry your
grandmother and have kids when you know he had kids who went on to produce you,
that is considered meaningful change to the past.
This seems to fit in with a lot of our notion of morality, ethics and many practical
advices in Buddhism. Let go of the past, it cannot be changed, learn from the past, dont
hold onto regrets. Use the present moment wisely so that we do no regret it later. We
can change our destination in life by planting new causes in the present moment
because the future is uncertain. It would be interesting to ask if time travel can really
happen after all, how would the notion of kamma and time in Buddhism be affected?
Which ones of the assurances can we give up and still have time travel, which ones we
have to keep to make sense of Buddhism? Is Buddhism compatible with any possibilities
of time travel after all? Or would it be one of the reasons for one to think that time travel
will be proven impossible?
Perhaps it would be good to explore first what does Physics has to say about time
travel first, so that we have a background to base the exploration of Buddhisms say on
time travel on.

The Lists of Time Machines

In my undergraduate years, I had explored the possibilities of time travel in
physics, here are roughly what I know from my research project then plus a few more we
didnt had the time to investigate in depth.
In general relativity, there are plenty of examples of time machines. However,
before 1915, when general relativity was discovered, H.G. Wells had already captured
the imagination of the public with his novel, the time machine. His version of time
machine just displaces the person sitting in it through time, without any convincing
theory behind it other than time is another dimension, which we ought to be able to
move through as well as the other three spacial ones in both directions. Plenty of time
machines in popular conceptions kinda magically disappeared from one time to appear
in another time in the same location.
There are plenty of people who has not updated their conception of space and
time from absolute space and absolute time of the Newtonian world view to the general
relativistic one of bendable spacetime. So they invariably point out that the time
machine has to move through space as well, because earth is rotating and revolving
around the sun, who in turn is revolving around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, who
in turn moves along with the Local Clusters of Galaxies which moves in the Local
Superclusters and so on. So to move forwards and backwards in time, according to
them, we need to know all these motions at the time we want to travel to so that we do
not accidentally appear back in outer space or inside the molten magma of some planet
or the fusion reactor at the centre of some star.
Well, glad to break the news to you, there is no such time machine which can
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Well, glad to break the news to you, there is no such time machine which can
magically appear and disappear. Also there is no absolute space and time. All time
machines from general relativity and one from special relativity would already tell you
exactly where and when in spacetime and which path to move in other to travel from
one point in spacetime to an earlier point. To make the calculations easier, we usually
link back the earlier time in spacetime to the event from which we start to travel back in
time. We call this a closed timelike curve.

The picture above shows the structure of spacetime as special relativity tells us.
We are the observer at the centre of the future and past light cone. There are two space
coordinates, with the third one compressed and time as a dimension is shown. So when
light spreads out from you, a spherical distribution in time would look like ever
expanding circles up the time direction, forming a light cone to the future. The past light
cone is how light gets to your eye, it is what you are seeing right now. So yes, you are
only able to perceive the past objects, the further away they are from you, the more
distant they are in the past. So when we look at a galaxy one billion light years away, we
are looking at it when it was one billion years ago, when light started to leave that galaxy
and travel all that distance just to land in our telescopes into our eye or detectors.
Indeed present moment awareness mindfulness is not exactly present moment, but of
the immediate past of what has happened. In Buddhism this is because there is another
time delay from the eye consciousness registering the light to the mind consciousness
bringing the object of sight in mind with mindfulness. Since all these details are not very
important for mindfulness practise, the colloquial (and formal) usage of present
moment awareness is ok. Not fully accurate, but good enough.
In between the future and past light cones are what we can call the present. It
looks big here because we had compressed our space scale to match our time scale so
that the speed of light is of the slope one. Normally, because the speed of light is so big
relative to our normal velocities, we think of the future and past light cone as very wide
and the present very narrow in between them.
The present hypersurface plane tilt is dependent on the velocity of the observer.
This captures the relativity of simultaneity in special relativity, that different observers
This captures the relativity of simultaneity in special relativity, that different
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cannot agree of what is in their present moment, depending on their velocity. However,
both observers at the same point in spacetime would agree to the same future and past
light cones.
As the speed of light is the maximum speed limit of the universe, things inside
our past light cone represents things which can causally affect us right now. So we can
never see the present moment of what exactly is happening say one metre away from me
right now. However, at a very short time later, of one metre over the speed of light, or
3.336 nanoseconds later that event one metre away can causally affect me as their light
needs that amount of time to reach me. So our past light cone is ever expanding, in the
spacetime picture above, as we move upwards in time, the past light cone moves with us
and covers what we used to think of as our present.
Our future light cone covers less as we go forward in time, meaning that the
sphere of our influence decreases over time. If we miss out an event, we cannot go back
to attend it again. We missed the timing. If you miss out on the growing stage of your
children, you cannot influence their childhood traumas and happiness when they are
gone. The future light cone is the causal structure of the spacetime of which you can be
the cause for some effects to happen. As we occupy a point in spacetime, we trace out a
line, we call our worldline as we age and move in time. As part of the things slower than
light, we have more time component in our worldline compared to the space
component, so we call our worldline timelike. Light at its maximum speed sticks to the
light cones and we call the path light takes as null lines. If we can travel faster than light,
then we are moving in spacelike curves.
So a closed timelike curve is when an observer goes back to the same event he or
she started from, its the technical term for time travel in physics!
In special relativity, the light cones are all straight up, so no closed timelike
curves can form. The only way to travel back in time is to move in spacelike trajectories
or faster than light (FTL).
I. That is our first time machine: FTL. First, how does FTL allows time travel? By
the lack of simultaneity of the present moment. Take two points far apart, say
earth and our nearest star system, the Alpha Centauri. We first use the FTL ship
to travel from Earth to Alpha Centauri at infinite speed, arriving instantly along
the hypersurface plane of the present moment. However, the time we arrive at
Alpha Centauri (and back to Earth later on) depends critically on what velocity
we are at relative to the Earth-Alpha Centauri line as the plane of the present
moment tilts according to the velocity. Once arrived at Alpha Centauri, we turn
the direction around, goes into sublight speed just enough to tilt our plane of
present moment to identify the time before we start off from Earth to be our
current present moment and instantly travel there. Thus we have arrived before
we start off.
a. Before 1994, the only thing which was hypothesised to travel faster than
light are tachyons. You may have heard of this from popular science fiction
shows, like maybe the Flash. Tachyons are strange creatures, they cannot
be seen, touched, accelerate when they lose energy. Tachyons can go
nearer to just above the speed of light the more energy it has and it can go
to infinite velocity if it has zero energy. And they are not possible to be
real. Virtual tachyons can exist in quantum physics. So microscopic time
travel is possible in quantum physics, but only for very short time
travel is possible in quantum physics, but only for very Physics
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b. After 1994, the existence of Alcubierre drive was revealed. It makes use of
the trick that spacetimes velocity relative to another spacetime does not
need to obey the speed of light limit. Thus, an Alcubierre drive is a bubble
of spacetime, containing the time machine or spaceship inside it, the front
of the bubble contracts spacetime, the back expands spacetime, pushing
and pulling the bubble relative to the spacetime around it to move faster
than the speed of light. As the spaceship inside the bubble is moving less
than the speed of light within the bubble itself, there is no violation of
special relativitys limit. If one day we can build an Alcubierre drive, it
would open up not only time travel, but all of the universe to us. It is akin
to the warp drive in Star Trek, or hyperspace in Star Wars. However, there
are plenty of reasons it might not be possible to use or built Alcubierre
drive after all.
i. It requires negative mass to be built. We call negative mass stuffs as
exotic matter, so far it is not easy to see what could fulfil this exotic
matter. Quantum fluctuations like Casimir effect maybe able to do
so. Another paper5 suggested a possible theoretical way to produce
negative energy using positron place in a specific dispersive and
refracting medium without violating the energy conditions. As of
now (2017) yet, no one had reported producing exotic matter in the
ii. Alcubierre drives requires extra ordinary big amount of negative
mass to built. This is more of an engineering problem and would be
likely to be solved given enough money, motivation and time to a
group of engineers.
iii. It would release dangerous amount of energy when it stops,
destroying the target location. This maybe more of a navigation
challenge to use short jumps and aim not directly at the target
iv. This paper6 discusses why Warp Drives could be unstable in a short
time, fulfilling one of the Chronology Protection Conjectures.
c. Krasnikov Tube. Krasnikov discovered that the ship in the centre of an
Alcubierre drive cannot control the forward direction of the bubble. He
also proposed a two dimensional tube in which the inside of the tube
allows for superluminal travel. Generalised to four dimensions and
putting two tubes side by side, it is possible to travel back in time.
i. It requires negative mass to built.
ii. This is literally a highway between stars, so the maintenance of it
would not be easy.
II. The rest of the time machines in General relativity can be divided into two types,
those involving rotations and those which do not. This one lists those which
involves rotations.
a. Godels universe. His universe is one where there is an overall rotation of
the stuffs inside the universe. In his universe, the region near the axis of
rotation would have their light cone still straight up, but as we move
further away from the centre, the future light cone tilts and opens up more

further away from the centre, the future light cone tilts Physics and Buddhism
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and more until it dips down to below the horizontal line, so that it is
possible to join timelike curves along negative time, forming a closed
timelike curve. To travel back in time, one can accelerate along this closed
timelike curve, even if starting from the non-time travel region, one can go
to a chronology violating region to travel back in time!
i. Unfortunately, our universe is not one where everything rotates
around an axis of rotation, in particular, the cosmic microwave
background radiation shows that our universe does not rotate.
b. Van Stockums universe/ Tiplers cyclinder. This consist of an infinitely
long rotating cylinder. The chronology violating region is near the cylinder
this time. The light cones tilt as we move closer to the cylinder until the
future light cone can point to the negative time axis. Time travel for this
spacetime can be done without acceleration, just select an appropriate
initial velocity and the geometry of the spacetime can bring you to the
i. Unfortunately again, our universe does not seem to contain an
infinitely long rotating cylinder.
c. Rotating cosmic string. Similar to van stockums universe, this is an
infinitely long 1 dimensional string which is rotating.
i. Well, we do not observe any cosmic strings as of now, much less
anything infinitely long.
d. Gotts string. This is first model for two points on (2+1) dimensional toy
model universe. The two points approach each other at parallel lines, so
there can be a centre between them which can see some rotation. Closed
timelike curve can form on this spacetime. Extending it to (3+1)
dimension, the dots becomes infinitely long thin cosmic strings which are
supposed to move towards each other at high velocity to produce a time
i. Well, we do not observe any cosmic strings as of now, much less
anything infinitely long.
e. Kerrs black hole. Kerrs black hole is rotating black hole, the region inside
its event horizon permits closed timelike curve, but the rest of us are
protected from that region by the event horizon.
III. This are the rest of the time machines which do not involve rotations.
a. MorrisThorne traversable wormholes. Perhaps this is the most popular
one mentioned in science fiction. A wormhole is just like a black hole but it
connects two ends of their hole to each other. To make a time machine
from wormholes, leave one hole at a time dilated slow region (either
gravitationally or by putting it to near light speed ships), and have the
other end go through time at a faster rate. The two holes will still connect
to each other through their handle so both time will read the same if we go
through the wormhole, but their time difference between the holes from
outside would increase. Eventually, when we bring the two ends back
together, the one exposed to slow time dilation, call it S will connect to the
past of the other end wormhole call it F, so if we enter through S, we go
out of F in the past. The other hole, F in our present will connect to the
out of F in the past. The other hole, F in our present willPhysics and Buddhism
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future of the first hole, S so if we enter F, we go to the future after exiting
i. This also requires negative mass-energy.
ii. There are many chronology protection conjecture proposal to say
that traversable wormholes are unstable.
b. Wheeler wormholes (spacetime foam). This is merely wormholes which
appears as part of the quantum vacuum fluctuations of spacetime itself.
Maybe the gods can enlarge this and use it as their instant travel
i. We have no idea how to manipulate such wormholes or to enlarge
c. TARDIS.7 Short for Traversable Achronal Retrograde Domains in
Spacetime, it is shaped like a torus (doughnut shaped) in spacetime,
standing up in the time dimension. So in three dimensional space, we see
it appear as one thing, separated into two then merging again into one and
disappear. Inside the torus, there is a closed timelike curve. A chain of
TARDIS can connect any flat space to another flat space. It is similar to
Alcubierre drive, just being closed in spacetime. Thus the authors of this
paper claims it most resembles a box which travels backwards and
forwards along a loop in spacetime. Like the TARDIS from Doctor Who,
just that its not bigger on the inside.
i. Of course as you might have guessed, exotic matter is required to
make this as well. In particular, there does not seem to be a very
good analytical way to write down the stress energy tensor in this
paper, so it is clear that the authors just demand a geometry and
numerically show cross sections of the stress energy tensor, which
is likely very complicated.
d. Ori torus.8 This describes a vacuum torus region, lying flat, a closed
timelike curve naturally appears as time goes on inside the torus region
where the z direction is looped. This has the advantage of not needing
exotic matter or involving infinity structures.
i. However, it is not know how to construct such a vacuum solution.
Nor is its stability guaranteed.
So there you go, there are so many time machines in general relativity all of them
unrealised yet, some plain impossible to construct. This list is by no means exhaustive,
so maybe there are more which would be easy to construct and allows time travel
without any of the common objections raised against it. Maybe not. Let us turn to what
laws of time travel would there be if somehow one of these happen to be able to be

The Laws of Time Travel

The whole point of many people obsessing over time travel is the wishful thinking
of being able to go back to the past, change it to avoid certain results in the present. In
other words, to change their personal kamma or the collective kamma of the whole
other words, to change their personal kamma or the collective kammaPhysics and Buddhism Book
of the whole
world. However, that kind of time travel would create paradoxes, let us turn to the
attitudes of physicists on the subject of time travel. There are four in brief9:
A. Boring Physics Conjecture: Time travel technology has not yet been invented, so
there is no need for us to think about this. Most likely its not going to happen
anyway, this is not so much of a law but more of: I got better things to do.
B. Chronology Protection Conjecture: As we have briefly explored with delayed
choice quantum eraser, quantum physics seems to conspire to preserve causality,
so that time travel paradoxes doesnt happen. When we turn the general
relativity, we see a wealth of time machines. However, one by one, they seems to
be not working in our universe. Thus this had lead many to conclude that the
laws of physics conspire to prevent time travel. Most famously, Stephen Hawking
came out with the Chronology Protection Conjecture which is basically the laws
of physics forbids time travel. How it is implemented varies across various time
machines. Some uses the feedback loop virtual particles may have when they
enter into a closed timelike curve and gather into such a huge mass that it
destabilises the geometry of the time machine itself. Some relies on the
previously mentioned unrealistic infinities to construct time machines, or exotic
matter with negative mass which violates the energy conditions. There are also
counter arguments from other ways of combining quantum and gravity to say
that some arguments of chronology protection is wrong. Thus without a final
quantum theory of gravity, we cannot know for sure if the laws of physics
absolutely forbids time travel.
C. You cannot change recorded History, the self consistency Principle: Also known
as Novikovs consistency conditions, it allows time travel to happen but we still
cannot change the past in any meaningful way. In physics research, it just gives
physicists an excuse to find a possible self consistency pathway in a particular
time machine construction. They would then invoke this principle as the way to
prevent paradoxes to say that time travel can only result in self consistent
motions in closed timelike curves, all other not self consistent motions are
prohibited automatically. Or more like magically. This law emphasises more on
consistency of cause and effect and current physics more than the element of free
will. There are a few variations of this law to time travel.
i. First is the strong version which states that things are fixed, if you time
travelled to the past to meet your grandfather before he married, this
event had already happened before you were even born. Your actions and
knowledge would always result in you travelling backwards in time to
meet your grandfather. If you happen to experience free will, that is an
illusion and is part of the requirement for you to choose what you already
had chosen, which is to convince your grandfather to be a celibate and
never have kids. The strong version of self consistency would then make
sure that when you go back to the present moment, you will find nothing
has changed before you left. Your grandparents were still married and had
kids who became one of your parent. You ask your grandfather if he
became a monk before and suddenly he recalled a girl who look exactly
became a monk before and suddenly he recalled a girl who Physics and Buddhism
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like you did persuade him to go renounce a long time ago, but he met your
grandmother there and they both fell in love. Unfortunately, he had to
disrobe and get married. Fortunately for you. Reflecting back, you realised
that you had became the cause of your grandparents marriage, had you
not go back in time, you wouldnt had be part of the cause which leads to
your own birth. Thus since you were born, you were always meant to go
back in time in the first place. Thus the strong version also fixed the future
before it happens. The strong version of self consistency principle destroys
free will, the future is fixed, the past is fixed, the present has no meaning
as free will or any element of limited choice is not present.
ii. The second one is a weak version. The past can be genuinely changed,
however, time would heal itself, events would find another way to make
sure that recorded history do not change. Whereas the strong version of
the self consistency implies that the river of time is frozen, including the
times when time travel to the past was done; the weak one allows
individual particles of water to change position, velocity and other small
details as long as they add up to preserving the general flow and shape of
the river. So in this version, before hatching your plan of making yourself
non-existent (being ignorant about rebirth) by persuading your
grandfather to become a monk, you had questioned everyone nearby very
carefully that your grandfather had never been a monk before and checked
his personal diary for all the details so as to not leave out even a single day
unaccounted for. You go back in time, managed to get him to be ordained
on that day, waited a day to make sure he is still a monk, then go back to
the present moment. You discover things are still the same. Questioning
your grandfather, you realised that he was ashamed of himself being
seduced by your grandmother, thus he covered up every trace that he was
a monk before, and got really convinced that you really did travel back in
time. This looks like the same with the strong version as recorded history
would include your memory and the diary, but it would not matter if you
happened to breathe one more extra breath in the past or not. The same
thing would had happened. It also would not had mattered if you didnt go
back in time, some other girl was already preparing to convince your
grandfather to renounce already. There is some element of free will
available, but that free will cannot change anything significant in the past.
Nature must seems to be all knowing and actively prevents any possibility
of the grandfather paradox. The weak version of self consistency principle
preserves some limited will, the future can be uncertain, the important
details of the past are fixed, it gives a bit of hope for the present to be able
to affect change into the future, the present moment can be unique.

D. Radical Rewrite Conjecture: This law preserves the free will as an important
agent of change, this means that the laws of physics or something else has to give.
i. Timeline branches. As seen in many science fiction shows, including
Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super, this involves multiple universes.
The moment someone time travels back and changes something, she
creates a new timeline wherein there is another copy of her and the

creates a new timeline wherein there is another copy ofPhysics and Buddhism
her and the Book
changes take effect in the new timeline. Meanwhile, in the old timeline,
the people around there just think that the time traveller had gone missing
and the catastrophic event she was sent back to prevent still happened.
Logically speaking, the time traveller should be trapped in the new
timeline, with no sure way of going back to her original timeline. However,
another version of her may time travel back to her original timeline and
make the story involving time travel becomes super complicated. If the
time machine used is wormhole, then it is possible for the time traveller to
go back to her timeline, see that nothing has changed in her timeline and
just be glad that she had made a difference in a parallel universe. If this
happens, it can be a mechanism for transforming wormholes from a time
machine to a bridge between multiple universes. As to which multiverse
this might belong to, it could belong to its own category, but it also falls as
a subset of the quantum many worlds interpretation multiverse. How does
the grandfather paradox gets resolve here? Easy, in the new timeline, your
grandfather is a monk, in the old one where you come from he got
married, produced your parents who produced you and worry that you
disappear in time travel adventures. If you travel forwards in time by time
dilation, you will find yourself still in the new timeline and the differences
of that world without the existence of you and your parents and uncles and
aunties. In the river of time picture, each time you step back in time, the
river multiplies itself and branches off and you follow the river branch you
had created. Timeline branches preserves free will, uncertainty of the
future, unchangeability of the past for one timeline, and just changes the
present moment to effect change to whichever time a time traveller wishes
to create a branch timeline from her own. The price to pay is messy
multiverses which may interact with your own timeline. (Do note that
others online had chosen to put the timeline branch as part of Novikovs
self consistency principle of history cannot be changed. To me, splitting
universes due to time travel is a pretty radical rewrite of the laws of
causality as we know it.)
ii. Time can be rewritten. There is only one timeline, one universe, changes
to the past are real and propagates to the future immediately. This is the
ideal thing many people think of when they wish for time travel. How does
this deal with the grandfather paradox? Once you convinced your
grandfather to renounce, you can either cease to exist immediately, or to
fit the story drama requirement, you slowly cease to exist. The latter one
was utilised in Back to the Future movies. It does not matter that the cause
of the change has ceased to be as a result of the change, the important
thing is that change had happened. Sometimes the writer for these time
travel fiction allows for universe destruction paradoxes to happen due to
the time travellers free will. So the time traveller must be careful not to
create any paradoxes while back in time. There are two versions of this
law, the Butterfly effect version or the key moments in time version. Both
can be combined into a continuum of possibilities for how causality works.
Time can be rewritten preserves free will, allows the past to be changed,
allows the future to be certain or uncertain depending on the choices
allows the future to be certain or uncertain depending on Physics
theand Buddhism Book
below and the present moment to affect change is highly dependent on the
time traveller.
1. Butterfly effect: A butterfly flap its wings on another continent, four
weeks later, a hurricane hits this continent. The butterfly effect
hinges on chaos theory, that a small change in initial configuration
can lead to huge differences down the road. Thus if one goes back in
time to change something, even shifting a little air molecule,
unpredictable effects to the future may happen. The effect gets
worse the further back in time the change happens. This
emphasises on the fluidity of nature especially considering that
quantum randomness is part of the factors which lead to this
particular history of our universe. If we go back in time, the
quantum randomness is unlikely to remember which results it
landed on last time, thus new quantum results can happen. This
affects phenomenon of nuclear fusion, fission, radioactive decay,
photosynthesis, and much more. In Buddhism, a natural analogy
presents itself: dependent origination. Dependent on all the causes
and conditions only does a result appear. If one condition is to be
absent, the results would also change. Thus changing a thing in the
past is changing an interconnected web of cause and effect
causation. In the picture of a river of time, the river changes
radically each time we step foot on it.
2. Key moments in time: Doctor Who uses this version of time travel
law. The doctor and her companion are free to roam around time,
but must be careful at key moments in time. Most of the time, their
involvement does not change history, it follows the weak version of
Novikovs self-consistency principle. Only minor rewrites would
leave the river of time largely the same. However, at key moments
in time, branches to time can appear. These important events must
happen in a certain way or else time travel paradoxes may appear.
Or these key events are the time when major rewrites to the history
of the universe can happen. In the picture of a river of time, the
river is fairly stable, only certain key points we have to be careful in
stepping into or else we can change the rivers course.
3. Mixed possibilities: A view into Buddhisms Bodhisatta path seems
to lean on more towards the butterfly effect, with key moments in
time being fixed. This is first supported by how dependent
origination works, that each condition must be there for an effect to
happen the way it did. Then balanced by predictions of the Buddha.
The Bodhisatta would receive predictions that he would become a
Buddha one day in the far future. This might be explained due to
the strong amount of kamma and determination planted in the past
which results in the result of being the Buddha being certain, only
pending the correct conditions to happen. Sometimes, even the
conditions can be fixed by the immensity of the kamma. In the river
of time picture, the various streams changes when we step on it,
however, sometimes they collect themselves into a big pool which
however, sometimes they collect themselves intoPhysics
a bigand Buddhism
pool whichBook
cannot be changed or dispersed even if you splash your whole body
into it.
iii. Universe destruction paradoxes causing no time machine to be possible.
The time can be rewritten possibility is reckoned as too unstable by a lot of
people. They predict that if time can really be rewritten, then universe
destruction paradoxes must happen or the universe rewrites itself until no
time machine will ever be invented. Properly speaking, this should be
belonging to the Chronology Protection Conjecture part, the protecting
coming from causality preserving itself. Universe destruction paradoxes
like Chronology Protection Conjecture, preserves free will, protects the
past by paradoxes causing destruction, allows for uncertain future which is
more stable after time travel has been destroyed each time it is created,
and has the present moment being stuck each time someone invented time
travel until the time someone else destroys the time machine.
1. Universe destruction must happen. In the far future the advanced
civilisations there realised time travel and that there is no other
multiverse to escape to from the end of the universe. Or if there are
multiple universes, they are not accessible. This is of course
assuming that they do not know how to train to the second Jhana
and get reborn into the second Jhana Brahma world to escape the
destruction of the universe. Then they would time travel backwards
to occupy the universe where its entropy is not so high yet. In the
process, they speed up the impending end of the universe by
contributing to the entropy of that time. If they continue to go
backwards in time, they bring the end of the universe with them to
earlier times. Adding up all the masses of the future time travellers,
they may even cause a Big Crunch collapse or form a Black Hole
first. So in order to prevent this, someone will go back to the first
time machine and destroy it or somehow make it not possible to be
invented. In the river of time picture, this is the water molecules
being afraid of entering the ocean at the end kept on rolling back
onto the river itself to further upstream. Eventually, they reach the
summit and have no where to go left, but to go down, this time the
summit prevented them from flowing backwards.
2. The universe rewrites itself until there is no time machine. If every
time traveller can change the past and the changes take place
instantly, all sorts of people will constantly go back to the past and
change history. Our memories of that happening will also change
each time it happens until one day a time traveller goes back to the
first time machine and prevented it from being invented. Then the
universe can have a stable history and we can form memories. This
happens whenever a time machine is invented. In the river of time
picture, it is that many foot stepping on the river changes the river
so much so often until each time a foot tries to step into the river, it
will be stepped on by another foot first so no foot ever steps into the
river to change it.
3. Or the universe will really implode if some time traveller
Physics and Buddhism Book
3. Or the universe will really implode if some time traveller
accidentally or purposely create a grandfather paradox. The river of
time picture will be the mountain will implode if someone step into
the river the wrong way.
iv. Time is personal. I got this from a science fiction short story. A time
traveller messes up the past and finds the present still the same for
everyone else. He goes on and messes up the past much more. Eventually,
he realises that all the changes in the past only goes back to mess up his
own personal history as he discovers that he is fading away. In the river of
time analogy, you step on the river, you drink the muddy water, other
peoples river are not affected. It preserves free will, separates the past
into only you can affect your own past but not others, the future is
uncertain, the present moment to make change is extended to the past.
v. Mental Time travel. Time travel to the past is only sending the mind of the
person back to his younger body. So going back is limited to only until the
person is born. The thing which really time travelled is the memories and
information from the present to the past. This is used by some to solve the
problem of self meeting past self, or adding mass to the past. Now that we
believe information is physical and have mass, this might not be useful to
resolve the not adding mass to the past. In the river of time scenario, the
upper stream particles can get the memories and information from the
lower part to change its course. Mental time travel otherwise works as in
time can be rewritten, since the other possibility of not being able to
change recorded history would not make for a nice science fiction story,
but more of a horror story for having to relive everything but there is
nothing we can change.
There are plenty more possible laws of time travel which would still mess with
our notion of causality and the nature of time. It would be good to see if there is
anything Buddhism would say to these time travel speculations.

Buddhism on Time Travel

Why is this an issue at all? Buddhism is all about ending suffering
whereas as we have seen, time travel is all a bunch of speculation, wishful
thinking, and physics research still cannot conclusively prove that it is
impossible or not to time travel definitively. Why bother to think about

One very obvious answer would be that Buddhism had mentioned instant
travelling as an ability of devas and advanced practitioners of meditation. If we interpret
instant travelling as faster than light (dont ask me which plane of the present moment
is considered instant), then we have time travel. As faster than light cannot really be
done without involving time travel into the mix. So if the devas are aliens, or advanced
civilisations or dark matter/ energy beings, or something else which exist in our physical
space and time but far from earth, then time travel is an hidden issue to address sooner
space and time but far from earth, then time travel is an hidden issuePhysics and Buddhism Book
to address sooner
or later. So let us start by answering the questions we had asked before earlier in the
How would the notion of kamma and time in Buddhism be affected if
there is time travel?
The notion of kamma in Buddhism is being with a personal time, in physics it is
called proper time. In all forms of physical time travel, the time travellers proper time
goes on from birth to death in a continuity, whereas their external time can be reversed.
So as kamma of what effect will befall them due to their actions in their personal past,
we only need to refer to the personal time of the time traveller. If she had done great
good deeds before she time travelled, she would have a better chance of experiencing
good results even if she time travelled to an external time which is before she did the
good deed. This of course assumes that kamma gets stored in the mind as in mental
imprints and not in the universe, both of which seems compatible in Buddhism. So in
this sense, one cannot escape kamma by time travelling. If kamma is stored in the
universe, then any rewrite to time scenario will be able to change kamma. Focusing on
the mixed possibilities on timeline branches, it might be the case that the cause cannot
be changed much, but conditions can always be modified to avoid some unwholesome
results or make some wanted results to happen.
If for example, with time travel, I can get messages from the future to avoid
certain actions or situations because a timeline of me from the future met with an
accident then and sent a message back in time to prevent this from happening. If the
accident was due to the law of kamma as a result of previous unwholesome actions, then
changing the conditions or cause in the present moment to avoid that result just kinda
delays the maturation of the kamma, the seed is still there in the past. Of course this
does not mean that we should not be able to do so. Just that we have to recognise that it
would be temporary, the best assurance against avoiding previous unwholesome kamma
from resulting is to end rebirth once and for all. Maha Mongallana had died by the
hands of murderers as a result of his previous unwholesome kamma, he did tried to
escape this and spare the would be killers from committing a very bad kamma by using
his psychic powers but in the end, the law of kamma is persistent. As an arahant with no
more attachment to his life, he realised that this cannot be avoided and finally allowed
himself to be killed. So even if we can try to modify the conditions to delay some
unwholesome kamma from ripening, it can still lead to a scenario where all possibilities
would lead to the kamma ripening.
Let us look at the mental time travel and time can be rewritten scenario. If
kamma is stored in the universe, then obviously that kamma can be rewritten. If kamma
is somehow stored in the mind and also time travelled back along, then the time
traveller maybe able to change something physical in her own past, but still would be
liable to the mental suffering or happiness her kamma in her personal past would bring
her. This would be categorically different from the above example where the future selfs
kamma does not get transfered back to the past self, but the information about the
future can be obtained to avoid unpleasant futures.
The notion of time in Buddhism seems to be a linear time. The Buddha
recognised the past when he said that a beginning to rebirth is unknowable. He
Physics andHe
recognised the past when he said that a beginning to rebirth is unknowable. Buddhism Book
recognised the future when he gave teachings of kamma which intimately involves the
notion of past and future. Some teachers may have emphasised that the notion of time
in Buddhism is cyclic (things happening again and again in a large time loop) due to the
expansion and contraction of the world in Buddhism. However, if time is cyclic in
Buddhism, there would be no point to attaining to Nibbana as then the person attaining
to Nibbana is liable to fall away from it when time resets itself in a cycle. It is entirely
possible for cycles of expansion and contraction of the world to happen on linear time.
Popular conception of time in Buddhism as only recognising the present moment
is meant more for practical advice to practising present moment mindfulness. It also
has support from the sutta in the Middle Length Discourses Sutta 131, a single excellent
Let not a person revive the past
Or on the future build his hopes,
For the past has been left behind,
The future has not been reached.
Instead with insight let him see
Each presently arisen state;
Let him know that and be sure of it,
Invincibly, unshakably.
Today the effort must be made;
Tomorrow death may come, who knows?
No bargain with Mortality
Can keep him and his hordes away,
But one who dwells thus ardently,
Relentlessly, by day, by night
It is he, the Peaceful Sage has said,
Who has had a single excellent night.

However, as we have seen, mindfulness is actually mindful of the immediate

past, not the present moment, thus the presentism (only present exist, not the past or
future) notion of time is not entirely the Buddhist view of time. One can still be mindful
of planning the future or recalling the past, both of which admits the existence of the
concepts of past and future. However, it is also possible to argue for a full presentism
version of Buddhism, with past and future are constructions of the mind. We are
mindful of the immediate past object in the present moment. Time travel to the future
via time dilation is merely experiencing time (or rate of change of things) faster or
slower in the present moment. If presentism is the position that we think of Buddhism
to take, then then time travel to the past is absolutely impossible as there is no more
past to revisit.
However, there are two more possibilities to view the nature of time:
possibilitism and eternalism. Possibilitism says the central notion we had been
repeatedly analysing for the laws of time travel, free will is possible, past is fixed,
present moment can be used to change the uncertain future. As mentioned, it fits in
with what we know about the practise of Buddhism as well, perhaps much better than
presentism as the Buddha did mention past and future many times.

Physics and Buddhism Book
Which ones of the assurances can we give up and still have time
travel, which ones we have to keep to make sense of Buddhism?

The first part of this question was answered by the analysis of this applied to the
various possible laws of time travel. The second part will be addressed now.
1. Free will exist. In Buddhism, free will is not really free. Its more of limited
choices, or just will, volition. It is conditioned by the present situation, past
conditioning, education, knowledge, attitude etc. This is how we can tell if a
person is acting in character or out of character. Knowing sociology, we know
that the individuals option of choice is already largely determined by their social,
political, economic position and so on. Knowing psychology, we can see that
psychological life traps can be a good predictor of behaviour, the views that we
have determines what we think and thus what we decide to do and so on and so
forth. In fact, most meditation teachers would claim that if we are mindful of our
day to day actions, speech, thoughts, feelings, we would be able to see that most
of our actions are on auto pilot mode. There are plenty of ifthen in our minds,
encoded in languages like roles, duties, responsibilities, opportunities,
expectations, etc. When the external condition arises, the internal thoughts arises
accompanying it and then action arises to act on these. It is especially automated
if we are not even mindful of what we are doing right now. Thus with what
confidence can we say we have free will then? With mindfulness, there is at
least an opportunity for limited choice, for one to be aware of the trap of
conditioning and choose something else different which is wiser than current
actions and thoughts. Thus Buddhism admits for limited choices, consistent with
possibilitism. If we eliminate this possibility to make a choice, then we have hard
determinism, and that is contradictory to Buddhism. Just the teachings of right
effort itself denotes there is something to strive for, something which can be
changed. Buddhism would emphasise on causes and conditions, including the
ones which leads to ones own volition. Effort of course is also dependent on
many causes and conditions.
2. The past cannot be changed. Buddhism is ok with that. If the past can be
changed, would it be ok with Buddhism? It depends on what does it means to
change the past. Would the effects propagate to the present moment? According
to causality links, it should. Would the present moment shifts so rapidly all the
time? One of the conception difference between the present moment of the block
universe view and the Buddhist view is that in the block universe view, a point in
spacetime is static, frozen, changes happens when time moves along the
worldline of an observer. In the Buddhist view, it is that the observer who is stuck
in the present moment which is itself changing all the time. Just that our minds
roam around all the time, thus the refrain from the Buddha to bring back the
mind to the present moment and see its impermanence, suffering and non-self
nature. Other than the trivial changes to the past I had mentioned in note on the
past can be changed in not meaningful ways, we do not regard the past as
changeable possibly because of there is no way to change it before time machine
is invented. Another problem is the discontinuity of the changes which happens
to the present moment as a result of causality catching up from changing the
past. Most changes we are ok with can be continuously traced. If suddenly we
past. Most changes we are ok with can be continuously traced.Physics and Buddhism
If suddenly we Book
have to content to live with things appearing and not appearing, one person
existing and not existing due to changes to the past happening all the time, we
might not even be aware of it as memories changes as well. This would be very
objectionable as we have no assurances of what would happen the next moment.
Yet, is this not what the Buddha did told us to realise? That the present moment
itself is impermanent, but if we look at the past and future and construct them to
be our permanent haven, we can be attached to them, to time to things in time,
thinking that they are mine, me, myself whereas reality can be scary and changes
all the time! So any objection to the notion that the past be changed may have
more to do with our attachments to wanting a stable past to cling on to rather
than what nature can or cannot do with time travel laws. I would go bold and say
Buddhism has no problem with a past which can be changed as there is no
philosophical objections from Buddhism.
3. Present moment is all we have to change the future. This is pretty much in line
with Buddhism as well, if this is not true, would Buddhism be ok with it? We had
seen a clue on different conception of present moment, whether it is a dot
moving on a worldline of a frozen block picture of time, or we are stuck in the
present moment, even if we travel back to the past in external time. The second
definition of the present moment is our personal time present moment. We are
always stuck in our personal time present moment. Even for mental time travel,
we still think of the time to affect change as our present moment. So if this is all it
takes to enable time travel, Buddhism is definitely ok with this conception.
4. The future is uncertain. Would Buddhism be ok with a totally certain future? No.
Buddhism is ok with certain things being certain like the examples mentioned in
the mixed possibilities in time can be rewritten. However, for the eternalist view
of time, which is the frozen block of four dimensional spacetime picture all the
way into the future, that Buddhism is not compatible with. The eternalist view of
time is a favourite of many who had studied special and general relativity. The
attraction that comes with it is that there is no need to have a special status for
the present moment, which can be very dependent on each observer. All special
and general relativity has to preserve is the spacetime distances between events
as the stuffs that does not change. How this spacetime separates itself into time
and space is dependent on the state of the observer. A frozen block view of four
dimensions maps all events in the past, present and future. As time is merely
another dimension, there is no change for the block universe picture. So it is not
surprising for most scientists to prefer either Chronology protection conjecture
or the strong version of the self consistency principle for no change in all of time.
Why does Buddhism take issue with this picture? Because it reeks of fatalism,
that things are destined to be like this or like that, thus it takes away the incentive
for effort to be made as one might think that the future is fixed, thus effort or no
effort, it cannot be changed. Do note that most people, even those who favour the
block picture of the universe would also think of the future as uncertain as a
practical guide to living an ethical life. Their uncertainty would be one of
knowledge. If they were to know of the future, then there is no uncertainty in the
future as far as they are concerned. What would Buddhism be ok with instead? If
there happens to be another time dimension which allows the frozen block view
of time itself to change, then Buddhism would be ok with that kind of picture.
Physics and Buddhism Book

Is Buddhism compatible with any possibilities of time travel after all?

So from the analysis above, all we have to do is to map out which of the laws of
time travel, see how they fare relative to the four assumptions of possibilitism and how
Buddhism fare to know which laws of time travel Buddhism is compatible with.
Again the four assumptions are
1. Possibility to affect changes, Buddhism is for it, the opposite is not ok with
2. Past is fixed, Buddhism (as I interpret it) allows past to change.
3. Present is all we have to change stuffs, Buddhism is ok with the present moment
being personal time present moment.
4. Future is uncertain, Buddhism insist upon this and do not agree with future
which is absolutely certain in all aspects.

The laws of time travel which fits with the above are:
1. Chronology protection principle.
2. Weak version of self-consistency principle, with the future being uncertain.
3. Timeline branches with multiple universes (Provided Buddhism is ok with that
kind of multiple universe)
4. Time can be rewritten, mixed possibilities version
5. Universe destruction paradox as a means of Chronology protection principle
6. Time is personal (I personally do not like this, but have to be objective about it.)
7. Mental time travel with the possibility to rewrite time or the weak version of self-
consistency principle or the timeline branches.

Basically, only the strong version of self-consistency principle is rejected


Or would it (Buddhism) be one of the reasons for one to think that

time travel will be proven impossible?
If we take the point of view that Buddhisms notion of time is the presentism
notion of time, then it would be a reason to argue for only chronology protection
principle as the one which will ultimately prevail.
Another perhaps more serious reason to consider why Buddhism would abhor
time travel is the possibility of causal loops or the bootstrap paradox enabled by time
travel. Here is an example of a causal loop. I make a strong determination to wish to
devote my life to the discovery and building of a real life time machine and once I did
that, I would write a manual of how it is done, minimise the machine to hand held size
and travel back to the present moment when I first made the determination and give it
to me immediately.
To my surprise, a guy who looks like me 40 years later did appear and gave me a
copy of his time machine and the pdf of the manual of how to create one, then he
disappeared back into the future using his copy of time machine. I accept it and spend
the next 10 years building a new time machine from the information of the pdf, making
sure to prepare another thumb drive, have fun with the machine for 30 years then travel
back 40 years to give the new time machine and thumb drive to my past self.
There is self consistency in the events here, the paradox is not considering
There is self consistency in the events here, the paradox is notPhysics and Buddhism Book
whether there is free will. It is asking, where did the information to create a time
machine came from in the first place? Many other description of the causal loop did not
include the initial determination for me to wish for my future self to give the secret of
time travel to my present self. So the information appeared out of nowhere but can be
copied and gone back in time to become its own cause. From the point of view of
external time, there was no cause for the information to suddenly appear out of
nowhere. This would be objectionable from a Buddhist point of view which rejects that
things happen for no reason. However, if we take into account the determination made,
we may look towards a timeline branch explanations for causal loops. In the first
timeline into its future, I did all the dirty, tiring, troublesome experimental work to
obtain the know how to create a time machine, so it took the me in timeline one 40
years to create a time machine. Remembering the determination, I produce another
copy and wrote down the manual in a pdf in a thumb drive. I go back in time to give me
a copy of the time machine and thumb drive to produce timeline two.
In timeline two, the me used only 10 years to make another copy of the time
machine and have 30 years of fun with it before going back in time to create timeline
three and so on. So there is an overall cause and effect link for all events. Causal loops
can be consistent with Buddhism in that sense then.
Many other versions of the causal loops forgot to duplicate the items which are
passed to the past, causing the superficial objection from physics that any same object
passed to the past, like a time machine would have its personal time being looped
around the causal loop infinite number of times in the finite time the causal loop
existed, thus its entropy would immediately max out and the time machine becomes
rust and dust as soon as it enters a causal loop. Thus nothing can be in a causal loop.
The obvious solution to that is to create new items of everything one receives from the
future in a causal loop so that the items do not experience infinite personal time for
being trapped in a causal loop. It has no objections from physics either.
Thus as of now, it is possible to fit in a possibilities view of time into Buddhism,
thus the laws of time travel as listed above.
Perhaps the main interesting takeaway question from all these is how can
Buddhism and General and Special relativity reconcile their view of time? One can take
the boring way out and say that only quantum gravitys view of time is valid to be
compared to Buddhism, the view of time in general relativity being somewhat an
emergent property.
According to these papers11, possibilitism and presentism respectively are
compatible with general relativity. However, the philosophical subtlety is beyond the
scope of this book, do refer to them for more details.

In conclusion, Buddhism is compatible with time travel provided it is the

possibilitism version.

1 Experimental Realization of Wheelers Delayed-Choice Gedaken Experiment, Vincent

Jacques, et al., Science 315, 966 (2007)
2 Multiparticle Interferometry and the superposition principle, Daniel M. Greenberger, Michael
A. Horne, and Anton Zeilinger, Physics Today, pg 23-29 (August 1993)
Physics and Buddhism Book
3 Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser, Yoon-Ho Kim, Rong Yu, Sergei P. Kulik and Yanhua Shih,
Marlan O. Scully, Physical Review Letters, Volume 84, Number 1 (3rd January 2000)
4 Motion Mountain, The Adventure of Physics, Christoph Schiller, 1997-2006
5 Exotic Matter: A New Perpective, Patrick Marquet, Progress in Physics, Volume 13 (2017)
6 Do not mess with time: Probing faster than light travel and chronology protection with
superluminal warp drives, Stefano Liberati, arXiv:1601.00785v1 [gr-qc] 5 Jan 2016
7 Traversable Achronal Retrograde Domains In Spacetime, Benjamin K. Tippett, David Tsang,
arXiv: 1310.7985v2 [gr-qc] 4 Nov 2013
8 A Class of Time-Machine Solutions with a Compact Vacuum Core, Amos Ori, PHYSICAL
REVIEW LETTERS, PRL 95, 021101 (2005)
9 The quantum physics of chronology protection, Matt Visser, arXiv: gr-qc/0204022v2 17 Apr
10 MN 131
11 Time of Philosophers, Time of Physicists, Time of Mathematicians, Fabien Besnard, arXiv:
1104.4551v2 [physics.hist-ph] 15 May 2011,

Is there a philosophy of time compatible with relativity and quantum mechanics? Fabien
Besnard, AIP Conference Proceedings 1446, 437 (2012); https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4728010