What day is it anyway?


My name is Viridomarus.  The last bluestone from the Preseli Hills quarry was finally laid into its place a few months ago.  Although weighing more than four tons, the engineers on my team and high priests had no trouble placing the monolith into the Vernal Equinox sighting position.  This was the last of the double set Sarsen stones, comprising the five Trilothons. 

The astronomers reviewed their calculations and were content that the markers were correctly set.  

We have been building on this site for many generations.  We constructed sacred burial mounds and astronomical pointers to keep track of the first day for spring planting, the first day of summer, the first day for fall harvest, and the first day of winter.   We used the stones to mark the dates of our holy festivals which were also centered on the major/minor moon rise and setting times, as well as other auspicious movements of the stars and planets.

A geometric circle consisting of 36 small stone demarcations surrounded the entire site.  We choose to represent a circle as 36 segments because the Sun travels once around on its path in about 360 days.  And 360 is a great number easily divisible by multitudes of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.  But the Aubrey holes which we planned to use for predicting eclipses were only partially finished.   

I watched as the sun was rising in the south east and the rays illuminated the central avenue.  I could see the sun over the Heel Stone and between the vertical inner walls of the middle Trilothon.  The Summer Solstice was here, and it was time to celebrate.  My Celtic kin were already preparing for the feast.   My wife and children stood by my side in fascination of the event.  The clear sighting meant that it would be a good year for all of us.  We were hopeful for humanity.

Stonehenge bluestones

Keeping track of the day of the year has been very important to civilizations from time immemorial.  As we now embark onto the new year of 2011 it’s important to understand what factors calendars play in our lives, and how we can best use the passing hours to further our development of cosmic consciousness.

How did you celebrate New Year?    

Our practice of meditation aims to place us beyond the influence of time, but let’s review the different systems currently used in the world.

Western Civilization Timekeeping

Julian calendar:
The Julian calendar was adopted in 45 BC by a proclamation from Julius Caesar, to replace the existing Roman system.   The calendar has 365 days, divided into12 months, and adds an extra “leap day” to February once every four years.  So each year is 365.25 days long.

But since the Solar year is about 11 minutes shorter than 365.25 days, it was noticed 400 years later that the Roman calendar was then three days ahead of the actual seasons.  So in the 16th century our current Gregorian calendar was adopted, which drops three leap year days across every four centuries to correct this discrepancy.

Gregorian calendar:
But even though we follow the Gregorian calendar, Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon, on or after the March equinox.  The Easter date determines the date of Ash Wednesday, Ascension, and Pentecost.

The 24 hour day comes from ancient Egypt.  That’s because they counted in base 12, rather than in base 10 as we commonly do today.  We have ten fingers, so we count in base 10.  But we also have 12 finger joints, which the Egyptians decided to base their mathematics on.  12 also has a larger number of integer factors than 10 (i.e., 12/6=2, 12/4=3, 12/3=4, 12/2=6, while 10/5=2 and 10/2=5 are the only ones for the number 10).   

Prime Meridian:
The Prime Meridian (0º longitude) passes through the Old Royal Observatory at Greenwich, London.  It was established in 1884 to serve as a global reference for sailors, so that oceanic vessels referencing the current time and an Ephemeris (a book containing the calculated positions of stars and planets in the sky), could be used to determine where in the world they were.  Precision mechanical clocks were developed and carried aboard ships for this very purpose.

International Dateline:
Opposite the Prime Meridian, at about 180 º longitude is the International Dateline.  Traveling over the line heading westward adds an additional day.   Traveling the other way, from West to East subtracts time and gives you the opportunity to enjoy a day longer than 24 hours.  Although never officially recognized as a demarcation zone, most nations in the world currently subscribe to using it. 

Middle Eastern Civilization Timekeeping

Mecca Time:
Mecca Time is based on longitude 39°49’34″E, which traverses through Mecca, the holiest city of Islam in Saudi Arabia.  A clock based on this meridian would differ from that in Greenwich, England, by approximately 2 hours and 39 minutes.

Islamic calendar:
The Islamic calendar, or the Muslim/Hijr calendar is lunar based, and consists of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days.  A lunar calendar is synchronized to the motion of the Moon (lunar phases).

According to that calendar the twelve months of the year are – Muharram, Safar, Rabi al-Awwal, Rabi al-Thani, Jumada al-Ula, Jumada al-Thana, Rajab, Sha’ban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhu al-Qa’da, Dhu al-Hijja.

Persian calendar:
The Persian calendar (Solar Hejri) is Solar and begins on the Vernal Equinox as observed in Iran.  This 360 day calendar is based on the Babylonian model (the Babylonian Calendar was lunar) but modified to fit their beliefs.  The days of the week were not named.   The months had two or three divisions depending on the phase of the moon. Twelve months of 30 days were named for festivals and activities. A 13th month was added every six years to keep the calendar synchronized with the seasons.

Zoroastrian calendar:
The first calendars based on Zoroastrian cosmology appeared around 500 BCE.   They were modeled after the Egyptian calendar, with 12 months of 30 days each.  

» 4 days per month are dedicated to Ahura Mazda
» 7 days are named after the six Amesha Spentas
» 13 days are named after Fire, Water, Sun, Moon, Tiri and Geush Urvan (the soul of all animals), Mithra, Sraosha (Soroush, yazata of prayer), Rashnu (the Judge), Fravashi, Bahram (yazata of victory), Raman (Ramesh meaning peace), and Vata, the divinity of the wind.
» 3 days are dedicated to the female divinities, Daena (yazata of religion and personified conscious), Ashi (yazata of fortune) and Arshtat (justice).
» 4 days are dedicated to Asman (lord of sky or Heaven), Zam (earth), Manthra Spenta (the Bounteous Sacred Word) and Anaghra Raocha (the ‘Endless Light’ of paradise).

Jewish calendar:
The Hebrew or Jewish calendar is luni-solar in nature.  It’s used to determine Holidays, when portions of the Torah should be recited, and when to commemorate a death.   Since there is an 11 day differential between 12 lunar months and 1 solar year, the calendar varies by repeating a 19 year cycle of 235 lunar months, with an additional lunar month added according to defined rules every two or three years, for a total of 7 times per 19 years.  Because the Hebrew year is longer than the solar year by about 6 ½ minutes, every 231 years it will fall 1 day behind the Gregorian calendar. 

The Jewish Passover usually falls on the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox, although occasionally (7 times every 19 years) it will occur on the second full moon.

We are currently in the Hebrew year of 5771 (9 September 2010 and ends on 28 September 2011)

Eastern Civilization Timekeeping

Buddhist calendar:
Based on the original Surya Siddhanta (a dissertation on Indian astronomy, 3rd century CE), the Buddhist calendar is lunisolar in nature, which in an average year is 365.25875 days long.  The year is a bit longer than the sidereal year and substantially longer than the tropical year.  There are four types of lunisolar years; of 354, 355, 384, or 385 days.  The Hindu version adds extra months and days (or removes months and days) as soon as the astronomical formulae require, whereas the southeast Asian versions delay their addition.  

Some Buddhist holidays correlate with lunar phases:

The last full moon day of Visakha highlights a three day celebration of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.  This usually falls in April or May.

This holiday is the Buddhist equivalent of Lent.  It generally occurs between July and October.   It starts with the full moon in the month of Asalha, and ends with a festival during the full moon of the month of Thadingyut.

The Baha’i calendar:
The Baha’i year consists of 19 months of 19 days each (361 days), with the addition of “Intercalary Days” (four in ordinary and five in leap years) between the eighteenth and nineteenth months to adjust the calendar to the solar year.

Thai calendar:
The solar calendar was adopted by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1888 as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar.

In  the Rattanakosin Era version, year 1 began 6 April 1782, with the accession of Rama I, the foundation of the Chakri Dynasty and the founding of Bangkok as capital (Rattanakosin). King Chulalongkorn decreed this as the epoch (reference date) for the counting of years in 106 RE, AD 1888.

In the Buddhist Era version, year 0 from 11 March 545 BC, believed to be the date of the death of Gautama Buddha. King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) changed year counting to this Buddhist Era (BE) and moved the start of the year back to 1 April in 2455 BE, AD 1912.

The Hindu calendar:
A “luni-solar calendar” is based on a combination of both solar and lunar reckonings.  The months have 29 or 30 days, depending upon the movement of the moon.  There are 12 lunar months.  An extra month needs to be added every 32.5 months because the year length is approximate 356 days, while solar year has 365 or 366 (in leap year) which creates a difference of 9 to 10 days – which needs to be offset every 3rd year.

Each New Year starts on April 14/15.   

The days of the week are similar to what is currently used in the West:

» Ravi (Sun) – Sunday
» Soma (Moon) – Monday
» Mangala (Mars) – Tuesday
» Budha (Mercury) – Wednesday
» Guru (Jupiter) – Thursday
» Shukra (Venus) – Friday
» Shani (Saturn) – Saturday

There are regional variations of this calendar; Vikrama and Shalivahana. 

According to the Eastern view of time, the age of the Universe is measured in terms of the countless lives of Mother Divine: 

1 life of Mother Divine = 1,000 lifetimes of Lord Shiva
1 life of Lord Shiva = 1,000 lifetimes of Lord Vishnu
1 life of Lord Vishnu = 1,000 lifetimes of Lord Brahma the Creator
1 lifetime of Brahma is conceived in terms of 100 years of Brahma
1 year of Brahma = 12 months of Brahma
1 month of Brahma = 30 days of Brahma
1 day of Brahma = 1 Kalpa
1 Kalpa = 14 Manus, and 1 Manu is called a Manvantara
1 Manvantara = 71 Chaturyugis
1 Chaturyugis = the total span of the 4 Yugas (Satya + Treta + Dvapara + Kali)

1 day and night of Brahma calculates out to 8.64 billion years.

There are 4 eras, or Ages in Hinduism.  They are:

Age Description Length in years Ratio Average Human lifespan
Satya Yuga The Golden Age:
The veil between the material and the transcendent realms becomes almost see-through, as the illusion of different densities of vibration is dissolved.
1,728,000 years 4 400 years
Treta Yuga This is the mental age, magnetism is harnessed, men are in power, and inventions dissolve the illusion of time. 1,296,000 years 3 300 years
Dvapara Yuga Science flourishes, people experience the spiritual in terms of subtle energies and rational choices, and inventions are abundant. 864,000 years 2 200 years
Kali Yuga The Dark Age:
Most people are aware only of the physical aspect of existence, the predominant emphasis of living is material survival.
432,000 years 1 100 years


Astronomical Timekeeping

The Tropical or Solar Year:
This year is based on the apparent movement of the sun along the ecliptic, from vernal equinox to vernal equinox, or from summer solstice to summer solstice. 

The mean tropical year as of January 1, 2000 was 365.2421897 or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.19 seconds.

The Sidereal Year:
A sidereal year is the amount of time taken by the Earth to orbit the Sun once, with respect to the fixed background of stars. It is also the time taken for the Sun to return to the same position with respect to the fixed stars after apparently traveling once around the ecliptic.

It was equal to 365.256363004 days, as of noon 1 January 2000 (J2000.0).  This is 20 minutes, 24.5128 seconds longer than the mean tropical year.

Universal Time (UT):
Is a timescale based on the rotation of the Earth. It is a modern continuation of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), i.e., the mean solar time on the Prime Meridian at Greenwich

Relativistic Timekeeping

Albert Einstein published his theory of Special Relativity in 1905.  Since then it has reshaped the foundation of how we perceive our world of space and time. 

He stated that the laws of physics are the same for all observers in uniform motion relative to one another, and that the speed of light (in a vacuum) is the same for all observers, regardless of their relative motion, or the motion of the light source itself.

That implies:

» Two events, simultaneous for one observer, may not be simultaneous for another observer if the observers are in relative motion to one another (simultaneity).
» Compared to a stationary observer, the traveler’s clock runs slower (time dilation).
» Compared to a stationary observer, objects become shorter in the direction of motion for the traveler (length contraction).
» Energy and mass are the same (E = MC squared).
» No physical object can travel faster than the speed of light (maximum speed is finite).

Our current universe is thought to be 13.7 billion years old.   Theory states that it started with the “big bang.”  At the onset it occupied a very small space, and the material was immensely dense, under very high pressure and extremely hot.  It has since expanded at an astounding pace. 

Today there are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

It is said that our Universe is the dream of the God, whom after 100 Brahma years dissolves himself into dreamless sleep, and the universe dissolves with him.  After another Brahma century he stirs, recomposes himself and begins again to dream the great cosmic dance.

The Cosmic Dance of Shiva

This is often depicted as the cosmic dance of Shiva.  Shiva has four hands; the upper right hand is a drum whose sound is the sound of creation, and the left hand is a tongue of flame, a reminder that the new universe will eventually be destroyed.

Universe after universe, there are also an infinite number of universes.

A recent scientific discovery by astronomers suggests that the “big bang” still represents the beginning and birth of our universe, but the “big bang” may actually be a result of the dissolution of the prior universe – caused by the gravitation collapse of all matter into a single point.

Absolute Timekeeping/non-timekeeping

Our experience in meditation teaches us that there is only the eternal present.  From the standpoint of the absolute, the passage of time is fictional and is the play and display of creative intelligence.  The One becomes the Many to revel in bliss and happiness.

You have a precious opportunity to change the current trend (Kali Yuga) of time.   Meditate every day to usher in a better life for the entire human race.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 6th, 2011 at 12:21 pm and is filed under Knowledge. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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