The Biocentric Universe Theory: Life Creates Time, Space, and the Cosmos Itself

Adapted from Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, by Robert Lanza with Bob Berman, published by BenBella Books in May 2009.

The farther we peer into space, the more we realize that the nature of the universe cannot be understood fully by inspecting spiral galaxies or watching distant supernovas. It lies deeper. It involves our very selves.

This insight snapped into focus one day while one of us (Lanza) was walking through the woods. Looking up, he saw a huge golden orb web spider tethered to the overhead boughs. There the creature sat on a single thread, reaching out across its web to detect the vibrations of a trapped insect struggling to escape. The spider surveyed its universe, but everything beyond that gossamer pinwheel was incomprehensible. The human observer seemed as far-off to the spider as telescopic objects seem to us. Yet there was something kindred: We humans, too, lie at the heart of a great web of space and time whose threads are connected according to laws that dwell in our minds.

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‘Time is elastic’: Why time passes faster atop a mountain than at sea level

The idea of ‘absolute time’ is an illusion. Physics and subjective experience reveal why.

  • Since Einstein posited his theory of general relativity, we’ve understood that gravity has the power to warp space and time.
  • This “time dilation” effect occurs even at small levels.
  • Outside of physics, we experience distortions in how we perceive time — sometimes to a startling extent.

Place one clock at the top of a mountain. Place another on the beach. Eventually, you’ll see that each clock tells a different time. Why? Time moves slower as you get closer to Earth, because, as Einstein posited in his theory of general relativity, the gravity of a large mass, like Earth, warps the space and time around it.

Scientists first observed this “time dilation” effect on the cosmic scale, such as when a star passes near a black hole. Then, in 2010, researchers observed the same effect on a much smaller scale, using two extremely precise atomic clocks, one placed 33 centimeters higher than the other. Again, time moved slower for the clock closer to Earth.

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Astrophysicist Says He Knows How to Build a Time Machine

Astrophysicist Ron Mallett believes he’s found a way to travel back in time — theoretically.

The tenured University of Connecticut physics professor recently told CNN that he’s written a scientific equation that could serve as the foundation for an actual time machine. He’s even built a prototype device to illustrate a key component of his theory — though Mallett’s peers remain unconvinced that his time machine will ever come to fruition.

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Why It’s Important to Lose Your Mind (at least twice a year)

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I just got back from leading a 9-day meditation retreat in the wild and cactus-filled desert of Arizona. And I feel exuberant, inspired, and powerfully awake to the presence of immanent and seemingly infinite potential–simply because I took a sustained break from our modern world and its unspoken cultural agreements and assumptions about what’s real and important.

“How many of us think it’s important to regularly create the space in our lives to temporarily let go of everything we are usually consumed by? And I do mean everything.”

On the first day, as I gathered with the couple hundred participants for a Q&A session, one man told me that he was overwhelmingly busy at work and that his wife had recently complained that he wasn’t giving enough attention to his family. My response was, “Have you considered that in this day and age there could be something even more important than work and family?”

That’s a question that goes against the grain of our culture. How many of us think it’s important to regularly create the space in our lives to temporarily let go of everything we are usually consumed by? And I do mean everything.

At the beginning of the retreat, I asked everyone to take the risk of dropping their relationship to anything and everything except life’s most profound spiritual truths and biggest philosophical questions—questions like:

“Who am I? . . . Who am I REALLY?”

“Why am I here in this world?”

“Why does the universe exist?”

“Why did something come from nothing?”

“Does the life I live mean anything?”

“Is there an ultimate purpose to existence?”

I also taught them how to meditate.

Together, deep meditation and profound contemplation make up the tried and true path to enlightened awareness. Aspiring for enlightenment requires you to do both these things:

  1. Sit still like a beautiful stone statue of the Buddha and continuously let go of your mind and your thoughts until you glimpse—even if only for an instant—the same awe-inspiring mystery of the empty void that he did.
  2. Then, when you are relatively free from the endless onslaught of conditioned thinking, become a philosopher. Like Socrates, Descartes, or Heidegger, dare to question everything you already think and already believe.

Engage in this same process day after day: spend long periods of time in deep and sustained meditative silence followed by intense sessions of heroic inquiry in which you use your mind to transcend your mind. You’ll know you’re making progress when you experience powerful and liberating breakthroughs.

“Achieving these kinds of breakthroughs on a regular basis—meaning at least twice a year—is, I believe, a prerequisite to living a sane, meaningful, and directed life…”

The first kind of breakthrough occurs in the meditative process. It is the exhilarating experience of freedom from time, history, and personality. This feels like peace—but not an ordinary kind of peace. It is a peace in which you are simultaneously awake to the mysterious presence of a depth without end and mesmerized by an overwhelming sense of awe.

The second kind of breakthrough is the result of focused and intense philosophical inquiry. It is the emergence of a profound and shocking clarity of mind and thought. Suddenly, you are able to see more clearly than ever before, and with more depth and perspective than you have ever known. Your mind becomes vast like the sky and crystal clear like a highly polished diamond.

Achieving these kinds of breakthroughs on a regular basis—meaning at least twice a year—is, I believe, a prerequisite to living a sane, meaningful, and directed life in this often-confusing, increasingly chaotic, and sometimes-frightening world we share.

Once we wake up to this perennial truth, in order to stay awake, we only need to be willing to continue to pay the price to be enlightened beings. And if that only means taking out a weekend or a week (or more) twice a year, it’s a price most of us can surely afford.