Atomistic TIme

I understand that the Sarvastivadins had an atomistic view of time and that matter moments and mind moments were held to be equivalent.

My question is whether all dharmas are coming in and out of existence simulataneously and in sync with one another.

If between the momentary existences of some dharamas others are existing and then when those are momentarily not existing the others exist would present a very disjointed view of reality.

If they are all coming into existence together and ceasing together, this would present a most ordered view of phenomenal reality, but leads me to other questions.

If momentary dharmas exist together and perish together in time and time is defined as these moments of the synchronous existence of dharmas, then what time is there when there are no dharmas?

If time is not a dharma and is not a mahabhuta, how could there be time when there are no dharmas?

If there is no time between dharmas - than are they really momentary?
Would this imply continuity? Statis?

Trying to bring this concept to its logical conclusion and appreciate any other thoughts or guidance to materials that might touch on this subject.

I believe my line of questioning may be influenced by recent readings in Huayen, which I believe accounts for this within the concept mutuality, simultaneous arising, non-obstruction and interpenetration.
I also believe that the paradox is resolved in the image of all dharmas as Buddha dharmas and identical with the body of Buddha Vairocana.


Justin Williams's picture

Isn't this all quite

Isn't this all quite testable? The size of the smallest particles proposed, and the duration. We have very high resolution instruments these days for both time and space.

Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture

Kusha School

Saunders offers the following insight in describing the "realistic" Kusha (Kosa) School in his Buddhism in Japan:

"These notions of past, present, and future actually exist separately and are limited in time. Elements thus can be real in each period, and yet these periods to not extend necessarily into each other."

(ref. pp 108-109)

This sounds like what I've heard referred to as the "Chinese motion picture theory" of time.
If this means, as I intended to suggest above, an array of separate instantations of dharmas existing together in isolated moments, it would seem that dharma theory has painted itself into a bit of an ontological corner.

It's evident to me how idealism would be the necessary alternative to this radical view of reality.
But perhaps it's no less radical to assert "Consciousness Only".

Interested in other perspectives on this one....