Special Section: Vast Time

Between the Buddhist Calendar, which dates the coming year at approximately 2543, and Buddhist teachings that speak of “beginningless time” in which the whole of the past and future exist only in the present moment, the millennium blitz seems to have drawn us into its illusory phenomenon of a linear, short-term sense of time, as encapsulated as a cuckoo clock. Yet we in the West are not without our own sense of infinite time, and we look to science, art, and poetry to articulate it. To reflect on where the millennium falls within vast time, Tricycle invited scientists, whose work ranges from mitochondria slime molds to astrophysics, to contribute short essays on where the year 2000 registers, if at all, in terms of their own work. Among them, only environmental activist Joanna Macy and physicist Fred Cooper are practicing Buddhists, and yet what they share with Princeton microbiologist John Bonner, Nobel laureate Amo Penzias, and science writers Dorion Sagan and Richard Panek is a view of time that is beyond—far beyond—any conventional notion of time, or any of the reductive measurements that trick us into thinking that we have a handle on it.

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