Through the centuries, mankind has often speculated on what is the true nature of time and how it works and we currently have a scientific understanding of time, that is sometimes referred to as space-time. We also have a cultural idea of time that allows for all kinds of things such as time travel and so on. Of course, all theories and opinions are strivings to understand the true nature of the cosmos, and since the time of Einstein we have understood that the speed of light is in essence the ultimate speed of reality and that the speed of light is not relative to the observer with all the oddities that idea entails. This still leaves us with time going in one direction - the so called arrow of time which is without a doubt a clue to the true nature time.
Having said all this about science and culture, I would like to enter into a conversation far more speculative about the nature of time. To start with, we could think of time as a wave moving across a pond or perhaps even an ocean. In a universe like this the pond would represent reality without the energy that you find in the wave. Thus, this wave of time would be a disturbance moving across the pond and all of our reality exists only in this wave. One of the attributes of this model would be that the past does not exist and the future does not yet exist. Only the here and now, the moment, really exists.
And one could ponder all kinds of things about this wave of time and it’s worthwhile to look at a few of them. One could speculate on the speed of this wave; that is to say, the speed of time and what its relationship to the speed of light (if any). Another thing that one would want to ask is: where did this energy, this force come from and what exactly is the substance it went into - or another way of saying this is: what did reality look like without this wave energy? Using this model of a wave moving across a pond, we can envision two possible mechanisms for the origin of this wave. The first would be a centralized disturbance; that is to say, something along the lines of a rock being thrown into the pond causing a wave to move out in all directions.
Of course, one of the attributes of this type of wave is that it starts out very high and energetic and slowly coasts into non-existence. And, of course, if this is the type of reality in which we exist, perhaps there would be some way of measuring the rate of change in this time wave. Of course there is another type of wave that we can consider: a wave that starts and moves along by the force of the wind. Of course, one of the differences of a wave like this is that it can move for a long time at a steady pace. If we use this wind driven model, one could ponder: what are these elements; that is to say, what is this water in this metaphoric pond when it is at rest? What is the nature of this wind; that is to say, what is its substance and the nature of the energy it carries?
Then we can speculate on the origin of time itself and, of course, this question has been speculated on by philosophers and theologians down through the ages. And perhaps asking this question defines us as humans and perhaps spiritual beings. However, asking this question has always led us to a philosophical quandary - and that is, if there was ever a time when there was absolutely nothing, (that is, no energy or matter) then there would always be nothing - existence would be impossible. So then the other possible answer becomes: what was the first cause (or sometimes referred to as the uncaused cause)?
Of course we can see that this uncaused cause is often referred to as God, yet in all this we don't find an answer that is logical as we can still ask, what existed before God (or the uncaused cause)?
But I think that we should look not at the answer but rather the question. Questioning the question, if we asked an illogical question there can be no logical answer to it and if we come up with an illogical answer then we have the wrong answer or an illogical question. To pursue this further, we do not need this question or it answers but rather a new starting point: A statement or an understanding that we exist in the moment that is infinitely small or perhaps being infinitely small it could be considered non-existent, yet the entire mass of the universe exists within this moment.
And so we have the infinitely small and the infinitely large, and perhaps the non-existent as the container of all existence. Or perhaps another way to express this is that the moment has no physical attribute - or at least none that are measurable and yet within it. All that is measurable exists. And so this void, this nothingness that contains all mass/energy can be visualized as a sphere within a sphere and so we can visualize it as a duality and this duality can only exist between the past and the future - a Trinity of sorts. Of course, past, present, and future depend on one another for their existence. That is to say, one could not have a past if it was not once in the moment, which means it was once in the future as well, and we could run this line of thinking either way.
So we look at all this and find that we can visualize reality as having three main parts: past, present, and future, and at its center the moment - the core of reality which is a duality, nothing and everything. And of course no discussion on time would be complete without a discussion about free-will and determinism. As we'll see, they are not only related to time but an integral part of the whole structure of time. Of course, this is been argued over the ages with some coming down on the side of free-will and others on side of determinism.
However, I would state that you can find the origins of free-will are in the void (the nothingness) and likewise the origin of determinism in mass and energy. So we'll start with trying to understand free-will and to do this we have to understand the very idea of the freedom. Immediately we’ll find that the word “free” is really a difficult word to define and to understand but basically it means to be uninhibited and not bound or controlled by something else which is a usable definition for this discussion. And so we could look at the moment and find the void, the nothingness. It holds all things and therefore all possibilities without being bound or inhibited by the past or the future because it is separate from them and thus we have free will. Now we can move on to determinism (or predestination). I think you'll find that determinism is rooted in mass/energy while mass and energy are interchangeable they always carry one characteristic: they are always both cause and effect. That is to say, they are always caused by something and always affecting something and so in this way they are definitely part of what we would call predestined and here we can take on a more poetic way understanding this phenomena. The void and free-will are mysterious and difficult to comprehend while mass/energy cause-and-effect can be understood in a straightforward, logical way. Here we find that the mystical and the logical oppose each other but in a way that makes structural sense that we can visualize as an arch with each side in opposition to the other thereby holding each other up, for what would free-will be without the ability to have cause-and-effect or all the mass and energy in a universe without the unfathomable properties of the moment?