Time is breath

    In the book “In Search of the Miraculous”, an account of Gurdjieff’s teaching by his student P.D.Ouspensky, there is a section relating how Gurdjieff stated that “time is breath”.
Ouspensky began to elaborate on that hint by starting with the human breath. An inhalation and expiration elapse in 3 seconds. In a day and night, this amounts to 28,800 breaths. Dividing 28,800 days and nights by 365 (a year) gives about 79 years, which could be the sleeping and waking time – the lifetime – of a human.
Here is his whole chart from ”In Search of the Miraculous”, published in 1949 by students after his dead in 1947.

The factor 28,800 is in the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky tradition is an important constant between the chain of cosmos'.

Gurdjieff's diagram of all living; "Each square denotes a level of being" he said. "The 'Hydrogen' in the lower circle shows what the given class of creatures feeds on. The 'hydrogen' in the upper circle shows the class which feeds on these features. The 'hydrogen' in the middle circle is the average 'hydrogen' of this class showing what these creatures are."

In the next kingdom below the animals, that of plant life, the duration of one breath is a day and night. Plants  inhale in the day and exhale in the night. For the Plant Kingdom, therefore, a day and a night by similar division would be 79 years.
Extending into other kingdoms, from the atom to the galaxy, he found the number 28,800 to be a constant factor between living worlds in the three categories - breath, day and night, and life.

A fourth category can be made by dividing a breath (3 sec.) by 28,800, which gives 0.00010... of a second. This period of time could be considered as the shortest period of impression for a human, just an electric spark or a flash of light. For the cellular world, 1/10,000 second could represent a breath, or a lifetime for a molecule.

Just to make the concept of time more graphic: for the sun a human lifetime might be perceived as a spark, just long enough to receive an impression.
Ouspensky made these calculation during World War I, which were meant as an outline for a “time is breath” statement. In the early spring of 1947 he took his last breath.

Rodney Collin began to reconstruct Ouspensky's teaching for himself in “The Theory of Celestial Influence". In the chapter “The Times of the Universe”, Collin describes his version of “time is breath” by a proposal:
“Time is created by rotation about the vital center of a higher world”.

An example is Johannes Kepler's third law, in which he shows that the relation between distances from the sun (line) and the periods of rotation about the sun (time) is the relation between square roots and cube roots.
Collin extended this law to other cosmoses, using the method of deduction.
A general principle is deduced by applying these laws in various specialized cases to see if it works. We will try to implement the above general law on lower worlds such as Earth and Nature.

We have a general relation between line (linear space, radii) and time (duration, life span). Kepler's third law states that linear space develops by cubes, duration develops by squares.
Kepler's method is by induction. He examines phenomena by gathering multiple facts, classifying them, and attempting to infer laws and principles from them by means of mathematic. This is the method generally used by science and Kepler was one of the first since Pythagoras to demonstrate its effectiveness.

To make the calculation simple, Collin applied the Pi factor, since this mathematical constant, together with the radius, is implicit in describing[u2]  circles.
The base will be a human, which linear space can be set to 1 meter - the radius from the heart to the fingertip. The duration, life span, is set to be 80 years.

Linear space - radii - Pi 3 = 31.8

Classes of beings

  Duration – life span -   Pi2factor 10

1 meter


80 years

3.18 centimetes

Small animal

8 years

1 millimeter

Insects & plants

10 months

0.03 millimeter

Larges cells

1 month

0.001 millimeter

Small cells

3 days

A similar chart for organisms bigger than man can be made, e.g. large trees, whose linear space should be 31.8 meter with a life span of 800 years. The progression up to celestial beings does not show an exact fit. Other laws are involved, but it shows that linear space has significance for life span.

The point is, however, that the number of breaths is about the same, though the rate of breathing is different.
A helpful reader, Julian Robbins, has mailed this comments:" I’ve heard of life spans as being related to number of heartbeats rather than breaths. A parrot, a tortoise and an elephant may all have a life span of around 100 years, but they are very different in size."

Man is literally revolving about the center of Earth, which is a vital center of a higher world, and this revolution takes a day and night - a period of waking and rest. The next smaller cosmos is a cell, for instance, a blood cell. The vital center it revolves about is the heart.

Another method to estimate the relation between time and life span can be made by looking at the time a blood cell travels from the heart to a distant part of the body. It takes between 8 to 18 seconds to make the circulation, leaving its load of oxygen before returning with carbon dioxide. It takes about 6 seconds to return by traveling the little circuit from the heart through the lungs and back to the big heart chamber for the new cycle in the body.

An analogy to man's period of waking and rest can be made by considering a "workday" for the blood cell to be 18 seconds and the rest period 6 seconds.
A proportion in seconds between blood cell and man is: 24 / life of a blood cell = 86400 / 25228800000, which equals 700,800 seconds = 8.1 days, the lifetime of a blood cell.

If we use the previously mentioned cube-square formula and we estimate the radius for the red blood cell at 1/2500 centimeters, with a more exact 130 centimeters radius for a man, we have a size factor of 325,000 times, which relates to time as cube to square.
The time factor will be about 4727. The human life span is estimated at 80 years. The lifetime of the blood cell is 1/4727 of the human's, which equals 6.2 days.

The different methods give 8.1 days and 6.2 days for the life of a blood cell. These disparities are small considering the recent knowledge's about blood cells, whose average lifetime is 120 days from the time they are produced in the bone marrow to their decay in the spleen.

Although these linear-space calculations do not show an exact correspondence with life span, I find the theory interesting; it gives another perspective over the perception of time.

Thomas Hightower, September 2003-9.

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