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Centuries ago, man learnt that it took the earth 24 hours to turn around once on its axis and 365 days to travel once around the sun. The first he called a day and the second a year. Other divisions came to be called a month and a week. Then for some reason he began to count the number of years he spent on earth. He called it aging. So came birthday to celebrate that he had been alive for so many years. Does measurement of time exist in every society?

As far as can be seen, time is measured by every "civilized' society. From western to eastern civilization to civilizations that are no more, like the Mayan and the Aztec civilizations, time measurement has been a dominating influence all their lives. Man came to measure his own age by the passing of the seasons. By observation, he realized that as the season's changed, he aged until he grew feeble and then died. His body seemed to get weaker with time and so did his faculties and senses.

But in so called 'uncivilized' societies, there does not seem to be any time measurement. Ask any aborigine about how old he is and he will be puzzled. He does not know and probably does not care either. There is respect for elders and so on, but they do not sit around and celebrate birthdays or worry about the passing years, They just are. They carry on living until it is time to go and then go. They have no days of week, months or years. They just live with nature as part of the whole.

Scientists have always suspected that time is an illusion. Many theories have been propounded for arguments sake but none can tell us exactly what is meant by time. Einstein's theory of relativity gives us some way of understanding that time is entirely a creation of the human mind, unlike the law of gravity. In fact, time does not exist. It is just like any unit of measure, like celebrating that you have walked a certain distance - nothing really to be excited about.

The question now arises about the breaking down of the body with age. Here is another mystery. It is commonly known that not all humans age at the same rate. It is usual to see people younger than they really are and older than they really are. A fit 50 year old person may actually be younger than an unfit 45 year old. In other words, age cannot be controlled if you measure it by the years you exist in the world, but aging can be controlled. Now if ever there is a contradiction here is one. In fact it is clear that what we call aging is the rate of replacement of the cells in the body. If the cells are replaced fast, a person remains young. If the replacement rate slows down, the person ages fast. Again, we confirm that aging has nothing to do with the passing of the years.

Another measurement of aging is when mental age is considered. It is believed that some of us mature faster than others. Using this argument it is possible that a person who is 10 years old when considering the years but having a mental age of 12. Now clearly, he is older than a 12 year old whose mental age may be only 11. If we go into the region of religion, another measurement of age comes in. Some religions believe in reincarnation. If this is to be considered then there are older souls and younger souls. In that sense, a son can be older than his father or even his grandfather.

Before you scoff at it, please realize that reincarnation is a serious belief among some of the world's top intellectuals.

So coming back to the original argument, does time exist ? If we accept the argument that it is an illusion, does it make sense to let it dominate our lives so tyrannically ?

   
  Questions
   
  1. (a) How did the time measurement originate ?
    (b) Does time measurement exist in every society ?
       
  2. (a) What do scientists suspect about time ?
    (b) What was Einstein's theory about time ?
       
  3. (a) What does the writer compare time with ?
    (b) Can aging be faster for some than for others ?
    (c) What is the contradiction mentioned in paragraph 5 ?
    (d) What 3 way of measuring age, other than by birthdays, does the writer suggest ?
       
  4.   For each of the following words give one word or short phrase ( not more than seven words ) which has the same meaning as it has in the passage.
      i.   dominating   v.   contradiction
      ii.   feeble   vi.   reincarnation
      iii.   faculties   vii.   scoff
      iv.   propounded   viii.   tyrannically
       
  5. Using your own words ( about 160 ), describe briefly what the writer thinks time is.
       
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  Answers
       
  1. (a) Men observed the movement of the sun and the seasons so time came to be.
    (b) Time measurement seems to exist in most societies but not in all. The so-called primitive tribes do not measure time.
       
  2. (a) They think that time exists only our imagination.
    (b) He believed that time was invented by the human mind.
       
  3. (a) He compares it with distance.
    (b) Aging is the rate that cells are replaced and so can be faster in some than in others.
    (c) Age cannot be controlled but you can control aging. This seems like a contradiction.
    (d) The three ways are : physical age, mental age and soul age.
       
  4. i important
    ii without energy, strength or power
    iii a natural ability to hear, see, think, move
    iv asserted
    v opposites
    vi rebirth
    vii laugh
    viii cruelly
       
  5. Time was begun arbitrarily as a unit of measurement, much like the measurement of distance. Measurement of time has existed in every civilization and has been a great influence in all of them, but in some primitive tribes, there seems to be no such thing and the people are perfectly happy without it. Scientists throughout the ages have suspected that time is an illusion and many theories exist to explain time. Einstein's theory of relativity leads us to believe that time is entirely a creation of the human mind and, unlike the law of gravity, has no actual existence.

Other than measurement of calendar time there are other ways. A younger person, depending on how he looks after his health, can age faster than an older person. If we consider mental age, a younger person can be more mature than an older person. For people who believe in reincarnation, there is the age of the soul to consider. ( 158 words )

           
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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