My Paperback Book is Here!

Phew! I’ve finally got the paperback version of my book finished, uploaded and active on Amazon! I tell you, there is nothing quite like the feeling of holding a copy of your own book in your hand, the child of your own mind. It’s wonderful!

It was nowhere as easy as I’d hoped, or even feared, it would be. I discovered that, if you want your book to look professional (not perfectionism, just professionalism), you’ve got to be prepared to put in a lot of hard work. If anyone tells you otherwise, reach for the saltcellar; you’re going to need a lot of grains of salt.

Sure, it’s easy to convert something to PDF if you have the right software, but ensuring the quality of the photos and images, making sure that the text fits in right inside the margins, preventing the last line of a paragraph (or even worse, section or chapter) from being left orphaned on the next page, all take time and diligence. Proofreading and checking for typos is another time-intensive activity. Plus that annoying thing call Real Life keeps getting in the way…

Anyhow, here it is. If you want to purchase a copy, please follow the links below:

Kindle Version



Kindle version




Paperback version

If you enjoy the book, why don’t you leave a comment on Amazon?

I hope the book reaches and teaches you as much as I learned while writing it.

Ah well, time to start the next book and get back to normal blogging…

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eBook is here!

Unbelievable but true. My eBook is live!

I started the upload process in the afternoon, and it was live by late evening. Must have been a slow day at Amazon. Or their efficiency is even greater than I thought.

If you’re interested in buying copy, search for “Stephen Oliver Unleash Your Dreams” in the search line.

Now for the paperback version!

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My eBook is almost here!

I’ve mentioned in various posts that I’ve been writing a book. It’s now in the review process at Amazon, and should be available in a day or two, depending on how long they take. Look out for the title “Unleash Your Dreams: Going Beyond Goal Setting”.

I’ll let you know as soon at it’s available.

I’m going to be on the move for the next few days, then I’ll start preparations for a paperback version, which will also be available on Amazon.

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The Most Important Word

In the pursuit of self-development and personal growth, there is one word that is probably more important than any other. Can you guess what it is?

That word is “why”!

I’ve been using the word since I went to university in the 70s. I remember one of the first times I used it, while studying chemistry.

We were learning about the Schrödinger Wave Equation, which is fundamental to much of quantum physics. Basically, an electron is considered to be similar to a vibrating string stretched around the nucleus of the atom. It must make a whole number of vibrations before the “ends” are connected. It “vibrates” like a guitar string without moving anywhere. At one point, the professor extracted out mass * velocity, which is a measure of linear momentum, and replaced it with another variable.

I asked him “why”, meaning why were we using linear momentum on something that was not only not moving, but any motion would have to be in a circle, not a straight line. He stood there for several seconds, looking blankly at me, then said, “Because that’s what Schrödinger did.”

I learned two things from this:

  1. The word “why” is a very powerful tool for getting to the truth.
  2. The truth was that the professor himself didn’t know the reason for Schrödinger’s insight at that point in the derivation of the equation. Either that, or he was not capable of explaining the insight to us.

Using the word “why” again and again can lead us to find the hidden assumptions and beliefs that are causing us so much grief. The word itself need not be used explicitly; it can be implied.

For example, a friend states that he finds he cannot ask a female friend out to dinner. The conversation might go as follows:

“I can’t ask her out.”

“Why can’t you ask her out?”

“Because she might say ‘No’.”

“Why would it be bad if she said ‘No’?”

“Because it means she rejects me.”

“Why does it mean that she rejects you?”

“Because otherwise she would say ‘Yes’.”

“Why aren’t there any other reasons that she might say ‘No’?”

“Um …”

At this point he realises that he’s working from false assumptions:

  • “Yes” and “No” are not the only options; she might very well suggest another day if she says “No” for the day in question.
  • If she says “No”, it doesn’t mean that she rejects him; it just means that she doesn’t want to go out with him at that time.

Lying behind the problems in life are often assumptions about the way the universe should be, and behind them there are often limiting beliefs. Once you find those hidden assumptions and beliefs you can do something about them. Get into practice questioning little things in your life, and go on to bigger ones as you become comfortable with the idea.

Oddly enough, I’ve found that many people are too scared to use the word “why”, because they might find out something they don’t want to know. I think this is because, once you know what the source of a problem really is, you have a responsibility to do something about it. You can’t play Poor Me or the Blame Game and make others responsible for all your woes.

“Why” can be the most liberating word you ever use!

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I was inspired by my previous post to create a new one, using a different “acronym”.


If, as I suspect, we are eternal beings who are experiencing being humans for a reason, the reason must be very important. It’s probably because it’s liberating in some way: from boredom, from lack of change, from omnipotence and/or omniscience.

The last pair needs some explanation. If eternity is timeless (see my earlier posts Time and Eternity, Time, Eternity and You and Why Do We Need Immortality?), then it’s likely that, in our eternal aspect, anything we can conceive will automatically occur. If that’s so, then being alive and not knowing everything must be an amazing adventure.


As I’ve also mentioned, life being as short as it is in comparison to eternity, it’s highly intense.  Emotions run high and we get high off them, no matter whether they are “positive” or “negative”. This intensity is why I believe we come back again and again. Think how you feel when you’re in love, or you’re scared out of your wits while white-water rafting. You want to repeat the experiences, don’t you?

Fantastic Fun

The real fun lies in discovering the world and everything in it. If we deliberately forget what it’s all about, finding things and finding out how it all works (i.e., discovering the rules of the universe aka science and philosophy) is the best fun there is. Just as much fun is discovering each other and sharing the experiences together.


Being of such short duration, life is ephemeral and soon over. Then, like some addict reaching for his/her drug of choice, we want to experience it again, and again, and …

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I remember an English teacher once saying that, if you have no idea what to write, you should choose a word and treat it as if it were an acronym. Try to make each letter have something to do with the original word. This is good advice even if you do have an idea what you want to write about.

I wanted to write about time again, but when I recently started thinking about time, I got so many ideas connected with the acronym that I ended up writing the previous several posts on the subject. Now, I’ve finally got round to writing the original post.


Because time is temporal (i.e., measured and of brief duration), everything is automatically temporary. In other words, nothing lasts for forever, not even time. As I’ve written before (Why do We Need Immortality?) things having a limited existence allows them to be experienced with an intensity that would not be there if they were endless.


As I also mentioned in that post, this intensity factor makes all our experiences immediate, i.e., their effect is with and on us right now! The immediacy of the experience is what makes everything important to us. If we had eternity to experience things in, then they would very likely seem very thin, because there would be endless eras between each one. Having these bunched together, their effect is cumulative and, sometimes, overwhelming! Which is all to the good.


Because time happens, events take place one after another, causing movement. Movement implies change, which in turn means there can be evolution, either of physical or of mental and spiritual nature. Without time, there is no possibility for spiritual beings to experience change and evolve and change into different forms. Think of the boredom of not learning new things and not having new experiences…


The end result of all these thoughts is that we can experience emotions, transient changes in state we can enjoy (or not) because they are fleeting. I sometimes think that one of the main reasons we (re)incarnate is because eternity (endless or timeless) is not a place to experience emotions.


In all, TIME is the reason we exist, not only because it allows us to experience so much, but also because we could not evolve and become ever more knowledgeable and knowing without it. Could it be that WE created time, space and everything within simply because we could, and we realised that we could do so much and become so much more than we already were? And then we forgot that we did it, because it would be more fun that way?

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Time, Eternity and Immortality

As a quick side panel to the main discussion about time, I would like to go briefly back to the subject of Time, Eternity and You.

The point I'm considering is that of eternity being endless time.

  • If this is true, are the two times (“real” time vs. “eternal” time) running in parallel? If they are, then future incarnations will only be in the future. What happens in “eternal” time when “real” time comes to an end? Does another “real” time get created?
  • If they are at an angle to one another, then one may seem to be moving “faster” than the other, or they drift apart somehow, or there will be some other kind of disconnect between them. What that may be, I don’t know.
  • On the third hand (making me feel like an alien or octopus), they may have no direct connection to one another at all. If that is the case, then it is possible that “future” lives might lie in our “past”.

All of this presupposes that we are immortal and live multiple lives, of course.

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Time and Free Will

If you’re beginning to feel confused by the last two posts, don’t worry. Time is a very complex and confusing thing. Scientists can’t even explain why time seems to flow in the direction it does. You’ll hear a lot of things about the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy, and the arrow of time, but what it boils down to is: “we have no idea what time really is!”

When we start to look at free will in connection with the various theories I discussed last time, we find the following:

  • Relativity Theory does not allow free will. Because everything is deterministic (there is only cause and effect, and choice plays no part in the equation), free will cannot exist.
  • Quantum Theory does not allow free will, either. Everything is statistical and all events have a random factor controlling them that plays the predominating role. Because of this, cause and effect are stripped of much of their power, and free will cannot exist.
  • Biological theories ultimately derive from other scientific theories (see below), so they don’t allow free will either. They see nothing but physical and chemical processes, and are incapable of measuring anything else. Our thoughts cannot be seen; only the physiology they are involved with can be measured physically and chemically.

The last point probably requires some explanation. When I was studying chemistry, I remarked to the professor during a physical chemistry class that I didn’t understand why we had to learn so much about quantum mechanics. He took me to his office after the class and spent a long time talking to me about the importance of learning physics in order to understand chemistry. He quoted: “biology turns into chemistry; chemistry turns into physics; physics turns into mathematics; mathematics turns into philosophy and music.” I’m not sure where the quotation comes from.

It took me a long time to realise what he was actually telling me. You cannot understand biology until you know about the chemistry that drives the biological processes. You cannot understand chemistry until you understand the physical processes that underlie the chemical ones. You need mathematics in order to describe physical processes. And, I believe, until you understand the philosophical underpinnings (the theories) and their beauty (the music), you cannot understand anything.

Now back to the main theme. If Relativity Theory, Quantum Theory and biology all agree that there is no free will, even if for different reasons, why do we believe that free will exists? For free will certainly does exist; we sense it every day and see its actions all around us.

I believe that the problem arises because all of these theories are reductionist (that is, they reduce complete systems to their component parts). The individual parts have no free will, and therefore scientists often conclude that the whole systems from which they derive also have no free will. They forget that the whole can very well be more than the sum of its parts. These so-called emergent systems derive their existence from the whole and the parts, but do not belong to any of them directly. It requires a holistic approach (building up to the whole) for the emergent systems to become apparent.

Furthermore, it seems to me, in the case of free will, that the main point of emergence lies in the interfaces between the relativistic, quantum, and biological theories. This can perhaps best be shown by the famous Double Slit experiment (explanations can be found at Wikipedia and High Existence). Decisions made at the macro level of existence affect experiments observing the micro world. The reverse is also true: whether or not an atom splits determines the fate of Schrödinger’s cat.

So many of these clues seem to point to our thoughts, our free will, affecting the world in ways that we can’t even begin to understand. This lack of understanding probably exists because we cannot see the whole, the interfaces are obscured, and J.B.S. Haldane was correct when he said: “the universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it’s queerer than we can imagine.”

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Time vs. Time

To continue the discussion, time is not equal to time, depending on which theory of physics you are contemplating.

Relativity vs. Quantum Theory

One of the greatest problems in modern theoretical physics lies in the reconciliation of relativity and quantum theories.

Both the Special and the General Theories of Relativity are classed as deterministic theories. In such theories, cause and effect lie in direct relationship to each other, the one follows on automatically from the other. If every particle position and direction of movement is known precisely, every future position and direction of movement can be calculated to any desired degree of accuracy. There are no surprises, and nothing is random. The future can be extrapolated to any degree of time and volume desired, and everything will be known, if our calculating power is sufficient. All particles are considered to be tiny balls bouncing off each other.

The various Quantum Theories (including Quantum Electro-/Chromodynamics, String Theory, M-Theory, etc.), on the other hand, are statistical. We can only state the possibility of a particular particle being in a particular place and moving in a particular direction as a probability. On the quantum level, the one that concerns itself with atoms, neutrons, electrons, protons, and the particles that make them up, nothing can ever be definitely known. The more we know about the position of a particle, the less we know about where it’s headed, and vice versa. This uncertainty, inherent in the nature of the universe itself, is not a reflection of how accurate our instruments are; we are intrinsically unable to get greater accuracy. Particles aren’t particles, and waves aren’t waves, but everything is both, and fuzzy into the bargain.

Worse, time in Relativity Theory is a continuous dimension stretching unbroken into both the past and the future. On the other hand, Quantum Theory regards time as consisting of discrete units, unimaginably small, but distinct. We can’t know what will happen in the future, because it is all controlled by chance. Mathematically, the two views of time are treated completely differently, too.

Biological Time vs. “Objective” Time

I use the term “objective” because, as we have seen, there is no objective, absolute time.

Have you ever noticed that time seems to pass more quickly these days than when you were young? When I was a child, a summer’s day was long, and the summer holidays seemed to last forever. Nowadays, I have the feeling that if I blink rapidly four or five times, I’ll lose an hour of my life.

Why is this?

The cause lies in our physiology and metabolism. The only way we can only “know” how time passes is by checking our internal processes. We all have a feeling for time depending on what we feel is the passing of time, and that depends on how quickly our bodies are working inside.

The problem is, as we grow older, our metabolic processes begin to slow down. As they slow down, our thought processes begin to slow down with them. Compared to our internal time, external time then appears to be getting faster. It’s almost like the relativistic slowdown caused by travelling at extremely high velocities…

Next time, I’ll be discussing scientific theories of time and free will. I hope you choose to join me.

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Time Redux

Wow, more than a month has gone by since I last posted. Doesn't time fly! All this has got me thinking about the subject of time again, so I’ll be spending the next few posts back on the subject.

Let’s start by looking at some of the scientific views on time.

How fast you think we travel through time? You’d be right if you said one second per second, but that’s not always true. From Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, we know that objects in motion relative to one another measure each other’s time as differing from their own. If their relative motion is fast enough, they see each other as either moving too fast (if they are approaching one another) or too slow (if they’re moving apart). But which one is right? Einstein’s breakthrough was the simple insight that they are both right. There is no absolute motion, only relative motion, and therefore only relative time.

But that still doesn't answer the question of how fast we are moving through time. If time were a dimension like any of the other three that we know, how fast would we be moving along that dimension in one second? Another of the insights from Relativity Theory is the fact that we move along the time dimension at the speed of light. Any time when we are motionless, we are still moving because we are travelling along in time at light speed. In fact, no matter how we move or stay still, our total velocity is always light speed.

This explains why time appears to slow down when we are in very rapid motion. Let’s conduct a thought experiment.

Imagine you are standing on the Equator facing due north. You drive your car north at 50 miles an hour. This is the equivalent of standing still, while still travelling through time. You make a half-turn to the right, so that you are travelling at an angle of 45° from due north. You are now travelling through time and space at the same time. Your total speed is still 50 miles an hour. However, your speed to the north is now significantly less than 50 miles an hour. This is equivalent to time slowing down if you are travelling at a significant fraction of the speed of light. The diagrams below will perhaps make this a little easier to understand.


On the left, you are standing still, but still travelling in time. For you, one second takes the same time as for those observing you while not moving relative to you.

On the right, you are moving fast enough through space that time has apparently slowed down when viewed by outside observers. Both solid lines are exactly the same length, meaning that your total speed is exactly the same. However, you will notice that the amount of time that passes for you is less than one second in “objective” time. The figure represents a velocity of half the speed of light, at which point time slows down to just over 70%. You have to travel much further for one second of time to elapse for you.

Fortunately for us, we rarely achieve speeds fast enough for this to affect our lives. If you were to take a around the world trip in a jetliner, you would return to your starting point only a fraction of a microsecond younger than if you had stayed in place. However, it does allow short-lived particles to be observed for longer periods of time when they have a speed of 99.99% of light speed, as we can observe in such places as CERN.

Even if we could achieve high speeds, we wouldn't live any longer. For us, such a trip of 10 years would still be 10 years long, even if the rest of the world thought it had taken over 14. Conversely, if they thought it was 10 years long, it would only seem to have been just over 7 years long for us. It amounts to nothing more than a form of time travel into the future.

Next time, we’ll consider time from a biological point of view, as well as the differences between relativity’s and quantum theory’s views of time and events happening in time.

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