I've just seen Interstellar. And they say 1 year on the planet is equal to 7 years on earth. because it sounds familiar to the Buddhist text I used to read ,if they both refer to the same thing, how did the ancient people know it?

  • I think what you are saying has some validity. I remember somewhere in the suttas one of the devas in a higher realm started preparing an offering of flowers when he heard that Buddha was born. But he couldn't finish it until Buddha's parinibbana.
    – dmsp
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 14:16
  • I am interested what this Sutta is. Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 15:40
  • What is Buddhist time dilation?
    – Thien
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 15:59
  • @ChristopherLee It might be something like (quoting from this Hindu web site), "One of the Buddhist Sutras states that a hundred years of our existence is equal to one day and one night in the world of the thirty three gods."
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 16:20
  • 1
    @SumindaSirinathSalpitikorala The Visakhuposatha Sutta says something like that, i.e. it says "That which among men is fifty years, Visakha, is one night and day of the devas of the Four Great Kings" etc.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 20:29

3 Answers 3


Time dilation due to special relativity happens because the speed of light is constant and is expressed using equations which include the Lorentz factor.

Time dilation due to gravitation is a related concept.

Assuming that "time dilation" is a concept in Buddhism, have you evidence that the theoretical/conceptual cause of that dilation is the speed of light being constant being all frames of reference, or, the acceleration of frames of reference e.g. due to gravity? Do Buddhist scriptures (mathematical equations) mention the Lorentz factor, somewhere? If the answer is "no" then I suggest that "they both refer to the same thing" is false, i.e. that Buddhism's "time dilation" and Physics' "time dilation" actually refer to different concepts.

I don't want to say that Buddhism in't helpful towards understanding Physics; but it was my experience that my learning Physics wasn't much help towards understanding Buddhism.

Working with, studying or applying Physics might count as a form of "right livelihood" in Buddhism.

I think it would be missing the point of Buddhism to see it as a way to get miraculous leaning/knowledge/insight/invention of the detailed models of (i.e. the hypotheses or theorems about) the universe which are used by physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers, doctors, etc.

If you read from the Pali canon for example then the Buddha is talking about something else entirely.

  • How come physics wasn't helpful in understanding Buddhism? What about cause and effect-relationships?
    – user2424
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 13:00
  • The "Physics" I learned was all equations: "force equals mass times acceleration", or "force is the product of two masses divided by the square of the distance between them", and so on. I don't see how that could be helpful in understanding Buddhism? As for "cause and effect" I kind of prefer the theory of "co-arising": because sometimes it's hard to say whether A causes B, or whether it's B causing A ... so, to say that they "co-arise" seems to me truer.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 13:34
  • In buddhism, 5 khandha arising and vanishing speed are constant, too. See abhidhamma.
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 15:37
  • @ChrisW. Physics, maths etc., isn't that part of Conventional reality?
    – user2424
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 0:10

Yes, it's somewhat similar to concept of time dilation in physics too. For eg. Time moves slowly in Heavenly Realms and when one stays 2- 3 days in those realms many years would have passed in earthly realm.

In the Payasi Sutta there is debate of Buddha's disciple with an skeptic and in one question asked there it is told that time moves in different pace in Heavenly Realms:

"Hmm. Well, Prince… Consider this. In the Heaven of the Thirty Three Gods, time passes at a different pace, and people live much longer. In the period of our century, one hundred years, only a single day, twenty four hours would have passed for them. Thirty of these hundred year days make up one of their months, twelve such months make a year and a thousand such years is roughly the life span of those born into the Heaven of the Thirty Three Gods. Suppose your friend decided, "I will go back to that unclean world just long enough to deliver my message to the Prince – I shall set out tomorrow. Or perhaps, after I have seen some more of this place, in two or three days, I will set out to go see him." – would he have been able to?"

"Of course not, Reverend Kumara, because, by the reasoning you have given, we should all be long dead by the time he had spent three days there. However, I do not think that those born in the Heaven of the Thirty Three Gods would be so long lived, or that time has a different pace. How do you know about their lifespan or their time?"

So, spending few days in Heavenly realms is analogous to time dilation experienced in movie Interstellar.


To be straight, both things are the same. Lord Buddha chanted all the things that are discovered by Science today & things that are even discovered upto now. In Buddhism we are taught about the nature of the world, universe, matter & energy. As well as the time durations taken by faraway palnets for their revolution, Lord Buddha has also chanted about the distances for those planets from the Earth. Search the web on "Buddhism & Time travel" for more details.

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