There are some aspects of Simple Reality that are very hard to reconcile with our sensory experience or what we have been taught. Time is one of those.
We begin this article with divergent or right-brain thinking if you will. Our artists, more in touch with their intuitive connection to the Implicate Order (though still unconscious) tend to have deeper insights into aspects of P-A. For example, the existentialists like Camus, Sartre, Kafka and the Irish playwright and screenwriter Samuel Beckett have focused on human suffering in provocative and unconventional ways including the illusion of time.
Samuel Beckett and Time
Samuel Beckett reveals in his plays and films his struggle with the meaning of time or the lack of “them,” (both meaning and time, that is). “In the opening sequence of Waiting for Godot, Vladimir hails Estragon: ‘Ah, there you are!’ ‘Am I?’ replies Estragon. This exchange epitomizes the whole of Beckett’s technique. Beckett is certainly one of the most profound meta-physical dramatists of all time, yet the abstract conundrums of Being and Not-Being that he is exploring are consistently disguised by being given an over exact and literal interpretation in terms of the most banal of everyday phrases and actions. [His way of questioning the “reality” of P-B and the human condition.] Thus, in terms of drama, they emerge, not as portentous, but as grotesque imaginings of Hieronymus Bosch, always disturbing.” And disturbing they should be.
“Time was; time is; the problem is, whether time will continue to be, forever, or whether time might end (and Godot might come). Upon the endless verbal exchanges of Vladimir and Estragon, all designed as ‘games’ to ‘kill’ time, intrude two further characters: Pozzo and his slave Lucky. Pozzo exudes the company executive’s confidence in the here and now; Lucky, who can talk only when he has his hat on, is gifted, Cassandra-like, with a terrifying vision of the future, when all life will have been extinguished for all eternity: ‘the stones so blue so calm alas alas …’ For Vladimir and Estragon, the vision is too overwhelming. They forcibly remove Lucky’s hat, reducing him to silence, and the dialogue designed to kill time is resumed.”
The apparently meaningless, nonsensical dialogue in Waiting For Godot is the equivalent of humanity’s pursuit of plenty, pleasure and power designed expressly to distract us from our suffering and thereby to kill time. Otherwise the illusion of P-B would indeed be overwhelming; unless, that is, we understood and experienced time (or the absence of it) differently than these characters trapped in their false-self delusions.
“In his lifelong obsession with Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Beckett’s main interest has always resided in Purgatory. Both Hell and Paradise are outside of time, but Purgatory is the place of waiting, waiting for time to run out … Hamm and Clov are the last, the very last, of the living. The familiar objects which have given meaning to their existence are running out, even faster than time itself: ‘No more bicycles [craving] … no more pain-killer [distraction] …’ Yet the idea of meaninglessness is the most difficult one of all for the human mind to accept, for what is mind, if not the apprehension of meaning.” What is mind indeed? Mind is the creator of suffering, part of the illusion that existentialists like Beckett and Sartre are trapped in. If the mind is given primacy over the wisdom of the present moment, then we will all spend our time “waiting for Godot.”
In another Becket play, “The end of the game implies both that theatre is a game and that existence itself is a game—that is, an occupation contrived, indifferent and impervious. It is a game having its own rules, conventions, and inviolable commandments, yet in the end, it is gratuitous. The game that ends in stalemate, that concludes without concluding, is the most futile of all. Such is the conclusion of Endgame.” And such is the conclusion of Simple Reality.
“Realism, in fact—as so often in Beckett—has as its primary functions those of disguising, and at the same time of rendering palatable, an underlying metaphysical reality. The reality is the factor of death—no longer the angoisse of the Self-that-cannot-die [as in Godot], but the arbitrary and intolerable fact of death itself: the ultimate Absurd.” Indeed, there is nothing in P-B that does not reek of absurdity.
Additional works by Beckett: “When the Preacher’s text, proclaiming a merciful God, is announced, Dan and Maddy join in wild laughter. The function of All That Fall would seem to have been to get God out of Beckett’s system once and for all. That accomplished, he could go ahead.”
“Happy Days [a film by Beckett] represents, with Waiting for Godot, Beckett’s most important dramatic achievement … Winnie’s strangest characteristic is her happiness, a happiness almost more frightening than the despair of Endgame. Winnie is resigned, eager to devour any old untruth, even poetry, to make use of any ‘pillow of old words’ for her head, provided that it keeps her ‘happy.’ She will believe that black is white if such a belief is comforting. She will even believe that God is good, as the Preacher in All That Fall promised, that Hell is Heaven … Winnie is a victim, a victim of the human condition; if her only defense against the intolerable is to behave as though it were all natural and very understandable [the common delusional behavior in time-centered P-B], who is there to blame her? She has the usual consolations of existence [false self survival strategy]—she tells herself stories [identification with “mind”], she has her ‘bag,’ her hoard of miscellaneous possessions [materiality of the security energy center of the false self], and she has the futile consolations of her sexuality [the sensation energy center of the false self].”
Samuel Beckett could not grasp, as brilliant as he was, the existence of “the observer” which begins the shift from P-B to P-A and the possibility of freedom from suffering. The experience of the observer would save humanity the “anguish” of the illusion of the Other. “Add to this the variant of the Sartrean theme of the anguish induced by the perception of the Other, and the metastructure of the action is complete. The camera is not merely an instrument but also a perceiving eye … not merely ‘Others,’ but also The Other, the ultimate enemy, the Self-as-Other eternally perceiving the Self-as-Self, and thus everlastingly compelling it to exist, excluding it from the quietus of finality.” The goal of present-moment awareness is not the endless pursuit of higher and higher levels of understanding until some “eureka” of Absolute meaning, but simply to abandon the process altogether as an illusion. Simply stop playing “The Game,” the game of P-B.
Only the concept of time makes it possible for us to speak of the Day of Judgment by that: in reality it is a summary court in perpetual session.
Jesus and the Gospel of Time
In Jesus’ teaching, the eschatology or “end times” or the second coming really meant the end of time and the realization of the eternal present moment. Christ consciousness, the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, or what Simple Reality calls the True self, was always present and has always been our true identity beyond any limits of the illusion of time. Jesus will be joined in this segment by several Christians, some mystics, some not.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Jesus brought the gospel, the “good news.” Thomas Sheehan understood that Jesus’ message was centered in the NOW, that the illusion of time had been transcended. “The uniqueness of Jesus’ message lay in his conviction that in some way the future kingdom had already dawned and that the celebration could begin.”
What Jesus’ gospel promised was what Buddha also taught, namely how to awaken to the already present perfection of Creation. God’s forgiveness as Jesus taught it meant the gift of God’s omnipresence. “Thus forgiveness meant the arrival of God in the present, his superabundant gift of himself to his people, his self-communicating incarnation.” Living a life expressing compassion (love thy neighbor as thyself) became the means by which this good news was made incarnate, how it was “created.”
For those who understood the gospel (authentic Christians), there never had been any such thing as time or a judgmental God, only the present moment and only the indwelling God or internal wisdom (intuition).
Jesus speaking in A Course in Miracles is clearly a mystic. “Time really, then, goes backward to an instant so ancient that it is beyond all memory, and past even the possibility of remembering. Yet because it is an instant that is relived again and again and still again, it seems to be now … God’s Will in everything but seems [emphasis added] to take time in the working-out. What could delay the power of eternity?”
Neither future nor past exists.
Augustine, Confessions, 11.20.26
The present moment is heaven. Emmet Fox describes what the intellect cannot understand or describe. “Heaven is Eternity, but what we know here, we know only serially, in a sequence called “time,” which never permits our comprehending an experience in its entirety. God is Divine Mind, and in that Mind there are no limitations or restrictions at all; yet we see everything distributed in what is called “space,” or spaced out—an artificial restriction which continuously inhibits the constant regrouping of our experience that is required by our creative thought.”
The other Fox, Matthew, who has bedeviled the Church by actually living the Gospel, quotes another mystic that drove the Pope crazy. “I have often said that God is creating the entire universe fully and totally in the present now. Everything God created six thousand years ago—and even previous to that—as he made the world, God creates now all at once.” This is Meister Eckhart’s insight into a radically different conception of time, the insight of “no time.”
“This panentheistic approach, the whole experience and notion that all is within the divine, means that it is all happening right now in the source’s consciousness … All things reveal the divine because all things are in God, in the divine consciousness; they exist in him, and he is likewise in them … The English poet alludes to this experience when he says we can know ‘infinity in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour.’” Wayne Teasdale refers to the poet William Blake and continues describing a conception of time in keeping with that group of writers known as the metaphysical poets.
“The unity of consciousness, of cosmos and reality, means that the seeming limitations of space-time are transcended in consciousness itself.” “The divine, in its knowing, is not confined to successive acts of cognition, as human beings are. It knows everything, always, in one simple cognitive act. To God, everything, is present in the eternal now. All things are simultaneous to the divine consciousness, and nothing escapes its awareness.”
The Psychology of Time
In religion and literature this moment when eternity touches time is known as an epiphany.
Time has its origin in the sensation center and it was “created” so that we can have a way to “measure” our experience. Notice in the following description by Rollo May what happens when the sensation of time is not being experienced. “Man, as Erich Fromm has said, ‘… is the only animal who can be bored’—and in that short sentence lies great import. Boredom is the ‘occupational disease’ of being human. If man’s awareness [sensation] of the passage of time tells him only that the day comes and goes and winter follows autumn and that nothing is happening in his life except hour succeeding hour, he must desensitize himself or else suffer painful boredom and emptiness. It is interesting that when we are bored, we tend to go to sleep—that is, to blot out consciousness, and become as nearly ‘extinct’ as possible … but it becomes unendurable only when it has not been freely chosen or affirmed by one’s self as necessary for the attainment of some greater goal.” Simple Reality calls this the trap of having, doing and knowing which takes us out of the present moment.
“In this state [inner emptiness] one’s chief wish is to ‘blot out’ time … or to make one’s self anesthetic to it. These efforts may take the form of intoxication or—more extremely—drug addiction, or the relatively common form of trying to fill up the time to make it ‘pass quickly.’ In some languages, such as French and Greek, the expression used for going on a vacation is ‘I passed such and such time …’ In this country we use a similarly quantitative term, ‘I spent such and such time …’ It is a curious commentary on people’s fear of time that if much time passes without their being aware of it [flow], they assume they had a ‘good time.’ A ‘good time’ is thus defined as escaping boredom. It is as though the goal were to be as little alive as possible—as though life, as Fred Allen so pungently put it, ‘is an unprofitable episode that disturbs an otherwise blessed state of nonexistence.’”
“Indeed, so strong and universal are the tendencies to find comfort in the distant past or future that there are recurrent myths in almost every culture picturing each pole—the Garden of Eden and its variants of the longing for the happier day in a state of childlike innocence, and the myths of paradise ahead in the form of heaven or the earthly utopia of those who believe in perpetual, automatic progress.”
Jung concludes our riff on time in the context of psychology. “Time is a relative concept and needs to be complemented by that of the ‘simultaneous’ existence, in the Bardo or pleroma, of all historical processes. What exists in the pleroma as an internal process appears in time as an aperiodic sequence, that is to say, it is repeated many times in an irregular pattern.”
Entering the brain of Steven Harrison we hear the following conversation that he is having with himself regarding the phenomenon of time. “First, we must look at the function of psychological time in the perpetuation of psychological structures. Without the idea of time, there cannot be the idea of ‘getting better,’ or ‘working on it,’ or ‘processing,’ or any of the myriad notions of psychological progression. Without the concept of time, there is only one thing occurring. It is occurring in the present and it is evident for us to see, if we wish to do so, without the help of an intermediary.
“Without psychological time, the contact with psychological conflict, and the resulting understanding and resolution of that conflict, occurs only in the present.
“Secondly, we must look at psychological memory, which as an aspect of thought, creates history of events not as they happen, but as they happened to us. This inclusion of the subject in the history, and the continuous calling forth of this subject with the history, and the projection of this subject-with-the-history as the future, is the basis of psychological conflict.
“Fully understanding the interaction of these two aspects of thought—time and memory—brings psychological conflict into the accessible and immediate present. There is no place else.
“Now that we have the conflict in the immediate present, what do we do with it?
“Absolutely nothing [a response].
“To do anything in relationship to the conflict is to give it substance or energy [a reaction]. To attempt to approach it, to manipulate it, to make it better, to make it go away, simply entrenches this conflict in the realm of our reality. We have reinforced it by positing its resolution. We have created further conflict when that resolution does not occur.
“If we do nothing, what occurs? Nothing occurs. The conflict has no one to claim it. It has no energy. It has no opposite. It can no longer exist. It is no longer an aspect of our reality.
“This is the resolution of psychological conflict. It takes place only in the moment. It does not require anyone’s help. It does not require anything of us but our silence.”
Wilber on Time
The person who’s “right on time” when it comes to offering his opinion on the nature of reality is Ken Wilber. “Hence, seeking after Mind inevitably backfires, and for reasons that should now be obvious—for one, seeking implies searching or reaching out for an object, something “out there” that we can grasp, be it a spiritual or material object, yet Mind is not an object. Whatever you can think about perceive, or grasp objectively is never, was never, will never be that Absolute Subjectivity that is the Thinker, Perceiver, and Grasper.
“For another, seeking implies a present lack, yet … right now we lack nothing, and it is only our anxious and misguided seeking that instills in us the apparent sense of lack, so that the more we seek the more acutely we feel this supposed lack, and because we will never find It that way, after a while we become chronically panic-stricken, and so re-double our efforts, pulling tighter on the knot around our own throat.
“And for yet another, seeking is based on the implicit belief in some future attainment, a belief that if we do not have salvation today we can surely get it tomorrow, yet Mind knows no tomorrow, no time, no past nor future, so that in running after it in some imagined future we are only running away from it Now, for Mind exists nowhere but in this timeless Moment. As always, those who seek to save their souls will surely lose them.”
“Recall that the secondary dualism propels man out of themselves Now, where life and death are one, into the imaginary world of time where he battles to escape an illusory death by securing himself a fantasy future. That is, to live in the timeless moment is to have no future, and to have no future is to die—but man cannot accept death, and so he cannot live in the Now above time. The secondary dualism which separates life from death is thus the progenitor of time. But man’s life in time (secondary dualism) is just the flip-side of man’s life in space (primary dualism), for as soon as man severs his organism from; his environment (primary dualism), the problem of being vs. nullity, existence vs. non-existence, life vs. death—in short, the problem of time—simultaneously arises. Stated differently, when man is one with the universe (no primary dualism), then there is absolutely nothing outside of him to threaten his existence, and thus no being vs. nullity debate (no secondary dualism). Conversely, when life and death are seen to be one (no secondary dualism), then there is absolutely nothing that can threaten man’s existence, and therefore, nothing outside of him in a position to do this—hence no gap between man and the universe (no primary dualism).
“Put bluntly, the gap between you and this page is the same gap as that between you and the Now moment. If you could live totally in the Now, you and this page (and all your other “objects”) would be one, and conversely if you and this page were one, you would be living in the Now. The Primary Dualism and the Secondary Dualism are only two ways of describing this single space-time gap.”
“The witness is aware of space, aware of time—and is therefore itself free of space, free of time. It is timeless and spaceless—the purest Emptiness through which time and space parade … And because it is timeless, it is eternal—which doesn’t mean everlasting time, but free of time altogether.”
The separation between past, present, and future has only the meaning of an illusion, albeit a tenacious one.
Seth From Beyond Time
Warning: it takes a connoisseur of mystical wine to taste the deeper subtleties of Seth’s vintage elixir. “Some feelings and thoughts are translated into structures that you call objects; these exist, in your terms, in a medium you call space. Others are translated instead into psychological structures called events, that seem to exist in a medium you call time.”
“The brain to some extent keeps the mind [intellect] to a three-dimensional focus. It orients you toward the environment in which you must operate, and it is because of the mind’s allegiance [and alliance] with the temporal brain that you perceive, for example, time as a series of moments.”
“You must understand that basically time is simultaneous. Your beliefs, thoughts and feelings [emotions] are instantly materialized physically. Their earthly reality occurs simultaneously with their inception, but in the world of time, lapses between appear to occur … ‘At once’ does not imply a finished state of perfection nor a cosmic situation in which all things have been done, for all things are still happening. You are still happening—but both present and future selves; and your past self is still undergoing what you think is done. Moreover, it is experiencing events that you do not recall, that your linear-attuned consciousness cannot perceive on that level.”
“A new belief in the present, however, can cause changes in the past on a neuronal level. You must understand that basically time is simultaneous. Present beliefs can indeed alter the past. In some cases of healing, in the spontaneous disappearance of cancer, for instance, or of any other disease, certain alterations are made that affect cellular memory, genetic codes, or neuronal patterns in the past.” Wow! That stuff has quite a kick.
When you alter your beliefs today you also reprogram your past. As far as you are concerned the present is your point of action, focus, power, and from that point of volition you form both your future and past. Realizing this, you will understand that you are not at the mercy of a past over which you have no control.”
“For you, because of your neurological organization, the present is obviously the only point from which past and future can be changed, or when action becomes effected … Therefore the present is your point of power [emphasis added] in your current lifetime, as you think of it. If you assign greater force to the past, then you will feel ineffective and deny yourself your own energy.” Did you catch that? Seth has just explained why and how the Point of Power Practice in Simple Reality works.
“Your cells’ multidimensional knowledge is usually not consciously available, nor can they put it into psychological terms for you. Such work with the imagination acts as a trigger, however, drawing information to you from other levels of your greater reality, and concentrating it on the specific problem at hand. It will then appear in terms understandable to your own experience.” In this way we are empowered to “create our own reality” which is the core message that Seth would have us retain from all of his startling insights.
“Working with the imagination” explains the practice basic to all so-called “New Thought” religions, for example “Spiritual Mind Treatment” (a form of prayer) in Science of Mind, the religion which grew out of the teachings and textbook of Ernest Holmes.
“There simply is no time as you think of it, only a present in which all things occur. There are miracles of condensed information within the cells themselves that scientists cannot perceive, for they exist outside of the scope of physical instruments. In its own way, cellular comprehension includes a vast recognition of probabilities in your terms, and works with flashing manipulations in which these probabilities are contended with and responded to—and therefore altered. This is why we have to transfer our eggs from the basket of the intellect to that of intuition. Otherwise, the fox in the henhouse (the false self) is going to suck all the eggs and leave us the shells.
The past is not dead. It’s not even past.
What makes Faulkner’s statement about time above so difficult to grasp is that which does the grasping, the human mind, which exists only within the illusion of time, space and form. Time was created by the mind to measure its experience in the relative realm of time and space. In the present moment, neither time, space, nor mind itself exist, there is only the experience of unfolding Creation. In the changeless realm of Simple Reality our experience does not need to be measured or evaluated. It is perfect as it is.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Time in the Friendly Universe of Science
Physics and mysticism form one whole. Combining the Eastern mysticism of Vedanta and Western science, Deepak Chopra gives us this tasty tidbit. “Where a particle will be and when it will be there are bound up together. In this way energy is not separate from space-time. They form one tapestry.” And we, of course, are inextricably woven into that tapestry which, by the way, is inexpressibly beautiful.
“Eastern philosophy , unlike that of the Greeks, has always maintained that space and time are constructs of the mind. The Eastern mystics treated them like all other intellectual concepts; as relative, limited and illusory.”
Peter Russell, author of The Global Brain, studied theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge. “It’s simply that we are literally timeless beings. We have the illusion of existing in space and time, but that’s only true for our bodies. Our consciousness, our true self, our inner nature, does not exist in space and time.”
Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity revealed that as we go faster time slows down. If we could reach the speed of light, time would stop. For a beam of light, there is no time. “The same reasoning also shows that space contracts as you go faster and becomes zero at the speed of light. So, from the viewpoint of a light beam, the universe is spaceless and timeless.”
Gary Zukav goes beyond cutting edge science and challenges our linear-thinking mind. “From the point of view of the soul, all of its incarnations are simultaneous. All of its personalities exist at once. Therefore, the release of negativity [false-self conditioning] that occurs in one of the soul’s incarnations benefits not only itself, but all of its soul’s other incarnations also.”
Thinking about science, time and reality led Thomas Troward to this insight: “The scientific definition of time is that it is the period occupied by a body in passing from one given point in space to another … and we therefore find that the conception of spirit as pure Thought, and not as conception of it as subsisting perfectly independently of the elements of time and space. From this it follows that if the idea of anything is conceived as existing on this level it can only represent that thing as being actually present here and now … where there is no sequence in time there can be no future. Similarly, where there is no space there can be no conception of anything as being at a distance from us. When the elements of time and space are eliminated all our ideas of things must necessarily be as subsisting in a universe here and an everlasting now.”
The ego values knowledge for its own sake and doesn’t attempt to assess the deeper meaning and implication of that knowledge. Without the prerequisite wisdom of the intuitive “higher self” knowledge is reduced to science.
“Time … past and future, is what the false mind-made self, the ego, lives on, and time is in your mind. It isn’t something that has an objective existence ‘out there.’ It is a mind-structure needed for sensory perception, indispensable for practical purposes, but the greatest hindrance to knowing yourself. Time is the horizontal dimension of life, the surface layer of reality. Then there is the vertical dimension of depth, accessible to you only through the portal of the present moment.”
To be free of time is to be free of the psychological need of past for your identity and future for your fulfillment. It represents the most profound transformation of consciousness that you can imagine.
An Historian’s Take on Time
The present moment can be called the eternal Now. “Eternity is not a given quantity of time: it transcends time. Eternity is the qualitative significance of time. One doesn’t have to identify the experience of listening to music with the theological meaning of eternity to realize that in music—or in love, or in any work which proceeds from one’s inner integrity—that the ‘eternal’ is a way of relating to life, not a succession of ‘tomorrows’ … Hence Jesus proclaimed, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.’”
A measure of Leibniz’ ability to concentrate on the nature of reality, much like one skilled in meditation, was how his inner wisdom emerged. When he turned his focus to the matter of space/time he was again able to penetrate the illusion of P-B. “Anticipating Kant, he interpreted space and time not as objective realities but as perceptual relations: space as perceived coexistence, time as perceived succession—views adopted in relativity theories today.”
What time is it or what is time or is there time?
Time was not an objective reality, but a mode of thinking.
In this article we have established a relationship between time and what some of us call enlightenment or the spiritual path but it turns out to be far different than what many of us had hitherto imagined. Barry Long supports Nisargadatta’s “do nothing” imperative by noting that “… you discourage people from even mentioning enlightenment on the grounds that doing so puts people further from the state, because it implies a separation of time or distance from this natural condition … you must not strive for anything. It is your striving that’s caused you to be unenlightened, to forget what enlightenment was.”
If you are depressed,
you are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
you are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
you are living in the present.
Clearly, the topic of time has led us into the realm of paradox and “… iconoclastic mystics like Blake and Jiddu Krishnamurti were right in asserting that the very idea of a spiritual path is necessarily self-defeating, because it does the one thing that has to be undone if there is to be awakening to eternity; it concentrates attention firmly on ‘futurity.’ Paths and disciplines make gnosis a goal, when in fact it is already the ground of all knowing, including ‘sinful’ time-bound knowing. To me now, systems of spirituality seem like analogues of those dreams which prevent waking up (for example, to wet a thirsty throat or relieve the bladder) by creating a never-ending nocturnal drama of moving towards the desired goal encountering and overcoming obstacle after obstacle along the way, but never actually arriving.”
“First, beware of philosophies that put spiritual concerns into a framework of growth or evolution … Both are important phenomena of eternity’s time theater … hangovers from the age of empire-building and the work ethic … any purposes along the line of time, great or small, are subordinate to the divine satisfaction that is always present in each eternal instant … mystical awakening … like Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz [is] the realization that I never really left home and never could … [and relates to] Merton’s discussion with a very high Tibetan meditation master in which they both admitted to each other that breakthrough into ‘direct realization’ still eluded them after thirty years of assiduous practice.”
And that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bound of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.
What about the relationship between time and peace of mind? “The illusion of time precludes Peace in that it occasions an expectation of a feeling of loss or anticipation.” David Hawkins continues his dire warning about the manifold dangers of being taken in by the illusion of time. “The sense of time creates stress, pressure, anxiety, fear, and endless disgruntlement in a myriad of ways. The ‘time stress’ accompanies all activities and pursuits, creating the illusion of sequence and cause. Every human action is couched in an unspoken pressure cooker of time and the mind constantly calculates how much ‘time’ can be ‘spent’ at every activity. This results in panic, fear, or worry as well as guilt, shame and anger. ‘Too much time spent on this. Not enough spent on that. There are many things we would like to do but we don’t have enough time. Time will run out.’ Until the sensation of time stops, one does not have any possibility of knowing what real freedom or peace feels like.”
It is believed by most that time passes; in actual fact, it stays where it is. This idea of passing may be called time, but it is an incorrect idea, for since one sees it only as passing, one cannot understand that it stays just where it is.
Dogen, a Zen Master
The psychic Edgar Cayce gave trance-readings answering personal as well as metaphysical questions posed by his subjects. “… The first reading pointed out that psychic development of an individuality blossom as a result of an ascending consciousness, moving toward the subconscious and superconscious—away from time and space.”
“Space itself is another form of a matrix, the receptacle of Plato’s Timaeus, and is the Great Goddess, longing to end form and return to her primordial rest. So the dynamical career of individual agents of form, of individuals, is a threat to the slow, vast, conservative order, the longer wave of time. To name individualized things, to have property, is to try to steal time from eternity in the form of monumentality. But in the grave of the hero, one doesn’t simply toss in the anonymous bones; one names the king and kills all his servants and wives as they take their place in the tomb of the great man. This shared death is, for example, what we find in the burials of the third dynasty of Ur. Perhaps this archetypal pattern is behind the pattern of criminal or psychotic behavior today in which a depressed male seeks to kill himself along with his wife and children and coworkers. The failed ego seeks its final monument.”
“I contrast his understanding of ‘time’ as restricted to the present (the Augustinian notion that past and future exist only in the mind … Thoreau’s recognition that nature’s flux is immediate and ever-present, existing in an eternal now, represents a crucial metaphysical insight …”
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
Roger Rosenblatt, the 21st century New York City flaneur engages in a bit of whimsy in the context of time. “‘I am the spitting image of myself,’ he writes, ‘How like myself I am. This is why I do not believe in time. How could I if I feel the presence of the boy as completely as I do the man, in many ways more completely realized. He who existed in me over half a century ago walks with me today.’”
Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice.
But for those who love, time is not.
Henry Van Dyke
Well, we’ve spent enough time on time and it’s time to end this article. There’s something about time that I don’t understand. In my junior year in college I was driving to my morning class as a student teacher, part of my training to be a classroom history teacher. An older woman ran a stop sign driving a car much larger than my small Ford. Her car struck the driver’s side of my car just behind the front door. The impact lifted my car completely off the ground and set it spinning clockwise. My car rotated 180 degrees and struck a tree. My car was facing the direction that I had come from with the driver’s side door open.
At the moment of impact time slowed markedly. I was aware that my car door had flown open and I realized that I must cling to the steering wheel tightly to prevent being thrown from the car. This was before the invention of the seatbelt. As I gripped the steering wheel tightly I was aware of several things. My eyeglasses were leaving my face and were falling to my right onto the floor in front of the passenger seat. I said to myself that I must remember where I could find my glasses after the car stopped moving. I also was aware of the lack of pressure on my right-rear pocket. I had left my wallet in my dorm room and I had anxiety about what that would mean when the police arrived and I could not produce my driver’s license. And finally as the car slammed against a tree, I remember a sense of gratitude that I had apparently survived a very violent car wreck without serious injury. Obviously, for me to go through the thinking process that transpired in less than two seconds, the passage of time had to have slowed down significantly. I had had an experience of the “relativity” of time and the contrived nature of the human created construct that we call time.
Several decades later I have been able to transcend my old narrative and escape the grasp of time. I have learned that the only renunciation necessary for Self-realization is renunciation of the future and the past. That is to say, this moment (Now) is the only relevant moment. The ascetic and renunciation practices related to sex, food, relationships and the body in general are not effective practices as Buddha found out.
The present moment (P-A) is transcendent. What does transcendent mean? It means that we are no longer having the past/future experience of time. It means we are not in reaction to what is happening in a given moment in our lives. The all too common reactions of guilt, shame and regret related to an imagined past or reactions of fear and anxiety related to an imagined future are replaced by responses.
Another way to say the same thing is that we also transcend craving and aversion. We don’t suffer the reactions resulting from not getting what we want or crave; or the reactions from getting what we crave and it does not give us the expected security, sensation or power we wanted. Secondly, we don’t react to something happening that we don’t want and we don’t have anxiety about something that might happen. In the Now we stop living in the past that is over and done with or the future that contains our fearful imaginings that may never come to pass and if they do we find that we are capable of responding to them in a self-reliant and powerful way.
By coming to this profound understanding of time I have found that afflictive emotions, craving and aversion and the Now are mutually exclusive. In the present moment of P-A we transcend pain and suffering, anxiety and yearning. We experience equanimity. We are content. We don’t mind what is happening.
Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90. Time is a concept that humans created. Time only exists in P-B and is only a problem in that context producing anxiety, boredom, etc. Time is a P-B construct created specifically to measure the experience of P-B and to assist in navigating the false self-centered paradigm. Only by reacting to the illusion of time do we have any difficulty with it.
What has “doing nothing” got to do with Self-realization? We are not talking about the practical chores related to everyday life but the attainment of Simple Reality. If our mind is focused on accomplishment which takes “time,” and is focused on the future, then we cannot be in the present moment. Then our very existence has lost its significance since it has become a means to an end and that “end” is never reached but is always “on its way.” If our priorities involve the fruits of having, doing and knowing which are always to be harvested in the future, then the present, what is, is not valued. We have given greater importance to what lies ahead in time, to the process of “becoming,” rather than simply “being.”
In Simple Reality, the state of being beyond time and space, there is nothing to do to be liberated, to be at peace. Our experience flows from moment to present moment and we accept what is happening without resistance. We are at one with, in harmony with “creating”— our natural state of being.
References available in published books Science & Philosophy