Time as a Power (Not an Enemy) of the Self

After writing ‘The Geometry and Superstructure of Time’ I was asked, ‘Can you give some insight on how time would be experienced on spiritual level in comparison with the linear time experienced on mental level?’ My first response was 'The Vedic Circle of 9 and 0' whose central theme is: 'A linear view of time and number fails to represent both the circular structure of time and space and to reveal the relationships, harmonies, geometries and symmetries between parts of the whole.' The pictures in that post (shown again here) help to demonstrate that 'in the linear view, one just keeps getting further and further away from the zero, i.e. from the origin. But in the cyclical view, one's course is visibly connected to the point of existence and perpetually returns to the origin, each cycle of 9 yielding a higher level or spiral of experience/existence.' Here I will try to give a bit more insight into 'how time would be experienced on a spiritual level' in contrast to how it is commonly viewed by the mind.

The prevailing attitude, understanding or perspective of time is that it has little or nothing to do with spirit, consciousness, and the growth and fulfillment of the soul. Many think it is spiritual or intellectually advanced to divorce oneself from time, to dismiss time as a mostly useless and painful illusion of the mind.

Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950) attempted to correct this distorted mental view of time and existence. For him time and space was a ‘fundamental spiritual reality.’ He wrote:

‘… the cardinal fact is that any given Time or Space or any given Time-Space as a whole is a status of being in which there is a movement of the consciousness and force of the being, a movement that creates or manifests events and happenings; it is the relation of the consciousness that sees and the force that formulates the happenings, a relation inherent in the status, which determines the sense of Time and creates our awareness of Time-movement, Time-relation, Time-measure. In its fundamental truth the original status of Time behind all its variations is nothing else than the eternity of the Eternal, just as the fundamental truth of Space, the original sense of its reality, is the infinity of the Infinite….’

‘[The being of the Infinite] can see Time from above and inside Time, exceeding it and not within it; it can see the Timeless develop the Time-movement without ceasing to be timeless, it can embrace the whole movement in a static and a dynamic vision and put out at the same time something of itself into the moment-vision. …. to an infinite consciousness such an integral simultaneity of vision and experience would be perfectly logical and consistent; all could be elements of a whole-vision capable of being closely related together in a harmonious arrangement, a multiplicity of view bringing out the unity of the thing seen, a diverse presentation of concomitant aspects of the One Reality.’ [1]

Sri Aurobindo’s descriptions, here and elsewhere in his writings, has reset the bar for what truly constitutes a ‘spiritual’ experience or understanding of both time and space. He taught that existence is an evolving whole wherein matter, life and mind grow to become more aware and conscious of the spirit that upholds them and expresses itself through them. So the divisions or divides we are used to making between spirit and matter – between spirit and all material movements and processes, including the cycles of Time – are rendered useless in terms of knowing and experiencing our true Self and our true potential.

If we think of time as an enemy of the Self, that in time we are bound to die, bound to death, it is no wonder that we would want to negate its reality, to devalue it … to neutralize its power. In the linear, mortal consciousness there is a beginning, middle and an end. There is no cycle or spiral of infinite progression, there is no regeneration, renewal or continuity of purpose upon one’s death or the decaying of certain structures. Relationships, harmonies and geometries between events in Time are not seen. [Image on right: Cronus devouring one of his children, painting by Peter Paul Rubens]

Time can be known and experienced as a continuity of consciousness, a divine reality, a divine force and a cyclical process by which matter, life and mind are brought towards their full expression, integration, harmonization and potential. Rather than thinking of the dissolution (or the destruction) that Time wields as an enemy or aberration, it becomes a massive power of the Self.

This power and the consciousness which created and compels it, reveals itself in the true shape or body of time, which is of course not linear at all. For the Earth, the body of time is the 360 degree year. The 360 degree (25,920 year) Precession of the Equinoxes – or ‘Great Year’ – is a macrocosm of the Earth’s year. The Earth's 24 hour day is a microcosm of that year. The challenge and task at hand for students of the One Self (of the unified consciousness-being that is existence) is to begin to understand the flow of their lives, and the flow of world events in terms of how all events and forms are ‘related together in a harmonious arrangement’ and how they represent ‘a diverse presentation of concomitant aspects of the One Reality’. As this understanding and new experience of Time and existence grows, the ways and the reality of the Spirit become more apparent to the Mind, and the Mind becomes increasing ‘spiritualized’.

The artistry, precision and all-embracing involvement of the divine will and of the individual and collective soul becomes increasingly visible when one learns that just as Space can be measured, understood, studied and explored in terms of 360 degree geometries, so can Time. As the explorations into these Geometries of Time deepen, so does one’s awareness and experience of the Divine Self. [2]

[1] Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, pp. 379, 381.
[2] Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet's The Gnostic Circle and The Magical Carousel are instrumental and fundamental texts for those wishing to study and explore the geometries and harmonies of time and space.

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