Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Higher Vision of Time is Needed to Appreciate, Experience and Enjoy the Relationship between Being and Becoming

‘… today’s warrior … must face Time …’.

Photo by ToniVC

As a follow up to ‘Being and Becoming’, I am posting some valuable excerpts from Time and Imperishability (1997) by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet. The subject matter includes the error of spiritual paths that divorce the dynamic Becoming of material creation from the static or immobile Transcendent Being, as well as the necessity of knowing the reality of Time (Mahakala) and its laws if one is to experience, appreciate and enjoy the real relationship between Being and Becoming and the real relationship between the Transcendent, the Cosmic and Individual Self. Also discussed is the process by which the Unmanifest is born as a point or seed (bija) and extends itself in time and space. This line of thought is deeply rooted in Vedic gnosis, as well as in the supramental gnosis of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It is the product of and a call towards cultivating the ‘Supramental Time Vision’ that Sri Aurobindo foresaw and discussed in The Synthesis of Yoga. [1]


From Time and Imperishability, Part I, ‘Transcendence and the Immanence of the One’

… [T]oday’s warrior … must face Time, must face Death, and thereby come upon the element in our being which survives destruction. Nay, which uses destruction as well as creation as the modes of its expression, as the vehicles upon which it moves in the world, immobile yet fully engaged in the mobility of this universe in an eternally renewing process.
This path lies in the opposite direction to the one seekers have been encouraged to pursue since the time of the Buddha. It lies in the core of creation, not in the Beyond, or whatever name we give to this extra-cosmic reality.

A core must not only survive the action of disintegration; it must be the central pivot of the process, and even, we may add, its controlling element. It is that ‘centre that holds’, in contrast to Yeats’ vision of an apocalyptic disintegration due precisely to the fact that ‘the centre cannot hold’, as he describes in his majestic verse. What then is this core? How does it arise, and moreover, how can it be experienced?
These are questions we shall endeavor to answer in this study. But first it is necessary to know the exact nature of the Reality we wish to explore, in the effort to clarify these fundamental questions. For the problem before us concerns our entire perception of the Absolute and our approach to that highest Reality. Indeed, a study of the developments of spirituality and the course it has taken over the millennia is a precious aid in the knowledge we are seeking.
Undoubtedly all spiritual paths have led seekers to a Beyond, to a Transcendent Reality. Even religions have fostered the same emphasis. Some call it Heaven, others Nirvana. Whatever the designation, it is evident that we are dealing with one avenue of experience; or we may say, with one ultimate goal. This is by no means a false perception. It is deeply true, and for this very reason innumerable yogins and tapaswins have devised the means to carry the aspirant to this static Beyond. Once one attains the capacity to place the consciousness out of the cosmic dimension, it is believed that one can enter into a transcendence which is an upholding or all-encompassing Consciousness that somehow, in some magical way, is not involved in the flux and flow of material creation and hence is untouched by the ravages of time and decay and death which appear to be the principal features of our universe. Methods of escape to this transcendent Brahman were thus devised in order to grant the troubled human spirit the solace of a peace that by virtue of its static quality could liberate the seeker from any further involvement in the torment of life and death. Rebirth, in this instance, was accepted only as a means to achieve this liberation ultimately. Unlike the mid-Eastern religions that have arisen in this 9th Manifestation (beginning in 234 BC and lasting for 6480 years thereafter*), the pursuit of such an attainment was not limited to just one lifetime. Nonetheless, the goal was the same: a path out of the cosmos, hopefully never more to return.
The realization such illumined beings attained cannot be denied or doubted. These yogins themselves stand as luminous beacons to the truth of the way and the goal. However, the time has come to view dispassionately such accomplishments in the light of our present discussion, insofar as the acquisition of a transcendent poise naturally suggests ultimate liberation from future birth. We are drawn to believe that the process of birth, death and rebirth, holds only as long as the human being is caught in the coils of the Ignorance. When finally he or she does attain liberation, concurrently with this accomplishment the realiser is freed from any further involvement with material creation and this ecstatic yet more often maddening Dance of Shiva.
However, the power of Arjuna’s vision still lingers in the consciousness of all who seriously pursue the path of Truth. That vision, if indeed it is the highest, presents a stark contrast to the static Beyond. Are we then not justified in questioning the content and direction of these ways which have not carried seekers to the truth of Mahakala but rather away from it? The conventional paths would have us believe that it is precisely a realization or occupation with Time that is the inferior poise, and that the transcendent reality is the higher. But the Gita contradicts this notion, and it has held its place at the heart of Indian wisdom far longer and more persistently than any other scripture. It has thoroughly pervaded all Indian spirituality and captured the imagination of seekers for several millennia. But perhaps it is time itself that can give us the answers we seek.
Time is the great Controller. Thus if spirituality has moved in a direction opposite to Time’s mystery and truth, it must be Mahakala himself who is ‘responsible’ for the divergence. We shall see anon how indeed this has been the case, when we bring into our discussion the line of the Ten Avatars of Hinduism. [2] But for the present, it is important to discover the true nature of Reality, in its most limpid form. That is, we must ‘unmask’ the Transcendent itself, unveil it as we would unveil Guha, free it of the many elements which have diluted its pristine truth. At the same time certain fundamental aspects of that ultimate Beyond must be grasped, for only in this way can we appreciate – without any illusions – our real condition in life and the material dimension.
The first aspect of the Transcendent that arises in our purview is its unmoving nature. That is, if indeed it is extra-cosmic and represents something, some dimension, some plane of consciousness which from our poise within the cosmos we must view as ‘beyond’, then, given the fact that the principle feature of the cosmos is movement, it stands that in the Transcendent this element is withheld. We know therefore that one of the prime attributes of the extra-cosmic Absolute is that it is unmoving and immobile. This represents the great divide between Cosmos and the Transcendent Brahman. It is this immobility that has provided yogins with the exquisite experience of Peace. Extending the consciousness to the ultimate reaches of itself, all relatives in the universe dissolve into this great and immense static Calm.
If indeed the Transcendent is significant of that which lies beyond movement and the snare of the Gunas – creation, preservation and destruction – it is recognizable that this Ultimate Beyond does not suffer the fate of decay. For in such a condition, what can there be that is subject to decay? The process that engenders decay and death is irrevocably related to movement. The Transcendent does not perish because it is, in fact, unborn, – unborn in our moving and evolving universe. There is nothing of it that can be born and hence no experience of decay and death, much less of any rebirth.
Without a doubt the experience of that irrefutable imperishability is the single most enticing factor that has instigated the pursuit of realms beyond. At the same time, it is that devastating perception of disintegration that has established the vision of Mahakala as a prize for only those ‘rare highest souls’.
However, we approach now a third characteristic which has the intrinsic power to overturn our secure understanding and cast an element of paradoxical doubting into our quest and experience. It is this: If the Transcendent is unmoving and imperishable due to its otherworldliness, or its poise beyond and outside of the cosmos, then we encounter a particular aspect of its nature which has been the bed-rock of Indian spirituality from time immemorial. This is indivisibility. Given the fact that it is a homogeneous Consciousness beyond the planes of existence in which division occurs, it stands that this Transcendent is hence indivisible. Consequent to this we know that this perception offers the most compelling aspect of the Absolute: its unity, its oneness. Yet with this appreciation many of the paradoxes which face the human spirit arise; and due to this unity, oneness and indivisibility, it can be shown how until now no path has truly bridged the chasm that this experience of transcendent indivisibility and unity has created in our spiritual experience. And it is precisely because of this chasm that the highest Vision has been withheld from the seeker. For to bridge this intriguing chasm is to resolve the paradoxes.
The main aspect of the paradox is this: If the Transcendent or Static Brahman is indeed indivisible, then it stands that none of the experiences seekers have until now had of Its poise beyond and out of the moving cosmic dimension have been faithful to the truest and highest Truth. They have been real and overwhelming experiences, but they have suffered from a severe limitation. This limitation resides exclusively in the fact that any experience of the Transcendent which does not include the totality of Itself must be, to a certain extent, deceiving. For we cannot divide the indivisible. If the Transcendent is all-encompassing – and this is one of its most secure attributes – within Itself lies that which we consider irredeemably subject to division. The unity of the Transcendent carries us to the clear perception that the only true experience of Reality is an integral one. How then to achieve this perception of wholeness? and what would be its relation to the question of rebirth, the theme of our analysis?
It must be stated that this discovery is the key that unlocks those iron doors which do not permit entry into Mahakala’s sanctum sanctorum, and hence withhold from us the true meaning of life and death and our purpose in this material creation.
We cannot divide that which is indivisible. This means then that there can be no true experience of those attributes that have been here enumerated of the Absolute which introduce the element of division.
Thus the Transcendent’s stasis can never be disconnected from its kinesis which in any case arises in its own Being. Likewise, its imperishability must contain within it the elements of all that is created, preserved and destroyed. But how is this accomplished?
The chasm is cleared of darkness and the bridge is constructed in our awareness when we understand that the vast Transcendent in the act of manifestation is reduced to a seed. This is the profound mystery of creation. It is the origin of all things. The Unmanifest enters the Manifest (of Itself) by virtue of this compression to a Seed, – that precious bija, that miraculous Hiranyaretas which is Agni. This Flame-Child stands at the Origin, he who is the first God extolled in the Veda. Thus all the attributes that we can conceive of in the Transcendent Beyond are drawn, by its own power of manifestation, into the Seed of Itself. That is, immobility, indivisibility, imperishability, are all properties which are contained in this miraculous Golden Bija.
What happens then to this Seed, which stands as the foundation of material creation?
The Golden Bija is the origin of spatial reality and the base of material creation. Manifestation (of the Unmanifest) results then in a central truth-seed, which from that Point extends itself, multiplies, grows, in the experience of creation, preservation and dissolution. This can be appreciated if we observe the nature of the cosmos we inhabit, which confirms this perception in that all its material bodies orbit a Centre. Indeed, centrality is one of the foremost aspects of the universal dimension. Yet there is a consciousness, a reality that extends beyond the material creation, or rather within which creation in matter is contained. But in appreciating this fact, a curious phenomenon took possession of the human mind. Somehow, along the way of human evolution the experience of God resulted in the fact that the Transcendent (the very significance of the word stands as a clue: that which lies beyond…), which contains this universe in its Being and is all-encompassing, became veiled or masked to the perceptive eye of consciousness in the human being; and these contained dimensions came to be considered or seen as somehow inferior, or reflected an inferior spiritual poise and realization, or a partial reality. This then reached its extremes in the formulation of theories of Illusionism in all its many facets, and ultimately laid emphasis on an escape from these apparently inferior cages in which the human consciousness was seen to be imprisoned.
A divisive perception of this nature is not a property of the Divine Consciousness. It reflects a wholly human, mental poise and suffers from the scourge of a separative vision and experience, results of the mental orientation of the species. Because of this limitation of the present instrument, the Lord withdrew the vision of Himself as the Time-Spirit from Arjuna, since in this state it is not possible for humanity to attain a fuller and truer unified vision due to these limitations of the instrument and its subjugation to the rule of Mind.
The human species is an evolving collective entity. At present, civilization as a whole is experiencing the pain of realising its limitations and insufficiencies and of knowing that as a race its actual constitution cannot permit a higher experience to come. To reach a wider and deeper collective experience, a new, more refined, more enhanced instrument is demanded. The turmoil of humanity at present is due largely to the fact that pressure is being applied on all quarters of Earth existence to compel the emergence of higher faculties so that a new way can manifest. Some details of this evolutionary process are given in Indian Scriptures. For example, in the Puranas we find mention of ‘the Nine Creations’. The final stages, the 7th, 8th and 9th, refer to the mental, the overmental and the supramental creations, respectively. Mental man is not the ultimate and highest but is merely a transitional creature. The evolutionary process, governed by the play of tattwas and the gunas, is the mechanism to evolve a higher species. And one of the principle characteristics of this newly-emerging creation, superior to the present mental being, is a capacity to experience the indivisibility of God – a consciousness, hence, of true unity. For this the being of the human experiencer must be fortified in such a way that it can withstand the impact of seeing the Time-Spirit working in the worlds, via the action of creation, preservation and destruction or dissolution, with an equanimity of being that arises from the knowledge of the Core-Purpose at the heart of material creation. (pp. 7-14)


Time’s function in the material universe is to draw the compact, involved elements held in the Seed to fruition. Time is the motor of Consciousness. It draws out and into extension that which arose at the Origin, at the moment of passage of the Unmanifest to the Manifest. This passage is the bridge connecting statics to dynamics. Time is movement, or rather it gives forth a body of itself in the cosmic principle of perpetual motion, or dynamic consciousness. Hence we encounter the splendid, colossal image in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of the universe in the form of a Horse, – that great and majestic Vedic symbol of energy, speed, kinesis. ‘Time’, the Upanishad tells us, ‘is the self of the horse sacrificial’. In this superb image the Seer describes the deepest truth of cosmic existence: that Time is the propeller and stands in the inner recesses of material creation and urges, propels it onward to completion, to fulfillment of its inherent purpose… ‘the self of the horse sacrificial …’ (p.16)

Leonardo DaVinci's 'Sketch of a Horse' (partial)


Material creation is thus the body of Brahman, the Divine Shakti, deploying Herself for the purpose of the Absolute’s self-knowing and self-enjoying.
We cannot divorce ourselves from this truth and cosmic function. We are integral parts of the cosmic manifestation, minute as we may be in comparison to the vastness of the universe. However, does this minuteness not reflect then the very process of passage from the Unmanifest to the Manifest which has been described herein? We are, as it were, those very Seeds. We are those infinitesimal ‘eyes that see’, through which the Absolute knows, and thus knowing enjoys Itself. And this is the magic and the mystery of human birth. We are endowed with all the properties of the Transcendent and are Its instruments for this supreme Act of creative deployment of Itself.
How then can we desire to flee from this instrumentation, this glorious act of knowing along with God, of self-discovery of all the attributes contained within Itself? But at the same time we must accept the Laws which govern the orderly deployment and extension in Time of the compact particles of the Seed. These use that majestic and awesome dynamism, the Power or the Shakti in her movement of creation, preservation and dissolution. To participate knowingly and willingly in this Act, we must then accept these Laws – the essence of Time – indeed we must accept the Divine Mother. [3] Thus we must evolve as a race beyond the capacity of an Arjuna and reach the point where we can know and sustain all aspects of Mahakala, above all his consort, Mahakali, without flinching, without seeking escape to the Beyond because of the limitations and trepidant condition of the present human spirit. (pp.18-19)

* See: The Gnostic Circle, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, Aeon Books, 1975.

© Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, 1997


[1] Sri Aurobindo, ‘Towards the Supramental Time Vision’, Ch. 25, The Synthesis of Yoga:

‘All Being, consciousness, knowledge moves, secretly for our present surface awareness, openly when we rise beyond it to the spiritual and supramental ranges, between two states and powers of existence, that of the timeless Infinite and that of the Infinite deploying in itself and organising all things in time. These two states are opposed to and incompatible with each other only for our mental logic with its constant embarrassed stumbling around a false conception of contradictions and a confronting of eternal opposites. In reality, as we find when we see things with a knowledge founded on the supramental identity and vision and think with the great, profound and flexible logic proper to that knowledge, the two are only coexistent and concurrent status and movement of the same truth of the Infinite. The timeless Infinite holds in itself, in its eternal truth of being, beyond this manifestation, all that it manifests in Time. Its time consciousness too is itself infinite and maintains in itself at once in a vision of totalities and of particularities, of mobile succession or moment sight and of total stabilising vision or abiding whole sight what appears to us as the past of things, their present and their future.
‘… If our present mind untransformed by the supramental influence tries to enter into the timeless, it must either disappear and be lost in the trance of Samadhi or else, remaining awake, it feels itself diffused in an Infinite where there is perhaps a sense of supra-physical space, a vastness, a boundless extension of consciousness, but no time self, time movement or time order. And if then the mental being is still mechanically aware of things in time, it is yet unable to deal with them in its own manner, unable to establish a truth relation between the timeless and things in time and unable to act and will out of its indefinite Infinite. The action then that remains possible to the mental Purusha is the mechanical action of the instruments of the Prakriti continuing by force of old impulsion and habit or continuing initiation of past energy, prārabdha, or else an action chaotic, unregulated, uncoordinated, a confused precipitate from an energy which has no longer a conscious centre.
‘The supramental consciousness on the other hand is founded upon the supreme consciousness of the timeless Infinite, but has too the secret of the deployment of the infinite Energy in time.’
[2] See Secrets of the Earth, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, Aeon Books, 2009.
[3] The Divine Mother, the Laws of Mahakala and a supramental vision of Time – none of which can be separated from the cycles and geometries of Time – are discussed in depth in Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet’s many books and writings.

Related Posts:

* 'Being and Becoming'
* 'Sri Aurobindo, the Mother & Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet on the Subject of Being and Becoming'
* 'Geometry and the Superstructure of Time'

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