Monday, January 30, 2012

The Error of Excluding Time from True Nature & Paths of Self-Realization



A friend of mine recently shared the following video of A. H. Almaas (founder of the Ridhwan School/the Diamond Heart approach) discussing the question of 'What is Time' which was shown at the 'Science and Non-Duality Conference' in October of 2011 in San Rafael, California. The conference was subtitled: 'On the Edge of Time'. I am a former Diamond Heart student and have read several books by Almaas, and was curious about what he had to say about Time. As far as I knew, Time was not fully integrated or understood in the Diamond Heart approach. As far as I knew, it was considered something separate from, secondary to or of no use in the important business of experiencing True Nature, as expressed in the following quote from Almaas's book, The Unfolding Now.
'What is useful to recognize, then, is that our time orientation will disconnect us from our True Nature because it contradicts the now-ness, the timelessness, of our True Nature.'
From what I have gathered from the Integral and Supramental teachings of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, which restore the thought of the Vedic rishis into modern language and applicability, Time and True Nature cannot be separated any more than the heart can be separated from the body, or the Sun can be separated from the solar system, without dire consequences that is. It is true enough, absolutely true that our civilization's current time orientation, or current understanding of Time disconnects us from our True Nature. But what seems to be absent in Almaas's conception, as compared to teachings of the aforementioned mahayogis, is that an UPGRADE in our time orientation/time consciousness is not only possible but necessary in terms of the evolution of our consciousness. Our time orientation can and needs to be corrected so that it DOES connect us with our True Nature, with our sanatana dharma. Our modern-day civilization has such a long history of considering Time to be a distorter of True Nature, or as a step-down from the Divine Being, that it is an epic challenge to get people to consider, as the Vedic rishis did, that a higher Gnosis of Time is actually a central Key to understanding our True Nature or Divine Self in all selves. 
 
So I watched the interview with great curiosity, wondering what would come out of Almaas's mouth regarding Time. [LINK TO THE TALK]

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the mostly-wonderful talk. I like them because they seem to encourage listeners to consider the error of dismissing Time as unreal or irrelevant to the quest for Self-Knowledge, whether or not this quest takes the form of scientific or spiritual inquiry. Much of the talk even seemed to echo the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet and the Vedic rishis' regarding Time-Gnosis.
‘In a spiritual experience, it is possible to experience time and space as inseparable, meaning there is the realization of not experiencing timelessness as beyond all manifestation, not experiencing the transcendent, but experiencing that transcendence as appearing as time-space, where it is like a space but it is also time at the same time. It’s a very interesting thing; and it sort of explains some things. It adds to the understanding of time which I think might be useful at some point for science. I don’t know how it will be because science sort of arrived at that in a certain way; and spiritual experience can take us to that place. But the most mysterious thing about time, that in spiritual experience happens, happens in the experience of singularity.
‘… If we don’t eliminate the question of time, and just say time is not real, or if we really are into timelessness, and recognize that timelessness is really just the opposite of time, true nature reveals itself as something, as the source of all time, and really as the timelessness, which sometimes people call the eternal now. That now is at all times. It is the now of all time. So all times are in the now. That is the entry into the understanding that right this moment, the timeless now really includes all times – past, present and future; and that can be experiential. We can actually experience ourselves right now connected to all time, points of time; and that I think is going to be something very interesting for scientific exploration. It connects to the question of quantum entanglement, which has to do more with space. It is a connection in space; but this one is a connection in time. The entanglement, the non-locality happens not only in space, but in time; and we can realize that everything is connected to everything else. And in fact, in this condition that they call singularity, things are not non-dual meaning they are not simply not separate from each other. Things are identical. I, at this moment am everything, at all points of space, but at all points in time. So every point is every point in time and space. I’d like to bring in the holographic principle, which is of course now becoming part of scientific theory and I don’t know how it will go, whether it will succeed or not, but the idea is like the understanding of true nature, spiritual nature. As something that not only transcends time but includes it. And includes it in such a way that it includes all of time by uniting it in one point, one singularity. And that is very interesting because it means that our sense of time, past and future begins to change, we begin, become aware that the past is available to us, the future is available to us; and our action now will effect not only the future, it will effect the past. What happening in the past is effecting the present.
‘That brings us to a place that is very mysterious for our minds. Our mind sort of doesn’t know what to do with it; but also it brings us very closer to everything and to each other. It shows that not only non-locality distance is an apparent manifestation, but duration is an apparent manifestation. They are not imagined, created by us. They are actually a manifestation of reality; but reality which is just true nature, is much more mysterious about it.’
Then, close to the end of the talk came the following, which reverted to the standard dismissal of Time from the important business of spiritual realization:
For me, it’s not like time is not real, it’s more like time is not relevant. It’s simply not relevant for the realized condition. It’s relevant for practical things, for life. It is a certain dimension of reality that is relevant for our life, but for enlightenment, we go to a place not simply timelessness but it is a place where the notion of time is not operative. So it’s neither time nor timelessness, it doesn’t even feel like now, it doesn’t feel like this moment, there’s no such thing as a moment. That implies bringing back the concept of time. But I’m not operating from within that concept of time. My experience is not operating that way. This is a condition of realization that is interesting to know and might be very useful for scientific discovery if they realize that all these ways of relating to time that time can be sort of, it’s a very interesting thing that can manifest in many ways, some of them more real, more useful than others, more relevant for different situation than another.’ [emphasis added]
This dismissal is immediately followed by a suggestion that it is a good thing to not dismiss Time:
'So I think that will be a good thing for us to contemplate, all these possibilities of time. Not dismiss time, not believe time completely the way we experience it; but to open up to the question of time and find out, what is time and how is it related to reality and to everything else.’
A Diamond Heart friend of mine has tried to convince me that there is no dismissal of Time in Almaas's statement that '[Time] is simply not relevant for the realized condition', or in Almaas's assessment that whereas Time is relevant for our life, it is not relevant in terms of our 'enlightenment'.

It is curious to me how this dismissal or micro-contradiction (micro yet hugely significant, like a micro-expression on the face can be) in the video can be so easily missed or not seen. Perhaps these statements about the irrelevance of time in terms of 'realization' or 'enlightenment' are perfectly acceptable and pleasing ... a non-issue to those who are still operating under the influence of the Buddhist idea that Time is somehow to be transcended rather than fully-integrated in the path to Self-Knowledge. But I rather fall into the growing contingency of folks who are eternally grateful that Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet have made much progress towards correcting that Buddhist error, via encouraging (or re-establishing for our day and age) a more integral or truly all-inclusive vision of Self and Self-Knowledge ... recognizing that Transcendence of the material world and of our movements in space-time, does not the represent the highest possibilities or stages of Self-realization. They have discussed in great detail, the higher ranges of realization of the supramental being, which include a simultaneous realization of the Triadic Self, i.e. our ONE indivisible Self that is simultaneously Transcendent, Cosmic and Individual. This realization of the indivisible Self, it becomes clear through their teachings, cannot exclude gnosis of Time and Space.

In one of his books, entitled Diamond Heart V: Inexhaustible Mystery, Almaas writes that ‘The cosmic individual is neither in space nor in time.’ Where then does the Cosmic Individual (which is really the simultaneously triadic Transcendent-Cosmic-Individual) exist and move? What are the infinite, ever-present and eternal ranges of this triadic Self, if not time and space? What is the body of the indivisible Self if not time and space and all of its forms and dynamic creations? From my point of view, which is based in Vedic cosmology as well as in the ‘descent’ of Supramental gnosis which Sri Aurobindo incarnated to establish, Almaas’s understanding of the cosmic individual, and hence his understanding of Time and its relevance to those seeking a complete realization of True Nature is questionable or improvable.

‘[Time and space] are the forms of all cosmic existence’:
only, they vary on each level.
Each world has its own space and time.’


– The Mother, Questions & Answers, ‘Different Kinds of Space and Time’

To conclude, I will post some excerpts of the writings of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet that will help to give readers some idea of how our current time-consciousness can be upgraded, re-oriented and expanded to connect us with our True Nature, rather than dismissing Time because our time-consciousness has yet to break the bounds of our physical, vital or mental being. Because if each world has its own consciousness and experience of space and time, then certainly the supramental consciousness and experience of space and time is something that can and should be realized in the quest for full Self-Knowledge or Self-Realization.   
‘[The Supramental being's] time consciousness ... will be different from that of the mental being, not swept helplessly on the stream of the moments and clutching at each moment as a stay and a swiftly disappearing standpoint, but founded first on its eternal identity beyond the changes of time, secondly on a simultaneous eternity of Time in which past, present and future exist together for ever in the self-knowledge and self-power of the Eternal, thirdly, in a total view of the three times as one movement singly and indivisibly seen even in their succession of stages, periods, cycles, last ‒ and that only in the instrumental consciousness ‒ in the step by step evolution of the moments. It will therefore have the knowledge of the three times, trikaladristi ‒ held of old to be a supreme sign of the seer and the Rishi, ‒ not as anabnormal power, but as its normal way of time knowledge.

‘This unified and infinite time consciousness and this vision and knowledge are the possession of the supramental being in its own supreme region of light and are complete only on the highest levels of the supramental nature.
 ‒ Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga,
‘Towards a Supramental Vision of Time’

****
Question: Sweet Mother, can one go out of Time and Space?

The Mother: If one goes out of the manifestation.

It is the fact of objectivisation, of manifestation which has created time and space. To go out of it one must return to the origin, that is, go out of the manifestation. Otherwise from the very first objectivisation time and space were created.

There is a feeling or a perception or an experience of eternity and infinity in which one has the impression of going out of time and space .… It is only an impression.

One must pass beyond all forms, even the most subtle forms of consciousness, far beyond the forms of thought, the forms of consciousness, to be able to have this impression of being outside space and time. This is what generally happens to people who enter into samadhi – the true samadhi – and when they come back to their normal consciousness, they don’t remember anything, for, in fact, there was nothing they could remember. This is what Sri Aurobindo says here: If Brahman were only an impersonal abstraction, the one reasonable end would be annihilation. For it is obvious that if one goes out of time and space, all separate existence automatically ceases.

There, now. So one can, without much result!

‒ The Mother, Question and Answers,
2 January 1957
****
‘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.’ …

‘It must be stated that this discovery is the key that unlocks those iron doors which do not permit entry into Mahakala’s [Time’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.’

‒ Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, Time and Imperishability, Part I,
‘Transcendence and the Immanence of the One’
_____________________________

Relevant Links:
* PDFs of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's major works

* Books by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet 
* 'A Higher Vision of Time Is Needed...' (Quotes from PNB's Time & Imperishability and some commentary)
* The ALL-pervading Energy of Time - the New Time (Quote from PNB's The New Way, a study in the rise and establishment of a gnostic society).
* ‘The Geometry and Superstructure of Time’ (Lori Tompkins. 2009)
* 'Time as a Power (not an Enemy) of Self' (Lori Tompkins, 2009)
* 'The Error of the Buddha' (Robert Wilkinson, 2007) 
* Quotes of Sri Aurobindo & the Mother on Space and Time 
* Updating Assumptions and Widening Consciousness of Time (Lori Tompkins, 2011)

6 comments:

  1. I think that H.A. has been super focused on the evolution of the individual. If you look at his work and his school its all about helping an individual gradually develop towards self realization. He rarely shares his thinking about Macro Evolution. (Even though he's a big fan of of Sci Fi ;)
    Perhaps he thinks it would be distracting to his students. Boy do I wish he would turn his mind and clairvoyance towards Big Evolution and write about it. He talks about the Optimizing thrust (?) of evolution which I wonder about. The Supramental I sense exerts an attracting force, pulling Evolution toward it. Perhaps the force Hameed has experienced is an effect of the Supramental. Anyway, Bo is sick and bugging me to read him a story. See you soon. love, gt.

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  2. A quite interesting and thought provoking post, as usual.
    Loving your work.

    Thank You.

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  3. This presentation is purely mental, purely conceptual, and completely reliant on logic and mental processes. What distinguishes AH's work is its essential experiential basis. Virtually all of what is written here cannot be experienced, it can only be thought. As such, it is a logical view, it is acceptable on its terms, just as duality is. But it is limited and constrained by mental processing and the limited objects of the mind. The author simply cannot contend with what AH has written because it is so far beyond her actual, lived experience and the understanding that unfolds therefrom. Has the author experienced "time" from the perspective of "radical nonconceptuality" about which AH has taught in other settings? Has the author realized "radical nonconceptuality" which is the only way to understand "radical nonconceotuality"? Time seen from this view is a radically different perspective than one's mind cannot disclose, and this is the perspective from which AH experiences time. To use one particular view to take shots at another view, a view which your own experiential range falls far short of in terms of realization and understanding, tells us much more about the author than it does about the view under critique.

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  4. Doug,

    How is it that you know what my range of lived experience and understanding is? You do not. Unless you yourself take on the very real work of understanding and to learning how to apply the temporal-spatial keys of the Vedic rishis as re-discovered and resurrected over the past hundred-plus years by Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, please consider yourself to be completely ignorant of my range of experience and understanding or self-realization.

    You are incorrect when you say; ‘Virtually all of what is written here cannot be experienced’. Just because you have not experienced it or you do not know how to experience it, or Almaas does not teach of this experience, you cannot validly say that it ‘cannot be experienced’. That is quite a serious blockage/limitation you are imposing on what can or cannot be experienced/realized … quite a FALSE limitation at that, which thankfully others will not have to abide by in their quest for integral Self-Knowledge.

    As in your earlier private messages to me, you keep trying to make this about me, thinking (hoping) if you invalidate me by insisting that my basis of realization is faulty or that my personality defects have compelled me to take a ‘mental’ pot shot at something I don’t agree with, then alas my pesky critique of the inconsistency in the video inquiry will be invalidated and your teacher’s realization will remain unquestioned. But, as far as I am concerned, this critique I have made regarding the contradictions in Almaas’s talk has all but nothing to do with me or with Almaas. I am not the subject. Almaas is not the subject.

    The real subject is, as the title suggests and as you apparently do not want to consider, ‘The Error of Excluding Time from True Nature & Paths of Self-Realization’. Anyone could have uttered the statements about Time that Almaas did towards the end of his talk, and the error would be just as glaring to those, such as myself, who do directly experience and understand Time (Mahakala) as a power of the Self, indivisible from the Transcendent Self, the Cosmic Self and the Individual Self. The statement was basically that Time is not relevant to Realization/Enlightenment. So that either means, Time is NOT relevant to Self-Realization/Self-Illumination, or that it IS relevant and the author of the statement simply does not know how it is relevant (i.e. is ignorant of how, exactly, it IS relevant). The latter is apparently an impossibility in your mind; as much as it is an impossibility for you that my own experience and my critique is based on true, direct and meaningful lived experience.

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  5. continued response to DWoodard ...

    As for your questions about whether or not I have experienced Time from the perspective of ‘radical nonconceptuality’ … it has been such a long time since I’ve read Almaas’s books, I had to turn to ‘The Almaasary’ (the A.H. Almaas glossary) to familiarize myself with the term. In the Almaasary, under the subject of ‘nonconceptual’ which discusses ‘nonconceptual reality’ and such, I found the following excerpt from Inner Journey Home. I can tell you that this description of reality is similar to the consciousness I have learned to view/experience Time from.

    ‘Reality is then nothing but true nature that is constantly displaying itself in various and changing forms. Coemergent nondual presence does not exclude anything. It includes true nature in all of its dimensions and aspects, all of physical reality including our bodies, and our subjective experience with all of its content. We experience this totality as an indivisible truth, where all of its dimensions and forms coexist in total harmony, a harmony that appears in the orderly pattern of the logos. Since we understand this condition to be the objective truth of things we term this wholeness Reality. It is what actually is in its true ontological nature. When we do not see it this way we are simply perceiving through some obscuration or veil, some belief or representation, or from a particular vantage point. In other words, we refer to it as Reality because it is the real; it is how things are when perceived with no subjective filters. We may perceive Reality as it is, completely objectively, or in one degree or another of approximation. Our experience and perception can vary with various factors, but Reality is always a coemergent nondual wholeness. – A.H. Almaas, 'Inner Journey Home'

    It is this consciousness of ‘indivisible truth, where all of its dimensions and forms coexist in total harmony, a harmony that appears in the orderly pattern of the logos’ which allowed the Vedic rishis to SEE, know, sing of and celebrate the Individual differentiations of the Cosmic Mother (i.e. the Cosmic womb of Time and Space) … all within the gloriously REAL context of the ONE Sanatana Dharma or Eternal Truth of Being (and Becoming). This is the same consciousness which allowed Saraswati Dayananda (1824-1883) to begin restoring the true significance of the eternal wisdom of the ancient Vedas in India in the 1800’s, and the same consciousness which allowed Sri Aurobindo and those after him to carry on that important work into the 20th Century and beyond. It is from the seed of this full and fertile consciousness that a substantial Time Gnosis is now re-emerging, re-occurring as extremely relevant to Self-Realization.

    If I am understanding the term ‘nonconceptual reality’ correctly, it is WHAT IS REAL whether our minds can conceive of it or not; i.e. the totality, the full expression, full extension, full continuum and the orderly harmony of what is, whether or not the Mind can accurately perceive or appreciate this dynamic wholeness. This totality and continuity or dynamic wholeness necessarily includes, of course, the full power and triadic dimensions or extensions of Time. So if this is Almaas’s realization then I do not understand why he would come to the conclusion, as he did in the video inquiry, that Time is not relevant to Realization, not relevant to what is REAL and Realizable. So, even by the light of ‘radical nonconceptuality’, this conclusion still seems highly questionable to me.

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  6. continued response to DWoodard ...

    I wrote this critique fully aware that there will be many, such as yourself, who will be personally offended and deeply miffed by what I have written, who will refuse to consider the validity of the actual subject matter that I have presented, and who will refuse to consider that a true gnosis of Time can actually be applied to one’s material-spiritual experience in a profound, revelatory or supramental (i.e. higher-than-mental) way that greatly expands and illuminates our knowledge of Self ‒ individual and collective ‒ beyond the present limitations that the mental being has set for itself (and set for its ideas of Spiritual fulfillment). Such a refusal is pretty much a given due to the collective inherited agreements that seem to rule our day and age. Few can see the refusal to integrate Time into our comprehension of Self-Realization for what it is – a serious barrier to the evolution of our individual and collective consciousness … a serious barrier to the full-illumination, full-integration of ALL the layers and dimensions of our material existence. So whereas there will be plenty of people who will happily and unapologetically defend and maintain that barrier ‒ that profound ignorance of Time and its relevance to the Self/Soul; I am happily and unapologetically not one of them.

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