Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of October 27, 2014

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Transcending Time

(Transcendence: Part 6)

In 1898 George Bernard Shaw, who professed contempt for Yogis, reportedly said to the Shivapuri Baba: “You Indian saints are the most useless of men. You have no respect for time.” To which the Shivapuri Baba replied, “It is you who are the slaves of time. I live in Eternity.” [1]

Have you ever felt you were a slave to time? Maybe you have more things to do than time available to do them in. Maybe you are running late for work or for an appointment and feel harried. Maybe you are caught in traffic. Maybe you are facing a looming deadline. Maybe you dislike the situation you find yourself in at the moment and want to get out of it. Maybe you are bored. Maybe you are afraid of what may happen, or despondent about what did happen. Maybe you are enjoying this moment so much that you feel desperate to prolong it, to have it not end. Maybe there are two or more things that you want to do right now, but you are constrained to choose only one. In all these ways and more, we are slaves to time.

Notice that at the root of these examples is a certain set of attitudes about time, expressed and abetted by thoughts and feelings. “I must get there.” “I’m going to be late.” “I’m bored.” “I hate this.” “I love this.” “Time is short.” “Time is money.” And so on. In these ways our thoughts and emotions tie our inner life to time.

Our body, being a material object with a complex set of material processes, is naturally and inextricably bound to time. Events, movements, processes — all that happens happens in time. Our body happens in time. But our inner life is different. We have the possibility of being free of time inwardly. Yet as long as our inner world is dominated by thoughts and emotions, which are events in time, binding our inner life to time, we remain slaves to time.

The more we engage in inner work, the more we come to the reality of other aspects of our inner world, aspects that are free in front of time. We begin to see attention as more fundamental than thoughts or emotions. Attention, though it manifests in time, has its roots outside of time. We begin to see awareness itself as more fundamental than thoughts and emotions. Pure awareness allows us to be outside of time, resting in the timeless. We just are. Whatever happens in time passes through awareness, while awareness abides eternal. We begin to see that when thoughts and emotions occupy the center of our inner world, then each thought is like the tick of a clock, propelling us forward in time, into our daily reality in time, the only reality we believe in.

Not so with attention, with awareness, with presence, which put us in the now. The now is independent of time. Time flows through it, but the now abides timeless. Thoughts flow through our mind. But if we are present nevertheless, if we are being here, then we abide in the now, in the always now. We can call it the Timeless. We can call it Eternity. But whatever we call it, it is the actual, ongoing experience that matters.

We can transcend time by learning to be, to be here in our body, in our mind, in the cognizant stillness beneath our thoughts and emotions. Whenever I am, it is always now. We come into consciousness, which is empty and still and timeless. We come into our attention or into our I, which are also timeless, but timeless in a different way than consciousness. Our I can be in this timeless moment, or can act across time. Examples of the latter include extending our presence from one moment to the next, repeating a particular action daily, like our morning meditation, or by deciding on a task and seeing it through to completion.

For this week, in meditation, come into your fundamental awareness, into consciousness, into your big sky mind, through which thoughts, emotions, and all your sensory perceptions pass. Notice the unchanging, eternal character of consciousness. Be in that. Transcend time, for a few beats of the clock, by being in the timeless. Practice this again and again. And as you do, you will begin to transcend time more, to live less as a slave to time, and more in the refreshing freedom of the timeless.

[1] J. G. Bennett, Long Pilgrimage, Dawn Horse Press, 1975, page 26


     

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