The time has come to have brave new ideas about time itself. If you want to make a breakthrough in human lifespan or prove the existence of higher consciousness or reach the mysterious region beyond the physical universe, all these possibilities require our concept of time to be reshaped in a new way.
Everyone knows the old ides, which have sufficed reasonably well until now. Time puts events in order by cause and effect. Time measures the distance from birth to death, for people and the universe as well. Time emerged at the Big Bang, and it has ticked away ever since, for 13.8 billion years.
Yet as familiar as these ideas are, human beings have also lived with the timeless, a region outside creation where God or the gods exist, where we might possibly spend an eternal afterlife. Leaving all spiritual notions aside, the timeless might be the womb of creation, because time didn’t create itself—something like a timeless origin is necessary.
The new view of time holds that both aspects, time and the timeless, are real. In fact, you can view time as a code that the timeless uses for specific purposes. Your DNA is time-encoded, which is why your baby teeth fell out on schedule and you went through puberty or menopause. Cells divide on another schedule, and voluntarily die in the future. There are dozens of biological clocks inside you, governing thousands of chemical reactions at the microscopic level along with master cycles like sleep and monthly menstruation.
Yet the whole scheme of biological time cannot be understood without the timeless, or to give it a simpler name, nonchange. You are the product of both change and nonchange. For example, your brain chemistry is stable and nonchanging, yet thoughts form a whirlwind of change. Your body temperature is aligned with a balance point, homeostasis, that is preserved in the face of change when outside temperatures are torrid or freezing.
Your DNA is fixed and unchanging when it comes to the genes you were born with, yet no two people exhibit the same genetic activity, which dynamically changes with every experience. Having grasped how change and nonchange are both necessary, the big question is “who controls them? How does all this change occur without throwing the body off?” If you know who or what governs time inside us, nonchanged isn’t enough. Amazingly, there has to be a common connecting X factor that is neither in time nor timeless.
Why is it important to move in this direction? There is a seemingly ominous Vedic saying from centuries ago which declares that time devours everything, and in the face of inevitable death, being time’s food is fearsome, but in reality time begins to devour us from the moment of birth. A common theme in the world’s wisdom traditions is the need to escape time by transcending it. If you don’t heed this advice but remain inside a time-bound existence, the best you can do is to bide your time trying to be happier than sad.
Yet no matter how satisfying the story you create, the most miserable life is connected to the most blessed life by being time’s victim. The escape from a time-bound life opens two possibilities. You can transcend ego, desire, and all relationships to fix your mind on the timeless, which is the route taken by ascetics, monks, saints, and yogis. Or you can merge the timeless into the time-bound, which is what the New Testament means by being in the world but not of it.
For the vast majority of people, the second escape route is the only viable. Here are the major steps that follow:
I’ve couched these steps in general terms without using special vocabulary like meditation, yoga, and the terms common to Eastern spiritual traditions. The essential thing is to start identifying with consciousness, because it holds the key, being beyond both time and the timeless.
Our minds are set up to think in opposites, and you might automatically assume that time is the opposite of the timeless, just as life is the opposite of death. But neither case is like that. In reality, time and the timeless are meshed, interwoven, and merged, just as life is merged and interwoven with death. What we’re talking about is wholeness. By definition wholeness embraces all experiences, all qualities of life, all categories of thought. Silent awareness is whole like the ocean, and thoughts are waves that arise on the surface of consciousness like waves on the sea.
If we are ever to crack the code of time, it must be from the perspective of wholeness. Inevitably we must have one foot in time, but the mind can transcend to a level of awareness where time-bound thinking moves to the background and the timeless moves to the foreground. when this happens, time no longer devours us. Instead, we process our experiences within a new framework where the default is nonchange.
In a very real sense you turn your experiences, including the experience of time, into everything you know as your bodymind. This is analogous to metabolizing the food you eat. In order to nourish you, experiences must be metabolized beneficially. Toxic experiences enter the fabric of the bodymind very differently than beneficial experiences.
This is clear enough at the level of emotions, for example. Someone who is depressed, anxious, overwhelmed by stress, and subject to abusive behavior isn’t metabolizing their life the same way as another person who is emotionally happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Strange as it might sound, time works the same way. Someone who feels rushed, always running, and fearing that there is never enough time isn’t metabolizing time the way a person is who has transcended to experience nonchange, or the timeless, as the basis of life.
Cracking the code of time is therefore not an arcane issue better left to physicists and philosophers. It is vital to every individual as a matter, literally, or life and death—accepting the timeless nature of human awareness deeply changes both.
Reprinted with permission from San Francisco Chronicle
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