People commonly perceive time as something that flows by like a river, manifesting inevitable change to all things. But what they seem to forget is that the one who is watching time is also flowing with it, meaning that we are part of the flow of that river, not just bystanders watching it from the shore. We are always inside the river of time.
One of the shortcomings of the scientific observation of time had been that the one who observes time is not taken into the equation. As quantum physics developed, scientists began to realize there is no such thing as the objective observer of a scientific experiment; the observer is actually changing the observed. This is called the ‘observer effect’ in science, the principle of which is that, by observing (or measuring), the observer changes the value of what is being observed. For instance, when trying to define the nature of a photon, scientists noted that when observed it behaves like a particle, while when unobserved, it behaves like a wave. Similarly, the moment we observe an electron, it appears to collapse and change into a particle. Obviously, we cannot really know how a photon or electron behaves when we are not observing it (we cannot know what a ‘thing in itself’, or ‘ding an sich’ to quote Kant, is).
It is not the act of observation alone which affects the observed, but also our preconceived notions and expectations of it. Each one of us has a belief system, and it is impossible to see the world in complete separation from what we believe it to be. If we look for a particle, we will see a particle; if we look for a wave, we will see a wave. So a photon can be a wave and a particle without these two really being in contradiction; our viewpoint determines our conclusions about reality.
There are many interpretations of wave-particle duality, but one of the more commonly accepted ones is the Copenhagen Interpretation. Erwin Schrödinger composed a complicated thought experiment in which we imagine a cat in steel box. The box also contains some radioactive material that has a fifty percent probability of killing the cat in one hour. Theoretically, after being in the box for an hour, the cat will either still be alive or be dead, but we cannot know which unless we open the box. Until we observe the cat, it could be considered to be simultaneously alive and dead (particle and wave). So in certain cases, even apparent opposites can be true simultaneously. It is in the moment they are observed that they achieve ‘being’ and their relative status is confirmed as a definite reality.
While sophisticated, what Schrodinger’s cat does not account for is that the observer himself is also relative. Although we might imagine an absolutely objective observer who sees the truth of reality as it is, such an observer simply does not exist. All is relative as long as the observer is relative. So the next question is: What if we see reality from a deeper place, through the eyes of a universal perceiver? What could constitute such a perceiver? The observer alone cannot become the universal perceiver unless he begins to function from our whole being, from the place of our samadhi in the universal self. Such an observer can still make errors of judgment, because to come to any conclusion, he has to use his relative resources and individual angle of perception. However, from the spiritual standpoint, he has gained the quality of universality, which is to say he has come as close as is possible to objectivity. To see the world in an objective manner is not to find the absolute scientific truth about all that we see, but rather to perceive the world as it appears to our soul: as the total expression of the light of creation reflected in the clear mirror of natural me.
Coming back to the subject of time, when we contemplate the concept of time from our deeper perceiver, we begin to realize two things: firstly, that time itself is not fully objective (meaning independent of me), but is affected by the one who is conscious of it; and secondly, that the perceiver of time is himself an ‘event’ in time, determining how time is experienced and interpreted. It is a common illusion to think that the observer is merely experiencing time as something independent of himself. However, in order to recognize the movement of time, the observer’s sense of identity has to be continually recreated (within his own internal time). He then has to process his experiences to produce recognition and understanding. Because our consciousness is embedded in our own unique experience of time, how our individual consciousness has evolved will naturally change our perception of what time really is.
Science without Meditation is Incomplete
The discoveries of science reveal the amazing sophistication of the human mind. The individuals who are involved in the evolution of science possess extraordinary minds, and yet the question arises: How can they understand the nature of reality if they are not in touch with the truth of their own selves? If scientists or philosophers wish to bridge their contemplations and discoveries with spiritual truths, they must meditate and attain a certain level of spiritual awakening, or else all their mental exercises are futile. Since pure consciousness forms the existential base of any conclusion drawn by an observer, unless the nature of pure consciousness is realized, how can an observer know anything at all?
Scientists and thinkers must become conscious of their limitations, so that they can begin to transcend them. Regrettably, while they inquire about all possible subjects in the physical realm, they somehow refuse to confront their own basic spiritual fragmentation. What can a scientist tell us about time if he does not know who he is? How can one who is just a mind understand time at all? It has been clearly proven that the subjective point of view of the experiencer is indivisible from his experience of time and space. So, why has the experiencer himself remained uninvestigated? Obviously, he cannot be investigated by ordinary ‘scientific’ tools; higher faculties and means need to be employed, which include the direct knowledge of consciousness.
Time and Consciousness
As we have noted, any true understanding of time is impossible without a certain level of awakening of the consciousness of the experiencer. The reality we perceive is a direct reflection of who we are; if we are subconscious, we perceive only the surface of reality, a shallow representation of our own mind. Our experience of time is directly tied to how our me is evolving in the process of becoming, which is in direct proportion to the extent me is conscious of itself as pure subjectivity. The observer alone has no foothold in subjectivity, and his constantly fluctuating nature renders his perception of time unstable. But even awakening to pure subjectivity will not give us a truly firm ground of perception, because, for that, our soul must also have a stable position in the inner realm of universal subjectivity. Only through a combination of realizing the pure nature of consciousness and establishing the unconditional ground of being can our sense of time be linked to the truth of its essence.
Objective and Subjective Dimensions of Time
Life is changing because it flows in time. Heraclitus said, ‘No man ever steps into the same river twice.’ To express it even more accurately than this, we could say, ‘The same man will never step into the same river twice.’ The experiencer of time is an indivisible part of its flow. Our human body is constantly changing in time: growing, aging, and eventually dying. And even after death it will still be changing, disintegrating so that all of its elements can be recycled (although, at this point, it is no longer linked to our me and our subjective sense of time). On another level, we experience time within our psychological existence, through our thinking and emotional processes. Our psychological sense of time is directly tied to our interpretation of it. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we are always interpreting time, such as becoming restless, getting bored, or feeling how slowly or quickly time seems to be passing.
In the course of our planet’s evolution, the sense of me has been born, and this is the beginning of subjective time. Subjective time cannot entirely be isolated from objective time, which is itself measured by the passing of seasons, years, centuries, and millennia. However, whether we consider a hundred years a long time or a short time is a matter of subjective interpretation. In reality, a hundred years or a million years is neither short nor long – it is what it is. Nature does not have sense of time and hence is infinitely patient. In fact, even to say that nature is patient is no more than a poetic metaphor because nature does not experience subjective time; nature has no me. In order to interpret time objectively, scientists have tried to separate objective time from subjective psychological time (the time of the observer). But the problem with this is that they have begun with the assumption that time is objective. Of this, we cannot be fully sure, because even to have a concept of it, we need to interpret it through our subjective consciousness.
The subjective dimension of time is inherent to our me, and it can be experienced on two levels: psychological and spiritual. Spiritual time can also be experienced on several levels depending on the degree of our awakening. Most people understand what psychological time is, but only very few are able to experience time from their spiritual subjectivity. This is because most people do not have access to their spiritual selves, and hence their experience of reality is only based on the mind. In order to experience spiritual subjective time, the time of pure subjectivity, we must be in touch with the light of me; otherwise our me only exists through the continuous processing of reality via the senses, thoughts, and emotions. Awakening to me is the first step in entering spiritual time.
Time of Me and Time of Samadhi
When me awakens to its light, it begins to experience the internal time of its own pure subjectivity. Such time, experienced within the nature of me, can be described as the time of bare presence, for it has no relation to anything external to me; it occurs on the level of bare attention, which is composed of the light of me and pure intelligence bound together in their eternal dance of recognition. The time of presence is still a relative dimension of time that exists between psychological time and the real time of universal subjectivity. It is not a place where the soul should remain for too long, but rather a bridge to be crossed in order to enter the deeper, real time.
Our evolution toward real time is gradual. It is as gradual as our journey into true samadhi. Between the shores of bare presence and absence there are many steps to be taken which involve an individual’s increasingly deeper surrender to and absorption in the universal. As we move deeper into reality, our experience of time transforms and becomes more and more embedded in universal subjectivity. Our bare presence, with its internal time, dissolves as it is absorbed in that which is the original source of time, the dimension prior to the now.
Real Time: Union of Subjective Time and Universal Objective Time
Real time is the time of true samadhi. In real time, presence is constantly balanced by absence. In bare presence (or time-presence) each act of knowing time (or self-recognition) happens in reference to pure subjectivity. In real time, each act of knowing time (or self-recognition) happens with our dissolution, surrender, and absorption. In ordinary reality, time is ahead of us, and we always recognize it with delay. We could say that objective time is ahead of our subjective recognition, and hence also of our psychological subjective time. However, in bare presence, time is experienced simultaneously with the recognition of our existence. This is what we can call ‘pure subjective time’, where the recognition of the passing of time and the self-recognition of the light of me are one. In real time, on the other hand, who we are is ahead of the time of bare presence and is defined by the time of absence. The time of absence, or universal objective time, is ahead of pure subjective time. Universal objective time is the time-vehicle of pure subjective time: it carries our soul in its eternal flow into the unfathomable future. In order to integrate our sense of identity with the deeper time of universal subjectivity, the light of me needs to merge with universal time. In addition, it has to be fully transformed into its highest identity of universal individuality, which in itself contains its own higher subjective time.
In ignorance, we are the slaves of time; we are at its mercy, waiting for it to do things we want it to do, or becoming despondent when it takes those we love away from us. In awakening, we become equal to time; the passing of time is not separated from the movement of the becoming of me. Then, when we enter universal reality, time becomes subservient to the light of the self. It is not that the role time plays in our existence has diminished, but rather that universal objective time replaces ordinary objective time: a new, higher objective time is born. Everything that occurs in samadhi takes place within the flow of higher objective time. In addition, it is recognized and matched by our more evolved subjective time, the subjective time of our higher individuality.
These contemplations offer new insights into the experience of time as it relates to the journey of the evolution of the self. Initially, for unevolved creatures, time exists only in objective reality, ruled by its own laws and those of the physical realm. Then, through the evolution of me, the subjective dimension of time is born, which is linked to our psychological existence. Our psychological self experiences its own individual, internal time, although still within the environment of objective time and through the relative means by which it defines itself. At the next level, through awakening of pure consciousness, the time-presence of our pure subjectivity is born, in which subjective time is embodied through the light of me. Further on in our evolution, as we enter the universal reality through our surrender into absence, the dimension of universal objective time is awakened, which transforms our experiences and appreciation of both objective and subjective times. Here, the base of our existence in becoming is the universal objective time of I am, and that which completes it is the time of our higher individuality. This is what we call real time, where our subjective time is experienced in unity with universal time.
How does absorption in absence affect pure subjective time? In absence, in each instant that we process the event of becoming conscious of our own existence, we have already become dissolved into the beyond. We are ruled by universal objective time, and as a result, our subjective time is no longer defined by the speed of self-recognition, but rather by a combination of the immediate recognition of universal subjectivity and of the light of our soul that is constantly becoming reabsorbed in absence. In real time, both our dissolution and re-creation, creation and re-dissolution, are occurring simultaneously and in perfect equilibrium.
We can summarize the shift from spiritual subjective time to real time as follows: in spiritual subjective time, the recognition of me and of time are simultaneous and inseparable. In universal time experienced on its own (as in negative absence, where a sense of me is not also present or is suspended), the recognition of the deeper inner objective time happens prior to the recognition of spiritual subjective time. In real time, we realize an inherent unity between the objective time of universal pure subjectivity and the subjective time of our own higher individuality. We do not look at the inner objective time as external scenery or as a ‘time environment’ in which we exist. In each now, we merge with it, while simultaneously embodying the light of me.
The time of the inner reality flows according to its own laws, the laws of universal evolution. The whole of the inner cosmos moves incessantly, deeper and deeper into the ever-receding mystery of the transcendental heart of the primordial void. This journey has no end, for the temple of the beloved is infinite. When our soul arrives at the state of samadhi, she reaches unity with universal time, and yet she still experiences universal time (and her own existence) through the vehicle of pure individuality. She has transcended time-presence (the time of bare attention) and her time is now defined by her higher universal individuality embedded in absence. She is now in the true time of samadhi. The time of samadhi should not be confused with universal time; samadhi implies the unity of two dimensions: individual and universal. The time of samadhi, or the subjective time of our higher individuality, is the time of individual subjectivity experienced from its complete absorption in the universal time. It is this unity of the two dimensions of time that gives birth to the unique quality of real time experienced as the ultimate vehicle of our soul. Real time is the time of our evolution in the beyond.
The integration of various dimensions of time is an important part of becoming whole. After the time-presence of individual pure subjectivity is realized, it needs to be integrated with both psychological and objective time. One who has realized his essence does not stop experiencing psychological time. If he did, not only would he be dysfunctional on the human level, but his inner self would disintegrate as well, because a healthy human consciousness is the foundation (relative but requisite) of a complete soul. After we have realized real time, we should also be able to experience psychological and objective time naturally in their parallel respective realities. For instance, one can be in complete samadhi while still registering the passing of objective time on the human level. In fact, one can even experience boredom or restlessness in situations of objective time where these normally would be expected.
As we experience the relative dimensions of time (the external objective time of the physical reality and our psychological time) from the place of real time, their qualities are not necessary transformed in any dramatic way, but rather our relationship with them is changed. It is common for immature seekers to look for confirmation of their spiritual realization through some kind of radical change in their perception of the world. But there was nothing particularly wrong with their perception in the first place. In fact, as complex beings who have managed to survive in the initially hostile reality of the earth, we have already reached a high degree of sophistication in our perceptual relationship with the outer environment; indeed, on some levels, it has even become optimal. What needs to be changed is the place, or identity, from which we experience the physical dimension, which must shift to that of pure subjectivity.
Having said this, as the place from which we perceive moves to the inner plane, it does affect the quality of our perception of the outer world. While this change is not dramatic, it is nonetheless profound. All of our experiences, including our sense of time, become embraced by the space of stillness and absolute silence of our original nature. The relative now becomes experienced from within the unconditional: external objective time is experienced from universal time, psychological time from the time of presence-time, presence-time from the time of our higher individuality, and the time of our higher individual time from universal time. In short, real time becomes the master experiencer of all dimensions of time.
A complete soul exists on many levels simultaneously, and all of these levels are mutually inclusive. Not all of the dimensions of time are always present. For instance, in deep absorption, such as experienced in formal, sitting meditation, one may become oblivious to one’s mental presence and surroundings, and lose one’s sense of psychological and external objective time. While this is to be expected and is natural, one should not cling to such experiences as absolute, but should rather strive to embrace all of the dimensions of time as one multidimensional reality.
One may wonder how the principle of real time is reconciled with the state of pure rest and motionlessness in samadhi. This point is also addressed in another article: “Samadhi and the Absolute Theory of Relativity” speaks of the speed of the light of me being counter-balanced by the receding gravity of the source. When the speed of the light of me reaches its optimal velocity in the vacuum of absence and then integrates with the force of gravity and achieves free fall – this is pure rest. So the idea that pure rest is stationary is a misconception; it would contradict the dynamic nature of reality as a whole. To interpret one’s experience of pure rest as static is to misinterpret it due to a lack of orientation in the inner universe. True rest is moving; it is the eternal unfoldment of the living now.
It is similar to the fact that we do not feel that our planet is moving through space. This is actually positive in the sense that we are integrated with its constant movement on a physical level, even though we also know that the earth is rotating on its axis and revolving around the sun. Because the idea of the earth being in motion is counter-intuitive, for the last several million years humans religiously believed it was stationary, and, until relatively recently, one would have been burned at the stake for saying otherwise. In reality, not only is our earth moving, but our galaxy is also traveling through the universe at a tremendous and unimaginable speed. Our earth is just a minuscule piece in the cosmological movement of the expanding universe, and perhaps the universe we are part of is also moving through an even bigger universe that we are not yet aware of. Despite this, an ordinary person lives in the illusory comfort of inhabiting a stable universe, blissfully oblivious of the tremendously dynamic nature of reality. The universe is indeed stable, but not in the sense of being stationary – it is on a relentless journey through time and space. And so is the inner universe. To be truly one with that journey is stillness.
Our discoveries about the nature of real time can be summarized in a structured way. We have divided time into two main dimensions: objective and subjective. Objective time is defined as the flow of becoming in the physical plane. Subjective time relates to how our me experiences time. Initially, subjective time is purely psychological. Psychological time is both internal and external: on an internal level, it indicates the speed with which we experience our mental and emotional processes, which includes our interpretation of that speed; on an external level, it determines our interpretation and measurement of objective time.
Upon awakening to me, a deeper level of subjective time is activated (time of presence), the time through which we experience our pure subjectivity – pure subjective time. Then, as we begin the process of surrendering and entering the inner realm (the realm of absence), we merge with universal time and move beyond our presence of me. Universal time is independent of me, and hence it represents a higher, or universal, objective time. As the time of me merges with universal time, real time is born. In real time, the two dimensions of time meet: time of presence and time of absence. The experiencer of real time is our soul, who exists in a deeper dimension than presence-me. She is one with absence, and her identity is our higher universal individuality.
Thus the unity between universal time and the time of the soul is the real time. To realize real time, we must enter samadhi and reach the state of absence, which is the perfect absorption of the individual in the universal. In real time, our continuous and simultaneous dissolution and creation become one. After having crossed the various relative dimensions of time, we have stepped into time’s universal objective river in order to embody the supreme consciousness of its divine flow.
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