In spiritual parlance, a lot of weightage is given to being centred in the present moment. Not being stuck in the past or future is said to lead to a heightened sense of security and well being. These are known as the three times – the past, the present and the future. There is some degree of accuracy in stating that time is very subjective, and that the mental accumulation of time is a primary reason for our continued preoccupation with personal welfare and self grasping. If we could completely give up the notion of time or rather the sense of the ceaseless passing of it, we might actually be less burdened with ourselves. Death brings an end to our machinations and deliberations and it might be possible that our enchantment with time originates with our innate certainty that all things end. Death is a state of baselessness, of absence and in a manner of speaking, such an ‘absence‘ can be nourished and cultivated while we are still aware of time.
Many might argue that this would mean denying our vitality and a veritable negativism. However, with absence, things or actions don’t end. What does, is the ownership of such processes. We cease to identify with fruition and function without becoming an agent of our deeds and thoughts. Transcending time likely means curbing the assimilation of elements that bring into focus our role in whatever we are involved in. That means we take action but without a sense of the “me” doing such and such thing. This applies equally to external events as well as private mental activity. In our certainty that ‘we’ are the instruments that initiate, create and stop any action, we forego the possibility that we could be part of systems that are far greater than whatever we are able to conceive or comprehend. With the cultivation of absence, we become quiet and might get a glimpse of such systems. Our time is limited and with the contemplation of silence, with the abandoning of self grasping we nourish mystery, possibility and the capability to bestow upon ourselves, the gift of timelessness.
What we perceive as the passage of time could simply be the sense of our biological and organic structure changing and decaying in contrast to the stillness and permanence of whatever might be the base for this absence that is so difficult to put into language. Just like for us to perceive movement, we need a backdrop or reference of relative non movement, the passage of time could need a reference that is non time. Our bodies are time, our actions, our environment, our thoughts are all time. In transcending these, we might actually reach the reference that is not of time. This is perhaps not as outlandish a notion as it might initially sound. We serve ourselves, and well, so that we can access this absence, this timelessness. So that means we live and act and do, but as mentioned before with an occasional reminder to ourselves that we might not be all there is. And that our role in things might just be an illusion. In harbouring such a stance, we live with wonder, at our own impermanence and what might lie beyond, in the realm of permanence.
Just like fire and heat are inseparable, time and timelessness are too. However, for the generation of fire, something must burn. Perhaps we ‘burn’ in order to see time as well as have a chance at timelessness! For our lives to have true meaning, time that we are, must reach out to this absence, to this timelessness. In doing so, we give up our petty concerns and look in wonder at an absolute, for the lack of any other word, that is just within our reach, if we so seek, given the limited time we have!