Time & the Timeless
Time is a dimension of the physical realm - at least so say most spiritual beliefs as well as physical science.
In other words, in the spiritual realm, there is no time.
This is both a revelation and a problem at the same time. If there is no time in the spiritual realm, then our soul or spirit - if we have any - is beyond time. Or to put it another way, we are spiritual beings who experience the physical through time and space.
But this also causes a big problem. Our language is based on the paradigm of time. And so is all of our communications. In fact communication can only happen in time, at least the way we understand communication and time.
Not only that, but our every thought is also based on time and in time. We cannot think in no time, and we cannot even think of no time.
No time, or the timeless, in our initial guesswork is considered to be eternity - which is really defined as a very long time. Then we think of the eternal - which means beyond time, or without time, or something that is outside of the dimension of time. And then we stop. Because we cannot really comprehend anything that is outside of time - at least not as long as we are thinking in physical terms.
And when we want to think outside of the physical realm, then we have to dissolve space as well as time - since we cannot think of space as anything outside of, or independent of the temporal.
To illustrate this, let us think of some questions:
Cause and effect can only happen in time. Then does that mean that in the spiritual realm, nothing is caused, and everything just happens? And if it happens, when does it happen? Is not "happening" itself a temporal process?
If time is an attribute of the physical realm, then why do we even think of creating such spiritual notions as "Resurrection", "Judgment Day", "Heaven and Hell", or even "Reincarnation"? Are these not terms that require time in which to exist?
What about using terms like "God will forgive us" or "God is compassionate". When will God forgive us? In which timeframe is God compassionate? But is not God beyond time?
Some go as far as to say that time is not an attribute of the physical, but a function of our thinking, or a creation of the mind.
But then we run ourselves into trouble again. If time is a creation of the mind, then when did we make it up? Or if time is a mental paradigm, and if paradigm shifts happen in time, then will we ever shift the time paradigm? If so, when? Will that be the end of time?
Time can only serve to confuse us (which itself can only happen in time) if we insist on describing the spiritual in temporal terms - unless we assume that time also exists in the spiritual domain.
But if the spiritual is timeless, then what is the meaning of enlightenment? Would it not mean that enlightenment can only become possible when we can suspend and transcend time - and by definition space?
And if we transcend time and space, and experience the purely spiritual, without any contamination of the temporal, then we must become empty of all that is - because all that is, only is, if it can be in time.
In other words, God is not. God cannot be. Otherwise, by definition, God will have to be temporal. And the only way we can think of a divinity that is all-inclusive yet is beyond what it includes, is to suspend time and thinking. Become blank, and enter the Void.
Therefore, if we assume that there is no time in the spiritual realm, the Void becomes our only access to the timeless Divine.
© Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
October 28, 2001
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