- An indefinite period (usually marked by specific attributes or activities)
- The continuum of experience in which events pass from the future through the present to the past
- The time as given by a clock
As we begin, what is to be, the final topic of this book, I complete a process that started in 2002, and involved almost four years of writing notes and making observations. A long time in my life, but in the life span of the universe, insignificant.
Scientists have speculated that the universe was created in a big bang many billions of years ago, that out of nothing, came something, but I can’t buy into that.
Everything is, was, and always will be; out of nothing, comes nothing. Sure, this universe may have started expanding again billions of years ago, but that could be the result of a massive contraction from a previous universe. The word uni means “one, single” but why should there only be one universe? Perhaps it is all our minds are ready to perceive at the moment, and as we cannot “see” another we all agree that this is the only universe, but we all know how reliable our eyes are! But that is just our minds telling us that if we can’t see something it cannot exist. If you have ever tried to push two magnets together and felt them repel or attract each other you will know that just because the eyes can’t see something, and the mind can’t perceive, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there!
Perhaps there are a billion universes just like this one; perhaps this is the largest; perhaps this is the smallest. There are many “perhaps” but we shouldn’t discount anything. We have many intelligent scientists all using their big brains to tell us what happened, when, and why, but they can only go on what has already been discovered and build on that.
“Perhaps” we should throw away our science books and just let the insight come to us, but that doesn’t mean we should just sit back and sleep whilst life passes us by, not that the universe cares though.
Several days ago I was outside looking at the stars. The temperature read minus twenty two degrees celsius, and I suddenly realised I was getting incredibly cold. I started to think what would happen to me if I stayed out all night and surmised that I would probably expire from the cold but as I looked up at the stars and the trees and the snow on the ground. I realised that only my girlfriend, friends and family would care. The stars would still twinkle in the night, the snow would still be on the ground and the trees would still sway gently in the breeze. It was only Man who “cares,” and who attaches meaning to everything – the universe just is. It is in order. It always will be. Even when the sun and the earth are gone, the universe will be in order.
For some reason we seem to think that the earth is the centre of the universe, that everything “revolves” around us, our needs, our desires, our sadness, our happiness, but none of that matters to the universe.
It is not that it is cold and uncompassionate, these are man-made words to describe Man, do you see? The language of the universe is indecipherable to us, but still we try to explain it in Man’s language, which is limited
How we cling to this life though. How we long to make it last forever. How we desire to see just one more day on the planet. To do what? To hate, to destroy, to desire, to conquer?
“Just one more day so I can see the sun rise,” we ask some indeterminate supernatural being. “We want to live, we want to feel the blood through our veins, we don’t want to die.” But if you watch a snowflake melt in your hand, is the snowflake really dying?
Give me some time
We all want a little more time, don’t we? We all want more hours in the day. For what? To work so we can pay our electric bills, or go on holiday, or buy a new computer? What would the universe think of all this? Insignificant?
Well, it should be clear to you by now that everything we have ambition for, everything we desire, is insignificant universally. Even the good work you do trying to save the rainforest is insignificant in the universe. Remember in four billion years or so, they predict that the sun will expand, taking us and most of the solar system with it. We shall be no more.
But that shouldn’t concern us; you and I will only be alive for maximum of 100 years more (probably a lot less), so instead of dedicating ourselves to work, and causing suffering for everyone else, shouldn’t we be looking inward towards the universe, and trying to understand ourselves? Because we are the universe.
We are part of the whole. No birth, no death, just change. But still we are frightened of death, which is more natural than any other process. No beginning, no end, just change. Do you see? And yet we stand at funerals giving eulogies, and weeping, asking ourselves how we can carry on living without our loved ones; and the stars still twinkle, and the trees blow gently in the wind… Are you starting to understand? I hope so.
Time is a man-made process, although the movement of the stars, the rising of the sun and the change in seasons is a natural one. Yes, days end and night comes, but then day comes. If we are to truly understand what is going on, we will have to stop creating division between everything including day, night, today, yesterday, tomorrow. Do you see? They have no significance.
You will argue that time is evident in Man, especially where you can see the ageing process taking place, but does that mean that all time is going from birth towards death? Surely that is a man-made concept?
Last week I tried an experiment. I changed my computer clock to some random time and some random date (I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off!) I took down clocks, didn’t read the paper, and didn’t watch tv; instead, I immersed myself in my writing, and before long I didn’t know what day it was or what time it was except by looking out the window and seeing it was getting dark.
For the first few days I suffered a lot of pain. I needed to know the time. I needed to know what day it was. What date it was. It just seemed like a part of me was missing. Like I was missing out on life by not knowing where the week began and the week ended. But after five days I began to relax. I wasn’t missing out on anything, that was just my mind playing tricks on me. And when I looked up at the stars that night, I realised I hadn’t missed a thing.
So why do we place so much importance on time? Is it that we think we don’t have a lot so we have to do, and acquire as much as we can in the limited time available? What if no one told you how long a human life was? What if no one forced you to learn everything you could between one and eighteen?
What if a time limit wasn’t placed on the amount of time you worked? What if there were no weekends to look forward to? What if no one told you to retire at 65? Do you see? With every step of the human life, we attach time to it. We break it down into blocks and analyse it.
“Right alan, you will go to junior school from 5 until 12, then you will go to senior school from 12 until 18, then you will go to university from 18 until 21, after which, you will work for 44 years exactly, until you retire at 65, and then you can do what you like from 65 until you die. Oh, and make sure to plan time to have a family, that’s very important too!” It’s too much, isn’t it?
Why do we keep the human controlled like this?
Well there is one reason, and that is so those in power can get the maximum out of us while we are alive. Why else would they be so insistent that we went to school at 5 (or earlier) and learned as much as we could until 21? Why wouldn’t they just let us be? It’s simple, because we are born to serve. We are born to serve those in powerful positions, and help them become richer. No other reason.
But the human is so much more than that. He is not a servant of the rich, he is the most intelligent species in the world characterized by superior intelligence, articulate speech, and erect carriage (remember?). He has a mind so large he can explore the entire universe with it and beyond. He is part of the whole. He is not someone to be pushed around into little time slots, even the birds and the fish (with their distinctly inferior intelligence) don’t get controlled like that, and they’re just birds and fish!
Breaking free of time
How hard would it be to get rid of all of your clocks and your calendars? Impossible?
“Must dash, got a train/bus/tube/plane to catch.”
“Oh no, I’m late, my boss will kill me!”
But we must free ourselves from the bondage of the time piece. A great invention, I grant you, which helps keep our economy “ticking over” quite nicely thank you, but unfortunately, it is something we run our entire life to. Does the universe care if we are late for a meeting, or are late for drinks with friends? No it just carries on in order.
Time, as we see it, is unnatural; it is not universal time, but time invented to control Man. Whatever the physicists say about time, we will never understand it until we let go of our attachment to human time. Remember what we said about science? They could be wrong! Oh, and in fact, have been many, many times.
We want to know if it is possible to go back in time, or go forward in time, and the scientists do their calculations, some saying it is possible, some saying it isn’t, but isn’t all this talk of time travel just wanting to get to any time instead of now? Instead of being present in this moment, which is now?
You may go away thinking: “He didn’t answer any of the questions I wanted to know about time,” but time is indescribable in human words (whether by means of verbal language or mathematical models).
We don’t understand it, and we will never be able to, unless we surrender ourselves to the moment. The point where time is neither moving backwards or forwards. And anyway, what is backwards, and what is forwards? And while we’re at it, which way is up in the universe, and which way is right, and which way is left? We will have to explore it with our own minds. That is all I can say.
by alan macmillan orr
“The natural mind – waking up”