Time and Timelessness

As we have seen in the discussion of the “refusal of the ascetic”, there is a real experience and behind it a reality to the timeless, silent, unmoving Non-Manifest Reality, and this experience is so overwhelming that it makes the manifestation, the movement through Time, seem somehow unreal or illusory.

Where Sri Aurobindo goes with this issue is to recognize that the manifestation itself is real and derives from the transcendent timeless Reality, and thus, cannot simply be disposed of by a sole focus on the unmanifest transcendent.

This brings us then to the relation between Time and Timelessness. Timelessness represents the transcendent Reality in its static poise of conscious awareness. Time represents the self-extension of this Reality as a manifestation of the essential power and creative capacity of that transcendent conscious awareness of being.

Sri Aurobindo describes it thus “…what we mean by the Timeless is a spiritual status of existence not subject to the time movement or to the successive or the relative time-experience of a past, present and future. The timeless Spirit is not necessarily a blank; it may hold all in itself, but in essence, without reference to time or form or relation or circumstance, perhaps in an eternal uity. Eternity is the common term between Time and the Timeless Spirit. What is in the Timeless unmanifested, implied, essential, appears in Time in movement, or at least in design and relation, in result and circumstance. These two then are the same Eternity or the same Eternal in a double status; they are a twofold status of being and consciousness, one an eternity of immobile status, the other an eternity of motion in status.”

The two, Time and Timelessness, then can be seen as a “dual aspect of one and the same self-extension of the cosmic Eternal.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 2, Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara–Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 359-360