Our Ignorance of the True Nature of Time

After exploring the limitation based on our ignorance about the superconscient realms of our being, Sri Aurobindo next addresses the limitations that are incurred as a result of our ignorance about Time. “We exist superficially by a becoming in Time; but here again out of that becoming in Time the surface mind, which we call ourselves, is ignorant of all the long past and the long future, aware only of the little life which it remembers and not of all even of that; for much of it is lost to its observation, much to its memory. We readily believe,–for the simple and compelling but insufficient reason that we do not remember, have not perceived, are not informed of anything else,–that we came into existence first by our physical birth into this life and shall cease to exist by the death of this body and the cessation of this brief physical activity. But while this is true of our physical mentality and physical vitality, our corporeal sheath, for they have been constituted at our birth and are dissolved by death, it is not true of our real becoming in Time. For our real self in the cosmos is the Superconscient which becomes the subliminal self and throws up this apparent surface self to act out the brief and limited part assigned to it between birth and death as a present living and conscious self-formation of the being in the stuff of a world of inconscient Nature. The true being which we are no more dies by the cessation of one life than the actor ceases to exist when he has finished one of his parts or the poet when he has poured out something of himself in one of his poems; our mortal personality is only such a role or such a creative self-experssion. Whether or no we accept the theory of many births of the same soul or psychic being in various human bodies upon this earth, certain it is that our becoming in Time goes far back into the past and contnues far into the future.”

Despite this obvious fact of existence which leads up to the birth, and existence that survives the death of a physical entity, it is nevertheless true that we do not take cognisance of this wider perspective of Time and existence which could more clearly begin to explain the purpose and significance of our lives, and thereby begin to provide us true knowledge about who we are and what we are here for. We do not truly understand the antecedent past, nor the pending future before us, and we remain ignorant and frustrated within the walls of what we experience as our present lives.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 11, The Boundaries of the Ignorance