The Timeless Infinite and the Manifestation in Time

Time regulates our lives as it regulates the entire universal manifestation.  In modern civilisation, everything is scheduled and regimented through the fixed processes of Time as measured by our clocks.  Trains move, events are scheduled, airplanes take off, and our lives are conditioned by habituating ourselves to the organization of Time that our civilisation has developed.  Time is, however, not solely an artificial construct developed for purposes of coordinating the actions of human beings in a social environment.  If we look to universal Nature we see repetitive cycles of day and night, moon cycles, solar cycles, seasonal changes, all of which speak to a larger sense of Time that has been codified into our clocks and schedules, but which exists and rules our lives within this larger framework.  There is also the progression of Time that we identify as past, present and future which can be seen in the unfolding events of the cosmos.   Immersed as we are in Time, we find it difficult to understand the possibility of a Timeless Existence.

Sages, Philosophers, Yogis and Seers have long sought the experience of a Timeless Reality that exists outside of Time.  Practical experience has, for the most part, led them to conclude that one must abandon Time in order to attain the Timeless–that in fact, these are two opposite and contrary states of consciousness, relating to two opposite and contrary modes of existence.  The experience of the Timeless occurs in certain states of awareness that either arise spontaneously or through long and dedicated effort , such as development of the trance state of Samadhi, to free the mind from its bondage to the world of forms and actions in Time.

Sri Aurobindo notes that these two seemingly opposite and contrary statuses are actually One.  It is the limitation of the mental consciousness which makes them seem irreconcilably opposed.  “In reality, as we find when we see things with a knowledge founded on the supramental identity and vision and think with the great, profound and flexible logic proper to that knowledge, the two are only co-existent and concurrent status and movement of the same truth of the Infinite.  The timeless Infinite holds in itself, in its eternal truth of being, beyond this manifestation, all that it manifests in Time.  Its time consciousness too is itself infinite and maintains in itself at once in a vision of totalities and of particularities, of mobile succession or moment sight and of total stabilising  vision or abiding whole sight what appears to us as the past of things, their present and their future.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the SupramentalTime Vision , pg. 853