Monday 1 October 2012

Time and boundaries

Time is a construction, and a tricky one. We are said to exist in time and space and while this seems to be an inevitable idiom, it comes to its limits. Space is physically defined, time isn't defined beyond nanoseconds, and when you really get down to it, you have the sense of being here at this time, and in this space. Being in this space means that what whatever your skin touches, that's it. Being in this time means that you extend or project or in one way or another imagine yourself to be limited by the sense of passing seconds. Seconds, minute and hours do indeed pass, as do planets, stars and constellations, as they turn and turn, but just how that impinges on the sense of time is mysterious. I would say that the sense of time is actually an absence: an absense or presence of self. When you get lost in an activity that absorbs you, you're doing something different with time. Press any hard-boiled scientist to prove that time is objective, and I reckon the argument will go totally Irish.

Time is on my watch and in my heart. Being Swiss as well as lots of other things, I have an unfair advantage when it comes to time. The more time I spend in South Africa, the more pride I find in myself, and that's a surprise, of being Swiss. If I say I am Swiss, I am not entirely truthful. Immanuel Kant would have me choose a category. I am South African. I am Swiss. I am Scottish. I am Spanish. I am English. I know that these strands of family background are actual, but how are they relevant?

The verb to be makes one tense. You have to choose in which kind of tension you wish to live. The very name of our Creator, in the Old Testament is "I an who I am". The present moment is paramount and death is about crossing from one moment to another kind of moment, yet keeping something that's eternal in the moment.

What's kept?

In another blog I referred to a continuum. Everything that's properly ultimate is continuous. Who you are in time connects with who you are beyond time. These days there's a lot of fascination about checking out your past lives, and regressing. Try going forwards. Then try going outwards. Try going any way you want. Here's Burt Goldman telling us to try jumping. "See you in another universe," he says. Thats's okay, so long as you don't find yourself stroking a cat on a tin roof.

Seriously, the boundaries of who you perceive yourself to be are bound up with your sense of time. I have an alter ego called Waterman. He is simply everywhere in the human domain. Like water, he flows and presents as a swirl, a bubble, a tide, a spirngtide, a tsunami. Or is still. He has very grey eyes. Despite all his movement and energy, he knows that the human species is contained within time. He wonders what will remain of the memory of humans 150 thousand million yeras from now.

I was trying to explain a little bit about this to students the other day.

"You imagine yourselves in respct of time," I said. "How far into the future do you project, habitually? Three years? One year? Ten?"

They gave me their answers, the average of which was two to three years. The one bright spark asked me where I projected, habitually. "150 thousand million years," I said, promptly. She simply laughed.

But I don't laugh. In 150 thousand million years, when all our prejudices, fears, stupidity and fear have come to nothing, where and what will the memory of who we are be?

We're parcelling ourselves, self-wrap, as we go along and each one is crucial. We're delivering ultimata every day, and may God forgive us for being Vespasian's monkey. You remember the line, Peter O'Toole and the top of Masada.

For those who want to experiment about going beyond the grief of believing in time, I recommend Gordon Smith's Intuitive Studies. Thankyou, Gordon. Time seems real, but isn't real enough. There's more, much more, and all will be revealed in time, if you can accept that time is more than sixty seconds, sixty minutesand twenty-four hours.

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