Yes, We Do Have Time!
The animals met in assembly and began to complain that humans were always taking things away from them. “They take my milk,” said the cow. “They take my eggs,” said the hen. “They take my flesh for bacon,” said the pig. “They hunt me for my oil,” said the whale. Finally the snail spoke. “I have something they would certainly take away from me if they could – something they want more than anything else. I have time!”
Some of us are always keeping time, some finding time, some making and others spending time. Some are having a good time; some going through bad times, some remembering the good old times and some are looking forward to better times. We often hear expressions like: ‘time is money’, ‘time flies’. Time is a very confusing subject.
Let us explore what time is, how it influences us, how to rise above it, what the Masters say about time, and what is beyond time. Actually, we do have time. The concept of time management implies that we can indeed manage time. In reality however, we can’t. Time just is. Our actions existing within time are what we manage, not time itself.
We often spend too much time on things that do not really matter – surfing the internet, watching TV, socializing and so on. This sometimes results in our not having enough time to do our daily meditation. This does not quite make sense because we do have enough time to do it. As the Master has pointed out, we all have twenty-four hours in the day. We just don’t always use our time efficiently.
But what is time? We have created the concept of time to help us understand our existence. But time also becomes a chain that binds us to the physical world. And time has certain unique characteristics: It is exact – every day has twenty-four hours, every hour has sixty minutes and every minute has sixty seconds. Time cannot be stored; it has to be used when it is there. Time is personal: you cannot give your time to anybody else – but you can waste your own or other people’s time.
We all have the same amount of time, irrespective of race, gender, nationality. If we live to eighty years we have 29,200 days or 700,000 hours, or 42,000,000 minutes. One thing is certain though – we do not know the future and how much time we have before we die. The Master teaches us to live in the present moment and do our daily two and a half hours of meditation, which will help us to quieten the mind and therefore enable us to rise above time.
Mirdad, the spiritual teacher in The Book of Mirdad, says that time remembers everything:
Man invites his own calamities and then protests against the irksome guests, having forgotten how and when and where he penned and sent out the invitations. But time does not forget; and time delivers in due season each invitation to the right address.
What a beautiful description of karma. There is, however, a bigger plan, which Mirdad calls the Omniwill:
There are no accidents in Time and Space. But all things are ordered by the Omniwill, which neither errs in anything, nor overlooks a thing.
Time is limited. Our breaths are numbered. Time is precious, so we must give thought to how we use it. We need to develop an awareness of the Father by striving to remember him every minute of the day by doing our simran. We need to spend every bit of spare time in remembrance of the Lord.
To understand what time is, we must stop being time-bound and go beyond time. And how do we do that? By stilling the mind. Only by turning from an outward, time-ridden perspective to an inward timeless perspective can we start to realize what a treasure we have within us.
When we are privileged to come into the presence of a true Master it is easy to lose all perspective of time. Whenever we are focused or concentrated – for example when reading a book, looking at a beautiful sunset, meditating or having our Master’s darshan – we briefly move out of the clutches of time.
At the entrance to the overland track at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania there is a plaque on a rock erected in honour of the founder of that national park, and it reads as follows: “Here there is no time and nothing matters.” The meaning of this becomes clear to the bushwalker when, on the second day of a five-day walk among thousand-year old trees, he understands that one can go beyond time, beyond the mind. And then nothing or nobody on this worldly plane really matters. While at the Dera we also can have this experience of being outside of time, where worldly matters do not concern us.
Another observation from Mirdad: “Time is a wheel created by the senses.” And then he adds, “O monks, upon the rim of the Wheel of Time is the road of Life and Death.” This is a rather bleak picture that Mirdad is painting, a rather hopeless diagnosis of man’s destiny in time. He asks the question: “Shall man then never free himself of the vicious circle of Time?” But then he gives a very positive prediction:
Man shall[overcome time] because man is heir to God’s holy freedom. The wheel of time rotates, but its axis is ever at rest. God is the axis of the wheel of time. Though all things rotate about Him in Time and Space, yet is He always timeless and spaceless and still. Though all things proceed from his Word, yet is His Word as timeless and spaceless as he.
What a wonderful argument why we should become still and quiet. And yes, we do have the time to do our meditation. The question now arises: How do we become still on our spiritual journey? By understanding time. Mirdad explains:
I say to you, slip from the rim of Time into the axis and spare yourselves the nausea of motion. Let Time revolve about you, but you revolve not with time.
So how to overcome time? The Masters teach us to stop doing and start being. We do this of course by meditation. We are so absorbed in our daily lives, that we do not realize how quickly life is passing. The call to leave it comes before we even think of preparing for what lies beyond.
While we are time-bound, we are limited. The Masters teach us to rise above time, above limits, because we are a spark of the divine. By becoming still and silent we find who we really are – the temple of the living God, made in the image of God. But we must move to the level of the spirit which is beyond time and space before we can understand God.
When we turn within under the guidance of a perfect living Master, we travel on the ‘road less travelled’, learn to become still, go beyond the mind, beyond time. Then we lose our identity – the drop becomes the ocean – only then do we experience the joyous state of non-being.
More words from Mirdad:
God’s Word is time untimed, and space unspaced. Was there a time when you were not with God? Is there a place where you are not in God?
In our own way we should budget this most precious thing, time. Those odd bits of time, slipping away here and there unnoticed, should be carefully used in doing simran and remembering the Lord. Yes, we do have the time to give two and a half hours to the Master every day – to obtain the only thing that will bring us happiness.
Sultan Bahu gives us a timely message:
When the one Lord revealed himself to me,
I lost myself in Him. …
And even the very limits of time and space
have all dropped from my consciousness.
My separate self has merged in the whole.