Time has a strange existence. Something we can't touch or feel, or see. We can't talk to it and it doesn't talk to us. Yet it is a teacher, a silent one – not a word heard or said. It engages us without pause, has unlimited patience, to a fault. It has no anger or love, sympathy or apathy, or any attachments. Yet it is a Healer. It watches all that goes on but never interferes or alters any of it. Yet it decides our fate. It gives each one of us a part of itself, but doesn't tell us how much of it we have.
No life exists without Time. Time is a quiet reality of our life – much the same as God. Perhaps both are the same. Time and God are words created by us, to give recognition to the source of Life, or to Life itself, as we live and experience it.
We live, and we call it life. But what is this phenomenon called Time, which brings us into being, in time, for a length of time, to serve time – all without understanding it, yet taking it for granted – not caring for it until it's too late, and we see it slipping away – wanting then to hold on to it, which is something it doesn't allow. Time waits on no one, for no one.
Time is our inseparable companion – it never leaves us. Little realizing its central role in all our thoughts and actions, it constantly finds mention in all that we say and do, simply because everything takes up time, sometimes a little of it, other times more of it. And when the little and more add up, it becomes all of it. Our language is full of Time – if it wouldn't be, there would be no language; we wouldn't be able to communicate. Our dictionaries are full of words which, in some way or the other, are an expression of Time.
Past – present – future; yesterday – today – tomorrow,
was – is – will; early – late, pre- & post-,
busy – free, before – after.
A few examples amongst countless others.
Time also has infinite qualities. Brimming with wisdom, it is all knowing. We express its attributes in many ways.
Time is precious – Time knows all – Time will come –
Time will tell –Time will decide – Time will show the path.
Like a parent, it holds our hand and guides us through the ups and downs of life, coaxing us to learn from our mistakes. But we are obstinate. We don't value what Time teaches us.
We respect and value all that is precious to us – our life, our children, our family, our friends, our wealth – but not Time. We don't have time for Time, even though we depend on it, from the time we take our first breath to the time we breathe our last. We take it for granted, as if it will never end, knowing fully well it will. We witness it all the time, but turn a blind eye where we are concerned. We can't fool Time, but we can fool ourselves. We do it all the time.
If Time is timeless and absolute, it should occupy the most important space in our life. It's quite the opposite, perhaps because we consider only those things precious which are limited. If something is available in abundance, it is of little or no value to us. It becomes valuable only when we need it, but can't have it. We seem to think our Time is unlimited, which is perhaps the reason we neither value it, nor give it the attention it deserves.
There are two aspects to our Being – one Spiritual, the other Physical. One timeless, the other time-bound. Much like a lifetime and a movie of three hours: one real, the other a short-time experience. While we watch the movie, which is nothing but a projection on a blank screen, we enjoy, suffer, laugh, and cry throughout. We experience emotions of love, fear, anger, surprise, joy and pride; but deep inside, we know it's just a movie, and when it's over, we will be back where we belong – to Life. The movie is not real, but we get deeply engaged in its experience. It's quite the same with reality and life. We fail to differentiate one from the other.
Time is limitless, but not unlimited in the dimension of a Lifetime. It sent us into this world for a limited time to experience it, not get lost in it. Time, in our limited lifetime, is precious. Once it's gone, we can't bring it back. We can't stop it, or borrow it, or own it. We can't increase it or decrease it, or push it away. But we can use it – for our benefit or detriment.
In our wisdom, we try to divide time to answer the call of age, duty, and responsibility. Education, work, family, health, and leisure take up a fair share of it, while other activities which benefit us in some way or the other consume what's left of it. Our time is mostly occupied in gratifying the physical aspect of life, which is time-bound. We don't spend any of our life in exploring our roots, our source, our beginning – where we came from.
What is beyond the physical – beyond body, beyond Life, beyond mind – beyond the limitation of Time? Time itself, or God himself? Mystical, spiritual, transcendental, ethereal – these are words we created to express that energy, that eventuality, that truth. And this brings us to another question.
What is Life? Does it exist, or is it merely an experience – an illusion – while reality lies elsewhere? But Life is so real. We are born in a body. We can see, touch, feel, think, decide, interact, and give birth to new life. Superior to all other life forms, we can discriminate, exercise choice, and determine right from wrong. We can do anything and everything. How can we ever think we are not real, that life is just an experience?
We think life is the beginning and end of our existence. Yet we pray to a higher Being, whom we bow to as the Giver. We frequent our places of worship in the quest of connecting with the Truth. We constantly refer to Time and God – have faith in God, Time knows all, leave it to God, let Time decide.
In our subconscious, we believe in the existence of the afterlife, or what lies beyond. So what answer will we give to the Almighty? God sent us here with a plan. We are God's children. We say, “Our Father, thou art in Heaven,” and “Allah Ishwar tero naam, sabko sanmatti de bhagwan”1 Irrespective of our religious affiliation, we believe in that one Supreme Being, that one Supreme truth.
On the physical front we have Science, which does not rely on emotion, belief, dogma, or heresay. It relies on proof, physical proof. In its quest to understand the creation, it has constantly improved and bettered itself, discovering new frontiers. At some point in time, scientists, while deciphering the electron, came to the conclusion that it didn't really have mass, but behaved as if it did, and this brought to light its illusory nature. This phenomenon has been beautifully expounded by Mystics: “There is no truth in this world; everything we see here is, at best, an honest lie.”
We have to find truth in the time we have in this life. If this time runs out, we have to again come back in Time to seek it. This cycle continues endlessly until we find the truth. Our Time is complete if we find it, incomplete if we don't.
We exhaust all our time in developing life skills; perhaps some of it should be employed in nurturing Time skills before it runs out.
This world is all about Time. How we understand Time, how we treat Time, how we use Time. How attentive we are to Time will make a difference to our future in Time.
Time has taught us that if we seek something, we will find it; or it will find us sooner or later. We only have to want to find it – be it love, happiness, misery, anxiety, or truth. Time will not let us down.
Science is limited by the mind; the mind is limited by the body. And both mind and matter are limited by Time. We are as much a part of, as a result of Time. We have come from Time and we will go back into Time. It depends on how we use our Time here. We can make the best of it, or let it get the best of us. We can get consumed by the illusion or look for Reality.
The choice is ours to make.
This world You gave me
of which I had little clue
To rule it was my dream – so close it always seemed
Of earth and water blue
You said be sure 'tis not true
It’s but a mirage …
Live and love on it, but not pursue
- “Your names are Ishwar and Allah. Give wisdom to all, O God.”