The Sands of Timelessness and the Narrow Gate Between the Chambers of Ourglass
I'm still thinking about Magnus' comment on the nature of time, and how it is becoming more "dense" and therefore "speeding up" -- or, if it isn't, it might as well be, given the rapidity of change.
Then again, perhaps all of the superficial changes can blind us to the more singular, revolutionary changes. In other words, seeing so much change can make one cynical and detached about change itself, as if all change is of the same magnitude -- for example, that a change of presidents is not much different than a change of fashion.
No doubt metaphysical Darwinism also contributes to the confusion, for it is a doctrine of perpetual change, which is no doctrine at all. In Darwinism, the only thing that doesn't change -- for it is unchangeable -- is the Darwinist's mind. But he never explains how purely flowing contingency results in a head like a rock.
One could say the same of the climate changists. Since science proves beyond doubt that the climate is always changing, how can there be deviations from a fanciful norm? It is like trying to take the ideological temperature of a cold-blooded liztard whose temperament changes with the financial needs of the moment.
Anyway, I'm going to try to weave together several previous posts on the nature of time. Remember, this is not for your benefit, but for mine, as I attempt to condense the arkive. Plus, I find that there is absolutely no reason for me to try to rethink things that I may have already adequately thunk in the past. I don't want to just repeat myself without even knowing it. And again, that's the problem -- I really have no idea what's in the arkive, since I write the posts so quickly. This actually gives me a chance to reflect upon and tweak them where necessary.
Eternity lasts forever, but time takes time. A lot of stuff has to happen for it to be fulfilled. Once you recognize this, it is like waking up in a burning house, as Magnus so aptly put it. You have to quickly identify what is essential, grab what you need, and get the hell out! (And of course, wake up your loved ones.)
What makes it all so... thrilling is that you could very well have 70 or 80 years to get out of the house, or you might have only two seconds. You just never know. You could say that a spiritual practice is like the fire drill that prepares us for any exigency.
That the atheist imagines this is "comforting" is further testament to their pitifully frivolous lives. I've posted in the past about the point at which I dramatically realized the burning stakes involved. Once your life bears on eternity, then the implications of your every action have a kind of quasi-infinite resonance. I won't say "infinite," since that is a category reserved for the Absolute, but you know what I mean. Your entire life is transposed to a higher key, several octaves above the aimless absurcularity of the flatland atheist croaking his repetitive ditties about the glories of matter.
After all, your charge is, like B'atman, to be more than a man. Or, if you prefer, it is simply to be a man, properly understood. But either way, you get the point: it is to transcend, not momentarily, but continuously, even while being more fully "in the world" than the half-dead secularists.
Being that we are in the image of the Creator, it is not as simplistic as being "in the world, but not of it." Rather, it is BEING in, and being IN the world, even while one's essential being derives from a radically different source than the closed horizontal world. After all, the world cannot transcend, much less redeem, itself. Nor can we in the absence of nonlocal assistance. Why this is not understood even by secular intellectuals is a mystery to me. They must truly believe that truth is just opinion.
The past recedes like so much driftwood behind an Ocean liner, while the future comes at us like a dark juggernaut out of the fog. In short, because we are finite we are in time and subject to its relentless passage, which brings birth and death, growth and decay, choice and circumstance, chance and necessity, geometry and music, drudgery and adventure.
But at the same time -- or timelessness -- human beings may uniquely stand "outside" or "above" the flow of time. We may sit on the river bank and watch it pass, and even write books that attempt to reveal deeper patterns in the flow of time.
In other words, all other animals live in time, not history. But human beings transpose time into history. Once we fully realize the implications of this, we can awaken from that particular nightmare and live in a transhistorical position, which is a sort of inverse analogy of the prehistorical position, since we are conscious of what the cave dweller was only unconscious. Do you see the point? Truly, it is as if there is pre-Enlightenment man, vulgar Enlightenment man, and civilized post-enlightenment man. The pre- and the post- share some characteristics, but the post- has been burnished by the fires of history.
Schuon expresses it well: "What is human is what is natural to man, and what is most essentially or most specifically natural to man is what relates to the Absolute and which consequently requires the transcending of what is earthly in man.... There is a great deal of talk these days about 'humanism,' talk which forgets that once man abandons his prerogatives to matter, to machines, to quantitative knowledge, he ceases to be truly 'human'.... What is most profoundly and authentically human rejoins the Divine by definition."
What this means is that mere Enlightenment man is necessarily less than a man, for he has exiled himself from his own origin and center. He is permanently "stuck" in the middle of time and history, with no way out or up.
Elsewhere Schuon writes with characteristic precision and lucidity that man posseses "objectivity of intelligence: the capacity to see things as they are in themselves; next, objectivity of will, hence free will; and finally, objectivity of sentiment, or of soul if one prefers: the capacity for charity, disinterested love, compassion. [T]he 'human miracle' must have a reason for being that is proportionate to its nature, and it is this that predestines -- or 'condemns' -- man to surpass himself; man is totally himself only by transcending himself. Quite paradoxically, it is only in transcending himself that man reaches his proper level; and no less paradoxically, by refusing to transcend himself he sinks below the animals which -- by their form and mode of passive contemplativity -- participate adequately and innocently in a celestial archetype; in a certain respect, a noble animal is superior to a vile man."
Now, the noble Raccoon not only transposes time into history, but history into transhistory, AKA, the Adventure of Consciousness (or "Journey to God," if you like). Rather than looking at consciousness as a mere side effect of the chance arrangements of matter, he turns the cosmos outside in and right side up, and sees consciousness as a "projection" of eternity into time.
This is how it is that history exists. It is how Man exists. It is how consciousness exists. It is how Life exists. It is how the Cosmos itself exists. But it is also why they exist and why they must exist in any Cosmos worthy of the name. A Cosmos will be alive and conscious, or it will not be a Cosmos, just an incoherent chaosmos. But a chaosmos is strictly impossible, for it is a contradiction in terms. Chaos -- like any change -- can only exist as a privation. We can only know of it because there is order, just as we can only know of the change of Darwinism because the human soul is of the substance of changelessness.
Things are not only caused horizontally by the past and the "below." Rather, their ultimate cause must emanate from the "future" and the "above," which is why there are different quasi-autonomous or "discontinuously continuous" worlds such as physics, biology, psychology, theology -- or matter, life, mind and spirit. Clearly, if you have even a rudimentary post-enlightenment grasp of things, you realize that manifest existence must flow in the ontologically prior direction of Spirit--> Mind --> Life--> Matter. You know, One Cosmos Under God. The alternative is just too stupid -- and boring -- to waste one's time on, which is to say, one's life, mind and spirit, i.e., eternity.
I would like to briefly discuss this in the context of a short but extremely relevant article by Schuon called The Symbolism of the Hourglass. Schuon's account of this symbolism is in perfect accord with everything we have discussed above.
In its ordinary use, the hourglass is "a symbol of time and death." The flowing sand signifies the irreversibility of time, as the substance of our being gradually dissipates into death. Furthermore, "the sterility of sand evokes the nothingness of things as mere earthly accidents," while "the cessation of movement reminds us that the heart will stop and life will end."
However, looked at another way, we can see that the two compartments "represent the high and the low, heaven and earth." On the one hand, there is a flowing movement and a "pole of attraction" that pours from eternity into time, spirit into matter, i.e., (↓). But as mentioned above, the method and the goal of Raccoon spirituality involves turning the cosmos upside-down -- which is to say, right side up. Thus, as Schuon explains,
"Spiritually, a movement toward the higher is always a sort of turning upside down, for the soul turns away from the world, which imprisons and disperses it, thus reversing the movement of its will or love." In other words, we invert the hourglass -- or ourglass, as it were -- "so that the heavenly attraction should be represented by an ascending movement of the sand into the upper compartment," i.e., (↑). This is why our aspiration is simultaneously an attraction, or a movement into the orbit of the Great Attractor. Indeed, it is why spiritual aspiration "goes somewhere" instead of just in circles.
I am reminded of a Star Trek episode I saw the other night. It had to do with a parallel universe where lived a "mad" version of a sane individual from the other universe. The madman was traveling through hyperspace, enviously trying to destroy the sane one. However, if the two should actually make contact, it would instantaneously destroy both universes. Either Kirk or Spock made the comment that there was a "circular" area where the two dimensions made contact and the two could pass back and forth.
This got me to thinking of how the different dimensions of the cosmos relate. For example, "mind" is clearly in a different dimension than matter. And yet, there is a point of contact, most notably in the human head. This immediately made me think of the small circle that separates the upper and lower dimensions of the hourglass.
But in the cosmic deli, there are not just the two chambers, but many, depending upon how finely one wishes to slice the ontological salami. For example, in Wilber's Integral Psychology, he has an appendix of detailed charts that correlate various levels of spirit from different traditions. However, the takeaway point is that in each case, the lower is explained by the higher, not vice versa. The higher is ontologically prior, but temporally later -- which is a truism that the Darwinist simply cannot wrap his unevolved mind around.
Back to the symbolism of the hourglass. The following description by Schuon exactly parallels how I explained it in chapter four of my book: "The expression 'poles of attraction' calls to mind the image of two magnetic centers, one above and one below.... the world attracts like a magnetic center, but at the same time it is diverse and disperses; the 'Kingdom of Heaven' also attracts like a magnet, but at the same time it is infinite and it expands."
Again, between them is that tiny circle which is none other than the "narrow path" or "strait gate" through which camels and lizards cannot pass.