The Subjectivity of Time

The Maharshi (Sri Ramana) said, 'What is eternal is not recognised as such, owing to ignorance' (Teachings, p. 118). Ignorance of what is 'eternal' is due to the concept of 'time', and so ignorance of eternality is a definition of that concept, since the eternal and a time-concept are interdependent counterparts, i.e. intemporality and temporality.

He continued: 'Ignorance (the concept of 'time') is the obstruction. Get rid of it and all will be well. This ignorance (the concept of 'time') is identical with the 'I' thought. Seek its source and it will vanish'.

The ''I' thought' is entirely a temporal product, depending upon and exclusively appearing to exist subject to temporal extension (duration). if you apperceive what 'time' is, it must simultaneously dis-appear as an object in mind. It is then revealed as the essential element in the constitution of an I-concept or conceptual 'I', and the I-concept as an object in split-mind must go with it, for neither what 'time' is nor what 'I' am can have any objective quality whatever.

(Note: In case there should be any misapprehension: 'What 'time' is' is what split-mind tries to conceive as 'Intemporality', just as 'What I am' is what split-mind tries to conceive as 'I', which respectively are only cognisable in relativity objectivised as 'time' and as 'me'.)

An 'I-concept' and the 'time-concept' are inseparable, neither can appear to exist without the other: they are dual aspects of what is erroneously conceived as objective, and are themselves believed to have objective existence as such. That assumed objective existence of what is a concept-of-sequence in mind is precisely the foundation of the notion of 'bondage'. Seeking to dispose of one aspect without the other is a labour of Sisyphus, for the one that is left will inevitably bring back its fellow on which it depends. As long as the concept of 'time' as an objective existence, as a continuity independent of the continuous perceiver of it, is left untouched, that object must retain its subject - and its subject, the perceiver of it, is precisely the I-concept in question.

That is why the nature of 'time' should be revealed. In the distant past an analysis of the nature of 'time' was not in accordance with current modes of thought and of general knowledge, so that no tradition of it was handed down by the Masters, who certainly understood it since they refer to it obscurely but quite often, but this is not a valid reason for us to ignore it. For us it should be readily comprehensible, and its comprehension is urgent, the more so since it will hardly be denied that many of the ancient traditional approaches to the essential problem have lost much of their force through unending repetition and the auto-hypnosis that accompanies the repetition of all kinds of popular concepts.

If the I-concept can be disposed of for a moment, and the concept of duration remains, the latter will restore the former which is extended therein and which remains with it. This, indeed, is a familiar occurrence, but its mechanism is not recognised. On the other hand, if the concept of duration is seen as invalid, as not an objective existence to which 'we' can be bound, but as an essential part of our appearance, extended therein, being our-extension, its removal must necessarily carry with it all that is extended in it. Then the supposed objective character of both lapses, and the process of objectification ceases, leaving 'us' as what intemporally we are.

As long as we continue to regard 'space-time' as objectively factual we are not merely 'bound' - we are trussed!

Note: What is termed 'an I-concept' is a symbol of the splitting of whole-mind into relative duality, which consists in conceiving 'other-than-self' as a space-time entity, whereby its interdependent counterpart 'self' becomes another. This dual, or divided, functioning of mind (just termed 'mind' by the Maharshi) appears as the conceiver or functioning 'I', temporally extended as 'duration'. Therefore the Maharshi states 'The mind is only the thought 'I''.

(© T.J. Gray, 1968)

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