“The experience of time is only “here” when we’re aware of it. We consider time as something that pulses through but time does not really “exist” wholly apart from our experience. For example, for the all-present zen master, there can exist a “space” in which there is only one moment which encompasses everything. Like the room outside the one you’re sitting in, reading this, time’s existence is questionable. When we forget about it (or can’t “see” it in our awareness), it seems to disappear. When we remember it, it appears: the room next to this one exists now internally and springs to being when we enter it again. Furthermore, it feels familiar because we compare it to our memory. When the past seems to match the present, this is looping — the recursion of the imagined, visualized past into the immediate present. Different societies have different ways of looping. For example, the Australian aborigines, a society for whom the mythic and magical are more diaphanous than our own, sing the landscape into being. The world is interacted with if it is to exist at all. This process only seems foreign to us because our songs are hummed internally. We also sing, but with our memories, hidden and silent.”
Interesting, very interesting, meditation on how to live with ‘time’, by Conner Habib:
(excerpted from Reality Sandwich)
“In the beginning there was stone, or nothing, or God, or the loud unspeakable banging of things. There was an origin. And inside of us, somewhere, is that origin. We couldn’t be here without containing it. Every moment of time and all the interactions of nature have led themselves to us, to the person reading these words in the space they’re being read in. And so the very history of the universe stands in our bones, like a ghost standing inside of a wall.
This is philosopher Jean Gebser’s “ever-present origin” from his book of the same name. The point from which all lines and planes and cubes emerge, the one that still pours forth our being, but which, at some moment, we became unaware of, and which, if we want to speak spatially about such things, we have “grown distant” from.
Somewhere in this great divorce, we developed our current concept of and feeling for time, which so intensely typifies our current way of life, on the peninsular stretch away from the origin that we live on. Gebser’s focus on time impelled him to write the book.
There’s too much history to go over, too many potshots to take at the thing, and too many expressions of time from culture to culture to get into the nitty gritty of the history of time (for a great and exhausting study of just that, I recommend A Sideways Look at Time by Jay Griffiths). I don’t have time (or space) to do it. But we can look at what time is to us — how it feels, how it “ticks away,” how it becomes something beyond claiming as it falls into the past. We can, perhaps, even learn to interact with time in a new way. “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time,” David Bowie sang. Oh no?
Gebser claimed that we were entering into a new understanding of time and that it would change our consciousness utterly. He claimed, like the theosophists, anthroposophists, Hindus, and others, that human consciousness has changed throughout our long history. Our new perspective on time would herald a “mutation” — the “integral” — through which we could see the ways we used to think — the past mutations of consciousness. “Mutations” not because they follow the reductive concepts of genetic mutation, nor because they have the same feel as physical evolution; they are, instead, changes in the inner landscape of the psyche and spirit. They are shifts in the pattern of thinking and being that change those patterns utterly. Our selves change in accordance to these mutations; our structures of perception, our personalities, our relationships, all uproot and become undone. That is, they no longer feel finished, and they become again. As goes our structure of consciousness, so goes the world.
Gebser’s arguments — intensely detailed examinations of art history and language — are compelling and powerful, and in themselves contribute to changes in the consciousness of any reader strong-willed enough to make it through the wordy book (for gentler but just as profound renderings of the evidence, see Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances, History in English Words, or Poetic Diction). His main point with the integral is that when we change our vision of time, we change our world, and that this perspective is changing whether we like it or not.
Physicist Stephen Hawking speculates that the “‘psychological arrow of time’ is pointed in the same direction as the cosmological and thermodynamic arrow of time…from the past to the future.” Gebser and others ask — what happens when the psychological arrow changes direction? Or we aim the bow upward?”
On Gebser and Rudolf Steiner:
“Gebser’s origin bears many similarities to the etheric — it is the unmanifest, formless being from which all forms manifest. Imagine a skyscraper building itself into an invisible blueprint, which is pressed onto the ground, the sky, and the workers that carry out the labor, making them part of the whole. Or, if you like, Marvel Comics has a character named Eternity — he has a human form, but is vast, infinite, and in the outline of this form are all the planets and stars and all that has ever happened and will happen. The idea here is that things form themselves within a finality. In this sense, the etheric and origin are the ground-level “proofs” of a teleological point of view. They are fractally experienced versions of physicist and philosopher David Bohm’s “implicate order.”
A good way to observe this sensually is to notice the differences between a plant and a rock. Rocks do change, but we do not sense within them an inner growth. Even developing crystals form from the outside. The plants, on the other hand, draw from something within themselves to develop as well as from the outside world. Biologist Wolfgang Schad writes, that the etheric has and is, “…an autonomous capacity to behave within matter, physical energy, space and time in a way different from that of lifeless objects.” Because of this, we must observe that time exists in a different way for the plant–just as time exists in a different way for the animal and human.
This is because the rock and the animal and the human live in different realms of being than the plant. The animal and the human both have an astral body, and the human alone has a mental body (or “ego-organization”) on which I will present more on later (and through which the distinction is made, as opposed to standard evolutionary thinking that humans are animals). The astral body is the body through which we experience feeling and dreaming.
The fourth/astral dimension is a strange place, and when entered into wholly, it is not unlike cartoons where Bugs Bunny goes to a distant planet. Bugs Bunny sees a hammer chasing a nail, a bizarre animal, and people with entirely different rules of living.
Steiner explains, “You must become used to reading each number symmetrically, as its mirror image. This is the basic prerequisite…relationships in time…must also be interpreted symmetrically — that is, later events come first and earlier events appear later…There, the old emerges from the new…It is said of Kronos that he devoured his children. In the astral realm, offspring are not born but devoured.”
Events of great emotional weight also appear backwards. “Imagine, for example, that we see a wild animal approaching us in the astral realm, and it strangles us. That is how it appears to someone who is used to interpreting external events…In reality, the wild animal is an internal quality, an aspect of our own astral body is strangling us. The attacking strangler is a quality that is rooted in our own desires. If we have a vengeful thought, for example, the thought may appear in an external form, tormenting us as” the Angel of Death.” The astral world is full of these reverse animals, which feels exact when you remember that the animal is a being of astrality that does not pulse strongly with a mental body.
Time apparently flows backwards in the fourth dimension or the astral realm because of that dimensional “bend” or “curve.” To ascend in dimensionality, the dominant form (point, line, plane, cube) must be algorhythmically added to itself. Easy enough to imagine when we bend a point to make it a line or bend a plane to make it a cube. Bending the cube is not so easy to imagine, but we can understand it through mirrors. When we bend spatiality, we create a mirror image — like a right-handed glove appearing as a left-handed glove in the mirror. Time flows in the reverse to the lower dimensions.
So even as the animal runs towards us to tear at our throat, Steiner reminds us that our being is primary and that our freedom determines the animal. “In reality, everything in the astral world radiates from us…It comes back to us on all sides as if from the periphery, from infinite space. In truth, however, we are confronting only what our own astral body has given off.”
The invention of anxiety — our astral body is the imagined future. We imagine it, yet it appears to be rushing towards us. (http://www.realitysandwich.com/emit_time)
Emmanuel Swedenborg: Time as an Attribute
“It was there that he began to understand time. In the spiritual world, he found that our ideas and concepts had the curious state property of realness — that is, they weren’t simply thought about, but they were factual expressions. Austrian mystic, natural philosopher, educator, architect and seer Rudolf Steiner would confirm this in later years, stating that in the spiritual world, our concepts are “objects”. Time is as real as a chair in the spiritual world, because in the spiritual world we do not only use the same senses as we do in the material world, as “real” evinces itself as an intense fact of feeling in the spiritual senses.
“A pleasant state,” Swedenborg wrote in one of his many voluminous descriptions of the spiritual world, “makes time seem brief, and an unpleasant one makes it seem long. We can therefore see that time in the spiritual world is simply an attribute of state.”
Even Einstein could not deny this — an attribute of state. Like solidity, density, color, tone. Time is a feeling. Wilson van Dusen, Swedenborg scholar and psychologist would later elaborate by examining dimensionality from a Swedenborgian point of view. Though Swedenborg never schematized the dimensions, van Dusen deduced the implicit dimensionality from combing relentlessly over Swedenborg’s work along with the work of other mystics.
The dimensions start off as mathematical dimensions — they are simple: Point, line, plane, cube. The point is a zero-dimension. It has a distinguished nothingness to it. It’s not even the period at the end of this sentence, though we draw it that way. It’s not a thing, it’s not a spot, it’s not a moment. Instead, the point is a gesture of separation — an instance of being pulled from the whole. This bears a striking resemblance to Gebser’s archaic mutation of consciousness or what Steiner refers to as the Saturnian period of consciousness. The Saturnian being had a consciousness “duller than dreamless sleep”–and occult historian Gary Lachman states that the archaic being was “little more than the first slight ripple of difference between origin and its latent unfolding.”
Van Dusen, in ascending through the dimensions, treats the problem algorhythmically. The line is all the points. For Steiner and the theosophists, the line is instead the point turned or bent. Either way, when one lives on the line-state of consciousness (like in Edwin Abbot’s Flatland), all one can see is points. This corresponds well with — though he did not characterize it this way — Gebser’s theory of magical consciousness, the next mutation in the sequence. The magical mutation is typified by synchronicites. They’re discreet instances of consciousness which do not only relate, but overlay one another. For an example of magical consciousness, Gebser presents an indigenous people who draw an antelope and plunge a spear into the drawing, then spear an antelope later in perfect reciprocity. This may be difficult at first to understand — but understand it as the moment when you are thinking of someone and then they call out of nowhere, only more intense. The thought process and the events are so intertwined that they cannot possibly be seen to be independent. In fact, they are interdependent. (This is why in magical rituals, we still see much iconography–sigils or voodoo dolls are symbolic art created to affect life.)
The second dimension is the plane. All of the lines together cannot help but form a sort of vaster line–thicker and full of itself. For Steiner, we can say that the plane is the line turned. If a line continues on and on, Steiner explains, it “curves” until it meets itself again. In this way, it forms a circle; “…a straight line can be interpreted as a circle whose diameter is infinitely large…we can imagine that if we move ever farther along a straight line, we will eventually pass through infinity and come back from the other side.” Steiner’s way of examining lines, in other words, brings in our experience as a higher dimension which defines the lower.
These dimensions are not separate but in fact beautifully complex in that they all determine each other — they are neither “top down” nor “bottom up,” particularly since in their totality they defy the spatial laws of structure and hierarchy.
On the plane, we find Gebser’s mythic consciousness. The plane pulls the mythic human around and around. A square, not a circle, is the best image for mythic time, because it is a shape punctuated by familiar instances: seasons, directions, colors. Rhythm is felt by the rounding of a corner. In a sense, these corners are the gods. While in the magical mutation of first-dimensional thinking synchronicities “popped up”, in the mythic, synchronicities acquired a new intensity — rhythm. If in magical consciousness synchronicity was punctuated percussing noise, then in mythcial consciousness, at the corners, the noises found a beat.
Infintize the plane, a la van Dusen, or curve it a la Steiner, and we have a cube: the plane that boldly faces itself. And here Gebser’s perspective meets Duhrer’s little squares across the maiden, breaking her form into bits of light and shadow. We became “heavy” with matter as the plane beheld its own eminence. As Gebser deftly points out, (he lays the blame and credit first on Petrarch) we began at this point in history to ascend mountains. No more were the impossible Mt. Olympuses, where we’d be struck down, even for daring to scale. We started to see a vast panorama of space. We were no longer countrymen, united, but individuals, separated by harsh outlines. And what a view! For proof, look at the dramatic shifts in western art around the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries: suddenly, everything jumped out of the frame or slinked backward into it. Light and shadow took the place of color. Instead of color against color: distance and curvature. A perspective of irrevocable spatiality. This is Gebser’s mental mutation, which we’re now in — albeit its “deficient” mode. Deficient because we’ve lost ourselves in it, forgotten the wonder of it.” (http://www.realitysandwich.com/emit_time)
Katie Byron: Temporal ‘attachment’
““Do you know about time?” she asks us.
“Look,” she begins, each utterance a complete sentence. “I. I am. I am a woman. I am a woman who wants a glass of water. I am a woman who is going to reach for a glass of water. Do you see how I’m creating time?”
Time is the attachment to a thought. The moment we say, “I am,” we position ourselves temporally. And it expands from there into, “I am a man. I am a man who wants.” We begin to create a past — the collection of inherited concepts, such as “man”. We create a future by thinking of what we’d like to have, by becoming, “a man who wants.” And so forth until we’re in the very practical world of someone who is going to reach for a glass of water. This is the world of materialisms–everything happens outside of inner being — “sticking” to itself. All the space and all the space. Katie would say this happens when, “we believe what we think.”
Of course, we’re paralyzed without concept–and there is a rightness to concept. Katie tells us that our feelings are alarms. A stressful feeling is the sign of attaching to a stressful thought. “Keep the dreams,” she says, “and investigate the nightmares.” (http://www.realitysandwich.com/emit_time)
“the experience of time is only “here” when we’re aware of it. We consider time as something that pulses through but time does not really “exist” wholly apart from our experience. For example, for the all-present zen master, there can exist a “space” in which there is only one moment which encompasses everything. Like the room outside the one you’re sitting in, reading this, time’s existence is questionable. When we forget about it (or can’t “see” it in our awareness), it seems to disappear. When we remember it, it appears: the room next to this one exists now internally and springs to being when we enter it again. Furthermore, it feels familiar because we compare it to our memory. When the past seems to match the present, this is looping — the recursion of the imagined, visualized past into the immediate present.
Different societies have different ways of looping. For example, the Australian aborigines, a society for whom the mythic and magical are more diaphanous than our own, sing the landscape into being. The world is interacted with if it is to exist at all. This process only seems foreign to us because our songs are hummed internally. We also sing, but with our memories, hidden and silent.”