The Theosophical Forum – April 1948

TIME CONSCIOUSNESS — Chester D. Carlow

[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]

Reverence for beauty and truth increases as we grow in awareness through intuition, and it is proportional to our sincerity and devotion. Intuitive understanding is not something which is "given"; it is acquired or evolved.

Every scientist intuits a real fact only after he has spent a great deal of time in preparation, by giving himself completely to the unveiling of his symbol world.

This self-dedication may be through concentration on the reality of the symbol or the beauty of the symbol, or the utility of the symbol. The first is devotional and must be a constant background for one's studies, or the intuition will be frozen. The second is intellectual; it is the action-ground of "being." It is on this plane that we either prepare ourselves for higher truths or allow them to drift to vagaries and indiscrimination — to draw us nearer to the heart or to separate us from the higher Self. The nature of the third is common sense. It is essential to correlate value and fact in the necessities of every-day living. A synthesis of these three ways is necessary for the development of the complete man.

Let us further examine the second of these three, the intellect. In order to use this function to develop greater discriminating faculties, we must direct it into channels which contain doorways to intuition.

With this idea in view, we turn to the subject of time. The purpose of life is said to be evolution or becoming more conscious. I believe it is possible to go a step further and say the evolution is not only the purpose of life, but evolution is life. That is — the reality is becoming rather than being; and the only justification we have for speaking of things, entities, beings, etc., is that we arbitrarily put limits on their eternal becomings — limits of time. In the Diamond Sutra (1) we find the following passage: " — discoursing upon comprehending such ideas as an entity, a being, a living being and a personality, it was declared that these are merely termed an entity, a being, etc."

Henri Bergson, the great French philosopher, stated that "All reality is incipient change of direction; there is no way of constructing this mobility of real with fixed concepts."

G. de Purucker states in The Esoteric Tradition that "there is That — the Reality — of which everything exists in time-space-force as an event."

Thus we see that every "thing" is an event and a function of time. The old Aristotelian theory that a thing is what it is and where it is must be changed to: A thing is what it is becoming and "where it acts." (2) This idea is being recognized by modern minds the world over. To name a few: Einstein in his fourth dimension, J. W. Dunne in his key to self-consciousness by creating the observer's observer, Oliver Reiser in the infinite-valued-orientation, Korzybski in time-binding, and Alfred Whitehead in his emphasis on the development of mathematical consciousness. All these point the way to the new thought-life of the world, in which Time is playing a leading role.

We may well ask: "What will be the effect of this new trend? What fundamental of time is behind its rise to prominence? If change is the reality, what is that which we have been accustomed to call the real? Is Theosophy in step with this trend, and what will be its role in the future?"

The thought-life of the western world, up to the present day, has been largely built on the Aristotelian logic in which the universe was thought to consist of unchanging basic elements. "A thing is what it is" was a fundamental postulate and every deduction was characterized by a limited valued orientation, i.e. an assumption that a thing may be explained in full by a limited number of points of view.

The effect of this new trend will be that the old elementalistic limited-valued orientation will be replaced by a non-elementalistic infinite-valued orientation. This thought-change means, instead of concluding that a thing must be either good or bad, this or that, a more pliable, less confining thought-habit will spring forth; then we may say that we know in part rather than in full. (3) A new code of ethics will evolve, in which direction rather than station, and becoming rather than being, will be emphasized.

The fundamental features of time that give it prominence are as follows: significantly, the first differentiation from That, the All, to manifestation and consciousness is characterized impressively by the introduction of time. H. P. Blavatsky states that "Time does not exist where no consciousness exists." (4) Also, "We often speak of the Hierarchy of "Flames," of the "Sons of Fire," etc. Sankaracharya, the greatest of the Esoteric masters of India, says that fire means a deity which presides over Time (kala)." The "fashioners of the inner man" are the Sons of Fire because they are the first beings (in the Secret Doctrine they are called Minds) evolved from the Primordial fire. (5) Also "Esoteric Philosophy divides boundless duration into unconditionally eternal and universal time and a conditioned one, Khanda Kala. One is the abstraction of noumenon of infinite time (Kala), the other its phenomenon appearing periodically as the effect of Mahat (the Universal Intelligence) limited by Manvantaric duration." (6)

Thus, mind or consciousness is linked so closely with time that it is interdependent and hardly distinguishable. Emerson's Threnody expresses this fact:

Wilt thou freeze life's tidal flow
Whose streams through nature circling go?
Hail the wild star on its track
On the half-climbed zodiac?
Blood is blood which circulates
Life is life which generates,
And the many seeming life is one,
Wilt thou transfix and make it none?

Further, according to the time-binding theory of Korzybski, plant life has form and can be said to be form-binding. This is the first step in organized life. Animals can move and are said to be space-binding. Man has gone a step higher; he has learned to be conscious of time and to profit by his history; he has become time-binding. This fact marks a very fundamental difference between man and the lower kingdoms. Dunne, in his An Experiment with Time, shows that the basis of self-consciousness is that man is able to observe himself observing by becoming conscious of dimensions beyond the fourth in time. It is interesting to note that the probable relative immaturity of man's time consciousness is further shown by the fact that it is the last "sense" that develops in youth, the one which is the most unstable during life, and the one which disappears first in old age.

What we think of as ourselves is the residue of the past. Our highest principles of intuition precede us. As our intuition produces so-called permanent effective results on the lower physical, psychical, mental planes, it, remaining ever beyond, never ceases to beckon. The development of consciousness consists in but answering this call, in brightening the shadow of the past by "living the life," in purifying the lower principles to make them more receptive to our etheric vanguard of beauty, wisdom, and peace.

The place of Theosophy in the future seems to be outlined, to a great degree, by the fact that whenever there is a great change in progress in the thought-life of man, the door to highest truth, for him, is open. What he receives at this critical time is infinitely more effective than at other more settled times. Thus consciousness of time is again seen to deserve the utmost attention.

It is for this reason that a great effort should be made to flood the world with theosophic thought at the present time. Theosophy, the Kosmic Philosophy, not only does stress becoming as the prime reason for "being," it also integrates this doctrine into a complete sublime philosophy which is embodied in the Seven Jewels of Wisdom: Reimbodiment, Karman (the universal law of cause and effect), Hierarchies, Swabhava, Evolution, the Two Paths (Amrita-Yana and Pratyeka-Yana), and Atma-Vidya.

It is possible that, through lack of structure and conscious integrated direction, the new world thought movement will have certain negative effects because of imperfect interpretation of experimental data, especially of space-time experiments; or its positive characteristic might raise it only to a slightly less restrictive dogmatism in which form is replaced by pattern. Thus a golden opportunity will have been missed.

In the last quarter of the last century, Theosophy was brought to the West to oppose negativism, "to stem the tide of materialism." We are now approaching the end of a new century in which the seeds that were then sowed have helped to bring about a strong, enlightened positive thought movement.

No longer will those truths be so ignored by a humanity going the other way, but sacred and pure, they will sweep, unobstructed, into the thought-life of all mankind.

FOOTNOTES:

1. The Diamond Sutra, p. 107. Trans, by William Gemmell. (return to text)

2. A New Earth and a New Humanity, p. 126. Oliver L. Reiser. (return to text)

3. Science and Philosophy, p. 101 Alfred North Whitehead. (return to text)

4. The Secret Doctrine, I, p. 37 H. P. Blavatsky. (return to text)

5. Ibid, pp. 86-7. (return to text)

6. Ibid, p. 62. (return to text)


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