Time is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced; but "lies asleep." " This is an explanation of Time given in The Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, 37) which continues: "The present is only a mathematical line which divides that part of eternal duration which we call the future, from that part which we call the past. Nothing on earth has real duration, for nothing remains without change — or the same — for a billionth part of a second. . . ."
The use of the word "human," H. P. Blavatsky wrote in the same volume (page 106) applies "to those Intelligences that have reached the appropriate equilibrium between matter-and spirit. . . ." These two definitions of time and the human have become to the Theosophist axiomatic. It is only when he hears time being discussed as something dependent upon a clock that stops or connected with a six-hour-a-week law, and the human being defined as primarily a physical organism dependent upon external forces for his culture that the Theosophist is ever aware that anyone can and does think differently about these two fundamental terms. This happens rather frequently.
What occurs less frequently and is therefore the more startling is the presentation of a thesis in refreshing agreement with Theosophical concepts by men of science and responsibility who have not studied the Secret Wisdom but who apparently from the depths of their own being have drawn out aspects of the Truth and with conviction have presented them to the world. This has been the case of Dr. E. Graham Howe, medical psychologist of England, who wrote War Dance a few years ago and who has recently collected a series of lectures he gave to the educators in England into a little book which he has called Time and the Child. (1)
The caption beneath the title reads "A Study of Morality and Reality," which suggests a great deal about the book — and the author, who is remembered especially for having written War Dance and I and Me. Time and the Child is in fact a recasting of Dr. Howe's book Morality and Reality, and, I believe, has a more happily chosen title. "Time," the author proves, is a fluid, eternal, Ever-Present Now; and the "Child" (the word child symbolizes adults and pre-adults alike) is that imbodiment of consciousness which is never static but moves from hour to hour in an ebb and flow of comprehension of and adjustment to interior and exterior circumstances surrounding it. It is the intelligent bridging of the subjective and the objective, the "I-Am" (no weird concepts are suggested) and the surrounding reality; in short, the child and his environment which embraces his spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical equipment that the author of Time and the Child concerns himself with.
Man is the mediator between two worlds: the material and the spiritual, Dr. Howe believes. He must live in both, cannot run from either, must accept both since they are both contained in him. "He is the bridge between the two, to touch both sides of his opposites with love." He has two main objectives: to see more light and as a creative artist to bring fire from heaven to earth to make more things that "matter by their movement." This is man's balance: more light to see by and more capacity to make and use and enjoy things but not to hold them fixed.
Holding things fixed, hanging on to them, whether they are ideas or material treasures, constitutes man's greatest mistake causing him his greatest pain. Fear, Dr. Howe sets forth, originates in the inability to accept "Reality "which is defined as "not what ought to be" but what "simply is, and being what it is, it moves and is Becoming." It is both yes and no and pleasure and pain. It is not a matter of personal law or personal convenience, but a matter of fact. Basing a pretty straight-thinking argument on that statement, Dr. Howe presents an excellent discussion of discipline and punishment which is utterly lacking in any namby-pamby suggestions of a moot question. People are too often "kind" with lack of wisdom. This is not facing "Reality," and he deplores the fact that there is no law that punishes moral burglars and murderers. Society is not so much interested in the protection of beings as in the safeguarding of fixtures. We need courageous adults in order to have courageous children, and rebellion against Truth is not so courageous or virtuous as facing it. This the author makes quite clear and also that until we learn what true sublimation is we shall be like a tin can tied to a dog's tail, "tied to something we can't control."
The purpose of morality is both a convenience and a convention. If it is good it bows to Truth. If it is a "fixer" it does not measure up to Truth, for Truth and Reality are always moving in Time. Morality is likely the "imposition of somebody else's will by big battalions," and it is the imposition of the adult will on the child's that Dr. Howe protests against vigorously and effectively. An adult should be an interpreter, an adjuster, a bridge, not a Will-Inflicter. The age, Dr. Howe analyses, is one of morality, arguing good and evil, etc., but not one particularly interested in Truth. Two currents he pictures as running strong: one (regression) which is material progress, destructive of opposition and authoritative supremacy, and the other, the one that "seeks to dissolve the problem of opposites by accepting both; it is finding unity and wholeness through deeper insight into the meaning of our common brotherhood. For this principle of universal oneness, love is the key."
The capacity to suffer (in the sense of accepting as well as feeling pain) is the criterion of love, as well as of life. Love is the warmth and light that lets things grow. It can work miracles without ever knowing clearly how it is done. It does not have anything to do with like and dislike. Instinct is something to be watched very carefully and never to be relied upon; while intuition is the source of information which convinces one because it is true. Intuition is illumination, while instinct is self-protective. (Thus we have the Theosophist's intuition of direct perception.)
These are some of Dr. Howe's thoughtful and stimulating declarations. The reader will also enjoy his study of words (words like: educate, holiness, sacrifice, renounce, disease) and his original diagrams. The diagram called "Incarnation" is especially interesting to Theosophists. In it the little figure (man) is seen coming from the "Ideal Spiral" down through the "Border Line" into the point of the "Real-Me-Now" of the "Material-Space-temporal (our time) Real Earth."
Dr. Howe is a man who has learned a great deal and who has the ability to give much. He expresses himself with charm, simplicity, and sincerity. He has a good time in his thinking — moving on, not crystallized in one idea, not grooved in one concept. Time and the Child exemplifies the author's own definition of growth "which is not a matter of form, it is movement of the spirit, of the hidden life within, of the meaning of the whole but not of any particular part."
1. Time and the Child, by E. Graham Howe. Faber and Faber, London. 7s. 6d. (return to text)