TIME: Obstacle? Opportunity?
Articles By M.E. Haselhurst
(Learn to do something else with time besides organise it and use it . . .'
(Treatise on White Magic,pp.207/8)
The Transience of Time
Time has to be grasped in its cyclic nature. It has to be recognised that the pendulum swings from past to future, and in its swing produces the present. But also to be realised are the adjustments which need to be made in the present in relation to both past and future. The present directs the future but is rooted in the past. There is much wisdom in the old adage: 'Today will be yesterday tomorrow.'
This compels attention to a word so commonplace in esoteric thought that it fails, frequently, to carry its due significance: Discrimination. Because so much work is carried forward within the glamour of the time sense, the workers fall victim to such other glamour's as disappointment (when 'results' are slow to appear); dejection (when plans 'fail') or fear (when a task looms larger than the equipment and resources available to implement it). All such states are glamour's produced by the sense of time. When consciousness breaks through the ring-pass-not of daily time, the glamour's fade out in realisation of the fact that the Plan goes unerringly forward. All that one does, in giving house-room to such negative states of consciousness, is drop a stone into the demonstrating stream of energy, thereby temporarily creating an eddy which disturbs it. 'Each life sees the initial Purpose clarified and time is literally the length of a thought.'
In all true spiritual effort the worker has the problem of working in the realm of the timeless and from that point of awareness employing time to produce predetermined results. So he comes upon the dilemma of a consciousness operating in realms beyond time limitations but compelled to express what is there discovered through and by means of a body that is very much subject to time. Here, again the Tibetan offers practical advice: 'Be the ruler of your time and make the hours of each day your servants, exacting from each hour its full quota of work or rest, without the sense of undue pressure or rush.' He adds that solving the time problem leads to greatly increased usefulness.
It is in dealing with time, we are told, that disciples make most of their mistakes, especially in the early stages of their work. This is because they fail to realise that 'time is naught but a succession of events as registered by the physical brain consciousness'.
The mistakes run in two main directions; failure to consider time as immortality, which intimately affects personal attitudes and relationships; and time as an agent of creative action, which closely concerns all aspects of daily living and is especially potent in regard to efforts planned to tune with work of the Hierarchy as it strives to help mankind. Studying in reference to the future, to immortality, reveals where the thought life needs modification. It shows up incipient prejudices; reveals blockages in energy flow which are due to incorrect time values. Studying time in relation to the daily task produces synthesis, tends to the conservation and right use of energy, and produces vital and creative action.
In his book Men and Time, J.B. Priestly puts forward the interesting and evocative idea that time is both intensely private and yet widely shared. 'Superficially', he says, 'in the world of clocks and watches and appointments, we share time; then, on a deeper level, it seems intensely private; and then, on a still deeper level, perhaps we begin to share in ways we cannot yet fully understand.'
It seems probable that this deep level sharing of time is one of the factors that make for harmonious and successful group work. One has known the intimacy of a sort of private timelessness; has experienced rare moments when time and eternity mingled and one knew life whole, complete, a total, all-inclusive experience. Some memory of this remains when one comes down from the mountain to walk once more upon the plains of daily life. And some shadow of the knowing, some overtone of the experience, lingers, and is projected into relationships, attitudes and objectives. It is as if, having contacted super-physical planes, some true recognition of things as they are has been achieved and is now being given correct interpretation. 'When the time factor no longer controls, the interpretations registered are infallibly correct.' It is worthy of note that the Tibetan calls this a major piece of information. Morever, he expands it by pointing out that 'when a true perspective, and a balanced point of view have been attained, and some awareness of the eternal Now is beginning to penetrate into man's understanding, then the past, the present and the future will be lost to sight in the consciousness of the inclusiveness of the moment that IS'.
Here is a point on which groups need to focus as they seek to create the forms through which the new age will be made manifest. Without this tremendous point of achieved conscious awareness, how shall they rise above the frustrations, the disappointments, the heart-breaking delays, incidental to the building processes men needs must undertake as they seek to materialise in stone and wood, in bricks and glass, the vision towards which they strive? This work of creating the 'forms' of the future makes it imperative that those who attempt it enter into shared awareness of time, because what is being attempted transcends the limitations time imposes. The work is of itself eternal: studying, presenting, sharing the ageless truths which shine undimmed by the veils time flings around them. The more this truth is apprehended, the deeper one enters into it, the clearer is the realisation of timelessness: the more positive is the response to the cyclic flow of energy instead of to its specific demonstrations as a sequence of events. Thus labour takes on a different, non-substantial quality; experience passes beyond expression into pure knowing.
A Wider Field of Study
Time is frequently described as a succession of states of consciousness. And with the innate arrogance of the human race, this is then considered in relation to human levels of consciousness. But if the description be true, and if we are in any degree seriously taking up this hint about studying, doing something with time, then the matter has to be considered in a far wider context; to be studied, maybe, as it relates to the consciousness of the mineral and, of all intermediate states of-consciousness, right up to that of the Logos of our system. A major undertaking, certainly, but one that the future will almost certainly demand of those who consider time as 'the cycle, greater or lesser, in which some life runs some specific course; in which some particular period begins, continues and ends, in connection with the awareness of some Entity. . .'
Coming back to the sphere of human effort and individual experience, there is urgent need for would-be-helpers of the Hierarchy to study their innate tendencies, as these emerge in present interests and activities. It is needful to realise that these tendencies have their full roots in the past and will come to their full flower in the future. Rightly recognised, these tendencies can be cultivated as the soul directs, those that are desirable being steadily strengthened and those that are undesirable being left to die of inattention. In such fashion the individual forms himself to the group pattern and begins to vibrate at the group rhythm, thus facilitating creative work. All of which kinks to that 'art of spiritual compromise' which involves, amongst other things, comprehension of the time equation.
These unfoldments ensure the eventual successful expression of planned spiritual purpose. The worker learns to organise his time so as to derive from each day its full quota of inspiration, mental work, and physical plane activity, knowing that thereby maximum results will be obtained with minimal expenditure of energy.
The Tibetan calls this the development of a time consciousness which does not limit, but rather conserves and organises the 'gift of the days, hours and minutes. There is a divine aspect of time'. So those who would work in tune with the Hierarchy are urged to discipline their time, making each moment count. They should 'perfect each life episode and even (which is only another word for time) making these as constructive in expression of the group will as possible'. This right understanding, and right use, of time becomes, in due course, a major significant lesson, driven home by the clear statement: 'The more your soul grips you, the more assuredly you will learn to use time as a responsibility.'
Such soul-directed effort produces a reorganisation of the entire life, not necessarily in the actual techniques of daily living, but most certainly in the realms of inner attitudes towards time. These are the attitudes which determine where the emphasis of any particular life will be placed, and which control its dominant direction. They lead also to revelation, which demonstrates when there is true comprehension of the time element, and consequent wise discrimination between essentials and non-essentials; between the unreal and the real.
Time wise, that which is real can be difficult to judge. There is a story, mistily remembered, of a young novitiate in a certain convent, whose duty it was to open and close the door for visitors. She kept to hand a piece of lace, into which she worked one or two stitches as she waited, quietly serene, for folk to pass In reply to scoffing, criticism or curiosity she had only one reply: 'Beauty is eternal: eternity is now.' When she died, she bequeathed to her Order an alter cloth that was lovelier than any dream.
Did she merely use time? Did she organise it? Or had she discovered that something else, that beyondness, that converted time into an eternal moment and made the eternal Now a matter of daily experience?
Time-dominated efforts are a phase of human unfoldment. Action, the creation of 'forms' (whether these be material or the expression of organised, formulated ideas) represent time-dominated work. Yet even such activity takes on some quality of the eternal when the action conveys intention and so becomes meaningful in ways beyond the ring-pass-not of actual performance. It is a characteristic of spiritual work that, no matter how commonplace its outer appearance, it carries values which are not inherent in the normal structure of what is accomplished. The actual action may be 'small' or 'large', meaningful or seemingly meaningless, yet still convey the idea of willingness to cooperate; of the will to help; of the wish to share; in other words, of love in action. Action so coloured and qualified is an expression of time-free living: it indicates movement into time, expanding time as air expands a balloon. It is action in tune with that aspect of the divine Plan which will, we are told, 'eventually annihilate time'. It is action, a way of life, that may well lead in due course to the discovery of how to do something more with time than organise and use it.