Time and Eternity

 

You will never find interior solitude unless you make some conscious effort to deliver yourself from the desires and the cares and the attachments of an existence in time and in the world.

Thomas Merton - New Seeds of Contemplation

 

Eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.

Wittgenstein

 

The mystery of time is in ourselves. We can struggle to awaken to a new sense of time and to a new sense of ourselves and so get beyond what we think we are already and what we think we know already. But in every struggle of this nature we will inevitably realize more and more that it is oneself that is the mystery - - that the whole thing is in oneself - - in what one takes as oneself. The mystic ocean of existence is not to be crossed as something outside ourselves. It is in oneself.

We live in the world of becoming, where nothing ever is. All decisions that belong to the life in time, to success, to business, comfort, are about "tomorrow." All decisions about the right thing to do, about how to act, are about tomorrow. It is only what is done in now that counts, and this is a decision always about oneself and with oneself, even though its effect may touch other people's lives "tomorrow".

Now is spiritual. Spiritual values have nothing to do with time. They are not in time, and their growth is not a matter of time. the feeling of now is the feeling of certainty. In now passing time halts. And in this halting of time one knows, sees, feels in oneself, apart from all outer thing; and above all, one is.

Maurice Nicoll

 

There is one power that surpasses all the consuming power of time - the eternal: He Who was and is and is to come, in the beginning and the end. He gives us forgiveness for what has passed. He gives us courage for what is to come. He gives us rest in His eternal Presence.

Paul Tillich

 

For eternity is not an awareness of everlasting time, but an awareness which is itself totally without time. . . . Because eternity is the nature of this present and timeless moment, the mystic tells us that the great liberation, the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven, the very portal leading "beyond the pairs of past and future," exists nowhere and nowhen else but now. In the words of the Christian sage de Caussade, "O all ye who thirst! Know that you have not far to seek for the fountain of living waters; it springs close to you in the present moment . . . the present moment is the manifestation of the Name of God and the coming of his kingdom."

In this sense, time is an illusion pushing against an illusion. there is a story about a man who met an old and rather feeble-looking fellow on a bus trip. The old man had a brown paper sack in one hand, and he was placing bits of food into it. Finally the passenger could stand it no longer, and asked what was in the paper sack he was feeding? "Its a mongoose. You know, the animal that can kill snakes." "But why do you carry it with you?" "Well," the old man replied, "I'm an alcoholic, and I need the mongoose to frighten off the snakes when I get the delirium tremens." "But don't you know that the snakes are just imaginary?" "Oh sure," the old man replied, " but so is the mongoose." Likewise, we use the illusion of time to frighten off the illusion of death. . . . To accept death is thus to be totally comfortable living without a future, that is, living in the present above time, as Emerson put it.

Ken Wilber - No Boundary

 

"The god in the moment" may recall the more familiar "live for the moment" or "seize the day," but the latter phrases have different implications and actually mislead us about their focus on time. When we live for the moment, our awareness, desire, and joy are not really focused on the moment itself, but rather on something else - an experience, a person, an action, a thing - which is fill the moment. Clearly there is a way, however superficial, in which living for the moment differs from living in the past of for the future. To live in the past is to fill the present moment with memories, and to live in the future is to fill the present moment with thoughts and dreams of that future, we are only varying an underlying action that is always the same: we are using one thing or another to fill the present moment itself, which we experience as a void to be filled. If we should sense, however, that there is a god in the moment itself, the situation would be changed. The we would no longer experience the moment itself as an emptiness which must be filled - or, worse, as time to " kill" - but rather as a hidden fullness to be uncovered, an unexplored field in which we might happily become lost. . . . . To begin this work, we must abandon all those undertakings and preoccupation’s which have buried the moment itself. We will refuse to be "occupied" by regrets, pleasant memories, self-accusations or futile reconstructions of what we should have said or done. We will no longer avoid the immediate reality of the present moment by reducing it to a mere foundation for the future. Thus our attention will no be diffused through the vast reaches of past and future time, but will instead be collected together, concentrated in that vanishing point which is now, right now. And we will not blot out this elusive right now with doings that are just "for the moment." Instead we will try to rest our awareness in the transparent presence of the moment itself. . . . it is difficult work and a genuine achievement just to reach that place of stillness. Many traditional forms of meditation in both East and West seek among other things this ingathered and composed dwelling in the moment itself. The "just sitting" of Soto Zen in particular, free as it is from any "goal" or "purpose", is an attempt simply to be - or to neither "be" nor "not be" in the right here and now. . . . . As we succeed in penetrating the barriers that separate us from the moment itself - an achievement which, like all our successes, failures and very selves, is always only temporary - we will find ourselves changing in unexpected ways. As we dwell in the presence of the moment itself, our very sense and understanding of that mystery we call time can be transformed.

Luther Askeland - The God in the Moment

 

If you build upon anything or have confidence in anything which stands in time and is on this side of eternity and (the) Being of Beings, your foundation will be swept away, and night will come upon you, and all your gathered-in things and taken-0n and imitated will all fail you . . Why trim you ourselves with the saints words, when you are ignorant of life? Return, return to Him that is the first Love, and the first-born of every creature, who is the Light of the World . . . Return home to within, sweep your houses all, the great is there, the little leaven is there, the grain of mustard seed you will see, which the Kingdom of God is like; . . . and here you will see your Teacher not removed into a corner, but present when you are on your beds and about your labor, convincing, instructing, leading, correcting, judging and giving peace to all that love and follow Him.

Francis Howgill, 1665 - F&P Pacific Yearly Mt.

 

Dying to the small self is the discovery of eternity.(?) Yes, provided we don't think of eternity as being everlasting time but a point without time, the so-called eternal present or timeless now. The Self doesn't live forever in time, it lives in the timeless present prior to time, prior to history, change, succession. The Self is present as Pure Presence, not as everlasting duration, a rather horrible notion.

Ken Wilber - Grace and Grit