Together we’re about to look at a topic of great importance to those who wish for a more fulfilled and more fulfilling life: the Divine journey as it relates to the nature of time and our place within it.
Most of us don’t understand the nature of time, and so we know nothing of timelessness, save for those rare instances when we encounter transcendent beauty and are transported out of our usual train of thought in time, into the timeless.
So let’s begin by trying to understand our current relationship with time and how it impacts our everyday experience.
We often feel anxious and stressed to get things done. But no matter how many times we rush to obey that inner tyranny, our reward is that we get to do it again. I call this self-harming cycle “doing hard time.”
To “do hard time” is to be stalked by the clock of our own making. For example, we’re stalked by our past, made up of images we revisit in memory of times when we were hurt or embarrassed, or opportunities we missed. And we’re stalked by the future and what we must do to attain imagined success. And we’re stalked by our fear of aging.
We’re stalked by a clock that won’t stop ticking, always trying to outrun what we’ve never been able to outrun in the past, and recreating disturbing events that come back around again and again in a new form. What we’ve failed to realize is that we really aren’t under the thumb of time. It seems like we are with all our responsibilities and all our plans to achieve. But the fact is, we’re really serving an unconscious, divided mind that imagines a wholeness to come, and then resists anyone and any condition perceived as a threat to that image.
So, we’re not stalked so much by time, as by a mind – a level of consciousness – that continues to create the time it doesn’t want, the time it has to get through by imagining who and what it will be when it finally achieves what it imagines will make it free from being stalked by time, by the fear of death, by the fear of losing all we’ve managed to acquire.
Waves in Time
Ocean waves give us another insight into the nature of our lives in time. As we watch waves crash upon the shore, one after another, we can see that not one wave arises out of the ocean in and of itself. Each wave is a momentary expression of the larger movement. We may see a wave as a separate entity, but the wave doesn’t exist apart from the whole body of water that gives it its movement, breadth, and depth.
To our consciousness, waves seem random. But no wave is random. The wave that appears in the ocean is the result of the will of the relationship between the sun, the earth, the moon, and other influences. The wave is itself an expression of a greater body that is working out what is required to reconcile the whole of itself through these individuated movements called “waves.” Waves oxygenate, purify… do all manner of things… through the will of this greater body working to bring about that movement and its expression.
The events of our lives are like waves. It may appear to our present level of consciousness as though unwanted waves, unwanted moments, come crashing in out of nowhere. But no event happens that isn’t, as is a physical wave, part of the vast waters from out of which it comes. Every event is the revelation of a great wheel turning to reveal the timeless will of an endlessly Divine being, working to bring about a reconciliation between heaven and earth, between what is timeless and what is created in time.
The passing events of our lives have the greater purpose of transforming us. But we relate to events through our identifications and end up resisting them. Our mind, with its undeveloped, time-based consciousness, is seized by events according to what that consciousness tells us they mean. To relate to life in that way is to be stalked by time.
The Divine journey involves the preparation of an individual by another, higher order of awareness (that already lies hidden within us), so that we’re able to see that these ceaseless, seemingly individual waves belong to a much broader, grander relationship – another body altogether. And they exist for the purpose of our development, and not to torment us with what we fear is going to be washed away, or what we hope will be carried in on those waves to enrich us.
In the New Testament, Christ told his disciples, I am the vine, and ye are the branches. He was saying, I am what is timeless. I am a living light from which come these waves of creation, starting from the original Intelligence without form, and moving down to the cosmos created by love, all coalescing into a galaxy, and that galaxy giving birth to a sun, and that sun giving form to matter and producing the earth and all of the life that’s on it. All of that is an expression of I am the vine and ye are the branches. Out of nothingness comes everything.
If we want to have a life that is part of this divine, continual expression of light revealing its perfection through form, then we must first understand there are two vines, and as we are presently, we’re connected to the wrong one.
First, there’s the Vine of the timeless. We’ve known it in rare moments when we feel complete. There’s no clock in the background telling us we’ll get this if we do that, or we’ll lose that if we don’t do this. There’s just the outpouring of ceaseless creation, and we know the timelessness we long for.
But that’s notthe vine we live from ordinarily. Rather than timelessness, our vine is a construct of our present level of being. It is the image of then and when arising from a divided consciousness that believes it will be okay “when” and if it can get this done “then.”
So, everything about our well-being hinges on a perception of being separate from life and responsible for ensuring that we find our own way back to what we’ve imagined will make us whole. Meanwhile, every act of imagination arises from a level of consciousness that is identified with that image. That is its identity in the moment. But the image and the identity belong to a divided consciousness that cannot see it is what it tries to complete itself through, which can never lead to the completion it seeks.
Because of our relationship to what is essentially an illusion, a fabrication of a mind asleep to itself and dreaming up its kingdom, we are apart from the true Vine of life, of love, of the creative force as it spills out from everything-ness into something-ness and back again.
So, the Divine journey is not through some expanse of time. It is from one order of being, from one mansion in this timeless kingdom, to another that’s already connected to it – interpenetrated as in Solomon’s Seal – where the highest part of one order touches the lowest part of the next. And so it is constructed through all the levels of kingdoms.
By contrast, the imaginary vine we’re presently connected to is disconnected from all the levels above and below it. As a result, living from that vine separates us and prevents us from being aligned with the true Vine and receiving through it what we’re intended to receive.
Connecting With the True Vine in Daily Life
Let’s make this personal. Have you ever been at work, at home, with others, when suddenly you felt anxiety? A sense of inadequacy? Loneliness? And perhaps the minute that negative energy started to move through your body, you suddenly recognized that you’ve had this same reaction a thousand times before!
Hopefully we’ve all had moments like this and can begin to see they reveal a seemingly inescapable reincarnation of the consciousness that’s responsible for the recurrence of this reaction. As time passes, this reaction will continue to repeat itself until we can recognize the deeper lesson that is hidden in a deeper order of time.
In that moment when we are open to this revelation, able to receive that deeper transformative lesson, it is because we are outside the train of thought that always leads to the familiar old reaction.
Following the usual train of thought on the horizontal line of time is the continuation and reflection of the consciousness responsible for it. And that cannot answer our deeper needs because what we need is not along the horizontal line of time. What we need is a conscious vertical departure from the whole idea of a time to come, of when and then – into the timelessness of the perfectly present moment.
There are different orders of time. What we call “now” can be one of two different things depending on which vine our branch is connected to. If we are connected to the true Vine, “now” is a moment of divine beauty that fills us; and we are each the branch, the instrument made for that purpose – to reflect it back.
Or, if we’re connected to the lower vine, we’re looking at the moment our mind calls “now,” and seeing not now, but what our mind is telling us is happening and what we must do now in order to change it or escape. We can’t escape the time created by that consciousness through anything that consciousness tells us to do. Everything that consciousness tells us to do to escape being stalked by the clock is just another hand on the clock – ticking away.
Breaking the Bonds of Time
Now, here’s the key to starting on the Divine journey to a new order of time: We cannot escape the time we have made, and that in our unawareness we continue to make. We can only die to its maker.
How do we die to that maker, to that consciousness? First, we do not get there by thinking about it. By its very nature, thought is inaction and delay. So what do we do?
To explain, we need to start with a little history.
In the time before Alexander the Great conquered the world, he visited Gordion, the capital of Phyrgia. There was a legend in this city that whoever could untie “the Gordion knot,” which was a very complex, braided knot holding the yoke on the staff of a wagon, would conquer all of Asia.
Many had tried, but none had succeeded. Then came the young Alexander who looked at the knot and realized he wasn’t going to untie it. So, he took out his sword, and “whack!” – he sliced the knot in half.
That’s what we have to do.
We have to sever ourselves from this knotted-up self that keeps thinking, i.e., tying knots, to prepare for a time to come when it won’t be knotted up. Everything it does to protect itself from what it imagines is coming is another knot in that soul, another act of separation from an order of consciousness in which the freedom we’re waiting for already exists.
The intelligence we thirst for, the capacity for compassion, a nature that is willing to forbear whatever it must so that it doesn’t hurt another human being… is already within us. It is part of God’s life. It is part of that timeless Vine that in its undefined, unknowable expression, pours itself down into all of the branches of creation, ultimately pouring into us intelligence, love, light, and understanding.
We just have to sever the imaginary ties that hold us to the wrong vine.
We must recognize the almost endless cycle of pressure, anxiety, anger, and regret that always appears with the promise that if we follow that branch of negativity it will lead us back to the source of understanding where we’ll be free at last. In fact, that branch we’re tempted to follow belongs to something that can never complete itself, and that requires our energy to sustain it.
Instead of trying to complete the moment through what anxiety, fear, or anger tell us to do, we must be completely present to those thoughts, completely present to that pain – a pain that promises freedom in a time to come, but is really the continuation of the consciousness that is pain itself because it lives apart from the true Vine and the true life.
Instead of trying to untie all of this experience that seems to be the product of unwanted conditions we must try to control, our real task is to sever our relationship on the spot with anything in us that wants to continue trying to free itself in time.
This may sound impossible. We’re concerned about what will happen to us if we don’t serve that master. When the clock starts to stalk and we feel stress and anxiety, we wonder what will happen if we don’t do again what has never freed us in the past, but we hope may work this time.
Keep moving forward anyway. If you work with this new knowledge, one day a fear will wash over you and you’ll realize, “Fear is telling me what will happen to me if I don’t do what it wants. But I don’t have to listen to fear. If I do, the same thing will happen as has happened every time in the past. I must sever my connection to this old vine so I can be connected to the true Vine.”
We’ll never find the part of us that already knows what we need if fear is our guide. That higher consciousness is already within us. It belongs to the Vine and we are its branches. Our task is not to try to understand how to connect ourselves to it, but to discover where we continue to be deceived into staying connected to the wrong vine and serving what we fear when we’re stalked by the clock that is a creation of our own consciousness.
There is not one act of desperation that isn’t born of trying to escape a creation of our own consciousness, individually and collectively. Within that fact lies a great hope. If we sever, or even just intend to sever that “Gordion-knot consciousness” that’s consumed with its own continuation at all costs, that consciousness is changed, just a bit. And that’s the beginning of our complete transformation.
As a final note, it is not my consciousness or your consciousness; it is our consciousness. There is one Vine, and many branches. One awareness, one life, one light, and all of the various expressions of it, all of which we are intended to be a part of, and to know our part in that relationship with the timeless.
We have endless opportunities to sever the knot and stop the cycle of useless thought that never resolves anything. Part of the Divine journey is a ceaseless opportunity to receive the deeper lessons that already exist in a deeper level of time that is just waiting for us!
Our task is simply to wait in the right place with it.
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash