The time issue.
Does it feel like time is running out?
Does it ever feel like time is running out?
Or like you just haven’t got enough time today, this week, this month, this year, this lifetime?
Like life is just a constant never-ending race against the clock to get where we’re going, finish what we’ve started, meet the right person, travel to the right places, and try to save a little money along the way, so we might be able to have a little bit of fun at some point?
Or maybe like we’re “ticking away the moments that make up a dull day” as Pink Floyd put it?
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun
And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun
But it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way
But you're older
Shorter of breath, and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter
Never seem to find the time
—Pink Floyd, “Time”
Maybe life feels like that all the time.
For me personally, it used to be one of the single greatest drivers of anxiety.
This fear that time was unrelentingly marching on.
I know I wasn’t the only one.
But let me ask you a series of questions my teacher likes to ask…
What exactly is time marching toward?
Time until what?
When did time start?
And who said it’s going to end somewhere?
Time is actually a nonlinear vertical stack—but that’s a more advanced concept reserved for my advanced courses. Reply to this email if you’d like more information about those ;)
So what is it we’re actually afraid of?
Our body decomposing?
My teacher once said that “all fear is fear of timing of body death.”
Of course he’s right—the implicit underlying fear of time is actually that one day our bodies will decompose, and that will be it for us.
But correlating time with body life is a fundamentally misguided outlook.
It’s a case of mistaken identity.
We are certainly not our bodies.
In fact, all parts of our body are dying and being replaced all the time.
For example, we shed 500 million skin cells every single day.
Are you worried about getting things done before your next skin cell dies?
So exactly what point in this process have we decided represents “the end”?
Loss of consciousness? Well that happens every night and is regained every morning. A beautiful metaphor if there ever was one.
Deterioration of the brain? Sunflowers are called sunflowers because they intuitively turn to face the sun—without the benefit of a brain.
So it’s clear that consciousness exists independently of the brain.
Then what exactly is time marching onward toward?
Or is it actually consciousness—not time—which unrelentingly marches on?
Maybe your body has a deadline at work.
Of course, there are obligations in the relative world that our bodies must meet.
My body has a deadline to finish this newsletter.
Taxes must be done, emails must be sent, food must be procured, and so it goes.
Let us not discount or write off those obligations.
But let us also not get lost in the temporal nature of day to day events.
Let us not live our lives in fear of the ephemeral.
Knowledge eliminates fear.
In this case, knowledge of Self is the ticket.
Not knowledge of your birthday and your parents nationalities and your star signs, but knowledge of capital-S Self.
The only question left then is “what are you?”
What you really are is consciousness. Being. Absolute Totality.
But knowledge is two-pronged—having a good theory is only half of it.
We also need direct empirical evidence of that theory.
It’s why children need to touch the stove even after mother warned them it was hot.
The combination of that theoretical understanding with that direct experience produces knowledge.
So thinking about what we are isn’t going to cut it—we need a tool to experience what we really are.
You see where this is going.
Each time we sit to meditate, we have an—albeit sometimes brief or fleeting—experience of what we are.
And each time we emerge, more of that experience is stabilized.
It’s like the process of dyeing cloth I described in the last letter [link].
Each time we experience That, we remind ourselves of our real status—intellectually and empirically.
We remind ourselves that we are not the daily deadlines, the tasks, the demands, the clock on the wall.
Those day-to-day deadlines are just waves in the ocean—they come and they go.
Our true status is entire ocean.
The transient waves are just a small part of that.
The waves crest and fall and peter out ashore, but the ocean just is.
The waves are not separate from it either—they are an indivisible part.
As my teacher says, “without ocean, there would be no waves, and without waves, there would be no evidence of ocean.”
So even when we are temporarily identifying as the waves, we are still also the ocean.
All we have to do is remember that.
With each subsequent experience of meditation, not only do we reinstate that memory of infinite expansiveness in the “macro”, but we actually create more time for bodies to get things done in the “micro”.
That’s because by decluttering our mind of stress, we avail ourselves of more of our total mental capacity and creative intelligence.
This is why meditators often report getting 6 hours of work done in 4 hours, or naturally experiencing more creative flow.
By investing 20 minutes twice daily into making contact with what we really are, we also gain hours of time back.
In fact, we have nothing but time.
And I think Pink Floyd actually knew this.
It’s why the last few lines of “Time” go something like this:
Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away, across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells
—Pink Floyd, “Time”
Let’s discuss these and other ideas in Collective Effervescence, our online group meditation series, at its new time(!) this Sunday October 22 at 9AM PT / 12PM ET / 6PM CET. Drop in for meditation only (first 30 min) or stay for discussion + Q&A on this and other life topics from the Vedic perspective.
Use the links below to add the full calendar of upcoming sessions to your calendar of choice, and your calendar will stay up to date automagically. Set reminders from the calendar settings page in your calendar program.
Music today is obviously “Time” by Pink Floyd. At this point, I’m considering doing a full exploration of the entire Dark Side of the Moon album through the lens of the Vedas. I promise I listen to other music too sometimes. Roger and co. just get it.