Time and Time-Freedom

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

William Blake, “Eternity’s Sunrise”

It seems fitting, as we close in on the end of one yearly cycle and the onset of another, to bring up the issue of time and time-freedom, which is indeed a very paradoxical issue. That paradox is what Blake renders poetically in his poem “Eternity’s Sunrise”. To affirm and accept the law of impermanence — the joy as it flies — is to also to live in eternity’s sunrise — a state of time-freedom. This is already the state of that which we referred to in the previous post as “the You of you”.

As you know, perhaps, “time-freedom” or “spacetime-freedom” is one of the chief features — perhaps even the chiefest feature — of the new integral consciousness and emergent “diaphainon” anticipated by Jean Gebser in his great book The Ever-Present Origin (or Ursprung und Gegenwart in the original German). Time-freedom is, of course, an implication of what he calls “diaphaneity” or “the transparency of the world”. Time simply becomes transparent, as does the ego-consciousness which is affiliated with time and bound by time as birth and death, entropy and neg-entropy. Time is also Lewis Mumford’s “Megamachine” and William Blake’s “dark Satanic Mill”, also called “the mill o’ the gods”, “windmills of your mind”, or “mental merry-go-round” and so on.

In his book Yuga: The Anatomy of Our Fate, Marty Glass identified our original sin — “our Fall into Time” — as the chief feature of our spiritual Dark Age called “the Kaliyuga“. The other four fears of the Kaliyuga, which seem consequential to this Fall Into Time, he names 2) The Reign of Quantity, 3) Our Mutation into Machinery, 4) The End of Nature and 5) The Prison of Unreality. It does seem likely that the ancient name of Kali also continues to inform our words for calculate, calendar, calcify, calamity, and so on (and probably the mythical sorceress Calypso). In her dark aspect, Kali is terrible to behold, the image of Time as Death, so there is reason to think that what Gebser refers to as “The Law of the Earth” is represented in Kali in her two aspects as Kali of Eros, and the Kali of Thanatos.

Kali the Dark

“Our Fall Into Time” is also a fall from Eternity’s Sunrise into a state of continuous Angst or anxiety about time. Blake refers to this as a state of “Vegetative” or Corporeal existence which has very little to do with how the Church conceives of this “original sin”. If we can speak of an “original sin” at all, it was to become time-bound, like the Greek’s Ixion crucified on the wheel of time.

So, you might see from this why Gebser places such enormous import on the possibility of “time-freedom” as our redemption from “the Fall” and therefore from the state of Angst. This comes about through the emergence of that within you which has never known time at all and which is called “diaphainon” or “the You of you”. This is also the meaning of the Prodigal Son parable. What is called “Eternity’s Sunrise” is also what is represented as the centre of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” and, in fact, is the vital centre of any mandala-structure.

Some would probably scoff at the idea that “time-freedom” is possible to us at all, even though it has become clearly visible now to those who work in the quantum domain and with quantum paradoxes — as transluminosity or non-locality or synchronicity or acausality. These are matters in which Gebser, earlier, recognised the emergence of a new consciousness of “time-freedom”. This is also what led David Bohm to his understanding of fundamental reality underlying the visible order as being “undivided wholeness in flowing movement” which is, itself, as much a paradox as Blake’s joy that flies within eternity’s sunrise.

Now, there are still many of the Old School of conventional thought who hold that paradox is evidence of mental confusion and illogic — a flaw in our thinking and not the way things actually are at root — and will eventually be sorted out by the diligent application of Cartesian method and logic, ie, rationalists. And the strict rationalist is certainly going to have problems understanding what Gebser means by “arational” consciousness. And at the other end of the spectrum are those embrace “time-freedom” and the arational in totally aberrant ways — as somehow implying physical, material, or civilisational immortality like so-called “transhumanists” or “end of history” ideologues. This aberrancy is what is called “spiritual materialism” which is actually another way of describing Nietzsche’s succinct definition of nihilism: “All higher values devalue themselves” which reflects, really, the problem of the ego-consciousness clinging to permanence and therefore “does the winged life destroy” as Blake put it.

The winged life flying within Eternity’s Sunrise is precisely the meaning of Bohm’s “undivided wholeness in flowing movement”, and this winged life flying within Eternity’s Sunrise is also what is expressed in Blake’s statement that “Eternity is in love with the productions of time”. The Zen koan “show me your face before you were born” is the exact same paradox of the timeless and the temporal expressed in different terms, and corresponds to the old saying that “God is closer to us than we are to ourselves”.

“To conquer death, one only has to die” is, indeed, the relevant paradox to all this and also self-revelation of the “diaphainon” as this “You of you” — your face before you were born. And I think here Rudolf Steiner’s remark is on target: that it is pointless to fret about life after death, but to recall your life before birth.

Jane Roberts once published a book with the title “Dialogues of the Soul and Mortal Self in Time” I don’t recall if I ever read it, but the title is so suggestive (just as equally as Prigogine’s “New Dialogue With Nature”). This “dialogue” reflecting the “You of you” relation is, after all, not much different than that described by Nietzsche in Zarathustra, in the chapter entitled “The Despisers of the Body” as this dialogue between the Self and the Ego, and which is also the issue of Goethe’s “two souls”, as mentioned previously.

“Two souls, alas, reside within my breast,
And each from the other would be parted.
The one in sturdy lust for love
With clutching organs clinging to the world,
The other strongly rises from the gloom
To lofty fields of ancient heritage”

To be human is to be a paradox. And the paradox of this “two souls” or the “You of you” is also what is expressed by the ultimate paradox in Buddhism: “nirvana and samsara are the same; nirvana and samsara are not the same”. This is not foreign to Christianity either, for the same paradox is expressed as “the kingdom of heaven is within you” but also “the kingdom of heaven is spread out upon the Earth and men do not see it”.

We will have occasion to revisit this grand paradox in future posts. For one thing, I suppose many will throw up their hands in exasperation about how Gebser reconciles acceptance of fate (Schicksal) with time-freedom, just as much as Nietzsche’s “free spirit” can be reconciled with eternal recurrence of same or his principle of amor fati — love of fate or necessity. It is the same paradox we find in Buddhism nonetheless. It is said that upon his enlightenment and emancipation, the Buddha exclaimed “O Wonderful! Wonderful! Everything is perfect just as it is”. Yet, if that were the case also, the Buddha wouldn’t have felt it necessary to bring his message of emancipation from the Wheel of Time and Space to the world. What seems like a contradiction is actually a paradox.

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10 responses to “Time and Time-Freedom”

  1. Christian Roy says :

    I take exception with the notion that ‘fall from Eternity’s Sunrise into a state of continuous Angst or anxiety about time … has very little to do with how the Church conceives of this “original sin”.’ Be careful of what you take to be ‘the Church’ when you allude to what unbelievers -and indeed many believers- assume it holds, e.g. about ‘original sin’, which the Eastern Church expressly denies in the Augustine-derived sense of some kind of sexually transmitted disease connected to legal transgression, which is what you may have in mind. The Patristic Church and the Orthodox Church that still identifies as such view ‘ancestral sin’ as precisely the fall into two-mindedness (see Diadochus of Photicea) and one-upmanship with God, man and everything, and thus anxiety about one may get or lose next, i.e. in time, and with a self to win or lose along with objects it constructs. Hence enslavement to mortality and law, from which Risen life in Christ as uncreated Life frees Creation. Alpha and Omega are here one beyond time, atemporally and aperspectivally if you will: something which icons make visible with their ‘reverse perspective’, or rather a correct timeless perspective that isn’t one, in which the viewer does not survey under a controlling gaze, but is seen by and within vastness itself as the Light within which he sees as he is seen, the dimensionless golden background that finds embodied form in holy persons depicted, as in the one the viewer is called to become by partaking in this space-time-free ‘view’ or sense of Church life in which all spiritual beings past present and future are contemporaneous. The Renaissance or Cartesian perspectival triangulation you ascribe in a recent post to Trinitarian thinking as such as inherently dialectical has nothjng to do with the original Patristic understanding of the Trinity, but echoes the subtle but instantly detectable subversion of the Trinity evidenced by the West’s insertion of the filioque clause, which troubles the existential relations of divine Persons (and human ones by extension) and shifts the emphasis to generic essence, i.e. to what Heidegger calls onto-theology or metaphysics. From then on, i.e. once a distinctly Western Christianity arises and promptly falls out of communion with still ancient Eastern Churches around the turn of the last millennium, you start seeing depictions of the Trinity as the conceptual triangle you decry, independently of the divine Persons themselves, now naturalistically depicted by their literalized symbols, which marks a departure from ancient canons that forbid any figurative depiction of the Father. That was consonant with the older and still Eastern view of the Trinity in which the Father is but the unfathomable fount of the divine (even the word ’cause’ would be too much, like any word or concept), which is expressed differentially yet jointly through his Word and Breath, i.e. the Son and Spirit, as though by the two hands with which he fashions Creation (to borrow an eloquent image from St. Irenaeus). In God you then have a kind of Unground (see Berdyaev) as Father, his twofold uncreated expression as Word and Spirit, as a Trinity that finds its divine-human fulfillment in ‘you the viewer’ of the icon as a kind of ‘sideways mandala’: the ‘You of you’ in the incarnate Word in which Creation and the Uncreated are fulfilled as one. With this fuller, older, but ever-new picture of the Trinity, you then start getting something more alive than any conceptual numbered pattern that risks making an idol of three-step dialectics or indeed a neatly self-contained squaring, for it displays remarkable compatibility with an integral fourfold pattern like that of the Tetramorph, which is hardly incidental to the Church’s self-understanding, but is quite consonant with Trinitarian doctrine as it originally arose. For not only is the Tetramorph identified with the Gospel itself, no less, through the symbols of the Four Evangelists, but among these, the human figure standing out from animal symbols may well be taken to stand for the You-of-you (the viewer), or Godmanhood, embodied in Christ as defined in the Chalcedon formula about his two natures as man and God “without confusion, without change, without separation, without division”: a fourfold array of paradoxes demanding the same leap of faith into aperspectival no-mind as the Diamond Sutra’s insistence that “nirvana and samsara are the same; nirvana and samsara are not the same”.

    • Scott Preston says :

      There is the whole tradition of “mystical Christianity” identified as such which is identified as such because it kept itself aloof and distant from Churchly mainstream, conventional, organised religion, and which has kept its heritage intact through the ages, and which even assumed a hostile stance towards Churchly relgion. William Blake certainly wasn’t the first do so, or to decry State and Church for creating “the mind-forg’d manacles” or “bricks of religion”. The reason, too, that Nietzsche attacked Christianity mercilessly was precisely to free the truths and the spirit of Christianity from what Rosenstock-Huessy calls “amalgamate false natures”. And yet, the same Christian themes recur over and over again in Nietzsche’s ironic and paradoxical philosophy.

      Frankly, I don’t know why they refer to it as “mystical Christianity” otherwise, since I find nothing mysterian about it. It was a much more sophisticated understanding of issues like Heaven and Hell as states of unity with, or separation from, the Divine Life, and not as reward and punishment for obedience or disobedience. But that is certainly not what I heard from the dour sermons from the pulpit when I was a young boy forced to attend Church.

      What Gebser does, of course, is to use a different idiom for matters like “Heaven” and “Hell” which, in his EPO, become “presentiation” and “distantiation” respectively. And what others call “God” he calls “the Itself”, and what others describe as the Christ within, he calls, instead, the “diaphainon”, and so he prefers a language that is universally acceptable in order to say the exact same thing as the “mystics”, Christian or otherwise, and is otherwise also a nod in the direction of Blake’s “All Religions are One”.

      But even religion is something that will be overcome — that’s the implication of Rosenstock-Huessy’s anticipation of a “religionless Christianity” as was ordained from the start “the Law is made of Man, not Man for the Law”. Buddhism isn’t really a religion at all, in fact. What we call “religion” is called “dharma” — the law. And it too is described as a raft. Once the raft of the dharma carries you across to the other shore, what need do you have of the heavy raft? So, the dharma is pretty much the same as what Jesus called his “yoke” — exactly what Blake means by the final words of *The Marriage of Heaven and Hell*: “One Law for the Lion & the Ox is Oppression”.

      • TheOakofNormal says :

        “But even religion is something that will be overcome”…or perhaps simply forgotten like the mistiness of dreams. Life and life only, the church is a hearse anymore. Gebser’s compass was pointed in the right direction, it just needs more accessible language behind it.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          What is “the Church?” It strikes me that many Christians have never asked themselves that question, much less those who don’t identify as Christ-ian.

          Matthew 18: 19-20.

          I hate to break it to anyone who doesn’t want to be here, but we’re “in Church” right now.

          • TheOakofNormal says :

            The church as institution, should have specified. I’m not in church here though, just trying to take in and share ideas and evolve.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Yes you are, the word, “Church,” not withstanding. :p

            • TheOakofNormal says :

              Fair enough! I’m a Spirit is everywhere available to all people who are open and receptive, not to be bound up in walls or “owned” is all I was saying. We are on the same page I’m sure:)

  2. Steve says :

    Ladies and gentlemen:
    Matter is not different from infinity, Oneness, God.
    Infinite is not different from matter.
    Matter is Infinite.
    Infinite is matter.
    Sensations, emotions, desires, and intellect are infinity.
    Ladies and gentlemen:
    All matters and minds are manifestations of Oneness, Infinite world.
    In Infinity nothing is created nor destroyed,
    Nothing is dirty nor unclean,
    Nothing increases nor decreases.
    In Infinity there are no sense organs which are changing.
    There are no sensations, emotions, desires, nor consciousness.
    There are neither eye, ear, tongue, body, nor mind.
    There are neither color, voice, smell, taste, flesh, nor mental activity.
    There are neither visible world nor conscious (invisible) world.
    There are neither autonomic intuitive action nor end of intuitive action.
    There are neither old age nor death.
    There are neither eternal youth nor eternal life.
    There are neither security nor disciplines.
    There are neither knowledge to learn nor things to acquire, because there is
    everything here.

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