Out of Time

Oct 05, 2022


Over the past month, I’ve been participating in the Work that Reconnects with an online practice group. This is a set of teachings and methods developed by root teacher Joanna Macy that are aimed at deepening our capacity to act for the sake of life on earth. 

As part of this process, last week we explored concept of ‘deep time.’ It offers a fascinating reframe of how we envision and relate to time. 

Usually, we think of and experience time as moving in a linear way, as a continuum of past, present, and future. Deep time posits another intriguing possibility: what if we could experience time as existing in concentric circles, with us in the present at the center, surrounded by the past and future? 

The notion of deep time reminded me of how time is conceived of in the Nondual Tantric philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. It describes the process of how the one, universal Consciousness gradually steps itself down into manifestation to become all that we experience in the material world, including ourselves.

One of the steps in this process of manifestation is kaala, which causes sequential time. This means that, according to Kashmir Shaivism, the way we experience time is not absolute, there are more subtle levels of consciousness that exist beyond linear time. 

Furthermore, because human beings are considered to hold the fullness of absolute consciousness within us, then deep time could be an experience that’s actually possible within our own consciousness. Isn’t that a wild thought? 

I can’t say that I’ve accessed that level of consciousness, but who knows, would my mind even be able to grasp it if I did? 

While living in the present - with our struggles and challenges, as well as our successes - it can be comforting to consider that the notion of linear time is relative and perhaps something we are not bound to in the most ultimate sense. 

It doesn’t necessarily change what’s on your to-do list for today, but it might offer valuable insight and expand your perspective on your place in the scheme of things.


Images courtesy of Kathleen Rude.



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