Martin LeFevre: When Time Stops
When Time Stops
Overhanging the gorge are great angular outcroppings of volcanic rock--solid and sharp edged protrusions from the gently sloping grasslands behind them. Many have huge slabs balanced on top of them, some looking like they had been perfectly placed there by a giant stonemason.
Other formations, with deep fissures where they meet the canyon wall, sit vertically in precarious positions, awaiting the next major earthquake to send them tumbling into the stream far below. Perched near the edge of the precipice under one of the plentiful oaks in the area, I can hear the rushing of the stream at the bottom of the glistening gorge, stretching hundreds of meters down and away.
The grasses around me are so dry that they break at the touch, and appear golden from even a meter away. Directly across, beyond the narrow gorge within the sanctuary of the large, fan-shaped canyon, are sheer, majestic cliffs, rising hundreds of meters into a cloud-scudded sky.
Big buzzards, masters of the air in their own right, appear as lumbering leviathans next to smaller, light-winged hawks that follow in their wake, screeching as they wheel and dive into the trees at the base of the cliffs.
Psychological time ends, and the mind, anchored in the present, ranges over the past. The people who once lived at this beautiful place come to mind. Native Americans loved this canyon, and revered it as sacred. They were wiped out, driven off, and assimilated into a dominant culture that thinks only in terms of commodities. But in the meditative state one can still hear whispers of their lives echoing across the land.
The mind in meditation is like a laser effortlessly boring through all the strata accumulated in content-consciousness--not only from one’s own life, but also from the lives of all the previous generations. Through that opening the light of the cosmos pours into one, and one participates, however briefly, in the infinite intelligence beyond thought.
Even for adept meditators, indeed even for ‘enlightened’ people, the meditative state is not a constant, but a quality of consciousness that one has to ignite each day by making space for undivided attention. Nature is crucial to the process, though a mindful, silent walk through a park in the middle of a city, followed by a half hour’s sitting in one’s residence with the light flooding in as the bustle goes on below, can be sufficient to generate a radical shift in consciousness.
Spiritual development is the easiest thing to fake, but meditative states are much harder to feign. Any bright man or woman can put on wisdom robes and pass himself or herself off as an enlightened guru. There’s an entire industry of such charlatans now, willing to sell you their books, DVD’s, retreats, or whatever.
The ‘enlightened’ ones teach people how to get from here to there, because that’s all we know, in one form or another. Becoming sells, especially with regard to ‘enlightenment.’ But one does not ‘attain’ illumination. There’s nothing to reach as an end, just a developing in negation.
Our consciousness is based on time. Not chronological time, but psychological time —becoming this or becoming that. We’re nearly always looking forward to something. To some degree looking forward to things is healthy, but when time-based consciousness is all one knows, one is a slave to becoming, and it prevents one from growing into a human being.
Time is obviously necessary for carrying out tasks, and for evolution, but are time and evolution involved in radical change and revolution in consciousness? No, time is antithetical to transmutation and revolution. Spiritual growth only occurs when psychological time ends.
It is therefore a confusion of the highest order to talk about ‘conscious evolution.’ When we are really changing, we aren’t conscious of it until later, and then only fleetingly, like looking in a rear view mirror while driving at high speed.
Timeless consciousness can function in the field of time, but time-based consciousness has no relationship to the timeless. If the shift happens spontaneously, does one know when psychological time stops? Yes, because the mind no longer looks forward or back, but effortlessly remains with what is.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic
religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing
in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now
New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The author welcomes