The transcendent forever forms the immanent. We can understand the immediate moment, in this instance, as the immanent, that is, the objective manifestation of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions. Here I am, dictating this; here you are, reading it. But this immediate moment, which is perfect, irreplaceable, and unique, emerges from the transcendent — the past, which is put forever beyond our reach by the passage of time — and flows into it, again, because time exists after this moment and every moment flows into it.
In that sense, this instant is always timeless. It cannot have time except as an assigned characteristic experienced by the nature of the consciousness that inhabits it. So time does not actually exist, as Gurdjieff said to his visitor in Glimpses of Truth (page 37 of Views from the Real World.) It is a function of the manifestation of consciousness.
In Zen, and in Buddhism in general, the eternal now is a highly valued concept. The apogee of commentary on this conjunction of the transcendent and the immanent may well rest, however, within Islam in Arabi's Futuhat.
Yet perhaps the complex and fascinating, even brilliant, philosophical implications of the situation as expounded by Ibn Arabi aren't enough. And perhaps even practice-based Buddhist discourses inadvertently gloss over the question through their own fascination with the state — that is, the conversion of experience of the state itself into a construction or philosophical body of understanding.
The practice itself exists as an extraordinary truth that can only manifest within consciousness and never be transmitted in words or other forms. This is what inner work is for — to discover and experience of this timelessness within the context of time, which is a product not of reality, but of our own abstraction within it. That is to say, what we call reality is actually a psychological, intellectual, cultural, and philosophical abstraction derived from reality which never does anything more than reflect it.
To live within the actual experience, the ultimate aim of the birth of the inner life, is a completely different action that instantly divorces itself from the construction that describes it. The divorce is irrevocable, that is, psychology, intellect, culture, and philosophy are unable to exist within timelessness and the Truth of the instant, because these qualities all belong, ultimately, to that which lies in the immanent. In this way, we might say that all religious practice is an attempt to move outside of religious practice into a territory it describes, but can never reach.
To the extent that we inhabit timelessness, our inner lives are aligned more closely the inflow, the divine manifestation of God. This, like the cycle of myth, is a circular and cyclical process that waxes and wanes according to many different forces, among them planetary ones. The best that we can do is hope to align ourselves within so that we receive what can be received when appropriate, and take all of the actions that are needed to manifest right effort in the outward world when we are less available.
This brings me to the question of intention, the central proposition of Swedenborg's, which I intend ( If you will excuse the pun) to examine in the next post.
May your soul be filled with light.