Friday, July 22, 2016

Some comments about time, part I

The various qualities of angelic energy 
are equally expounded in order and chaos
Lee van Laer 2016
Created on the iPad pro using procreate 

 May 12

When we grapple with questions about time, they are often lived on large (for us) scales, involving an effort to comprehend a phenomenon infinitely larger than we are. That is to say, we think about it; and then we succumb to the standard trope of, "oh, wow." That is, the subject provokes superficial emotional reactions of awe and astonishment. This kind of enthusiasm may be touching, but it turns out to be, on the whole, useless. A form of titillation, if you like. Don't think that my dismissal of it implies I don't engage in the same myself. I'm just trying to point out that our attitudes towards this question tend to be formatory.

It becomes more interesting, I think, to examine time within the microcosmic scale of our own experience.

The more one becomes aware of the organic sensation of being, the slower time passes. Now, this is striking, because as one ages, it's generally commented that time seems to go faster for most people, simply because they have lived longer, and every day is an increasingly smaller increment of the totality of their impression of their life. Measured against this totality of life, the individual days seem shorter, because the life as a whole is longer. Or so the idea goes.

Becoming aware of one's organic sensation has the opposite effect. Time slows down, not just a little bit, but a good deal; and one continually gets the impression that a particular day, or even a brief series of events, is taking an extremely long time. Now, that's not an uncommon sensation or perception when one is "bored;" that is, when one has an inwardly uninterested attitude towards life or the immediate events in it. Perceptions of that kind are usually somewhat excruciating; and we're all familiar with them.

Yet the total impression of life as it flows in more deeply creates a quite different impression. The landscape of an individual day seems vast; and because a larger number of impressions are absorbed more deeply, the scale of things affects one more directly. I often have the feeling, during the day and at the end of it, that an individual day has been a very long journey indeed. I just returned from China, having been gone only a scant seven days, and only in-country for five full days. The trip seemed to me to be as long as some of the trips I have taken three weeks to complete. The three-week trips seem to encompass entire lifetimes. Really, the dilation of time has become quite striking for me.

The last time I wrote about this in any detail, I pointed out the universe was created because the conscious-taking-in-of-impressions slows the action of time—a point, of course, made by one of Gurdjieff 's pupils at the end of Glimpses of Truth (in Views From the Real World)—; and thus, in its totality, the relationship of consciousness to the material overcomes the action of time, even though we are too small to see it in its total scale. I still stand by this conclusion; readers who are interested can read the original post on the question here. Yet this is a theoretical position on the question, that does not necessarily illuminate us as to the exact practical nature of taking in impressions in ordinary life, and what our perception of time has to do with it.

 It's interesting, isn't it, that this telling observation is for all intents and purposes the summary of the meeting in the first discourse of that book? Perhaps this is the primary view from the real world — time does not exist. It is, according to Gurdjieff, the "ideally unique subjective phenomenon;" leaving us with little or no doubt that we can indeed perceive it quite differently than we usually do.

The perception of time depends on the development of the inner organism. I could re-explain this in Swedenborg's terms — in fact, I think I will. See the next post.

What I can say for certain, for those of you in this work who have a great interest in inner development of a practical kind, is that impressions can't have any other effect if they fall more deeply into centers. One would need to pick up In Search of the Miraculous and acquire more than a cursory familiarity of the exact processes in the chemical factory in order to understand why this is so; but I suppose that those with less intellectual inclinations would probably be more interested in understanding how one can come to a better direct experience of this question.

 In this case, one comes once again to the question of organic sensation, and an understanding of why de Salzmann spent such a very great deal of time laying a foundation for people to discover an active relationship to this question. Without it, you see, the deeper and more thorough digestion of impressions, with its consequent effect on the inner perception of time, is quite impossible.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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