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8. Significance of Time

To the metaphysician Time is a concept, no more. Time is as much a reality to the yogi as water or air, only that its significance belongs more to the subtle plane. To the physicist, Time acquired a greater significance since the Theory of Relativity. Whether he has known Time fully is a question. Schools of thought that consider Time is the creator of the world have erred, according to Sri Aurobindo, on the human side.

The concept of Time having the divisions of past, present and future is universal. Timelessness is a world of the Rishi. It is a world of no movement. It is the domain of the Silent Purusha, the unchanging witness. Time goes with Space. As Time has the counterpart of Timelessness, Space has its own counterpart of Spacelessness.

  • The Timeless is Eternal.
  • The Spaceless is Infinite.

Time and Space are realities of the human world, the lower hemisphere. Timelessness and Spacelessness belong to the higher hemisphere of the Spirit, the cosmos. In a world that is aware of these two worlds, Sri Aurobindo brings in the realities of a third world, the world of Supramental creation. There Time and Timelessness co-exist. He calls it ‘simultaneous integrality of Time eternity and Timeless eternity'. We shall call it for simplicity's sake, the third dimension of Time. 2

There was a time when the employer was all in a company. His word was the law. The worker was a commodity which could be dispensed with if necessary. In the post war world in India labour became intransigent. Labour ruled or misruled. Now industrial harmony is restored to the extent that the employer and the labour give serious


2 This may not be mistaken for what is generally known as the third dimension of space.

consideration to each other. They co-exist. This can serve as an analogy to Time, Timelessness and the third dimension of Time. As the Spirit evolves, Time moves to the third dimension. Already I spoke of this phenomenon, giving an analogy of domestic life. Now, let us consider this phenomenon as a global or universal phenomenon.

  • The plane of Time is our human world. It allows success and failure; darkness and light; right and wrong; the dualities. It is bound by karma. It is a world of the physical, the vital, and the mental. It does not admit of the Spirit. In us, this plane dwells in our surface mind. This is a world of Ignorance. Mind, Time, and Ego rule this world of finite objects.
  • Timelessness is the higher world, the world of the Spirit. It is the cosmos. It belongs to the inner mind. This is the world of the Rishis. This world leads to moksha or Nirvana. This is not on the surface. This is entirely a subtle world. The subtle plane is not necessarily the spiritual plane.
  • The third dimension of Time is one where Time and Timelessness meet. It is spread all over the universe. It is neither on the surface nor in the inner mind. It is further behind the inner mind. This mind is known as the subliminal mind. There ego cannot exist as spreading all over the world, ego loses its structure. Ego can exist only in a limited way. Limitless expansion dissolves ego.
  • Mind there acquires a different characteristic. It cannot retain its characteristic of Ignorant Mind. Moving to the inner Mind, Mind loses its Ignorance and is full of light. Moving further below, Mind becomes universal. Here it is capable of sensing the Superconscient as well as the subconscient as both meet in the subliminal.
  • Even in the subliminal, there are special intensities which are known as the cave of the subliminal. The experiences of the surface Mind and the inner Mind collect their essences in this cave. The collected essences are known as the Psychic.
  • Sri Aurobindo's yoga demands of Men to move to this Mind - subliminal Mind.
  • Man moves to the inner Mind by concentration. Subliminal Mind cannot be reached by concentration.
  • Concentration is the Mind dwelling on itself. It leads to the purification of the Mind. The purified Mind is the Spirit. The Spirit, as soon as it is reached, looks for release, Moksha. Even concentration is a method. No method can lead to the Psychic. Mind needs methods. The Soul or Spirit needs no methods. Especially the evolving soul refuses any method. Giving up all the known methods is giving up the effort of Ego. It is called surrender or consecration . Mind cannot do it. The Spirit can. The choice before the Spirit is Moksha or Transformation. The Spirit is free to choose the inner Mind through concentration or the subliminal Mind by consecration.
  • Reaching the subliminal Mind, Man is in the third dimension of Time where there is no failure, no suffering, no pain and no death.

These two pages of philosophy can be easily explained to anyone who has invoked the Spirit or is willing to invoke the Spirit. The Spirit - Psychic Being - when invoked takes us momentarily to this subliminal mind and lets us be touched by the Psychic. In life, we see, a dispute settled is in favour of one person at the expense of another. A prayer magnificently granted is at once accompanied by a loss in another place, as prayer is of the surface limited mind. One work completed in the surface Mind is at the expense of another work. A father getting elected as Municipal Councillor is simultaneously accompanied by the son failing in the exam. This is a plane that knows no failure. When the father is elected, the son who has not written the exam well will pass it, merely on the strength of the greater intensity in the atmosphere.

  • One characteristic of prayer to Mother is, it will be accompanied by other successes not prayed for, at least one. If not, what is prayed for will be given in excess.
  • He who prayed for a mud house, built a cement house.
  • One who was not in a position to borrow could not believe his ears when someone approached him and offered to lend money. Contrary to custom, the lender met the registration expenses. Failure is not on the agenda when the granted prayer carried an excess.
  • One who lost his job, in appealing to the government approached a sympathetic officer. The victim knew these are time-consuming procedures. Even his application would take months to reach the head office. If only the final order were favourable, he would consider himself lucky. The officer offered to pass favourable orders on the advanced copy. He was reinstated before he could appeal.
  • Another characteristic of this dimension is the extraordinary speed, as the Timeless dwells in Time.
  • Bank loans are notoriously delayed. Sixty-five clients of a programme all paid back the loan before the last date, something unheard of in the annuals of bank lending. It is striking, as more than one person was involved.
  • An International Commission's Report expected to be written in six months, was submitted in a form ready to be printed in eighteen days.
  • Another characteristic of this dimension is when one thing comes through, several other things also come through. It is the experience of devotees that when they try to marry one girl, the wedding of two daughters is finalized. Along with that, a brother's upanayanam also takes place, all not on the family agenda.
  • Someone was invited to talk on the radio but the speech was never delivered. A leading newspaper offered to write on his project. The Director gave his intended radio speech as the write up. The newspaper, examining the article, desired to publish photos too. Just then the A.I.R. called him and asked him to deliver the speech, converting it into an interview with its Director.

Sri Aurobindo says that this 3rd dimension of Time is one characteristic of the Supramental plane. When his prayer is granted, a drop of consciousness from that plane touches the devotee. The other characteristics of that plane have been touched upon so far. It is worthwhile repeating them in this context.

  • This dimension of Time carries the active play of Grace. Prayers granted by this plane are 100% perfect, whereas cures by faith in life only give 99% relief.
  • When the receptivity of the individual is total, this plane converts grace into Super grace. It means the end results come in the beginning. I have cited the constitution of the International Commission (ICPF) to achieve disarmament. Disarmament in the shape of the fall of the Berlin Wall occurred a week before the first session of ICPF.
  • It cancels karma, as karma cannot survive in this dimension of Time. Karma can operate in Time. It cannot operate even in Timelessness. Karma brings the consequences of the past to bear upon the present. In this dimension, there is no past. It merges with the present, as it is ever-present. In the case of the officer charged with corruption (p.17), his past karma could not stand in the way of his being acquitted.
  • All the characteristics of this plane can be and must be explained in one given case. Only then the value of the plane will emerge. As we get patches of information from the devotees, it is not always feasible to do so.

I tried to take up Pride and Prejudice and wrote a lengthy commentary of over sixty pages to bring out all the characteristics of this dimension in one context. I have touched upon the crux of that earlier. To write about thirty or fifty anecdotes of this description briefly is not out of place here. As my writing proceeds, its course will reveal whether such a possibility arises or not. In the meantime, I wish to mention most of those characteristics.

  1. This plane fully saves the man who has fully and willingly played into the hands of his arch enemy.
  2. The body's rules are fixed. Only the Hatha yogi can overcome them. Ordinary devotees having that power by their prayer is seen here.
  3. The wanton evildoer getting the full benefit of what he meant for his enemy.
  4. Surmounting insurmountable obstacles.
  5. Long-standing disputes are settled in ten minutes when the conscious offender reverses himself.
  6. Grace acts when effort is given up.
  7. Unsolicited Grace.
  8. Manifold success against the protest of the beneficiary.
  9. A six year vicious scheme dismantled in three hours.
  10. A superior power's action is reversed by a small fry.
  11. Vibration of Luck is infectious in the subtle plane.
  12. Invisible unknown subconscious potentials are brought to the surface and they bear fruit.
  13. This plane gives one the endowment of the vibration of material Grace - the capacity to bring down rain.
  14. Capable of giving yogic reward for dedicated physical work.
  15. Total relief from pain by an apparently painful measure.
  16. Giving further long lease of life.
  17. Changes the social situation into its opposite character.
  18. Raises one who cannot enter the list to the top rank.
  19. Prayer granted after a delay even without offering.
  20. The unfailing Force lands on the neighbour of a refractory devotee who is resistant.
  21. Over-fulfil an impossible dream.
  22. Expand one's work 700 times.
  23. Lifetime benefit in one year.
  24. Infinite prosperity lands on one (from Rs.28 lakhs to Rs.3000 crores in 20 years) because unawareness does not resist.
  25. Perfect skill rewarded 1500-fold.
  26. Fear of death removed.
  27. Himalayan loans converted into mounting profits.
  28. Life-long ambition granted four-fold.
  29. A child's prayer can give her capacities to defeat a wizard in chess of the same age.

The Upanishads that declared the four famous formulas of the Indian religion also declared, "We know God; we know the Universe; we also know God made it, but we do not know how. It is not for us, mortal men, to ask the One how the Many issued out of it." Sri Aurobindo calls this the retort of the Upanishads. He confirms their view that we do not have that right. This is so because until Sri Aurobindo discovered the 3rd dimension of Time, there was God in the Timeless plane and Man in the plane of Time. They excluded each other.

After He reached the Supramental plane, He saw there was one more plane of Time - the third dimension. Here He saw how God had made the world and why He made it. The eternal One chose to objectify Itself and the Object presented itself to the Subject. The Object is our world, the subject is the higher world. That world which includes the object and the subject is the world of the third dimension. This is a world of wholeness, containing the Many in which the One is. This world descending to our world transforms our world of Ignorance into a world of knowledge. To reach this world, Man has to emerge out of his ego and enter into the Psychic Being. This is a world of Delight, which can be variously described as,

  1. The Supramentalised world of ours.
  2. The world of Divine Life.
  3. An egoless world where the ego is replaced by the Psychic.
  4. This is the world where Timeless eternity and Time eternity co-exist in simultaneous integrality of Time.
  5. This world is the world of the Subliminal.
  6. We can say the Subliminal emerges in the Surface Mind.
  7. Here the Infinite emerges out of the Finite.
  8. The Mother calls this the ‘World of Delight at our doorsteps waiting for our call'.
  9. Contradictions here reveal as complements.
  10. In this world we see Matter and Spirit are one.
  11. Man reaching this world will know Matter as thoroughly as the Sannyasin knows the Spirit.

In The Life Divine He has 56 chapters where about fifty themes are explained. This world can be described in those fifty ways. What is important for us is that once we come to HER, she gives us a Touch of this world either during our prayer or in our meditation. It can become permanent if one can consecrate his acts.

  • The dozen statements of our tradition about God which are expressive of the Mystery of God, all reconcile in this world into one wholeness of Life that is Spirit.
  • The dichotomy of Silence and acts, Form and Formlessness, Infinite and finite, the Identical and the Multiple, the One and the Many, Time and Timelessness, the Manifest and the Unmanifest vanish here, revealing the eternal oneness of existence.
  • The layman's perception of this world, though momentary, is one of harmony where problems resolve into solutions and inner discords melt into eternal Peace and Joy.

The tradition spoke of Paramatma and Jivatma. Sri Aurobindo says when the egoistic man sheds his ego, he discovers in its place the Purusha which is the World-Purusha. World-Purusha seen inside reveals at its centre the Transcendental Purusha. His spiritual experience is Paramatma is Jivatma. Jivatma becomes Paramatma widening itself in the universe and raising itself to the Transcendent. That can be seen inside also.

The various steps of this transition are:

  • Shedding the ego.
  • Seeing the Purusha.
  • Knowing the Purusha as World-Purusha.
  • The World-Purusha individualizing the World-experience in us.
  • Seeing the world inside us.
  • Seeing the centre of that world.
  • Knowing that centre to be Paramatma.

As Jivatma is Paramatma, no act gets done if both do not accord their sanction to that act.

To offer another analogy from transport will help. Till 1920 all transport was on the ground. Man walked and carried a head load. He rode a horse for centuries, and built carriages of all descriptions. Railways came and revolutionized transport. Bicycle and car came later. When plane was invented, it flew in the air, and the very character changed. Sri Aurobindo's third dimension was announced to the world through Arya between 1914 and 1920.

  • The new dimension of Time is to Spirituality what aeroplane was to transport.

Leonardo da Vinci was the Italian genius. His notebooks were prolific. It was Sri Aurobindo's previous incarnation. All that was in da Vinci's notebooks took life when Sri Aurobindo was born. The progress of the world in every respect took wings after His birth in 1872. Mother said Sri Aurobindo had many ideas on economics, but their exposition never interested Him. She said,

  • The greatest of victories are not announced by the beat of drum.

Sri Aurobindo is a Force. It is in action. His action will not be visible to the social or moral eye. It may not disclose itself to the Spiritual eye of the tapasvi. It is seen only in the third dimension. A naked Sannyasi sitting in an ice-covered cave on the Himalayas said to someone from the Ashram, "You come from an Ashram on the seashore. They are doing very difficult work, never done before." There was a sannyasi who was a terror because he pelted stones at visitors and set his dogs on them. An Ashramite went to his abode. At a considerable distance from his own ashram, the sannyasi met the Ashramite, made pranams and said, "Are you not coming from Sri Aurobindo Ashram?" "How do you know?" asked the sadhak. "I don't need you to tell me anything in order to know that," was the reply. In the subtle spiritual plane Sri Aurobindo was felt and continues to be felt. How far this work is known or appreciated remains a question.

We try to educate our children, give them a good character, train them in values of life, and leave them any property we have. Those who do so congratulate themselves. Property apart, a good education and wedding is the responsibility of the parent. Beyond that lies employment. Every parent is at pains to fulfil this duty. They are dutiful parents. When we have a work, conduct an exam, build a house, manage a seminar, or conduct a negotiation, we prepare ourselves, plan and meticulously execute. We are satisfied with excellent results. When you have one such work, instead of preparing yourself and planning, observe the course of events. First speak to Mother, consecrating the work, and do not plan as usual. If you have the luck of such an observation and you are able to leave every step in Her hands, the results will be amazing. "I could never have done this," is what one exclaims at the end. And that happens every time we are able to leave the work and its different parts in Her hands.

This may generate Faith in you. In that case, consider whether you can give your child education, employment and marriage or you can leave it in Her hands. If you are lucky enough to arrive at the latter decision, you will, in the end, realise that you cannot have achieved that much. There is a better course. It is to give them Mother instead of property, education and character. It cannot be done orally or by instructions. Every time the duty presents itself to your Mind, refer that to Mother. Make that reference richer and deeper over the years till you reach the very depths of your being.

  • There is no greater duty than giving Mother to your children.
  • You certainly cannot give to your children what Mother can give them.
  • You are a lucky father if your children take to Mother as fully as they can.

The Third dimension of Time can be explained in more than one way, though, being analogies, they may not always be as precise as an example. Its characteristics are worth writing about, though apparently repetitive, in another fashion or one more time.

  • This plane does NOT have the negative side we witness in life.
  • It does not permit fragmentation, as it is in the plane of Being.
  • It is not a limited plane like Time. Not only is it a limitless plane, but there is a tendency here to grow.
  • Examples from life may not fully express the significance of this plane.

Some analogies for the indivisibility of this Plane.

  • A house can be divided, not a family.
  • The size of the brain is limited, not the extent of the Mind.
  • Degree ends somewhere, not education.
  • Passion for a woman dies after a time; Love does not.
  • Skill is limited, not values.
  • Wars always end, not Peace.
  • Presents can satiate, not affection.
  • Money is limited; the capacity to earn money is not.
  • Production is fixed, not creativity.
  • Discipline ends, not Freedom.
  • Songs have a physical limit, not music.
  • Companionship may, after a time, become flat; not friendship.
  • Force of Nature can be divided; not the Being.
  • Raw materials may run out; not the new products they can create out of it.
  • Time is in limits; the third dimension is limitless.

book | by Dr. Radut