Inner Experience of Space & Time

by Aik Theng Chong, The Buddhist Channel, Oct 25, 2011

Singapore -- Space feeling is first and foremost connected with the movement or possibility of movement of the body, whereas time feeling is connected with the movement or the realization of movement of the mind. Space is externalized time projected outward. Time is the internalized space, the inner transformation of spatial movement into the feeling of duration.

Though space feeling starts with the body, it does not remain at this stage. It gradually changes into a spiritual function independent of the body and eventually culminating in the experience of the infinity of space as describe in the meditative practice of the Four Divine States of consciousness and in the Higher Immaterial States of absorption. It is not a concept, because infinity cannot be conceived, it can only be experienced. Movement, in relation to space and time is also the fundamental quality and characteristic of life itself.

Changes due to movements are not accidental but dependent on laws, such as the laws of periodicity in which change follows a cyclic movement as in the seasons, the hour of the day, etc. It represents the eternality in time, and converts it into a higher space dimension, in which things and events exist simultaneously, though no perceptible to the senses.

They are in a state of potentiality as invisible elements of future events and phenomena that have no yet stepped into actual reality. Time is not merely an experience of the fleeting existence of oneself but also the inherent nature of life and spirit, which is beyond being and non-being, beyond origination and destruction.

Time as a movement, either of oneself or of something within or outside of oneself is a paradox. We would have noticed, that the less we moved, both inwardly and outwardly, the more we are aware of time.

The more we move ourselves, the less we are aware of time. A person who is mentally and bodily inactive feels time as a burden, while one who is active hardly notices the passage of time. When we move and live in perfect harmony with the innermost rhythm of our being, it becomes timeless in the sense that we do not experience time any more.

What we call ‘eternal’ is not an infinite duration of time, which is a thought construction, but the experience of timelessness. Time cannot be reversed, just like life itself, it is an irreversible process. The whole experience of time is due to movement and memory.
The past that is ever growing in oneself as a widening horizon of experience and wisdom will continue to grow until the individual has reached the state in which the universe become conscious in him as one living organism. This is the highest dimension of consciousness.

Dimension is the capacity to extend or move in a certain direction. If we moved outward we do so in a three dimensional aspect. However, the movement which produces and contained these dimensions is felt as time, and as long as the movement is incomplete or the dimensions are in the making, no conceived as a complete whole, the feeling of time is the feeling of incompleteness. There is no time in moments of highest awareness, intuitive vision or perfect realization.

There is no time for the Enlightened Ones. However for the Enlightened Ones, it does not mean the past has been extinguished or memory blotted out. On the contrary, the past ceases to be a quality of time and becomes a new order of space, in which things and events which we have experienced piecemeal can be seen simultaneously, in their entirety, and in the present.

The Buddha in the process of his enlightenment surveyed innumerable previous lives in ever widening extending view, until his vision encompassed the entire universe. Only if we recognize the past as a true dimension of ourselves in whose womb we dream until we are awakened into the freedom of enlightenment, shall we be able to see ourselves in proper perspective to the universe.