the Time is Now…

Our perspective of time is relative to where we are and how we look at it. When we were children, and we were anxiously watching the clock for the school day to end, time seemed to move so slowly! But when we are engaged in a good conversation, immersed in an art project, Being with our beloved, or watching a beautiful sunset- it is as if there is no time at all… time seems “timeless.”

From a Western Perspective, time moves forward. Time is linear, it passes by like a river- and usually, we know time as Past, Present and Future. From the perspective of many spiritual wisdom traditions, time is understood to be cyclical in nature. Every cycle has a beginning, middle and end. Each phase in the cycle is significant.

Examples of cycles: the cycle of the day/ night, the seasons, the calendar year, the life cycle (birth-life-death-rebirth), the breath cycle (inhale, pause, exhale, pause), the blink of an eye. There is a time when the flower is in its seed, then in bud, then in blossom, then in dissolution in its return to the earth.

The Vedic or ancient Hindu culture saw time as cyclical, composed of Yugas (epochs, or eras) within a cycle of four ages, with alternative Dark and Golden Ages. The four Yugas correspond to the four Greek Ages, which are represented by metals. “The Yugas are driven by celestial motions, and affect conditions on earth. According to Hindu cosmology, life in the universe is created and destroyed once every 4.1 to 8.2 billion years, which is one full day (day and night) for Brahma. The cycles are said to repeat like the seasons, waxing and waning within a greater time-cycle of the creation and destruction of the universe. Like Summer, Spring, Winter and Autumn, each Yuga involves stages or gradual changes which the earth and the consciousness of humankind goes through as a whole. A complete Yuga cycle moves from a high Golden Age of enlightenment to a Dark Age and back again.” (Wikipedia)

The four Yugas: Satya Yuga (Golden Age), Treta Yuga (Silver Age), Dvapara Yuga (Bronze Age), and the Kali Yuga (Iron Age).

One of my spiritual teachers, David Patten, a Celtic Lingust, raised in the ancient Druid tradition of the Oghama  (the “celtic tree alphabet”), understands the nature of time to be cyclical. The following is my interpretation of his incredibly rich teachings on the four Yugas:

The Golden Age: the Satya Yuga, the era of Truth.

Every manifestation is close to the purest ideal- humankind will allow intrinsic goodness to rule supreme. Everything is divine: i am you, you are me. We are all the same. Everything reflects everything else. i am God, God is me, God is you, i am everything. Just to be awake is living in the divine. It is believed that many of the important sacred texts were written in full emersion with the divine during the Satya Yuga. ‘Satya’ roughly translates to mean ‘truth.’ During this period of time, we experience the truth of Being- the veil of illusion, Maya, is removed, and we live in the reality of the world.

The Silver Age: the Treta Yuga, the age of Mankind.

Now you have to go someplace to experience the divine. God is missing… you need to go out and find God. God is no longer inside you, or reflected within you. God is further away. God is separate from you and me- we see the duality of our divine nature- of Prakriti and Purusha. We experience a division between what is nature and what is divine- that which has form, and that which is formless- distinguishing between the visible world from the invisible world.

The Bronze Age: the Dvapara Yuga.

You have to earn the right to experience the divine. You need a teacher, or a Priest, or Priestess. You need to go to the temple and study God like a discipline, with a teacher. We can’t find God on our own. If we find a teacher, or a spiritual advisor, then we can reach God. In this time period, God is very distant. It takes discipline and effort to get to God.

The Iron Age: the Kali Yuga.

At this point in the cycle, the divine is nowhere. You can’t get to the divine, because of the grace of God. God is so distant now, that you may never see God. You might see God at the end of your life, but it is unknown- maybe you will, maybe you won’t.

Some interpret that we are currently in the Kali Yuga Age. (I have also heard some interpret that the Middle Ages were more likely the Kali Yuga) But it makes sense to me why we might interpret 2012 as being within the Kali Yuga.

Why is this important? Arriving in the middle of the year 2012- with all the discomfort, suffering, noise, isolation and chaos of these times- 2012 has been largely interpreted to be the end of things. However, many spiritual wisdom seekers, yogis and peaceful activists interpret this time as being of utmost importance. That this year, as Erich Schiffmann fondly calls “the year of the miracle,” is really a new beginning, an opportunity to re-evaluate who we are as individuals, who we are as a people, and create a real shift in human consciousness as a way to return to the Satya Yuga.

This is from my beloved teacher, David Patten: “There is a problem concerning so-called linear time. When is the past, past, and when is the not yet, not yet? How long is the duration of the Present, and are there strong boundaries between these three? Or are they merely “ideas” “about” time. Today we are forced to talk about “nanoseconds” dividing the past from the future, and the “speed of light” which can be broken down to “moments” of extremely short durations. Most of all this is not something of experience but something (time, t’is said) “as fast as thought.” In India (as well as everywhere else) there is an interest in bringing time back to something experienced. “Unity,” being “bound together” (yoga) is something experienced rather than thought. In experience we begin to notice when something begins, or ends, something we are caught up in, and something we are apparently apart from. Time “thinks” but is not thought, and the “passage of time” is not seen from a vantage point alongside the river but from the river itself. In experience there are cycles and contradictions, samadhi and ignorance, incubation and resurrection, self and other, clarity and confusion… completely Tantric and Yoga… However, Nothing does not exist, for all IS. The interesting “thing” about circular, or experiential time, is that the origin and the destiny is really the same, except that in the origin we do not know that, and in the end we do. So, before we are aware is the world and after we are aware is the world. Beginnings and endings in cyclical time meet, like the famous symbol of the snake eating its own tail. In the Golden Age, Time is circular and experienced. In the Kaliyuga, time is linear and abstract.”

This to me is really the key. That time can be experienced, “not seen from a vantage point alongside the river, but from the river itself.” Yoga means union- to merge, to integrate, to unite. When we meditate, practice yoga, or do any practice that brings us into the present moment, we make a conscious shift in our attention. Instead of clinging to the past, or projecting into the future, we accept where we are in the great cycle of things, and we Experience what IS.

To change our perception of time is Yoga. If we can shift our perception of time, to see time in its cyclical or experiential nature, rather than in a linear form- (that which has happened to us, and that which inevitably will be) and to practice Being here- right here, right now- we unite with the only moment that ever is, and that which will ever be. Instead of watching the river of time flow from an external vantage point, we sit deliberately in the flow of the current, and ride the wave. Practice connecting with your senses- breathe this breath, taste this taste. Open your eyes, and truly see what is before you, see what is around you. Take a deep breath, and smell the fragrance of the air that nourishes you. Practice living every moment as it arrives- and become in perfect union with the moment, no matter how strange or uncomfortable or blissful it may be. When we do this, we wake up in the middle of our life. This is from Donna Farhi: “Yoga… is a means of waking up from our spiritual amnesia, so that we can remember all that we already know. It is a way of remembering our true nature, which is essentially joyful and peaceful.”

Every day, i step into the yoga room, and together we practice Being. We become aware of our breath, practice becoming awake and conscious, and unite with every moment as it arrives. Every day, after class, all those yogis leave the yoga room and go out into the world… and they bring with them what they experienced, perhaps they connect with the people they meet, or share this idea of conscious Being… i am so grateful that in my world, this happens every day…

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