The Trap of Time
"To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation."
- The Power of Now
Time has become a real issue in the news. Will there be enough time to repair the Japanese nuclear reactor before Japan is contaminated with radioactivity? Will there be time to arm the rebels in Libya or should NATO wait and see who the rebels are? As we become more interconnected it seems like all the labor and time-saving devices we spend so much money on rob of us of more and more time. Perhaps what we need is to question time itself.
If your goal is to free yourself from the ego, you cannot make that state of non-ego a goal in future time that you work toward. This will only lead to more frustration and more inner torment as looking to the future can only mean that you have not yet “arrived.” If spiritual liberation is set out in front of you like the finish line in a horse race, you are supplying to your self more time. One of the largest nutrients of ego are the concepts and notions about time. In fact, many spiritual teachers would say that one of the lynch-pin foundations of the ego is the past and future.
Time is very useful for carrying out the day to day tasks of physical life. And the concept of time is one of the most defining characteristics of homo sapiens. In other words, no matter how smart your dog is, your dog cannot make an appointment with you in two weeks and meet you at your favorite restaurant for lunch. This usefulness of time fools us into thinking that time is some kind of objective reality that surrounds and contains our life.
In fact, time is a structure of the mind that simultaneously, as it makes it possible for the human race to develop technology, also functions as one of the greatest impediments to knowing yourself. Time needs to be seen for what it is. Time is the horizontal surface layer of daily life. The vertical dimension is the spiritual timeless dimension available only through the doorway of the present moment. Eliminating time, its constraints and concepts, is one of the most direct and powerful portals to true spiritual practice.