Image by xaviandrew
Our greatest complaint today is that we have no time for anything. No time for our children, our spouses or lovers, no time for our friends and community. No time even for ourselves!
Overworked for too little reward, either of money or leisure, and separated from our environment by a fog of busyness (our busy dream) that’s become a habit of the mind, we’ve lost our taste for life. Few today remember God’s exhortation to Abram, Lekh lekha, go to yourself, or Horace’s simpler prompting: Carpe diem! seize the day.
We tell ourselves our “time poverty” is a fact. Well, in fact, it’s not. We have more leisure time than ever before, but do we use it? “Time is the stuff that money is made of” (Benjamin Franklin) unfortunately has become a truism many of us live by, in a world where needs are carrots, fabricated for the sole purpose of tricking the consumer into spending money. And if you want things, you must take the time away from other things, to make the money you need to be able to afford them.
We’ve come full circle. Keeping up with the stuff we think we need is a stressful occupation, and stress is the biggest cause of the physical and psychic diseases that afflict us and shorten our life spans.
So then is it all simply about learning to control our impulses? If we need less, we’ll need less money, and we’ll have more time for life.
But then we must know what we want to do with our lives. The meaning of our life is intimately connected to the fact that time exists. If we use time productively—whatever that means to each of us—our life will feel meaningful. If we squander our time, our life will feel empty.
Trying to find our way to the gold that the emperor, the ruler of our inner world wants to give us, is a quest only our subconscious can map out for us. The aim is to rise out of our time addiction and despair, and into timeless wisdom, which is “a tree of life to those who embrace her.” (Proverbs 3:18)
Is Time Accelerating?
As we speak, the rumor going around town is that time is accelerating. But even our cosmologists disagree. They may receive a Nobel Prize for saying that the universe’s expansion is accelerating, and time with it, but others are already questioning these findings and may yet get their own Nobel Prize. But how would we really know?
If the world is going faster, everything in the world is also accelerating and we have nothing to compare it to. We would need clocks outside of our universe to measure it. We’re all one giant ship of fools traveling together. Having eaten of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, many of us believe that time, toil, and pain are inescapable companions on the road to dust and ashes, a sad attitude that science has so far only served to exacerbate.
Leaving science aside, the mystical traditions have another explanation. Follow the trail of indigenous cultures around the world, and you will find their traditions unanimous in predicting an imminent massive awakening, a shift in consciousness that will greatly quicken our rates of vibration, the rate of passage of our energy from dense matter to light. Here is what the Zohar has to say:
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“In the six hundredth year of the sixth millennium, [That’s 1840 CE or 5600 in the Jewish lunar calendar] the gates of wisdom above, together with the wellsprings of wisdom below will be opened up, and the world will prepare to usher in the seventh millennium.”
We are now in the year 5782 (2022 CE) and are fast approaching the seventh millennium. But even the 218 years left in this millennium are subject to acceleration! With “arousal from below”—which means: with our active participation—the process will speed up, and the “Lord will accelerate it in its time.” Is this change in the rate of our vibrations what we are experiencing as time speeding up?
The Gaon of Vilna, eighteenth century Talmudist and Kabbalist, prophesied that science and mysticism, having turned global, and publicized their innermost secrets, would seem to fundamentally diverge and go their separate ways, but would ultimately rejoin in a grand unified worldview, ushering in the new awakening. He urged his followers to engage in, and learn about the sciences, as a way to hasten the coming of the new consciousness, which in Jewish thought is called the Messianic Age.
Meanwhile, believers in science, and believers in mystical truth muddle along, generally disdaining each other. Will the twain meet again? If, according to Alfred North Whitehead [1861–1947] ,“what has accelerated is the rate at which novelty enters the world,” can we learn to adapt fast enough?
The Pace of Change
Since the Industrial Revolution, we have seen an explosion of inventions that have revolutionized our lives. The pace of change is shrinking from an indeterminate thousands-of-years span (the wheel), to thirty years (cars and planes), to seven years (the information explosion with the computer, the iPhone, the internet, etc . . .) and now we are seeing a three-year-span at which novelty enters the world. As an Apple technician told a lady who sought repairs for her three-year-old computer, “Your machine is vintage, Madam.”
Moore’s law, which predicts that microchip performance would double every two years, is “causing an increase in the pace of change that is challenging the ability of the human being to adapt.” [George Moore] Should we relinquish all technology and return to nature?
Knowing that the changes we are experiencing in every sphere of life today are not separate phenomena, but part of a unified changing consciousness, and that trying to hold back the tide will only make the changes more painful, how can we participate in the “arousal from below?” To hasten the coming of a new age predicted to be one of “universal peace and brotherhood,” we must learn to extricate ourselves from time’s addiction, and the various emotional patterns and belief systems that block our way to becoming masters of time.
Stepping Out of Time
If we can experience stepping out of time, there is more nuance to the experience of time than appears on the bare page. Just now, your mind may be occupied with the past, remembering what your grandmother told you when you were four. Or is it envisioning a future in which you are driving a flying car? Your time may be deep within, contemplating your beloved, or just on the surface of things, wondering if you’ll have time to finish your report before you must pick up the children.
Chronology is something we hang on to, to grasp the journey of life. But as with dreaming, there are four levels of reality within, which are simultaneously many revolving realities that we experience all at the same time. We have the reality of P’shat, the past, our story line; the reality of Remez, our Now configuration; the reality of Drash, our hopes and fantasies about the future. The fourth level is Sod, the response, a No-Time everlasting beingness “that is not passing” and that we call PRDS, the Garden of Eden. Past, present, future, and No-Time. The Talmud’s astounding statement that “there is no chronological order to the Torah” can just as well apply to a human life.
While it is indisputable that our bodies walk sequential time, our inner experience weaves back and forth, leaping ahead, or reversing time at will. Time has many ways of manifesting, as well as many directions, sounds and colors.* Time is an ever expanding Now.
Can we relinquish clock time and, using the dreaming mind, learn to expand time (ocean time), contract time (grass time), or even stop time (stone time) at will? But before we go there, let us mention this amazing fact: there is no evidence whatsoever of any force that makes time flow. Time as a force doesn’t exist. So what is this illusion that is so real we live and die by it? “If I am not asked about time, I know what time is. But if I am asked I do not,” said Saint Augustin in the fifth century. Today we are equally in the dark, and time rules our lives to the hour, minute, and second. Our digital clocks proclaim a time cut loose from any pretense to natural cycles.
With the first appearance of mechanical clocks in the fourteenth century, a slow divorce process was set in motion between man and his environment. We no longer needed to consult our biological time, or the heavenly cycles. Artificial time began imposing an unnatural rhythm on our biological time, disrupting our subconscious body processes, and affecting our health that is based on rhythm. To trick clock time, we must move away from time as a constrictive force imposed on us.
Since the tyranny of time is mainly lived as one of inevitable historicity, systematically reversing the arrow of time will help to further loosen the hold this addiction has on you. Here is the formal reversing exercise taught in my lineage. It is based on the idea of t’shuvah, TSHVH, which is often translated as repentance, but really means “return.”
What are we returning to? A more innocent time, a timeless present, “extending from one side of heaven to the other.”
Nightly Reversing Exercise:
Do this every night without fail. Do it in bed, with your eyes closed, just before going to sleep:
Look at your day backwards, as if rewinding the tape of your day. When you come upon a difficult encounter with someone, go stand in that person’s shoes. Look at yourself from that person’s vantage point. When you see clearly how you were behaving, return to your body and continue reversing the day’s events.
If you fall asleep, remember that the brain doesn’t sleep, and it will continue reversing. You will wake up refreshed, your burdens lightened.
My son once complained I hadn’t taught him about reality. “Which reality?” I asked. Going back through time allows us to access the roots of the reality we’re stuck in.
Switching places opens up new perceptions, new realities, in our space-time construct. It loosens our belief system that there is only one way of seeing things, thus breaking open the specific space-time relationship we conceived of as a fact. The belief that there is only one reality fixes time more than anything else. There are other realities. And one of those is cyclical time.
Is Time a Cycle or a Spiral?
The cyclical nature of time is evident to the smallest child. Day follows night and spring follows winter. The sun rises in the east and goes down in the west. The waxing and waning moon affects ocean tides, and also affect our inner waters and moods.
From time immemorial, people around the world have based their understanding of time on the cyclical nature of planets, and stars in our sky. Rituals celebrating the cycles form an integral part of all religious ceremonies. Shavuot and Sukkot are harvest feasts. Christmas is the shortest day and longest night of the year, and to children’s delight, comes back every three-hundred and sixty-five days.
The ancients imagined the stars and planets to be fixed in rotating celestial spheres. Is the universe a giant mechanical clock? This was Isaac Newton’s† contention, absolute time, flowing at a consistent pace, unaffected by any observer or outside influence. The inevitability of the recurrence of days and seasons is both a comfort, and anxiety producing.
Heraclitus reminds us that "no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." Which means that our cycles are not really cycles. Our lives, our planets, and our galaxies, in fact, describe a spiraling pattern.
The spiraling pattern is ensuring that we can never step in the same river twice, nor do two things in exactly identical ways. If it were otherwise, we would be like machines spitting out the exact same copy every time. Free choice wouldn't exist, and we would never evolve. Our creative purpose, which is the living breath within us, wouldn't manifest. Even if the same events were to repeat endlessly, the person reliving those same events has the capacity to respond differently, as is so perfectly illustrated in the film Groundhog Day.
Neutrality doesn't apply here. We choose to be despairing or to respond to the necessity of the situation. Tikun, or correction, can be consciously applied to life's challenges.
Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Printed with permission of the publisher,
Inner Traditions International.
BOOK: The Kabbalah of Light
The Kabbalah of Light: Ancient Practices to Ignite the Imagination and Illuminate the Soul
by Catherine Shainberg
In this step-by-step guide to kabbalistic practices to connect with your natural inner genius and liberate the light within you, Catherine Shainberg reveals how to tap instantly into the subconscious and receive answers to urgent questions. This method, called the Kabbalah of Light, originated with Rabbi Isaac the Blind of Posquieres (1160-1235) and has been passed down by an ancient kabbalistic family, the Sheshet of Gerona, in an unbroken transmission spanning more than 800 years.
The author, who is the modern lineage holder of the Kabbalah of Light, shares 159 short experiential exercises and practices to help you begin dialoguing with your subconscious through images.
For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as a Kindle edition.
About the Author
Catherine Shainberg, Ph.D., is a psychologist, healer, and teacher with a private practice in New York City. She spent 10 years of intense study of the Kabbalah of Light in Jerusalem with Colette Aboulker-Muscat and an additional 20 years in continuing collaboration with her.
In 1982 Catherine Shainberg founded the School of Images, dedicated to teaching the revelatory dream and kavanah (intent) techniques of this ancient Sephardic Kabbalah tradition. She conducts imagery and dreaming workshops internationally.
Visit her website at schoolofimages.com/