In response to the frequently heard comment, "I don't have time for meditation," I say, first, meditation makes time for itself: it pierces the fortress of time to create fresh temporality. Second, meditation facilitates and hastens the tasks which previously seemed difficult and a time-consuming uphill struggle. Meditation creates time for itself.
What is time? Time is not the movement of a hand on the clock. It is a state of mind, a consciousness, and our time-consciousness depends entirely upon our view of life and our view of the universe. As we grow, our concept of time changes. Time, which is very long for a child, as from Christmas to Christmas, is very short for an adult. Time, which is like five hours when we stand for five minutes at a bus stop, reverses itself. When we are engaged for five hours in some highly pleasant activity, we are surprised because it passes like five minutes.
The greater beings, whose consciousness is not tied down to the human body, to human limitations, view time from an entirely different perspective. Meditation makes time for itself. It does so by increasing one's energy level so that less time is required for sleeping. It purifies the emotions so that less time is required for dreaming, day-dreaming, and fantasy. Fantasy includes reading stories and watching movies. This is not to say that one should stop reading stories – now, this minute! Meditation will change your inclinations. You will need less emotional outlets. Meditation makes time for itself by purifying your emotions so that less time is spent in that angry, vengeful, depressed, self-pitying, internal dialogue that we all carry on.
Meditation makes time for itself by suspending the sense of movement on which time depends. The existence of time depends entirely on the sense of movement in space. We experience space only because we move through it or observe objects moving through it. In meditation total stillness occurs. Where total stillness occurs, our relationship with space changes. As our relationship with space changes, the need for movement of the body is suspended. When the need for movement of the body is suspended, time stands still.
Put it this way, the mind experiences time as a movement of thought. I am speaking and fifteen seconds of silence pass since my last word. Meanwhile the listener's mind has continued with a chain of thought created by an instant observation, such as, "What is this man doing? Why is he not speaking? Why did he stop? What is he going to say? Is he going to say anything more?" Then the mind inverts itself, looks at itself, and says, "Now I have thought so many thoughts in this time; much time must have passed. What has been happening all this time outside of the body?"
When the mind no longer carries on a chain of varying thoughts, the minutes and seconds stand still. To go further, the mind enters a chamber of silence. What is this chamber of silence that we speak of as occurring in meditation that we sometimes touch the doorknob of when we are in meditation? This chamber of silence is a chamber of transcendence. The whole universe outside of us, including our bodies, including the objects which provide thought to the mind – all of those factors and entities in the universe are, as it were, triangular. The three arms of these triangles are time, space, and causation. That which transcends these triangles of time, space, and causation is that chamber: the chamber of silence.
Where time stands still, our relationship with limited space ceases and, therefore, causation, karma, the series of causes and effects with which we are constantly involved, also comes to cessation. Thus, in meditation, as our meditation grows, time will not be experienced as a movement from point "X" to point "Y" in mental space. In deep meditation time ceases. You'd say, "If so, what happens to all my appointments that I have made in external time. If internal time ceases, what happens to all my responsibilities? Would I simply sit there completely unaware of all my external responsibilities, duties of love, and other matters of importance?"
My friend, when you touch the timeless regions, the Timeless One begins to take care of your affairs. At this stage, to believe in this statement requires much effort of faith. But the saints who started out on their journey to saintliness started out from the same place where you and I are worrying, being concerned over ordinary daily life and affairs: “What will happen?” “How will it go?” “Will the sun rise tomorrow?” “Will there be a moon next month?” “Will the crops grow?” “Will there be bread in the pantry?” “Will I be shod?” “Will my feet have two pieces of leather to cover them to walk through the winter?” “Will my child be taken care of?” “Will my husband be served?” “Will my wife be happy?” All of these questions arise so long as we have a relationship with time, space, and causation.
Here we come to the second statement: meditation facilitates and hastens the tasks which previously seemed difficult and a time-consuming uphill struggle. With much less effort things attend upon you when you have learned to meditate. If you sit to meditate, however, with the thought, "Panditji1 says with much less effort things will attend upon me; therefore, let me meditate for fifteen minutes," it will not happen. You cannot bargain with God. You cannot sign contracts with God. You cannot say, "God, sit down and sign on the dotted line.” “How long do I have to meditate before you will start taking care of my affairs?” “If you don't sign on the dotted line, if you don't show a sign, then I will not believe it, then I am not going to meditate." This process will not work because you are imposing time, space, and causation upon the Transcendental One.
In the book Living with the Himalayan Masters, Swami Rama speaks of an episode concerning a wedding at the home of a man named Gopinath in the city of Kanpur. Now, in India weddings are very elaborate affairs. They are held in the bride's home. The bridegroom comes with a big party, on horseback, with bands playing, and is received like a royal guest. Everybody is fed and taken care of, and much gold jewelry is given. It is a huge celebration. Well, this man Gopinath has the key to the safe in which the jewelry is kept. A little before the wedding he walks out of the house on some last-minute errand and, along the way, hears kirtana going on. Kirtana is a few people gathered together singing the name of the Lord. You call it chanting here.
Gopinath stops for a moment, listens, becomes absorbed, sits down – "I'll go just now" – and joins in the chant. Sitting there chanting with the others, he becomes completely absorbed, completely entranced in the name of God, whom he loves, and he forgets about his errands. Time passes. He does not know how much time has passed. When the kirtana ends, Gopinath's trance breaks, he is shocked out of his rapture, and he sees the time: it is 10:00 o'clock at night! The wedding party must have come; the wedding must have taken place! But how could it when all the bride's jewels were in a safe to which he held the key? Madly he rushes home. Everybody is gone.
He asks his wife, his relatives, "What happened?"
They look at him amazed: "What happened? Don't you know what happened?"
"Well, no. I went on this little errand, and I became entranced listening to the chant of the name of God, sat down, did not know what time had passed, and here I am."
They tell him, "You were here all the time. You came. Do you not remember opening the safe and giving the jewels, feeding the guests, bidding the bride and bridegroom farewell, and doing all your duties as the man of the house?"
"Who, me? Not me," he insists. "I was not here. I was sitting chanting. I was in a trance. Time passed. The chanting ended, I was shocked out of the trance, and I rushed home."
"No, no, no. You were here!" they repeat. "You did all the duties you should have been doing. What has happened to you?"
"Who was this other man who came in my place? How did it happen?" he wonders.
There are many, many stories of happenings of this kind among the saints and saintly of India, stories of how the Lord has taken care of the affairs of those who have really loved him and who have become entranced by him.
On a smaller scale, our tasks can become easier and less time-consuming. Decision-making processes become shorter because the mind is clearer. It is no longer befogged by intellect and emotion – both cobwebs covering the quick facilities of the mind. The result of taking the short cut through the emotions and the intellect is such that the answer flashes before you.
Until the answer flashes, you will not make a decision. In meditation, however, you will not struggle, you will not worry about it. You will let it be. You enjoy your rapture. You enjoy your meditation. And from somewhere, suddenly, a very silent, whispering command comes: "Do this." And it clicks. It seems right. It feels right. Your decision is made. The time that you would have spent in much effort is no longer required because the mind is clarified. Your buddhi and the processes of your intelligence are purified. They are no longer befogged by the emotional confusions through which we constantly live, calling them our love or our problems.
In this universe there is an all-pervading principle called the unconscious mind. It is called so by the yogis, not because the mind is unconscious, but because we are not conscious of that vast expanse of the universal mind. Through this universal mind run currents and crosscurrents of life, karma, time, space, and causation. In this vast expanse of mind our individual minds are as though little focal points. In the vast history of the universe, our individual lives are little episodes. The currents and crosscurrents of-life, of the flux of the universe, pass through, crisscross through these little focal points called our individual minds. When we live a life in which the mind is turned to only the world which is visible to the eyes and audible to the ears, the mind is not in tune with this vast expanse of its own other being.
When we enter the state of meditation, true meditation – not the "meditation" that is a struggle, a fight, a quarrel with the teacher, a discussion with the wife or husband – when we enter that meditation – a stand-stillness of the mind, that chamber of silence – then the mind becomes inverted. When the mind becomes inverted, it is in tune with the currents and crosscurrents of the flux of the universe, which are crisscrossing through these focal points which are we individuals, who are the little episodes in the history of the universe.
In the history of the universe many, many events are linked to faraway places and times. What is happening here is somehow linked with something that is happening at this time to a person in perhaps England or Australia, to one whom we have never met, to one whose name we do not know or of whose existence we are not aware, but whose friend will probably pass our way, cross our path, sometime during our visit to Los Angeles or New York or Peking [Beijing] ten years hence. The events that will make that happen are taking shape now without our knowledge and are part of the entire flux of the universe.
We little beings worry, worry, worry, and through that worry and depression we try our best to stop the free flow of that flux through the focal points of our minds, to prevent those good things from happening to us. By saying "What will happen? What will happen?" we prevent the right things from happening to us. We fill our mind with cobwebs in this manner. When the mind is inverted in meditation, it is linked to that flux, becomes aware of those currents and crosscurrents, and those far-away events are hastened, happen more quickly. The message passes without a phone, as It were. The mind is linked and is inspired to do something whereby the right things begin to flow your way. You want someone to pass your way? The next day he passes your way. We call this coincidence. In the life of a yogi such coincidences are common daily fare. They simply happen. When they happen once, twice, or three times, he too calls them coincidences. But when they begin to happen without his effort, over and over again, every day, he says, "To heck with the effort, I will meditate and let these things come my way and take care of me." And they do!
But remember, meditation is not the path for the lazy, not for the weak, not for someone who simply closes his eyes, fights all the emotional battles, and says, "I am in meditation, but things are not taking care of themselves. Why aren't they?" No, that is not the kind of meditation of which I am speaking. True meditation, from the background of emotional purity by which you have risen above your insecurities, that meditation guides you and guarantees your success in all your undertakings without consuming much of your time and energy. If you want to find time for meditation so that the meditation may later find time, create time for itself, start working on emotional purification.
The painful emotions are a sign of blockage in spiritual progress. Get rid of them. Don't suppress them: get rid of them. Replace them with happy emotions. Your mind will become clearer and meditation will become a pleasure, a joy. Only when meditation becomes a pleasure, only when it becomes a joy, when you simply love to sit and enjoy it, then meditation lengthens in time and takes care of itself. You just take care of the purification of your emotions. Meditation will take care of itself, will find time for itself, and will begin to give time for all of the things that you have been wanting but unable to do.
1 This was written by Swami Veda before he took sanyas when he was Pandit Usharbudh Arya.
[This article was also published in the May 2020 edition of the AHYMSIN Newsletter.]