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What is the practical value of the teaching about time? The full answer to this question would embrace many fields, but here is one of the most important. Philosophy teaches its student to apply the double point of view to the outward happenings of his life as it does to the inward contents of his sense-experience. From the ordinary point of view, the nature of an event determines whether it is a good or an evil one; from the philosophic point of view, the way he thinks about the event will determine whether it is good or evil for him. He should always put the two points of view together and never separate them, always balance the short-range one by the long-range one.

The higher point of view enables him to escape some of the suffering which the lower one would impose upon him. An event which to the worldly man seems staggeringly important and evil from the point of view of the moment, becomes smaller and smaller as the years recede and, consequently, less and less hurtful. Twenty years later it will have lost some of its power to shake him; fifty years later it will have lost still more--indeed, it may have lost so much as to cause him no further pain; one incarnation later it will not trouble him at all. When the student adopts the long-range point of view he achieves the same result in advance and by anticipation of time. It is said that time heals all sorrows; if we seek the reason why, we shall find it is because it insensibly gives a more philosophic point of view to the sorrowful. The taste of water in a jar will be strongly sweetened by a cupful of sugar; the taste of water in a bucket will be moderately sweetened by it; the taste of water in a bathtub will be only slightly sweetened by it; and water in a lake will be apparently quite unmodified by it at all. In exactly the same way, the stream of happenings which makes up time for human consciousness gradually dilutes the suffering which each individual event may bring us.

The student is not content, however, to wait for such a slow process in order to reduce his suffering. By bringing the philosophic attitude to bear upon each event, as and when it occurs, he immediately reduces his suffering and fortifies his peace. Every calamity which is seen from this standpoint becomes a means whereby he may ascend, if he will, to a higher level of understanding, a purer form of being. What he thinks about it and what he learns from it will be its real legacy to him. In his first fresh anguish the unawakened man may deny this; in the mental captivity which gives reality to the Present and drops it from the Past, he may see no meaning and no use in the calamity; but either by time or by philosophy he will one day be placed at the point of view where the significance of suffering will be revealed to him and where the necessity of suffering will be understood by him. This, indeed, is one of the great paradoxes of the human development: that suffering leads him step by step from the false self to the acceptance of the true self, and that the true self leads him step by step back to the acceptance of suffering.

If the worldly man agitatedly sees the event against the background of a moment, if the philosophic student calmly sees it against the background of an entire lifetime, the sage, while fully aware of both these points of view, offsets them altogether by adding a third one which does not depend on any dimension of time at all. From this third point of view, he sees both the event itself and the ego to whom it happens as illusory. He feels the sense of time and the sense of personality as unreal. Deep within his mind he holds unshakeably to the timeless character of true being, to the eternal life of the kingdom of heaven. In this mysterious state time cannot heal, for there are no wounds present whereof to be healed. So soon as we can take the reality out of time, so soon can we take the sting out of suffering. For the false self lives like a slave, bound to every passing sensation, whereas the true self lives in the timeless peace of the kingdom of heaven. As soon as we put ourselves into harmony with the true self, we put ourselves into harmony with the whole universe; we put ourselves beyond the reach of calamity. It may still happen, but it does not happen to nor is it felt by our real self. There is a sense of absolute security, a feeling that no harm can come to us. The philosophic student discovers the mission of time; it heals sorrows and, under karma or through evolution, cures evils. The sage solves the mystery of timelessness, which redeems man.


-- Notebooks Category 19: The Reign of Relativity > Chapter 2: The Double Standpoint > # 8

-- Perspectives > Chapter 19: The Reign of Relativity > # 40






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