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by Dane Rudhyar, 1985

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Wholeness and the Experience of Periodic Change - 6

"Natural time" is God's time; and long ago I spoke of it as "God's compassion for chaos." But in a practical, experiential sense it is planetary time. It is time which all human beings have to use as the substratum of their collective and individual feeling regarding the succession of events and the timing of their vitalistic activities. It has to be used until the phase of human evolution comes at which the development of particular cultures challenges, transforms, or deviates from the planetary rhythm of natural time. When our Western civilization succeeded in imposing upon human experience interpretations derived from the rationalistic, analytical and individualizing mind, natural planetary time based on the relation of earth-localities to the sun became superseded by "clock time."
       Clock time is a collectively accepted but also an individualized kind of time in which any position of the hands of a clock can be taken as "the beginning of time." In its most characteristic form, clock time is time measured by stop watches, and in a far more sophisticated way, by electronic devices using the speed of light as a basic frame of reference, instead of the sunrise and sunset of planetary time. Clock time, in the most general sense of the term, is the frame of reference enabling human beings whether in institutionalized groups or as individuals to schedule their actions in order to satisfy their collective or personal desires. Scheduling activity implies dividing time as an available commodity into small individualized entities (moments) whose duration (or length) can be measured and thus given the character of dimensionality. A standard of measure has to be used, and Einstein's revolutionary concepts emerged in the young scientist's mind in answer to a question concerning light light whose speed he assumed to be constant and unsurpassable. Yet for him, light was not meant to be a fact of direct natural experience (as is the rising sun) but was a generalized mental interpretation which had been validated by complex measurements and mathematical formulae. A system of interpretation a "theory" was formulated in an abstract language based on a frame of reference (or syntax) in which time is only one of four coordinates. These four factors are needed to establish the exact position at which anything can be found and when any "event" occurs.
       The question, "Why should this position be known?" is very important, yet rarely asked. The answer one gives has a crucial bearing on the concept of measured time and on the validity of science in general. The only realistic answer is that man must know the exact time and place at which an event will occur in order to be able to control it. To control any process is to exert power over it for the purpose of using its results for the satisfaction of a desire. The kind of desire to be satisfied varies, of course, with the personal or social situation; but the value attached to precise scientific knowledge in our present-day world cannot be doubted. It is used to increase chances of survival and material comfort, and in the conquest of new territory and the utilization of its resources. This territory is a t first physical; but during the last centuries the conquest and development of a metal kind of territory, and the control of intellectual processes involving research, observation, and a systematized body of interpretation, have become dominant factors in the evolution of Western civilization.
       This is not the place to elaborate a complete theory of knowledge, but the use of knowledge and the approach to time are closely related. From a historical point of view it should be evident that the concept of "knowledge for knowledge's sake," and the belief that all that is known should be available to anyone, at any time, in any place, and under any conditions, are very new factors in the development of the human mind. In all previous cultures the value of knowledge and the advisability of imparting it have been conditioned by the state of being of the person who would receive that knowledge, and therefore by the expected use this knower would make of it. This use is evidently motivated by the nature and quality of the knower's desires thus by the level at which his or her subjective self operates which in turn depends upon his or her state of evolution as a living organism of the homo sapiens type and as a participant in a sociocultural system of organization. Science is usually considered today as the product of a basic human impulse to ascertain more and more facts, and to discover the invariable laws according to which matter, life, society and individual persons operate. But only in our mind-dominated culture is this impulse to know isolated from its basic, even if unconscious, motive: the control of the power which can be released and used in any situation a human being may face.
       There are evidently many scientists motivated in their research and their complex intellectual operations solely by what can be rightfully called the "search for knowledge." But it can be so defined because such persons have their consciousness focused mainly at the level of intellectual processes of formulation and (more specifically) formalization. The mind factor dominates their experiences, at least at the level of culture and institutionalized social relationships. They are born to take new steps in the development of the collective mind of their society. It is their dharma; and naturally they give to their (in some instances) obsessive impulse a meaning to which a high social value is attached.
       The desire to control is in itself a fundamental characteristic of the human state. Because human beings can to some extent control the sequence of natural changes and introduce into it unnatural releases of power, they are able to take, consciously and deliberately, the next step in the evolutionary process operating within the all-inclusive field of activity of the earth as a planetary organism. And, of course, they may also refuse to take it for a variety of reasons. Human beings are apparently endowed with free will. Free will is the ability to control situations in order to satisfy individual or group desires; and this ability implies the operation of mental processes that provide a technique which can be used to release latent energies whether biological or social in order to serve a desired and sustained purpose. The essential factor is the quality of the desire.
       The process of effectively and reliably controlling a sequence of changes (or events) requires the act of measurement As already stated, one has to know precisely where and when the change will take place in order to control it. A frame of reference has to be established in which the elements in an evolving situation which is to be controlled can be accurately defined and exactly located. This is the basic function of calculus. Since Einstein, this frame of reference is generally understood as four-dimensional space-time. In that frame of reference, time loses its subjective meaning. Nothing is being revealed of the motive for control, or of the quality of the experience of waiting for the possible actualization of the potential change. The dimensionalizing of time leads to the experiential absurdity of "traveling" backward in time, unless one considers the possibility of moving faster than light away from the earth while retaining a human consciousness which may be just as absurd.
       The basic issue always remains the motive for the control of natural processes. To accelerate the evolution of humanity in the direction pursued by the Movement of Wholeness (the great cycle of change) may indeed be a supremely valid purpose if based on what I shall soon define as "Compassion." On the other hand, the desire to control situations for the sake of experiencing, at the level of the ego, a subjective feeling of power and personal or collective pride, inevitably leads, sooner or later, to destructive results. This kind of desire unfortunately is very powerful in the approach our modern civilization takes to time. Behind such an approach is the increasingly feverish multiplication and complexification of desires which the consciousness of the individual person, operating at the ego level of subjectivity, seeks to cram between an immense number of narrowly separated markers of time, and especially of course between the two fundamental ones birth and death the beginning and end of measurable time.
       Because an over-stimulated mind presents to the ego an unaccomplishable array of possibilities to be desired, there seems to be never "enough time" to actualize them. The more time is measured in small units, the more crowded it becomes, and the more the end of time, death, is feared. Yet if the individualized consciousness could relax into a state of desirelessness and accept the cyclic rhythm of change, death could be but a rite of passage from one level of experiential situations to another.
       The fragmented concept of measured time finds its opposite in the realization of the wholeness of time. The isolated moment so rapidly passing, and the anxiety of "not enough time" can vanish or be transcended when the consciousness accepts the cyclic nature of existence. Cyclicity is indeed the dynamic aspect of Wholeness. Always and everywhere Wholeness operates in cycles of motion.

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1986 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
All Rights Reserved.

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