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Time and Timelessness (Spirituality for Beginners 9)

When eternity meets time... Something happens!

The Big Bang Theory about the beginning of the universe was developed within my lifetime. Space, energy, matter… everything… originated instantly, in one location, some fifteen billion years ago, and has been expanding ever since.

Earth's orbit and the seasons

It is easy to overlook that something else was created in that same event: time. Time and space co-exist: the four main dimensions of our material universe. Time is related to the velocity of objects, and depends on movement in space, such as the time taken for planet Earth to rotate once on its axis (a single day) or make a single orbit of the sun (a year). This is measureable linear time, clock time. We can call it Chronos, after one of the ancient Greek gods of time.

But we should note that there was another time god, called Kairos. To speak of clock time ‘before’ the Big Bang is meaningless, but we can imagine a kind of timeless void in which the conditions for the Big Bang came into being.

For the Greeks, Kairos symbolized chance, fortune and every example of meaningful coincidence. The word we use for that is ‘synchronicity’. When Kairos visited, you had to be prepared to go with the opportunities he offered. He always knocked and came calling at the right time, the perfect moment when all was ripe and ready. Kairos can therefore be thought of as spiritual time, eternity… ‘God’s time’.

Kairos has a different quality altogether from chronos, being more rhythmical, circular and seasonal than linear in nature. It often feels as if clock time has frozen, slowed right down or stopped completely. Paradoxically, it sometimes also feels as if time has speeded up, so that minutes, hours, days, even weeks and months can go by as if in a flash. Some athlete’s experience it, for example, when they get ‘in the zone’ during a burst of peak performance.

Kairos is in play when things happen unpredictably, but at just the right moment. Time and timelessness seem to intersect for human benefit and instruction. Such epiphany experiences occur when something eternal appears to break through into everyday life. Heaven and earth seem both briefly and enduringly to coincide. With this, ‘Something happens!’ Something new and profound, something inspiring and potentially life-changing, is revealed in an instant.

Wisdom, newly acquired in this way, feels right because it by-passes the everyday ego and resonates powerfully with something already present, deep inside: the true, spiritual self. It feels like a reminder and confirmation of something already known but forgotten.

Leaves with no way back to the tree

Such revelations often herald a kind of spiritual awakening, a key moment of transition on life’s journey towards spiritual maturity. As the fallen leaf never rises to rejoin the tree, so is this a point of no return; and the significance of these experiences is often re-enforced by additional ‘synchronicities’, unexpected but meaningful coincidences; such as when two people meet for the first time, who are later to become life partners.

The Big Bang was not a destructive explosion. It was not like a bomb going off. It was unimaginably powerful, but it is better thought of as creative, a flowering. Because the material – the atoms and molecules – that we humans are made of, eventually resulted from that primary eruption, we are each still, everlastingly connected to it, to each other and to everything in the universe. It is a holistic connection; each part is integral to the whole.

Clock time dictates to the material dimensions of our experience. Kairos affects the spiritual dimension. We humans are subject to both.

Copyright Larry Culliford

Larry’s books include ‘The Psychology of Spirituality, ‘Love, Healing & Happiness’ and (as Patrick Whiteside) ‘The Little Book of Happiness’ and ‘Happiness: The 30 Day Guide’ (personally endorsed by HH The Dalai Lama).

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