Time is, of course, essential to our perception of the things of this world. Nevertheless, great yogis have all described time as a delusion. My Guru compared time to a movie film which, in the projection booth, can be turned at will forward or backward, quickly or slowly. The mind staggers under the weight of this concept. Fortunately, it won’t be necessary to dive into those swirling waters.
What is important here is that it is possible to adjust our concept of time to our actual needs. We can narrow time, or expand it.
It is a mistake to think that every serious decision demands a great deal of time and thought. Far more important than the time we spend on a project is the energy we give it. Behind that energy must also be will power; and will power must in its turn be directed consciously. It is, above all, helpful for consciousness to be directed by inspiration, the source of which is beyond all vibration, in the eternal Now of Spirit.
“Three months for those who think three months”
In 1925, Paramhansa Yogananda saw something he had beheld many times in superconscious visions: Mount Washington Estates, in Los Angeles, which was destined to become the international headquarters of his work.
The price of the property was $45,000: a princely sum in those days, before the dollar had become inflated many times over by over-printing. Students of the Master objected, “It would take us twenty years to raise that much money!”
“Twenty years,” the Master replied, “for those who think twenty years. Twenty months for those who think twenty months. And three months, for those who think three months.” Three months later, the property was his.
“Haste makes waste” is a popular saying, probably uttered similarly in every language. It was not haste that my Guru counseled in saying, “Three months, for those who think three months.” Rather, he was urging his followers to step out of their normal time frame.
Refuse to be ruled by time
Success of every kind should be sought calmly, in refusal to be ruled by time. Success itself is an unfolding—of awareness above all, not of events. Since time is an illusion, it can be understood more easily by calm, clear awareness. Indeed, it is only in calmness that its reality is experienced.
If you have an urgent job to do and want guidance and inspiration for the accomplishment, pray for a new perception of the time involved. Include in the request the demand that time not impede you.
Here is an example of what I mean:
The busiest, most stressful year of my life
A number of years ago, Warner Brothers, a well-known publishing house in America, asked me to write a book for them. I suggested a title for this new book: Meditation for Starters. They gave me their approval. My expectation at the time was that I’d have nearly a year to write it. In this happy confidence, I was disappointed. Two weeks later, unexpectedly, I entered a hospital and underwent open-heart surgery. This was December 18, 1994. After the operation, my three doctors insisted that I must take a whole year off, with complete rest.
That year was among the busiest and most stressful of my life. Two weeks before the operation, a summons had been handed me to appear before a court of law. This was an imperative, and could not be canceled or graciously postponed in the interests of my survival.
As for the book I’d agreed to write, I might conceivably have begged off, or at least got Warner to let me postpone writing it. Unfortunately, I’d already spent my advance royalties on purchasing equipment for our sound studio, and was thus committed to finishing the work.
Two months to write a different book
Toward the end of April I received worse news in the form of a letter from Warner Brothers’ editorial staff, informing me that what they really wanted from me was a book titled, Superconsciousness. This posed a serious problem for me. There was no way I could “plaster” this new title onto the book I’d been planning. I would have to write another book altogether.
The subject they proposed was, as I saw it, one that would take prolonged preparation and more-than-usually precise writing. To do justice to it would, I believed, require at least two years. Even a relatively superficial job seemed impossible in less than a year.
I asked them how long they’d give me for this book. They replied, “Two months.” The end of June, in other words. It was now nearly the end of April! Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t even permit me that much time. The actual time available to me for writing this book was hardly more than one month.
Well, I promised Warner I’d do my best. I then turned off my phone, accepted no visitors, didn’t even look at my mail, and told God and Guru firmly, “You’ve got to help me! I simply cannot do this job alone.”
The “volume” of my flow of inspiration
Amazingly, the job did get finished on time! Several times the thought came to me, “I’ve bitten off more than I can chew!” Each time, instead of giving up (as I was tempted to do), I simply turned up the volume on my inner flow of inspiration.
The manuscript was sent to New York on the next but last day of June, 1995, and reached there, as required, for the end of the month. I can only think of this entire episode as a miracle. Interestingly (in the light of this lesson on timelessness), even if I’d worked from normal inspiration I couldn’t have finished the job when it was due, had I not made time itself part of my request for inspiration.
On several other occasions in my life, I’ve had to include the factor of time in my prayers for inspiration. Strange as it must seem—to me even now, it seems impossible—I’ve never been let down. How was it possible for inspiration to come through repeatedly and so consistently?
1. The first and absolute necessity, I believe, is not to let the intellect interfere with one’s flow of inspiration. This is true no matter what sort of inspiration you seek. The intellect functions rationally only. It is, therefore, irrevocably tied to time.
2. Repeatedly, as often as when I’ve added time to my request for inspiration by saying, “There just isn’t time to think these things through. It’s Your turn, Lord: Give me the insights I need,” the answers have appeared instantly and with crystal clarity. Later, moreover, the clarity I received has stood up under the test of any logic that I could muster to challenge it.
3. Indeed, superconscious inspiration has met the tests of logic better than any process of reasoning could have done. The very act of reasoning things out would have shown psychic scars, later. Instead, the intuitions I received were like the facets of a diamond, each one reflecting light brilliantly no matter how I turned it to the light of my own actual experience.
The point I am making here is simply this: Don’t let considerations of time dissuade you from undertaking any project that seems to you important. Often in my life I have proved this simple formula: Though man can do little on his own, God can do anything!
Success cannot come, of course, if one makes this teaching an excuse for drifting lazily down a river, telling himself, “Everything is in God’s hands. Everything will be all right!” Nothing can be accomplished without will power.
Develop a consciousness of flow
People who are wholly immersed in the delusion of time consider time necessary for every accomplishment. For them, often, the longer it takes to do a thing, the more worthwhile the accomplishment. People see time as points along the way to completion.
Most people, as they contemplate these separate points, see only problems needing to be resolved. One with a consciousness of flow, however, ceases to concentrate on the separate individual points, and in consequence may find the task perfectly simple.
If you want to be creative, concentrate on the flowing motion rather than on all the points and problems along the way. If a thing needs to be done urgently, view the time you spend on it against a background of eternity.
Some goals may indeed press upon us in terms of the time we have available for reaching them. If, however, we can keep in mind the truth that whatever happens is really happening right now, then the idea that time is a requirement for getting everything done is no longer a problem, for “right now” becomes the only time in which one can do the work at all.
The yogi does not deny the reality of time. He simply sees the fleeting events of life in relation to eternity. Obviously he must “keep his feet on the ground,” addressing life’s events as they occur. To do otherwise would mean being merely a dreamer.