Book Review: An Attitude of Spiritual Adventurousness
The Time Tunnel: A Tale for All Ages and for the Child in You.
by Swami Kriyananda
In the tradition of children’s fantasy adventure fiction The Time Tunnel begins with the factual reality of Kriyananda boyhood home in Teleajen, Romania, and specifically at Timis, the site of family vacations in the remote Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania. The time is June 1935. Donny (the author) is nine years old; his brother Bobby is seven-and-a-half.
With nothing to do, and time on their hands, the boys go deep into the forest above the inn where the family is staying, and they come upon a ruin – a fairly recent ruin – of a laboratory that seems to have been destroyed in an explosion. At the back of the laboratory is a hole in the wall that leads into a tunnel.
A spiritual adventure story
The boys, who have all along regarded their exploration of the ruin as an adventure, decide to enter the tunnel. Inside the tunnel they hear a hum, like the sound of an ocean liner’s engines. As they move forward, the tunnel shrinks, and they shrink with it. Finally, a great zero forms, becomes a sphere of light and surrounds them as a luminescent bubble. They seem no longer to have bodies but still to be themselves, only now much more intensely aware.
At this point the boys meet Hansel, the man who will guide them in their journey. Hansel and his father were the scientists working in the secret laboratory. From Hansel the boys learn how to dissolve and re-create the light sphere, which now contains them and will be the vehicle of their time travel. Their adventure takes them on a journey that well illustrates the book’s central principle: that time proceeds not in a straight line, but “in a circle around a center in the eternal now.”
The course of their adventures first satisfies Donny and Bobby’s normal boyish curiosity about dinosaurs and also about Dracula, whose legend is so much associated with Transylvania. Even these early experiences contain important life lessons — lessons that can be understood, like all true teachings, on multiple levels, according to the degree of awareness of the boys, and of the thoughtful reader as well. For The Time Tunnel is a spiritual adventure story – a story of the soul in its quest for truth. Each episode points to a moral.
The courage to undertake the adventure
The boys learn, and grow deeper in spiritual understanding as the story continues. Each brings valuable character traits to the journey — Bobby has a deep-rooted sense of fairness and justice, a belief in the essentially equal value of all beings; Donny brings with him a profoundly questioning nature — he will be satisfied with nothing less than the truth. Both have the courage to undertake the adventure and to persevere in it.
Again and again in the writings and talks of Swami Kriyananda we find emphasized the tremendous importance for the aspirant of an attitude of spiritual adventurousness, the courage and the willingness to go beyond one’s comfort zone, to expand one’s awareness, to leave behind the familiar, known reality of ego-consciousness, to enter into the great adventure of spiritual awakening.
The essential goodness of the boys’ characters, together with their shared attitude of spiritual adventurousness, provide the initial momentum for their journey. That momentum carries them to the point at which the power of the tunnel itself — which may perhaps be likened to the pull of divine grace, calling the devotee home — takes over and draws the boys into the presence of their spiritual teacher, the guide who, himself experienced in time travel, will walk with them on their journey.
“Ponder how you might improve yourself.”
The three time travelers go first into dark periods of human history, but each one become a vehicle for deeper understanding. The horrors of Vlad the Impaler (the historical source for the Dracula legend) leads the boys to the realization that cruelty does not lead to happiness but to a suffering even greater for the perpetrator than for the victim. Always Hansel brings the lessons home to the boys’ actual experience of life. The cruelty and tyranny of these historical figures, the boys are able to see, are only the extreme distortions of such normal tendencies as Bobby’s self-assertiveness. Hansel, as teacher, urges the boys to study history in order to “ponder how you might improve yourself.”
From the dark ages, the three travel to Egypt, to The Great Pyramid, built not by slave labor but by sound vibration, and from Egypt to Atlantis, technologically advanced yet heartless, without respect for Nature or humanity, obsessed with power and control, and eventually to Normandy of William The Conqueror. Here the boys and Hansel intercede in the life of an impoverished mother of three — and in so doing learn important lessons about the power of a strong, positive magnetism to attract beneficial change, and about the power of love to break through even the limitations of time and destiny.
From William’s Normandy, Hansel takes the boys to meet the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes. Hansel’s purpose is to introduce the boys to a philosophy that will help them cope with the suffering ahead for mankind in their own time zone (the twentieth century and beyond). From ancient Greece, the travelers go far into the future to meet a man of true wisdom, Satyan, who introduces them to life in an age of universally high consciousness, an age of harmony with Nature, of freedom from the great evils of the more material ages — hunger, disease, war.
The last adventure
The final journey takes Hansel and the boys back in time to the year 3053 AD to a place known as Eutopia—“a place of beauty and harmony”—a cooperative spiritual community, one of thousands that dot the earth, each a place of kindness, upliftment, peace. It is this destination that expresses Kriyananda hope for mankind’s way forward in the years ahead.
In Eutopia the boys part ways with Hansel — to take up again their lives in time. Hansel remains in Eutopia to help the schools, and the community’s children, as he has helped Donny and Bobby, see the truth for themselves, and so make life choices that will move them in the direction of their one true goal — divine bliss.
As we follow the boys’ adventure, we see their understanding deepen, and our own as well — for always imbedded in the narrative is the author’s unspoken wish for the reader, that he too find the courage, the spiritual adventurousness, to travel inwardly from time to timelessness, and so to true freedom. The reader is left at the end with the question, “Will you [the reader] go there?” Will you learn to go beyond time and space, beyond ego, into true freedom and bliss?
Nayaswami Prakash is a long-time member of Ananda. He currently serves at Ananda Village doing forestry and landscaping work.