Sri Aurobindo explains this relation between the Non-Manifest and Manifest by understanding the relation between Time and Timelessness and Space and Spacelessness. These two dimensions are selected because Time and Space form the matrix where the manifestation occurs.
If the temporal is a derivative and an expression of the Eternal, then, "what is fundamental in the Time-expression must be in some way pre-existent in the Transcendence and drawn from the timeless Reality". (LD. Pg.359) In any case, the fundamentals of the temporal dimension must have their source in the Transcendence even if we deny that are derived from the timeless Spirit for that denial would actually mean a freedom of the Absolute from what is formulated in Time.
What is interesting that "Eternity is the common term between Time and Timeless Spirit". (Ibid) There is one kind of Eternity as Time perpetually rolls out and the moment recurs endlessly along the relative time-dimension of past, present and future. But there is the Timeless which "is a spiritual status of existence not subject to the time movement" (Ibid) and is yet not a blank as even in its poise of immobility, it can hold in its bosom the essence of what appears to be movement in Time.
Time and Timelessness are then "the same Eternity in double status; they are a twofold status of being and consciousness, one an eternity of immobile status, the other an eternity of motion in status." (Ibid, pg.359-360)
Space and Time
Commenting on the space-time continuum forwarded by Einstein, Sri Aurobindo had quipped, "Time cannot be relegated to a the position of a mere dimension of Space, it is independent in its nature: Time and Space may be called the fundamental dual dimensions of the Brahman" (Evening Talks, p.83; 25.12.1939)
Sri Aurobindo examines the dynamics of Space and Time in different denouements:
(a) If Reality is spaceless and timeless, Space and Time could be the same Reality in different poises: Space as a static extension and Time as a mobile extension; "Space would then be Brahman in self-extended status; Time would be Brahman in self-extended movement. But this may be only a first view and inaccurate..."(Ibid, pg.360)
(b) "Space may really be a constant mobile, the constancy and the persistent time-relation of things in it creating the sense of stability in Space, the mobility creating the sense of time-movement in stable Space". (Ibid)
(c) Or else, "Space would Brahman extended for the holding together of forms and objects; Time would be Brahman self-extended for the deployment of the movement of self-power carrying forms and objects; the two would then be a dual aspect of one and the same self-extension of the cosmic Eternal." (Ibid)
The Reality of Space
One pertinent question is whether Space is purely material. But Matter itself is another poise of Energy in movement. In that case Space would be a self-extension of material Energy or a formulation of the energy hitherto dormant in the "Inconscient Infinite" and Time could be an impression of movement of that energy. Or else Time could be a dimension of Space necessary for complete action of the Energy but that would be difficult to validate as Space is perceived by our sensory operation to be its objective extension while Time is conceived by the conscious subjectivity of our mind that does not necessarily depend on the senses.
However, if the Supreme Reality or Self is simultaneously integral and pluridimensional, then we have different denouements of Time and Space "for each status of our consciousness and even different movements of Time and Space within each status; but all would be renderings of a fundamental spiritual reality of Time-Space." (Ibid, pg.361)
If Matter is another poise of Energy then the physical Space can extend into non-physical realms. Our emotions occupy a Space and if one gets extremely agitated, one's aggression also occupies a Space. Similarly our ideas also occupy a subjective Mind-space and as ideas constantly move from one realm to another and can even influence happenings in physical Space, there is an interpenetration between subjective Space-extension and physical Space-Time.
Finally there is also the Soul-Space or cidakasa which holds our spiritual reality. In such a pure spiritual Space, "Time may no longer seem to exist, because all movement ceases, or, if there is a movement or happening, it can take place independent of any observable Time sequence." (Ibid)
Time and Consciousness
Though the perception of Space moves from the objective reality of the physical to the subjective Space-extension, the perception of Time is purely subjective enabling its understanding in a more dynamic way. Behind the flux of Time that we observe to move, lies the dimension of Time that is eternal. Moreover, "each state of consciousness has a different Time-relation; Time in Mind consciousness and Mind Space has not the same sense and measure of its movements as in physical Space; it moves there quickly or slowly according to the state of the consciousness." (Ibid) What is important that there are "several different Time statuses and Time movements co-existent in the same consciousness". (Ibid, pg.362) This is explicitly revealed when we find that a long sequence of events during a dream corresponds to a few seconds of physical Time. Also we may have premonitions in dreams of what is actually going to manifest in physical time at varying periods after it was actually dreamt of. It seems therefore that the objective reality of Time in physical Space is merely a projection of a purely subjective phenomenon.
The basic reality behind Time is the timelessness or Eternity just as the basic reality behind Space is spacelessness or Infinity. Therefore, in a sense, both Space and Time are basically subjective phenomena. It is the Mind which has given an objective value to our sensory perception of Space and a subjective value to our Time relations. "Subjectivity and objectivity are only two sides of one consciousness, and the cardinal fact is that any given Time or Space or any given Time-Space as a whole is a status of being in which there is a movement of the consciousness and force of the being, a movement that creates or manifests events and happenings.." (Ibid)
Timeless Eternal and Time Eternity
Spiritual experience has confirmed that behind the flux of Time is the Timeless Eternal but this cannot be grasped by the finite consciousness. As the finite consciousness hinges on the moment-vision, it can at best understand an unrolling of the moment-vision ad infinitum producing a sort of Time Eternity. (And if what scientists envisage that the universe may collapse, the energy left from the collapse may be the beginning of a new Time!)
Sri Aurobindo describes that there are there are three different poises of the Being regarding its own eternity:
(a) The first is the poise of timeless eternity where the Self is immobile, self-absorbed though self-conscious but without the consciousness being involved in any movement. (Ibid)
(b) The second is when Time is present in the consciousness of the Being not in a linear way, not in a successive movement but in a global circuitry where the past, present and future movements are simultaneously and integrally present. The past, present and future "stand together as if in a map or settled design or very much as an artist or painter or architect might hold all detail of his work viewed as a whole, intended or reviewed in his mind or arranged in a plan for execution; this is the stable status or simultaneous integrality of Time". (Ibid, pg. 362-363) But one cannot ordinarily perceive this state.
(c) The third is the status where Time is linearly perceived as "a processive movement of Consciousness-Force and its successive working out of what has been seen by it in the static vision of the Eternal". (Ibid, pg.363)) Unlike the second poise where the modes of Time (past, present, future) are perceived simultaneously, in the third poise they are perceived successively.
However these three poises are not exclusive and independent of one another. "But it is in one and the same Eternity that this triple status exists and the movement takes place; they are not really two eternities, one an eternity of status, another an eternity of movement, but there are different statuses or positions taken by Consciousness with regard to the one Eternity". (Ibid)
In the static poise of timeless eternity, one can see the Time movement from above. In the second poise where past, present and future are simultaneously present, one can move as in a time machine backward and forward, "see the before and the after in a fixed, determined or destined succession". (Ibid) In the status where Time is linearly perceived, moment by moment, one would "concentrate on the moment it occupies and see nothing but what is in that moment and immediately around or behind it". (ibid)
However all the three poises could be simultaneously envisioned or experienced. Such an integral experiential vision "can see Time from above and inside Time, exceeding it and not within it; it can see the Timeless develop the Time-movement without ceasing to be timeless, it can embrace the whole movement in a static and a dynamic vision and put out at the same time something of itself into the moment-vision." (Ibid)
Such a wholistic vision of integral simultaneity may be ordinarily uncommon but logical and consistent to an infinite consciousness and the multiplicity of view could reveal the One Reality.
The poise of the Self or Purusha in timeless eternity beyond the Time-movement would be in consonance with the "Maya or eternal self-knowledge and all-knowledge of the Brahman". (ibid, pg.364)
The poise of the Self or Purusha in the simultaneous integrality of Time where past, present and future are present together, would be in consonance with the "eternal and infinite knowledge and wisdom-power of the Ishwara, the consciousness-force of the self-existent Sachchidananda". (Ibid)
Thus the Timeless Eternal and the Time Eternity can co-exist together. "It would be the same Eternity viewed by a dual self-awareness and there could be no opposition between them; it would be a correlation of two powers of the self-awareness of the infinite and eternal Reality, -- a power of status and non-manifestation, a power of self-effecting action and movement and manifestation". (Ibid)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu