gif by Alain de Bruijn
Dropping the weight of time
I wrote this piece as I was cycling down my spine inward and share with you the questions, answers and practices that helped me to drop the weight of time, as it makes me feel so much lighter and inundated with clarity. Embracing death as a continuous practice spreads me wider and wider out in the continuum between inspiration and action and I'd love to share this space with you.
When talking about the future, we are obviously talking about time and the meaning we project into it to give it value. Living the "good life" appears to be all about overcoming the restrictions of time, to be free from the pains of the past and move without limitations through space: through our relationships, through our environments, through our emotions.
It appears that facing our fear for death is an inevitable practice we have to go through before we can even approach sustainable happiness.
To me, demystifying time and facing this deep, existential fear, has started with a journey inward. By approaching my deepest fears, feeling through their associated pains, and debugging my conditioned identity from the sorrows of stories that are no longer valid in my current experience of reality, I seem to slowly drop the weight of time. It appears that unloading my system from the burden of time, gives me the space to imagine and act upon an emerging future with increasing ease.
I started this phase of my life with the question whether forgetting time altogether would lead me to become immortal. 'Cause what the hack, why not? Even though the idea awakens simultaneous discomfort and giggles in me, it seems to be a fair question to answer in the age of transhumanist thriving.
It's not only now that people dream about immortality of spirit and body. Let me share an ancient story I stumbled upon:
Beyond the grave there is a playground
The first emperor of China was a powerful man. Appointed King on his ninth birthday in 250BC, he used his royal career to unify all warring states in his country and then helped his people rise from the ashes of centuries of war and poverty. Not afraid of boldness, he unified the sprawl of state walls into one Great Wall and constructed a nation-wide network of canals and roads to facilitate trade. The pinnacle of his construction lust was a city-sized mausoleum guarded by a life-sized terracotta army. Proud of his contributions the initial king invented the term Emperor (皇帝 huángdì) and started looking for ways to extend his Emperorship for eternity.
He appointed a fleet of court physicians and alchemists to invent an elixir of life and travelled around to meet everyone who claimed to have invented the key to his immortality. Eventually he died, ironically of one of those inventions: a set of mercury pills. After this inevitable failure for ultimate life-expansion, a keen piece of propaganda was set up to hide this, as public uprising was feared. When his body was transported through the country to bury him in his mausoleum, two carts containing rotten fish were carried immediately before and after the wagon of the Emperor, to prevent people from noticing the foul smell of death pouring through the chinks. When anyone along the way would ask what was in the in the truck that was smelling so horrifically, the drivers would say: "it is just fish, no royal flesh would ever smell that badly."
As experience is relative, time too appears relative
We cannot embrace time as something fixed and thus, fearing our inevitable deaths we do not shy away from making Godlike attempts to prevent it from happening. We do not go gentle into that goodnight, we rage, rage against the dying of the light!
But the root truth is that time by its very nature is relative. Realizing this makes me feel small and unimportant. And I may share that feeling with you. We feel small not only compared to the vastness of the Sublime, but also to nature's relative immortality compared to our tiny mortal existence on this planet.
We want to turn away from time, but we can't.
We have to face it.I first had to believe I could cognitively understand what time really is before I could emotionally drop it, so let me take you through that flow.
Let’s take the time to look at a rock. It does not look very “alive” to us. And if it would be alive its life must be utterly boring. Even though we know its substance changed throughout the ages its transformation is invisible to the human eye. When we would not shy away from its sheer simplicity, the rock would hold magical secrets for us. Anthropologists, biologists, and geologists have revealed major happenings in history based on researching something as simple and slow as a rock. It holds the information of the ages and locks it up for anything of higher transformational frequency to uncover it. And the good news is: we do not need 10.000 years to reveal 10.000 years of stone progress.
Evolution seems to have lifted us up to become conscious of not only the Now but also - to a certain agree - the Past. We have invented tools and trained our minds and bodies to trace and analyze the transformation of a stone from the past to present. And that gives us tremendous power to wash away our dirty projections and see with clarity into the future.
“The living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing. . . . Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished.”
To get an idea of what time as a cosmic law is, I have had to experience firsthand that everything is interconnected and is in constant dynamic with each other. Yes it helped that I took Ayahuasca to experience this, but it wasn't even necessary. I experience it every day, whether it's when my mother calls me up when I'm on the other end of the world feeling sad, asking me how I am as she felt 'something', or by simply making you happy and sad simultaneously when reading this. I can also study the dynamics within my mind as within a beehive, in which all elements are aware of the cues of each part of the whole. I can also just ask you to actively meditate on the principle of interconnectedness and feed back to me your experience.
Interconnectivity appears to be linked to emotion as all nodes can only be touched when there is constant motion, when everything is constantly changing. Hannah Arendt over-rationalized this in her brilliant inquiry into time, space, and our thinking ego:
“It is the insertion of man with his limited life span that transforms the continuously flowing stream of sheer change … into time as we know it.”
- Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, English standard version.
We can enjoy what Heraclitus said (panta rei, all flows), and then mirror this to our current experience. What brings things in motion? Beyond anything, it is a warm hand, it is the fire of LOVE. And that brings us to the power of emotion, finally.
As I watched the film Interstellar for the third time, I noticed it kept moving me. As most films that make sense, I experienced the power of a love-story. LOVE is the one thing we can perceive though the dimensions of time and space. We don't have to look beyond a black hole to transcend our thinking ego, we can simply turn inward and LOVE ourselves a little more to get there, to then LOVE our loved ones a little more.
Until we know better, it appears that time passes faster if the degree of consciousness or light, i.e. the frequency of energy waves traversing a given space, is higher, i.e., again, if we love, time seems to vanish.
This implies time 'as is' is an illusion, and so we can overcome it in order to live a free life, and be in a continuous stream of love, to then project this into this world from the inside-out. Sounds like another romantic illusion. The higher our consciousness, the more love flows through us, the less influence the concept of 'time’ has on us. But we cannot chase the state of flow, as it will soon drop us in its counterpart again. Or in the case of love, as Roland Barthes says, we may fulfil our desires to be in a state of ultimate bliss, beyond the limitations posed by time and space, but inevitable our chasing of it, our believing of it being true as a state of being makes us lose it again and again.
The gesture of the amorous embrace seems to fulfill, for a time, the subject's dream of total union with the loved being: The longing for consummation with the other... In this moment, everything is suspended: time, law, prohibition: nothing is exhausted, nothing is wanted: all desires are abolished, for they seem definitively fulfilled... A moment of affirmation; for a certain time, though a finite one, a deranged interval, something has been successful: I have been fulfilled (all my desires abolished by the plenitude of their satisfaction).”
― Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
So if the timeless state is also an illusion, Could I then still become immortal?It appears I can only achieve this if I stop achieving, that I can only drop the weight of time, and of thought, not by chasing it as a state, but by accepting life as is, by embracing the discomfort, by simply letting things be.
And stay in a perpetual state of wonder and embrace of what will come next. As it is only in the Now that we know, it is then that we have now already forgotthen. It appears it is this ability to remain within mysteries, uncertainties and doubt, staying afar from the declaration of holy structures of fact and reason, that keeps us light, that keeps us immortal.
In the final act then, as always, we have Hamlet, the great poetic source of leadership and conflict. His deep personal agony in the race of knowing the impossible and doing what must be done he stops to hesitate, he becomes nothing but the Prince of Uncertainty. Facing his mortal fate, he is offered a way out, but rather declaims:
"We defy augury. There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now.
If it be not now, yet it will come-the readiness is all.
Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is 't to leave betimes?
And lucky for us, this is something we can actively commit ourselves to.
September 2017, Amsterdam, NL
Exercises to embrace the fear of death and let things beFor instance, realize you can let your DNA be in its original state by allowing the embrace of sound, light, frequency and vibration.
Then meditate on this weightless or flow-inducing playlist on Soundcloud;
Or relax after a day of not-letting-things-be while listening to this song that has been proven to reduce stress by 65%.
"We defy augury. There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come-the readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is 't to leave betimes? Let be."
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet