Chapter 7: The Eternal Now
Performing samyama on the present moment,
the moment gone, and the moment to come brings
knowledge born of the awareness of the ultimate reality.
From this comes the ability to distinguish
between similar objects which cannot be identified
by class, character, or place.
The highest knowledge born of the awareness of reality is transcendent,
includes the cognition of all objects simultaneously,
pertains to all objects and processes whatsoever
- in the past, the present, and the future -
and transcends the world process.
What is time? Now Patanjali asks the timeless question; the perennial question and he comes to it at the very end of Vibhuti Pada because to know time is the greatest miracle. To know what time is, is to know what life is. To know what time is, is to know what truth is. Before we enter into the sutras, many things have to be understood; they will become an introduction into the sutras.
Ordinarily what we call time is not real time. It is chronological time. So remember that time can be divided, classified, in three ways. One is “chronological,” another is “psychological,” and the third is “real.”
The chronological time is clock time. It is utilitarian; it is not real. It is just a belief agreed upon by the society. We have agreed to divide the day into twenty-four hours. It is very arbitrary - because the earth moves one complete circle on its axis in twenty-four hours, so we have decided to divide it into twenty-four. Then we have decided to divide each hour into sixty minutes.
There is no intrinsic necessity to divide it that way. Some other civilization may divide it in a different way. We can divide the hour into a hundred minutes and nobody is going to prevent us. Then each minute we have divided into sixty seconds. That too is arbitrary, just utilitarian. It is clock time. It is needed; otherwise society will fall apart.
Something as a common standard is a necessity - just like money, currency money. A hundred-rupee note, a ten-dollar bill, or anything else - it is just a common belief the society has agreed to use it. But it has nothing to do with existence. If man disappears from the earth, the pound sterling, the dollar, rupees will all disappear immediately. The earth will be without money immediately without man. Rocks will be there, flowers will still flower, the spring will come and birds will sing, and in the fall old leaves will fall; but there will be no money. Even if there are piles of money on the roads, it will not be money at all. Because to call it money a man is needed. To respect it as money a man is needed.
The government goes on promising, on each note the promise is written: The Finance Governor promises to pay you ten rupees worth of gold if you produce this note to the bank. It is just a promise. When there is nobody to promise, the currency disappears.