Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Time Keeps on Slipping

Namaste readers! Today I want all of you to ponder this question:

How long is a day to God(s)?

These days, here on Earth, we're obsessed with time. A few hours on the stock market can mean the difference between making a fortune or squandering one. So many professions make their living by setting deadlines. In online video games, the ping, or the time it takes for a signal to go from its source to its destination, can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Even in religion, time seems to be of the essence - think of all those end of the world prophecies espoused by the Abrahamic religions, for example the book of Revelations in the Bible.

While Hinduism has its share of those who believe the end is nigh etc. etc., its scriptures don't really paint the passage of time in such a negative light. One example of this is how in some scriptures and mythologies the passage of time is perceived differently by the Gods than by humanity. Shrimad Bhagavatam (please pardon me if I got the spelling wrong) for instance tells the story of a king and his daughter traveling to the abode of Brahma, the Creator, to meet him. After they meet Brahma, Brahma explains that in the short time they waited to see Brahma, 108 yugas, or cyclical ages of man, have passed on Earth, and indeed, when the king and his daughter return to Earth, they found it radically changed, with humanity seeming to be more "dwindled in stature, reduced in vigor, and enfeebled in intellect."

A yuga is a period of time that is part of a cycle - to my knowledge, four yugas make up a complete cycle, wherein the first cycle is the best period for dharma, and the following three yugas get worse and worse, the end yuga completing the cycle, culminating in a period of rebirth where dharma flourishes again. In this sense, while apocalyptic destruction is hinted at in Hinduism, it's never really truly seen as "the end."

I find this to be an important concept to me for many reasons. The cyclical, unending nature of time is a liberating concept to really does make possible the concept of redemption, after a fashion. With time, perceptions of humanity change as well. I bring up those aforementioned points because of how guilty I felt in the past - of being a white male, a Westerner, someone who consumes like a modern-day Westerner, etc. - it reminds me that not only can I change...but people around me can change, too. I don't have to be saddled with this guilt forever, because things change, and they change in cycles.

The things I do here on Earth...well, they matter and they don't. If you think on the scale of this planet, yes, they matter, but if you think of a universal scale, they don't, and it's a way of keeping perspective in times of crisis.

In terms of time, though, ultimately it might not be time that matters...I remember emailing a blogger from Iraq during the war that was going on at the time (the year was 2004), about how guilty I was feeling at the time for being an American, etc. The response she sent me put the ultimate perspective of time in front of me, for what she said was this:

"In the Quran, the world is said to end when there are no good people left."

I find that to be very true, because, well, the fact we still exist is evidence that there are good people still left in this world. And I don't think time is going to eradicate goodness and virtue.

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