eloquent and rich texts of meaning about time, inspired
by his connection and devotion to God. His work is based on his
contemplation of the meaning as derived from scriptural texts. In
this article I attempt to understand time by returning to the ancient
wisdom of St. Augustine and the wise and
glorious teachers of Sufism. St. Augustine wrote about the change
of perception from a limited time-space Newtonian concept to the
evolutionary and transforming understanding of post-modern thought.
This reflects his consciousness although unfortunately it became
mired in and hidden by the religious teachings of his time. This
paper will explore his awareness of time as articulated throughout
several of his books. Based on St. Augustine's teachings,
seems that conscious awareness of time can be integrated through
spiritual devotional experience. The teachings of the great Sufis
are included precisely because they relfect the eternal rules of
the existence as they relate to universal unity beyond limited time.
I also include aspects of my own experience and awareness through
comtemplation and meditation on the subject of time.
wonder about the mystery of time from within my being as did St.
Augustine. What does time mean? The answer to this inquiry seems
to lie at the heart of the question. For what is time? Who can explain
it easily and briefly? Who can grasp this and offer a verbal explanation
of it? If the present must exist, such that it passes over into
the past, then how can we say that it is? The logic of St. Augustine
is revealed once we recognize that time exists, then we become conscious
so that it stops being; that is to say, we say that time exists
only because it naturally moves into nonexistence by passing from
future into present into past. It semms that the heart of the question
reveals timeless eternity in unity with time as the past, present
and future. St. Augustine explored the depths of the meaning of
time in many of his works. His writing elucidate an understanding
of the above questions that is representative of consciousness beyond
that cultivated by the general mythology of his time. He elucidated
an important philosophical point, namely that time exists only in
the present and did not exist before creation. He opened up the
mysterious realm of knowledge beyond the limitations of the objective
or sensory based paradigms of knowledge.
is measured by our quantification of it as a real entity into long
and short, day and night. St. Augustine asserted that time measured
according to the day, sun, moon or stars is not a fact but rahter
they are merely signs of the movements of the sun from east to west.
However, once the human being experiences the conclusion of an event,
time does not stop. "I see then that time is some sort of extension"
(Augstine, 1964, p. 236). Time is an extension of mental events.
According to St. Augustine, God is prior to all time and of all
time as the eternal creator. Man was first created in time and did
not exist before time. "The distinguishing mark between time
and eternity is that the former does not exist without some movement
and change, while in the later there is no change at all. . . .The
fact is that the world was made simultaneously with time, if, with
creation, motion and change began" (Augustine, 1958, p. 211-2).
He stated: "I see dawn: I foretell that the sun will rise.
What I see is present, what I foretell is future; not that the sun
is future-it exists now but rather its rising which is not yet occurring."
(Augustine, 1964, p. 232-233) Augustine proceeded to conclude that
the future cannot yet exist or be seen, it is merely predicted by
the image of the past in the present.
his writings, St. Augustine reviewed the scriptural explanation
of the creation of heaven and earth. At the moment of creation time
exists. He explained that the day and night are the light and dark,
as alternating movements in time. He then concluded that the world
was created together with time, but not in time. Twilight turns
into morning when our knowledge turns toward the love of the Creator.
Light and day represent the unchangeable and timeless knowledge
of God. HOwever, he believed that the human being's knowledge is
"as dim as twilight" (Augustine, 1958, p. 213) compared
to that of the Creator. St. Augustine searched to discover the light
of God through his contemplation of the scriptures. This light has
a quality that is timeless or beyond the limitations of time as
defined and confined into day, night, past, present, future, etc.
Augustine sought God's guidance and light in order to understand
the meaning of time. He remains humble in seeking to know the meaning
of time by remembering his own insignificance in the breath of awareness
granted by understanding the meaning of imte. "In the inward
man dwells truth. If you find that you are by natuer mutuable, transcend
yourself. But remember in doing so that you must also transcend
yourself even as a reasoning soul. Make for the place where the
light of reason is kindled (August, 1966, p.xvii). St. Augustine's
cosmology is a complex theory of the unity of matter and form within
the human being. Therefore, the human being is in the process of
becoming; which seems similar to Platonic assertions of virtue and
wisdom. "For the light is God himself . . . .When therefore,
it [soul] is thus carried off and, after being withdrawn from the
sense of the body, is made present to this vision in a more perfect
manner (not by a spatial relation, but in a way proper to its being),
it also sees above itself that Light in whose illumination it is
enabled to see all the objects that it sees and understands in itself
(Augustine, 1964, p. 97).
Augustine reveals an awareness that light transcends space and time.
time is something because we can measure it based on its passing.
Augustine eloquently analyzes the fact that all that exists is time
passion; not the past, present or future. If we measure silence
it is intervals in space and time. As it proceeds, whether it is
linear, circular or spherical is of little consequence, because
the cycle reflects the fact that the future continuously fades into
the present then into the past and eternally is a wave of time.
(See Augustine, 1961, p.203-205). All actions and life itself are
composed of part of the whole exsistence.
order to fully understand the teachings of St. Augustine within
my inner contemplation of the meaning of time, I have come to understand
that time is the intersection between the univers and the human
being in a timeless dimension of space. When I sit and imagine the
creative moment when the univers came into being there is a sense
of transcending any temporal sense of time that limits my being.
IN this moment of self-reflection I am struck with an awesome and
profound wave of conscious self-awareness of the existence of timelessness.
When I engage from within my own center of my being I become connected
to a web of life interwoven into the fabric of cosmological eternity.
"The birth of the universe means not only the birth of all
elementary particles of the univers and not only the birth of all
light and energy of the universe, it also means the birth of the
space and time of the universe" (Swimme, 1996, p.85). This
inquiry leads me to the study of time as a fundamental aspect of
consciousness to derive meaning through knowledge witnessing this
human being, whether St. Augustine or another person devoted to
abstract knowledge, is inextricably linked together as a multifaceted
jewel; at the center is the universal divine illumination which
is timeless because it is always immeasurably and imperceptibly
present. The center is surrounded by a field of life in which we
are embedded. Whether we talk about light, space, time, energy or
matter, we are talking about the source of energy that links all
creatures together. This link is a wisdom
. . .