It has always been a great difficulty and, to a large extent, a stumbling-block to men, in their first efforts to comprehend, or rather, apprehend the Abstract, to understand the unreality of time and space. Man's method of thinking and living for past ages has so invested these two powerfully developed illusions with the semblance of genuineness and necessity, that they have, in almost every sense, become a human essential, and thus, in the first stages of Spiritual enlightenment, when man commences to realize that a part of him, the Inner Self, is not concerned with either time or space, he is, in a great many cases, hopelessly at sea, lacking even a glimmer of self-illuminated understanding of these external phenomena. The word phenomena here lucidly expresses our heading, in that the same constituent influences which appoint these two conditions phenomena, as distinguished from causative noumena, constitute them bonds to enchain man to his own selfish and material habits of thought. This brief study is not intended to treat exhaustively on any of the thousand fold divisions into which our subject might be divided, but is simply an embodiment of one or two helpful thoughts, which, being carefully and studiously assimilated, will set a man on the road towards the complete attainment of freedom from the impeding results of material happening.
A short definition of both time and space serves for our first thought: time is the relation of one physical happening to another, and space, the disposition of material bodies, one to the other. Take away either events or material embodiments, and time and space cease to exist for want of either a starting or a finishing point. Now, to a man's Inner Spiritual Self time and space, as commonly understood, are meaningless. We have only to go to the higher processes of our physical and mental life, to observe a tendency to disregard these two conditions. How often do we, in thought, picture happenings far removed from us in point of earthly situation, and likewise, how many times do we find ourselves ranging in thought over the past, and sometimes prophetically over the future? We have more than sufficient evidence of our potential independence of time and space, if we only consider our normal propensities: if we go further and take into account the evidence of the super-normal, which is being accepted more and more every day, we have an overwhelming mass of evidence of the impeding influence of these two conditions, and of a freedom from them, which is potential to everyone.
Our next question is, What can we deduce from this conclusion? What help may we derive from it? It stands to reason that if a condition is potential in us, there is a way to encompass that condition, and though it cannot be rigidly set down here how any man may reach it, it is quite possible by a guiding thought or two, to set him on that road, where each step forward constitutes a guide to the next one to be taken. This is actually the case in supernature: a man's advancement is simply a widening of his inner comprehension, and as he attains more and more, his mental horizon extends, he sees more to strive for, and that which formerly constituted his ultimate aim seems nearer to him, with ever increasing and unthought of possibilities opening up beyond.
Another helpful thought, from which a wealth of assistance may be derived, is the relation of the "now" to the past and future. If men would come to look upon the present as the embodiment of the past and the embryo of the future, they might save themselves a deal of regret and anxiety. When one perceives, or brings his mentation to an intuitive acceptance of the much ignored fact that the present moment is in direct descent from the utmost beginning of things, and will pass on in a direct unbroken line to the end, even to Eternity, he places himself, so to speak, in the line of progression, and looking ahead, is able to see, to some extent, the possible results of his present efforts. Let a man work in the dark, and, though in some cases, he works through to the light, in the majority he stumbles, and blundering along constitutes his chiefest obstacle. Thus it is something of a gain to a man, to understand that what he does now will have its result to the furthest bounds of human, and even super-human happening: the ignorance, or rather the ignoring of this, is the reason for most of the sin and uncharitableness we find in the world today.
Then there is the subtler influence of this thought to take into consideration: as a man so habituates himself to consider only the "now," the past and future gradually narrow themselves down, until finally the whole of time is contained in the present effort, and Eternity is correspondingly nearer and surer.
Practically the same may be said of space: though bound up in earthly bonds, man has a vehicle by means of which he may encompass his freedom, if he only utilizes it rightly. The germ of the thought is contained in the explanation that the disposition of bodies one to the other, is merely one of illusionary impression. A body is a certain distance from us, far enough to be beyond our reach, too far away to be perceived by our sense of smell: but still it is not so far away as to be invisible or inaudible. Is there anything improbable or impossible in the statement that this evident widening of actual bodily faculty may be still further widened, so as to reach into what man would term the supernatural? We have evidence in our own bodily senses of a progression of capability, tending to a larger Held of perception, and the limit of this range of perception we term distance or space. Is it too much for any average intellect to grasp, that, if any higher ratio of perceptive faculties have or can be used, than those with which man is ordinarily blessed, or rather bound, space loses some of its binding properties, and yields up to our understanding some of the mystery with which the Universe beyond is vested? And these higher perceptive faculties are attainable: they are already in posse, and any man can bring them into actual use by enlarging his field of intellectual vision, and, from that, leading on to the opening out of Spiritual insight.
The Universe is contained in essence in man himself. He needs no knowledge of astronomy to be in sympathy with any possible inhabitant of Mars: he needs no intricate understanding of generic species to feel a love for animate nature. In his own essence he is that Martian inhabitant, and the same Great Compassion which sent his soul into being, looks to the welfare of the beast of the field with equal solicitude. There runs through us all a binding thread which is in essence Unity, and what does Unity spell but Love? By Love may we reach that Inner Path, by Love must we progress, and by Love entirely can we only hope to attain. Only by Love can we hope to break the earthly bonds of time which enchain us to the direct result of our own doings, and though we may, to some extent, impel ourselves along the road by habits of correct thinking, we find, in the end, that it all leads to the one Path, the Path of Altruistic effort.
What final deduction, then, may we gather from this rambling study? Simply this: space and time are the symbols of diversity: their antithesis is symbolic of Unity—Love. Establish habits which tend to an apprehension of the unreality of time and space, and we approach nearer and nearer that state when a glimmer of real comprehension reaches us, and we begin to have an intuitive idea of the Fount of Pure Spirit, of which we and the whole Universe are a manifestation.