Time and the Soul

Time and the Soul

The Persistence of Memory. 1931, by Salvador Dalí

In some ways, there isn’t really much difference between what we call “psyche” and what we call “history”, since history is better understood as our autobiography. This is, in part, what St. Augustine intends by his statement that “time is of the soul” and what historian Jean Gebser means by “the ever-present origin”. Self-overcoming and transcending history are one and the same (Scott Preston, Faking It at the End of History II).

These few words from Scott Preston’s amazing blog, The Chrysalis, are chock-full of astounding truths. If you haven’t perused Mr. Preston’s powerful posts, you’re in for a treat. In the above passage, Preston is musing on what time means to the soul, and vice-versa, and if they are really just equivalent. Fascinating idea, but one that he finds reference for in St. Augustine, as well as Jean Gebser. Let’s explore this a bit further.

First, he postulates a profound similarity between psyche and history. He claims this is because history is really “our autobiography.”

I am thinking of C.G. Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections. It is a rather odd book, but one of the most impressionable I have ever read. It is not the typical biography; rather, it is soul-centered and image-filled. Memories, dreams, and reflections are powerful pictures that Jung carried with him all those years until, finally, he and his personal secretary, Aniela Jaffé, set them down on paper. They reflect his own soul, just as true history (not revisionist history) reflects the soul of mankind.

The images we have of history come to us from many sources and experiences, past, present, and future. We usually think of history as occurring in the past, but, like soul, history is timeless. In reality, we live in the moment, in soul, as well as in history. The word, “history,” contains within itself, the word, “story.” It is also related etymologically to the idea of story, from the Greek word, historia. Just as the soul is an ongoing tale being told, so also is history a story that is being recorded continuously, eternally. In all actuality, what we normally think of as time is a product of our conscious awareness, which is presently mired in deficient mental-rational consciousness, according to Gebser’s terminology. When humanity makes the jump to integral awareness, we will experience timelessness. We get glimpses of it occasionally now. Then, however, it will be our normal, everyday experience. Our future history will roll like a wheel. It will be timeless, imaginative, and soulful. And we will not speak in terms of now and then, for all will be now.

You’ve all heard that old saying, time flies when you’re having fun. When one is experiencing life as it should be experienced, i.e. soulfully, time simply melts away. You lose awareness of it in the normal sense. I find this occurring when I’m reading, writing, or doing anything else I really enjoy. One feels “in the zone.” I am also experiencing the awareness of the acceleration of time as I grow older. It is possible that one grows more aware of the soul as one ages. This would explain this strange phenomenon.

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