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The long read
An article on dreaming wisdom,
the I Ching and African Dream
Root, first published in Caduceus
Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now.
That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time - past and future - the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
I’ve found that this ‘ultimate level’ understanding described by Tolle can become more real and grounded when it’s enfolded by a more relative understanding of, and reverence for, the cyclical flow of time which is so much a part of life.
To do this, you can envision the central stillpoint of this 'timeless now’…
encircled by the rise and fall of the energies of the day, caused by the circling of the Earth around the Sun. (The word ‘day’ is related to the Sanskrit dah, 'to burn’.)
This, in turn, is enfolded by the waxing and waning of the lunar cycle; becoming more in tune with the moon, with its moonthly cycle of birth, growth, fruition and death, can let us attune more deeply to our inherent, indigenous nature.
Around this comes the year, full circle of our earth around the sun.
For this reason it’s usually just seen as a solar cycle, equally split into quarters by the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes.
These being at precise dates and times make a fixed cross, which can be thought of as male, or yang.
But a fuller understanding can be gained with an awareness of the fluid lunar cross which is woven around it. Known as the cross-quarter celebrations, these are the dark and wintery new moons of Samhain and Imbolc and the bright, full moons of Spring and high Summer, Beltane and Lammas.
The length of the next enfolding cycle, your life, is determined by your own unique destiny. Also known as the Good Red Road, it’s here shown as a river.
We can affect our quality of life by many things, from actively practising compassion to ourself and others and eating wholesome food to being aware of, and transmuting, negative influences…
But, though it sounds macabre, one thing which can greatly enhance our life is an awareness of the inevitability of our impending death: as Don Juan reminds us in Journey to Ixtlan,
’…ask death’s advice and drop the cursed pettiness that belongs
to men that live their lives as if death will never tap them.’
Over and over, people who have literally experienced their own death with a near-death experience describe its lasting transformative effect - an acute awareness of the preciousness of life, coupled with the heart-felt decision to live it to the full.
The final ring of the Time mandala goes beyond our one small life.
A way in to the heart space in which this expansive view feels natural to us is, paradoxically, be fully and gratefully of this moment...as described in Mary Oliver's well-loved poem The Summer Day: