Recently I have been trying to remember when I first lost the sense of the concept of Time. I know when I read Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and other teachers of Advaita, that they disregarded the concept of time, but I know my understanding in this regard goes back further than that.
I know this because, when I was still in the Church at Lincoln Cathedral, I used to hope for a chance to do a sermon, and that sermon was going to be about time. It seems like I have understood that time is a concept all along, but probably not. It is very funny to me that I can't remember, as remembering and time are intimately linked in the mind.
My sermon was going to be about the absence of time as a concept, and how the Crucifixion of Christ occurs outside of time and is an event in the "now ". I have no idea how those ideas got into my mind at that time, as this was before my "advaita " days.
Perhaps the concept of time is one of the most persistent and insidious to the spiritual seeker, as we are so used to living in a "linear" mind set. Time is the concept by which we organize thought. The "story " of our lives is told by the "progression " from child to young adult, to older adult and eventually elderly person. Words like progression and eventually themselves are created to expound on this concept of time.
We wake in the morning, and as soon as the sense of "I am " arises, we see a "new " day, but experience our selves as a progression of the same life; we are one day older. We watch the body "age ", and at some point resolve to the fact that eventually it will "die ".
The concept of time is the culprit here. Not that our bodies don't "change ". On the relative level bodies age, get hurt and die. These vehicles we take as our own are only a limited dream vehicle that wears out and runs out. They are held tightly in the grip of the concept of time. What is born in time, ages and dies in time. But what we are is beyond time.
Past, present and future all appear in the moment. The concept of "now " contains all three. The moment we recognize "the moment ", it is gone. The "now " is not an experience that we can recognize, for by the time it is re-cognized, it is a past event in memory. Those who say to "live in the now" are simply trading one concept (past, future) for the concept of "the now ". Everything happens at once. The concepts of past, present and future arise simultaneously in the mind, and the mind uses the concept of time to sort them out. As you read this, you are reading it as I write it. "We" are together at this moment, reading and writing as one. My writing and your reading are one movement in awareness, not two. If we always look at life as one piece, without parts, we can see this clearly.
It's the "separation " that is illusion, not the "objects ". The "objects " are expressions of the oneness playing with itself. There is loving, seeking, awareness, without lover or loved, seeker and sought, or aware or unaware persons. The objects come and go, but not in time. Time is only useful in the relative, and needs to be the first concept to go.
We are timeless. The "child ", "adult ", "elderly " categories are all just swimming in the concept of time. You may notice that many who we call "enlightened " live in that first categorization; the child. No matter how "old" we may be physically, living without time acknowledges that we are timeless. The "vehicle " we inhabit may age to our amusement, sometimes painfully. But being forever the simplicity and awe of the child is what we find. Life is awesome. When we experience nothing but awe, without words, we experience wonder. Once we grab it, conceptualize it, bring it into time, it is turned into a concept. Becoming as a little child, as Christ insisted was the only way into the kingdom of Heaven, means to live outside of time.
Understanding that we are timeless, even as the body fades and dies is an experience of fascination and exhilaration. Life as it is unfolding, timelessly and with perfection, is only available without concepts, particularly without the concept of time.