Beyond Time – In Gita Verse 8.23  O best of the Bhāratas, I shall now explain to you the different times at which, passing away from this world, the yogī does or does not come back.

Krishna is saying that the person who has no-desire will not come back.

We are living for desire so there is always a time zone chronological time. We have a future and past associated with us. But the person who has no desire is living beyond the time zone.

Let’s understand time from our routine life: You may start with your dreams in the night, and then later watch your daydreams too – fully awake, remembering that what exists between two non-existent sides is a dream. And then suddenly you will find that something within you is changing. Whereas before the mind wanted to hold on to everything, now it no longer has any grip. While before the mind wanted a situation to remain the same forever, now it wants to move on from it with a smile – because trying to hold on to whatever doesn’t exist on either side called “before” and “after” is like catching air in your fist. The more tightly you try to enclose the air in your fist the more it slips away. If you don’t try to hold it, it remains. If you try to grab it, you lose it.

The moment you come to see that what exists between two non-existent sides only appears to exist and is actually a dream, the hold of the unreal in your life will begin to drop away; the dream will begin to shatter. Then what is left, what remains, is real. 

Krishna says – Whatsoever you are unable to erase even when you are fully awake, whatsoever you are unable to efface even through your total awareness, whatsoever remains in spite of you, is real. It is eternal, it has no beginning and no end. One should say it is timeless.

This too needs to be understood.

The unreal will always be in the realm of time – because that which was not yesterday, is today, and will not be tomorrow is divided into three chronological parts: past, present and future. But that which was yesterday, is today, and will also be tomorrow cannot be divided into three parts. What past, present or future can be there in this context? It simply is. That is why there is no sense of time with the real, no concept of time. The real transcends time, is beyond time. And the unreal is within time.

If you are standing on a riverbank and your reflection appears in the river. You may be standing out of the river but your reflection can only appear in the river. The water is needed as a medium. Any medium that can function as a mirror, any medium that can reflect, is essential. But in order for you to exist, no reflecting medium is needed. And yes, for an image of you to be formed, a reflecting medium will be needed.

Time is this medium of reflection. The real stands on its banks and the unreal is reflected in this stream of time. The reflection that appears on the mirror of time, the stream of time, is unreal.

And nothing can ever remain steady in time, just as nothing can remain steady in water – because water, by its very nature, is unsteady. Hence no matter how steady the reflection may look, it will always waver. Water, by its very nature, is wavering.

All these wavering reflections formed on the mirror of time were not there yesterday, are here today and will no longer be here tomorrow. Even to say “yesterday” is too long a time. They were not there a moment ago and will be gone the next moment. So that which is changing moment to moment in this way, which is momentary, is unreal. That which is beyond the moment, that which always is, that alone is real. 

Krishna is saying that the person who recognizes the line of differentiation between the two attains to true wisdom, he will not return to the unreal.

“Hence, that which is the whole knows it as subtle, indestructible; no one is capable of destroying this – the inexhaustible, the everlasting.”

That which pervades the whole universe is subtlest, is indestructible. But that which fills this whole universe, is gross, is destructible.


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