Some seem to assume that their timeless nature means they – consciousness – will somehow continue beyond the death of this human self.
CONFUSING TIMELESS WITH ETERNAL
I understand it can seem that way.
When we find our more essential nature, we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears t us. We find ourselves as that which all content of experience – time, space, the world, this human self – happens within and as.
We find ourselves as the timeless that allows for and forms itself into our experience of time. We find ourselves as the spaceless that allows for and forms itself into an experience of space.
Our nature is the timeless that time happens within and as. We are what this human self happens within and as. We are what all change happens within and as.
Doesn’t that mean that we – as this consciousness – continue even after the death of this human self?
Not necessarily. My timeless nature doesn’t say anything about what happens after the death of this human self. Noticing my timeless nature doesn’t give me any privileged or special insights into that topic.
Noticing my timeless nature is consistent with a wide range of worldviews. It fits with assuming that the nature of all existence is the same as my nature, and that all of existence is consciousness and the divine. It also fits with assuming that consciousness is produced by this physical human body, and dies with this body. It may even fit a traditional Christian view assuming a kind of soul that exists before and after this body. (The soul is then either what we are, or it’s something within content of experience that happens within and as what we are as anything else.)
A TOPIC FOR SCIENCE
What happens with consciousness after death is a topic for science. It’s something we can study, at least indirectly through near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, recollections of apparent past lives, and so on.
There are some relatively serious studies on these topics, as outlined in Leslie Kean’s Surviving Death. And within mainstream science, it’s still a mostly taboo topic. Probably because modern science has attached itself to a mostly materialistic worldview.
Life is change so this may change too. I wouldn’t be surprised if these topics are included within a future mainstream science.
WHY ASSUMING THAT TIMELESS MEANS LIFE AFTER DEATH?
Why do some assume that our timeless nature means life after death?
I am not sure.
They may be relatively new in noticing their nature so they don’t have a more mature and nuanced view yet.
They may engage in wishful thinking. That’s more than possible even if we notice our nature.
They may come from a tradition assuming life after death, and they adopt the same view without examining it more closely.
They may be aware of some of the research and jump to conclusions based on just a few studies and interpretations.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
For me, intellectual honesty is important.
I want to differentiate between what I can say something about, which is my immediate noticing. And what I cannot say anything for certain about, which is just about anything else. (And, of course, my stories about my immediate noticing are also up for revision.)
I notice my timeless nature. I notice that, to me, this timeless nature allows for and forms itself into my experience of the world, including time and space and change.
Beyond that, I cannot say very much. I cannot say anything for certain about the nature of existence, or what happens after death.
And that’s a relief. It brings me back to the most immediate and simple.
When I was little, before school age, I had shifts where I seemed to remember how it was before this life. I was shifted into an experience of all as golden light, consciousness, love, wisdom. There were no bodies, although there were occasional beings – far more wise than me – I could communicate with.
During my childhood, I had a deep longing in me. I didn’t know exactly what for.
And when the awakening shift happened in my teens, I realized what the longing was for. It was for this oneness, timelessness, and love. I also had dreams that seemed to be from past lives, and I found the historical details to be correct when I later checked.
It’s easy for me to assume that these were real flashbacks to a time between lives, and the apparent past life dreams were just that. But I don’t know. I cannot know.
And that’s more peaceful. It’s more peaceful to embrace the mystery. It’s more peaceful to be honest about it and hold it all lightly. It’s more peaceful to see what happens when that time comes.
Note: The seed for this article is seeing that some nondual folks, including teachers, seem to assume that our timeless nature means life after death. For me, it’s more honest to say that I cannot know for certain. And it’s more peaceful rest in not knowing
When we find our more fundamental nature, we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. Any content of experience – including time, space, and this human self – happen within and as what we are.
We find ourselves as timelessness which allows time. Spacelessness that allows space. Emptiness that allows the fullness of the world. And so on.
We may notice some of this: My nature is timeless. I am what time happens within and as. I am what this human self happens within and as. All life and death happens within and as me.
And some then seem to take it a step further: This means I am eternal, that I will continue after this human self dies.
To me, this logic is odd. It doesn’t make sense. I understand it may appear that way. But if I am honest, I cannot know. Yes, I find that my nature is timeless. But does that mean “I” – this consciousness – will continue after the death of this human self? I don’t know. Both options seem possible.
Timeless is not the same as eternal. In a sense, they are diametrically opposite since eternal assumes an infinitely long time.
This ties into the small or big interpretation of awakening.
When I find my nature, do I assume this is the nature of all of existence? Or do I stay with what I can say something about for certain?
And it also ties into our immediate experience versus science.
In my direct experience, I find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me, and what my world happens within and as. From here, I cannot say anything about what happens after the death of this human self. It’s as much a mystery to me as to anyone else.
Science is what can give us some insights into the after death question. There is some research into that topic, although not nearly as much as the importance of that topic seems to deserve. Probably because of current taboos within science. Materialism has been the guiding principle for modern science so far, so it makes sense that we have this taboo. And it will most likely change, as everything does.