The Half-Life Of Time

“I am definitely confused about the secret of the missing dimensions, Master Fwap. You say it is important for me to solve it because my future enlightenment depends on it. Now you have added that I must overcome the obstacle before I can solve the riddle.

“The Oracle tells me it doesn’t matter if I overcome the obstacle or not. And now you’re telling me about another woman I am going to meet in Kathmandu, whom I have known in many of my past lives, who you claim is a better snowboarder than I am. Right now I think I am a victim of information overload. Can you help me sort all of this out, please?” I begged him in a stressed-out and plaintive voice.

“Certainly. The Oracle is only playing a joke on you. He knows as well as I do the importance of overcoming the obstacle first. As far as the young German snowboarder we alluded to, it is true you have been close with her in other lifetimes. She has, at least at this point in her incarnation, no knowledge of her spiritual potential at all. She does not recall ever being with you or practicing yoga in her past lives, either. As a matter of fact, at the moment, she thinks the whole concept of Tantric Buddhist yoga and magic is based on the superstitions of an ignorant third world culture.

“If you overcome the obstacle tomorrow, and solve the riddle the day after tomorrow, it will then be your karma to encounter her in Kathmandu and go snowboarding with her. What will come of this, I am not sure.

“Once you have overcome the obstacle, solved the riddle, completed your karma with your past-life German snowboarding friend, and finished your studies of the advanced tantras with the Oracle and me, you will have all the resources at your command to return to America and become enlightened.

“As I have told you before, upon your return to America you must go back to college, get a Ph.D., continue practicing the Tantric methods, regain your past-life enlightenment, and also become wealthy and famous. Only then will some of the people in your culture bother to listen to what you have to say about enlightenment.

“One day, you will write a series of books about your experiences with me and the Oracle. They will be translated into many languages and bring comfort and understanding to millions of people.

“It is also your karma to become involved with transmitting the higher energy of enlightened consciousness through music, something we have been doing in the East for thousands of years. Your music will be Western, even though it carries the energy of Eastern happiness and enlightenment with it. This will not be as difficult for you as you might suppose, since you have been a composer in several of your past incarnations.

“Also, you will enter into the world of computers and computer software. Computers hold the future for this planet. Your innate mathematical and design skills, which you also acquired in previous incarnations, will make you very successful in that field.

“Everything will not be perfect for you. There will also be great pain in your life. Once you have returned to the West, when you attempt to share your knowledge of the Tantric enlightenment methods and practices, most of the people there will think that you are a charlatan.

“Even if they believed that a person from the West could become enlightened to begin with—which most of them don’t—they wouldn’t believe that you were for real. In addition, since your enlightenment would be actual and not intellectual, you wouldn’t be telling them what they want to hear. You will tell them the truth.

“The truth has never been particularly popular either here in the East or in your Western world. Since you most certainly will want to transmit the experience of enlightenment and not be content simply to provide the intellectual understanding of enlightenment that people really want, you will be reviled.

“Almost no one will believe what you have to say, and you will be a stranger in your own land. What a thought!” Master Fwap said with a laugh. “A Caucasian attempting to teach the eternal truths of Buddhist enlightenment in a Western way in a Western world! No one will understand you or what you say because you will not fit into the pre-formatted ideas that Westerners have about how enlightened people should look, act, live, and speak!

“As I have told you before, it is not so different here in the East even for me and the Oracle. Real masters don’t act the way that people expect them to. False masters do.

“If and when you overcome the obstacle and solve the riddle, you have a life of hard work and social enmity ahead of you. This will be more than counterbalanced for you, however, by the joy and ecstasy that living in enlightened states of mind will bring you. Your outer life may be filled with unfortunate circumstances, but your inner life will be perfect.

“If you choose not to overcome the obstacle and solve the riddle, then none of this will happen. You can merrily go ahead snowboarding your way through life and not have to go through all of the pains and responsibilities that would otherwise await you. There are good reasons to overcome the obstacle and solve the riddle and good reasons not to.”

“But, Master Fwap!” I protested. “You told me you wouldn’t tell me, out of Buddhist courtesy, whether I had really solved the riddle or not. How will I know if I have really done it or if I am just kidding myself?”

“In your case, the Oracle and I have seen in our meditation that we need to make an exception. You will not have to wait many years to know whether you have solved the riddle, although it will take you many years to unravel its meaning and to be able to benefit fully from its meaning, if you do succeed.”

“But how will I know?”

“If, the day after tomorrow, we invite you back to Kathmandu to teach you more about the advanced tantras, then you will know you have overcome the obstacle and solved the riddle of the missing dimensions. Also, if you have solved the riddle successfully, you will meet your new German snowboarding companion. The Oracle and I will then take you both snowboarding on some even more challenging peaks than the ones you have snowboarded down so far. The advanced methods that you will gain from the study of the later tantras will improve your snowboarding skills considerably. You may even learn to snowboard as well as your past-life German snowboarding friend.

“Now, is everything clear to you?” he asked me in a very patient tone of voice.

“Yes, Master Fwap. Thank you for clearing all of this up for me. I guess I just have one question left: What is the half-life of time anyway?”

Master Fwap closed his eyes, as did the Oracle. The two of them began to spontaneously meditate. I decided it would be wise to join them, and so I folded my legs in a cross-legged position, closed my eyes, and started to practice my meditation technique.

My visualization of the “Blue Sky” started as it had the evening before. I followed all of the steps as outlined in The Handbook for Enlightenment. My thoughts began to slow down, and finally they stopped completely.

Throughout my meditation, some distant part of me kept expecting Master Fwap and the Oracle to show up in the middle of my blue sky, so we could continue our adventures in surfing the dimensions, but they never came. Instead, I simply had a beautiful meditation in which I felt great peace and a oneness with all of life.

My meditation was interrupted when I was distracted by a sound. When I opened my eyes, Master Fwap and the Oracle had finished their respective meditations and were bowing and touching their foreheads to the cave floor. I respectfully did the same.

After sitting in silence for several minutes, Master Fwap and the Oracle turned and faced me. Both of their eyes were filled with gentleness and an otherworldly light.

“Now it is time to talk about the half-life of time,” Master Fwap began. “Once again, I must caution you not to reason out what I am about to say. For now, just accept it as it is. Let my words flow into your second attention. If you have any questions about my explanation, I am sure they will be better answered by the experiences you will have tomorrow.

“To begin to understand the half-life of time, consider the following. Consciousness in this and most other dimensions exists because of time. Time is the movement of life. In the advanced technological countries of the West, you understand a great deal more about the ‘things’ of the world than we simple Buddhist peasants do. You understand and take pride in the fact that you can build and fly airplanes, erect giant skyscrapers, probe the solar system with telescopes, and examine cells and viruses with the aid of microscopes. This is the way of the modern world, to ‘understand’ a great deal about many different types of things.

“The way of the old world—our third world Vajrayana Tantric Buddhist culture—is not to understand very much at all. We don’t understand all that you understand about life. Yet even in the midst of our third world economic poverty, we are rich in something that you don’t have in the West; we are rich in our ‘knowing’ of how life and the universe work, and we are happy in our personal experience of our interrelationship with them.

“As I have said to you before, understanding is an intellectual type of knowledge. It is very useful. It can help you to lead a better life by giving you cures for diseases, or it can cause harm when misused by creating and employing weapons for mass destruction.

“Knowing life and oneself, and the subtle interrelationships between both, are far different from the mere dry, conceptual understanding of things. To know something is to become it, to experience it, to revel in it, and to become a part of its essence and power.

“Both knowledge and understanding are important to have. They are like yin and yang, they are complements, not opposites. Without each other they exist in a state of imbalance. Together they create something entirely new when unified—tai chi, the fullness of existence.

“The problem you are having—which is my way of expressing to you the way to move from your current level of intellectual understanding to direct intuitive knowledge—has to do with having a correct ‘knowing’ of time. If you simply understand time without the ‘knowledge’ of time, you are existing in a state of imbalance. You are like yin without yang; you are incomplete.

“As with yin and yang, when you put the understanding of time together with the knowledge of time, you are not just adding one and one together and coming up with two. Combining your Western understanding of time with our Eastern knowledge of time will create something totally new for you: It will provide you with a much larger and more expansive view of existence, yourself, and the interrelationship between yourself and the web of life. In other words, the sum of the two when combined will far exceed their ‘mass’ if you were simply to add them together.

“It is like a man and a woman,” he continued. “They are quite different. But when they join in sexual union they create a new life, a baby, which is really like neither of them. True, the baby will have certain genetic traits present in its DNA that came from both of its parents. Yet it will have an independent structure and existence that, in truth, resemble neither of its parents.

“So all you lack to overcome the obstacle tomorrow is the knowledge of the half-life of time.” Master Fwap paused for a few minutes and shifted his position on his meditation cushion. He sat up straight as an arrow, closed his eyes, and finished his explanation of the half-life of time with his eyes shut.

“The half-life of time,” he said in a quiet tone of voice, which forced me to focus my full attention on every word he said, “is the correct perceptual awareness of the movement of life. From the point of view of the average person, time keeps on slipping into the future, making the past a mere memory. To them it appears that time is the causative agent in the movement of existence. From this point of view, time is the cause of birth, growth, maturation, death, and eventual rebirth. This is the common conceptual understanding of time. It has mass, because mass is required to create energy, which creates the moment of time.

“Now knowing time is very different from understanding time. To know time you must first know life. And the best way to know life is to dance. In most of what you would refer to as ‘primitive’ cultures, where people know and respect life, its mysteries, themselves, and all other living beings, the people dance together.

“Yes, it is true, you have dancing in your culture, but your dancing is simply a prelude to sexuality, an entirely different type of dance than the dance we have here in the East. The dances of the ‘primitive’ peoples of the world, all of whom don’t ‘understand’ too much but ‘know’ a great deal, have two features that you lack in your Western dance. First, the dances here and the dancers of the dance tell stories through their dancing, stories of their individual lives and also of the experiences of their tribes.

“The second difference is through this type of dance, people are able to lift themselves into higher perceptual states in which they are able to go beyond their intellectual understanding of time and experience the true knowledge of time directly.

“Don’t look so puzzled,” Master Fwap said with a happy laugh. “You know exactly what I am talking about. Dancing for the ‘primitive’ people of the world is a form of meditation through which they either individually, or collectively as a group, rise above their intellectual understandings of life and come to know and experience time and life directly.

“You are doing the same thing when you go snowboarding. It is the very reason you snowboard. When you snowboard perfectly your thoughts stop and you rise above time. You enter into a timeless dimension where you experience great joy. When you rise above your ego and its conceptual understandings of life, you experience the pure joy and ecstasy of the web of life.

“The half-life of time is the awareness that time doesn’t have either mass or energy. It is like a magician’s trick; time appears to have more substance than it really does. Time is insubstantial and ineffable, and to be completely honest with you, it doesn’t really even exist at all,” Master Fwap continued to explain. “Perhaps this is why Einstein, a man who came from the country that has perfected the measurement of time, was the first Westerner to really come to a partial knowing of the half-life of time, which he expressed in his now famous equation: E = mc2

“This may seem strange to you, but try to understand that time doesn’t change; time is only an idea that human beings have invented for themselves. At best it is merely a convenient conceptual way to measure small segments of eternity.

“Nothing is ever born, nothing grows, nothing matures, and nothing decays or dies, nor is anything really reborn. This is true, because, in reality, there is nothing there to begin with. The perception that existence exists, and that time has mass and reality, and that it changes, are illusions created by a person’s concept of self. The self itself is an illusion.

“Show me yourself!” Master Fwap challenged me. “Not your physical body, your real self! You cannot: Your self, like time, is only an idea. In deep meditation, when your thoughts are stopped, the awareness of your illusory self ceases. This is true knowledge. As you yourself have experienced in altered states of consciousness, there is no sense of time or self as there is in this world, because, in reality, there is really no time.”

“But, Master Fwap, in other dimensions I have experienced time and self; they were just different types of time and self.”

“That is exactly what I mean by the knowledge of time and self. What you come to understand is that there is not just one type of time and self. There are an infinite number of times and selves—and there is something more. Beyond all of the times and selves of the universe there is nirvana. Nirvana is timeless and selfless. That is why it cannot be discussed or even experienced, since you need a self to do that. Since time and self don’t exist in nirvana, nirvana can only be ‘known.’ ”

“But if nirvana can only be known, there must be some type of self that is experiencing that knowing,” I countered.

“No, not really,” Master Fwap replied. “This is all just a way of talking about something that cannot be talked about. You will know this only when you come to ‘know’ nirvana; it is a knowledge that passes beyond understanding, beyond both the knower and what is known.

“It is your illusory self that creates the illusion that you are passing through time and space, neither of which, in reality, exists. In truth there is only emptiness. The world, its myriad beings, dimensions, and times, is like a dream. When you are experiencing a dream, it seems very real. But upon awakening, you realize that what seemed real and substantial while you were dreaming actually had no substance at all. Your dream disappears upon waking.

“Enlightenment is the waking from the dream of life. When you become enlightened, you awaken to emptiness. Emptiness implies absence. Not the absence of reality, but the absence of illusions.

“When you are enlightened, you awaken from the half-life of time and self. What you awaken to, and who you awaken as, cannot be understood here. That can only be known, in the true sense in which I use the word ‘knowing,’ when you are in a state of perpetually enlightened consciousness.

“The half-life of time is the half-life you are currently living in your waking dreams, which you refer to as your conscious experiences. From the perspective of the enlightened, you are sleepwalking your way through life. You are surrounded by others who are doing the same, believing that the lives they are dreaming are real and substantial, when in fact they are only ephemeral and transitory dreams.

“Only the enlightened are truly awakened, since they have transcended the half-life of time. Only they can see and know the difference between illusions and truth.”

Master Fwap finished, and for once, I had nothing to say. I looked first at him, and then at the Oracle. I knew I didn’t completely understand most of what Master Fwap had explained to me, but at least I was consciously aware of the fact that I didn’t really understand. I hoped that some day I might fully know what he was talking about.

The air in the cave grew colder as the late afternoon began to turn into early evening. Master Fwap placed more wood on the fire. My mind was completely silent, and I was pleasantly overwhelmed by a sense of contentment. Staring into the fire, as I watched its flames burn and transform the pieces of wood into ash, heat, smoke, and flames, I knew the wood wasn’t really being destroyed; it just appeared that way through the illusion of the half-life of time. The wood was as it always had been, even though its outer form was now ash and smoke. In reality, it existed as it always had and would, just on the other side of understanding, just past the half-life of time.

I lay down next to the fire and drifted off into a dreamless sleep, which I remained in, until Master Fwap and the Oracle awakened me the next morning.