Bowing Down to the Lord of Time: Master of Embodied Presence

lord of timeTIME HAS PERSONALITY — a rainbow of archetypal styles of expression not unlike the feline glide of Obama or the Sagittarian savvy of Brad Pitt. Just as different personalities serve to christen us into different flavors of the divine mind, the revolving carousel of hours, days, months and years is constantly coaxing us to update and align our giddy agendas with a shepherding presence. Said differently, time is tutelage. There are no generic, clock-ticky kinds of moments applicable to everyone; there are only “designer moments” magnificently tailored to fit our next step in Self-remembering. Deep in the haze of each mind-shrouded minute, says astrology, is an outstretched hand longing to walk us deeper into the One Being.

So how about it? Ready to reach through the fog of agenda and clasp hands with the divine tour guide? Or is the idea that time is personal a tad too woo-woo for you? Perhaps a proper introduction will warm you to him. You’ve heard of the guy: Saturn — Lord of gravity, karma, responsibility, discipline, maturity, aging, death. Saturn presides over the entire matrix of time. Not a very chipper dude to bow down to, right? Ah, but wait. Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn which is only one half of the Cancer/Capricorn polarity. Higher octave Saturn blends together with the personal, protective qualities of sensitive Cancer to produce “tenderized authority,” “reputable loving,” and “grounded protector/provider of one’s chosen brood.” Are these not attributes worth bowing down to? 
I know. I know. It’s dense down here. If you’re gonna bow down, it had better be to a deity that delivers some kind of transportive release. Consider this: Saturn is joined at the hip with swoony Venus. Relationships that don’t eventually embrace the clearly defined, unambiguous boundaries and agreements of Saturn usually degenerate into hurt and drama. In sum total, over time, Saturn delivers more sexiness than Venus by maintaining a sustainable sobriety/intoxication mixture. Without Saturn, Venus is just a sugar high. Need a face for your altar? Think: Clint Eastwood.

Get thee behind me, Saturn!

Still ill at ease with Saturn?  Ah, then you might have a problem with the entire matrix of incarnation. And what ego doesn’t? The word “Satan” is derived from Saturn for a reason. Degeneration, disease, old age and death (Father Time’s teaching tools) are mortal enemies of the timebound sense of self. The real Satan, however, is not the timeline that inches us ever closer to becoming house-bound with bad knees and dementia; it’s our here/now resistance to experiencing the passage of time as a tender, guiding presence — a strategically caring counselor who uses time to pry open our hearts to the eternal Being that all our me-stories float in. Prayer and meditation, chides Saturn, is your only reliable pension plan.

In this light, perhaps a more accurate word for “Satan” would be what Tibetans call uncontrolled rebirth: dying in confusion with eyes unanchored in the deathless. The result? Our souls are hellishly unprepared for the vastness of pure awareness and our disoriented light body yields to the “temptation” to grab for something familiar: another mortal body, another personality-entranced rebirth.

Saturn knows what embodied transcendence really means: becoming a connoisseur of time —  learning to stroke its thought-bumpy, reptilian skin until it turns into a lover. If this seems too abstract to you, Saturn was good enough to leave behind his calling card: the freckles and age spots on the back of our aging hands. Perhaps, says Saturn, when the texture of time seems too abstract a thing to stroke, you can caress here while chanting, “Evil is grasping at an unripe outcome.”

Looking for a warmer, more hospitable name with which to address the Saturnian face of the divine? Try these:

1) Master of Embodied Presence. The god who keeps burying the corpse of dead stories, grounding us in the mystery of events unfolding.

2) Sagittarian Scare Crow. The god who silences all abstract philosophy, scooting us out the door for some walk-your-talk usefulness.

3) Generous Supplier of Lifetimes. The infinitely patient god who never stops stretching fresh, three- dimensional canvases on which we might splatter our compassion-paint with more abandon.

4) Bubble Popper. The god who pops the narcissistic bubble that too often passes for love so that our inward-facing communion might overflow into love-infused service to the community.

5) Mood Buster. The god who refuses to let fickle moods enslave us, derailing our integrity, commitments and quality of service.

6) Reality Revealer. The god who helps us “see ourselves seeing” so we can break free of personal reactivity and more realistically assess the Tao of each moment.

What “Bowing Down” Looks Like

Okay, okay, so Saturn’s not so grim; but what does “bowing down” to the Lord of time actually look like to a born-again eclectic, like ourselves? In short, it means working within the laws of time to exult the timeless. Here are a few examples:

1) It means learning to see clocks for what they are: altars to shepherding presence. (See picture above for clock-altaring inspiration).

2) It means making the texture of time more important than the events passing through it.

3) It means cutting through the fog of implied agreements and letting punctuality and follow-through be the true measures of how much we care.

4) It means seeing repeated lateness as addiction to false transcendence.

5) It means choosing work we naturally love and calling whatever shape our life takes as a result “a success.”

6) It means disciplining our undervalued gifts so that our separate sense of self might disappear into our work and inspire others to find their own soul-liberating livelihood.

7) It means pausing to ask, Am I tuned into the shepherding presence or am I feeling nervously alone and unsupported, moving through a mechanistic matrix of time?

8) It means allowing our Cancer heart to break as we catch ourselves and others “striving for a better hell” on the conveyor belt to death.

9) It means confessing that we don’t really want anything that shows up in this existentially orphaned paradigm, then closing our eyes long enough to reanimate the seamless field of sentience spreading out, like a shimmering mandala, all around us.

10) It means pivoting suddenly, mid-sentence, at a buzzy cafe, into prayerful receptivity, rekindling the feeling of being held and at home — warmed by the fire of eternal belonging. 

Sounds sublime, you say, but how does one become self-possessed enough to break free of all the Shepherdless group-think — the idiot compassion that causes us to entrain with the unbowed and un-wowed?

The first step is remembering that we don’t wake up as compassionate witness of time-ravaged ego for ourselves. That would just add to our “spiritual somebodyness.” We wake up because we don’t want to contribute any more suffering to the collective psyche than we already have. That means pausing to feel others’ “conveyor belt” despair and then using it as fuel to build up our meditative resolve.

Need a shot of meditative resolve, right now? Try this:

Did you know that loneliness is the number one cause of depression in the west? How did we get here? No, it’s not just the overwork, computers and lack of community. The temptation to make our psychological timeline — our story about who we are  — more important than ego-dissolving connection has plagued every culture, in every time. Our best chance at spiritual sovereignty? Pray for the time-ravaged souls who suffer, even now, from lack of exposure to the teachers, teachings and sangha that supply the soul-mirroring skills they need to re-enchant the passage of time. Pray for the strength to stop dividing souls into friend, enemy and stranger: that desperate, ego-hardening tactic that numbs us to the interpersonal Tao of each moment. Pray to be released from the lonely habit of categorizing people in order to tell yourself who you are, rather than floating spaciously in the river of relating.

So, how about it? Are you ready to turn clocks into altars and bow down to the Lord of Time? In times of hardship and stress, would you like to catch Papa Saturn sharpening the sting of your conveyor-belt-to-death paradigm so you can break free of the matrix, once and for all? If so, get ready: it’s just a matter of time before you are elevated into a position of tenderized authority.

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