One of the peculiarities of being human is our belief in a Golden Age when everything was running smoothly and everyone was happy and fulfilled. From the Hopi Indians who posit various worlds which started off in perfection but were gradually corrupted and destroyed, to Plato who spoke of perfect archetypes, only the shadows of which make up our world; from the high Civilisation of Atlantis to the Biblical Eden – the examples are endless.
Most simply a Time when things were good. But not now. Never now.
Our mistake is to put the Golden Age behind us. It is essentially out of time. The High Culture of Atlantis and the natural perfection of Eden is a template that exists in the matrix of our being, outside Linear Time, part of the multi-dimensional time we truly exist in. Such images of the Golden Age lead us on. We believe that because they once existed they could exist again.
To me the greatest of themes expressed in Mythic Time is the significant Inner Journey – the quest for the Soul itself. One step could take seventy years or a split second. The Quest can be started when one is five years old or eighty. It has nothing to do with Linear Time, yet is expressed in terms we are familiar with from Linear Time.
It takes various forms and often the goal is reached in pursuit of something else. The traveller thinks he is looking for one thing but finds something totally other which proves to be more important in the long run.
In the ancient Irish tale of the Journey of Maeldun – the hero sets off to seek revenge for the killing of his father. After years of extraordinary testing adventures in rough seas and on strange islands, he meets the man who killed his father only to find that he has forgiven him.
The mighty Sumerian King Gilgamish, 3000 years BC, set off to try to obtain immortality for himself, having been shocked at the death of his best friend, and having heard that in the ancient days one man, Ziusudra, had been granted immortality by the gods. To him it seemed that everything he had had no more savour than dust if life would be so suddenly taken away.
On his journey to find Ziusudra he endured many hardships that would have turned a lesser man back. A woman at a tavern at the end of the world tried to persuade him to abandon his dangerous and difficult quest and ‘eat, drink and be merry’ with the time he had left. But he persisted and at last came to the great ocean that separated the land of the Living from the land of the Dead. He was given instructions how to cross it without touching it and he came at last to find Ziusudra. They spoke long and deeply and Ziusudra gave Gilgamish a hint as to where the Flower of Immortality was hidden. After more difficult trials he plucked it and set off for home. But at one point he rested and fell asleep and a snake came out of a hole and ate it. He was devastated when he woke up to find the snake had shed its skin and been renewed, while he was still mortal and subject to death.
Wearily and disconsolately he journeyed home, but when he stood on the hills looking down on his city he was moved to joy. ‘What a goodly place’, he thought, and ran down to greet his friends and family.
Many stories from around the world tell of man’s search for immortality only to discover at the end that it is ultimately boring, and mortal life is preferable. I particularly like the Japanese one where a man takes to the sea to escape unwelcome guests and is driven by a storm to land on an island of Immortals. He found everyone so bored they spent their time trying to commit suicide and failing.
Whether these stories are invented for the same reason that it is common to think of riches not bringing happiness, to comfort ourselves for something we cannot have, or they are trying to tell us something more profound. What the hero is seeking is more of Linear Time, when what he should be seeking is something quite different – Eternity. At the end of this talk I want to touch on what I see as the difference between ‘Everlasting’ and ‘Eternity’, but there is something else I must deal with first under the category of ‘Mythic Time’.
Multi-Dimensional Time: Part 1
Multi-Dimensional Time: Part 2
Multi-Dimensional Time: Part 3
Multi-Dimensional Time: Part 4
Multi-Dimensional Time: Part 5
Multi-Dimensional Time: Part 6
Multi-Dimensional Time: Part 7