Can consciousness exist without time?

(Question answered in Quora)

From the viewpoint of Advaita Vedanta (and I believe also zen and Dzogchen), time is not just something elusive, but ultimately unreal – only an idea or concept. The same with the concept ‘now’, which cannot be elucidated or otherwise measured. ‘Now’ can only be a symbol of eternity, immeasurable but always present. ‘Eternity’ itself is a symbol or slanted conception of reality or existence/being, which is timeless. For the absolute time does not exist. Consciousness alone is real and, thus, timeless. Stated differently, ‘what is never ceases to be; what is not, never comes into being’ (Shankara). Parmenides, Gaudapada, and Shankara are strong in that position.


About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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2 Responses to Can consciousness exist without time?

  1. I’d be lying if I posited that “consciousness alone is real,” although I do admit that it seems to be all that can be known.

    I think the question is back-to-front. Better to ask “Can time exist without consciousness?” Then we can make sense of the matter.

    As you know, Alberto, philosophical thought-bubbles don’t interest me very much. Perhaps it’s because most questions involve concepts that are little more than hand-me-down assumptions. I like questions that I can examine for myself in the light of my own life experience, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

    But I’m probably just a bit thick. 🙂

  2. Miriam, according to Advaita Vedanta the highest (or only) reality is being-consciousness, which is equivalent to awareness, both (rather, the three) terms being only pointers to what is unnamable and indescribable. Our respective viewpoints and paths are clearly divergent, due mostly to external factors, but also mental – or congenital – frame up, though there is a possible convergence. My way has been philosophy all along, but not for the sake of knowledge, but truth – understanding what reality, including the reality or nature of my being – and that of everyone – might be. My first inspiration was Plato and his postulating of the highest principle which, in his investigations, he called ‘the Good’. So it is not just philosophy what has always interested me, but that awful-sounding word, metaphysics (o spirituality, as is mostly understood at present). It has taken me a long time, but I no longer have any residual doubts or pending questions. You have been, and are (being a female of the species), much more perspicacious and discriminating than myself – I have persistently plodded along, slowly and with false starts, but it was meant to be that way, I think (individual destiny!). The many years that I studied western philosophy at university and on my own, I recognize, have been mostly a bane, but perhaps not quite so. As I said, it has been the course traced for me … before the final landing – nothing I could do about it. You might like to read the following: my last two submissions to Advaita Vision: With fond greetings, Alberto. … and the post following that.

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