Time is different in different states of consciousness (Maharishi 1972, Maharishi 1991, pp. 30–31, R. Orme-Johnson, 1987, pp. 331–341, Alexander, 1987, pp. 78–80). Maharishi explains that the field of psychology recognizes three major states of consciousness: sleep, dreaming, and the waking state. In deep sleep, time does not exist, nor does anything else. During dreaming, time is unpredictable, with its own individual time-logic. In the waking state of consciousness, time changes with the quality of perception: time is different when we are sad or happy, alert or drowsy, etc. These are the ordinary states of consciousness, but Maharishi has identified four more states of consciousness that are developed by means of the Transcendental Meditation technique and the Transcendental Meditation-Sidhi program.When someone practices the Transcendental Meditation technique, Maharishi explains, that person experiences finer levels of awareness until the finest individual awareness is transcended and only pure awareness remains, or to put it in the theme of this paper, finer fields of time are experienced until only the field of eternity remains. What the mind experiences in this field of eternity, or pure awareness, is a state of consciousness completely different from the three ordinary states mentioned above. This state of consciousness should not be confused with an altered state of consciousness because its characteristics are unique. For example, the rest experienced during this state is measurably deeper than that found at any moment of deep sleep and, yet, electroencephalograph studies have demonstrated that the mind is even more alert than at any time during ordinary waking state of consciousness. What is experienced is a major fourth state of consciousness called TurÁya Chetna in Vedic Literature or what Maharishi terms Transcendental Consciousness, the foundation for developments of all higher states of consciousness (1966, pp. 50–57).The following are Maharishi’s distinctions between the four higher states of consciousness beyond waking, sleeping, and dreaming and their connections to time and the timeless. The first experiences of eternity in this fourth state of consciousness are distinct but fleeting. However, “[a]fter some time of alternating that fourth state with the other three, the nervous system becomes habituated to maintaining that state of awareness” (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1972, pp. 23–5). Over time the sense of the timeless becomes increasingly familiar, not only during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, but in the waking state of consciousness as well. This is growth towards the fifth state of consciousness—Cosmic Consciousness.During the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, Maharishi states, the mind goes in and out of the fourth state of consciousness, Transcendental Consciousness, each time gaining greater familiarity with this deeper level of the Self. In Cosmic Consciousness the mind becomes permanently established in that transcendental field of pure consciousness. Thereafter, during both the inner experience of the Transcendental Meditation technique and the outer experience of dynamic activity, pure consciousness is not lost. In this state, the ego or small self comes to realize that it is the cosmic, infinite/eternal Self. “The characteristic of the fifth state is the co-existence of awareness of the unbounded along with awareness of boundaries” (Maharishi, 1972, pp. 23–5). Because the cosmic Self is immortal and unchanging, the permanent realization of this state proves that time is an illusion and that one is and always has been eternal. This is a new reality of time understood fully on the level of experience, and not available to the ordinary waking state of consciousness.The original loss of this eternal status, Maharishi notes, had come about as a matter of forgetting, the way an amnesia victim might forget that she is an heiress to a fortune. The knowledge that life is eternal, lived in the state of Cosmic Consciousness, however, has taken place only on the level of inner awareness, not on the level of outer perception. Hence, in this fifth state of consciousness two distinct experiences of time exist. On the one hand, one has realized one’s own undivided, eternal nature; on the other, through the senses one continues to perceive a world of changes that define life in time. This is a new experience of duality in which both time and the timeless are lived simultaneously.
The sixth state of consciousness—God Consciousness—results from a refinement of the mechanism of perception as the emotions begin to flow in waves of bliss: Our perception becomes more refined. We could naturally imagine a state in which the finest perception would be possible, so that the finest relative value of the object of experience would become apparent to our perception. (Maharishi, 1972, pp. 23-6) In this state, life becomes more fascinating, more beautiful. Happiness develops exponentially, and time is naturally affected by this growing fulfillment. Life is lived less and less in the grip of time, and the ever increasing experience of bliss makes time less significant. Time passes with increasingly little notice in such a state of exalted joy.
The seventh state of consciousness—Unity Consciousness—the goal of all life and evolution, is a natural progression of the sixth state. When the organs of perception have been refined to their highest value, nothing remains for them but to realize their own unbounded, eternal condition. In Unity Consciousness, the means of perception have been raised to the same status as one’s mind in Cosmic Consciousness. “In this situation, the finest relative perception rises to the level of the infinite value of perception” (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1972, pp. 23–9). In this Unity Consciousness, now not only am I eternal, but everything I see is also eternal. Change and time continue to be perceived on a superficial level of life, but now their deeper nature, non-change and eternity, is simultaneously perceived. In Unity Consciousness, all opposites such as relative and absolute, change and non-change, time and eternity are unified in the knowledge— intellectual and experiential—that only one reality exists; all life is the same transcendental, immortal, pure consciousness. The experience of duality that characterizes Cosmic Consciousness—time in the form of waking state of consciousness coexisting with the timeless in the form of Transcendental Consciousness—is replaced by the two timelessnesses, subjective and objective, in Unity Consciousness. In this state everything is experienced on the level of eternity. For a more detailed explanation of higher states of consciousness according to Maharishi Vedic Science, see Orme-Johnson 1987 and Alexander et al, 1987.