“Time is a field of circumstances and forces meeting and working out a resultant progression whose course it measures.” In two lines Sri Aurobindo has given the best definition of time. There are many definition of time. For example: time is a succession of moments. But Sri Aurobindo however gives a more comprehensive definition of time. Time is a field, you can see that a field is not successive, field is holistic, every field is holistic. Therefore time here is not linear time; it is not something successive, step by step moving forward. Time is a field of circumstances and forces not only circumstances but also forces. Unless circumstances and forces working within circumstances meet, criss-cross, are assembled there is no real process of time. Time measures of course a process, but that process is a resultant of circumstances, forces which meet each other, cross each other and then produce a sequence as a result of which that which is in the process becomes a product -- there is a result which comes out. “Time is a field of circumstances and forces meeting and working out a resultant progression whose course it measures.” It is a beautiful and really comprehensive definition of time which you should memorize.
If you become a storywriter, if you become a dramatist you have to understand the secret process of time. In fact, Aristotle who wrote a book on drama said that a good drama is one which has unity of space and time -- unity of space and time, not in a succession. A good dramatist is the one who knows at what point of time movement a drama should start. All great stories, all great dramas measure the starting point: at what point of time the drama starts? So that what has already happened is not necessarily described it will come in the very course of unfoldment. If you read Hamlet for example, it is one of the greatest dramas. If you study Hamlet as a drama, the very first scene — how it starts! It is dark night, not a mouse stirring, complete hush. All suspense of the moment, the time is pregnant. What has happened in the past is filled in that moment; what is to happen if the future is also held in that moment. It is a very pregnant moment and Shakespeare begins the drama with the ‘dong’ and enquires because all have heard that a ghost appeared in the castle and they wanted to see whether today, tonight the ghost will appear or not. And the whole story hangs up on the ghost and the appearance of the ghost and what the ghost communicates. The whole drama, the whole tragedy is based upon that time, that moment. It is the meeting of forces; it is the circumstances and the meeting of forces in which a resultant progression is worked out. It is a very brief description of time, but very comprehensive.
“To the ego it is a tyrant or a resistance, to the Divine an instrument.” Why is time a tyrant or a resistance? Because the ego does not respect circumstances; it does not respect the meeting of forces. Ego is interested only in itself: what it wants, its own assertion, its own affirmation and its immediate need of realisation. This is the mark of the ego. It is unaware of the circumstances, of the forces which are at work. As Sri Aurobindo says, the ego considers the whole world as moving around itself, as if everything is created for itself. He looks upon the world as its own instrument -- not that it is itself the instrument of all. To it all is insignificant; itself is the most significant. This is the limitation of the egoistic consciousness and therefore when it meets the circumstances, when it meets the forces which have been worked out it finds resistance because circumstances do not respect the ego, the forces that are around do not respect the ego. They all go their own way, for themselves. The Divine has a complete good account of everything, of the ego and the all, the relationship between this little finite and the all. Therefore for the Divine everything is an instrument.
“Therefore, while our effort is personal, Time appears as a resistance, for it presents to us all the obstruction of the forces that conflict with our own. When the divine working and the personal are combined in our consciousness, it appears as a medium and a condition. When the two become one, it appears as a servant and instrument.” When the Divine will and my will become identical then time is only an instrument, a servant. Whatever time you need for the accomplishment of the work, exactly that much time you will get for your work and you will find during that time everything is smooth, nothing uninvited, unexpected comes into the picture, everything that happens is just on the spot.
I have seen with the Mother very often if she was in need of a fountain pen it just came to her as a gift from somebody, exactly at the right moment. If she wanted information from somebody it was found that the person with the information was just at the door and came exactly at the right moment and gave the information. When you are the master of time you find exactly this condition. Whenever you need X, X is available, if you think that X is not needed now X will not be available at that time. Whatever you need happens exactly at the right time -- in fact everything happens at the right time if you know the Divine way of doing things. But because of our egoistic willing, egoistic eagerness, egoistic tyranny we find time is out of joint. Basically time is never out of joint, everything is measured out, everything happens at the right moment. When I need you, you are with me, when you need me I am with you. This is the tune and the harmony and the rhythm of life. If you get out of the egoistic preoccupation everything becomes an instrument. Therefore Sri Aurobindo gives the greatest advice, the greatest formula of dealing with time -- how to deal with time.