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The Time Tunnel

A Tale for All Ages and for the Child in You
by Swami Kriyananda



Chapter Four: A First Step

They entered the tunnel. The first thing they noticed  as  they  got  deeper  inside  was a low humming sound, coming in rhythmic pulses from below them (especially from below, it seemed) and from all around.

Donny’s expression (there was a slowly growing light inside the tunnel for his expression to be visible) revealed puzzlement.

“How can there be that hum? In this ruin there can’t be any electricity.”

“I doubt that there was ever any electricity here,” commented Bobby, “even before this place became a ruin. I mean, way out here in this primitive . . . ?”

“‘Pristine,’ I think, is the word . . .”

“Okay, pristine forest,” corrected Bobby, willing to accommodate his brother.

“Or maybe ‘primeval ’? I read that somewhere in a book.”

“Okay,” said Bobby. “Whatever. What a big one you are for words!”

“Well, but the point is, where can that pulsing sound be coming from?”

“It reminds me a bit of the engine of a huge ocean liner,” cried Bobby. They had already crossed the Atlantic by ship more than once.

“You’re right!” Donny answered. “On a ship, you can hear that sound everywhere!”

“Except that this sound seems almost alive!” continued Bobby.

“Do you notice something else? The further we walk into this tunnel, the more it keeps shrinking!”

Bobby cried out fearfully, “And we’re shrinking with it! Oh! Let’s get out of here!”

They tried to turn back. “I can’t!” Donny cried.

“Neither can I!” whispered Bobby. The pulsing sound seemed to  be  forcing  them  forward.  What  could  they  do?  Terror-stricken, they joined hands for mutual protection.

Well, dear Reader, what would you have done in their place? Maybe practice would have made you perfect, but this, remember,  was  their  first  experience  of  the  tunnel.  Frankly,  I think I’d have been scared out of my wits! And I’d have clung
to the hand of the nearest, largest, toughest grown-up I could find! Yet  poor  Donny  and  Bobby  were  only  children:  Donny was nine; Bobby was seven—well, all right, seven and a full half!

Death didn’t seem to threaten them, however. Both the tunnel and their own bodies kept on shrinking, but their consciousness remained unchanged. The light, at least,  was now growing stronger. It seemed to be coming from some source other than
daylight. A speck of dust floated by them: it looked like a huge boulder! And they themselves kept shrinking!

What had been a mere hint of condensation on the floor became a puddle, then a pond, then a lake. And they themselves were in that lake! Soon, they beheld huge monsters floating in the water all around them.

“They look like paramecia!” Donny cried. “I once saw some through a microscope in a pre-science class.”

Bobby shouted, “Look at those whirling lights around us! They look like the pictures of atoms I saw in a book last week!”

Donny cried, “And even they keep growing bigger!”

“My gosh!” Bobby cried excitedly. “They look like suns and planets and moons!”

“And still we’re shrinking!”

“Is this good—or is it terrible!? We keep shrinking, but still we remain ourselves!”

“We no longer seem to have bodies,” cried Donny, “but we’re still conscious!”

“More conscious!” Bobby cried.  “I not only see everything more clearly, but I’m even more aware of everything around me!”

“Oh, God!” cried Donny, “my body seems to have shrunk to nothing! What is this! What’s that large zero forming around us?”

All  of  a  sudden  they  emerged  from  the  tunnel. That  large zero had become a sphere of light; it surrounded them like a luminescent bubble, outside of which they saw a countryside of trees, flowers, and great natural beauty.

“Where are we?” cried Bobby.

“Remember what we read in that file folder?” Donny answered. “The summary, as I still remember it, went something like this: ‘If one could divorce himself from passing time and reduce his sense of selfhood to absolute zero, he would find it possible to appear again at any specific time, whether in time past or in future time.’”

“My gosh!” Bobby exclaimed. “Then this light around us is that zero!”

“Is this scene,”  Donny cried, “some sort of border zone between past and future? We must be out of time altogether, as we know it!"

Bobby started to cry. “How will we ever get back to the inn?

And we left those sandwiches on the worktable!” He began to shiver. “We’ll starve to death!”

Consolingly Donny said, “Well, if we’re out of time, maybe we’re past getting hungry, too.”

Bobby  suddenly  stopped  sobbing.  “Look!”  he  cried.  “Over there! There’s someone on the ground!”

They thought themselves in that direction, and to their astonishment the sphere moved with that thought!

“It’s a man!” cried Donny. Whoever it was seemed to be asleep.

“Hey!” Bobby shouted. “Wake up!” The man didn’t move.

They stared at him a moment in silence. “Are you dead? Are you like that dinosaur out there?”

The man stirred. “Dinosaur?” he muttered as if  aguely remembering the word.

“Yes, dinosaur!” shouted Donny.

“You mean, you actually saw the dinosaur?” asked the man, opening his eyes and rising to a sitting position in sudden panic, though still he spoke vaguely.

“Yes,” cried Bobby. “Out there, beyond the tunnel.”

“You—you found the tunnel?”

“Of course,” said Bobby.

The man’s head seemed to be clearing. “I’m starting to remember! But the dinosaur!  You said it’s on the other side?! Oh! Oh! how—how TERRIBLE!”

“No!” said Donny. “Not terrible. It’s dead.”

“Dead! Is it really dead? Oh, thank God ! ” the man cried out emotionally,  then  began  to laugh almost hysterically. “I was afraid it would still be alive, and creating havoc.”

“But how did it ever get there?” urged Bobby.

The man’s head seemed to clear completely. “Yes! It’s understandable to me now. But first, we’ve got to get you out of your time-light sphere. As long as you’re in it, you’ll be visible only to me, because I too came out of that tunnel. No one will be able to hear you. You’ll watch others, but no one will know you’re there, watching them!”

Donny then asked, “So how do we get out of this sphere?”

“It’s easy enough. The light composing it is a vibration of energy. You can bring that  light up around you, or remove it altogether, by first realizing that the energy in your  hands, combined with the power of breath, with focused concentration, and with will power, can either dissolve the sphere or re-create it.

“The time-light sphere formed around you when you were reduced to zero. You must  have been holding hands—believe me, I know how frightened you must have been! I was scared too,  the first time—and that’s why only one sphere formed around the two of you, instead of your being in two separate spheres. The sphere formed because zero ego-consciousness, as opposed to what lies after that, emerges naturally into a sphere of light.

“But now what you need to do is stand up straight in that sphere.”

The boys stood as close to the center of the sphere as they could.

“Now, raise your hands high above your heads.” The boys did as directed.

“Next, inhale with a deep breath, and feel that you are inhaling pure energy.” The boys did that, too.

“Then send as much energy to your hands as you can.” Again, the boys followed directions.

“Now! Bring your hands and arms downward, keeping the arms straight out to your sides as if outlining the shape of your time-light sphere. As you do so, exhale as if dispersing the energy into that sphere from your fingertips.”

The boys did this, too. To their amazement, they saw the light around them disappear in a downward-rolling scroll. When their arms touched their thighs, the sphere had disappeared!

“You see how simple it is?” the man said. “Now, when you want to create that sphere around you again, or to create two spheres (since there are two of you), all you have to do is this: Lower your arms to your sides; think energy; then fill your hands with  energy. Keep your will power and concentration very focused, and bring your hands up and out to the side in an arc, holding your arms straight out all the time until the two
hands touch each other above the head.

“First, however, do this: Tense, then relax, exhaling, and thinkof yourselves as exhaling any remaining tension from your bodies. Then inhale, and slowly fill yourselves not only with air, but with energy—energy, and light.”

The boys did so, and found the “scroll” of light rising up again around their bodies—becoming this time, however, two spheres of light.

“These time-light spheres are very important. They will keep you invisible to others, and also inaudible. Inaudible,” he explained, “means ‘impossible to be heard.’ And the spheres will protect you from anything that may be going on around you.”

Bobby returned to a thought that persisted in his mind. “How did that dinosaur get there?”

“Yes,” answered the man. “That was your question! But before I answer you let me back up a little:
“What happened was this. Shortly before my father died, he warned me, ‘We’ve always traveled together, but soon now you’ll have to travel alone. It’s important for  you to remember this truth: When time traveling—it’s essential that you NOT go too
fast!

“‘Whether going backward or forward in time, be sure to go gently. There won’t be any trouble, then. But if you—well,’ he paused then, ‘do you remember that time when we went forward in this century, and saw a fighter plane soar up into the sky?’

“I told him I remembered it, and added, ‘There was a sudden explosion.’

“‘Yes,’ said my father, confirming that this was just what he was talking about. 'What  the plane had just done was break through what we later heard described as the “sound barrier.” Well, you smiled at the time, and thought the word quaint. But I warned you: There’s also something we might call the time barrier, and this barrier isn’t quaint at all! If you go through time in either direction, whether past or future, but move too fast, you will break through that time barrier. What will happen then—in our own time zone—is that there will be an explosion. I don’t know how big the explosion will be, but, like all explosions, its effect will be unpleasant—in fact, it might be terrific!’

“After my father died,” the younger man continued, “I took to experimenting.  Somehow I became fascinated with that era millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I wondered what they looked like, how they behaved, if they were completely stupid or perhaps more intelligent than paleontologists have made them out to be from the small size of their brains relative to their bodies. I wondered if the meat-eaters among them, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, were randomly vicious, or if they killed only to eat. Anyway—I wondered!

“One day, I found myself in my time-light sphere, roaming above a tropical plain where I saw many huge reptiles, some of them around a large lake, wallowing in deep mud; some were grazing in nearby grass; some were flying through the air. None of them could see me, and I knew I was completely safe.

“A crazy impulse then seized me: I decided to ride one of those huge monsters! ‘If any threat appears,’ I told myself, ‘I can always escape to safety in a different time zone.’ So I removed my protective time-light sphere, as I’ve taught you to do, and approached a huge monster from  ehind.  I clambered up its back, finding its scales to  be so thick that the creature didn’t even notice me! It was fun, too, riding so high up, surveying the terrain around me. We must have spent a good hour that way when suddenly a Tyrannosaurus Rex, with a terrific roar, came charging at us from behind. It was bent on killing my ride. As for me, I don’t think it even saw me! I imagine that, to that huge monster, I was little bigger than an ant.

“Well, there was one thing I hadn’t learned yet about time travel, and that’s if you are holding anything in your hand, or grasping it with your knees as I’d been doing, it comes with you when you leave that time zone! In escaping the Tyrannosaurus
Rex, I was thinking only of saving myself. And I was in such a desperate hurry to escape that I left that zone too quickly.

“Well, I’m sure you’ve guessed what happened: I broke through the time barrier! There ensued a tremendous explosion. Because time doesn’t actually pass in this  timeless, mind-only zone we’re now in, I was hurled back to the present point  of
entry into it. The creature I was riding got thrown forward, and I got thrown backward. The dinosaur went through the tunnel, and I got hurled back into this timelessness  zone. I was still without my protective sphere of light, from which I’d emerged to ride the monster. And I just lay here on the ground, bereft of energy, completely exhausted.”

Donny then asked, “But how did the huge dinosaur get through that narrow tunnel?”

“Why, don’t you remember?” said the man. “It lost its size on entering the tunnel! Physically speaking, it became zero. As it emerged on the other side, it resumed its own shape and size. As for me, I lost all consciousness. And because time on this side
doesn’t pass—we’re always in the timeless NOW—I may have been  lying  here  for  hours,  days,  weeks,  months—even  years! What year is it in your time zone, anyway?”

“Nineteen thirty-five,” Donny informed him.

“Good heavens! and I left on my voyage in September, nineteen-thirty! That means five years have passed in your time, but here, where time doesn’t exist, it’s as though I had returned only moments ago!”

“How can that be?” Bobby asked.

“Well,” replied the man, “when you dream, isn’t time mental also? You might dream that a hundred years pass by in just a few minutes—even in mere seconds of your so-called ‘normal’ time. It’s even more true in this zone, for there’s a consistency here
that isn’t found in dreams. In dreams, you can be on a beach at sea level, and suddenly the sand becomes snow, and you’re struggling to get it out of your eyes to see your way through dense fog as you struggle to reach a mountaintop.  And then all of a sudden the thought of snow brings you, let us say, to soap bubbles, and there you are, seated in your bathtub, getting lathered by your mother!”

Donny, after thinking this through for a  oment, finally said, “Then if, while five years passed in our own zone, no time passed here, what happens if time does pass here?  Does that mean that even more time passes there, or less, or none at all? As you can see, I’m confused.”

The man smiled. “I told you, time here is only a mental concept. I went back millions of years on that ‘outing,’ and yet I came back to my own year—virtually to the same moment as when I’d left. Everything on this side is NOW. But now, too, is based simply on the fact that we’re conscious, and consciousness is always now, in the present tense. The present is, in fact, the only real time there is. Everything else is only movement in that never-moving  reality—like  waves  on  the  surface  of  a  sea,  the
over-all level of which never changes.”

At this, Bobby cried, “This is all much too much for me!” He paused a moment, then continued: “Okay, so yesterday we both went to Bra ov. Suppose we went back there now. We’d be here, and we’d be also there. We’d be there then, but we’d be here now. Who, really, would be anywhere at all?”

“You’d be here, in the only final reality there is: NOW. They wouldn’t be there, because their permanent reality would remain here. You’d be riding a wave called ‘then,’ but from here you’d see  that  wave  as  a  mere  distortion  of  now.  From  here,  you
couldn’t also be there. Others would see you, but you wouldn’t see yourself. And since both of you are here together, your view there of each other would be sort of muffled.”

“I  just  don’t  understand  at  all  what  you’re  talking  about!” lamented Bobby.

“Shall we try it?”

“Why not?” cried Donny.

“All right, then, let’s re-create our time-light spheres so we can’t be seen.”

They did so. Then Donny and Bobby thought the three of them back to the day before, when he and his brother had been sitting in the  ar, waiting outside the shop their  mother had just entered. Their new friend was with them, observing the scene from his own time-light bubble, but of course he could only view everything from the outside. The odd thing, for the boys, was that they didn’t see or hear themselves in  that car! Instead, because they were here in their time-light spheres, they saw only two vaguely transparent mists. Otherwise, the places they’d occupied looked empty! And all they heard of their own voices in the car was a sort of mumble.

Their mother came out of the shop, carrying a bag of things to eat.

“I’ve brought you some Apfelstrudel, boys, with Schlag. We’ll have it tomorrow night at dinner.” There ensued a dull mumble. Their mother then spoke again, as if answering a question: “Schlag is a word for whipped cream, Bobby.” A mumble, and then, “Yes, it’s  sweetened, and put on the Strudel.” Another mumble, then: “Strudel, Bobby, is a kind  of dessert. It really means ‘vortex,’ or ‘whirlpool,’ but in this case the pastry is made
of many thin layers folded around their apple at  the center.” This time the mumble held an extra note of enthusiasm. Then again she said: “All right, boys, just enjoy the ride. I must think about something I have to do tomorrow.”

The car took off. The boys’ seats still seemed to hold only transparent mists.

“Weird!” Bobby commented from his own time-light sphere. And weird it certainly was!

“And so you see,” their new friend said as they found themselves suddenly back  where they’d been. They removed their protective envelopes, and sat down again on  the grass. “And so you see,” he repeated, “your true self, your consciousness of self, is always here, and always now. It simply can’t be here and now, and also there and then, at the same time. You always see yourselves from the inside, not from without. That is why your figures in the car looked filmy and transparent. Bobby’s physical
reality, for Donny, was dimmed because Bobby could see himself only from inside himself. And Donny’s physical reality, for Bobby, was dimmed by the fact that Donny saw everything from inside himself.”

Donny suddenly sat up. “I think we’d better get back! It’s getting late.” As the boys  rose to their feet, their new friend remarked wryly, “It may be earlier than you think!”

“We’d better rush home, anyway,” Donny replied. “I don’t want to miss that Apfelstrudel for supper!”

“With Schlag!” enthused Bobby.

They ran toward the clump of bushes, behind which the entrance to the tunnel awaited them. And then, suddenly: the same experience came in reverse! Their zero body-sizes became, first, two clouds of atoms; then were immersed in a lake full of
paramecia; then were trying to avoid huge boulders of dust; then all at once, they became tiny human forms first, and then—well, you know the rest: Suddenly, they were little boys again!

Snatching up their bag of sandwiches from the lab table, they ran out into the  sunlight, and kept right on running toward the inn.

“That’s funny,” said Donny. “The sun looks about as high as it was when we entered that ruin!”

“Gee,” commented Bobby. “It ought to be getting on for twilight!”

“Let’s look for a place in the brook where we can swim!” shouted Donny. “We told Frau Weidi, remember, that we’d have a swim today?”

“Right! This way we can truthfully say that we did go swimming.”

On reaching the brook, they walked up and down the bank until they found a place where the water was deep enough for a good dip. Throwing off their clothes, they jumped into the water and played in it for a few minutes. Then, emerging, they dressed and headed for home. Donny remarked:
“Well, at least we kept our word!”

But Bobby said, “I think if we eat our sandwiches right now, we won’t spoil our appetites for supper!”

“And for those Apfelstrudels.”

“With Schlag!” added Bobby.

They ate their sandwiches, and arrived at the inn in plenty of time for supper.

“Did you enjoy your swim?” Frau Weidi asked them with a motherly smile.

“More than you’ll ever know!” cried Donny enthusiastically.

“It is getting hot!” Frau Weidi rejoined. “I wish I could take time off and rest a little,  with no thought of what is next in my life, and what may have been left undone today, or what I accomplished yesterday.”

The boys looked at each other with meaning smiles, then went quietly up to their room.



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