Time and the Soul: Where Has All the Meaningful Time Gone -- and Can We Get It Back?

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9781576752517: Time and the Soul: Where Has All the Meaningful Time Gone -- and Can We Get It Back?

- By the author of Money and the Meaning of Life (55,000 copies sold)

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About the Author:

Jacob Needleman is Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University, Visiting professor at Duxx Graduate School of Business Leadership in Monterrey, Mexico, and former Director of the Center for the study of New Religions at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From the Preface:

This book is addressed to everyone who is starved for time. That is, it is addressed to everyone. We are all living in a culture that traps us into doing too many things, taking on too many responsibilities, facing too many choices and saying yes to too many opportunities. After over a century of inventions designed to save time, we find ourselves bereft of time itself. A Jeremy Rifkin has pointed out, "we have surrounded ourselves with time-saving technological gadgetry, only to be overwhelmed by plans that cannot be carried out, appointments that cannot be honored, schedules that cannot be fulfilled, and deadlines that cannot be met.." It is the new poverty, the poverty of our affluence. It is our famine, the famine of a culture that has chosen things over time, the external world over the inner world.

It has become the aching question of our Era. What used to be considered a sign of success—being busy, having many responsibilities, being involved in many projects or activities—is now being felt as an affliction. It is leading us nowhere. More and more it is being experienced as meaningless.

This is the real significance of our problem with time. It is a crisis of meaning. What has disappeared is meaningful time. It is not technology or the accelerating influence of money; it is not global capitalism that is responsible for the time famine. The root of our modern problem with time is neither technological, sociological, economic nor psychological. It is metaphysical. It is a question of the meaning of human life itself. The aim of this book is to uncover the link between our pathology of time and the eternal mystery of what a human being is meant to be in the universal scheme of things. The wisdom teachings of the world, each in its own way, have spoken of what we may call the soul, the spirit, the timeless, the eternal in man. But the challenge is to approach these ancient ideas in a way that is practical, that can actually lead us toward a solution of our problem. Words alone, no matter how sacred; ideas alone, no matter how profound, are not enough to help us confront our problem with time. But words, properly received; ideas thoughtfully pondered; stories and images heard and attended to with an open heart, can help us feel the relationship between the question of our being and the problem of our life in time, after which ideas can find their proper place in our minds. In any case, this is how the author has written this book. A story and an image can enter our psyche in a way that concepts and analyses cannot. And so this examination of time and the human soul should perhaps begin, as all true stories begin, with the suddenly pregnant phrase:

"Once upon a time . . . "

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