World Transformation: Arnold Toynbee, Time Traveler
 Arnold Toynbee, Time Traveler
picture 13 Jun 2004 @ 11:32, by ming

From Future Hi: Arnold J. Toynbee was a renowned historian. His life work, "A Study of History", was a ten-volume tour-de-force, covering all of known history in considerable detail, charting the patterns to the rise and fall of a number of distinct civilizations. He wasn't just any historian. Rather, he had a unique ability to transport himself into the fabric of the history he was writing about. He talked about...

"the experience of a communion on the mundane plane with persons and events from which, in his usual state of consciousness, he is sundered by a great gulf of Time and Space that, in ordinary circumstances, is impassable for all his faculties except his intellect. A tenuous long-distance commerce exclusively on the intellectual plane is an historian's normal relation to the objects of his study; yet there are moments in his mental life -- moments as memorable as they are rare -- in which temporal and spatial barriers fall and psychic distance is annihilated; and in such moments of inspiration the historian finds himself transformed in a flash from a remote spectator into an immediate participant, as the dry bones take flesh and quicken into life."

So, when he visited the sites of historic events, or considered their components, he didn't just mentally catalogue them and analyze them. He oftentimes had experiences of merging into them. He just has to approach the site of the theatre of ancient Ephesus, and then...

"At the instant at which this historic panorama impinged on the spectator's eyes, the empty theatre peopled itself with a tumultuous throng as the breath came into the dead and they lived and stood up upon their feet. 'Some... cried one thing and some another; for the assembly was confused, and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.' [Acts xix. 32.] Those two dishevelled figures must be Gaius and Aristarchus; that ineffectual-looking creature must be Alexander. What is this rhythmic roar into which the babel of tongues is resolving itself? Will Gaius and Aristarchus escape with their lives? Thank Heaven for the intrepid town clerk's promptness and presence of mind. But at the moment when the cries of 'Great is Diana' are dying down and the clerk is beginning to reason tactfully with the crowd, the life flickers out of the scene as the spectator is carried up again instantaneously to the current surface of the Time-stream from an abyss, nineteen centuries deep, into which the impact of the sight of the theatre at Ephesus had plunged him."

Nothing special, you say? Doesn't prove anything? No, it doesn't. Maybe he just had a good imagination. Lots of people do stuff like that. Sure, but they don't all write a comprehensive world history. Anyway, the point is one of past history, or future history, being an experiential reality you can step into. We're not talking about time travel machines here. But we're not either talking about merely mental exercises and visualizations. We're talking about a state of consciousness beyond intellect. If you want to know how it was, or how it will be - go and look. Be there.

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