Haven’t seen anyone closely examine what A Course in Miracles says about an instant. Yes, I know that there have been many comments made about the “holy instant,” but little has been commented on about the idea of the instant itself.
When the text of the Course is examined, we find the word is used in three ways.
The first is the common usage as defined by the dictionary which is: “an extremely short period of time.” Here is one of the many examples of that from the Course:
“Remember to apply today’s idea the instant you are aware of distress.” W-pI.33.4.
The second is the “holy instant.” Concerning this the Course says
“The holy instant is a miniature of Heaven, sent you from Heaven… The holy instant is a miniature of eternity. It is a picture of timelessness, set in a frame of time… the whole of Heaven lies in this instant, borrowed from eternity and set in time for you.” T-17.IV.11
The holy instant is an awareness, realization, or recognition, that comes to us in a flash, of the joy that resides in our true home. When we negate the past and still the mind the instant can be experienced:
“The holy instant is the interval in which the mind is still enough to hear an answer that is not entailed within the question asked.” T-27.IV.6
The third use of “instant” in the Course describes how it is experienced in heaven. This is more difficult to understand as we are in time and space here, but life in heaven is not subject to time as we know it. Only the present has meaning there. “The present is the only time there is.” W-pI.164.1
A holy instant occurring in this world of illusion is a recognition of the quality life in our true reality; whereas an instant in heaven involves a creation event. We thus have instants of recognition and instants of creation. (see T-21.II.8) An instant in heaven can span zero time or millions of years for we are told that:
“Only an instant does this world endure. And we give thanks today the world endures but for an instant. We would go beyond that tiny instant to eternity.” Lesson 300
So this world which has been here for billions of years is only reckoned as a span of a “tiny instant.”
From the beginning to the end of the separation is also said to be only an instant:
“Merely a tiny instant has elapsed between eternity and timelessness. So brief the interval there was no lapse in continuity, nor break in thoughts which are forever unified as one.” W-pII.234.1
Notice though that this instant was called an “interval.”
To have intervals involves change yet the course tells us that there is no change in heaven. But then we have this:
Whenever we move from one instant to the next, the previous one no longer exists. UR T 3 C 34
So, in heaven there was an instant where the separation took place, but then the solution was created and we moved to the next instant and it was as if “the previous one no longer exists.”
What is it that moves us from on instant to the next? This can be answered by another question: What is the main thing we do in heaven?
Answer We create
Except you share it, nothing can exist. And you exist because God shared His Will with you, that His creation might create. T-28.V.2.
“He (God) created you (the Son) as part of Him.” T-24.VI.1 and “You were created only to create” T-14.I.4
That which we create are additional Sons of God adding to the Sonship:
“There is no end to God and His Son, for WE ARE THE UNIVERSE” and we are to “See His creations as His Son.” T-11.I.5. “The universe consists of nothing but the Son of God,” W-pI.183.10
How can one instant of creation pass and be replaced by another if there is no change in heaven?
To get the answer we must closely examine what the Course means when it says heaven is changeless.
“What is timeless is always there, because its being is eternally changeless. It does not change by increase, because it was forever created to increase.” T-7.I.7
This statement explains how there can be movement in heaven from one instant to another whole adding newly created Sons of God yet still be considered in a changeless state. All there is “was forever created to increase.”
In other words what does not change is the eternal expansion of creation, or the universe. Or you could say what does not change is the continual change caused by creation expanding the universe.
We are clearly told that heaven itself is in this eternal state of increase:
“Beyond the body, beyond the sun and stars, past everything you see and yet somehow familiar, is an arc of golden light that stretches as you look into a great and shining circle. And all the circle fills with light before your eyes. The edges of the circle disappear, and what is in it is no longer contained at all. The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity forever shining and with no break or limit anywhere.” T-21.I.8
So, heaven is encircled by “an arc of golden light that stretches…The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity…”
All heaven itself, or all there is, forever increases by stretching and expanding to infinity.
As one instant of creation passes another takes its place and because only the present exists in heaven our entire focus is in the new instant of expanded creation. The current instant would include all creation from the previous instants so even though the previous instants are replaced they are not lost.
The instant where the mad idea surfaced “passed away in Heaven too soon for anything to notice it had come.” T-26.V.4
But even though that instant had passed it is still recalled and acted upon by Sons of God. It is called “The tiny instant you would keep and make eternal.” T-26.V.4
Normally the inhabitants of heaven focus on the current instant but some (which would include us) focus on that instant from the ancient past where the separation occurred. When this happens the dream is entered again and “in every judgment and in all belief in sin, is that one instant still called back, as if it could be made again in time. You keep an ancient memory before your eyes.” T-26.V.5
We are told that “the holy instant is eternal”. T-16.VII.6 This would apply to all instants in heaven for as life moves from one instant to the next all that was in the previous instants would remain.
Understanding the creation process as it proceeds in instants helps us to see the changelessness of heaven yet also relate to God’s statement in the Book of Revelation where he says: “Behold, I make all things new.” Rev 21:5
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