ACIM Conversations, Part 20
Time in Heaven
Student: I’ve been thinking about the Course’s teachings on time and having difficulty in understanding it.
Teacher: What’s the problem?
Student: It seems to teach that time does not exist in the eternal world for it is just an illusion.
Teacher: You’re only partly right for time does exist in heaven. There are, however, two ingredients of time that exist only here in this world. What do you suppose they are?
Student: If I recall correctly, it says the past and the future do not exist in heaven.
Teacher: But it does say that an aspect of time does exist in heaven. What would that be?
Student: Would that be the present?
Teacher: Yes. the Course makes this definite statement: “The present is the only time there is.” W-pI.164.1 Here, read a couple more quotes:
Student: “The present is before time was, and will be when time is no more. In it are all things that are eternal, and they are one.” T-13.VI.6
“The only aspect of time that is eternal is now.” T-5.III.6
Teacher: So what aspect of time exists in the eternal reality?
Student: Now, or the present.
Teacher: So time does exist in heaven and it is called the present. Here is what it says about the past and the future: “Fear is not of the present, but only of the past and future, which do not exist.” T-15.I.8
Then it makes this interesting statement: “time itself involves intervals that do not exist.” T-2.VII.5
Student: Wow. No past or future and no intervals between them – that’s what I have a hard time getting my mind around. I’m glad you pointed out that the aspect of present time will still exist in the eternal world, but still have difficulty understanding what that would be like.
Teacher: First let us examine what creates time as we know it here. The Course gives a very interesting clue when it tells us that our time is made from intervals. In other words, it is always measured in an apparent movement from the past to the future. This movement is measured in seconds, minutes weeks, years etc. So, time as we know it, consists of a conscious registration of short intervals, like seconds, merged into greater intervals. This creation of the passing of time is called a trick or an illusion by the Course.
Student: Why would our time be called a trick?
Teacher: Because real time is in the present and an interval of consciousness skips over it so we never see the real now. Instead, we register the interval which is a leap from the past to the future which only exists in the dream.
Student: That’s pretty deep. So, what would happen if we could see the true present?
Teacher: This world of form would disappear for everything here is created by motion through time. In the present we would see the eternal world which the Course says is something that cannot be put into words.
Student: So, what would be the difference between living in this world of time and the eternal present which I believe the Course calls timelessness?
Teacher: One of the main differences is this. Everything created in time has a beginning and an end. Everything dies here. Everything created in the present time is eternal because no intervals between past and future exist.
Student: What I do not understand is this. It is said God created me. So, wasn’t there a past time before my creation and another one afterwards?
Teacher: There was not an interval between the past and the future because you were created in present time which was all the time there was.
Student: I do not understand the difference between before and after in heaven and before and after creating something here.
Teacher: Read these two quotes that should be helpful:
Student: “Time (past and future) does not really exist. The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis.” T-1.II.4
“The miracle entails a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception. This introduces an interval from which the giver and receiver both emerge farther along in time than they would otherwise have been. The miracle thus has the unique property of abolishing time to the extent that it renders the interval of time it spans unnecessary.” T-1.II.6
Teacher: Time in this world corresponds to the horizontal where you travel from the past to the future. To what does the vertical correspond?
Student: I guess that would be heavenly time, the present.
Teacher: Yes, the present, vertical time of the holy instant has no forward and backward or past and future, so switching to this abolishes time as we know it, as mentioned in the quote. In vertical time there is no past and future as we understand them.
Student: So there is just up and down, but no forward and backward.
Teacher: There is just up, speaking symbolically here. In this world we think of time moving forward but in the eternal world there is not movement as we understand it but something the Course calls extension. As we enter vertical time creation happens by extending upward in an eternal present with no horizontal past or future. So, when you were created in the present you were created with no past or future and it was as if you had always been and always will be, except there is no “as if” in heaven but only IS.
Student: That is interesting but still difficult to understand.
Teacher: We are told that there are many things we can question and receive and then understand here, but this one is beyond our understanding unless we experience it. I will give this illustration that may help. Picture God and the universe as a circular balloon that has always existed that is being blown up and expanding. There are always under creation, new molecules of air (Sons), being added so the balloon is always expanding. See this as never contracting or changing shape but always creating and adding new molecules that identify with the whole and each other. The only thing that changes is expansion for it says, “the present saved to quietly extend into a timeless future.” W-pI.110.4 You might want to read this quote next:
Student: “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
Teacher: So, why is heaven called changeless, even though there is expansion or extension?
Student: That is interesting. It says “because it was forever created to increase.”
Teacher: So it appears there is change but because the change is always occurring one could say that the process is changeless.
Student: Reminds me of the statement that the more things change the more they stay the same.
Teacher: Yes, you could say that the more the universe expands the more it stays the same because the process does not change for real creation “extends the present rather than the past.” T-13.IV.9
Student: So instead of moving from the past to the future, as we do here, in heaven we move from a present to an extended present, but we are always in the real present. Is that correct?
Teacher: Yes. Here we are never in the real present except in those times we enter what the Course calls the holy instant. In the eternal world the present is all there is. It calls this state “timelessness.”
Student: You’ve helped me get a sense of real time but I also sense that I do not grasp it completely.
Teacher: No one in this world does. Have you noticed that when you sleep at night that times seems to flow differently?
Teacher: And do you also notice that your awareness of this world and what it is like does not exist there?
Student: Yes again.
Teacher: And do you also notice that some of your thoughts and experiences in the waking world are imperfectly reflected in your dream world?
Student: Yes, sometimes almost insanely.
Teacher: And finally, do you notice that your dream self has no awareness of the difference between its reality and your waking reality?
Student: Yes. I think one would wake up as soon as that awareness came.
Teacher: You are correct sir! And the fact that we are still here in this world tells us that we are not yet reached full awareness, but because we are talking about it and trying to understand tells us something. What would that be?
Student: I would say that our rough understanding that we are in a dream and that there is another world indicates we are on the verge of awakening.
Teacher: Yes. That may still be sometime ahead, as we measure it, but most of the dream is behind us, which the Course said took millions of years to materialize.
Student: I can see that I may not be ready to awaken for there are still things I want to do with my life.
Teacher: And sometimes you have a dream that you want to continue and not wake up for a while.
Links to The Mysteries of A Course in Miracles:
Copyright by J J Dewey
Read the Introduction HERE, Read Chapter One HERE. Chapter Two HERE, Chapter Three HERE, Chapter Four HERE, Chapter Five HERE Chapter Six HERE, Chapter Seven HERE, Chapter Eight HERE, Chapter Nine HERE, Chapter Ten HERE, Chapter Eleven HERE, Chapter Twelve HERE, Chapter Thirteen HERE, Chapter Fourteen HERE, Fifteen HERE, Sixteen HERE, Seventeen HERE, Eighteen HERE, Nineteen HERE, Twenty HERE, Twenty-One HERE, Twenty-Two HERE, Twenty-Three HERE, Twenty-Four HERE, Twenty-Five HERE, Twenty-Six HERE, Twenty-Seven HERE, Twenty-Eight HERE, Twenty-Nine HERE, Thirty HERE
ACIM Conversations, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25
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