“...The only interval in which I can be saved from time is now. For in this instant has forgiveness come to set me free...” Workbook page 453, Lesson 308.
We need to be saved from time because we are trapped in it. We are not really trapped in it because it is all part of the illusion, but we are trapped in it because we believe in it. In Chapter 5 of the Text we read, “...You have elected to be in time rather than eternity, and therefore believe you are in time. Yet your election is both free and alterable. You do not belong in time. Your place is only in eternity, where God Himself placed you forever.” T86.
Time is the most fascinating, baffling and mind-boggling topic that is dealt with in ACIM. We are all so used to thinking of it in linear terms with the present following on from the past and the future following on from the present, but in reality time is just not like that. The Course teaches us that far from being linear, time is holographic, i.e., every present moment contains all other moments. Thus the past, present and future are all taking place simultaneously, only we choose to focus on one segment of it at any given time.
The reason we are trapped in time is explained very clearly in ACIM: “Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love. And so you die each day to live again, until you cross the gap between the past and present, which is not a gap at all. Such is each life; a seeming interval from birth to death and on to life again, a repetition of an instant gone by long ago that cannot be relived. And all of time is but the mad belief that what is over is still here and now.” T552.
The way to release ourselves from time is to forgive; forgive ourselves for having “created” time and the world of form, and forgive others who are sharing this dream with us. “Forgiveness is the great release from time. It is the key to learning that the past is over....The unforgiven is a voice that calls from out a past forevermore gone by. And everything that points to it as real is but a wish that what is gone could be made real again and seen as here and now, in place of what is really now and here...And do you want that fearful instant kept, when Heaven seemed to disappear and God was feared and made a symbol of your hate?” T551. In other words, the ego clings to the moment of separation because by doing that it is clinging onto its own existence. It therefore wants to relive that moment (the fearful instant) over and over again and so it wants to remain trapped in time. The question is: do we want to remain trapped in time?
In Chapter 13 we read: “...The ego invests heavily in the past, and in the end believes that the past is the only aspect of time that is meaningful...’Now’ has no meaning to the ego. The present merely reminds it of past hurts, and it reacts to the present as if it were the past. The ego cannot tolerate release from the past....It dictates your reactions to those you meet in the present from a past reference point, obscuring their present reality...” T246. This is a very important passage which, in effect, is telling us that we must wipe the slate clean each time we meet others; no matter what someone may have done to us in the past, we must overlook that and see him in a new light now. It might help if we remember that he is one with us and probably just as lost in this world of darkness as we are. Calling upon the Holy Spirit in such a situation is very helpful and it works. If we are extending loving thoughts to a perceived “enemy”, he is more likely to respond lovingly. “Let peace extend from my mind to yours” (see Lesson 82), is a very useful thought to hold in mind whilst we are in his company.
If we hold onto any grievances as we go about our daily lives, we will be carrying a lot of emotional pain around with us. But if we release all pain inflicted upon us in the past through forgiveness, we are releasing ourselves from the clutches of the ego and we are waking up from the dream. All we need to do is to remember that this present moment is the only time there is, and it is up to us to decide whether we want to use the present moment to focus on past grievances or to release the past altogether by forgiving and forgetting any grievance.
The ego keeps us trapped in time by making sure a steady stream of memories flits across our minds—both sad and happy memories—and by keeping us hooked on the future by means of planning and anticipating good things to come. But the “holy instant” can help in the release from time. If we offer the miracle of forgiveness to someone who may have hurt us in some way, we are denying that the past has any effect on us and in doing so we are, in fact, making use of the holy instant. “It is impossible to accept the holy instant without reservation unless, just for an instant, you are willing to see no past or future.” T389. The Course teaches us that the miracle of forgiveness is a way of collapsing time. “The miracle minimizes the need for time...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....The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years.” T8. That is amazing!
If we continue to listen to the ego we will not have any holy instants. If we choose to hear the inner guidance that comes from the Holy Spirit or our Higher Self we will definitely experience holy instants and we will be well rewarded for that. We are told, “...Each instant is a clean, untarnished birth, in which the Son of God emerges from the past into the present. And the present extends forever. It is so beautiful and so clean and free of guilt that nothing but happiness is there. No darkness is remembered, and immortality and joy are now.” T303.
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