I have been reading some books about ACIM lately (and I can’t wait to write a review on this one!!) and one of them is Kenneth Wapnick’s book A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles. Reading it and contemplating the idea of time and how the Course views time has been really helpful for my understanding of forgiveness and my practice.
In this world, we believe that time is linear; there is a past, a present, and a future. There’s no way to change the past, and the past affects the present. We anticipate a future like our past, and believe it is affected by our past and present choices. There’s no escaping the effects of these choices, even if we don’t experience them immediately. We will have to live with the effects of those choices at some point.
This is how we get the feeling of guilt—things we’ve done in the past will affect us in the present. Our choices follow us, they haunt us. This is also why we expect punishment—because our choices are unchangeable. We can’t go back in time and fix them, so we have to deal with them.
However, A Course in Miracles says that time is NOT linear. Time is illusory. The past doesn’t touch the present, and the future doesn’t really exist. It all happened at once, and now it’s over.
“Time lasted but an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity.” T-26.V.3
Time lasted for one moment—it all happened simultaneously—and it didn’t affect eternity, because God corrected our mistaken choice for separation instantly.
This is why the past cannot affect us, on both a personal and meta-level. Our personal past, once forgiven, can’t haunt us just as our collective past where we separated from God can’t haunt us. Both were corrected immediately.
So in truth, time is already over. But in our daily experience, time is still happening, and Jesus says that “The purpose of time is to enable you to learn how to use time constructively” (T-1.I.15:2)
The way to use time constructively is to remember that it’s all happening simultaneously, which means the choice we make is never set in stone. It can always be changed; we always have the option for God’s correction. No choice can condemn us and lock us into a particular life. Further, we experience the effects of each choice right now.
These choices aren’t centered around what you eat or what job you took or what outfit you wore. The Course says there’s really only two choices: fear or love, ego or Spirit. When we choose Spirit, we experience heaven (which is a mindset rather than a place—feeling true peace and joy) and when we choose our ego, we experience hell (again, mindset not place—feeling jealous, fearful, worried, anxious, upset, depressed, etc.). Our feelings are the quick and easy sign that show us which teacher we’ve chosen.
Though I knew intellectually that which teacher I chose affected me immediately, I realized after contemplating this idea of time that I still believed two things:
- I have to make a lot of “right” choices (for Spirit) to experience Heaven.
- When I’ve chosen the wrong teacher (ego), I’m doomed—now that I made that choice, I have to experience hell for the rest of the day.
But both those ideas are wrong!
Even if I’ve chosen ego for my whole life, I can choose in this second for Spirit, for the correction, and experience joy. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve chosen Spirit—what matters is that you chose him in this moment.
No matter what choice I made a moment ago, I can cut ties with it through forgiveness—through choosing Spirit—and experience peace. I am not stuck in my choice. I don’t have to experience the rollercoaster of hell!
It doesn’t take time to experience miracles, peace, and happiness. It just takes choosing Spirit RIGHT NOW. How amazing is that?!!