"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
A Course in Miracles

The Purpose of Time

I. Introduction

1 Can you imagine what it means to have no cares, no worries, no anxieties, but merely to be perfectly calm and quiet all the time? Yet that is what time is for —to learn just that and nothing more. God's Teacher cannot be satisfied with His teaching until it constitutes all your learning. He has not fulfilled His teaching function until you have become such a consistent learner that you learn only of Him. When this has happened, you will no longer need a teacher or time in which to learn.

2 One source of perceived discouragement from which you suffer is your belief that this takes time, and that the results of the Holy Spirit's teaching are far in the future. This is not so. For the Holy Spirit uses time in His own way and is not bound by it. [Time is His friend in teaching. It does not waste Him as it does you.] And all the waste that time seems to bring with it is due but to your identification with the ego, which uses time to support its belief in destruction. The ego, like the Holy Spirit, uses time to convince you of the inevitability of the goal and end of teaching. To the ego the goal is death, which is its end. But to the Holy Spirit the goal is life, which has no end.

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A Course in Miracles

The Purpose of Time

II. Uses of Time

3 The ego is an ally of time, but not a friend. For it is as mistrustful of death as it is of life, and what it wants for you it cannot tolerate. The ego wants you dead, but not itself. The outcome of its strange religion must therefore be the conviction that it can pursue you beyond the grave. And out of its unwillingness for you to find peace even in the death it wants for you, it offers you immortality in hell. It speaks to you of Heaven but assures you that Heaven is not for you. How can the guilty hope for Heaven? The belief in hell is inescapable to those who identify with the ego. Their nightmares and their fears are all associated with it.

4 The ego teaches that hell is in the future , for this is what all its teaching is directed to. Hell is its goal , for although the ego aims at death and dissolution as an end, it does not believe it. The goal of death, which it craves for you, leaves it unsatisfied. No one who follows the ego's teaching is without the fear of death. Yet if death were thought of merely as an end to pain, would it be feared ? We have seen this strange paradox in the ego's thought system before, but never so clearly as here. For the ego must seem to keep fear from you to keep your allegiance. Yet it must engender fear in order to maintain itself .

5 Again the ego tries and all too frequently succeeds in doing both by using dissociation for holding its contradictory aims together so that they seem to be reconciled. The ego teaches thus: Death is the end as far as hope of Heaven goes. Yet because you and itself cannot be separated, and because it cannot conceive of its own death, it will pursue you still because guilt is eternal. Such is the ego's version of immortality. And it is this the ego's version of time supports.

6 The ego teaches that Heaven is here and now because the future is hell. Even when it attacks so savagely that it tries to take the life of someone who hears it temporarily as the only voice, it speaks of hell even to him. For it tells him hell is here and bids him leap from hell into oblivion. The only time the ego allows anyone to look upon with some amount of equanimity is the past. And even there its only value is that it is no more.

7 How bleak and despairing is the ego's use of time! And how terrifying! For underneath its fanatical insistence that the past and future be the same is hidden a far more insidious threat to peace. The ego does not advertise its final threat, for it would have its worshipers still believe that it can offer the escape from it. But the belief in guilt must lead to the belief in hell, and always does . The only way in which the ego allows the fear of hell to be experienced is to bring hell here, but always as a foretaste of the future. For no one who considers himself as deserving hell can believe that punishment will end in peace.

8 The Holy Spirit teaches thus: There is no hell. Hell is only what the ego has made of the present. The belief in hell is what prevents you from understanding the present, because you are afraid of it. The Holy Spirit leads as steadily to Heaven as the ego drives to hell. For the Holy Spirit, Who knows only the present, uses it to undo the fear by which the ego would make the present useless. There is no escape from fear in the ego's use of time. For time, according to its teaching, is nothing but a teaching device for compounding guilt until it becomes all-encompassing and demands vengeance forever.

9 The Holy Spirit would undo all of this now . Fear is not of the present but only of the past and future, which do not exist. There is no fear in the present when each instant stands clear and separated from the past, without its shadow reaching out into the future. 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 .

10 This lesson takes no time. For what is time without a past and future? It has taken time to misguide you so completely, but it takes no time at all to be what you are. Begin to practice the Holy Spirit's use of time as a teaching aid to happiness and peace. Take this very instant, now , and think of it as all there is of time. Nothing can reach you here out of the past, and it is here that you are completely absolved, completely free, and wholly without condemnation. From this holy instant wherein holiness was born again, you will go forth in time without fear and with no sense of change with time.

11 Time is inconceivable without change, yet holiness does not change. Learn from this instant more than merely hell does not exist. In this redeeming instant lies Heaven. And Heaven will not change, for the birth into the holy present is salvation from change. Change is an illusion, taught by those who could not see themselves as guiltless. There is no change in Heaven because there is no change in God. In the holy instant in which you see yourself as bright with freedom, you will remember God. For remembering Him is to remember freedom.

12 Whenever you are tempted to be dispirited by the thought of how long it would take to change your mind so completely, ask yourself, "How long is an instant?" Could you not give so short a time to the Holy Spirit for your salvation? He asks no more, for He has no need of more. It takes far longer to teach you how to be willing to give Him this than for Him to use this tiny instant to offer you the whole of Heaven. In exchange for this instant, He stands ready to give you the remembrance of eternity.

13 You will never give this holy instant to the Holy Spirit on behalf of your release while you are unwilling to give it to your brothers on behalf of theirs. For the instant of holiness is shared, and cannot be yours alone. Remember, then, when you are tempted to attack a brother, that his instant of release is yours . Miracles are the instants of release you offer and will receive . They attest to your willingness to be released and to offer time to the Holy Spirit for His use of it. How long is an instant? It is as short for your brother as it is for you. Practice giving this blessed instant of freedom to all who are enslaved by time and thus make time their friend for them. The Holy Spirit gives their blessed instant to you through your giving it. As you give it, He offers it to you .

14 Be not unwilling to give what you would receive of Him, for you join with Him in giving. In the crystal cleanness of the release you give is your instantaneous escape from guilt. You must be holy if you offer holiness. How long is an instant? As long as it takes to reestablish perfect sanity, perfect peace, and perfect love for everyone, for God, and for yourself . As long as it takes to remember immortality and your immortal creations who share it with you. As long as it takes to exchange hell for Heaven. Long enough to transcend all of the ego's making and ascend unto your Father.

15 Time is your friend if you leave it to the Holy Spirit to use. He needs but very little to restore God's whole power to you. He Who transcends time for you understands what time is for . Holiness lies not in time but in eternity. There never was an instant in which God's Son could lose his purity. His changeless state is beyond time, for his purity remains forever beyond attack and without variability. Time stands still in his holiness and changes not. And so it is no longer time at all. For, caught in the single instant of the eternal sanctity of God's creation, it is transformed into forever. Give the eternal instant that eternity may be remembered for you in that shining instant of perfect release. Offer the miracle of the holy instant through the Holy Spirit and leave His giving it to you to Him.

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 164
Now we are one with Him Who is our Source.

1 What time but now can truth be recognized? The present is the only time there is. And so today, this instant, now, we come to look upon what is forever there—not in our sight, but in the eyes of Christ. He looks past time and sees eternity as represented there. He hears the sounds the senseless busy world engenders, yet He hears them faintly, for beyond them all He hears the song of Heaven and the Voice of God more clear, more meaningful, more near.

2 The world fades easily away before His sight. Its sounds grow dim. A melody from far beyond the world increasingly is more and more distinct—an ancient call to which He gives an ancient answer. You will recognize them both. For they are but your answer to your Father's call to you. Christ answers for you, echoing your Self, using your voice to give His glad consent, accepting your deliverance for you.

3 How holy is your practicing today, as Christ gives you His sight and hears for you and answers in your name the call He hears. How quiet is the time you give to spend with Him beyond the world. How easily are all your seeming sins forgot and all your sorrows unremembered. On this day is grief laid by, for sights and sounds which come from nearer than the world are made clear to you who will today accept the gifts He gives.

4 There is a silence into which the world can not intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you the thought of sin has never touched. All this today you will remember. Faithfulness in practicing today will bring rewards so great and so completely different from all things you sought before that you will know that here your treasure is and here your rest.

5 This is the day when vain imaginings part like a curtain to reveal what lies beyond them. Now is what is really there made visible, while all the shadows which appeared to hide it sink to obscurity. Now is the balance righted and the scales of judgment left to Him Who judges true. And in His judgment will a world unfold in perfect innocence before your eyes. Now will you see it with the eyes of Christ. Now is its transformation clear to you.

6 Brothers, this day is sacred to the world. Your vision, given you from far beyond all things within the world, looks back on them in a new light. And what you see becomes the healing and salvation of the world. The valuable and valueless are both perceived and recognized for what they are. And what is worthy of your love receives your love, while nothing to be feared remains.

7 We will not judge today. We will receive but what is given us from judgment made beyond the world. Our practicing today becomes our gift of thankfulness for our release from blindness and from misery. All that we see will but increase our joy because its holiness reflects our own. We stand forgiven in the sight of Christ, with all the world forgiven in our own.

8 We bless the world as we behold it in the light in which our Savior looks on us and offer it the freedom given us through His forgiving vision, now our own. Open the curtain in your practicing by merely letting go all things you think you want. Your trifling treasures put away and leave a clean and open space within your mind where Christ can come and offer you the treasure of salvation. He has need of your most holy mind to save the world.

9 Is not this purpose worthy to be yours? Is not Christ's vision worthy to be sought above the world's unsatisfying goals? Let not today slip by without the gifts it holds for you receiving your consent and your acceptance. We can change the world if you acknowledge them. You may not see the value your acceptance gives the world. But this you surely want—you can exchange all suffering for joy this very day. Practice in earnest, and the gift is yours. Would God deceive you? Can His promise fail? Can you withhold so little when His Hand holds out complete salvation to His Son?

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 164
Now we are one with Him Who.

Today, our task is to remember what is already given and accept that we can't change ourselves as we were created. This is the nature of the Atonement Principle---a guarantee by God that we are as we have always been and as we were created. We acknowledge this by contemplating the Lesson of the day, entering into the stillness where truth abides. Get in touch with this deep well of peace: ". . . an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost." (W.164.4.2) It is in us right now. This peace has never been disturbed by the events and circumstances of our lives. It has not been affected by our decision to turn away from the truth and choose the ego as our identity. It looks out constantly from deep within us without any judgment and has been with us consistently throughout our lifetime.
The place where truth abides does not need to be earned or even sought. It has always been there. We get in touch with it by releasing the thoughts in our minds that keep this place blocked by our focus on the sights and sounds of this world. We are using time now for the purpose of healing our minds, rather than wasting time in pursuit of the trifles of this world. It is not that our pursuits in the world are wrong, by any means, nor something we should feel guilty about if they still attract us. We are not asked to sacrifice what still holds value for us. Increasingly, as we see that the things of this world do not bring us happiness nor the deep peace we crave, these worldly pursuits will drop away naturally.
We increasingly recognize that peace and happiness do not come from what we pursue in the world, but from within ourselves. The important thing is not what we are doing in the world, but where the mind is with which we do it. Thus, the world becomes a classroom for the undoing of the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear. This is a process. Jesus assures us that we will not be hurled into Heaven with our decision to awaken from this dream, but we will only go as quickly as our fear will allow. Our journey is a process of undoing the fearful thoughts that dominate our minds and keep us attached to this illusion.
Jesus introduces the Lesson by asking, "What time but now can truth be recognized?" (W.164.1.1) He then repeats the word "now" five more times in this Lesson, as well as speaking about "the present." He is not talking about mindfulness, where we focus on our senses and experience the moment through our senses, which some traditions teach. On the contrary, he is saying that the sights and sounds of this world show us the "senseless, busy world," (W.164.1.5) which is all past. We are being taught to change the way we see the world by looking on it through Christ's eyes. In other words, we are asked to see with vision. And what do the eyes of Christ show us? "He looks past time, and sees eternity as represented there." (W.164.1.4)
This is when our seeing is no longer blocked by the importance we give to the forms of this world. It is an experience of the holy instant, talked about in great detail in Chapter 15. This neither involves our eyes nor our ears, nor any of our senses, which were made by the ego to block our awareness of eternity. Our senses were made to prove to us that the world is real. When we join with the Mind of Christ, the world fades away, and "Its sounds grow dim." (W.164.2.2) There is an increasing recognition that this world is not our home. The purpose of the world is now only for forgiveness. Everything in the world, our relationships, and the circumstances of our lives can now serve this purpose.
We are now being guided in all things by the Holy Spirit, whose loving perspective helps us to know intuitively what to say and what to do. "How easily are all your seeming sins forgot, and all your sorrows unremembered." (W.164.3.3) The past is over, and we no longer have any memory of our sorrows, nor our grief. This happens when we invite a new interpretation to show us who our brothers are in truth. It is not that we won’t have any judgments, but that we are willing to bring all our judgments and grievances to Him for His interpretation. Now our grievances of the past are released and unremembered. It does not mean that we have no memory of events in our lives, but we no longer remember the pain of those events. With each miracle, our perception shifts, and we return to the world with renewed vision. At the end of this process in which we are engaged, we come to the final holy instant when we remember what we are. When we do, we no longer identify ourselves as the character in the dream. This is when we come to understand our "seeming sins" (W.164.3.3) are simply a result of our choice for the ego. A new choice is always presented to us in each situation that we encounter in the world. With each circumstance in our lives, we have a choice for Heaven or for hell. Which will we choose?
In the Song of Prayer, we are told that the song is the gift. "You have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else has indeed been given you." (Song of Prayer.1.I.3.6) How much do we want this? How much devotion do we give to this goal? We won't be sure it is the only thing we want until we experience the ecstasy of it, which will end our doubt that the things of this world can ever satisfy this longing for God. It is a longing for ". . . an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost." (W.164.4.2) It is the longing to know our holiness and our perfect innocence. Any pain that we experience in our lives is an indication that we have chosen the wrong mind, but it is just another opportunity to choose again.
Jesus is clear in letting us know that our desire for God is always burning in us and is a powerful magnetic pull that actually takes a great deal of our energy to resist. Sometimes, we may feel we don't have sufficient devotion, or we compare ourselves with others, who seem to have a stronger desire for truth. This may bring up guilt in us and a judgment that we place on ourselves that we are not sufficiently committed to the goal of awakening from this dream. Yet, in spite of our own self-assessment, Jesus tells us that the truth is, the desire for God is so strong in all of us and the pull so overpowering that we fear its attraction. Our fear is similar to the fear of being possessed, where our individuality and uniqueness that we value will be dissolved. We fear making a total commitment to awakening, and so we protect and defend what we have made. Are you able to get in touch with this fear?
Jesus says ". . . you would save yourself from His Love because you think it would crush you into nothingness." (T.13.III.4.1) (ACIM OE T.12.III.14) The ego represses our impulses for God with substitutes like food, sex, special relationships, money, power, and fame, all of which we seek, thinking it is what we really want. Yet the real desire is not for these things, but for God. These are all distortions and poor substitutes of what we truly want. Every time we go for some pleasure in the world, we are actually seeking for the happiness and peace of God.
In the Song of Prayer, Jesus says, "Prayer is a stepping aside; a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving." (S.1.I.5.1) It is what this Lesson is getting at. It is about being in a state of prayerful gratitude and love, listening to His Voice, and maintaining our determination to experience this place in us that sin has never touched. "Faithfulness in practicing today will bring rewards so great and so completely different from all things you sought before, that you will know that here your treasure is, and here your rest." (W.164.4.5) Only then will we know where our treasure is. Now our priorities are set right. We can clearly distinguish the valuable from the valueless and recognize what is worthy. "And what is worthy of your love receives your love, while nothing to be feared remains." (W.164.6.5) The things we thought we loved in the world, put a value on, and deemed to be our "treasures," (W.164.8.2) now lose their significance in our lives. Our goal becomes singular---seeking only that which is eternal.
Now our goal is about faithfulness in practicing. How are you doing with this, so far? It is so easy to let the events of our lives distract us from focusing on the Lessons and applying them throughout the day. When we recognize that we do these Lessons on behalf of our own peace and happiness, our motivation increases. We can truly be thankful that we have been shown another way, which is the only road out of the cycle of guilt and fear. We can be grateful that we have been wrong about everything and that we have a Teacher within, showing us the way out of our misery and suffering.
"Our practicing today becomes our gift of thankfulness for our release from blindness and from misery. " (W.164.7.3) Jesus urges us, "Practice in earnest, and the gift is yours." (W.164.9.5) "How holy is your practicing today, as Christ give you His sight and hears for you, and answers in your name the Call He hears!" (W.164.3.1) He brings us immeasurable gifts. They are being held until our consent and acceptance is given to receive them. (W.164.9.1) We will receive them when we are ready. They will not be imposed on us. They will be there when we are ready to acknowledge them. Our readiness comes when we understand that our way has only brought pain and suffering. We become motivated to do this practice when we see how our suffering can turn to joy with His help.
The world has a way of impinging on our determination with the demands of the day, the requirements of our lives, and all the things that seem to need our attention, which can draw us away from this time with God. This is not to induce more guilt, but only to help us to recognize our level of investment in the world and thus our resistance. We can practice the Lesson in every moment throughout the day when there is any temptation to see the "gifts" offered by this world as more valuable to us than the peace and happiness promised us with our choice for God.
Only with our investment in the application of these teachings will the gifts of God be ours, which is a promise God has made to us. (W.164.9.7) Through the application of these Lessons and doing the practices laid out for us daily, we will gradually come to have faith in His promises. In Lesson 327, we are told, "I am not asked to take salvation on the basis of an unsupported faith. For God has promised He will hear my call, and answer me Himself. Let me but learn from my experience that this is true, and faith in Him must surely come to me. This is the faith that will endure, and take me farther and still farther on the road that leads to Him. For thus I will be sure that He has not abandoned me and loves me still, awaiting but my call to give me all the help I need to come to Him. Father, I thank You that Your promises will never fail in my experience, if I but test them out. " (W.327.1.1-5,2.1)
Admitting that we are wrong and being willing to ask to see everything differently is key to this Lesson. More and more, as we maintain the willingness to be taught, we will give up our way and ask to be shown how to see every situation through His eyes. The Answer is in our right minds, waiting for our acceptance. Jesus pleads with us not to let this day go by without receiving the gifts held out to us. Our consent and our acceptance are required. What he needs from us is our willingness to give up the valueless, which are our personal goals, our fantasies, our pleasures, our specialness, our expectations, our self-concepts, and all things of the ego that don't serve us. Of course, we think that they do serve us, and so we don't consistently recognize their lack of value. Jesus is showing us that they ultimately bring us nothing but suffering. He assures us that the world's goals can never satisfy us. (W.164.8.5) All we need to do is recognize this and let him help us learn where our happiness really lies. "Would God deceive you?" (W.164.9.6) "How quiet is the time you give to spend with Him, beyond the world." (W.164.3.2)
With every situation today, we ask to see it through His eyes so He can give us a new interpretation--- everything is love or a call for love. Keep Him in your awareness throughout the day, as much as possible. Let Christ give you His sight instead of relying on your own interpretations; they will always be wrong when seen through the eyes of the ego. Rest in God today, which is possible even in the midst of a busy day. The rest is not in how things go in the world, but where our minds are. The memory of God is in the right mind. Make it a day of blessing and of gratitude by setting your intention for the day as the first thing in the morning. When you get off track, remember that you must have decided wrongly, but you can choose again. Ask for direction in everything you do throughout the day so you can be guided by Him, Who chooses to support your highest and best interests.
"Our practicing today becomes our gift of thankfulness for our release from blindness and from misery." (W.164.7.3) If we truly want to be happy, the only answer is to release the ego, which is about undoing how we see things now. Then the only prayer is the prayer for the help of the Holy Spirit in everything you do today.

Love and blessings, Sarah


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