Yet neither oblivion
nor hell is as unacceptable to you as Heaven. For
your definition of Heaven is hell and oblivion, and
the real Heaven is the greatest threat you think you
could experience. For hell and oblivion are ideas which
you made up, and you are bent on demonstrating their
reality to establish yours. If
their reality is questioned, you believe that yours
is. For you believe that attack is your reality, and
that your destruction is the final proof that you were
the circumstances, would it not be more desirable to
have been wrong, even apart from the fact that you were
it could perhaps be argued that death suggests there
was life, no one would claim that it proves there is
life. Even the past life which death might indicate
could only have been futile if it must come to this,
and needs this to prove that it was. You question Heaven,
but you do not question this. You could heal and be
healed if you did question it. And even though you know
not Heaven, might it not be more desirable than death?
have been as selective in your questioning as in your
perception. An open mind is more honest than this.
Notion of Time
The ego has a very strange notion of time, and it is
with this notion that your questioning might well begin.
The ego invests heavily in the past, and in the end
believes that the past is the only aspect of time that
is meaningful. You
will remember that we said its emphasis on guilt enables
it to ensure its continuity by making the future like
the past, and thus avoiding the present. By the notion
of paying for the past in the future the past becomes
the determiner of the future, making them continuous
without an intervening present. For
the ego uses the present ony as a brief transition to
the future, in which it brings the past to the future
by interpreting the present in past terms.
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, and although
the past is no more, the ego tries to preserve its image
by responding as if it were present. Thus it dictates
reactions to those you meet now from a past reference
point, obscuring their present reality.
effect, if you follow the ego’s dictates, you
will react to your brothers as though they were someone
else, and this will surely prevent you from perceiving
them as they are. And you will receive messages from
them out of your own past because, by making it real
in the present, you are forbidding yourself to let it
go. You thus deny yourself the message of release that
every brother offers you now.
shadowy figures from the past are precisely what you
must escape. For they are not real, and have no hold
over you unless you bring them with you. They
carry the spots of pain in your minds, directing you
to attack in the present in retaliation for a past that
is no more. And this decision is one of future pain.
you learn that past pain is delusional, you are choosing
a future of illusions and losing the endless opportunities
which you could find for release in the present. The
ego would preserve your nightmares, and prevent you
from awakening and understanding that they are past.
Would you recognize a holy encounter if you are merely
perceiving it as a meeting with your own past? For
you are meeting no one, and the sharing of salvation,
which makes the encounter holy, is excluded from your
Holy Spirit teaches that you always meet yourself, and
the encounter is holy because you are. The
ego teaches that you always encounter your past, and
because your dreams were not holy the future cannot
be, and the present is without meaning.It
is evident that th e Holy Spirit’s perception
of time is the exact opposite of the ego’s. The
reason is equally clear, for they perceive the goal
of time as diametrically opposed.
Holy Spirit interprets time’s purpose as rendering
the need for it unnecessary. Thus does He regard the
function of time as temporary, serving only His teaching
function, which is temporary by definition. His
emphasis is therefore on the only aspect of time which
can extend to the infinite, for NOW is the closest approximation
of eternity which this world offers. It is in the reality
of now, without past or future, that the beginning of
the appreciation of eternity lies. For only now is here,
and it presents the opportunities for the holy encounters
in which salvation can be found.
The ego, on the other hand, regards the function of
time as one of extending itself in place of eternity.
For like the Holy Spirit, the ego interprets the goal
of time as its own. The continuity of past and future,
under its direction, is the only purpose the ego perceives
in time, and it closes over the present so that no gap
in its own continuity can occur. Its continuity, then,
would keep you in time, while the Holy Spirit would
release you from it. It is His interpretation of the
means of salvation which you must learn to accept, if
you would share His goal of salvation for you.
too, will interpret the function of time as you interpret
yours. If you accept your function in the world of time
as healing, you will emphasize only the aspect of time
in which healing can occur. For healing cannot be accomplished
in the past, and must be accomplished in the present
to release the future. This interpretation ties the
future to the present, and extends the present rather
than the past. But if you interpret your function as
destruction, you will lose sight of the present and
hold on to the past to ensure a destructive future.
And time will be as you interpret it, for of itself
it is nothing.