The Illusion of Time

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service 2016

This fine morning I want to talk to you about time.  This sermon is a little more advanced than I usually present.  It is not something you are going to understand using your rational brain.  So please feel free to just let my words surround you, and awaken within you whatever is evoked by them and resonates.

At the Church of the Harvest, we try to focus on what makes you more aware of yourself as spirit.  Thus I have entitled my sermon the “illusion of time.”  Time, like everything else in the physical world is ultimately an illusion.  Time is an aspect of what in Indian culture is called the “maya.” Maya is a Sanskrit word.  In early Vedic writings “maya” referred to extraordinary power and wisdom, but as the concept developed over centuries “maya” came to be seen as the world always changing; and changing such that it becomes nearly impossible to see things as they really are.  In other words, “maya” implies the infinite reality of spirit that cannot be fully understood by human beings in terms of being contained by the human brain as it is presently constituted.

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Time is an illusion.  For you as spirit there is no time.  When your body passes away, you will leave the space-time continuum that exists on Planet Earth and return to the eternal heart of our Creator.  And when you come back to this Planet, assuming you will, you will again submerge into the time-space continuum that is necessary for the enormous power and wisdom that is you, to slow down enough to function in physical matter.

Time-space continuum.  That’s one of those phrases that people freely use, know there is some kind of truth to it, but don’t really know what it is.  You hear New Agers sometimes talk about the time-space continuum.  Or maybe you’ve heard about the concept from science fiction shows like Star Trek.  Some of the best descriptions of the time-space continuum come from the physical sciences.

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The time-space continuum burst into human consciousness primarily through the work of Albert Einstein, a man who was able to bring spiritual truths through scientific inquiry using mathematics, which he called the language of God.  Einstein taught us that time and space is actually the same thing, they exist on a continuum.  He challenged our views of time as static.  He talked about how an object in motion actually experiences time at a slower rate than an object at rest.

This is the kind of concept that the rational human brain has a hard time wrapping itself around.   Isn’t time always the same?  Well no, actually it’s not.  It changes.

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I was given the opportunity to learn about the non-static nature of time, the illusion of time, during the automobile accident in 1998 about which several of you have heard me talk.  I was horribly “late” for an event for which I thought I absolutely could not be late.  I was driving much too fast on a gravelly backcountry road, when I lost control at a sharp turn of the road and flipped the car.

These days nearly 20 years later, I rarely think about the miracle that I survived.  Or the fact that I was taken to the emergency room where the medical staff seemed to think there was something fishy about what the ambulance personnel were reporting after rescuing me from a ditch by the side of the road.  I not only had no broken bones, I didn’t have any lacerations or even any significant bruising.  They could not find anything wrong with me.

These days, what I often think about is the gift I was given that day I learned that time is an illusion.  I was thrown out the car window nearly fifteen feet away–so they tell me.  The car was totaled.  But what I experienced in a very visceral and real way was that time literally froze.  I can recall hovering above my body and spending what seemed to be many, many minutes “minutely” fine-tuning every muscle and curvature of my body so that it would land in EXACTLY the right way.   Apparently as spirit, I had decided it was not time to leave the body permanently or even damage it in order to learn what I set out to learn.  Instead, I raised my vibration level to such a rapid degree that time was unrecognizable so that I could position my body in the manner that would sustain minimal damage.

Time is an illusion. . .but it is a very powerful one, as I also learned that day.  I never allowed myself to drive at an excessive speed again, no matter how important a meeting was for which I was late.  Because time is an illusion only for spirit.  For the body, it is where we live. In the physical, there is only the present moment. And it is very important for the body that we live in present time.  As the science fiction author Ray Cummings has said, “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”  Can you imagine what it would be like if every thought you ever had, every emotion you’ve ever felt, every experience you have gone through all happened at the same time?  If you as spirit are not working within the body’s need for time (and space), all hell can break loose.

All lifeforms require that we work correctly with time.  When an animal is hungry, it needs to find food then, not some indeterminate time in the future.  If it does not, its very life is threatened.  When a plant needs water, it cannot be provided whenever.  The plant will wither and die if it does not receive water at the time when it needs it.  The reason I decided to talk about time today at our Summer Solstice service is because currently on our planet, all hell is breaking loose in large part because there are too many people not paying attention, or the right kind of attention to time.

We need to understand both the illusion of time and the fact that it is a powerful one which we have to take into account if we are going to manifest our essential nature as spirit here on Planet Earth.  We are here to learn about creating as spirit through matter, and there are several challenges that each of us need to meet for that learning to have an optimal outcome.

These days more and more people understand some of the basics about the space aspect of the time-space continuum.  In the United States we’ve been talking about codependency for several years now, which is just another way of people learning to work through their own space and not trying to work through others in the name of “fixing” them somehow.  We’ve been talking more and more about the importance of and what it really means to “consent” to sexual encounters.  And we increasingly dialogue about diversity, meaning that individuals can have a variety of different experiences that we need to respect with their free will within the context of a complex social fabric.

Most recently the entire world has been hot on the trail of trying to understand and diminish violence, whether perpetrated by gun-wielding haters, war mongers, bullies, human traffickers, exploiters of vulnerable others, or even the equipment that we use to protect (or not) the heads of football players.  We’ve been learning about economic, racial, sexual and other forms of inequality and privilege, and having national debates about how best and how much to help people that don’t have enough, without forcing them to live our chosen lifestyles.

These issues are all manifestations of trying to make sense of the dichotomy that as spirit, we are all one; but as a physical presence, we each have a body for which we are independently responsible.  These are not new issues.  Humans have tried to make sense of this paradox from the beginning of our time, but many people are on the verge of balancing these key dichotomies; and the space aspect of our physical existence that makes them so difficult to comprehend.

In my opinion, there has been less progress on the time aspect of the time-space continuum.  There is some interest in concepts like mindfulness, which is at its essence just a way to help people learn to live in the present moment.  But too many people have the vast majority of their energy tied up with the past, or the future; and are not very present in their actual physical body.  time-travel

When you are out of sync with yourself individually, that is to say when spirit is not creating in conjunction with the body’s need for time, at the very least you probably “waste” a lot of time; and at the worst you create pain and loss.  And YES, everything has a purpose, and YES, even the times of losing your way can help you learn. . .but do you really want to learn using pain and not joy as the vehicle for change?    53e6ead70d9c487e90883d8f579bd66f

When individuals are not in sync timewise—or as we say around here, having a body/spirit split—all kinds of disharmony is possible.  You can just waste resources, such as when people hoard a lot of material goods they don’t need  because they are living in past lives when they did not have enough; or trying to prepare for a future they can sense but can’t really see, where their fear says there will probably be less.  Some of the problem with hoarding includes the fact that people tend to be owned by too much stuff rather than owning it; and in the end excessive amounts of stuff usually deteriorates anyway if it is not being used.

Even if you don’t collect things when you are unaware of time, other disharmony is possible.  People can waste opportunities, opportunities that do not easily come again.  Some of the greatest regrets that are verbalized by those who are dying, are that they did not spend their time wisely, did not spend more time with their children or their family, did not travel, make music or art, or pursue some other dream.

In Erik Erikson’s final stage of human development, older individuals either integrate their life. . .or leave it feeling disgust with themselves and despair.  To put this in spiritual language, I can tell you that there is probably nothing more dehabilitating than getting to the endpoint with your body and realizing you have failed to learn what you came here this life to learn, failed to walk your path. . .and need to do it all again at another time.

Rest assured, I really have no fears about that level of disharmony with anyone present today.  You would not be here hearing my words unless you are closer to integrating body and spirit.  But I do have some concerns about our understanding of time as a society and as a world.  When many individuals are out of sync timewise—all kinds of disharmony are possible within our collective society. There are far too many people in key leadership positions, politically, economically, religiously, and throughout almost all of our other institutions that are living in the past or living in the future; and have no real ability to help with the problems of the present. confederate-flag-rally

In regards to the past for example, we have hundreds of people who still think they are fighting the civil war; thousands of Westerners who don’t even believe in past lives acting like they did when they were a part of the Roman Empire with all the world to subjugate; millions of people in other parts of the globe who are willing to wage war in a futile attempt to return their lifestyle to pre-industrial revolution days, etc.

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And don’t get my started about people living in the future.  We can acknowledge the intense fear of preppers who are putting all their energy into a false notion that they alone will be able to meet our collective challenges by hiding away; along with the millions of Americans who believe that God will rapture them away from our sins against the planet.  It is hard to deny that those who are putting their energy into living in a future that will likely be very different from the one they expect are wasting their time.  As we used to say in the sixties, they are part of the problem, not the solution. When you stick your head, i.e. your consciousness in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, you are not helping the very real challenges we face together as a species.  Because the sad truth, my friends, is that the endpoint for human animals on Earth, as well as for many other animals is far too near.

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Politicans Discussing Global Warming. Sculpture by Issac Cordal, Berlin

So what needs to be said to those of us who mostly understand space; and are beginning to understand time from a spiritual perspective?  Time is an illusion, but a powerful one.  Address it head on.  To the extent that you want to continue to operate as spirit on this gorgeous planet called Earth, please honor NOW the Mother Earth as our body-at-large, by increasing your awareness about time.  Be aware of the fact that collectively we are running out of Time. time-busyness

Please do not run my words through the programming so rampant in Western culture that you need to do more.  What I am saying is. . .in your individual life, do Time more wisely. For you, that might mean that you do less. Be in charge of the portion of Time you can control in your own space.  Use the techniques that you know to put spirit in charge of your own life more completely.  Ground for safety sake.  Center to bring you peace of mind and the ability to confront our challenges without getting lost to anger, grief, and/or despair.  Run your energy to clear sources of confusion and disharmony from your space.

Talk to the divine within.  Ask what you are spending your time on that you don’t need to be doing or thinking.  Ask what you are not spending your time doing or thinking that needs to be more of a focus.  Be still enough to listen for the answers.  And know that whatever changes you make as a result of these internal conversations will have a ripple effect, in some cases a major ripple effect, on all the people around you who are not similarly paying attention.

Some of these changes in how you spend your time will be big ones and some small.  Some will involve other people and some will not.  Join the human family with greater awareness, as we all learn more completely to be spirit in human form on Mother Earth.

Copyright 2016 by the Rev. Resa Eileen Raven