In the Spring of 2006 the publishers of the Oxford English
Dictionary presented a list of the most commonly used words in the English
language and the Number 1 noun was TIME. It seems that our day to day lives are
so dominated by time that we use the word TIME more than any other word. Walk
around your home and you will probably find the time all over the place; on
watches and clocks, on televisions and video/DVD players, on cookers and washing
machines, on mobile phones and computers. And we measure the time it takes to do
things in ever decreasing amounts. When the 4 minute mile was broken in 1954 the
time taken was measured to a tenth of a second as 3 minutes 59.4 seconds but
equivalent Olympic events are now measured to a hundredth of a second. Yet with
all our effort to measure time accurately we sometimes never seem to have enough
time to do all the things we feel we have to do. And yet at other times we have
‘time on our hands. What dominates our practical day to day living is time. So
much of what we do is determined by the time of the day or the length of time we
have available for a particular task. We measure the time very carefully and we
complain if buses or trains do not follow their timetables. When asked to do
something we might say: “I haven’t got time for that”.
It is perhaps not so surprising then to find that TIME is the
most used noun in the English language.
But are all our experiences of life dominated by time or are
there times! when we experience a sense of ‘timelessness’ in this life.
Reflect on the occasions when you have been bored with
nothing to do or undertaking a task in which you have no real interest or just
watching the clock waiting for the time to go – doesn’t time drag! Or think
about the week before a special holiday. The days seem to go slowly by as you
wait for your holiday to start but once you begin your holiday the days seem to
rush by! Or think about those occasions when you are engrossed in doing
something you love or are simply being with someone you love. Our sense then is
that time doesn’t matter. You see, our sense of time depends on how we feel or
the state we are in. Be in a happy and contented state and without you realising
it, time has rushed by. But be in a sad and disgruntled state and time drags by
We can begin to see from this that our deeper inner spiritual
life does not experience time but instead experiences changes in state or being.
Now we don’t use the word STATE anything like as much as TIME but we do
sometimes say of people – “what a state you have got yourself in” and doctors
might treat someone in “a depressed state”.
Just read the following two sentences.
Yesterday I was so wrapped up in my own problems that
I couldn’t be bothered with anyone else but today I have been helping a
neighbour with their gardening.
I was in a state of being so wrapped up in my own
problems that I couldn’t be bothered with anyone else but my state has changed
and I have been helping a neighbour with their gardening.
Whilst we may talk about how we felt yesterday and the fact
that today we feel differently the time involved is very unimportant. What is
important is that we have changed from one state to another - from a state of
not caring for others to a state of wanting to help others. It might appear that
we have changed because of the passage of time but this is just an appearance.
In reality it is our deeper inner spiritual state that has changed.
But because of our worldly obsession with time we rarely take
time to think more deeply about how our inner states change. And yet there will
come a time when we pass from this world fully into the spiritual world and then
our whole environment will be determined by the ‘state we are in’ and not by
In this very physical world we inhabit we have become
dominated by TIME and the need to do certain things on time or at the right time
or before time. And yet spiritually we need to become more and more concerned
about our STATE and how we can change it. Are we in a self-centred and
introverted state or are we in a selfless and outward going state looking to
meet the needs of others rather than ourselves. Of course our states will move
almost imperceptibly from one to another – we may go forward spiritually only to
take a step back. But what matters most is the general direction we are going in
on the pathway of life – it ought to be in the direction from a self-centred
state to a selfless state.
Jesus made very clear that this pathway is his pathway and it is a pathway of
love for others.
“I am the way, and the truth and the life”
“This is my commandment, that you love one another
as I have loved you" John 15:12
wrote in Divine Love and Wisdom 73:
Angels do not know what time is,
and they think of state when time is mentioned. Further, when it is state that
determines time, time is only an appearance. A pleasant state makes time seem
brief, and an unpleasant one makes it seem long. We can therefore see that time
in the spiritual world is simply an attribute of state.
Next time you look at your watch to check the time think
instead about the spiritual state you are in and whether you are making the
right progress on the spiritual pathway towards a selfless way of living.
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