IT is commonly thought by people of the earth-plane that in the spirit world time and space do not exist. That is wrong. We have both, but our conception of them differs from that of the earth world.
We sometimes use the phrase, 'before the dawn of time', to convey an idea of the passage of eons of time, but we have no notion of what is really embodied in that phrase.
On the earth-plane the measurement of time had its source in the revolution of the earth upon its axis, giving a division of time known to us as night and day. The recurrence of the four seasons gave that larger measure, during which the earth revolved round the sun. The invention of clocks and calendars brought a convenient means of measuring time within the reach of all of us.
In the spirit world we have no clocks or other mechanical contrivances to indicate the passage of time. It would be the simplest thing in the world for our scientists to provide us with such if we felt the need for them. But we have no such need. We have no recurrent seasons, no alternations of light and darkness as external indications of time, and, in addition, we have no personal reminders, common to all the incarnate, of hunger and thirst and fatigue, together with the ageing of the physical body. How, then, can we have any possible heed of the flight of time? How, in fact, does time exist at all?
We have two conceptions of time, one of which, as upon the earth-plane, is purely relative. Five minutes, let us say, of acute pain suffered by the physical body will so affect the mind that the passing moments will seem an age. But five minutes of intense joy and happiness will seem to have flown with the rapidity a same number of seconds.
Those of us in the spirit world who live in the realms of happiness and perpetual summer will have no cause to find 'time heavily'. In this sense we are simply not conscious of the flight of time.
In the dark realms the reverse is the case. The period of darkness will seem interminable to those who live there. However such souls may yearn for a coming of the light, yet it never comes to them. They themselves must perforce take the first step the light that awaits them without their low realm. A period of existence within these dark regions, amounting to nothing more than a year or two of earthly time, will seem like an eternity the sufferers.
If, normally, we have none of the customary means of measuring time because we have no need to do so, we can--and we do return to make contact with the earth-plane, where we ascertain the exact time of day, the day of the year, and the year itself.
Some people, who would not otherwise have done so, returned to the earth world for the very purpose of satisfying their curiosity as to the number of years they have been in spirit world. I have spoken to some who have made this journey and they were all amazed to discover the unsuspected scores of years that had passed by since their transition.
Speaking for myself, I have found the time pass rapidly since I came into spirit, but I have always known, throughout the whole of that period, what was the year of the Christian Era. The reason in my own case was simply that I had been promised that I should one day be able to communicate with the earth world. I had therefore, been keenly interested in watching, in company with the great souls who were closely concerned, the concatenation of events that were to lead, among other things, to the achiever of my wish.
Edwin, who met me upon the threshold of the spirit world conducted me to my new home, was similarly acquainted with passage of time, for he, in turn, had been watching me!
It may be thought that time, in the sense of being a measured succession of existence, has little or no influence beyond the earth plane. But it most certainly does have an influence upon the spirit plane.
All earthly events, whether concerning nations or individuals are subject to, or governed by, time. And in so far as those events have their application to, or extension into, the spirit world, so do we in the spirit world come under the influence of time, or its operation. We might take the festival of Christmas as the simplest and readiest example. We celebrate this festival in the spirit world at the same time as do you. Whether December 25th is the correct date, historically, for the event which it commemorates, is a question we are not concerned with for our present purposes. What matters is that the two celebrations, yours and ours, are synchronized and recurrent year by year. We are not subservient to the earth world in this; our purpose is solely one of co-operation.
In normal times upon the earth-plane at that period of the year, there rises throughout the earth world a great force of goodwill and kindliness. Many people, who at other seasons are inclined to be forgetful, will frequently remember those of their family and friends who have passed into spirit lands, and they will send them thoughts of affection which we in spirit are always so happy to receive and to reciprocate. The celebration of Christmas is always preceded by thoughts of pleasant anticipation. If there were nothing else to guide us, these alone would be sufficient to tell us that the time of the feast was drawing near. In the spirit world, at that time, it is common enough to hear one person say to another: Christmas on the earth-plane is drawing near. But the person so addressed might have been completely unaware of the fact.
In the particular example of Christmas we are not dependent entirely upon the earth-plane for our knowledge of the approaching anniversary. On this special occasion we are always visited by great souls from the higher realms, and were all other means to fail us, this would be an infallible indication of the passing of another year in earthly time.
Those of us who are in close and constant connection with the earth will know, of course, as well as do you, the year, the month, and the day. We shall know, too, the exact hour of earth time. There is no difficulty about this, nor is there any mystery. When we come into your conditions we can make use of the very means that you yourselves employ--and what could be simpler? As a rule it is not necessary for us to be continually aware of the precise day and hour, or otherwise to keep account of them. When we actively co-operate with you your thoughts to us are sufficient indication that a certain moment has recurred when we meet to work or converse together. Such thoughts are all that we need. It is in the ordinary nature of things in spirit that, generally speaking, we should lose all sense of the continuity of time in measured succession as you know it. We allow things to remain so, unless we have cause to do otherwise. When we look forward to the arrival of relative or friend into the spirit world it is towards the event that we cast our minds not the year in which the event is to take place.
Thus far I have given you a few facts of my own knowledge derived from my own experience, and therefore what I have told you applies to the specific realm wherein I live.
Of the higher realms I have no knowledge at first hand, and the amount of information that I have gleaned from conversations with inhabitants of those realms has been governed and restricted by my ability to understand. All that I can say, therefore, concerning time in the upper spheres is that in such elevated states we come into realms where knowledge, among many other spiritual attributes, is of a very high order. Personages from those realms have more than astonished me with the accuracy of their foreknowledge of events that were to take place upon the earth-plane. Their means of acquiring this information is far beyond the comprehension of us in this realm. It is sufficient for the moment to record that it is so, and that time, therefore, is not confined to realms of a less exalted state of spiritual progression.
When we come to the subject of space we find that, broadly speaking, we are governed up to a point by the same law as upon the earth-plane. We have eternity of time, but we have also infinity of space.
Space must exist in the spirit world. Take my own realm alone, as an example. Standing at the window of one of the upper rooms of my house I can see across huge distances whereon are many houses and grand buildings. In the distance I can see the city with many more great buildings. Dispersed throughout the whole wide prospect are woods and meadows, rivers and streams, gardens and orchards, and they are all occupying space, just as all these occupy space in the earth world. They do not interpenetrate any more than they interpenetrate upon the earth-plane. Each fills its own reserved portion of space. And I know, as I gaze out of my window, that far beyond the range of my vision, and far beyond and beyond that again, there are more realms and still more realms that constitute the designation infinity of space. I know that I can travel uninterruptedly through enormous areas of space, areas far greater than the whole of the earth world trebled in size, or greater. I have not yet traversed anything like one fraction of the full extent of my own realm, but I am free to do so whenever I wish. I have been told by good friends from the higher realms that I could penetrate even those rarefied states if occasion demanded. I should be given the facilities and the protective cloak that are necessary in such cases to make the journey, so that, potentially, my field of movement is gigantic.
Viewed with earthly eyes only, this immense region would obviously be beyond the reach of most people, since movement through such spaces on earth would be restricted by the means of transportation at their command, as well as by other considerations. One thousand miles of earthly space is a great distance, and to cover it takes some considerable time if the slower means of transport are employed. Even with the fastest method a certain time must elapse before the end of the thousand miles journey is reached. But in the spirit world thought alters the whole situation. We have space, and we have a certain cognizance of time in its relation to space. Thought can annihilate time in its relation to space, but it cannot annihilate space.
I can stand before my house and I can bethink myself that I would like to visit the library in the city which I can see some 'miles' away in the distance. No sooner has the thought passed with precision through my mind than I find myself--if I so desire it--standing before the very shelves that I wish to consult. I have made my spirit body--and that is the only body I have I--travel through space with the rapidity of thought, and that is so rapid that it is equivalent to being instantaneous. And what have I done? I have covered the intervening space instantaneously, but the space still remains there with everything it contains, although I had no cognizance of time or the passage of time.
When I have completed my visit to the library I meet some friends upon the steps, and they suggest that we adjourn to the home of one of them. With this pleasant prospect in view we decide to walk through the gardens and woods. The house is some 'distance' away, but that does not matter, because we never suffer from 'physical' fatigue, and we are not otherwise engaged. We walk along together, talking happily, and after a certain lapse of 'time' we arrive at the house of our friend, and we have covered the intervening space on foot. On the journey from my house to the library I overcame the distance in between, and I dispensed with time for the occasion. On the way back I experienced an intuitive apprehension of time by walking slowly, and I restored a perception of distance to my mind by moving upon the solid ground and the grassy fields of this realm.
Time--in its spirit sense--and space are relative in the spirit world, just as they are upon the earth-plane. But our conceptions of them differ widely--yours being restricted by the earthly considerations of sunrise and sunset, and the various modes of transit. We have everlasting day, and we can move ourselves slowly by walking, or we can transport ourselves instantaneously whithersoever we wish to be. In the spirit world time can thus be made to stand still! And we can restore our sense of it by quietly resting, or by walking. It is only our general sense of time that we restore not the passage of time. But when we receive your thoughts from the earth world, telling us that you are ready for us to come to you, then, once again, we are fully aware of the passage of earth time.
And you must admit that we are invariably punctual in keeping our appointments with you!