Ask: Can you clarify the ego's use of time as hell?

“I just read in ACIM that the ego teaches that ‘Heaven is here and now because the future is hell.’ Then in the next chapter it says ‘the Holy Spirit teaches thus: There is no hell. Hell is only what the ego has made of the present.’ It seems to contradict; maybe you could talk about this in one of your future posts…” – AS

Actually, those quotes are in the same chapter and subsection (The Two Uses of Time) of the Text of A Course in Miracles, just a couple of paragraphs apart. Here is the first quote in context (my underlining):

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 thinks its is the only voice, it speaks of hell even to him. For it tells him hell is here as well, and bids him leap from hell into oblivion. The only time the ego allows anyone to look upon with equanimity is the past. And even there, its only value is that it is no more.” (T-15.I.5)

Notice that this paragraph says that the ego teaches that both the present and the future are hell. So there is no contradiction to what it says two paragraphs later:

“The Holy Spirit teaches thus: There is no hell. Hell is only what the ego has made of the present.” (T-15.I.7)

It also says that the ego will “allow” you to look on the past with equanimity. This does not mean, though, that when it is convenient for its purposes it will not also teach you to look on the past as hell. The ego makes hell of time, period. As it says further in that same paragraph:

“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, demanding vengeance forever.” (T-15.I.7)

But the Holy Spirit uses the Holy Instant to release you from time:

“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. (T-15.I.8)

Are there passages in ACIM that do not make sense to you? Some of my clients like to read ACIM with me. Sometimes they bring specific passages that need clarification; sometimes we just read from where they are in ACIM. This is one of the many ways you can use mentoring to deepen your study and understanding. Learn more about mentoring at


hannah said…
i have just been listening to your fifth talk talk from the 'hear liz teach' section, and you were talking about realising that fear itself isnt real, but how that KNOWING didnt come from an intellectual understating. but its just clicking reading that last quote from ACIM. fear will be known as unreal when innocence is known as real. that was the timing/connection of it, right? when fear actually became unreal to you?
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, I just read through your 8 posts from yesterday/today and I think you resolved your other questions (see, if you just wait, the HS always answers). So I will just respond to this last one:

Only a couple of times have I really seen/felt that even fear isn't real. I had thought in terms of what I feared isn't real. But I finally saw that fear itself is not real. I frankly do not remember when or how I came to those moments.
will said…
This is a great post for me. I had fallen into "why bother."
will said…
I do believe, yes, I'm pretty sure that is Hannah's Inner Child in that picture!

From someone who spent a lot of years doing and teaching Adult Child work here is the deal. You will almost never see a persons inner child especially in this format. The child comes out to say Hello and invariably someone's critical parent voice will shame the kid. And that is the end of that; the kid isn't coming out anymore. Invariably. I feel honored to see your kid but you may want to let him back in the house before some fool says something:)
hannah said…

yes liz.. i did, thank you. oh.. i just realised. before coming across ACIM i was starting to experience that time isnt real. and i was starting to see that space could be like playdough. and that this meant that nothing was as i thought it was.

i had a dream that i was standing on a short jetty, looking down into the water and there was a shark swimming around, and i was petrified, even though i new i was safe on the jetty. brett (the man i told you about who told me things about myself that made me furious, partly because i didnt know if they were true or not) tapped me on the shoulder and said 'hey han, look again' so i did, and the shark had turned into a stingray. i was fascinated, and dropped to my knees to get a closer look. i suddenly knew, deeply, that for another, the fear situation would be reversed, they might be fascinated by the shark, and terrified of the stingray. (i think steve irwin might have just been killed by a stingray fairly recently). i knew in that moment that the thing itself was not the source of fear, and that the source was in perception, and fear was just about how we were looking, and how we looked at things could change in an instant.

odd how long ive spent since then denying that fear will disappear when im willing to look at what im afraid of. i think half the time i simply didnt want to let go of an idea that would be replaced if i accepted a new perception. scared of the death of a perception of me.
hannah said…
will, i have been (am still i guess) scared of my inner clown. (lol, IT is coming to mind, liz ;) ) that this part of me makes me unlovable. but, it is authentic, and im willing to face the 'consequences'! (willing to face my fear). maybe if a fool talks to my clown, they might have a laugh ;) my inner child was well stomped on, turns out she was irrepressible.
hannah said…
liz, so would it be accurate to say that you still expereince fear, but you are no longer afraid of it?
ACIM Mentor said…
Uhhh...yeah, Hannah, I guess you could say that.
will said…
And Hannah it is a very cute clown.
will said…
If you believe in ACA stuff, the fear you are feeling is not of your inner clown, you are feeling the part of you (child) who is the clown. You are the parent and it is the child. Your responsibility is to protect the child...If you believe in that kind of thing.
will said…
Some therapists say the child is constantly checking to see if it can trust the parent. Like a lot of us as kids. When I did ACA work myself my child was a clown but was also unruly wanting things it didn't need or shouldn't have. So I would talk to the child and say, "No we don't need that right now" or whatever, and the child wouldn't like it but would also see there was someone in charge and feel safe. How did I get started on this???
hannah said…
hmm, liz.. i was thinking. as i understand it, fear is like.. conflict where you kind of.. believe both sides of the story and so there is doubt?

would it maybe be more accurate/rounded-out to say.. you still hear both sides, still hear the ego, but as you dont believe it (as HS is your constant companion) there is no more fear? as in.. no more FULL fear, it cant run with you, as you are steady in your 'choice of voice'?

hannah said…
will, i guess its a work in progress this fear. im afraid of rejection.. not by close friends, they seem to always prove incredibly loving and accepting of me, they surprise me sometimes, so anyway they are to a large degree left out of this fear! i fear partnership, 'why would anyone want to be with this clown, im not a 'real' grownup', laugh.. but not laugh! and family. im working through it though. liz has helped by pointing out that trust is more where you accept a person as they are, kinda.. get to know where they will be constant and where they wont, where you can rely on them 'not to', as well as 'to'! rather than finding people who fit the some perfect ideal. its really helped a lot.

your last comment is appropriate to me.. liz is also talking with me (but oh boy do i wanna fight it) about how it is not loss to let go of things just because 'they are mine'.. which includes just because i want or enjoy them.. yes, including if they are not mine or not helpful.
will said…
A lot of this we can't do. The HS does it for us.
will said…
Hannah, Here is an example from my life. I think it started in high school that I began to have a fear of people. Over the years it increased in intensity. Nothing had happened to me like abuse or something, it just started out of the blue. It increased and soon I couldn't go shopping during the daytime for fear I might meet someone I knew (a worst fear) and have to make small talk. One day when I was about 30 I hid in a closet rather than answer the front door. Alcohol helped some. For a while. The most difficult thing I ever did in my life was go to my first AA meeting. Terrified. About 5,6 or 7 years into the Course it went away. It just went away. I had learned to adapt to the fear but it was always there but then it wasn't. All of sudden yap, yap, yap, you couldn't shut me up, I was talking to everyone. That was a Holy Spirit thing. The things that I have gone through in my life have made it easy to talk to people about these things. Alcohol, fear etc. Stuff happens. Sometimes just out of the blue.
hannah said…
ive done that too will, lots. hidden in my wardrobe and other places rather than answer the door and have to face my fear and be people-y. TWICE different people let themselves in and wandered round the house til they found me.. among the most terrifying experiences of my life!

only in the very darkest times though, did i TOTALLY lose sight of the fact that i knew there was something in me that was loving and lovable, and trustworthy. often it was so slim it only felt like hope, but it was there. HS cant go anywhere, its part of us!

i used to get a great deal of comfort from a line from the course which i was totally misunderstanding, haha.. "you live in a fearful world when you think youre in competition with god". i was still thinking of that in terms of 'doing gods job in the world' or 'doing HS's job in the world'. so id let go of control and feel immense relief, though i was misunderstanding the cause of the sense of relief. i still thought it was about what i did, not what i identified with. dont get me wrong, i still do make that error, but i watch myself making it, i can step back (sometimes) and see what im believing in.
will said…
I come from a back ground where I believe the HS is very hands on in my life.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, yeah, I guess you could describe it like that.

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