Time, an Abstract Principle

Time is defined as "a nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future, an interval separating two points on this continuum; a duration."

Time is an abstract principle and a law of being and of doing. Time, space and eternity form the ninth lesser trinity of Via Christa Degrees, whose keynote is immortality through conquering space and time.

Time is the principle of form under which we relate events. The form of an antecedence and sequence model makes possible all outer experience. The idea of time is born in the interval between happenings. Time governs the law of mental synthesis, and binds all things together. – Edna Lister.

Edna Lister on Time

Time is a principle of form, the principle under which we relate events. The form of an antecedence and sequence model makes possible all outer experience. Time governs the law of mental synthesis, and binds all things together.

You build and relate your different actions to time so you can, by contacting one "time," find your way to all others. The idea of time is born in the interval between happenings. You know by memory, by recall. In memory, events seem to succeed each another, and from this arises the experience of succession called a "sense of time."

The succession of moments and events gives us the basis for number. The objective basis of number involves the distinctness of objects. Counting involves the establishment of a unit. Units are determined by the mind itself: Work, temperature, time, space. A unit is an abstract form of the act of position, and number arises from the repetition of this act under a synthetic form of counting. – Edna Lister, Immanuel Kant: Philosophy, December 23, 1935.

The payment for stolen time is to put more fervor in everything you do. Otherwise, you fill your memory cells with guilt and regret. – Edna Lister, September 25, 1950.

Don't have squinched-up hopes and plans. Don't say, "I'm through; I'm old." Time cannot grow old. Live time the right way and you cannot grow old. Time is filled with the greatest of ideas. You still have time to write the great book, paint the great picture, greater works to manifest. The sun, moon and stars do not age; God does not age. – Edna Lister, Truth, Your Plan, October 21, 1956.

Forever is a measure of time in space. – Edna Lister, Revelation, the Beast With Ten Horns, June 10, 1958.

We all have the same amount of time, yet some people seem to have more time than others. A typical phone conversation frequently contains such phrases as, "I didn't have time. I just didn't get anything done." Or, "Oh, I had such a good day. Everything went so smoothly. I finished everything I had planned and had time to spare."

Why is there such an apparent inequality of Time? There are degrees of health, wealth and social life, and you measure them all in time; they depend on how you use time. The River of Life is harmony. You tune into its current, face the Light and ascend. If you tune out and resist the River of Life, its current drags you under because you are not in harmony with life.

Use joy as a tuning fork to find time's harmony. When you flow with the current, you lose all rigidity of action. You can tune in the "music of the spheres," a joy vibration. The secret is to shut out worry. You can ascend even while doing mundane tasks and do more in a short time than you ever dreamed possible. Say joyfully, "Now is the high time of salvation," and time does stand still. – Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, November 3, 1959.

Mother Love and time eternal are one. All time is based in and on the principle of Mother Love, and all Wisdom is based in space. Time is always "now" with Mother Love. Space forever opens under Wisdom. Mother Love and Father Wisdom are ways of life. Mother Love, where selfless, is God's timing. Father Wisdom is God's spacing where selfless.

Time without space is lifeless. Time needs a space for action. If Love is bound or limited, no action can result. To take advantage of time eternal requires space. Universal Mother Love transcends time and space, being eternal and everywhere simultaneously. – Edna Lister, Eternity Is Now Mine, May 9, 1965.

A world was formed "in the beginning" when God used Mind to breathe; the Word exploded and Creation opened. The Word was God as Mind in action as a planned, controlled explosion, a rhythmic pulsation filling all universes, which were then "void," with no form. The Word, acting as Mind upon Substance, began to build up enough condensed Power to last a whole Day of Manifestation.

God first created a place, space, which He then filled with principle and personality. From principle and personality came the second great action, time. This was all Mind and contained the whole Plan of Creation for all universes, an unchangeable, unalterable and perfect Magna Carta, containing the Beginning and the End. – Edna Lister, Religion and the World, November 26, 1967.

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Time and Space

This Edna Lister lecture outline is dated October 21, 1935, Buffalo, New York.

We conceive of the universe as an infinite self-consciousness, infinitely intelligible, intelligibly infinite, expressing in material form and revealing its nature and attributes through its immanent relational constitution. This self-consciousness, though infinitely removed in degree, is essentially identical in kind with the human consciousness. This brings us in sight of the conception of the universe as the infinite life of God in time and space.

The contrast between the finite and the infinite existence as an organism is first that the finite must live by taking in, and second, by making its own that which is outside self. Death is the result of failure to do this. Physical life consists in the ability to take that which is not itself and convert it into itself. The infinite organism lives and does not die because it is continuously and eternally converting itself, as force, into itself, as form.

The infinite organism fills all space and all time, which is the basic ground for the forms of all being, finite or infinite. They are the blank forms of "possibility." The word, "exists," presupposes time, while all material form presupposes space. Finite thought must find its object, while infinite thought creates its object by becoming that object.

Therefore, the universe is the self-creating organism of the Infinite Intelligence. It is an organism because it lives and grows, whereas a machine neither lives nor grows. An organism is an organized body with connected interdependent parts sharing common life. The suffix, "zation," means an organized body or system or society.

To organize means to form into an organic whole. Organic means having organs or an organized physical structure. A machine is an apparatus for applying mechanical power, having several parts each with definite function. The term "machine" also describes a person who acts mechanically and without intelligence, or with unfailing regularity.

This infinite self-creating organism of the immeasurable intelligence fills all space and all time. Out of this conception of the universe as an organism grows the provision for the many within the One. It includes all the facts of existence or being. It is the self-revelation of the infinite in the finite, of the eternal in the temporal. The whole of anything is equal to the sum of all its parts, therefore, the nature of the whole is in some measure present in all its parts.

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Conquering Time

This Edna Lister lecture outline is dated October 22, 1957, Cleveland, Ohio.

Space is absolute, but time is relative. Space is absolute as the universal substance, the absolute substrate upon and through which relative time moves. Time is the action contained within space. The instant that time moves into action, the space it occupies becomes relative to the Godhead. God, as All That Is, is the only possible boundary of infinite space.

The spatial boundaries of the universe contain all that is, which includes all times. This is why "timing" is so important, and why you must hold time as a sacred trust. Tempus vincit omnia — time really does conquer all things. You acknowledge this when you say, "Give it time to work out," and Tempus omnia sanat, "Time heals all wounds."

As a category on the outer, you use timing in the form of antecedence and sequence to relate events, which makes integration of all outer experiences possible. Time also expresses the law of mental synthesis. You bind and relate your different actions and experiences to time so that you can, by "contacting" one "time" in your memory bank, find your way to all other related "times."

Without timing, you could not operate your brain. Timing is the action-Power, which descends from above as intuition to touch the nerve ending cells into life. Only by "time-action" could you know "which" and "what" memories and knowledge you need to open and relate. Timing changes ideas from one memory sector to another. Timing adds new to the old and rearranges what you know. Your whole life depends on your timing. Everyone operates under this great principle and category of time.

The idea of time is born in the intervals, long or short, between happenings. You know and recall experiences and knowledge by their timing record in memory. Events always seem to succeed each other in memory. From this arises the experience of "succession." You are thus able to relate events in sequence as they happened, not in a scattered way.

For example, someone who tells a story poorly, so that they must backtrack and add necessary details for it to make sense, is someone whose timing is "off"; you have heard people say, "He has poor timing." When they say, "She has perfect timing," you know that person has a good sense of time.

Lack of orientation is the result of a failure to allow time to measure space. Extreme cases even find it difficult to use a map. Time is "real" here on the outer, although relative universally, where "All time is now." We need periods, such as years, day and hours, to explain our experiences. Immanuel Kant's Antinomy of Space and Time is good reading, although heavy.

The principle of number arises from your need for spacing, or sequencing time in your life. Counting involves the establishment of a unity. Units are determined by mind itself, using such expressions as: Time involved, space occupied, work done and temperature. Your use of temperature as unit includes measuring emotions, "boiling mad," and "cold as ice."

A unit is the absolute form of an action or a position, since both space and time are involved. Number arises from the repetition of this act under a synthetic form of counting. This unfolds into a numerical series, expressed as for instance, powers, roots, logarithms, differentials, integrals, limits and rates.

Mind creates its own data, processes and problems, and tests them by its own insights. You have nerves which conduct signals of sensation to the brain. The senses have nothing to do with their production, and nothing to do with testing; only the nerves of space and action.

Someone credited George Russell Harrison, Dean of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1942), with the statement, "Science is the systematic production and analysis of experience, using time and space. Science is a systematic search for truth."

Timing is the action, the Power that descends from above as intuition, as said earlier. A scientist must be "intuitive" as well as "systematic." Harrison, as a scientist, also said, "Intuition is the ability to integrate previous experience without detailed analysis, to produce new awareness."

He further said that what we commonly call "intuition" involves merely a mess of confused emotions (hunches, predictions and premonitions) and prejudices, with thought. "True intuition," he said, "consists of that leap upward in the dark" (which we would call ascending into the Light), "with no solid ground underneath, in which you end up in perfect balance on your feet."

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Time, the Adjuster of Life

Edna Lister originally wrote Time, the Adjuster of Life as a book chapter in 1954.

As one day succeeds another, so does a person pile his acts, one upon another, to form either an inescapable fate or a high destiny. As emotion after emotion flows over his life, or tears along as a raging torrent, it leaves its mark upon the life for the world to see, and seeing, to read.

A person's acts build milestones on life's pathway, all following some definite pattern. Each milestone bears the record of that particular portion of life's journey, from infancy to maturity. If you would know the person, read his life's milestones, whether of joy, or stressful struggles.

Anyone may walk a line of fate in haphazard, uncharted, undirected fashion, and at the end of the line have the pleasure of blaming fate for the ending as our only fulfillment. You may drift with the tides, washing back and forth over the same old lessons, you may float with the current of the River of Life, but your fate will be the same — nothing for nothing. Life will bestow no rewards or laurels if you make no effort, no struggle to gain strength.

You may frown when your plans go wrong. You may curse and grow into a fury when life goes against you, knowing in your heart that even the single-celled creatures share with you and use the same ability.

If you continue to react in such ways about events that are outside your control, the milestones you build along your path of life will grow smaller until they shrink into nothingness. Your life will become ever more circumscribed, until it fades into the silence of "death."

Only a few persons are great enough in soul desire to hold the destiny of nations in their hands, and only another few are great enough to build empires of success. However, they are always those who set aside all cursing and blaming of fate for delay or failure, and move forward on their own paths of destiny to a well charted and self-directed life.

Such persons hew out the path for themselves as they go, conquering all manners of obstacles that life seems to glory in placing before the advance of civilization. These people develop the courage to conquer each succeeding obstacle by conquering the one standing in the middle of their pathway now. They forget how hard the path will be ahead, while they use all their strength to mount the barriers as they come to them.

You would never advance if you could see every obstacle between you and your goal from the very start. Most people would never do anything if they knew exactly how difficult the path was going to be. Courage, confidence in your ability to conquer, and a growing faith is life's reward for each step you take, for each obstacle you overcome along the way of destiny.

The difference between the line of fate and the Path of Destiny is so small at first that you may miss the meaning of the signs pointing the way. With fate, you let life dictate to you, but with destiny you dictate to life. The turning point comes when you step off your fate line onto your Path of Destiny. That instant arrives when you turn from drifting with the current, the easy ways of living, and take on the hard way of struggle, when you turn to the Light and declare that you have become the master of your fate.

One turning point always comes to make you into a conqueror-to-be. If you are afraid to take the chance, afraid to leave your present sheltered place, afraid to move out of your little rut, you doom yourself to end as the plaything of life, a weakling who lives by life's dictation.

It is such a small turning that you never know when you will reach it. It usually comes suddenly, and you may allow it to pass without recognizing it as a milestone. Only on looking backward can you see that you missed deciding at the right time.

Of course, this happens only when you have allowed your vision of life to grow dim, your heart's desires to burn out, and obstacles that fill you with fear and discouragement to block your life's goals.

To drift, taking no action at such a turning point in life, causes a dry rot that continues until you bury your soul under a featherbed of self-pity, and physical decay sets in to limit the body. None of this is noticeable at first. Soul retrogression is subtle and slow, and shows itself only when you must face some situation requiring great strength of heart and mind.

The many struggles to conquer fate toughens your fiber, making you able to defend yourself against any blow of fate. You develop the courage, faith and the wisdom needed to conquer the world with each new gain in conquering the "little me" of self.

When you realize you have missed the turning, you can, with deliberate intent, turn back across the morass, hewing a path through the fallen timbers of your past "good intentions," left scattered carelessly as your life advanced. You reach the place where you did not act in strength, where you were afraid to meet life with enough faith in the future good to come.

From this vantage point you can rebuild your whole life on a new Path of Destiny, where you truly become the master of your fate. You can use all your newly unfolding courage and strength in "right use," and stand and let the winds blow, knowing they cannot blow down your walls again.

After such mental "housecleaning," you know that any struggle and effort you make to conquer obstacles, any blows of fate are well worth the price paid while you rebuild the milestones along your Path of Destiny.

Hour by relentless hour, eternity rolls on in vast cycles of time, through space until the finite mind can scarcely grasp the scope. Reason totters in contemplation of the immensity of time, space and the universe, unknown and uncharted, which new scientific findings always bring you.

Each faces the same relentlessly flowing time. None is free from this subtly grasping thief of life. Prince and pauper alike must contemplate its coming and going. No one can stop time in its passing, no one can bring it back to be used again, no one can open or close time's cycles. Time moves on, fatal second by second, without asking anyone if it may, taking with it life's expression for all alike.

Some savant said that we are always standing upon a single point in time and space that we call the "Now." Therefore, as each hour enters your life, you are standing at a point from which eternity stretches in every direction. This is the only eternity that anyone will ever possess.

You do possess this important moment called "now," as much as you can ever possess anything. "Now" is the only time you dare count on fully.

This new hour, approaching out of the depths of time, comes shining, golden and Light-filled, ready for you to imprint with your life's record of fulfillment. You can fill it with laughter, life, glory and triumph, or turn it into grey clouds, black clouds — even into whirlwinds of doubt, fear, anxiety, despair, or into hate and destruction.

The one pure equality, given every person at birth, is a life of twenty-four beautiful hours each day to fill with living. These hours arise from the future and slide into the past, accumulating your life's record and extending it into eternity. These hours hold the total of your past thinking, your past emotional record of imaginings. The hours faithfully record whatever you have pictured for yourself.

Since everyone has perfect equality in their use of time, you may ask, "Why does one person become a success, while another builds for failure? Why does one live in joy and happiness, while another lives in despair and desperation? Why is one person a tramp, and another a conqueror?"

The answer is not as simple as it seems. Though no one can ever take your hours from you, they sometimes dictate their use to you! It may seem you are forced to do tasks foreign to you, to live in ways you dislike physically, emotionally and mentally. Yet, no one can force you to use your hours wrong emotionally or mentally. It is impossible for anyone to dictate how you think or imagine!

No one can fill your mental, emotional, imaginative hours for you, for you do this for yourself alone. You cannot hire another to fill your hours for you. You must live your inner hours for yourself.

The reason for life's inequalities, depends on how you spent the hour. Once you find the "how," the "why" becomes easy to see. How you spend time will predict your future, and even your end.

The outline you use for each day's hours totals the results of the day. Each hour is a brick you use to build your own future. If you fill them with all kinds of emotional strains and vain imaginings, with worry, doubt, fear and self-pity — or just let them pass by unnoticed, as "easy going" hours unfilled with anything worthwhile — then the past absorbs all their golden, shining light and you send them into eternity as blotches on the face of time.

Doing nothing leaves the hours greyed-out. Doing the wrong thing leaves them blackened and floating around "out there" somewhere waiting for you to fill them with Light.

Each hour you spend must return to you under the law of hours, a great law of life. All misspent hours will haunt you at some future date, when you fully understand this law.

What are you doing this very hour? What are you planning for the next inexorable hour? What do you plan to do with life itself, with your special talents, with your special privileges?

This hour now is your servant, and will go forth to do your bidding, to work your will. How are you sending it out, light or dark? This is your choice, because no forced living or demands from the outside can rob your hours of their gold. Your body could faint from labor, your mind refuse to work from physical exhaustion, yet your heart can sing and your soul can be untouched. No one can recall an hour to live it over, but anyone can accept responsibility for the present "now" and keep it beautiful, while "thinking" Light into the past misspent hours.

Each hour you face, filled with the joy of living, strengthens you for the coming hour, in which your own future is unwritten, untold. Each hour lingers with you for its allotted time and is gone, taking part of you with it to weave into the record you call your past.

Some refute the idea of a future life, or repudiate the idea of having lived on earth before. Each is entitled to believe what pleases him or her most. Yet having a few good credits banked might be better than to chance it and find that you need them. It couldn't do any harm to fill those past hours with hardworking honest effort, with joy and laughter-loving living on which to draw.

Empty hours can never pay you dividends on your time investment, and you can't avoid investing your hours, whether they are overflowing with glory or poorly spent, whether you collect dividends in this lifetime or in some future place. To prepare for a future life is wise, because you dare not declare none exists. Your past hours should be ready if you need them as a passport. Filling your hours with joy is just as satisfying in the here and now.

The hour, as it lingers with you, is all you have. It is your record of life, depending upon how you use this ever-coming, ever-moving, ever-receding, ever-present now. It takes time to live right! It takes time for loving life now! Live in the now and do not allow your future to slip by without having ever lived it. Take each hour's time and live it fully, in a worthwhile way.

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New Testament on Time

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. – Matthew 6:34.

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Old Testament on Time

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-15.

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Edna Miriam Lister
The original Pioneering Mystic
minister, teacher, and author

Edna Lister

Etymology of time: Middle English, from Old English tima; from da-, "to divide," from Greek daiesthai, "to divide."

Time is an abstract principle.

Time is a law of being.

Time is a law of doing.

Time is a Via Christa Degree.


At the end of the 18th century, Kant suggested a subtle relationship between time and mind — that our mind actually structures our perceptions so that we can know a priori that time is like a mathematical line. Time is, on this theory, a form of conscious experience, and our sense of time is a necessary condition of our experience or sensation. – Bradley Dowden, Time


Dowden, Bradley. "Time," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 2161-0002 [accessed March 4, 2017].

The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Related Topics

See Eternity

Recommended Reading

Gendlin. Eugene T. "Time's Dependence on Space: Kant's Statements and Their Misconstrual by Heidegger," Kant and Phenomenology, Thomas M. Seebohm and Joseph J. Kockelmans, editors. The Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology, Inc., University Press of America. Inc. 1984.

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