"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3 (New International Version)
Have you ever noticed that time operates differently while you pray or meditate on the Bible? Several times this year while devoting an hour to Bible-oriented meditation, it seemed that the enjoyable Bible meditation period existed not in this normal four-dimensional world, but in a fifth dimension, the dimension of one's spirit.
Modern physics speaks of four dimensions, the three spatial dimensions plus time. When you stand still without going anywhere at all for 20 minutes, say, you are traveling in time, sort of speaking, without traveling in the spatial dimensions of height, width and length. Sometimes when meditating, not always of course, something uncanny happens. The hour you spend meditating on the Word of God is somehow disjointed from the normal march of time. You meditate on a particular verse and after what seems like a very long and enjoyable meditative moment, you look at the clock and to to your surprise what seemed like half an hour to you is only 15 minutes. It's almost as if God is slowing down the march of time so your hour can seem almost eternal. Perhaps that meditative hour, with its sometimes altered sense of perception really is an intimation of eternity with its enhanced or peculiar sense of time, where a second is like a thousand years, and vice-versa.
Perhaps what I'm describing here is a kind of Bible-induced trance where you forget your surroundings and a clinical attention to time itself. Recent studies reported in the New York Times report that these altered sense of realities happen only in the mind not in the physical world. A long time ago I read that your spirit, or your spiritual nature, is in a certain region of your mind and that it is, in fact, a very small area of your mind. An altered sense of reality would, it follows, exist only in your mind's spirit. Time itself would, of course, proceed in the normal fashion, but your perception of it would be altered by the awareness or experience you perceive in your spirit. I am not speaking here in any sense of the immortality of the soul, but simply the mind's ability to process spiritual realities or experiences.
This does not only happen during Bible-induced mediation. During the 90s on three separate occasions I sat in a darkened room, with one of the following musical compositions or artists: Ravi Shankar's ragas, Yes' The Revealing Science of God from Tales of Topographic Oceans, and James Carter's In Carterian Fashion, and closed my eyes to enable me to focus on the music only. Without consciously accessing an alternate reality or experience, that 50 or 70 minute compact disc transferred me into an altered sense of reality. With my eyes closed, and my mind and spirit focused on the transcendence of these susurrous, and water-tinged pieces, I forgot I was in my bedroom, with the lights turned out. I even forgot for brief moments that my I was in my body. I felt I was inside the music, the music was inside me. Having seldom experienced an altered sense of reality I couldn't help but smile and enjoy the exquisite quality of the experience itself, hoping it would never end. With the ending of the 50 or 70 minute compact disc the experience slowly ebbed and flowed and I was once again in my room. Even though I knew the compact disc was either 50 or 70 mintues in length, the time I had spent during the experience seemd much longer, almost timeless and out-of-this-world. Mozart's Jupiter Symphony or Mahler's Resurrection Symphony would probably have induced a similar altered sense of reality had I selected those compositions, instead.
My body went no where, time marched on, but I had, in fact experienced another world, another dimension, sensation, and perception. Perhaps the Indian yogis or other spiritual men and women from different world traditions are able to enter and exit such exalted states of being at will.
I'm glad that sometimes I can experience such golden moments of enhanced reality by diving slowly into the ocean of God's word through prayer and meditation. It is an experience that in many ways is finer than any conscious, waking dream.