Seminary students were on their way to a meeting in the two main lecture halls. Half of them would be attending a lecture on religious careers. The other half a homily on the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Each student knew their destination and the topic they’d be reflecting on.
Along the way to their respective halls, each student encountered a man slumped on the ground, crying out in distress.
Which group of students do you think were more likely to stop and help: those on their way to a discussion on seminary jobs, or the ones mentally prepared for a sermon on good Samaritan-ship?
Each student was told they were running late for their respective lecture, and as such, over 90% of the seminarians skipped right over the suffering man – including scholars who knew they would be engaging in a discourse on helping those in need.
It was a devilish experiment cooked up by researchers at Princeton University to explore factors that influence our behavior.
It turns out that time, not intent, is a stronger predictor of conduct when it comes to helping others as well as ourselves.
As we read in A Course in Miracles, “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough.” (T-18.IV.2)
What makes personal growth and studying any spiritual thought system so challenging is not our desire to learn. Nor is it a lack of understanding of theological principles or metaphysical concepts. It is carving out the time to actually practice.
I recall the first time I came across a course lesson that suggested spending two-minutes over six practice periods. I thought, “Twelve minutes over the entire day … how hard could that be?” It wasn’t until the next day that I realized five of those two-minute sessions were never even contemplated.
The ego mind will always try to distract and further root us in the drama of the world. That’s its goal – to keep us mindless. But if we really want to progress on our path, it can be helpful to contemplate a more effective use of time.
And that’s by using time to transcend time.
Every moment is spent either in reinforcing mindlessness or mindfully extending love. Busyness is of the ego and is very effective at thwarting principled action. The right mind of spirit fills us with a quiet, gentle peace that embraces everyone around us. The choice is ours.
When seminary students allotted appropriate time to engage in altruistic actions, every one of them stopped to help the man in distress. Likewise, we, too, can allocate time to undertake thoughtful application of spiritual growth lessons.
In this way we are using time to help us truly grow, serve others, and advance on our journey toward awakening.
Join me in Thursday’s Zoom discussion where we’ll discuss the nature of time and techniques we can use to help us practice our lessons of growth and forgiveness. I look forward to seeing you then.