Wednesday, November 22, 2006


While an undergraduate I was sitting in my room late one night, no doubt eating my customary peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwich, when I began pondering the meaning of eternity. “Eternity” had been presented to me (mainly by Christianity in relation to heaven and hell) with the sense of “a very long time”. When one went wherever one went after death, one day would follow another without end – or something like a day; there would always be another event of some kind. It would be like living on Earth, except that it would never stop and never could stop.

But something told me that was wrong. It came to me with a feeling of revelation that eternity could be neither long nor short. The eternal could have no beginning or end points, and so there was no way to measure how long it was. I told myself that something must have two ends in order to be considered long or short. Otherwise it has no dimensions.

From there I suddenly realized the Present is eternity – that there is only one Now, one moment, and that IS eternity. Our perception somehow experiences an apparent procession of phenomena, of events, within this unchanging, endless Present, and our memories store the sequence. But in Eternity, the timeless Now, there is no past or present.

That’s the best I can do to describe the indescribable today. I’m trying to find the notes I wrote at the time of the experience in hopes of making it clearer. I’ve learned a lesson: Don’t promise, as I did yesterday, what I’m going to write in the next entry. I may not be ready.

I’ll conclude by telling something that happened to me just a couple of weeks ago. I was still in bed early one morning, trying to comprehend some mystery of the nature of Being and the Source, when I abruptly accepted, once and for all, that as a human I was simply unable to understand much about the universe and existence. I had been aware of the limitations for a long time, and had made an analogy in which I and other humans are as incapable of understanding the universe as a goldfish in a bowl in a livingroom is incapable of understanding its surroundings beyond the bowl, much less beyond the walls of the room, beyond the house, beyond the neighborhood and town. But I had not felt that sharp sense of acceptance, of final resignation to the limits of my own understanding. Many mysteries would remain mysteries to me, just as a creature who has seen only the surface of the sea and cannot see beneath the sky-reflecting surface must remain unaware of the depths and plants and myriad life forms within the great world of water.

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