13q | CR Note on eternity [1941]

each); then take the cycles of 6 historical cyc-
les (=72 gen; 10,125 to 10,197=1000 B.C. to 1880
A.D.) as one of 7 cycles of 72 generations
each (which brings us back to the Aurignacian);
from there to earth years (=25,000 generations)
to world years, to cosmic cycles. In each of
these time spaces, by visualising some repre-
sentative durations, can we attempt to some
idea of the events in it, an then, letting it
go, proceed to the next larger unit. In the end,
with a gasp you come to an open door - still
infinitely distant from eternity.

Thus far only can imagination give life to a
thought which conceives eternity as a negation
of time, at the side, as it were, of the tem-
poral. But even though this combination of a
pale abstraction with a sentiment of sublimity
can the night of eternity manifest itself, in
disintegrating, yea shattering, objects and per-
sons, and in bringing some peace into our lives.
The being of eternity cannot consist in this
mere negativity of its relation to time. It
must be something quite else.

(2) Since in this conext we are only concerned
with studying the influence of time & eternity
on the delimitation of units, little need be
said about eternal life. We tried to determine
in bk. 5 how long a thing must remain
the same, or itself, to be regarded as one and
the same. Eternal life is a synonym for salva-
tion. It bears on that problem only indirectly.
The negation of time is quite external to it. In
tradition it is more directly opposed to death
(amata padam; dzooeenaioonion = athanasia) than
to time. Death, insofar as it can be overcome, is
not just a consequence of 'time', but springs
from the deeper powers of 'craving' or 'sin'. Nor
is everlastingness the central feature of 'et-
ernal life'. It is obviously not a kind of imm-
ortality in which we remain unendingly what we
are now. for now we are dying slowly, and all
the time, and the mere indefinite continuation
of this dying cannot make life. It must start
with a new death which undies the previous
fall into this realm of death - a death to
the world, through renunciation. Then a new birth,