Duration

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Duration is the term used by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky for what we could call "timelessness" or "atemporality". This is one of the aspects of the Absolute.[1] As such, it is an abstraction that cannot be perceived by the mind:

Duration, having neither beginning nor end, is a perfect abstraction which contains Time.[2]

Mme. Blavatsky was asked about the difference between duration and time:

Q. What is the difference between Time and Duration?

A. Duration is; it has neither beginning nor end. How can you call that which has neither beginning nor end, Time? Duration is beginningless and endless; Time is finite.
Q. Is, then, Duration the infinite, and Time the finite conception?

A. Time can be divided; Duration—in our philosophy, at least—cannot. Time is divisible in Duration—or, as you put it, the one is something within Time and Space, whereas the other is outside of both.[3]

It is important to notice that duration is not an infinite extension of time (today called "sempiternity"), but it is altogether beyond time. In this context, H. P. Blavatsky always interpreted the word "eternity" as meaning a particular "age" in which there is time:

We Westerns are foolish enough to speculate about that which has neither beginning nor end, and we imagine that the ancients must have done the same. They did not, however: no philosopher in days of old ever took “Eternity” to mean beginningless and endless duration. . . . The word Aeon, which in the Bible is translated by Eternity, means not only a finite period, but also an angel and being.[4]

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 43.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 310.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 310.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 308.