Eternity

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Eternity is usually thought to mean everlastingness. However, in the course of philosophical discussion the idea has been further refined, and two different concepts were developed--that of "atemporality", which is beyond time, and that of "sempiternity", which denotes infinity in time.[1]

The English word "eternal" derives from the Latin term aevum, "an age or era". This does not seem to convey either the idea of either atemporality or sempiternity, but that of a specific period of time. The same is the case with the Greek word Aeon, meaning a finite period of time, which Mme. Blavatsky claims is the original term that has been translated as "Eternity" in the Bible.[2] The word "eternal" is usually applied in this way in the Theosophical literature:

The word “Eternal,” note well again, standing here only in the sense of “Æon,” as lasting throughout the seemingly interminable, but still limited cycle of activity, called by us Manvantara.[3]

According to H. P. Blavatsky, this is also the way Eastern thought treats the concept of "eternity":

Eternity with the Orientals has quite another signification than it has with us [in the Western thought]. It stands generally for the 100 years or "age" of Brahma, the duration of a Kalpa or a period of 4,320,000,000 years.[4]

In the Theosophical view time is always limited and begins with the manifestation,[5] which denies the idea of sempiternity. As to that of "atemporality" Mme. Blavatsky sometimes refers to it as "duration".[6] However, due to a lack of a better word, the term "eternal" is sometimes used in the common sense of "never-ending".

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Eternity at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 308.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 63.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, "The Voice of the Silence" Glossary to Part 1 (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1959), 216.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 358.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 308.