Sunday, September 5, 2010

What is Eternity?

Eternity is a big idea, isn't it? The opposite can be experienced in the unceasing flow of restless and usually trivial and self-centered thoughts that preoccupy our attention throughout the day. More outwardly, the ephemeral experience of transitoriness is found in the unending attempts we make in action or in thoughts to stimulate our senses and get a quick but fleeting high: food, sweets, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, daydreams, TV and entertainment, sights, feelings, music, sex and romance, money, travel, recognition and position. These, in turn, are countered like the troughs of rough seas, with depression, despair, pain, suffering (mental or physical), disappointment, dislike, revenge seeking, criticism, judgement, gossip and so much more.

It is not until we achieve even a limited degree of self-awareness (and meditation is the preeminent discipline that accelerates this awakening) do we become aware of this constant flux. With awareness we begin to tire and to become weary of the constant flux. Thus it is as a person and his body and mind age, excitement, stimulation and their opposites begin to loosen their hold upon him because his nervous system can no longer tolerate the extremes (physical, emotional, and mental) that result. This may be some combination of exhaustion and wisdom -- or not! In truth, we discover that what we thought was life is but death (to our soul's true and eternal nature). As Paramhansa Yogananda put it in his now famous story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," it is when the soul feels "anguishing monotony" at the prospect of endless rounds of birth, life, and death does it rebel and seek a higher and permanent beatitude. Then, and only then, does life become truly life: abundant and joy filled.

But herein we enter the borderland, the wilderness that surrounds eternity. The soul must needs traverse that seemingly endless emptiness (wilderness) wherein the flux of opposites has ceased. By itself this is NOT eternity. It is a place and a rite of passage. It is purification and cleansing. Once again, meditation is the intentional process and methodology that takes us to this hinterland of consciousness.

In this process we glimpse the promised land that awaits us: a state of being wherein joy reigns unbroken upon the throne of consciousness. Endlessly beguiling however and not a static state of boredom and malaise, joy (the bliss of the soul) is both ours for ever and yet ever-new. Afterall, it is eternity itself. It has no border, no condition, no fixed and final description. Perhaps illogical but intuitively sound.

Blessings, from the shores of Eternity! In joy,   Hriman