Eternity has hovered over the human psyche since the idea was conceptualized; an afterlife bathed in holy glory or nefarious gnawing awaiting those who walk the earth. The idea of Eternity resides within almost every religion, a continuation of the soul into a succeeding sequence of existence. With the enormity of one’s perennial afterlife weighing on their conscious, individuals can become rather cushy and manipulation becomes a hazard.
Eternity draws with it prodigious emotional attachment; people rest their dreams on once again acquainting with their loved ones in death, obsequiously obeying dogma at a contingent hope of their reunion. Instead of focusing on the pending threat of the eternal, it can be propitious to shift attention towards the vastness of infinity; if the universe is constantly expanding, shouldn’t we aim to do the same?
The idea of eternity befits comparably with the concept of forever. A ceaseless period of time, forever permanently resides in the future, an epoch requiring effort in the present for maximal fruition. Throughout history humans have manufactured a sensationalistic idea of eternity, formulating narratives of the afterlife as a means to answer life’s inscrutable questions.
Across cultures there are varied interpretations of what we will encounter upon death; for some it offers solace in an eternity spent in paradise, others an enduring nightmare confronting all that is evil and for some, an endless state of limbo existing not here nor there. These connotations are vividly identifiable in Western religion, leaders obtaining hefty influence by holding their follower’s afterlife at ransom. This has been a prominent characteristic of the most pitiful of rodents, abusive priests, who hold the might of God and perdition over innocent devotees to facilitate sordid behaviour.
Conversely, the concept has a sense of benevolence associated as people hold onto an idea of once again meeting their loved ones; finding comfort in the struggles of this life, with a vision of utopia in the next. Eternity is a very complex idea; it’s a symbol nursing so much hope and anxiety, subtly moulding the behaviour of the public.
The idea of Eternity weighs heavily over believers, one could assume many are missing portions of this life in the hope of living in paradise in the next. This may make followers behave respectfully but many aren’t doing it because it’s the right thing to do, rather because someone is watching and they can be rewarded for it. Alternatively, the infinite promotes boldness. Infinity is every moment following the current, just as numbers continue to expand so do the possibilities within the approaching unknown.
Believing in a deity can offer a sense of security and guidance, however, are you truly examining life by remaining in ease and comfort? Infinity looks not at one hypothetical hereafter but all the possibilities there is to offer; we ourselves are the children of a dying star, who’s to say we don’t return back to the cosmos?
Eternity focuses on what happens after death, invoking people to act in this life like it’s preparation for the next. Is that really the best way to live, on a theoretical chance of a place existing outside reality? On the other hand, infinity encourages people to focus on the now. The present moment is something that has been brewing since the beginning of time and is granted for personal use, allowing us to bring our being (or the being we want to become) into the scheme of the future.
With infinity our essence never dies. From conception we become a part of existence’s omnipotence, binding us with all there has been and all that will be; as Jung reflected “Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance.”
The idea of Eternity has engendered much angst and comfort within the human psyche, yet its existence is dubious. It’s an idea that carries substantial weight and perplexity, terrifying people into obedience whilst providing solace for fear of the unknown. What is certain to be at our disposal is the infinite, an enduring stream enabling life’s transpiration through a succession of moments. The past and future will always correlate, the infinite allows the present to decide how.
Image source: Frank Moth