Saturday, March 29, 2014

Eternal versus Everlasting

A magazine I subscribe to has a children's page and a couple of sentences read like this:  "Imagine you found a river that flowed with waters of eternal life. Anything you put by the river would last forever." 

Like many who were raised Protestant, I learned the following Biblical passage as a child:  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)  That's the King James version.  In more modern translations, "everlasting" is replaced by "eternal."

Conflating "everlasting" and "eternal" can cause confusion.  "Everlasting" is within time -- it's just time stretched out as far as it will go.  But "eternal" is beyond time -- outside the boundaries of time.

When we are talking about life, this has important ramifications.  The phrase "everlasting life" indicates that we don't die.  And of course, this is a common understanding of what being "saved by Jesus" implies. You go to heaven and keep on living forever.  But "eternal" is something else.  "Eternal" is a whole other dimension of consciousness, not a "place" where things last forever but where there is no time.

And so my issue with these lines in the magazine I was reading was that it could cause children to misunderstand what spiritual awakening actually is -- to imagine that it means one is going to live forever when really the Biblical text points to something else.

And then, suddenly I remembered something I had realized:  This form doesn't die. How can that be?  More and more, as I sink into this possibility, which I realized without understanding, I get the sense that the forms that we usually think of as ourselves aren't really us, that the real "me" is what creates the forms and that actually doesn't die. And so, if this is so, any dichotomy between "eternal" and "everlasting" perhaps also doesn't exist at all! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to get comments from readers who want to mutually explore Truth as we at the same time remember that the words are just fingers pointing...