1. Without beginning or end of existence.
2. Without end; everlasting; endless.
3. Perpetual; ceaseless.
4. Existing at all times without change; immutable. The Deity; GodEternity -
1. Condition of being eternal.2. Condition which begins at death.
"Man's conception of eternity is that of infinite duration, continuance without beginning or end, and yet everything he knows is bounded by two or more opposites. From a beginning, as he sees a form of matter, that substance passes to an end." Thus spoke my guide.
Then he asked, and showed by his question that he appreciated the nature of my recent experiences: "Do you recall the instant that you left me standing by this bowl to start, as you imagined, with me as a companion, on the journey to the cavern of the grotesque?"
"No; because I did not leave you. I sipped of the liquid, and then you moved on with me from this spot; we were together, until at last we were separated on the edge of the cave of drunkards."
"Listen," said he; "I neither left you nor went with you. Yon. neither went from this spot nor came back again. You neither saw nor experienced my presence nor my absence; there was no beginning to your journey."
"You ate of the narcotic fungus; you have been intoxicated."
"I have not," I retorted. "I have been through your accursed caverns, and into hell beyond. I have been consumed by eternal damnation in the journey, have experienced a heaven of delight, and also an eternity of misery."
"Upon the contrary, the time that has passed since you drank the liquid contents of that fungus fruit has only been that which permitted you to fall upon your knees. You swallowed the liquor when I handed you the shell cup; you dropped upon your knees, and then instantly awoke. See," he said; "in corroboration of my assertion the shell of the fungus fruit at your feet is still dripping with the liquid you did not drink. Time has been annihilated. Under the influence of this potent earth-bred narcoto-intoxicant, your dream begun inside of eternity; you did not pass into it."
"You say," I interrupted, "that I dropped upon my knees, that I have experienced the hallucination of intoxication, that the experiences of my vision occurred during the second of time that was required for me to drop upon my knees."
"Then by your own argument you demonstrate that eternity requires time, for even a millionth part of a second is time, as much so as a million of years."
"You mistake," he replied, "you misinterpret my words. I said that all you experienced in your eternity of suffering and. pleasure, occurred between the point when you touched the fungus fruit to your lips, and that when your knees struck the stone."
"That consumed time," I answered.
"Did I assert," he questioned, "that your experiences were scattered over that entire period?"
"May not all that occurred to your mind have been crushed into the second that accompanied the mental impression produced . by the liquor, or the second of time that followed, or any other part of that period, or a fraction of any integral second of that period?"
"I can not say," I answered, "what part of the period the hallucination, as you call it, occupied."
"You admit that so far as your conception of time is concerned, the occurrences to which you refer may have existed in either an inestimable fraction of the first, the second, or the third part of the period."
"Yes," I replied, "yes; if you are correct in that, they were illusions."
"Let me ask you furthermore," he said; "are you sure that the flash that bred your hallucination was not instantaneous, and a part of neither the first, second, nor third second?"
"Continue your argument."
"I will repeat a preceding question with a slight modification. May not all that occurred to your mind have been crushed into the space between the second of time that preceded the mental impression produced by the liquor, and the second that followed it? Need it have been a part of either second, or of time at all? Indeed, could it have been a part of time if it were instantaneous?"
"Suppose the entity that men call the soul of man were in process of separation from the body. The process you will admit would occupy time, until the point of liberation was reached. Would not dissolution, so far as the separation of matter and spirit is concerned at its critical point be instantaneous?"
I made no reply.
"If the critical point is instantaneous, there would be no beginning, there could be no end. Therein rests an eternity greater than man can otherwise conceive of, for as there is neither beginning nor end, time and space are annihilated. The line that separates the soul that is in the body from the soul that is out of the body is outside of all things. It is a between, neither a part of the nether side nor of the upper side; it is outside the here and the here-after. Let us carry this thought a little further," said he. "Suppose a good man were to undergo this change, could not all that an eternity of happiness might offer be crushed into this boundless conception, the critical point? All that a mother craves in children dead, could reappear again in their once loved forms; all that a good life earns, would rest in the soul's experience in that eternity, but not as an illusion, although no mental pleasure, no physical pain is equal to that of hallucinations. Suppose that a vicious life were ended, could it escape the inevitable critical point? Would not that life in its previous journey create its own sad eternity? You have seen the working of an eternity with an end but not a beginning to it, for you can not sense the commencement of your vision. You have been in the cavern of the grotesque,—the realms of the beautiful, and have walked over the boundless sands that bring misery to the soul, and have, as a statue, seen the frozen universe dissolve. You are thankful that it was all an illusion as you deem it now; what would you think had only the heavenly part been spread before yon?"
"I would have cursed the man who dispelled the illusion," I answered.
"Then," he said, "you are willing to admit that men who so live as to gain such an eternity, be it mental illusion, hallucination or real, make no mistake in life."
"I do," I replied; "but you confound me when you argue in so cool a manner that eternity may be everlasting to the soul, and yet without the conception of time."
"Did I not teach you in the beginning of this journey," he interjected, "that time is not as men conceive it. Men can not grasp an idea of eternity and retain their sun bred, morning and evening, conception of time. Therein lies their error. As the tip of the whip-lash passes with the lash, so through life the soul of man proceeds with the body. As there is a point just when the tip of the whip-lash is on the edge of its return, where all motion of the line that bounds the tip ends, so there is a motionless point when the soul starts onward from the body of man. As the tip of the whip-lash sends its cry through space, not while it is in motion either way, but from the point where motion ceases, the spaceless, timeless point that lies between the backward and the forward, so the soul of man leaves a cry (eternity) at the critical point. It is the death echo, and thus each snap of the life-thread throws an eternity, its own eternity, into eternity's seas, and each eternity is made up of the entities thus cast from the critical point. With the end of each soul's earth journey, a new eternity springs into existence, occupying no space, consuming no time, and not conflicting with any other, each being exactly what the soul-earth record makes it, an eternity of joy (heaven), or an eternity of anguish (hell). There can be no neutral ground."
Then he continued:
"The drunkard is destined to suffer in the drunkard's eternity, as you have suffered; the enticement of drink is evanescent, the agony to follow is eternal. You have seen that the sub-regions of earth supply an intoxicant. Taste not again of any intoxicant; let your recent lesson be your last. Any stimulant is an enemy to man, any narcotic is a fiend. It destroys its victim, and corrupts the mind, entices it into pastures grotesque, and even pleasant at first, but destined to eternal misery in the end. Beware of the eternity that follows the snapping of the life-thread of a drunkard. Come," he abruptly said, "we will pursue our journey."
[NOTE.—Morphine, belladonna, hyoscyamus and cannabis indica are narcotics, and yet each differs in its action from the others. Alcohol and methyl alcohol are intoxicants; ether, chloroform, and chloral are anæsthetics, and yet no two are possessed of the same qualities. Is there any good reason to doubt that combinations of the elements as yet hidden from man can not cause hallucinations that combine and intensify the most virulent of narcotics, intoxicants, and anæsthetics, and pall the effects of hashish or of opium?
If, in the course of experimentation, a chemist should strike upon a compound that in traces only would subject his mind and drive his pen to record such seemingly extravagant ideas as are found in the hallucinations herein pictured, would it not be his duty to bury the discovery from others, to cover from mankind the existence of such a noxious fruit of the chemist's or pharmaceutist's art? Introduce such an intoxicant, and start it to ferment in humanity's blood, and before the world were advised of its possible results, might not the ever increasing potency gain such headway as to destroy, or debase, our civilization, and even to exterminate mankind?—J. U. L.]