Eternity

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A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell, where his influence stops. ~ Henry Brooks Adams

Eternity is a word often used to indicate notions of "limitless" or "endless" time, and also other concepts relating to time, including ideas of realms of Reality which are beyond any or all of the dimensions of Time and Space.

Alphabetized by author or source
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · External links

A[edit]

  • 'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
    'Tis heaven itself, that points out an hereafter,
    And intimates eternity to man.
  • Eternity! thou pleasing dreadful thought!
    Through what variety of untried being,
    Through what new scenes and changes must we pass?
  • Then gazing up 'mid the dim pillars high,
    The foliaged marble forest where ye lie,
    Hush, ye will say, it is eternity!
    This is the glimmering verge of heaven, and there
    The columns of the heavenly palaces.

B[edit]

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour. ~ William Blake
  • Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
    • William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, "Proverbs of Hell"
  • Yes, from the mountain of eternity we shall look down, and behold the whole plain spread before us. Down here we get lost and confused in the devious valleys that run off from the rdots of the hills everywhere, and we cannot make out where the streams are going, and what there is behind that low shoulder of the hill yonder. But when we get to the summit peak and look down, it will all shape itself into one consistent whole, and we shall see it all at once.
    None can comprehend eternity but the eternal God.
    • Thomas Boston, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 212
  • The created world is but a small parenthesis in eternity.
  • Eternity forbids thee to forget.

C[edit]

Shall we, whose atom of time is but a fragment out of an ever-present eternity — shall we, so long as we live, or even at our life's ending, dare to cry out to the Eternal One, "It is too late!" ~ Dinah Craik
  • Eternity isn't some later time. Eternity isn't a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. There's a wonderful formula that the Buddhists have for the Bodhisattva, the one whose being (sattva) is illumination (bodhi), who realizes his identity with eternity and at the same time his participation in time. And the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it.
  • What a sublime doctrine it is, that goodness cherished now is eternal life already entered on!
    • William Ellery Channing, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 210
  • Consider and act with reference to the true ends of existence. This world is but the vestibule of an immortal life. Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.
    • Edwin Hubbell Chapin, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) edited by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 6
  • Nothing is there to come, and nothing past, But an eternal Now does always last.
  • Vain, weak-built isthmus, which dost proudly rise
    Up between two eternities!
  • "I am but as others: I am but what I was born to be."
    "Do you recognize what you were born to be? Not only a nobleman, but a gentleman; not only a gentleman, but a man — man, made in the image of God. How can you, how dare you, give the lie to your Creator?"
    "What has He given me? What have I to thank Him for?"
    "First, manhood; the manhood His Son disdained not to wear; worldly gifts, such as rank, riches, influence, things which others have to spend half an existence in earning; life in its best prime, with much of youth yet remaining — with grief endured, wisdom learnt, experience won. Would to Heaven, that by any poor word of mine I could make you feel all that you are — all that you might be!"
    A gleam, bright as a boy's hope, wild as a boy's daring, flashed from those listless eyes — then faded.
    "You mean, Mr. Halifax, what I might have been. Now it is too late."
    "There is no such word as 'too late,' in the wide world — nay, not in the universe. What! shall we, whose atom of time is but a fragment out of an ever-present eternity — shall we, so long as we live, or even at our life's ending, dare to cry out to the Eternal One, 'It is too late!'"
    • Dinah Craik, John Halifax, Gentleman (1857), Chapter 36

D[edit]

If we consider eternity, into that time never entered; eternity is not an everlasting flux of time, but time is as a short parenthesis in a long period; and eternity had been the same as it is, though time had never been. ~ John Donne
  • If we consider eternity, into that time never entered; eternity is not an everlasting flux of time, but time is as a short parenthesis in a long period; and eternity had been the same as it is, though time had never been.
    • John Donne, Book of Devotions, Meditation 14 (1624)

E[edit]

Do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
~ T. S. Eliot in The Four Quartets
  • At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
    Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
    But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
    Where past and future are gathered.
    Neither movement from nor towards,
    Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
    There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

    I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
    And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

F[edit]

  • Beyond the grave! As the vision rises how this side dwindles into nothing — a speck — a moment — and its glory and pomp shrink into the trinkets and baubles that amuse an infant for a day. Only those things, in the glory of this light, which lay hold of immortality, seem to have any value.
    • Randolph Sinks Foster, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 212

G[edit]

Every situation, every moment — is of infinite worth; for it is the representative of a whole eternity.~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Every situation, every moment — is of infinite worth; for it is the representative of a whole eternity.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as quoted in Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann and Soret (1850) translated by John Oxenford, Vol. I, p. 87
  • The tree will not only lie as it falls, but it will fall as it leans. What is the inclination of my soul?
    • Joseph John Gurney, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 213
  • I was suddenly arrested by what seemed to be an awful voice proclaiming the words, "Eternity! Eternity! Eternity!" It reached my very soul — my whole man shook — it brought me like Saul to the ground. The great depravity and sinfulness of my heart were set before me, and the gulf of everlasting destruction to which I was verging. I was made to bitterly cry out, "If there is no God — doubtless there is a hell." I found myself in the midst of it.
    • Stephen Grellet, in Memoirs of the Life and Gospel Labors of Stephen Grellet (1860), p. 20

H[edit]

  • Eternity invests every state, whether of bliss or of suffering, with a mysterious and awful importance, entirely its own. It gives that weight and moment to whatever it attaches, compared to which all interests that know a period fade into absolute insignificance.
    • Robert Hall, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 212
  • Eternity has no gray hairs! The flowers fade, the heart withers, man grows old and dies, the world lies down in the sepulchre of ages, but time writes no wrinkles on the brow of Eternity.
    • Reginald Heber, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 213
  • Elder God: You may ponder the futility of your ambitions as you spend a deathless eternity beneath a mountain of rubble. You and your Soul Reaver will go equally mad as the eons pass. The Citadel of the apostates will become your living tomb.
  • Eternity is a mere moment, just long enough for a joke.
    • Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927), as translated by Basil Creighton (1929), p. 97
  • Ra's al Ghul:This is a set-back, not a defeat. The advantage is mine. I have eternity... and Batman must win every single time... while I need win but once.
  • David Hine Batman Vol 1 #709
  • αἰὼν παῖς ἐστι παίζων, πεττεύων· παιδὸς ἡ βασιληίη. ~ Heraclitus
    • Eternity is a child playing, playing checkers; the kingdom belongs to a child.
    • Quoted by Hippolytus, Refutation of all heresies, IX, 9, 4 (Fragment 52), as translated in Reality‎ (1994), by Carl Avren Levenson and Jonathan Westphal, p. 10
  • The Doctor: I’m a Time Lord… you don’t understand the implications. I’m not a human being; I walk in eternity.
    • Doctor Who Pyramids of Mars written by "Stephen Harris" (Robert Holmes and Lewis Greifer)

I[edit]

J[edit]

Transition is a complete present which unites the past and the future in a momentary progressive ecstasy, a progressive eternity, a true eternity of eternities, eternal moments ~ Juan Ramón Jiménez
  • A permanent state of transition is man's most noble condition. When we say an artist is in a state of transition, many believe that we are belittling. In my opinion when people speak of an art of transition this indicates a better art and the best that art can give. Transition is a complete present which unites the past and the future in a momentary progressive ecstasy, a progressive eternity, a true eternity of eternities, eternal moments. Progressive ecstasy is above all dynamic; movement is what sustains life and true death is nothing but lack of movement, be the corpse upright or supine. Without movement life is annihilated, within and without, for lack of dynamic cohesion. But the dynamism should be principally of the spirit, of the idea, it should be a moral dynamic ecstasy, dynamic in relation to progress, ecstatic in relation to permanence.
    • Juan Ramón Jiménez, "Heroic Reason", as translated by H. R. Hays, in Selected Writings of Juan Ramon Jimenez (1957) edited by Eugenio Florit, p. 231

K[edit]

  • With all kinds of clever inventions of comfortability, they want to teach people to make it as bright as possible around them in temporality so that they would no longer be able to see eternity. Or even if they do not want to do away completely with the conception of eternity and the happiness of eternity, they still want to degrade it in such a way that no eternal difference (indeed, can anything be more meaningless) remains between the temporal and the eternal. What difference, then, can remain? It seems to be beyond dispute that just as there is a difference of humanity between a human being and an animal, there must be an eternal difference between the temporal and the eternal.
  • You are a tactful swordsman, so I will not renege on our wager. I grant you the kiss of eternal life, but, for your arrogance and pride I will temper my gift with this curse. You will be a mere shell of yourself as I strip you of most of your powers. Each nightfall, evils will be shown to you, and the pain of their victims will be your pain. You will never know rest as you wander this world searching to slay the horrors that haunt your sleeping world. You will suffer grievous wounds, but you will not die, and as eternity rolls on, you will crave my touch. Your face will bear my visage, and your eyes will burn with hellfire. But...let it not be said that I am without mercy. There shall be an end to your curse. If all the beasts of the dark are slain, then you may find rest.
  • In an infinite, eternal universe, the point is that anything is possible, and it's unlikely that we can even begin to scratch the surface of the full range of possibilities.

L[edit]

  • Summarum summa est æternum.
    • The sum total of all sums total is eternal.
    • Lucretius in De Rerum Natura, III, 817. Also in Book V, 362

M[edit]

And I thought of history as a river and eternity as the ocean. ~ Terence McKenna
We are being sucked into the body of eternity. ~ Terence McKenna
  • Transiency is stamped on all our possessions, occupations, and delights. We have the hunger for eternity in our souls, the thought of eternity in our hearts, the destination for eternity written on our inmost being, and the need to ally ourselves with eternity proclaimed by the most short-lived trifles of time. Either these things will be the blessing or the curse of our lives. Which do you mean that they shall be for you?
    • Alexander Maclaren, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 207
  • Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.
  • The way I thought of time was I thought of it like a river. And so I thought of it as flowing toward its lowest level. And I thought of history as a river and Eternity as the ocean. So naturally history flows downhill to reach Eternity. I also like the fact that when the descent in elevation is rapid, the river runs faster, and when the landscape is almost flat, the river broadens out and meanders. So it was to preserve this idea of time as a fluid. The other reason is a mathematical reason. It has to do with the fact that if we have novelty moving downward, then the maximum of novelty is zero.
  • Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
    To lay thir just hands on that golden key
    That opes the palace of Eternity.
    To such my errand is; and but for such,
    I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
    With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.
  • As to Duration, I still think it is absolutely impossible to conceive it without something that exists, and continues to exist, i.e. to endure. But how it should be a property of the thing existing is to me inconceivable. One thing... is absolutely certain, viz. that if eternal Duration be a property of the Supreme Being, Duration limited must be a property of inferior beings; so that we have here some common property.
    I find you agree with Dr Clarke, in considering Time and Duration as the same. But this is an error that Dr Clarke has fallen into, by not being learned in the Ancient Metaphysics; for there he would have learned that time is only the measure of motion. It therefore could not exist, but with the material world; so that, if we could suppose nothing existing but the Supreme Mind, which is immoveable, there would in that case be Duration, or αίών,—as the Greek Philosophers call it—but not χρόνος, or Time. And the Doctor should not have rejected the common distinction, made by all Philosophers and Divines before him, betwixt Time and Eternity, without assigning better reasons than he has done.
  • A moment standing still for ever.
    • James Montgomery, as quoted in "Eternity" in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 237-38
  • This speck of life in time's great wilderness
    This narrow isthmus 'twixt two boundless seas,
    The past, the future, two eternities!
  • Was it by reason of the collective Christian desire to provide for the welfare of souls in eternity by regular prayers and devotions that time-keeping and the habits of temporal order took hold of men's minds: habits that capitalist civilization presently turned to good account? One must perhaps accept the irony of this paradox. ...Time-keeping passed into time-serving and time-accounting and time-rationing. ...Eternity ceased gradually to serve as the measure and focus of human activities.
  • From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.
    • Edvard Munch, quoted in Sustainable Landscape Construction: A Guide to Green Building Outdoors (2007) by William Thompson and Kim Sorvig, p. 30

N[edit]

O[edit]

  • What is one man's life compared to the eternity of time and space? No more than a snowflake that glitters in the sun for a moment before melting into the flow of time.

P[edit]

Time's revolving wheels shall lose at last
The speed that spins the future and the past:
And, sovereign of an undisputed throne,
Awful eternity shall reign alone. ~ Petrarch
The time will come when every change shall cease,
This quick revolving wheel shall rest in peace:
No summer then shall glow, not winter freeze;
Nothing shall be to come, and nothing past,
But an eternal now shall ever last. ~ Petrarch
  • Those spacious regions where our fancies roam,
    Pain'd by the past, expecting ills to come,
    In some dread moment, by the fates assign'd,
    Shall pass away, nor leave a rack behind;
    And Time's revolving wheels shall lose at last
    The speed that spins the future and the past:
    And, sovereign of an undisputed throne,
    Awful eternity shall reign alone.
    • Petrarch, Triumph of Eternity, line 102
  • The time will come when every change shall cease,
    This quick revolving wheel shall rest in peace:
    No summer then shall glow, not winter freeze;
    Nothing shall be to come, and nothing past,
    But an eternal now shall ever last.
    • Petrarch, Triumph of Eternity, line 117
  • Rust Cohle: In eternity, where there is no time, nothing can grow. Nothing can become. Nothing changes. So death created time to grow the things that it would kill... and you are reborn but into the same life that you've always been born into. I mean, how many times have we had this conversation, detectives? Well, who knows? When you can't remember your lives, you can't change your lives, and that is the terrible and the secret fate of all life. You're trapped... like a nightmare you keep waking up into.
  • So when the universe was quickened with soul, God was well pleased; and he bethought him to make it yet more like its type. And whereas the type is eternal and nought that is created can be eternal, he devised for it a moving image of abiding eternity, which we call time. And he made days and months and years, which are portions of time; and past and future are forms of time, though we wrongly attribute them also to eternity. For of eternal Being we ought not to say 'it was', 'it shall be', but 'it is' alone: and in like manner we are wrong in saying 'it is' of sensible things which become and perish; for these are ever fleeting and changing, having their existence in time.
  • And when the father who begat it perceived the created image of the eternal gods, that it had motion and life, he rejoiced and was well pleased; and he bethought him to make it yet more nearly like its pattern. Now whereas that is a living being eternally existent, even so he essayed to make this All the like to the best of his power. Now so it was that the nature of the ideal was eternal. But to bestow this attribute altogether upon a created thing was impossible; so he bethought him to make a moving image of eternity, and while he was ordering the universe he made of eternity that abides in unity an eternal image moving according to number, even that which we have named time. For whereas days and nights and months and years were not before the universe was created, he then devised the generation of them along with the fashioning of the universe. Now all these are portions of time, and was and shall be are forms of time that have come to be, although we wrongly ascribe them unawares to the eternal essence. For we say that it was and is and shall be, but in verity is alone belongs to it: and was and shall be it is meet should be applied only to Becoming which moves in time; for these are motions. But that which is ever changeless without motion must not become elder or younger in time, neither must it have become so in past nor be so in the future; nor has it to do with any attributes that Becoming attaches to the moving objects of sense: these have come into being as forms of time, which is the image of eternity and revolves according to number. Moreover we say that the become is the become, and the becoming is the becoming, and that which shall become is that which shall become, and not-being is not-being. In all this we speak incorrectly. But concerning these things the present were perchance not the right season to inquire particularly.
    • Plato, Timaeus (ca. 360 BC) 38B, as quoted by R. D. Archer-Hind, 'The Timaeus of Plato (1888)
  • Time then has come into being along with the universe, that being generated together, together they may be dissolved, should a dissolution of them ever come to pass; and it was made after the pattern of the eternal nature, that it might be as like to it as was possible. For the pattern is existent for all eternity; but the copy has been and is and shall be throughout all time continually. So then this was the plan and intent of God for the generation of time; the sun and the moon and five other stars which have the name of planets have been created for defining and preserving the numbers of time. ...and a month is fulfilled when the moon, after completing her own orbit, overtakes the sun; a year, when the sun has completed his own course. But the courses of the others men have not taken into account, save a few out of many... they do not know that time arises from the wanderings of these, which are incalculable in multitude and marvellously intricate. None the less however can we observe that the perfect number of time fulfils the perfect year at the moment when the relative swiftnesses of all the eight revolutions accomplish their course together and reach their starting-point, being measured by the circle of the same and uniformly moving. In this way then and for these causes were created all such of the stars as wander through the heavens and turn about therein, in order that this universe may be most like to the perfect and ideal animal by its assimilation to the eternal being.
    • Plato, Timaeus (ca. 360 BC) 38D-40A, as quoted by R. D. Archer-Hind, 'The Timaeus of Plato (1888)

Q[edit]

R[edit]

  • The youth of the soul is everlasting, and eternity is youth.
    • Jean Paul Richter, reported in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 213

S[edit]

Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity. ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
"You said the Highway to Eternity?"
That is not what I said. I said the Highway of Eternity.
"Small difference," Boone told him.
Not so small as you might think. ~ Clifford D. Simak
Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end: we fancy that we have always possessed what we love, so difficult is it to imagine how we could have lived without it. ~ Anne Louise Germaine de Staël
  • Was man von der Minute ausgeschlagen
    Gibt keine Ewigkeit zurück.
    • Eternity gives nothing back of what one leaves out of the minutes.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Resignation, Stanza 18
  • Boone gulped and swallowed. He spoke to The Hat.
    "You said the Highway to Eternity?"
    That is not what I said. I said the Highway of Eternity.
    "Small difference," Boone told him.
    Not so small as you might think.
  • We feel and experience ourselves to be eternal. (Latin: "Sentimus experimurque nos æternos esse.")
  • It is a commonplace that eternity is not an endless prolongation of time, has nothing to do with time. Eternity is a characteristic of the mystical experience. The word eternity doubtless meant originally endlessness of time, which must count, therefore, as its literal meaning. But in its religious and metaphysical use it is a metaphor for the characteristic of the experience. For in that experience time drops away and is no more seen.
  • Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end: we fancy that we have always possessed what we love, so difficult is it to imagine how we could have lived without it.
    • Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, in Corinne (1807), Bk. 8, Ch. 2, as translated by Isabel Hill (1833)
    • Variant translation: It is certainly through love that eternity can be understood; it confuses all thoughts about time; it destroys the ideas of beginning and end; one thinks one has always been in love with the person one loves, so difficult is it to conceive that one could live without him.
      • As translated by Sylvia Raphael (1998)

T[edit]

In time there is no present,
In eternity no future,
In eternity no past.

We laugh, we cry, we are born, we die.
Who will riddle me the how and the why? ~ Alfred Tennyson

  • I am any man's suitor,
    If any will be my tutor:
    Some say this life is pleasant,
    Some think it speedeth fast,
    In time there is no present,
    In eternity no future,
    In eternity no past.

    We laugh, we cry, we are born, we die.
    Who will riddle me the how and the why?

  • Life is not hurrying
    on to a receding future, nor hankering after
    an imagined past. It is the turning
    aside like Moses to the miracle
    of the lit bush, to a brightness
    that seemed as transitory as your youth
    once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
    • R. S. Thomas, in "The Bright Field" in Laboratories of the Spirit (1975), p. 60
  • somewhere within sight
    of the tree of poetry
    that is eternity wearing
    the green leaves of time.
  • The result would inevitably be a state of universal rest and death, if the universe were finite and left to obey existing laws. But it is impossible to conceive a limit to the extent of matter in the universe; and therefore science points rather to an endless progress, through an endless space, of action involving the transformation of potential energy into palpable motion and hence into heat, than to a single finite mechanism, running down like a clock, and stopping for ever.
  • William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) (1862). "On the age of the sun’s heat", Macmillan’s Mag., 5, 288–93; PL, 1, 394–68.
  • There is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a Dream, a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And You are but a Thought — a vagrant Thought, a useless Thought, a homeless Thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities.

U[edit]

V[edit]

W[edit]

X[edit]

Y[edit]

  • And can eternity belong to me,
    Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night I, line 66

Z[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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