Question: We are trying to translate your books into Indonesian, and one of the difficult things in Indonesian is that they use the same word for Eternity and Immortality. Even in the English dictionary, they are very closely related. So we were wondering, when you use these two words, what are the deeper meanings that you are trying to convey?Sri Chinmoy: It is very easy. When it comes to Life, Life is birthless and deathless, so it is immortal. Death itself is just a passage. Death is not the end; death is a road. Life, too, is a road. After the life-road comes the death-road. Some people are good, while others are bad. Similarly, some roads are good, some roads are bad. For good people, when the death-road comes, it is also a very bright road. Here, after running, we can rest and there also we can rest. Here we do not have the inner vision, but in the soul’s world, we see what we are going to do, what we are supposed to do, what is God’s Plan.
I am making it very simple for you. Immortality is when we pass through life and death. It is like the Midtown Tunnel in Manhattan. First there is light, then we pass through the tunnel, and after the tunnel again we get light. From mortality we go to Immortality. Life can be fleeting; it can be a matter of forty, fifty or sixty years. Again, the same life can become immortal on the strength of God-realisation. When the human life becomes consciously one with God’s Will, then it becomes immortal. At that time, the finite life and the infinite Life go together.
Eternity has no end, but from Eternity we do not get something concrete. Once something is done, in the course of Eternity it becomes almost immaterial. Immortality, on the other hand, is full of life-energy. While going from mortality to Immortality, we are only creating and creating, whereas Eternity is stretched very long, but on the way it does not have the same kind of productivity. Eternity is very, very long and very spacious, but something illumining or fulfilling we cannot get from Eternity. The life-force that is there is not dynamic or productive.
When we say ‘Immortality’, the heart immediately responds. The heart is closely connected with Immortality. Eternity is not like that. When it is something eternal, the mind may give a response, or something else in our life may respond.
So, for me, Immortality is more important than Eternity, because Immortality is producing, producing. Immortality has more joy and light in it. When we say ‘immortal’, immediately something happens inside our heart. But when we hear the word ‘eternal’, we think of a very endless land, almost a fallow land. That is my own inner feeling.
I understand that in Chinese there is no word for ‘consciousness’. There are so many English words that cannot be translated here. Unfortunately, that is the language barrier. Similarly, in Bengali also, there are some words that cannot be translated into English properly.
Once again, I wish to make myself clear. For me, Immortality is Life and Life is vibrant. Eternity does not carry this same sense. My third eye perhaps cares more for Immortality —- not the physical Immortality, but the Immortality that is growing and growing and growing, the Immortality that is ever-transcending, no matter where it is or at which stage. Immortality carries self-transcendence, but Eternity does not carry that message.