Where does our attention go nowadays? There are too many, but there are those familiar to us. We watch the newest TV shows and movies. We monitor the hottest news. We follow the lives of famous people. We track the changes of countless trends. We update fashion styles that suit our taste. We spread the latest craze. We buy the coolest high-tech gadgets. Amid these stimuli, we have become so obsessed that we do not notice they all rapidly appear and buried in time.
Yet we are all still bored despite the flood of information. We are unhappy despite hearing the happy lives of many celebrities and happy-ever-after stories. We are irked easily as we hear a lot of political noises. We are appalled and fed up by all the bad news around. We are drowned and confused by thousands upon thousands of advertisements and the persuasive lies of many companies. This explosion of information has trapped us more on many things that are really less important for our true growth.
These reflections led me to understand what the American poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau meant by the word times when he wrote Read not the times. Read the eternities. in his essay Life without Principles. Times refers to the sources of information that rely heavily on what is popular-today-forgotten-tomorrow quality. We build our stories upon what is sensational, newsworthy, controversial and intriguing. We adore images of many products and status symbols that define our personalities. We crave for them for they bring so much pleasure in our lives. Our way of life is centered around these impermanent things . These are all aspects of times.
Love is, in itself, the eternities.
Are they all wrong? No, not really. But our emphasis on them is. We continue to seek information from the outside source. Anything outside of us is always temporary. That is an irrefutable truth. Trends and fashion fade away over the years. Hi-tech gadgets become outdated after a few months. Any loud headlines later become unheard histories. However, we still read and talk about them because they keep us entertained until they all become obsolete. Even so, we remain unhappy, empty and uncertain of the things that deserve our true attention. We have forgotten that the source of true information and knowledge come from inside of us.
In contrast, Thoreau advises us to heed the eternities. These are sources of information that defy the challenge of time. Eternities are basically internal, the shapes of our interior landscapes. They reveal timeless information universal to every human beings. This information is found within the deepest part of our being, something that reveals who we truly are. These sources are stories of our quest for the spiritual and the mystical, our search for meaning and purpose, our realizations of what life is, our ability to witness the mysteries of the universe, our profound relationships with the people we Love. These eternities bring forth the least person we recognize – ourselves. We can find them through many expressions of sacred wisdom or through principles distilled from them by ancient and modern teachers. We might forget these sources, but they are all accessible within ourselves.
Eternities bring us clarity and understanding of our lives in relation to others and to the world. They are our inner experiences – our imaginations, thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas, intuitions, sensibilities and sensations. They are concepts that remain true and alive even after many sages discovered them hundreds and thousands of years ago. Inner peace, joy, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, faith, hope and Love are essentially eternal and universal. There is no time, no space, no differences. They thrive on our willingness and choice to recognize them. If we just pay attention to them, we could radically transform our lives.
Times are available to our limited senses and they easily decay over time. Although they are everywhere, I focus on something much eternal. I have chosen Love as the basis of learning the eternities, and in my discovery I know that Love is always incorruptible and enduring. Love is, in itself, the eternities. Although life is short, it is worth spending our lifetime to learn the eternities of Love.