Yearning for eternity led to the construction of some of the most magnificent and sturdy buildings in history: pyramids, temples, churches … Today the tallest and shiniest commercial centers are driven by the exact opposite motivation: instant gratification.
How and when did we barter eternity for a flash of pleasure? As valid as this question is, it is even more curious that we keep building immense sturdy structures even though we pretty much gave up on the quest for eternity.
It makes sense to invest centuries and thousands of human lives in a pyramid that would last millennia if you value eternity. But why in the world would you build a skyscraper a hundred stories high only to furnish offices for clerks that service instant gratification?
Okay, we might conclude, philosophically, both eternity and instant gratification are illusory but still, the consequence is as real as can be: robust architecture.
Builders of ancient temples congregated millions of hours of skilled artistic work into centers of worship, embellished with statutes of immortals, symbols of divinity, portals, pillars, and paintings. They harnessed time and energy and allowed creations to be impregnated, incubated, born, and recreated again and again through human care. And even without much care, these buildings kept withstanding decay. They are almost frozen in time.
Builders of sleek, phallic commercial towers are masters of rapid resource extraction and conversion of these resources into the ever tinier building blocks for ever greater structures. The structures provide consumers with goods for instant gratification. Densely concentrated energy and resources revolve around growth doctrine.
Today concrete is poured into molds. When it dries it stares us in the eye raw, unfurnished, insulting the poetic sense of our eternal souls. No matter how coarse or fine the elementary building blocks are – stone slabs or powdered cement – they can’t fool the soul into perceiving them as lasting.
In a decade or a century, the illusion bursts like a bubble. These structures of steel and glass need huge energy inputs and constant maintenance to be functional, alive.
Basing sustainability of civilization on such shaky foundations is insane.
One sure thing about eternity is that it is ever-changing, light, profound. To be eternal means to be timeless. Incomprehensible.
We cannot comprehend eternity because we are confined and defined by time as we partake in it. We can only intuit eternity and express it through analogies.
Sustainability is a global buzz-word today. We understand that life is the essence of eternity. As entropy baffles human efforts to make material structures durable, it becomes obvious that we need to nurture life.
Life has a peculiar characteristic of creating itself over and over again. Life structures matter flexibly, like waves: waves borrow and exchange (life-)force from other waves and ultimately pass on all their force to other waves as they “disappear,” merging with the surface and reappearing in slightly different shape and consistency.
This wavering is eternal. As long as there is (and will be) matter spirit will be borrowing “waves” from it and creating new waves to be passed on to new waves – ad infinitum.
When we think in waves, it is impossible to draw the line between living beings and dead matter in this universe. It may take the wavering of the matter of the entire galaxy to spawn a single living cell on a planet (according to our definition of life), that’s a part of one eternal Life. And as ancient mystical traditions hint, the entire universe may be a dream of hyper-dimensional Life and we are Its fleeting shadows.
Try to see the world from this perspective and then realize how far we’ve digressed from eternity. Expose yourself to life. Dive into the waves of this Ocean and you’ll be eternal – as you’ve always been.
Our temples and pyramids might last a few millennia but they will ultimately get consumed by the waves of time. Consumed, you know, just as we consume a burger, chocolate, cup of coffee.
From this perspective, it seems eternity and instant gratification are not that far removed from each other. We are the waves enjoying ourselves and others – instantly, eternally.
We shouldn’t build monuments to waves. We are waves!
Right now I am immersed in the magnificent sunset. I am observing it at the airport hall in Warsaw.
Straight lines and reflections on the windows, steel pillars and tin roofs, LED lights and a view of extensive asphalt surfaces… all that seems dull and bleak in comparison to red, red sphere kissing the forest on the horizon. Waves kissing waves – me included!
Understand that you are a wave and you’ll never again be lonely, unloved, afraid, limited. You’ll enjoy each wave you meet, you’ll consume some and allow yourself to be consumed by others.
Go outside now! Be the wave that you are! Kiss the forest, kiss the sky. You are all eternal!