ALTHOUGH THEIR QUALITIES AND ACTIONS ARE UNCERTAIN, WHOEVER COMES TO THIS LAND DEFINITELY LEAVES IT ONE DAY. BY EXERCISING OUR FREE WILL HERE, WE WEAVE OUR DEEDS BETWEEN THE SAME START AND END, I.E. BIRTH AND DEATH.
Eternia is the land of eternity, the land where there is no end to anything. I learned it from an animated cartoon named He-man. At that young age, I did not really feel what it meant to be eternal, because I was not in search of it. For me, what mattered was the excitement I felt in catching the cartoon on time every week. Once the episode was over, the unknown and unexpected adventures of the next episode used to keep my excitement active until then. Today, as I age into maturity, the unknown outcomes of the events in my life and the uncertainties about the possible realizations of my dreams keep me in a state similar to that which I experienced in my childhood. But this time, I am the hero, and the world around me replaces Eternia. I am the one who is going through troubles to gain inexhaustible satisfaction and joy. If you follow me, I will tell you the “sesame” f o r m u l a that opens the doors of Eternia. “It was the fall of 1977. The corridors of the hospital reverberated with the cries of a newborn. His delayed birth was taking place at a later time of the day, due to his mother’s reluctance and fear to deliver him.” Given this very same start, a thousand people could come up with a thousand different stories. You can go further and specify an end to this story, such as “As the sun fell below the horizon, he permanently closed his eyes with tears and a deep smile on his lips.” Still, there will be an infinite number of possible ways of moving from the given start to the given end.
The existence of infinite possible ways of life results in our inability to accurately predict the future. Here are some actual examples to further our thoughts. Lincoln, who finally had great political success, lost so many times in his past enterprises. Without seeing the final point, it is impossible to tell if he was an idealist destined to success, or a loser with an obsession. Similarly, in the case of Einstein, it was impossible to tell at first whether he would be a famous and successful scientist despite his awful start in education, or a dropout student due to his non-conformity and academic inadequacy.
These examples show that we are not only unable to penetrate into the future but also ignorant of the true nature of events. The reason for our both shortcomings is the uncertainty inherent between two points in the time line. Exactly the same thing can be seen in geometry. There are infinite number of curves that pass through a given pair of points, which means there are infinite number of equations that can describe the distribution of a pair of points. The concept of infinite number of curves is enabled by the uncertainty about the path connecting the two points. Are there other instances linking uncertainty to infinity?
What is the size of the universe anyway? Many people have been dazzled by this question throughout history. Studies were done to see if the universe had limits, and if so, to determine its size. Still, we do not have an established answer to this question. Simply, we say the universe is infinite. The reason behind this unproven conclusion is the uncertainty about the limits of the universe. In effect, our ignorance of them translates into the conclusion of an infinite universe. Once more, we see the strong relationship between uncertainty and infinity.
Why is a prison a prison? Is it because you cannot get out of an area whose borders are visible? Or, is it because you are only allowed to certain number of actions there? Both can be part of the answer. Now, help the inmates and make the area of the prison larger so that they cannot see the borders anymore. Let us make their building larger as well. Does it not sound like our situation within the borders of a country? What is happening is that you are introducing a significant amount of uncertainty into the limits of the prison area, which induces a feeling of infinite land for the inmates.
Although we like uncertainty when it gives a flavor of infinity to pleasures, we usually do not like it when it is present in fears and losses. The fear of losing1 and not knowing the limits of the loss are two killers of all pleasures. Uncertainty induces a fear of infinite loss. Try to remember a rendezvous with a friend for which he/she was late. Until the time your friend showed up, the uncertainty of the time of arrival triggered a feeling of infinite waiting time, which made you impatient. When you are sick, not knowing the time you will recover also puts a lot of burden on your soul.2
Another example is found in male-female relations, especially in the western world. By not marrying each other and continuing with dating, individuals introduce uncertainty into their relationship, which gives them a sense of infinite freedom of action in their couple life. The comfort of infinite freedom of action due to uncertainty transforms into selfish moves in the long run. Then, insincere attitudes fostered by infinite freedom trigger an ever-growing mistrust within the couple due to the uncertainty about the individuals’ fidelity to each other, and the pair disintegrates.
Similarly, the uncertainty of the moment of death triggers a feeling of infinite life.3 Our lack of vision of God and the angels induces an infinite level of freedom of action. Human beings, especially youth, are challenged by this hypothetical infinity of life and their supposed freedom of action. However, the actual coming of death permanently removes the uncertainty about the angels and God. Thus, uncertainty serves as a means of eliminating the permanent residents of paradise from the permanent residents of hell.4
To conclude, this world is a land of uncertainties except for two things: birth and death. Although their qualities and actions are uncertain, whoever comes to this land definitely leaves it one day. By exercising our free will here, we weave our deeds, as everyone else does, between the same start and end, i.e. birth and death. However, the uncertain nature of this world tempts us with a hypothetical infinity embedded in its pleasures and burdens. Maybe this supposed infinity is a manifestation of two eternal lands, i.e. paradise and hell, whose existence is uncertain for us. Then, we, as humans, need a Helper to survive under the uncertainties of this world, a merciful Omnipotent Being who can convert these uncertainties into the infinite bliss of the actual Eternia-paradise in the company of our Creator.
- Hadith: “Remember death very frequently, the spoiler of pleasures.”
- Nursi, S., The Flashes, 25th Flash, 11th Remedy.
- Nursi, S., The Flashes, 21st Flash, 1st Means of Attaining Sincerity.
- He Who has created death and life, so that He may try you (and demonstrate to yourselves) which of you is better in deeds… (Mulk 67:2)