Time depends on your mind. The more unconscious you are, the more you hold dreams in your mind – in the same proportion. The more conscious you are, in the same proportion, the less dreams can possess you. If the unconsciousness is deep, then in a moment you can dream of years. If the awareness is deep, total, then time disappears. Then there is no question of years; time disappears! Ask Mahavira, Buddha, Jesus – they say that when samadhi is experienced, time disappears. In a state of total contentment, there is no time. There is time in the state of deep unconsciousness – endless time. And you are somewhere in between – sometimes unconscious, sometimes aware; sometimes happy, sometimes unhappy. Time seems to be endless when you are sad.
Christians say that hell is eternal; once you fall into it then you will never get out. Bertrand Russell has raised a very scientific argument. He has written a book against Christianity, Why I Am Not A Christian, and he has made many arguments in it. One of them is – and the argument seems to be very significant – when Russell says, “In my life, whatever sins I have committed and whatever sins I have only imagined committing, even if there is punishment for imagined sins too, then even the hardest judge could give me a punishment of no more than five years.” And Christians believe there is only one life so there is not much complication. But Christianity seems to be absurd. For these small sins I will be thrown into eternal hell? I cannot understand this. This punishment seems to be more than is necessary. It seems that Christianity is waiting just to entrap you! What sins have we committed anyway?"
If you think about it, Russell’s argument will look right to you. You may have stolen some money, you may have cut open someone’s pocket, you may not have told someone that you found some money lying on the ground and kept it for yourself, you may have looked at someone’s wife with lust, you may have looked at someone’s house with jealousy, you may have abused someone, you may have fought with someone – these are your sins. These are very minor sins, worth a paisa, and for these sins you have to suffer hell for eternity! No Christian could answer Russell because it is a very clear argument. Russell says that howsoever many sins you may have committed, there must be a limit to the punishment. Eternal punishment for limited sins?
But I have some other reasons too. Russell has since died. If he were still alive, I would say to him that you have not understood the issue at all. You have missed Jesus’ point. When Jesus said, “Hell is eternal,” he was saying that there is so much suffering that a moment will seem to be like an eternity. Time seems to be prolonged by the intensity of the suffering. “Eternal” does not literally mean eternal, it is just symbolic. The pain is so intense that the night does not seem to pass, it seems to be eternal. The word eternal is used to indicate the depth of suffering. Here, the word eternal has nothing to do with the length of time. The meaning of the word eternal is related to the depth of the suffering in time. If you are in hell even for a moment, then it will seem that this moment is never going to end. This is the whole meaning of it. Moments of pain become eternal. Moments of happiness pass in an instant. In a moment of bliss, there is no time. That’s why those who have known bliss have said that it is timeless, it is beyond time; time ends there.