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Eternal Consciousness

John S. Dunne

Publication Year: 2012

In his new book, John S. Dunne asks: “So what is eternal consciousness? It is, I take it, consciousness of the eternal in us. If time is ‘a changing image of eternity,’ as Plato says, the changing image of the human being is like The Voyage of Life, four paintings by Thomas Cole, showing childhood, youth, adulthood, and age. The eternal in us is the person going through these phases. It is the vertical dimension of the life, as in the title scene of War and Peace where Prince Andre lay on the battlefield looking up into the peaceful sky, perceiving peace in the midst of war. If the horizontal dimension is time and the vertical dimension is eternity, then eternal consciousness is awareness of the vertical dimension. What is more, the vertical dimension carries through the horizontal, as the person walks through life upright instead of being dragged through in ‘quiet desperation.’ Willingness and hope, accordingly, is willingness to walk through upright with hope in the face of death and darkness.” —from the book

What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope? Dunne explores these questions in his characteristic hermeneutic method, finding the answer in “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). It is the life of the spirit that is the eternal in us, the inner life of knowing and loving, the life of hope and peace and friendship and intelligence. “If there were no eternal consciousness in a man,” Kierkegaard says, “what then would life be but despair?” John Dunne adds, if there is eternal consciousness in us, on the other hand, there is hope.
To readers of John Dunne’s books, Eternal Consciousness will be the latest installment chronicling his spiritual journey; to readers new to Dunne’s oeuvre, it will be a lively introduction to the distinctive voice and thought of an inspiring author.
"As action grows more frantic and voices more shrill in this age of terror, John Dunne's wisdom, born of Eternal Consciousness, shows us and leads us into our true selves—never unloved, never abandoned, willing to walk on with God through life into the very gateway of death itself." —Jon Nilson, Loyola University Chicago

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

“How quiet, peaceful, and solemn, not at all as I ran,” says Prince Andre lying on the battlefield at Austerlitz in the title scene of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, “not as we ran, shouting and fighting . . . how differently do those clouds glide across that...

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“We can know more than we can tell”

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pp. 1-18

“I’m outside my heart, looking for the way back in.”1 These words from a story can describe a spiritual problem of our times. We are outside our heart, looking for the way back in. I believe it is because among the traditional three lives, action...

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Is Matter a Dimension?

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pp. 19-35

Space is three-dimensional, and time is a fourth dimension, and matter is thought to be situated in space and time. If we say matter itself is a dimension, though, then what is situated in space and time and...

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Real Presences

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pp. 37-60

If “we all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence,” as Dag Hammarskjöld says in his brochure for the Meditation Room at the UN, the surrounding silence can be interpreted as the surrounding...

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Words and Music

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pp. 61-77

“You must love the music, not master it,” a Chinese grandmother advised one of my students who was feeling frustrated, trying to play a difficult nocturne by Chopin on the piano. “Music must be treated as all things that are...

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Story and Song

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pp. 79-95

“In the beginning is the song,” Michel Serres says in his Genesis, and he contrasts this with “In the beginning was the Word,”1 but I think the Word can be the Song, as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis tell the story of...

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Eternal Consciousness

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pp. 97-108

Eternal consciousness is an answer to “quiet desperation,” as in Thoreau’s saying, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” 1 And I suppose this is what Kierkegaard meant saying “If there were no eternal consciousness...

Song Cycle

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pp. 109-112

A Note on Mind and Matter

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pp. 113-114


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pp. 115-132

Index of Names

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pp. 133-136

E-ISBN-13: 9780268077761
E-ISBN-10: 0268077762
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268026103
Print-ISBN-10: 0268026106

Page Count: 136
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2012