The Eternal and Limitless Nature of the Spiritual Realm


Dante and Beatrice, gazing towards Eternity. By Gustave Doré. 
 

In this post we’ll look at how Dante expresses the nature of the Divine and Existence itself in one single verse line, in Purgatory Canto 10.

But first, it’s helpful to remember that one of the main overall goals through the second book of Dante’s Divine Comedy is to open up and increase the understanding of the Spiritual Realm, for which the virtue of Intellectual Humility is an essential key, and where the Dream and the Gate in Canto 9 are the main thresholds to begin this process.

And one basic and important idea that might take some time to grasp fully and get used to, is that this realm is eternal, limitless and timeless, which we’ll finally experience when we arrive in the 10th Sphere of Heaven, which is purely beyond time and space.

In order to understand the idea about eternity better it might be fruitful to start thinking about for example numbers, or mathematics first. There are an infinite amount of numbers, but they are “nowhere” spatially, and there is no problem to “store” this infinite amount of numbers anywhere. They also don’t age or decay, and they arguably have no age either. Thus the numbers can easily exist beyond time and space, and presumably eternally (even if the material cosmos might collapse one day).

The same could be said about laws and rules of mathematics, which is constantly expanding for us, and exist separately from the material. The laws of physics appear to be the same, eternal (given stable parameters of the cosmos), and beyond time and space.

So this is a helpful background to understand the verse in Purgatory 10:94, where Dante describes the Divine as:

That One for Whom no new thing can exist

And one way to start meditating on this verse, is to think that in the same way that all mathematics already “exist” and is eternal, independent of our human incremental discovery of it, all of the Spiritual Realm is also already existing in its eternity and limitlessness. The material world is merely a small, selected and shifting manifestation of the spiritual, or the Potentialities in the Aristotelian language. Seen in this way, as the Divine in Dante’s Comedy is revealed as the Light which is the source of all the Spiritual, it also already contains everything that can ever be, and can ever exist.

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