This is the true eternal return, the eternal repetition of the fundamental rhythm of the cosmos — its periodical destruction and re-creation. … It was chiefly the religious and philosophical elites who felt despair in the presence of cyclic time repeating itself
For to Indian thought, this eternal return implied eternal return to existence by force of karma, the law of universal causality. Then, too, time was homologized to the cosmic illusion
and the eternal return to existence signified indefinite prolongation of suffering and slavery. In the view of these religious and philosophical elites, the only hope was nonreturn-to-existence, the abolition of karma;
in other words, final deliverance
implying a transcendence of the cosmos.
[This transcendence is acieved through the «fortunate instant»
which implies a sort of sacred Time that permits emergence from time;
Images et symboles,
pp. 10 ff.]
The cyclicity of time is associated with the conversion of celestial spheres. Time is a moving image of a fixed eternity.
Greece too knew
the myth of the eternal return,
and the Greek philosophers of the late period carried the conception of circular time to its furthest limits. To quote the perceptive words of H. C. Puech: “According to the celebrated Platonic definition, time, which is determined and measured by
the revolution of the celestial spheres, is the moving image of unmoving eternity,
which it imitates by revolving in a circle. Consequently all cosmic becoming, and, in the same manner, the duration of this world of generation and corruption in which we live, will progress in a circle or in accordance with an indefinite succession of cycles in the course of which the same reality is made, unmade, and remade in conformity with an immutable law and immutable alternatives. Not only is the same sum of existence preserved in it, with
nothing being lost and nothing created,
but in addition certain thinkers of declining antiquity — Pythagoreans, Stoics, Platonists — reached the point of admitting that within each of these cycles of duration, of these
aeva, the same situations are reproduced that have already been produced in previous cycles and will be reproduced in subsequent cycles —
ad infinitum. No event is unique, occurs once and for all (for example, the condemnation and death of Socrates), but it has occurred, occurs, and will occur, perpetually;
the same individuals have appeared, appear, and will reappear at every return of the cycle upon itself. Cosmic duration is repetition and
anakuklosis, eternal return.”
[Henri Charles Puech,
"La gnose et le temps,"
XX, 1952, pp. 60-61.]