There is a very general belief, among all but sceptic materialists, that man is an immortal being. The ideas of his destiny or future after the death’ of the material body differ widely according to the religion, teaching or philosophy followed or the interpretation placed upon observed psychical phenomena.
The orthodox Christian is concerned as to being saved from hell and achieving heaven, likewise the followers of Mahomet. The average Buddhist, a Brahmin and Theosophist look forward to continual development and everlasting unfoldment in repeated lives upon earth; the Spiritualist to a continued progress upon other planes of being. All take it for granted that die continuity of life on the other side of death means immortality.
It is a comforting belief to egotistic man who sets immense value upon his identity, but its actual truth is questionable in the light of the deeper studies of the inner teachings of various ancient Religions.
Immortality means everlasting life, and immortal means one who lives for ever, but it seems like a rash jump to a conclusion to argue that because man goes on living after the death of the material body he never ceases to exist.
In studying the matter, it is first necessary to consider the idea that man is created at birth. As Sir Edwin Arnold points out so logically and conclusively “It is just as absurd to think of something which ends but never had a beginning as something which begins but never ends.” If, therefore, we accept the theory of creation at birth we must acknowledge that man is not immortal, but some time, sooner or later, is dissipated into the void from which he came.
Everything, however, points to man’s preexistence and this leads us to the rational theory of reenbodiment or reincarnation, surely familiar to all readers, is a view which extends our vision over great periods of time and lends color to the belief in immortality. Yet time is but our consciousness of movement and in infinite existence a long or short period of time has no specific value. A man may have lived millions of years before, may have appeared and disappeared millions of times on this or other earths and may go on for millions more, an approach to immortality certainly but not necessarily everlasting life itself. More might be conceded to this theory if the continuity of consciousness and memory could be proven. It may be recalled that last month’s editorial pointed out that such a memory and consciousness do exist, but, if it be granted, it merely removes the problem to a broader though significant field.
Accepting the idea that every human being has lived on earth many times before, and admitting that there is practically no consciousness or memory of the past during the earth life, the statement that he is immortal would be utterly unmeaning and false unless such a memory and consciousness, which bind all the lives together in one whole and which will embrace the intervening periods also, be likewise admitted.
This is the Super Consciousness, the Higher Genius, the Spiritual Soul, the Ego, the Individuality, the Karanopadhi. Of the several occult schools and perhaps for all men may be considered immortal, although a philosophic mind going farther into the abstract can easily see the only real immortality in the One Eternal Cause.
Accepting, however, that this Real True Self exists, conscious ana with a memory of itself in all its manifestations over immense periods of time, it may be assumed to be immortal, relatively at least. It is the Sutratma or thread upon which all the earth lives are strung, but the hypothesis removes the question of immortality from the man as we know him to an individual of whom he is not at all conscious, in another state of existence of which he knows nothing.
Man here on earth is therefore distinctly mortal. His is a restricted consciousness, his memory confined to the events of his particular earth life. Without the larger memory of the Self he is to all intents and purposes a newly created being, a creature of circumstance who lives his little life here and a period elsewhere and then ceases to exist as the person other men knew and contacted.
From psychological research we know that, connected with this very limited and restricted personality, is a consciousness of a vastly higher character which is not expressed through the physical body, nor do we find it expressed through the finer body used after death. Therefore, the idea that we human beings here in the earth and after death life are immortal is most certainly false and the sooner we realize it the better.
Such an erroneous idea but makes for apathy, lack of effort. If a person fails in his ambitions, gives way to the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and ignores the urge spiritward in his heart, he will, if he believe in Reincarnation or is a Spiritualist, be apt to fall back upon the consoling thought that he has plenty of time in other lives or other conditions to do better.
In view, therefore, of the great extending conviction among all people that death is but a change to another state and the accompanying conclusion that this proves immortality, we consider it important and timely to point to the falsity of that conclusion and to emphasize as strongly as possible that the real goal of the material human being, the true teaching of most religions, is that immortality is not man’s birthright but has to be achieved.
To understand the matter clearly it is necessary to give a digest of what is taught, as the writer understands it, under many symbols, allegories, and nomenclature in all or most of the great occult philsosophies and religions, about man, his constitution and relation to That Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent Source of all which we call God.
In a very real sense God is all there is, manifesting in diverse form throughout the universe. Even form or matter “V is but a modification of that one Spirit, in its most restricted expression, but, during a period of activity, we have to recognize the One Consciousness as separated in forms, and restricted and limited by those forms, and therefore to be regarded as units in the great all embracing Consciousness.
Without going farther into philosophic abstraction what has been stated will perhaps suffice to clear the way for the statement that in Man the highest type of material form and item the highest stage of consciousness in that form we have the highest or most like expression of God, made in His Image, or, as is better expressed, the Microcosm of the Macrocosm. Man is God partly expressed, but capable of eyeimial full manifestation of Divinity. This is the Father Man, the thinker, The Ego, the Individual, the Unit, is the Divine Consciousness restricted by form and existing through aeons of time or periods of activity which we call the Real Self and have agreed to term immortal. This is the Son of the Father, the Christos, the Spirit. The man on earth functioning in the denser vehicles of matter is an effort of the Spirit to manifest more and more perfectly in the material world and may be called the Soul, the Spirit allied to the animal bodies and animal consciousness, struggling to develop those bodies into fitting instruments for its full expression, the Christ crucified on die cross of matter for the Soul’s salvation. This is an incarnation and is but a temporary and periodic manifestation in flesh of this Spirit, so limited and restricted by its vehicle that its beauty, power and wisdom are, except in the most developed souls, almost imperceptible. This entity or Human Soul cannot be considered anything but mortal, until at last through suffering and tribulation the Christ conquers the lower nature, the instrument becomes fit for the player, the Soul is merged into the Spirit and the real man, the Master, the Son of the Father, appears in all His glory upon earth as an immortal being. Then indeed can die man declare “I am he that liveth but was dead and behold I am alive for evermore.”
To achieve immortality then it is first necessary to disassociate ourselves in thought from this body and personality, trying to realize and identify ourselves as a Son of God, to live up to the highest ideals we can conceive of what that Son is and to dominate and control the lower nature so that the “Christ be born in us.” Then indeed will the Chamber be ready for the Bridegroom and the Heavenly marriage take place.