Immortality





It is in a faith in a Beyond, and in the immortality of our true being,

that what lies finely distributed through all religion sums itself up and

comes to full blossoming: the certainty that world and existence are

insufficient, and the strong desire to break through into the true being,

of which at the best we have here only a foretaste and intuition. The

doctrine of immortality stands by itself as a matter of great solemnity

and deep rapture. If it is to be talked about, both speaker and hearers

ought to be in an exalted mood. It is the conviction which, of all

religious convictions, can be least striven for consciously; it must well

forth from devotional personal experience of the spirit and its dignity,

and thus can maintain itself without, and indeed against much reasoning.

To educate and cultivate it in us requires a discipline of meditation, of

concentration, and of spiritual self-culture from within outwards. If we

understood better what it meant to "live in the spirit," to develop the

receptivity, fineness, and depth of our inner life, to listen to and

cultivate what belongs to the spirit, to inform it with the worth and

content of religion and morality, and to integrate it in the unity and

completeness of a true personality, we should attain to the certainty that

personal spirit is the fundamental value and meaning of all the confused

play of evolution, and is to be estimated on quite a different scale from

all other being which is driven hither and thither in the stream of

Becoming and Passing away, having no meaning or value because of which it

must endure. And it would be well also if we understood better how to

listen with keener senses to our intuitions, to the direct

self-consciousness of the spirit in regard to itself, which sleeps in

every mind, but which few remark and fewer still interpret. Here, where

the gaze of self-examination reaches its horizon, and can only guess at

what lies beyond, but can no longer interpret it, lie the true motives and

reasons for our conviction of immortality. An apologetic cannot do more

than clear away obstacles, nor need it do much more than has hitherto been

done. It reminds us, as we have already seen, that the world which we know

and study, and which includes ourselves, does not show its true nature to

us; hidden depths lie behind appearances. And it gathers together and sums

up all the great reasons for the independence and underivability of the

spiritual as contrasted with the corporeal. The spiritual has revealed

itself to us as a reality in itself, which cannot be explained in terms of

the corporeal, and which has dominion over it. Its beginning and its end

are wholly unfathomable. There is no practical meaning in discussing its

"origin" or its "passing away," as we do with regard to the corporeal.

Under certain corporeal conditions it is there, it simply appears. But it

does not arise out of them. And as it is not nothing, but an actual and

effective reality, it can neither have come out of nothing nor disappear

into nothing again. It appears out of the absolutely transcendental,

associates itself with corporeal processes, determines these and is

determined by them, and in its own time passes back from this world of

appearance to the transcendental again. It is like a great unknown sea,

that pours its waters into the configuration of the shore and withdraws

them again. But neither the flowing in nor the ebbing again is of nothing

or in nothing. Whether and how it retains the content, form, and structure

that it assumes in other spheres of animate and conscious nature, when it

retires into the transcendental again; or whether it dissolves and breaks

up into the universal we do not know; nor do we attribute everlastingness

to those individual forms of consciousness which we call animal souls. But

of the self-conscious, personal spirit religion knows that it is

everlasting. It knows this from its own sources. In its insight into the

underivability and autonomy of the spiritual it finds warrant and freedom

to maintain this knowledge as something apart from or even in contrast to

the general outlook on the world.





How The Religious And The Naturalistic Outlooks Conflict Individual Development facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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