Nature's Analogy For Conditional Immortality
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Matter, energy, life, intelligence and love, in so far as we are able to know them, result from correlated elements, properties, principles and activities that appear to be universal in their manifestations.
Matter (including ether) and energy make up the material universe.
Physical matter has such properties as mass, form. inertia, weight, density, color, etc. It is perfectly evident that these are physical properties.
Energy has such properties as light, heat, electricity, magnetism, etc. These may properly be classed as ethereal properties, since all forms of radiant energy consist essentially of undulatory motions of one uniform medium, namely, ether. Probably they are but different manifestations of various conditions of stress, strain, whirl or motion of this medium.
But there are other phenomena in nature besides those which may be classified as physical and ethereal properties of matter and energy. The greatest of these are life, intelligence, and love. These transcend all the physical and ethereal properties. There is such a gulf between this class of phenomena and the other two, that they cannot be accounted for in the same way, nor can they be explained in the same terms.
Material Elements are identified and described by their properties. No one element is like any other. Certain properties identify each element because no other element has just the same properties to the same degree. For instance, these are the tests for silver, and no other element will meet all these tests : "A metal of a white color, having a specific gravity of 10.4 or 10.7 (according as it is cast, rolled or hammered), harder than gold, and softer than copper, having a tenacity about equal to that of gold, and melting at a temperature a little lower than that of copper, atomic weight 107.93."
Heat, magnetism and electricity cannot be apprehended directly as entities in themselves, but we know that they exist as properties of matter and energy. Neither can we perceive the law of gravitation as an entity. In fact, we know its operation is proof of the existence of an entity, namely, a body exerting an attractive power over another body.
Just as truly we cannot perceive life, intelligence, and love as abstract existences apart from forms. They are not entities in themselves. They have no individuality apart from organisms, as far as we are able to discover. But where and what is the entity which has the power of manifesting independent and individual life, intelligence and love?
Matter cannot think, aspire or love. Energy cannot admire beauty, respond to a poem, inspire friendship, inculcate patriotism, nor detect the difference between selfishness and altruism. Therefore, when we find these qualities and powers manifested, we know that they cannot be explained by physics or chemistry.
No test of physics or chemistry can estimate the strength of a mother's love, or measure the value of a good book or a kind word, or weigh an admonition of conscience. Therefore, we know that these qualities and powers appertain to an entity which is not a physical body nor a form of energy interchangeable with heat, electricity or magnetism.
As the powers of thinking, aspiring, loving, etc., are not physical or ethereal properties, they are classed as spiritual and soul capacities. With many other faculties, capacities and powers, they comprise the properties of a human Soul. These properties taken collectively comprise the soul, or the ego, or the essential entity, or the individual. These four terms are used synonymously in this book.
The existence of the soul is proven by the existence of properties which do not appertain to matter or energy. The soul has properties which constitute an entity different from the entity of any Material Element or the entity produced by any combination of Material Elements. It possesses an individuality which transcends all the possibilities of the physical materials composing its outward form. This individuality persists in spite of the fact that its physical body has consisted of many entirely different sets of physical particles through the processes of digestion, assimilation, excretion and attrition.
Life, intelligence, and love cannot be discerned, examined and described by the same means and methods as can the physical properties of matter. ' Nor are they as easily apprehended as are the ethereal properties of matter and energy. But nevertheless, as the manifestations of physical and ethereal properties prove the existence of matter and energy, so the manifestations of spiritual and soul properties prove the existence of Spiritual and Soul Elements. Life, intelligence, love, etc., are much better apprehended when we call them properties of Spiritual and Soul Elements of nature. Knowledge has advanced through this process of naming attributes and describing qualities.
Properties which do not pertain to something else prove the existence of another entity. Properties cannot exist in the abstract. They must qualify an entity. They are evidences of an actual reality. Spiritual and Soul qualities identify an entity which is not material substance. This reality, this entity, is considered to be the individual him-self, the ego, the personal identity, the soul.
The soul is the essential entity which we know we are in ourselves. Each individual knows this much of himself,-I am a soul, I have a physical body. This identity of the individual which he preserves throughout life is something which is not replaced by food, nor worn away by molecular action. Its memories, its attachments, its associations, its loves and its aspirations constitute a unity of consciousness which belongs to another entity than that of the physical body it inhabits.
On the earth plane the soul of man occupies a physical body. This physical body is composed of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, sulphur, phosphorus, chlorine, silicon, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron and occasionally aluminium, copper and lead. When the Spiritual and Soul Life Elements have gone, the physical body will decompose and each Material Element will return to its simple state or mix in other combinations. No Material Element will be destroyed but the unity of the combination will be dissolved. The same Material Elements will probably be used by many of nature's organizations in turn.
The identity of the person, the entity, the soul, cannot be located by any dissection or analysis of the physical body, living or dead. We do not speak to iron, phosphorus or sodium. We do not love oxygen, carbon or sulphur. We do not know our friends as combinations of these Material Elements. Rather, do we commune with spiritual personal entities.
Though all the limbs may be dissevered, the essential entity remains untouched. The physical body may be reduced in weight by the loss of many pounds of Material Elements, yet the person we know and love is not affected as an Individual Intelligence. The identity of the individual cannot accompany any particle of the physical body at dissolution, for this identity is not physical matter nor a property of physical matter. The individuality is an entity, one specific reality, though not composed of physical materials.
No combination of the Material Elements can manifest any of the qualities of the thinking, aspiring, loving soul. My arm cannot do it, my heart cannot do it, my brain cannot do it. Could I do it without my arm ? Yes. Could I do it without my heart and my brain? I do not know because I have never done so; but I can conceive of this same "I" manifesting the same qualities through a body of finer material than the physical materials of earth.
While life, intelligence, and love are dependent upon physical organisms for manifestation on the earth plane, it is possible that bodies of ethereal substance might serve an equivalent purpose on higher planes of being. By analogy, this is no more difficult to understand and explain than the relations we now see established between physical matter and the mental and moral life of man.
When sleep or a blow on the head or an anesthetic has destroyed consciousness, we do not argue that the essential entity has been annihilated. We have had too many experiences to the contrary to rely solely upon the physical evidences. We know that when the sleep is over or the organism has recovered from the effects of the blow or the anesthetic, there will be a resuming of all the physical, mental and moral activities of the individual.
We do not fear sleep. Why should we fear death? The manifestation of Spiritual and Soul Elements through physical materials in the processes of birth, growth, life and development is beyond our comprehension but we know that it is a fact. It is no more difficult to conceive that the same Elements may correlate ethereal materials for another body and perpetuate the individual consciousness. It would apparently be no more difficult to nature than the four lives of the silkworm, namely,—egg, worm, cocoon and moth.
The argument by analogy for immortality is that if the Material Elements of the physical body are indestructible, the Soul Element may logically be considered as indestructible since it is also an entity.
The difficulty is to demonstrate that an individual (ego, soul, or entity) can unify his various faculties, capacities, powers and desires into such an harmonious organization that their interests will be identical. Many individuals while living on this earth are so torn with inward strife that the same argument by analogy would tend to show, that as the Material Elements quickly disintegrate when they are no longer united by one organizing power, so the Life Elements may dissolve even more quickly. Therefore, the argument is two-edged.
However, if the Life Elements are so harmonious and united that their identity as an individual organization is not destroyed by the shock of physical dissolution, it seems reasonable to suppose that the Soul Entity may have the power of persistence on future, higher planes of existence. The reasons are :
1. The Life Elements, which collected and integrated the materials for a physical body, necessarily existed before that body attained its development. Therefore, there seems to be no reason why they should not continue to exist after the dissolution of the body.
2. Furthermore, these Life Elements possessed an ability and an intelligence which the individual thus made an entity, never possessed or understood. Therefore, continuance of Life of the soul or ego is not conditioned upon the intelligence, or understanding, or cooperation, of that individual, according to the argument by analogy.
3. The Life Elements, which integrated a physical body, may in like manner integrate Ethereal Elements for another body suitable for other realms of conscious life.
4. The Life Elements which have once formed a spiritual entity, a soul, might very well have power to continue the existence of that entity or individual. This hypothesis is no more difficult to comprehend than the reality of every birth here. Life on other planes presents no greater difficulty to our imagination than every actual birth on this plane presents to our limited intelligence.
However, the only absolute proof of immortality is continuous consciousness. It would seem to be impossible for God, Himself to exist one minute before or after the present. The phrase "Eternal Life" has more significance as a state of being than as perpetuation of existence. That is, Eternal Life may be a state where the elements of friction are eliminated, and harmony of purpose and action is attained.
It would seem to be impossible for anything to exist in the future, but only in the present. If we knew that a soul had existed for a million years, or for any number of millions, there would be no absolute proof of any further continuance but the fact of consciousness, one moment at a time. . Neither can any proof be produced that the Supreme Intelligence will not change the plan or the conditions.
This possibility should be sufficient to prevent us from becoming dogmatic. At the same time it is not so immanent as to cause fear or to hinder us from building character and making attainments in accordance with conditions which seem "eternal."
The power of persistence on future planes, or individual immortality, is one of the possibilities to be striven for on this plane. One of the objects for writing this Philosophy of Individual Life is to note some of the laws and principles, by obedience to which this power may possibly be attained. How to make the most of this life is equivalent to the best preparation for a life hereafter, if there be one. The individual who accomplished the most and the best here is also the best fitted for the attainment of future life, according to the general principles of evolution.
Hope of immortality has always gratified man and stimulated his development. Opportunity for growth, time to learn, and the attainment of a higher state are the most correct and genuine longings of his heart. Man's only hope of immortality must lie in that which is thus inspired to the great endeavor to correspond with wider environments and to persist on higher planes. An awakened consciousness makes an individual aware that he, the essential entity, is not his body. He surveys his body somewhat as he does a suit of clothes. He does not fear "death." He longs to test what seem like "untried realities." This mental and spiritual nature must contain the only possibilities for hope of future existence as a Soul Entity.
All intelligent, progressive souls at the close of physical life realize their own capacities and powers more fully than in youth. They long for greater opportunities to test them-selves on higher planes. Thus it seems as though nature's evolutionary capacity would not be fully realized except by providing these opportunities. Nevertheless, though analogies and logical arguments may please our fancies, it is not scientific to present Immortality other than as a hope and a possible attainment, until the actual experience is realized of leaving the physical body and continuing in possession of consciousness. It seems axiomatic to state that Immortality can be attained if the Individual can secure continuous correspondence with the conditions of higher planes. This may not be considered very promising, but since our exit from this plane is certain, it would seem wise to study the possibilities and to prepare for then'. It is certainly scientific, logical and inspiring to endeavor to meet the conditions.
The same principles apply to preparing for a possible future life that apply to making worthy attainments here and now. There are many planes or degrees of mental and spiritual attainments. The same continuous correspondence alone can test the several possible planes of earth life. Many degrees of growth and development here seem logically preparatory for greater attainments than can be realized here.
Dogmatic assertions from any source whatever need not be considered as limiting the possible attainments here or hereafter. There are no "infallible authorities" in the realm of human possibilities. The child born today may, surpass the limits of all the sages in his discoveries and accomplishments.
Probably it will be safe to take some things for granted. Doubtless all who are ready to think of Evolution know enough of the Science of Astronomy to accept the fundamental fact that the earth on which we live is one of a large number of bodies revolving in and through Space. Enough is known of Physics to agree that it is the Science of the principles operative in inorganic matter, or the Science of the forces which are the expressions of Energy.
We will probably agree that Chemistry is the Science of the composition of material things and the changes which they undergo. Biology is the Science of life and living things, including vegetal and animal life. Psychology is the Science of the phenomena of Mind. Sociology is the Science which treats of the general structure of Society, the laws of its development and the progress of civilization.
Thus far in the development of Knowledge but little attempt has been made to establish Ethics as a Science. What is called Ethics either deals with abstractions or gives a history of various ideas which have served the race as ethical standards. In order to be truly a Science, Ethics must begin with knowledge of the nature of man and teach with crystal clearness the Constructive Principle and the Destructive Principle of his development and association.
Now we have arranged a summary of classified knowledge under the grand hierarchy of Synthetic Sciences, namely,—Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Sociology and Ethics. All facts, operations, laws and principles may be classified under these heads. Furthermore, these Sciences form the basis of correct and genuine Philosophy and Religion.
The reader and student should keep Diagram No. 4 (page 337) clearly in mind to understand the treatment of the Seven Great Inclusive Sciences in the succeeding seven chapters. The leading principles are briefly stated, so that the entire grouping of Seven Sciences may be grasped and partially apprehended in their relation to each other and to an individual student.
"Science is exact knowledge of the facts of nature, classified and systematized." 'A natural and logical grouping of the various Sciences is also required if one would have an adequate and rational basis for a Synthetic Philosophy of individual and social life. Such a Philosophy must be based upon all the known facts and make provision for others which may become known.