THEOSOPHY, Vol. 53, No. 11, September, 1965
(Pages 339-341; Size: 9K)
[Article number (23) in this Department]
To accept the doctrine of reincarnation, we must first accept the immortality of the Soul as a fact. Is there any substantial proof of the Soul's immortality?
How refreshing it is to have anyone ask for proof concerning anything! We except those engaged in "count-downs" and scientific research. Almost everyone else seems satisfied to accept any statement if it is conventionally presented and frequently repeated. Is this not a sad commentary upon the mental characteristics of probably the majority of people? Why, in the area of religion, metaphysics and related subjects, are we taught to build our house of hope on the shifting foundations of belief and assumed authority?
Consider the great advancements made in science, art, philosophy. All these are based on creations of the individual mind or controlled by the mind, not developed from fabricated authority. It is precisely in those areas in which man has accomplished the most and of which he is proudest that Knowledge, product of the Mind, based on well established premises, has placed in man's hands the power to alleviate his insecurity. But the security attained can only be maintained by corresponding progress in the realm of religion, ethics, and metaphysics. What is the situation in this area?
When approaching religion we are too often asked to ignore our noëtic power of reason and accept the psychic appeal. To submit to authoritarian impositions that have not changed for centuries and never have been based on logically consistent premises -- here, in this realm, we are taught to believe, to ignore our reason and thus cut ourselves off from the realm of Knowledge, Truth, Wisdom. So many today seem to take the position expressed by the person who said, "I have made up my mind, so don't confuse me with the facts."
So we say again, it is refreshing to have someone question our premises, for on these the entire system of thought depends. By considering the factors involved in the idea of immortality, we follow the instructions given by the Apostle Paul who taught the "brethren" to search all things and to "hold fast to that which is good." Was it not the great and wise Solomon who placed Wisdom ahead of all possessions? So we, being interested in Theosophy, the Wisdom Religion, should be foremost exemplars of those who "prove all things [and] hold fast to that which is good."
But what is good? What is the nature of that to which we should hold fast? In this context, good is that which is logical, consistent, capable of bearing the full force of unprejudiced examination. Good in the realm of the mind is self-sufficient and does not wither under critical analysis. We have met many persons who seem to take a kind of profit-and-loss attitude to this question of immortality. They seem to say, So I'll accept the idea of immortality along with the other must-believe dogmas of religion. Then if it is true, I'll get the reward. If it is not true, I'll only be in the same condition as all other persons, so what can I lose?
It seems to us that they can lose a great deal indeed. They lose the joy that is the reward of an honest mind in its search for truth. Since Mind is the Human Soul, attitudes of mental indifference and hypocritical attempts to play both sides of the question deaden the sensibility and creative faculty of the mind. Should we conclude the human soul is immortal, then we can appreciate the extent of damage that neglect of the mental processes inflicts upon the Soul. But can we prove the Soul's immortality? Each must answer this on the basis of his own research. Factors substantiating reincarnation help here. The proposition of a Spiritual Evolution provides a basis of satisfactory investigation and explanation to all of man's superior qualifications, actual or potential. The basic truth on this important subject is like all truth, simple and perfectly demonstrable to anyone willing to resolve the problem on the basis of logic. In fact, it is so simple that it is generally overlooked. When not overlooked, the significance of the evidence is all too often unappreciated.
First, then, what is the nature of our proof? As noted, it must be of the type that depends on reason and not personal bias or belief. Immortality implies continuity of consciousness. Continuity of consciousness implies permanency. Where can we find anything in this changing Universe that is permanent, changeless, in fact that is not even subject to change? To change is ultimately to cease to be "that which has a beginning must have an ending." So, wherever we look, there we observe change. Birth, growth, death, followed by rebirth as applied to all forms, circumstances, all bodies, human, animal, vegetable, mineral. There is, however, one exception -- an individual consciousness which outlasts many personalities "deaths and rebirths." We know not of its beginning or its ending. We cannot reason it in or out of being. It is the closest thing to us, our most intimate possession, yet we cannot understand it. It simply is. All alike are aware of its indestructible, changeless nature. Yet the greatest sage knows no more about It fundamentally than does the average man. It is that which has not changed within the entire range of our experience, our life. Since It has remained changeless throughout all experience, what right have we to assume that It will ever change? If, then, It does not change, It has the basic characteristic of immortality, i.e., changelessness. So, if we reason that that which is subject to change cannot be immortal, we must also conclude that that which is not subject to change is immortal.
That which within the range of our experience has never changed is our most precious possession -- is possessed by all. More accurately, It possesses all. It is our sense of identity, our sense of I am I. Try to prove or disprove this basic fact. It simply cannot be done. Everything else about us and within us has changed, will continue to change, but It remains constant. Is your sense of identity, I am I, any less or any more today than it was yesterday, last month, last year, or within the range of your conscious memory, or, as psychology now shows, your unconscious memory as well? It is the only Spiritual Intuition common to all mankind. Maybe we can contest this latter statement, but the reality of I am I is incontestable, unchangeable, evidence of immortality. This is the heart, the continuing reality behind all metaphysics.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
INTUITIVE AWARENESS OF CONTINUITY
Our interest in the future, how strange it is if we can never hope to see the future. That interest rarely seems to desert us, and in itself appears inexplicable were we not possessed of an intuition which tells us that we shall have a part in it, that in some sense it already belongs to us, that we should bear it continually in mind, since it will be ours.
--W. MACNEILE DIXON
[Article number (24) in this Department]
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