Many wars ago there lived a man who took up the instinctive desire for life after death and made it part of his religious gospel. Through his teachings and circumstances this man, whose name was Jesus Christ, passed on to gentile time two ideas of eternal life, the Resurrection and Immortality of the Soul. Today among laymen the former is an obsolete contention; the latter is still held, but with the rise of Evolution it has assumed different clothes.
In the modern era of Materialism most men believe that the individual life ceases with death; to them Immortality is something that exists apart from the single mind. It was the Industrial Revolution which crystallized the middle-class notion that Work is greater than the Soul and caused the forgetting of personal Immortality. The purpose of Work is to improve the world for posterity; the modern way of life is the identification of self with the Work of the world. The unity of work transcends in importance the labor of the individual. Thus in this period the person cannot become eternal; only the idea or object towards which he contributes his self may live forever. The Soul is no more; by the knives of science and materiality it has been dissected to nothing.
The idea of Immortality for the Thing is conditioned by the religious, ethical, and emotional arguments. The doctrine of the Trinity fits well the idea of modern pantheism, for in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost the Christian mystic achieves union with God and at the same time overcomes his individuality, which limits and restricts man, in three ways. The moralist says that the man who works for fame and wealth lives only for time, but he who works for ideals of goodness and beauty lives for eternity. The heart, with the poet its soldier, claims that Love is the most divine quality in man.
When one looks closely at the idea of personal subordination, at this "adhesive comradeship," he sees that not for any lifetime can personality be sacrificed unselfishly for the common good. It is an ideal, elusive and momentary like the touch of spring wind. For that reason it is a greater prize than individual Immortality. Happiest of all, it can be experienced during life. But the more distant is a goal, the more chance that less will reach it. Will the Soulless Age come to disbelieve in Immortality by an inability to achieve it through Work, and thereby generate moral and spiritual decadence?
At ten o'clock the Vagabond will listen to Professor Demos's lecture on "Spinoza: Immortality" in Emerson D.