Zorile Lodge No.355, Bucharest
In man, that is to say the most noble being on earth, which is the crowning of divine creation, there is a spiritual power independent from and different to the body, inspired by God Himself, – the soul. Our soul is neither a combination nor a product of material particles, but is a distinguished spiritual substance, an independent principle which continues its existence even after its separation from the body.
Not being something abstract, but a real substance, the soul is, if I may say so, a spiritual atom and by its very essence indestructible.
The soul has another duration and another purpose than the body. Being spiritual, it is also immortal. The idea of eternity is confounded with the idea of the immortality of the soul. His eternity cannot be defined in time. The soul does not exist before the body, although we feel that it is eternal.
Belief in immortality is as old as man and his religion. It is preserved in mankind across the centuries from time immemorial.
The Christian teaching consider the idea of the immortality of the soul as a supreme postulate. Progress made in all the domains of human culture have made it however that the mind of the modern man cannot satisfy itself with the dogmatic affirmations of the faith, however strong they may be. It requires today also rational, scientific proof.
“Only he takes care of his soul who know it is immortal; he who thinks it is destined for nothingness little prizes it or minds it” (Plato – Phaedo)
The spirituality of the soul makes us immediately to have a presentiment of its substantial immortality.
However, Leibniz justly observed that, “in order to prove the immortality of the person or of the conscience, morality must be added to metaphysics”. In the same way psychology must be added. To the affirmations made against nature by the positivists, who do not recognize anything by a metaphorical immortality, of the work accomplished by each one in the world, and of the pantheists of any stripe, who preach the final absorption of the ego into the impersonal Great Whole, we oppose the victorious demonstration of our reason: the immortality that awaits us will be an immortality per se, personal, conscious – this is to say a life without end, distinguished from all the others, infinitely richer and happier than present life.
The soul is immortal because it is indivisible. Leibniz said that the immortality of the soul comes from nature. The soul is spiritual. Logically, it follows that it cannot perish. Death is nothing but the separation of the reunited parts of a living whole, nothing but the disaggregation of the organs up until the strongest union and the dissociation of the elements which the flux of matter moves toward new combinations. Material beings along are therefore subject to the law of death, because only they are composed of parts and form a passing aggregate of atoms. What has no parts cannot be parted. It cannot be divided, what is simple. Here is what the Western theologian Thomas Aquinas said: “It is also in this way with the impossibility of the soul to be divided as it is with the impossibility of the circle to be square”.
This thing is impossible because it is abstract or contradictory. There is an absolute opposition between the idea of the circle and the idea of the square, as also between the notion of mortality and the notion of immateriality, of simplicity, of lack of length, of indivisibility.
I have proved that the soul is a spirit, that is to say a “being” which has neither color, nor shape, nor weight, nor dimensions, nor a heaping of parts. From here on, we are in the right to conclude: the soul cannot be divided, it cannot die.
On the other hand, if an organism is susceptible to disorganize, if a body can break or to break apart into its prime elements, it is incapable, to speak rightly, to fall into nothingness. In the material world itself, “nothing is lost, nothing is gained, everything is transformed”, as Lavoisier said.
Constructions made out of atoms crumble, but the atom itself is indestructible. It reenters the vast reservoir of natural forces, just like the raindrops, after a long journey, come back into the ocean. Therefore, as the philosopher of Port Royal said, “Why should our existence perish, if once separated from matter, since the matter itself does not perish when it is separated from it?”
The making into nothing of an existence is impossible to understand and we have no example of it in nature. It may be objected that to define death as “the disaggregation of a whole composed from parts” is arbitrary. But there is no way to give that word any other meaning except nothingness.
Of course, God could, through absolute power, to bring everything He created to nothing, but not by any unfolding activity, for all activity has a positive result.
Man may destroy his work, that is to say crush it or pulverize it. But the fragments themselves are nevertheless real and the limit of the force expended is not the void. It is impossible to conceive a power that unfold and which reaches a purely negative result.
God, it is true, whose cooperation is eternally necessary to contingent reality, so that it exists, because it does not have being from itself, stops the power to suppress this essential cooperation. And if he stopped doing that, in His infinite freedom, the created existence would cease to exist. This cooperation is nothing but a powerful and efficacious act of divine will, the Prime cause of the created existences.
In fact, however, the gifts of the Creator are ‘without atonement’ and no existence is destroyed in its elements. With great justice, God will not withdraw, in the moment of death, from the human soul, the “capo d’opera” of his hand, the image of his essence, the existence which He gave it. The attribute of Goodness and of Justice are guaranteed to us for this purpose.
The need to love proves that there is someone beyond the heart. (The Loving Creature has need of the Immortal Creature – V. Hugo, Actes = Paroles Sur la tombe d’une jeune fille)
The need to love and to be loved is perhaps the most profound of all the needs of man. We feel powerless. And by our union with other beings (a union through the senses, through intelligence, through memories, through sentiment), we become aware of ourselves and of the life that sleeps in our soul, we procure to our nature something that is lacking in it, so that it can open inside and so that it can radiate outside through the activity unfolding in a kind of joyful expansion of our personality. The mode of union, the most mysterious, but also the most intimate, the most powerful, the most unifying is love.
To love, said Thomas Aquinas, is to want someone’s good. In reality, this benevolence is only an effectof love, which in the beginning is the affectionate union of two intelligent beings with appreciate each other, which vibrate on the same tone, which trust one in the other, which unite in everything, like the poet who defined the friend as “our half of ourselves”.
This quasi – fusion of souls into one soul is beyond any satisfying psychological description; it cannot be sensed in its ultimate reality, but it is felt, it is lived and everyone understands that it constitutes the most ardent arc, the most profound, the most personal, the most fulfilling of our nature.
The elan leading us to the one we love makes us penetrate inside him and taste quietly the happiness of spreading the wealth which it conceals, because in a similar elan to ourselves, he gives himself. Behold the reason why, if we have the passion to love, so also we have that of being loved.
This passion is often so lively that when it is not tempered and led by reason, by listening to the divine precepts, it pushes the man to the most detestable aberrations, to the most shameful madness. These deviations, unfortunately too frequent, although culpable, have a tenderness that is not entirely natural, can display for us the intensity and the rootedness thirst for love that lies inside of us.
The heart is always greedy for shared affections, which take it out of its strange solitude, in such a way that neither science nor activities nor pleasures can fill it up. Unceasingly, it thinks of some ideal amity, pure but profound, felt, drunken, which the darkness of vice could never darken, which no bitterness could ruin, which no imperfection could limit.
In this world, reality never corresponds to this dream. Giving of ourselves does not often meet in others anything but a dull echo of affection, entirely superficial, merely formal. Nothing is rarer than a sentiment that is fully shared and he who loves all the way to devotement, to sacrifice, finds nothing but indifference, sometimes even betrayal and ingratitude, in such a way that the feeling that the most choice hopes inspire in us is almost always the spring of the cruelest deceptions and the bitterest troubles of ours, as Copee said in La Bonne soufrance.
If it should happen that the dedication of our hearts is accepted and in Its turn repaid, our thirst for affectionate union is never truly satisfied, either because of an embarrassing inequality of love, or because human weakness is incapable of fulfilling our aspirations. We would desire a continuous presence, but the conditions of our terrestrial existence oppose it; we sigh after an ever increasing intensity of tenderness and, on the contrary, those are the first loves which quench us most; we would desire that the object of our affection be ideal, perfect or without any stain and fatally we will encounter the defects of this world.
From this powerlessness is partly born the melancholy which most characterizes man here, this inexorable boredom, the ennui, the tedium, which covers in a coat of ice the greatest number of our days. As Chateaubriand said, we carry with us, more or less, “our hearts crosswise”.
It is a certainty that the most lively love leaves us always, in some way or another, with a emptiness in our souls that is painful to fill up!
If sometimes we believed that we had reached the limits of our aspirations, passing time steals from us the too short hours of a so sweet presence. The invincible circumstances that separate and isolate are multiple ways; in any hypostasis, death comes to reap ones after the others, all that love each other.
We must therefore conclude that the most lively tendency, that which lies deepest in the soul does not find its purpose in this world, that is to say it does not reach the full and satisfying action for which it is made. The soul postulates another life, a life beyond the grave, that would give the heart the thing for which it hungers: a love that is cloudless, unmeasured, without fears, without weaknesses and without troubles of any kind, a love ideal that would satisfy definitively.
Because God exists, He is wise: He did not place in man essential aspirations without have no purpose. He is just: therefore he did not make the heart to incline to desperation. He is good: he prepared therefore for the loving beings, at the end of their journeys, a feast of love, capable to fill with joy for ever.
To believe in face of a tomb that everything is there, everything entirely, forever: father, mother, child, precious being, beloved woman, this would appear to me to be a kind of monstrosity, said Stahl.
In expressing himself in this way, Stahl was right an hundred times over! It would be monstrous that the Creator should have fashioned man so that he cannot reach the fullness of his proper activity, the joy of loving in a perfect way and to be so loved in return.