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can but enjoy, and sufferings which he cannot but feel; but he can never experience complete happiness (and should not therefore desire it), and he can never be wholly unhappy (and therefore should not fear sufferings nor desire to avoid them, if they stand in his path).
384. He who lives the Christian life does not attribute great importance to his pleasures, does not look upon them as the fulfilment of his desires, but regards them as merely casual experiences to be met with on his way through life-as that which is added unto him who seeks the kingdom of God and His truth. And his suffering he regards not as something that ought not to be, but as experiences as inevitable in life as friction in work; he knows also that as friction is the sign that work is being accomplished, so also are sufferings a sign of the accomplishment of the work of God.
385. He who lives the Christian life is always free, because that which constitutes the meaning of his life-the removal of the obstacles which hinder love, and the consequent increase of love and establishment of the kingdom of God-is precisely that which he always desires and which is inevitably being accomplished in his life.
He is always at peace, because nothing can happen to him which he does not desire.
386. It must not be supposed that a man who lives the Christian life always realises this freedom and peace, always accepts pleasures without being captivated by them, as something casual which he does not desire to retain, or sufferings as the indispensable condition of progress in life. A Christian may be temporarily captivated by pleasures, and try to produce and retain them; he may be temporarily troubled by sufferings, regarding them as something unnecessary, something that might have not happened; but while enduring the loss of pleasures and the fear and pain of sufferings a Christian recalls to mind his Christian dignity, his mission; and then both pleasures and sufferings assume their right place, and he again becomes free and peaceful.
387. So that, even in a worldly sense, the position of a Christian is not worse, but better, than that of the non-Christian. “ Seek ye first His truth and all the rest will be added unto you ” signifies that the earthly joys of life are not shut off from the Christian, but are quite accessible to him, only with this difference, that whereas the joys of the non-Christian may be artificial and pass into satiety, and his sufferings appear to be unnecessary and without escape, for a Christian, joys are more simple and natural, and therefore more intense and never productive of satiety, and sufferings can never be so painful nor appear so meaningless as they do to the non-Christian.
Such is the position of a Christian in the present life. But what can he expect in the future ?
WHAT AWAITS MAN IN THE
388. Man cannot, while living in this world in a bodily form, picture life to himself otherwise than in space and time; he therefore naturally asks where he will be after death.
389. But this question is wrongly put. When the divine essence of the soul, which is spiritual, independent of time and space, enclosed in the body in this life—when this divine essence leaves the body it ceases to be conditioned by time or space, and therefore one cannot say of this essence that it will be. It is. As Christ said,
Before Abraham was, I am.' So also with us all. If we are, we always have been, and shall be. We are.
390. It is precisely the same with the question, Ihere shall we be ? When we say where, we speak of a place. But the idea of place is only caused by that condition of separation from all else, in which we have been placed. At death this separation will cease, and thus, for those still living in this world, we shall be everywhere and nowhere. For us locality will not exist.
391. There have been many different conjectures as to what we shall be and where we shall be after death. But none of these conjectures, from the coarsest to the most refined, can satisfy reasonable man. The voluptuous bliss of Mohammed is too coarse and is evidently incompatible with the true idea of man and God. The ecclesiastical representation of heaven and hell is also incompatible with the idea of a God of love. The transmigration of souls is less coarse, but it also retains the idea of the separateness of individual existence; the common conception of Nirvana removes all the coarseness of this representation, but transgresses the de