” On the other hand, the philosophers who explained the “fall into generation” in their own way, viewed spirit as something wholly distinct from the soul. They allowed its presence in the astral capsule only so far as the spiritual emanations or rays of the “shining one” were concerned. Man and soul had to conquer their immortality by ascending toward the unity with which, if successful, they were finally linked, and into which they were absorbed, so to say. The individualization of man after death depended on the spirit, not on his soul and body. Although the word “personality,” in the sense in which it is usually understood, is an absurdity, if applied literally to our immortal essence, still the latter is a distinct entity, immortal and eternal, per se; and, as in the case of criminals beyond redemption, when the shining thread which links the spirit to the soul, from the moment of the birth of a child, is violently snapped, and the disembodied entity is left to share the fate of the lower animals, to gradually dissolve into ether, and have its individuality annihilated — even then the spirit remains a distinct being. It becomes a
planetary spirit, an angel; for the gods of the Pagan or the archangels of the Christian, the direct emanations of the First Cause, notwithstanding the hazardous statement of Swedenborg, never were or will be men, on our planet, at least.
This specialization has been in all ages the stumbling-block of metaphysicians. The whole esoterism of the Buddhistical philosophy is based on this mysterious teaching, understood by so few persons, and so totally misrepresented by many of the most learned scholars. Even metaphysicians are too inclined to confound the effect with the cause. A person may have won his immortal life, and remain the same inner-self he was on earth, throughout eternity; but this does not imply necessarily that he must either remain the Mr. Smith or Brown he was on earth, or lose his individuality.
Therefore, the astral soul and terrestrial body of man may, in the dark Hereafter, be absorbed into the cosmical ocean of sublimated elements, and cease to feel his ego, if this ego did not deserve to soar higher; and the divine spirit still remain an unchanged entity, though this terrestrial experience of his emanations may be totally obliterated at the instant of separation from the unworthy vehicle.
If the “spirit,” or the divine portion of the soul, is preexistent as a distinct being from all eternity, as Origen, Synesius, and other Christian fathers and philosophers taught, and if it is the same, and nothing more than the metaphysically-objective soul, how can it be otherwise than eternal? And what matters it in such a case, whether man leads an animal or a pure life, if, do what he may, he can never lose his individuality? This doctrine is as pernicious in its consequences as that of vicarious atonement. Had the latter dogma, in company with the false idea that we are all immortal, been demonstrated to the world in its true light, humanity would have been bettered by its propagation.
Crime and sin would be avoided, not for fear of earthly punishment, or of a ridiculous hell, but for the sake of that which lies the most deeply rooted in our inner nature — the desire of an individual and distinct life in the hereafter, the positive assurance that we cannot win it unless we “take the kingdom of heaven by violence,” and the conviction that neither human prayers nor the blood of another man will save us from individual destruction after death, unless we firmly link ourselves during our terrestrial life with our own immortal spirit — our GOD.
Pythagoras, Plato, Timaeus of Locris, and the whole Alexandrian school derived the soul from the universal World-Soul; and the latter was, according to their own teachings — ether; something of such a fine nature as to be perceived only by our inner sight. Therefore, it cannot be the essence of the Monas, or cause, because the anima mundi is but the effect, the objective emanation of the former. Both the human spirit