Some Answered Questions
61: THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT (2)
Yesterday we were occupied in discussing the immortality
of the spirit. Know that the power and the comprehension
of the human spirit are of two kinds--that is to say,
they perceive and act in two different modes. One way is
through instruments and organs: thus with this eye it sees;
with this ear it hears; with this tongue it talks. Such is the
action of the spirit, and the perception of the reality of
man, by means of organs--that is to say, that the spirit is
the seer, through the eyes; the spirit is the hearer, through
the ear; the spirit is the speaker, through the tongue.
The other manifestation of the powers and actions of
the spirit is without instruments and organs. For example,
in the state of sleep without eyes it sees; without an ear it
hears; without a tongue it speaks; without feet it runs.
Briefly, these actions are beyond the means of instruments
and organs. How often it happens that it sees a dream in
the world of sleep, and its signification becomes apparent
two years afterward in corresponding events. In the same
way, how many times it happens that a question which
one cannot solve in the world of wakefulness is solved in
the world of dreams. In wakefulness the eye sees only for a
short distance, but in dreams he who is in the East sees the
West. Awake he sees the present; in sleep he sees the future.
In wakefulness, by means of rapid transit, at the
most he can travel only twenty farsakhs
an hour; in sleep,
in the twinkling of an eye, he traverses the East and West.
For the spirit travels in two different ways: without
means, which is spiritual traveling; and with means,
which is material traveling: as birds which fly, and those
which are carried.
In the time of sleep this body is as though dead; it does
not see nor hear; it does not feel; it has no consciousness,
no perception--that is to say, the powers of man have become
inactive, but the spirit lives and subsists. Nay, its
penetration is increased, its flight is higher, and its intelligence
is greater. To consider that after the death of the
body the spirit perishes is like imagining that a bird in a
cage will be destroyed if the cage is broken, though the
bird has nothing to fear from the destruction of the cage.
Our body is like the cage, and the spirit is like the bird. We
see that without the cage this bird flies in the world of
sleep; therefore, if the cage becomes broken, the bird will
continue and exist. Its feelings will be even more powerful,
its perceptions greater, and its happiness increased. In
truth, from hell it reaches a paradise of delights because
for the thankful birds there is no paradise greater than
freedom from the cage. That is why with utmost joy and
happiness the martyrs hasten to the plain of sacrifice.
In wakefulness the eye of man sees at the utmost as far
as one hour of distance
because through the instrumentality
of the body the power of the spirit is thus determined;
but with the inner sight and the mental eye it sees
America, and it can perceive that which is there, and discover
the conditions of things and organize affairs. If,
then, the spirit were the same as the body, it would be
necessary that the power of the inner sight should also be
in the same proportion. Therefore, it is evident that this
spirit is different from the body, and that the bird is different
from the cage, and that the power and penetration of
the spirit is stronger without the intermediary of the body.
Now, if the instrument is abandoned, the possessor of the
instrument continues to act. For example, if the pen is
abandoned or broken, the writer remains living and
present; if a house is ruined, the owner is alive and existing.
This is one of the logical evidences for the immortality
of the soul.
There is another: this body becomes weak or heavy or
sick, or it finds health; it becomes tired or rested; sometimes
the hand or leg is amputated, or its physical power is
crippled; it becomes blind or deaf or dumb; its limbs may
become paralyzed; briefly, the body may have all the imperfections.
Nevertheless, the spirit in its original state, in
its own spiritual perception, will be eternal and perpetual;
it neither finds any imperfection, nor will it become crippled.
But when the body is wholly subjected to disease
and misfortune, it is deprived of the bounty of the spirit,
like a mirror which, when it becomes broken or dirty or
dusty, cannot reflect the rays of the sun nor any longer
show its bounties.
We have already explained that the spirit of man is not
in the body because it is freed and sanctified from entrance
and exit, which are bodily conditions. The connection of
the spirit with the body is like that of the sun with the mirror.
Briefly, the human spirit is in one condition. It neither
becomes ill from the diseases of the body nor cured by its
health; it does not become sick, nor weak, nor miserable,
nor poor, nor light, nor small--that is to say, it will not be
injured because of the infirmities of the body, and no effect
will be visible even if the body becomes weak, or if the
hands and feet and tongue be cut off, or if it loses the
power of hearing or sight. Therefore, it is evident and
certain that the spirit is different from the body, and that
its duration is independent of that of the body; on the
contrary, the spirit with the utmost greatness rules in the
world of the body; and its power and influence, like the
bounty of the sun in the mirror, are apparent and visible.
But when the mirror becomes dusty or breaks, it will cease
to reflect the rays of the sun.
1. [One farsakh is equivalent to about four miles.]
2. [It is a Persian custom to reckon distance by time.]