The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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of the future world, and very vague mention is made of it in the later books of the Old Testament. It is a historical fact, nevertheless, that before the advent of Jesus the Jews had become imbued with the Greek doctrine of Hades, which was an intermediate waiting station between this life and the judgment. In this were situated both Paradise and Gehenna, the one on the right and the other on the left, and into these two compartments the spirits of the dead were separated, according to their deserts. Jesus found this doctrine already in existence, and in enforcing his moral precepts and in his parables he employed the symbols which the people understood, neither denying nor affirming their literal verity. I remark, therefore, that in simply teaching the doctrine of future rewards and punishments he taught nothing new; and, in that sense, he is no more entitled to be considered the Saviour of mankind than would be any other successful teacher of the same doctrine.
We are, therefore, forced back to a literal interpretation of the statements under consideration. In this sense they can have but one meaning, and that is, that in the absence of belief in immortality, the soul cannot have a conscious existence. Reasoning from known facts, there is no other rational conclusion. In explanation of the meaning of " conscious existence " in the sense in which I have employed that phrase, it is only necessary to direct the attention of the intelligent reader to the accepted definition and doctrine of consciousness. " In taking a comprehensive survey of the mental phenomena," says Sir William Hamilton, " these all seem to comprise one essential element, or to be possible only under one necessary condition. This element or condition is consciousness, or the knowledge that I that the ego exists, in some determinate state."1 Again, he compares consciousness to " an internal light, by means of which, and which alone, what passes in the mind is rendered visible." 2
The existence of a man without the knowledge of sensations or of mental operations would be one without con-
1 Metaphysics, p. 126.                            2 Ibid.