Rosicrucian Writings Online

"I Fear No Death!"

By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Mystic Triangle April 1928]
OUR MEMBERS must be quite aware of the fact that the teachings of Rosicrucianism, as presented through AMORC, do not tend to tear down the faith of anyone in the great fundamental truths of all religions. And, most certainly we do not wish to criticise any of the doctrines of any church or religious cult. However, at times we can hardly refrain from making some comments, and this is one of those occasions.
We are impressed daily in our correspondence departments, and through personal interviews with those who are ill or aged, with the fact that millions of persons who are religiously inclined and often strict followers of some of the Christian movements, have a most horrifying and deeply seated fear of physical death.
We learn from those who are ill, and especially those who believe they have some permanent, chronic condition, that they are afraid death may come upon them at any time. We notice that they do not complain greatly of any particular suffering or pain, or really of any serious inconvenience through the physical condition they have; what concerns them mostly, and to the very depths of their soul, is the possibility of death. With the aged it is the same way. They are well, most of them, able to get about and enjoy much of life, but they are beginning to lose their former vitality and they realize that the old, worn-out physical body is nearing a time when it will be shuffled off, and they, too, fear the coming of death.
We want to always be sympathetic with these persons. As another human being and a member of the great Brotherhood of Man, we cannot be otherwise than sympathetic, and as a Rosicrucian we must be sympathetic. It is a difficult thing, however, to sympathize with such a viewpoint. In fact it is almost impossible to do so.
We ask questions and try to learn just why so-called death is dreaded. The answers are always much alike: first, so little is known of the future that they hesitate to be plunged into it as a child dislikes and fears being suddenly plunged into a strange, unknown, dark chamber with all means of escape cut off; secondly, they fear some sort of punishment and suffering which they are sure awaits them because they have not lived a pure, sinless, perfect life; thirdly, and lastly always, they fear the ending of the work they wished to do or hoped to accomplish or should have accomplished in order to take care of those dependent upon them.
Now you will note that of these three explanations--based upon statistics kept of answers given--the first two are based upon beliefs or conclusions fostered or created by religious doctrines. And, that is the very thing we wish to criticise.
We are forced to recognize the fact that modern Christianity systematically and consistently fosters the fear of death. That seems very strange and the words of that indictment look peculiar when I have sent them down in type, but we cannot deny the truthfulness of the thought. I have purposely said that modern Christianity is responsible, for I know, and possibly you know, that early or ancient Christianity did not create such fears about the change now called death, and most certainly Jesus the Christ did not preach such fears or create them by anything He said.
I have had the opportunity to discuss this subject a number of times with clergymen of various denominations, and when I have asked the question, "Why not teach that there is nothing to fear at, or through or after death?" they have generally replied: "If you take away the fear of death or the after life, you would have none but a few coming to church and striving to be better."
Are we to assume, then, that it is the fear of death or an after-life punishment, that helps to fill the churches, keeps the many following the preachments of the clergymen, and gives orthodoxy its hold on the populace? If that is so, it is a veritable condemnation of the church system itself.
Let us see, therefore, how true that may be. Let us take the first reason given in explanation of the fear of death. It is that it is a sudden plunging into an unknown state. Some of you may smile at this explanation, but it is truly the most serious, most depressing thought in the minds of millions. Only the other day I heard of an eminent surgeon who now finds, in the prime of his life that he has what he believes to be a faulty heart, and he has been told by eminent specialists that he may "drop dead" any moment, especially while under the strain of a tedious operation upon someone. He has abandoned his surgical work, therefore, in fairness to clients, and goes about deeply worried, depressed and unable to eat or sleep. He says: "My thoughts cannot help turning to God, to the future, to death itself. I have never given all the time I should have given to church work, but now I realize also that what I did hear in church and Sunday School for years comes back to me and adds to my fear of death. Where will I go after death? What will it be like? What is to be the future? What is to be my fate? Oblivion for aeons of time until the judgment day, then what?"
Is this a cheerful picture that modern Christianity has painted for this man? Has modern Christianity any other picture to offer, even to those who accept Christ as their Redeemer? Salvation offers no other interval between death and the time of Judgement. The same long, endless period of oblivion in the grave is held out to saint and sinner alike, and it is this abandonment, this annihilation, this incomprehensible suspension that millions fear and dread.
What does modern Christianity offer to us as an explanation of what lies just across the line of earthly existence? Anything definite, or cheerful, or compensating for what we leave behind? Nothing except some veiled intimations of dire consequences, something so terrible, lifeless, silent, mysterious, terrible, that it is to be feared as a punishment.
Then look at the second explanation for the human fear of death: the fires of purgatory and hell that await those who are finally judged and found wanting. A hopeless situation for the average human, indeed. For who among us has been so perfect that a Divine Mind could find no act or thought in our lives for which we should be punished? And, there is no escape from this final judgment, no opportunity to compensate, adjust or undo the least error! True, redemption is offered to us vicariously and otherwise, and our Sins may be wiped away when we accept Christ as our Lord. But, what about our lives after that day of cleansing? What about the final days, weeks and months between the time we passed through the cleansing process of the Church and passed into the future? Were those days--or years--so free from any sin that the cleansing we experienced remained and we kept unsullied ever after? That would mean that a true Christian follower entered into the great unknown absolutely sinless and perfect. Has there ever been such a one since the days of Jesus?
The Roman church attempts to release the soul of man into the coming kingdom free from sin by its last rites just before death, but this method hardly finds any support among those who understand that all of God's laws and methods are merciful and just; for what of the soldier who passed to the beyond on the battle field giving his all to a good cause and yet not able to have such last rites. Even though he was a true modern Christian in every sense and once was saved and redeemed by the Grace of Jesus, is he to be judged and found wanting on Judgment day because he was not able to have the last rites administered by man? Would there be justice in that? And, says the mystic and the Rosicrucian, is there justice in the doctrine that man may sin wilfully, continuously and without the least attempt to compensate or make adequate adjustment, and then at the last moment receive a cleansing that wipes away all his sins and leaves him pure and ready for a Divine Blessing, while others must struggle to undo, strive to compensate, and suffer just punishments here now, in order to be worthy of any rewards in the future.
How far is modern Christianity an exemplar of the ancient or true Christianity? I am not merely asking a question but trying to arouse your own thoughts along this line. Did Jesus institute any or a few of the doctrines and systems which the Christian churches of today apply in their forms of worship and religious instruction ? Few, if any! We remember that we must become like little children, to be worthy, and we recall that we were told that the Kingdom of Heaven was within, and that man must purge himself or suffer for his sins, but we cannot remember in any part of the early Christian teachings that all sins and errors could be nullified without suffering or compensation, and that any living being on earth had any power to nullify our sins or cleanse us. And we also recall that Jesus and the early Christians said something about having lived before, on earth, intimating that one life on earth was not all. But, where have these ideas disappeared? You would find such thoughts classifying you as a heretic in the Christian church of today.
What a different picture mysticism has to offer man. So-called death but the simple casting off of an old body preparatory to taking on a new one. No passage into an unknown and fearful oblivion, but a transfer to a temporary state of ideal consciousness pending the purification process that will make us ready for an immediate return to earth again in a new and more useful body. No endless time of blank and useless existence, no sudden plunge into a suspension of all activities until a day comes when, without opportunity to rectify, correct and undo our mistakes, we must be judged and rewarded or punished accordingly. No, none of this. Instead, we will have ample time, through incarnations eternally, to return to earth and make compensation, adjust and correct our lives and slowly, surely, attain perfection. Then we will have attained to Godship with God, and will be in His image and consciousness without having to wait an endless time for some universal Judgment day.
Fear of Death! The very thought is abhorrent to a true mystic. It is the ever welcome initiation, the ever glorious opportunity, the greatest of all experiences, for which the Rosicrucian, for example, hopes to be more or less ready in his daily affairs, but expects with a joyous heart rather than a sad one.
What a change would take place in our Churches today if the clergymen were to unite in preaching the coming of another day, instead of preaching about the coming of the last day! What joy and happiness, ambition and determination to do right would come into the hearts of his church members, if he preached that all sins and errors will be punished here on earth and that the quickest way to cleanse the body of its sins and purify the soul's relation with the outerself is to go out at once and undo the wrongs, rectify the errors, restore the happiness that has been denied, give back the things that have been falsely taken, make good the frauds and in this way be ready to meet God, not in the great distant future, but today or tomorrow, here and now, not in any particular church or building or place, but anywhere, even out in the valleys and on the "mountain tops." If the hearers would believe this preachment with as much enthusiasm and faith as they accept the present doctrines with fear, what a world would be ours,--truly the Kingdom of God on earth.
And so I say again, with significance, indeed, that, personally, I fear no death! How close it may be at this very hour, I do not know, nor care to know. I want no particular warning, no advance information so that I may get ready, for I am even now doing my utmost to so live minute by minute that I am always ready, always prepared, to cast off this old body, bathe my nude soul in the refreshing waters of Cosmic life, and then re-dress myself in a new attire, a new form, and step upon the stage of life again and start over. I am happy in the thought that if I have overlooked any compensation I should have made, any adjustment I owe to any living person or creature, I shall have another, and another, and still another opportunity to do what must be done. I have suffered intensely at times, with sadness and sorrows that have torn at my heart and almost wracked my soul, but I know that it compensated for sins and sorrows that I caused, and that is done. I do not fear more of that in some unknown, unknowable state lasting a day or a million of eternal cycles. So, again I say, with a host of happy, peaceful, successful, God-loving, Brothers and Sisters, I fear no death!

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