DEMOCRACY IS SELF-GOVERNMENT
Harold W. Percival
CONCERNING PERIODICAL DEATHS AND CONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY
The materializing of civilization is the foretelling or foreordaining of death to civilization. The materializing of life engenders dishonesty, immorality, drunkenness, lawlessness and brutality, and hastens destruction. If a man is made to believe or makes himself believe that there is nothing of him, or nothing connected with him, that has a conscious continuity of identity that is not the body, and which continues after the death of the body; and if he believes that death and the grave is the end of all things for all men; then, if there is a purpose, what is the purpose in life?
If there is a purpose, that which is conscious in man must continue to be conscious after death. If there is no purpose, then there is no valid reason for honesty, honor, morality, law, kindness, friendship, sympathy, self-control, or any of the virtues. If that which is conscious in man must die with the death of its body, then why should man not have all that he can get out of life while he lives? If death ends all, there is nothing to work for, nothing to perpetuate. Man cannot live through his children; why then should he have children? If death ends all, love is an infection or form of insanity, a disease to be dreaded, and suppressed. Why should man bother, or think about anything but what he can get and enjoy while he lives, without care or worry? It would be useless and foolhardy and malicious for anyone to devote his life to discovery, research and invention, to prolong the life of man, unless he desires to be fiendish by prolonging human misery. In this case, if man desires to benefit his fellow man, he should devise a means of hastening a painless death for all mankind, so that man will be saved from pain and trouble, and experiencing the futility of life. Experience is of no benefit if death is the end of man; and then, what a sad mistake that man should have ever lived!
In short, to believe that the conscious Doer, who feels and thinks and wills in the body, must die when the body dies, is the most demoralizing belief of which a man may try to be convinced.
The selfish one, who believes that the intelligent part of himself will die when his body dies, may become a serious menace among the people of any nation. But particularly so among a democratic people. Because in a democracy, each of the people has the right to believe as he wills; he is not restrained by the state. The selfish one who believes that death ends all will not work for the interest of all the people as one people. He is more likely to work the people for his own interest.
Selfishness is of degree; it is not absolute. And who is there who is not selfish to a degree? The body-mind cannot think without the senses, and it cannot think of anything that is not of the senses. A man’s body-mind will tell him that at death he and his family will cease to be; that he should get and enjoy all that he can get out of life; that he should not bother about the future or the people of the future; that it will not matter what happens to the people of the future—they will all die.
Purpose and law must prevail in all existing things, else things could not exist. A thing that is, has always been; it cannot cease to be. Everything that now exists has pre-existed; its existence now will have been the pre-existence of the state in which it will then exist. Thus go on for ever the appearance and disappearance and reappearance of all things. But there must be a law by which things act, and a purpose for their action. Without a purpose for action, and a law by which things act, there could be no action; all things would be, but then would cease to act.
As law and purpose are the movers in the appearance and disappearance of all things, so should there be law and purpose in the birth and life and death of man. If there is no purpose in man’s having lived, or if the end of man is death, it would have been better that he had not lived. Then it would be best that all human beings should die, and die without too much delay, so that man might not be perpetuated in the world, to live, to have flashes of pleasure, to endure misery, and to die. If death is the end of things death should be the end, and not the beginning. But death is only the end of the thing that exists and the beginning of that thing in the succeeding states in which it is to be.
If the world has nothing more to offer man than the doubtful joys and sorrows of a life, then death is the sweetest thought in life, and the consummation to be most desired. What a useless, false and cruel purpose—that man were born to die. But, then, what about the conscious continuity of identity in man? What is it?
Mere belief that there is conscious continuity of identity after death, but which the believer knows nothing about, is not enough. The believer should at least have an intellectual understanding of what it is within him that is conscious of identity, to warrant his belief that it will continue to be conscious after death.
Quite indefensible is the disbelief of the person who denies that there will be anything of man that will continue to be conscious of identity after death. He is unwarranted in his disbelief and denial; he must know what in his body it is that from year to year has been conscious of identity, else he has no basis for his disbelief; and his denial is without support of reason.
It is easier to prove that the conscious “you” in your body is not your body than it is for you to prove that it is the body, and that the body that you are in is “you.”
The body you are in is composed of universal elements or forces of nature combined and organized as systems into one corporate body to engage in commerce with nature through its senses of sight, hearing, taste, and smell.
You are the conscious, incorporeal feeling-and-desire: the Doer who thinks through the senses of your body, and to be so distinguished from the corporeal body which is not conscious and which cannot think.
The body you are in is unconscious as a body; it cannot speak for itself. Were you to state that there is no difference between you and your body; that you and your body are the one selfsame, identical individual thing, the only fact proven would be the existence of the bare statement, only an assumption, nothing to prove that the assumption is true.
The body you are in is not you, any more than your body is the clothes that your body wears. Take your body out of the clothes it wears and the clothes fall down; they cannot move without the body. When the “you” in your body leaves your body, your body falls down and sleeps, or is dead. Your body is unconscious; there is no feeling, no desire, no thinking in your body; your body cannot do anything of itself, without the conscious “you.”
Apart from the fact that you, as the thinking feeling-and-desire in the nerves and blood of your body, feel and desire in the body, and that you can therefore think your feeling and your desire to be the body, there is not one reason in evidence of the statement that you are the body. There are many reasons to disprove that statement; and reasons are evidence that you are not the body. Consider the following statement.
If you, the thinking feeling-and-desire in your body were one and the same or were parts of the body, then the body, as you, must at all times be ready to answer for you, as itself. But when you are in deep sleep and are not in the body, and the body, as you, is questioned, there is no answer. The body breathes but does not move; it is unconscious as a body, and does not in any way respond. That is one evidence that the body is not you.
Another evidence that you are not the body and that the body is not you is this: When you are returning from deep sleep, and are about to reenter your body, you can be conscious as you, and not as the body, before your feeling is actually in the voluntary nervous system; but as soon as your feeling is in the voluntary system, and your desire is in the blood of the body, and you are in contact with the senses of the body, you are again costumed in the body, and your body-mind then compels you, the feeling-and-desire, to think yourself to be and to masquerade as being the fleshly body. Then, when a question is put to you, who are once again in the body, you respond; but of course you are not able to respond to any questions asked your body while you were away from it.
And still another evidence that you and your body are not one and the same is this: You, as the thinking feeling-and-desire, are not of nature; you are incorporeal; but your body and the senses are of nature and are corporeal. Because of your incorporeality you may enter the corporeal body that has been attuned so that you may operate it, the body which cannot otherwise be operated in its commerce with nature.
You leave or enter the body through the pituitary body; this, for you, is the gateway to the nervous system. Nature operates the natural functions of the body by means of the senses through the involuntary nerves; but it cannot operate the voluntary nerves except through you when you are in the body. You occupy the voluntary system and operate the voluntary movements of the body. In this you are either directed by impressions from the objects of nature through the body senses, or by your desire, active in the blood, from the heart or brain. Operating the body, and receiving impressions through the body senses, you, but not the body, can answer questions when you are in the body; but questions cannot be answered when you are not in the body. When costumed in the fleshly body, and thinking through the body senses, you feel and desire the things of the body and are therefore led to suppose that you are the body.
Now if the body and you were one and the same, undivided and identical, you would not forget the body while you are away from it in deep sleep. But while you are away from it, you do not know that there is such a thing as the body, which you put off when in deep sleep, and take on again for duty. You do not remember the body in deep sleep because corporeal memories are of corporeal things and remain as records in the body. The impressions from these records can be remembered as memories when you return to the body but the corporeal records cannot be taken by you into your incorporeality in deep sleep.
The next consideration is: In deep sleep you are conscious as feeling-and-desire, independent of the physical body and its senses. In the physical body you are still conscious as feeling-and-desire; but because you are then enfleshed by the body and think with the body-mind through the body-senses, you are drugged by the blood, bewildered by the sensations, and enticed by the appetites of the body into believing that you-as-feeling are the sensations of nature, and that you-as-desire are the emotions that are responding to the sensations from nature and that are received by your feeling in the nerves. You are confused and unable to distinguish yourself in the body from the body you are in; and you identify yourself with the body you are in.
And here is still further evidence that you are not the body, for: When you are in the body you think with the body-mind, and your feeling-mind and your desire-mind are made subordinate to the body-mind and made to be subsidiaries to it. When you are in deep sleep you may think with your feeling-mind and your desire-mind, but you cannot think with your body-mind because that is attuned to the physical body only, and not to the incorporeal you. Therefore, you cannot translate from the incorporeal feeling-and-desire into the corporeal, because the body-mind forbids and does not allow it. And so, while you are in the physical, you cannot remember what you as feeling-and-desire felt and thought while away from the body in deep sleep, any more than you can remember in deep sleep what you did in the physical.
More accumulative evidence that you are not your body, and that your body is not you, is this: While your body lives it bears the records, as memories, of all the impressions you have taken through the senses of sight or hearing or taste or smell. And while in the body you may reproduce from the records the impressions, as memories; and you as feeling-and-desire can remember as memories the impressions coming from these records of the happenings of the years that you have lived in the body.
But unless you are in the body and operating the body there are no memories, no conscious continuity of anything in the body or connected with the body. Without you there is no continuity of the happenings to the body.
With you in the body, in addition to the bodily memories, you are the identical selfsame conscious continuity of the happenings through the succeeding ages of the body, which has changed over and over again in all its parts. But you as the incorporeal one have in no way changed in age, or time, or in any other way, from being—through all the breaks of sleeping and waking— the same continuously conscious one, who has always been the same and no other one, independently of the body in which you have been conscious.
Your body-mind thinks and performs all its mental operations with and by means of the senses. Your body-mind uses the senses or sense organs to examine, weigh, measure, analyze, compare, calculate, and judge all its findings. Your body-mind does not admit or consider any subject that cannot be examined by means of the senses. Every subject that is examined must be regulated to the senses and tested by the senses. Therefore, when your body-mind attempts to examine feeling-and-desire, with the sense organs as instruments of nature, it cannot allow you to consider that you, as feeling-and-desire, are incorporeal; it does not admit incorporeality; therefore, it identifies you, feeling-and-desire, to be the sensations, appetites, emotions, and passions, which it insists are the responses of the body to the impressions which the body receives.
But your body-mind cannot explain to you why the body does not respond to impressions in deep sleep, trance, or death, because it cannot conceive that you as feeling-and-desire, the Doer in the body, are incorporeal: are not the body. When your body-mind attempts to think what it is that is conscious, it is shocked, stilled, silenced. It cannot comprehend what it is that is conscious.
When you as feeling-and-desire think about being conscious, your body-mind cannot function; it is silenced, because the conscious you, apart from the senses, is beyond the range and orbit of its thinking.
Therefore, your body-mind stops thinking while your feeling-mind makes you know that you are conscious; and you know that you know that you are conscious. There is no doubt about it. While you think steadily, in that brief moment, your body-mind cannot operate; it is controlled by your feeling-mind. But when the question is asked “What is it that is conscious that it is conscious?”, and you try to think to answer the question, your feeling-mind again falls under the sway of your body-mind, which introduces objects. Then your feeling-mind is too inexperienced and weak; it is unable to think independently of the body-mind, so as to isolate you—you as feeling-and-desire—from the sensations by which you are beset.
When you can isolate yourself as feeling by thinking of yourself as feeling uninterruptedly, you will know that you are feeling independently of the body and sensation, beyond doubt, as surely as you now know that your body is different from the clothes it wears. Then there can be no more questioning. You, the Doer in the body, will know yourself as feeling, and you will know the body as what the body is. But until that happy day, you will leave the body each night to sleep, and you will enter it again next day.
Sleep, as it is to you each night, is like death to the body in so far as sensations are concerned. In deep sleep you feel but you experience no sensations. Sensations are experienced through the body only. Then feeling in the body feels impressions from the objects of nature through the senses, as sensations. Sensation is the contact of nature and feeling.
In some respects, sleep is temporarily a more complete death to feeling-and-desire than is the death of the body. During deep sleep, you, feeling-and-desire, cease to be conscious of the body; but in death you are usually unaware that your body is dead, and for a time you continue to dream over again the life in the body.
But though deep sleep is a daily death to you, it is different from the death of your body because you return to the physical world through the same body which you left when you went into deep sleep. Your body bears all the records as memories of your impressions of life in the physical world. But when your body dies your memory records will in time be destroyed. When you are ready to return to the world, as you must, you will enter the body of the child that has been prepared expressly for you.
When you first enter the body of the child, you have the protracted experience of the similar experience of which you are sometimes momentarily conscious when you return from deep sleep. At such time, when you were about to enter your body, you were perplexed about your identity. Then you questioned: “Who am I? What am I? Where am I?” It does not take long to answer the question, for you are soon hooked up with the nerves of your body, and your body-mind tells you: “You are John Smith, or Mary Jones, and you are right here, of course. . . . Oh yes! This is today and I have certain things to attend to. I must get up.” But you could not disguise yourself from yourself so quickly when you first came into the body, which you now wear, when it was a child. Then it was different, and not so easy. It may have taken you a long time to get acquainted with your child-body; for you were being hypnotized by those around you, and you let your body-mind hypnotize you into the belief that you were your body: the body which kept changing as it grew, while you remained the same conscious one in your body.
That is the way that you, feeling-and-desire, the Doer, continue to leave your body and the world every night and return to your body and the world every day. You will continue to do so from day to day during the life of your present body; and, you will continue to do so from one body to another body during the series of lives of bodies in which you will continue to re-exist and live, until in some one life you will wake yourself out of the hypnotic dream in which you have been for ages, and you will become conscious of yourself as the immortal feeling-and-desire that you will then know yourself to be. Then you will end the periodical deaths of sleepings and wakings of your one body life, and you will cease your re-existences and stop the births and deaths of your bodies, by being conscious that you are immortal; that you are the immortal one in the body in which you are. Then you will conquer death by changing your body, from being a body of death to be a body of life. You will be in continuously conscious relation with your inseparable Thinker and Knower in the Eternal, while you, as the Doer, go on with the accomplishing of your work in this world of time and change.
In the meantime, and until you are in that body in which you will know yourself, you will think and work and so determine the number of bodies in which you will have to live. And what you think and feel will determine the kind of each body you will live in.
But you will not know that you are not the body you are in. And you may not then have the opportunity of having this subject presented to you for your consideration. Of your own free will you can now agree or not agree with any or all or none of the evidences here presented. You are now free to think and to act as you think best, because you live in what is called a democracy. Therefore you are granted freedom of thought and speech. But should you in any of your future lives live under a government which forbids freedom of thought and speech, you might not be allowed under penalty of imprisonment or death to entertain or express these views.
In whatever government you may live, it will be well to consider the question: Who are you? What are you? How did you get here? Where did you come from? What do you most desire to be? These vital questions should have profound interest for you, but they should not disturb you. These are the important questions concerning your existence. Because you do not answer them at once is no reason why you should not continue to think about them. And it is not just to yourself to accept any answers unless they satisfy your good sense and your good reason. Thinking about them should not interfere with your practical business in life. On the contrary, thinking on these questions should help you in your everyday life to avoid snares and dangerous entanglements. They should give you poise and balance.
In examining the questions, you are each question to be considered, the subject to be examined. Your feelings and desires are divided in debate for and against what you are or are not. You are the judge. You must decide what your opinion is on each of the questions. That opinion will be your opinion, until you have enough Light on the subject from your own Conscious Light within to know by that Light what is the truth on the subject. Then you will have knowledge, not opinion.
By thinking about these questions you will become a better neighbor and friend, because the effort to answer the questions will give you reasons to understand that you are really something more important than the bodily machine which you are operating and moving about, but which may at any time be disqualified by disease or made inoperative by death. Calmly thinking on these questions and trying to answer them will help you to be a better citizen, because you will be more responsible to yourself, and, therefore, one of the people who is responsible for our self-government—which this democracy must become if it is to be truly a democracy.
Democracy is government by the people, self-government. To have a true democracy, the people who elect their government by representatives from themselves must themselves be self-controlled, self-governed. If the people who elect the government are not self-governed, they will not want to elect the self-governed; they will be subject to self-deception or prejudice or bribery; they will elect unfit men into government which will be a make-believe democracy, not self-government.
“We, the People” of the United States must understand that we can have a real democracy, responsible self-government, only by being ourselves responsible, because the government is to be ourselves both individually responsible and also responsible as a people. If we as a people will not be responsible for the government, we cannot have government that will be responsible to itself, or for itself, or responsible to us as the people.
It is not expecting too much of a man to expect him to be responsible. A man who is not responsible to himself cannot be responsible to other men. One who is responsible to himself will also be responsible to any other one, for what he says and for what he does. One who is responsible to himself must be conscious of that in him which he trusts and that on which he depends. Then others can trust him and depend on him. If a man thinks there is nothing of himself which he can trust and nothing of himself on which he can depend, he is untrustworthy, undependable, irresponsible. No one can trust that man or depend on him. He is not a safe person to have in any community. He cannot distinguish what is right from what is wrong. No one can tell what he will do or what he will not do. He will not be a responsible citizen and will not vote for those of the people who are best qualified to govern.
Many men have professed to believe that they will continue to live after death, but who have no basis for their belief and who have defrauded others and have been guilty of outrageous deeds, whereas, on the other hand, there have been many who have professed to be atheists, agnostics, infidels, and who were opposed to the ordinary beliefs of a life after death, but who were actually and unusually upright men. A mere belief may be better than no belief though it is no guaranty of good character. But it is not likely that a man who is self-convinced that he will not be conscious after the death of his body; that his life and body is all there is of him and for him, will not be one of the people who will care to have a true self-government by the people. A man that believes he is no more than constantly changing matter cannot be trusted. Such a characteristic is of the instability of sand. He may be changed by any circumstance or condition, is open to any suggestion, and if he believes it will be to his advantage, he may be persuaded to commit any act, against an individual or against the people. This is so of those who, for whatever cause, choose to profess that death is the end of all things for the human. Yet, there have been men who take thought about what has been said and written on the subject of death, but would not accept any of the popular beliefs. Often they were condemned by the thoughtless, but they were devoted to their duties and usually lived exemplary lives. Such men are dependable. They are good citizens. But the best citizens will be those whose individual standard for thought and act is based on rightness and reason, that is, law and justice. This is government from within; it is self-government.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.