Living the Immortal Life | Immortality Podcast

Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by Book of Zen, makers of wearable inspiration for a better world. Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from the Sermon on The Immortal Life, delivered by Theodore Parker on September 20th, 1846…

It is the belief of many that we shall all live forever. This is not a doctrine of Christianity alone. It belongs to the human race. But how did we come by this belief? Our ancestors did not sit down and think it out; never waited till they could prove it by logic and metaphysics; did not delay their belief till a miraculous revelation came to confirm it. It came to them by intuition; by instinctive belief, the belief which comes unavoidably from our nature.

In this same way came the belief in a higher power; the redeeming power of love; and the yearning for justice. Some faculties of the body act spontaneously at first—so others of the spirit. Immortality is a fact of human nature; it is thus a part of the universe, just as the sun is a fact in the heavens and a part of the universe.

As children attain consciousness of themselves, they attain consciousness of their immortality. At first they ask no more proof of their eternal existence than of their present life; instinctively they believe both. They do not separate the two; this life is one link in that golden and electric chain of immortality.

Immortality is what philosophers call an ontological fact; it belongs essentially to our being, just as the eye is a physiological fact and belongs to our body. To my mind this is the great proof of immortality: the fact that it is written in human nature; written there so plain that the no nation has failed to find it, to know it; written just as much as form is written on the circle. It comes to our consciousness as naturally as the notions of time and space. We feel it as a desire; we feel it as a fact.

To suppose that this universal desire has no corresponding gratification is to deny reality. I feel the longing after immortality, a desire essential to my nature, deep as the foundation of my being; I find the same desire in all people—though some may try to hide or dismiss it.

I feel conscious of immortality; that I am not to die; no, never to die, though often to change. I cannot believe this desire and consciousness are felt only to mislead, to beguile, to deceive me. I ask no argument from learned lips. No miracle could make me more sure; no, not if the sheeted dead burst from their coffins and stood here before me; no, not if the souls of all my ancestors came thronging round, and with miraculous speech told me they lived and I should also live. I would only say to them, “I knew all this before, why waste your heavenly breath!”

A great deal has been written to prove the existence of a higher power, a Creator or God, and that by the greatest of thinkers; yet I cannot believe that any one was ever reasoned directly into a belief in God, nor directly out of it by all the skeptics. The idea of immortality, like the idea of God, in a certain sense, is born in us, and fast as we come to consciousness of ourselves we come to consciousness of the Creator, and of ourselves as immortal. The higher we advance in wisdom and goodness, the larger place do spirituality and immortality hold in our experience and inward life….

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