"Death does not differ at all from life." —Thales 640 B.C.
In Turkish cemeteries the stones are carved with the turban or head-dress of the deceased, to show the class or profession to which he belonged in life. In Christian cemeteries the monuments are often surmounted by the statue of an angel holding a crown or pointing to the skies. This is suggestive of a condition and a place to which the wildest flights of the imagination can seldom follow the individual interred beneath the stone. The inscription generally suggests an ideal rather than an actual character to those who really knew the departed one.
If we could find a graveyard in which every stone and monument contained an honest record of the life and death of the deceased, what curious revelations we should have! We are beginning to understand that death in any form is suicide; This has already been asserted by Charcot. We may truly claim that no one dies except as the result of his own thoughts and deeds; that death is a consequence, of which the cause has been always within the individual and subject to his own thought life.
We are perfectly aware that, to many, such a proposition sounds absurd. It is as incredible as the theories of Copernicus and Galileo to the century in which they lived, and for precisely the same reason,— that it tends to revolutionize the theology and science that have been so long believed.
But every fresh experience in either physical or mental science tends to confirm the theory of unlimited human responsibility by disclosing the power which man wields.
With this thought in mind let us enter the honest graveyard where we have imagined truthful records carved upon the stones.
Here we find that many men and women killed themselves with worry; fretted themselves to death by their antagonism to the conditions in which they lived and for which they found no remedy. They were slain by the fears which they had nursed in their own breasts. The doctors called their trouble "nervous prostration" or "pneumonia."
Here are others that poisoned themselves by temper, which they never learned to govern. They lived in pride of their "strong wills." They were determined "never to be imposed upon."
These had never learned that the only real sovereignty is that that comes from the mastery of self and the service of others. They resented every circumstance and person that came into their lives that they could not control. Their anger and impatience brought them down at last with what was really a blood poisoning, though probably their death certificates named it "heart failure," "erysipelas," "apoplexy."
Here are many records of death from sensuality, yet they were very "nice" and "spiritual" people often, whose friends said they were victims to "consumption," or "cancer," without suspecting the real character of the consuming or cancerous thought of which they died.
Egotism is written over most of the graves. In the extreme cases it was diagnosed as "insanity," or "melancholia."
Disappointment, mortification, grief are the inscriptions upon many monuments. They can be truly changed to atheism, distrust of good, fear of loss of position and influence, extreme selfishness. Yet many of these sufferers were loudly praised for their ambitions, their achievements, their "success," their affection, and their steadfastness to old beliefs.
Here are some who died with paralysis, others of congestions, without a suspicion of the mental paralysis which preceded the physical, or the obstructed circulation which resisted every new thought and clung obstinately to its old prejudices and errors.
Here are the remains of people who were blind, and deaf, and crippled. But the causes were really in their spiritual conditions.
Here are others killed by "accident." What but their own vibrations made it possible? Babes there are innumerable. But who knows the long journey they have traveled before they reached this point, or the accumulated causes, of which mortal friends caught only a brief glimpse in the earthly consequences?
Truly such a cemetery as this we have pictured would be a veritable school of suggestion. It would be a spiritual dissecting-room with valuable lessons in causes and consequences.
We can no longer fear Death as a mysterious and invulnerable enemy, when we have torn off his muffled wrappings and revealed—ourselves.
A world in the hand is worth two in the bush. Let us have to do with real men and women and not with skipping ghosts. —Emerson
Every selfish thought and purpose tends to blind the spiritual perceptions and paralyze the spiritual powers.
Egotism is a slow paralysis or a creeping palsy. Its extreme development is often in insanity and softening of the brain.