Friday, March 12, 2010

Death and Immortality

Death has always presented the ultimate challenge to man's understanding. Most cultures have had some notion, however vague, of a continuing life of the human person after physical death. This question takes on greater urgency, however, when viewed from the perspective of justice. As we have seen, archaic man seeks to live a life that conforms to the laws of the universe. Since all beings are seen to behave in an ordered fashion according to the laws of their being or nature, man too should do what is proper to human nature and avoid acts that are contrary to his nature. This is the importance of myth and ritual: the stories and actions involve the repetition of archetypal acts by which the the order of the universe was brought about in illo tempore, and by recollection and repetition of those archetypal patterns archaic man hopes to conform himself to the divine or heavenly realm of order and preserve himself from the chaos of disorder. The tension involved in this, of course, is that while the natural world conforms to the archetypal order without conscious effort, man must plumb the depths of his own being, his nature, to understand what the true order of human nature is and he must also overcome unruly impulses of his own being in order to conform to that true order. This true order constitutes the good for man.