Orene Wetherall (1913-2003) wrote the following paper, The Concept of Immortality in Various Living Religions for a course she took at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University), no earlier than late 1938 and no later than early 1940. The most recent sources in the bibliography were published in 1935, in the spring of which she finished a 2-year course of study at the University of Idaho as Orene Hardman, in preparation for teaching from 1935-1938. I am dating the paper "circa 1940".

Orene arrived in San Francisco toward the end of May 1938 as Orene Hardman and became Orene Wetherall on 1 June 1938 when she married William Bascom Wetherall (1911-2013), who had come to San Francisco earlier that year. The earliest she could have enrolled at S.F. State would have been in the fall of 1938. She and Bill left San Francisco during the summer of 1940 and lived separately in Idaho from August to October, she with her parents in Peck, and he in Boise where he worked.

Orene was expecting a child at the time, and though there was talk about staying in Idaho, they decided to return to San Francisco, They found an apartment close to where they had lived earlier, near Buena-Vista Park in the Haight-Ashbury district, and this writer, William Owen Wetherall, was born in the city on March 1941. Orene quickly became very busy as a full-time mother, as my brother Jerry was born in September 1942, and our sister Mary Ellen came in January 1945.

My mother had shown me some of her school-girl memorabilia, but I had not seen her immortality paper until finding it among some family detritus in my sister's garage in October 2017. That she had written a paper on religion did not surprise me, as she had attended and participated in local Sunday schools throughout her youth in Idaho, and she was active in the neighborhood Lutheran church in San Francisco, where she sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, and saw that her own children also went to Sunday school (see Orene's Sunday school on the Wetherall-Hardman family page for details).

That Orene chose to write about the theme of immortality in various religions made sense, in retrospect, because my impression of her religiosity was that it was more social and philosophical than religious. After we moved to Grass Valley, in 1955, she ceased taking us to Church or going herself. To go or not was her call, and my father was at most a one-or-two-service-a-year Unitarian.

I recall that, after moving, we continued to say grace before eating, but even that eventually stopped. While most of Orene's social activities in San Francisco were related to the neighborhood church, in Grass Valley she became a free lancer. She threw herself into a variety of local charities and other community services, but the organizations were mostly secular.

There was nothing around our home, or about her person (other than an occasion necklace with a very small cross), to suggest that she might be a Christian or otherwise particularly religious. But a believer in "morality" and "doing good" -- and a devout practitioner thereof? Yes. And tolerant of other faiths? Absolutely.

In preparation for my mother's memorial service, my father retained the services of a local woman who officiated at memorials. She was a Christian minister (I can't recall her denomination), and assuming that the family was Christian, she prepared a Christian-style service. Your truly, however, edited out the gestures to Christianity, and pared it down to a much simpler and very secular program. There was some discussion among the family as to what Orene herself might have wanted, but we agreed that she would probably have wanted something spiritual but simple and secular (see Orene's memorial service for the full script).

"an objective survey of the concept of immortality in various living religions"

BibliographyComments and editing

Immortality Immortality

Title page and page 1 of Orene Wetherall's report on immortality in living religions
Wetherall Family Collection


By Orene Wetherall

Immortality -- that much used and oft defined word which refers to a state of existence we all hope some day to attain is a veritable chameleon. It changes color with each individual attempt to define it. According to Kant, for example, "The Immortality of the Soul means the infinitely prolonged existence of one the same rational being." [Note 1] Spinoza, on the other hand, could not conceive of the survival of the survival of personal memory. "The mind," he said, "can neither imagine nor recollect anything save while in the body." [Note 2] Voltaire, in early life doubtful of the need for a belief in immortality, later expressed the view that belief in God had little moral value unless accompanied by a belief in an immortality of punishment and reward. [Note 3] Such varying definitions could be multiplied almost indefinitely, but regardless of variety and number there would still be the general recognition of an eternal spark within each human being. The everlasting burning of that spark, with the continuance of a distinct personality and consciousness, is what immortality means to me. But it is not my purpose to discuss the subject of immortality from a philosophic or theoretical standpoint; it is, rather, to present an objective survey of the concept as it is found in various living religions. I shall endeavor


1. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics.
2. Durant, p. 206.
3. Durant, p. 264.



to look at each of the following religions with that thought in mind.


It was probably the religion of Zoroaster among all the living religions that first taught the ultimate triumph of moral goodness over the moral evils of the world. Zoroaster seemed to seek assurance first of all that there would be the gift of eternal life given him if he lived a righteous life.

"This I ask: tell me truly, Ahura, whether
I shall indeed, 0 Right, earn that reward --
the future gift of immortality." [Note 1]

This plea must have been answered satisfactorily by his God, for we find that Zarathustra himself taught that goodness would be greatly rewarded. According to Hume, immortality was desired or assured at least seventeen times in the seventeen Gathas. [Note 2]

"May Ahura Mazda, who rules at will over all things grant that both enduringness and vitality, health and immortality may come to thee, 0 believer!" [Note 3]

This was an expressed desire, but we also find assurance in such verses as these:

"The complete sovereignty of the creatures of Ahura Mazda is in the future existence


1. Hume, World's Living Religions. P. 196
2.    "     "     "     "     P. 203
3. Sohrab, Bible of Mankind. P. 117



and that is unlimited for ever and everlasting." [Note 4]
"The successful soul of the follower of Truth abides in immortality with enduringness, while the followers of Druj shall endure griefs." [Note 5]

Zoroaster taught the punishment for the wicked or unbelievers by banishment to hell, as well as compensation for the faithful followers in thought, deed, and word by a future life in heaven. Heaven, of course, was the reward for good thoughts, and hell was a place of "darkness, foul food, and woeful words." [Note 6]

"The world hereafter shall be
The worst world for the wicked,
But the best thought for the righteous." [Note 7]

The soul of the dead after three days was conveyed to heaven's door by means of the Chinvat bridge. This wonderful bridge reacted differently according to its passengers. If the soul which traversed the bridge was found guilty of having led a life whose evil deeds outweighed thee good deeds, then the bridge narrowed itself to a razor-edge sharpness, and the soul was unceremoniously dumped into hell, which was waiting far below. When the righteous souls reached the top of this bridge they were likewise weighed in the balance. Naturally, their good deeds outweighed their wicked deeds, and they were graciously received into the abode of bliss." [sic = delete quotation mark]


4. Sohrab, Bible of Mankind. P. 140
5.    "     "     "     "     P. 139
6. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 73



"The soul of the righteous shall be joyful in immortality.
The torments of the liars shall be in perpetuity.
All this doth the Wise Lord appoint by His dominion." [Note 7]
"The first step that the soul of the faith-
ful man made placed him in the Good-Thought
Paradise; the second step placed him in the
Good-Word Paradise; the third step placed
him in the Good-Deed Paradise; the fourth
step the soul of the faithful man made
placed him among the Eternal Lights." [Note 8]

There are other conceptions of the dividing of the good and evil souls, but this seems to be the most generally accepted.

Heaven and hell, according to the Gathas, was conceived as eternal. The words "blessed" and "damned" would seem to confirm this. Later Zoroastrianism, however, modified this somewhat, at least as far as the unfortunates in hell were concerned. Zoroaster himself intimated a future resurrection of souls, but this was only once. [Note 9] Many ages after this first division was made a new savior was to be born from the seed of the prophet. Then the wicked from hell and the righteous from heaven were to be purified by passing through molten metal. Since the righteous were


7. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 73
8. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 116
9. Hume, World's Living Religions. P. [sic = number missing]



already pure, this process would not be painful. Rather, it would seem that they were walking through warm milk. To the wicked, it would indeed be a testing, and there would be no lukewarmness about the molten metal. At the end of this, however, they would be rewarded by a new life in a new and perfect world established for all time.

"Praise to Him, the merciful Lord, who --
at the end shall deliver even the wicked from Hell and restore the whole Creation in purity." [Note 10]
"And all men became immortal forever and everlasting." [Note 11]


The religion of India, which we Westerners are prone to call Hinduism, is divided into two main parts. The earlier period is the religion of the Vedas. There were a number of gods, and nearly as many conceptions of a future life in this phase of Hinduism. Yama, the first of the mortals to die, was god of death and king of the regions of the departed whether they had been good or bad. Yama was later assisted by Varuna in this task of sorting and judging the dead souls. In this kingdom the dead man retained his full personal identity. [Note 1] His spirit or soul was united with a heavenly body which awaited him in heaven all during his sojourn on earth. This heavenly form was a much finer body


10. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. P. 849
11. Hume, World's Living Religions. P. 210
1. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics.



than he had formerly enjoyed, just as his heavenly life was a glorified edition of his life on earth.

Soma's true abode was thought to be in heaven. Because of its great powers of exhilaration it was believed to be one means of obtaining immortality, particularly immortality for the gods. [Note 2] In the Rig-Veda the following hymn to Soma is found:

"Where life is free, in the
third heaven of heavens,
Where the worlds are radiant;
There make me immortal!" [Note 3]
"Where radiance inexhaustible
Dwells, and the light of heaven is set,
Place me, clear flowing one, in that
Imperishable and deathless world." [Note 4]

Throughout the Rig-Veda is repeated the yearning and desire for immortality. Whether this hope is for a future life on earth or in some "sky abode" is not made clear. Yama was celebrated as the god who first spied a path to another world. Perhaps that is why he was made ruler of this realm of the dead. Many Sanskrit scholars think this other world was in [over strike] Heaven. There were directions given the dead for reaching this abode of Yama in this quotation from the Rig-Veda:

Run on thy path straight forward past
the two dogs,


2. Barton, Religions of the World. P. 147
3. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 50
4. Atkins and Braden, Procession of the Gods. P. 142



"The sons of Sarama, four-eyed and brindled,
Draw near thereafter to the bounteous fathers,
Who revel on in company with Yama." [Note 5]

In the Arthava-Veda there are additional hopes of immortality .The wicked are thought to be hurled into a pit of darkness in the center of the earth. The conditions of torture other than darkness are not described, though it is certain that punishment is meted out in accordance with the earthly record. There are also anticipations of reward in a place of happiness for the good souls.

"Lift from us, 0 Varuna, the uppermost fetter, take down the nethermost, loosen the middlemost! Then shall we, 0 Aditya, in thy law, exempt from quiet, live in freedom! Loosen from us, 0 Varuna, all fetters, the uppermost, the nethermost, and those imposed by Varuna! Evil dreams and misfortune drive away from us: then may we go to the world of the pious!". [Note 6]

The Arthava-Veda lays stress on the reunion of the man with his wife and children. This would seem to indicate an immortality with full consciousness and continued personality. The soul of this particular Veda was free from the exacting duties of its earthly superiors. In heaven each soul was on


5. Barton, Religions of the World.
6.    "     "     "     "     P. 152



an equal plane with its former earthly neighbors. The gods were on a distinctly higher plane, but were in closest unity, with all residents of heaven. [Note 7]

The Brahmanas offer more variation in the future life than has been found thus far in the Vedas. Here the character of immortality was determined by man's deeds on earth, and several ways were laid down for sifting good from bad. One method was as follows: After death the soul of man passed between two fires. The evil deeds were consumed and a pure soul emerged. (This is somewhat similar to the Zoroastrian method of final purification.) The heaven to which this fire purged [sic = insert "the"] soul went [sic = cut "went"] was no longer necessarily the heaven of Yama and Varima. In this heaven a soul could be free from eating -- that is, if he had offered appropriate sacrifices while on earth. The delights of this heaven were described as a thousand times those of the happiest of mortal men. [Note 8]

In the Laws of Manu knowledge and obedience are recognized as a means of salvation.

"Yea, the knowledge of the Soul is the most excellent of them all; for that is the first of all sciences, because immortality is gained thereby." [Note 9]

A later and much greater Hindu book of scriptures, the Upanishads, tends on the whole to teach the doctrine of


7. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, "State of the Dead."
8. Ibid.
9. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 249



annihilation of personality for the possessor of true knowledge. [Note 10] There are clear traces of the Indian belief in hell and heaven both [sic = move "both" before "hell"] in the Mahabharata. The hope of a heaven as described in the Vedas and earlier works was frowned upon by thinkers of the Upanishads, however, since it was of a material nature. Salvation in this later period lay through, abolition of all desire.

When are liberated all
the desires that lodge in one's heart.
(To live in this world of suffering,
sorrow, illusion -- Maya)
Then a mortal becomes immortal.
Therein he reaches Brahma
When are cut all
The knots of the heart here on earth
Then a mortal becomes immortal
-- Thus far is the instruction." [Note 11]

This release from desire could be gained several ways, but the two chief means were by the practice of Yoga and knowledge of Brahma.

Every man that knoweth Him is liberated,
and obtaineth immortality. His form is
not to be seen, none may with his eye
behold it. He is imagined by the heart,


10. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, "State of the Dead."
11. Martin, Seven Great Bibles. P. 35



by wisdom, by the mind.
Those who know this are immortal." [Note 12]

The doctrine of transmigration, which is in itself a type of immortality, was the prevalent belief of this phase of Indian religion, and so far as can be ascertained, developed in India. Without losing its identity the spiritual substance in man was supposed to enter into other forms of life. The status of the future life or lives was improved or lowered by the deeds of the soul in a former existence. [Note 13]

"The good or evil deeds of a man
Are sure to overtake him in the next
As there are different stages in the life of a man,
So there is a Hereafter." [Note 14]

In the Svetasvatara Upanishad there seems to be a wish to be freed from this cycle--

"They who seek the Soul (Atman) that verily
is the immortal; that is the final goal;
from that they do not return; that is the
stopping (of rebirth)." [Note 15]

The final stage and most hoped for state of existence was an absorption into the original World-Soul.


12. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 38
13. New International Encyclopedia. P. 20
14. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 70
15. Martin, Seven Great Bibles. P. 33



"As flowing rivers are resolved
into the sea, losing their name and form,
so the wise, released from name and form,
pass into the Divine and Highest Spirit.
He who knoweth that Supreme Spirit, be-
cometh very Spirit. Freed, from the fetters
of the heart, he becommeth immortal." [Note 16]"

In the Bhagavadgita there is further evidence of an Indian belief in life after death. The lord Krishna speaks of himself as being "the embodiment of the Brahman, of indefeasible immortality, of eternal piety and unbroken bliss." This would indicate a positive immortality for the the gods, but Krishna did not stop there. He knew that since every living thing was part of the Great God it was therefore imbued with that same spark of eternal life.

"Never at any time was I not,
nor thou, nor these lords of men,
nor shall any of us ever cease to be
hereafter." [Note 17]

In order to gain this immortal state with the least number of rebirths, Krishna stressed a personal detachment that almost amounted to passivity.

"Therefore without attachment ever perform
action that should be done; for by doing
action without attachment a man attains


16. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 40
17. Bhagavadgita, "Sankhya".



the Supreme." [Note 18]
"The contacts of the senses, 0 son
of Kunti, whereby we experience heat
and cold, pleasure and pain, are
passing, they ever come and go.
Bear them, thou of Bharat's race!
For the wise whom these do not disturb,
merit immortality." [Note 19]

Later Hinduism has met with many reforms and modernizations. One such change is that between men and the gods there has been established this distinction. The gods must lay aside their earthly bodies to attain immortality. They are indeed spirits. Also, a later belief holds that the fathers exist in heaven until the end of a world-order; then after this destruction they will be reborn again in a new world in form of sons. In other words, they exist as seed for future worlds, and by this enjoy immortality through their earthly sons. The wicked, are extinguished after the first world is destroyed. (From this I assume that future worlds will be realms of perfection with no room for sin.)


Though there was no god recognized in true Jainism, there was a definite belief in a future existence. In fact, according to Hume, [Note 1] Jainism taught that immortality was inherently unavoidable, with ultimate residence in either


18. Bhagavadgita, "Action".
19. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 253
1. Hume, World's Living Religions. P. 270



heaven or in hell. Just what this heaven and hell consisted of is not made clear, but both are mentioned in the following quotations:

"Men who commit sins will go to hell.
But those who have walked the road of
Will obtain a place in heaven." [Note 2]
"The soul goes to the highest heaven,
and there develops into its natural form;
obtains perfection, enlightenment, del-
iverance, and final beatitude;
and puts an end to all misery." [Note 3]

The failure to mention or even to intimate the presence of a deity is perhaps the most striking thing about those two verses -- aside form their very positive belief in a life other than on earth. There is further statement of such faith in this one sentence -- a sentence which I feel sums up the idea of immortality in Jainism with a precision which leaves no room for such words as "hope" and "wish", but instead says --

"I know that there will be a life hereafter." [Note 4]


Very little can be found in any of the sources concerning immortality in Sikhism. There was a belief in God, and also the belief that ^the man who knoweth God, liveth


2. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 71
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.



forever, and dieth not." [Note 1]

"It is they who know not God, who
are always dying.
It is they who die in divine knowledge,
who are immortal." [Note 2]

It seems that the Sikh shared the same belief with the follower of Taoism that death "was just a going home", though perhaps neither knew this. At least, there are references in both scriptures to that effect. (see Taoism)

"Why weep when a saint dieth,
Since he is merely going home?" [Note 3]

Then, of course, Sikhism clung to the belief, which was so prevalent in Indian religions, of the worthlessness of living. Like the Buddhist, the Hindu, and the Jainist he welcomed death as a release from worldly cares and sufferings.

"While the world feareth death,
My heart is pleased,
Since it is only by death
Supreme bliss is obtained.


For most Hinayana Buddhists, except the Arahat, death was merely the beginning of another life. This life or


1. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions, P. 72
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.



state of rebirth was determined, as in later Hinduism, by Karma. The constant succession of births ceased to be a desirable feature for the followers of early Buddhism, and they became a life-negating people. To them a permanent restful Nirvana was the ultimate goal. In order to attain this state of immovable unity with the great World Personality (since Buddhists preferred the term "personality" to "soul") [Note 1] with the least number of rebirths, the disciple must have enlightenment. It was a salvation of knowledge, very similar again to Hinduism.

"That individual in this world who
reflecteth right thoughts,
who uttereth right words, who doeth
right acts,
Who is learned and virtuous here in
this brief life --
He, after the dissolution of the body,
goeth to heaven." [Note 2]

In Buddhism there are found two kinds of Nirvana. First, there is the Nirvana obtained by the Arahat, which was spent in "a simple, holy, carefree, peaceful life" [Not Nirvana, I think] here on earth. The Arahat could be released from this life cycle at any time, but if he saw fit to live on, in order to save souls, he could do so without risk to his own future. When he was ready for the final stage of Nirvana, which was as "absorption" into the general sum of all existence", [Yes]


1. Atkins and Braden, Procession of the Gods. P. 183
2. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 65



he had only to state that he would not be born here again -- thus he entered into absolute Nirvana.

"Better than sovereignty over earth,
better than birth into heaven, than
lordship over all the worlds, is the
reward of entering the stream of
holiness." [Note 3]

In later Buddhism, or rather the Mahayana branch, there is a belief in the soul, and an eternal existence of that soul. This branch of the religion is life-affirming, with a salvation by faith.

"Earnestness is the path of immortality;
Thoughtlessness, the path of death.
Those who are thoughtless are as if
dead already." [Note 4]

In both branches of Buddhism adherence to the eightfold path was necessary to any betterment in the next life and to eventual Nirvana. In the Dhammapada are found the following extracts which concern this requirement of obedience:

"Who so doth control this incorporeal
cave-dweller, this far wandering solitary mind,
shall escape the bonds of death." [Note 5]
"Obey the eternal law of the heaven;
Who keepeth this law giveth happily
in this world and the next." [Note 6]



3. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 231
4. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 65
5. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 230
6.     "     "     "     "     P. 132




In China there are at present three main religions -- Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. In 212, B. C. there was only one, Taoism, due to the burning of all Confucian literature by the Emperor, Shi Huang Ti. [Note 1] At this time it seems that the religion had no promise nor a very definite conception of immortality. There was, however, a desire for a future life, and the popular belief was that it could be obtained through medicinal herbs. Just as such herbs would prevent death in curing of an illness, so should they prolong life indefinitely if the proper herbs could be found. The Emperor sent naval expeditions to the Fairy Islands to search for the herb of immortality. When these efforts proved to be of no value, the leading Taoist of China tried to compound a pill that would give its user immortality. [Note 2]

As the religion developed, and with the coming of Mahayana Buddhism into China, a definite idea of a future life was introduced. Taoism then took over the beliefs in heaven and hell, too. The Buddhistic theory of salvation by knowledge was accepted by the Taoist, but Chinese names were substituted in place of the Indian terminology. [Note 3]

"To know Eternal Law, is to be enlightened.
Not to know It, is misery and calamity.
He who knows the Eternal Law, is liberal-


1. Hume, World's Living Religions. P. 142
2. Ibid.
3. Barton, Religions of the World. P. 219



Possessed of the Eternal, he endures
Though his body perish, yet he suffers
no harm." [Note 4]

"Death, or life after death", was, according to Lao Tsu, "just a going home again. The dead are those who have gone home, while we, who are living, are still wanderers." [Note 5] "Home" did not necessarily mean a place of immortality, but Lao Tsu takes care of that by saying that anyone ^possessed of Tao, endures forever. Though his body perish yet he suffers no harm". From the Chuang-Tsu comes the following scripture which leads one to think the Taoist also accepted the Buddhist theory of Karma or transmigration:

"The ancients described death as the loosening
of the cord on which God suspended the
life. What we can point to are the faggots
that have been consumed, but the fire is
transmitted elsewhere, and we do not know
that it is over and ended." [Note 6]

("Faggots" here represent the body, and "fire" the animating spirit. Faggots are consumed by the fire, so the body perishes at death; but the fire may be transmitted to other faggots. [Note 7])


The founder of this religion, Confucius, was not a


4. Treasure House of Living Religions. P 7
5.     "     "     "     "     "     similar ref.
6. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 165
7.     "     "     "     "     footnote.



sceptic on the question of immortality. He merely said that he did not know. When asked by one of his followers if there was any future life, he said, "There is no present urgency about the point. Hereafter you will know it for yourself." From some of the scriptures it is evident that death was not the end of everything -- at least as far as the spirit was concerned.

"That the bones and the flesh should
return to the earth is what is appointed.
But the soul in its energy can go everywhere;
it can go everywhere!" [Note 1] T'an Kung
"A11 the living must die
And dying, return to the ground.
The bones and the flesh moulder below
And, hidden away, become the earth of the
But the spirit issues forth,
and is displayed on high in a condition
of glorious Brightness." [Note 2]

In the works of Mencius, a follower of Confucius, there is a clearer belief of a future life. It is in Mencius that a heaven is first mentioned as a place for the spirit or immortal body to rest or reside in.

"When neither premature death nor long life
causes a man any doublemindedness, but
he awaits in the cultivation of his present


1. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire, P. 134
2. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 66



character for whatsoever issue -- this is the
way in which he establishes his Heaven-ordained
being. Death sustained in the discharge
of one's duties may correctly be ascribed
to the appointment of Heaven." [Note 3] Mencius


The Koran contains numerous pictures of life after death. This life consists of three factors -- resurrection, judgment, heaven and hell. [Note 1] The Mohammedan heaven was a realm of sensual delight, according to most sources. It had its spiritual aspects, but the physical delights seemed to have a greater appeal to the follower of Islam. Hell, on the other hand, was as fiery and terrible as heaven was pleasurable. Ultimate assignment to paradise or hell was on the basis of belief or disbelief in Mohammed's mission, [Note 2]

"By means of what God hath given thee
seek to attain the future mansions;
And neglect not thy part in this world,
F But be bounteous to others,
As God hath been bounteous to thee." [Note 3]

The general ideas for resurrection that are found in Islam are taken from Judaism and Christianity. A few of the details are from Zoroastrianism. [Note 4]

"The trumpet shall be blown; and behold,


1. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. P. 849
2.    "     "     "     "     "     P. 850
3. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 71
4. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. P. 849



from their graves unto their Lord
shall they slip out." [Note 5]
"Every soul must taste of death;
and ye shall only receive your re-
compense upon the day of resurrection." [Note 6]

The resurrected body was thought to be a body of flesh, else how could it enjoy the pleasures of Heaven? In fact, the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics does state that it is "as at the first creation". [Note 7]

Many times the scriptures of the Koran emphasize the fear of God as being a means of a future life. This is often coupled with repentence [sic = repentance] and right conduct, which consist mostly in belief of the principles set forth by Mohammed.

"The mansions of the next life shall be
better for those who fear God." [Note 8]
"Such as repent, believe, and act aright --
these shall enter Paradise." [Note 9]
"Small the fruition of this world.
But the next life is the true good
for him who feareth God.
And ye shall not wronged so much as
the skin of a date-stone." [Note 10]


5. Hume, World's Living Religions. P. 226
6. Turnbull, Tongues of Fire. P. 396
7. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. P. 849
8. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 71
9. Ibid.
10. Hume, Treasure House of Living Religions. P. 70




The Jew would have agreed with Kant in his definition of immortality in that each believed in the survival of the human personality in its entirety. As soon as the idea of a future life seemed a possibility in Judaism, the Jew immediately conceived a heaven in which all his earthly senses were present and perhaps increased. [Note 1] (It was probably an enlargement of this idea that gave the Mohammedan his sensual paradise.) The Jew's conception of eternal life implied a life lived in the body and on a material universe, but not necessarily in this same body nor on this same earth.

"-- And though after my skin, worms
destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall
I see God." [Note 2] Job

The idea of purgatory [It depends upon what you mean by this term] is prevalent in Judaism. There seems to be a belief in degrees of punishment, however, by the assignment of some of the wicked souls to hell and of others to hades. Hades is not of the same permanency as hell. It is rather a place for the completion of salvation -- "a mission field for evangelization of imperfect believers." [Note 3]

Judaism, with its hope for a material immortality -- that is, eternity of body as well as of spirit -- is the first religion whose sacred scriptures proclaim such an ideal order. This life is to be realized upon earth under the rule of God -- a belief which is shared by Christianity alone. [Note 4]

The following bits of scripture are but a few of the many to be found in the Old Testament which promise


1. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. P. 833
2. Sohrab, Bible of Mankind. P. 429



a future life with God:

"In the way of righteousness is life,
and in the pathway thereof is no
death." [Note 5] Proverbs
"As the whirlwind passeth, so is the
wicked no more; but the righteous is
an everlasting foundation." [Note 6] Proverbs
"And the Lord said unto him:
Peace be unto thee, fear not, thou
shalt not die." [Note 7] Judges.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever." [Note 8] Psalms


Emerson said that "the impulse to seek proof of immortality is itself the strongest proof of all". [Note 1] Perhaps I have done just that in this paper have -- sought proof where there may have been no real conviction in the people of the religion. If I have made the case stronger than it should be, it is only because it pleases me to think that everyone has the same strong belief in immortality that I have. It seems that we expect immortality not merely because we desire it, but because the desire itself arises from all that is


    Cont'd. from page 22
3. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. P. 838
4. Hume, World's Living Religions. P. 170
5. Sohrab, Bible of Mankind. P. 334
6. Ibid.
7. Sohrab, Bible of Mankind. P. 428
8.     "     "     "     "     P. 424
1. Encyclopedia Britannica. P. 113



best and truest and worthiest in ourselves. The loss of this belief would cast a dark shadow over the present life, and a potent moral influence would be gone. [Note 2]

I am of the opinion that there has never been a people who developed any great degree of religious culture without this strong belief and hope for a future life. I say "hope" because we have no proof except in our own hearts. I think that Will Durant, in his chapter on German Idealism, expresses this idea beautifully:

"And again, though we cannot prove, we feel, that we are deathless. We perceive that life is not like those dramas so beloved by the people -- in which every villain is punished, and every act of virtue meets with its reward; we learn anew every day that the wisdom of the serpent fares better here than the gentleness of the dove, and that any thief can triumph if he steals enough. If mere worldly utility and expediency were the justification of virtue, it would not be wise to be too good. And yet, knowing all this, having it flung into our faces with brutal repetition, we still feel the command to righteousness, we know that we ought to do the inexpedient good. How could this sense of right survive if it were not that in our hearts we feel this life to be only a part of life, this earthly dream only an embryonic prelude to a new birth, a new awakening; if we did not vaguely know that in the later and longer life the balance will be redressed, and not one cup of water given generously but shall be returned a hundred-fold?" [Note 3]


2. Encyclopedia Britannica. P. 113
3. Durant, Story of Philosophy. P. 302



1. Encyclopedia Britannica. Fourteenth Edition.

2. Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Macmillan, 1934.

3. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. Scribners [Scribner's], 1928.

4. New International Encyclopedia. Second Edition. Dodd, Mead and Company.

5. The Source Book. Source Research Council, Inc., Chicago, Ill., 1935.

[ Which articles and by what authors ]

6. Atkins, Gaius Glenn
   Branden, Charles Samuel

       Procession of the Gods, Revised Edition, Harpers.

7. Barton, George A.

       The Religions of the World. University of Chicago, 1929.

8. Durrant, Will

       The Story of Philosophy. Garden City Publishing Co., Garden City, N.Y.

9. Hume, Robert Ernest

       The World's Living Religions Scribners [Scribner's], 1924.

10. Hume, Robert Ernest

       Treasure House of the Living Religions:
       Selections from their Sacred Scriptures. Scribners [Scribner's], 1932.

11. Mahabharata


12. Martin, Alfred Wilhelm

       Seven Great Bibles. Stokes, 1930.


13. Sohrab, M.A. (Ed.)

       The Bible of Mankind. Universal Publishing Co., New York, 1929.

14. Turnbull, Grace

       Tongues of Fire:
       A Bible of Sacred Scriptures. Macmillan, 1929.


Comments and editing

Professor's comments

The names of the course and the professor are not known. On the cover page, above the title, the professor wrote, with a blue fountain pen, "A very fine paper" but added the following remarks below the by-line.

I think you do not sufficiently realize the differences of belief with a religion. Some of the Jews, for instance, believed in personal immortality, some did not. Both points of view find utterance in their scriptures. The same is true of some of the other religions.

If this were a paper where research scholarship were demanded, you should quote primary as well as secondary sources in such references as Turnbull, & Hume's "Treasure House."

The professor red-penciled 2 remarks in the body of the paper and 1 remark in the bibliography.

On page 15, where my mother had spoken of two kinds of Nirvana" -- one "obtained by the Aranat, which was spent . . . here on earth" -- the professor wrote "Not Nirvana, I think". And, below this, beside where my mother describes the final stage of Nirvana, citing someone, as "'absorption into the general sum of all existence'", the professor writes "Yes."

On page 22 -- in the statement "The idea of purgatory is prevalent in Judaism." -- the professor underlines purgatory in red pencil, and writes in red pencil, "It depends upon what you mean by this term."

On the 1st page of the unpaginated Bibliography (page 26), the professor braced the first five encyclopedic sources, and wrote -- "Which articles & by what authors".

My editing

The typescript, on bond paper, is very neat. A few corrections have been neatly made in black fountain pen, but they average fewer than one per page. I have integrated all the corrections into the web version with comment. I have flagged a few remaining problems [sic] remarks.

Orene centered the sub titles without "quotation marks" or underscoring. Here I have shown them as bold blue titles to the left.

Orene used only [brackets] and no (parentheses). I have replaced all her [brackets] with (parentheses).

Orene used mostly triple dashes (---) and a few double dashes (--) with no apparent distinction. I have shown all her dashes as double dashes preceded and followed by spaces ( -- ).

The footnotes are sequentially numbered within each section from 1. In the typescript they are superscripted. Here I have bracketed them [Note #].