Students of Theosophy believe that all great religions were founded on the lives and teachings of Masters of Wisdom, men who, through union with the Oversoul, the Logos, had become one with the wisdom and power and love of the Logos, and were therefore able to speak with the wisdom of the Logos and, in their lives, to manifest the power and love of the Logos. The teachings of these Masters and the records of their acts have been transmitted to us through the minds and hearts of their followers, who have defined these teachings and acts in accordance with the limitations of their own minds. In this way dogmas have been developed.
If this be true, it should follow that, within or behind the received dogma, there is a core, a facet of eternal Truth; and it should be the duty of students of Theosophy to discover and point out the Truth of which these dogmas are an inadequate, incomplete or deflected statement.
Let us take, for example, the central dogma of the Christian Church, the doctrine of the Atonement. However much the Churches may differ in other matters, there is very little divergence among them regarding this cardinal tenet. The Greek and Latin Churches, and those springing from the Reformation, all hold and teach substantially the same view, as set forth in the Nicene Creed.
“I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried: and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father.”
Or we may find a simpler and more universal expression in the words of the Revelation:
“Jesus Christ, that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”
The first expression of the thought on which the doctrine of the Atonement is founded, is the saying of Jesus, recorded in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark:
“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, ‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again . . . the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.’”
This is in essence what the Nicene creed repeated, three centuries later.
We may pause for a moment to ask what meaning a student of Theosophy would give to these words of Jesus; how could the Master Christ give his life a ransom for many?
If we recognize Jesus as a Master of Wisdom, one who had attained, who had become in essence one with the eternal Logos, we shall interpret his words in accordance with that view.
Two fundamental truths, at first sight contradictory, must be kept in mind: First, the individual existence of each human soul, which makes each one of us responsible for our own acts, as in civil and criminal law each is answerable for his own debts and misdemeanours. Then the second truth, apparently contradicting but really supplementing this: That all souls are bound together in spiritual unity; we are all rays of the same eternal Logos; we are all inlets into the same infinite Oversoul. Human beings are many; spiritual Humanity is one.
It should follow from this that a Master of Wisdom, who has become one with the eternal Logos, thereby possesses the wisdom and power and love of the Logos, and, as being one with the Logos, gains an inner relation with all human souls, in virtue of which he has the power to draw them toward the Logos by drawing them into his own spiritual life, which is one with the Logos. In this sense, he comes to minister. And if that ministry involves his bodily death, he gives his life a ransom for many. As a Master who has attained oneness with the eternal Logos, death has no hold on him; he must rise again, in the spiritual body. He thus retains and enlarges his power to work for human souls, drawing them toward him with cords of love. But the responsibility of these human souls is not thereby canceled or lessened. While a Master has power to help us, he can do so only as we help ourselves. The decision and the effort must be ours. The Master’s sacrifice is the door, but we must rise and enter.
The all-conquering love of the Master Christ, revealed in his life and death and resurrection, has been in very truth the door by which many have entered into immortal joy, sharing with him the eternal life, the transforming love, the spiritual light of the Logos. For those who have thus drawn near to him in love, because he drew near to them, the Master Christ has been the door of salvation; for them he is salvation.
To the fiery, passionate heart of Paul the Master thus drew near, on the Damascus road. Paul received from the Master transforming love and revealing light. Thereafter, through terrible toil and suffering, but also with immeasurable joy, Paul laboured with all the passion of his heart and will to make known to others that Master’s transforming love and enkindling light, that they also with him might enter the life of the Master, with him share the eternal power and infinite wisdom and love of the Logos.
Writing toward the close of his life from Rome to his disciple Timothy, Paul thus sums up his message:
“I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men . . . for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come into the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.”
Four or five years earlier, when he was in Corinth, immediately before the journey to Jerusalem and the years of bondage, Paul had written on the same theme to the Jewish disciples of Christ at Rome. Here he had to meet the complex legal minds of the followers of Jewish Rabbis, and could not speak simply from his heart, as when he was writing to his own disciple, Timothy. Therefore, he called upon the resources of his powerful intellect to set forth the truth in terms that would meet their objections, and, as the centuries have passed, and his philosophical interpretations have been handed down through narrower and harder minds, the spirit of his imagery has been largely obscured and its form has crystallized into what we now know as the dogmas of the Latin Church. Paul wrote:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . For when we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. . . .”
This is the only occurrence of the word Atonement in the New Testament. And it would have been better to translate it “reconciliation,” since it is a form of the same word that has just been translated “reconciled.” The earlier meaning of “atonement” is, in fact, to make “at-one,” to reconcile.
But if the word “atonement” in the legal sense is out of place in this passage, the thought of a legal atonement is present. Paul continues:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. . . . For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
Paul is here bearing grateful testimony to the abounding grace and power and love which had come through his transforming contact with the Master; but he is doing more. He is seeking to elaborate an argument that will convince the legalistic minds of Rabbinical Jews; he is expressing his spiritual experience in the forms and images which had been stored in his mind when he studied the books of the Old Testament and the religious law of the Jews. He is recalling the story of Adam from the early chapters of Genesis, and at the same time holding in mind such a sentence as this:
“Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of the altar once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements. . . .”
Paul has recognized his Master as divine, as the Son of God. His love for him whom he knows as a living Lord is boundless. But he also sees within the life and death and resurrection of his Lord, a universal significance. It is this which he labours to make clear through the symbolic story of Adam.
Once suggested, the connection between Adam’s sin and Christ’s death gained a hold on men’s minds which it has maintained for almost two millenniums. In the literal view of this relation, there is a danger. Now that it is generally recognized that the story of Adam’s fall, six thousand years ago, is not to be understood historically, insistence on a necessary connection between Adam’s transgression and Christ’s death tends to becloud the Master’s sacrifice, to give it an air of unreality. It is, therefore, wise to remember that Jesus himself never suggested such a connection.
At this point, two notes may be added. Philo of Alexandria, a wise and reverent Jew, writing perhaps ten years before the opening of Christ’s ministry, frankly treats the story of Adam not as history but as allegory. Adam is man’s intellect, which is allured through the emotional nature, Eve. Thus came the descent of the soul into matter. So we see that the story of Adam was not taken literally by all religious Jews at the time when Paul was writing. There is, indeed, a suggestion of Philo’s method, when Paul speaks of Adam as “the figure of him that was to come,” and Paul, writing to the Galatians, treats the story of Agar as an allegory, as does Philo.
The second point is that, in connecting the fall of Adam with the death and resurrection of Christ, Paul must have in mind a meaning deeper than the literal story of Adam and its literal interpretation. For Paul, as for Philo, Adam’s fall typified the primal fall of Spirit into matter, which is followed by the re-ascent of Spirit, through sacrifice. There is much evidence that, when citing the story of Genesis, Paul, like Philo, used a consistent symbolism throughout, Adam thus meaning the lower self in all men, the carnal man. This would seem to be the case where he writes to the disciples at Corinth:
“As in the Adam all die, even so in the Christ shall all be made alive. . . . The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam a quickening spirit.”
Philo gained wide recognition and acceptance among the Jews, so that he was chosen to represent them as an ambassador to the Emperor; he went to Rome about twenty years before Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans. Philo blended the fundamental principles of Plato and Heraclitus, and used his philosophy to interpret the Old Testament in a spiritual and mystical sense. From Plato, he took the thought of a spiritual world, “a world perceptible only to the intellect, the archetypal model, the Idea of ideas, the Logos of God.”
From Heraclitus, who first used the word, Logos, in this sense, Philo took the thought of the Logos as the spiritual fire, the universal principle which animates the world. He added ethical elements from Zeno and the Stoics. So we find Philo writing:
“And the Father who created the universe gave to his archangelic and most ancient Logos a pre-eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separate that which had been created from the Creator. And this same Logos is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the Ambassador, sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race.”
Paul, though not using the word Logos in this sense, in effect identified Jesus with the Logos as Mediator, and as the Ambassador sent by the Father to mankind. And this identification, with the word Logos added, is accepted in the opening of the Fourth Gospel. The recognition of Jesus as an incarnation of the Logos marks a great advance beyond the view of the earlier disciples. Andrew, speaking to Peter, had said: “We have found the Messiah,” the Anointed; in Greek, the Christos. The word Messiah is used throughout the Hebrew books to describe an anointed priest or king; in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this is translated by some form of the verb from which the word Christos is derived; for example, in Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,” the Greek word is Christos.
Messiah came to mean the expected Deliverer of the Jews, and Andrew and the other disciples accepted Jesus as that Deliverer. But Paul recognized Jesus as the Mediator, the Ambassador, not to the Jews only, but to mankind, as the Logos of the Father. At the same time, in order to find a reason for the crucifixion which will satisfy minds trained in the Jewish law, Paul links the sacrifice of Christ with the sin of Adam.
Throughout the centuries which followed, the interpretation of the Atonement has moved between these two points. The Greek Fathers lay stress on the incarnation of the Logos as the means of salvation, while the Latin Fathers, with Augustine as the most eminent, lay the emphasis on Adam’s fall. The tendency of the most enlightened thought in the Churches today is away from the literalism of the Latins, and toward the deeper, more mystical and more philosophical thought of the Greeks.
Of the Greek theologians, Clement of Alexandria is, perhaps, the greatest. Writing toward the close of the second century, he taught that the indwelling Divinity, the Logos, is organically related to the human soul. Man is the image of Deity; his destiny is, to realize that likeness to the full. Christ, the Logos made manifest in the Incarnation, is at once the head and the norm of humanity. The work of Christ was to manifest the divinity of man to man, that man might fulfill his divine destiny. And in his spiritual presence, Christ remains in the world as the teacher of humanity, as he has been, indeed, since the beginning of the world. Athanasius follows in the footsteps of Clement. Writing of the Incarnation of the Logos, he says: “He was made man that we might be made gods.”
Augustine, who is recognized as the founder of Latin theology, writing two centuries after Clement, laid emphasis on three principles: original sin, inherited through the fall of Adam; predestination; and the Church, as the means of salvation.
This much more concrete view may be regarded as a narrowing of the wide and universal scope of the Greek Fathers. Perhaps it would be wiser to see in it a necessary conforming to the changed spirit and conditions of the times. Greek civilization had suffered eclipse. New nations, rude and undisciplined, were coming within the pale of the Church. For their spiritual well-being, for their salvation, it was essential that they should learn self-sacrifice and obedience. And, in order that they might learn obedience, a strongly organized Church, representing spiritual law in concrete forms, and imposing its authority, was indispensable.
There was the danger that the broad and universal teaching of Clement and Athanasius, just because it was universal, might pass over their heads, altogether failing to lay hold on their minds and wills, and that laxity and disintegration would result. So it would seem that the concrete organization of the Church came at the right time. The abuse of the principle sometimes acted tyrannously, yet on the whole the spiritual discipline of the Church brought forth good fruits. It did not prevent the emergence of such great spirits as Francis of Assisi, Dante, John of the Cross, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and Jeanne D’Arc.
The movement called the Reformation made no essential change in the understanding of the Atonement. Augustine’s doctrines were accepted and transmitted by Calvin. Original sin and predestination hold their place among the Articles of Religion of the Church of England, essentially as the Latin theologians defined them.
The practical effect of the view of the Atonement based on these two dogmas may be described as follows. Briefly, the doctrine is that, because of Adam’s fall, all mankind was eternally lost. The debt incurred by Adam’s sin was paid by Christ’s death; mankind was washed in the blood of Christ and freed from sin. God, in His inscrutable wisdom, decreed that not all mankind, but only the elect, those predestined by His decree, should profit by Christ’s sacrifice and redemption. On the remainder of mankind the doom of Adam’s sin rested unaltered and unalterable.
Let us consider the effect of this doctrine on different types of character. There were some who flatly refused to accept this view because of the immense cruelty and injustice it seemed to involve. This was the genesis of many who were condemned as infidels. There were many, and some of the finest and most sensitive spiritual natures were among them, whose lives were tortured by dark doubts of their election. To this cause a great sum of human misery must be laid. There were noble spirits, like those who have been named, who, believing in their redemption through Divine mercy, made of their faith an incentive to splendid spiritual attainment. And there have been multitudes who, believing, or at least hoping, that Christ’s death had indeed washed away their sins, and assured their eternal happiness in heaven, concluded that any further effort on their part would be superfluous, and sank into a happy dream which came close to paralysis of the spiritual will. Their too easy belief sapped their spiritual vitality and pauperized their interior life; for ceaselessly active aspiration and spiritual will are essential to spiritual health and strength.
Of recent years, there has been a turn of the tide, a drift from the Latin theologians toward the great philosophical principles of the Greek Fathers. Thus we find such a theologian as Dr. Hans Lassen Martensen, Bishop of Seeland in Denmark, writing paragraphs that take us back to the great Alexandrians, Clement arid Philo:
“The entire diversity of individuals, of nations, of tongues, and of races, finds its unity in the divine Logos, the uncreated image of God, who in the fulness of time himself becomes man. . . . The Logos, having become man, reveals the whole fulness of the ideal according to which human nature was originally planned, but which can be realized only imperfectly in each finite individual. If the divine Logos had not become man, humanity would want the actual Mediator, who can lead the species out of the created relations of dependence into the spiritual relations of freedom, who can raise it from the level of the natural life to the level of perfection and true being.”
If Dr. Martensen be taken to represent the Protestantism of the Continent, we may cite Mr. John Kenneth Mozley, Dean of Pembroke College, Cambridge, as a type of advanced thinking in the Anglican Church. Speaking of “that final reality which we call God,” he says that:
“Christ is a third to God and man, though He be both God and man, for He is neither simply God nor simply man. The intervention of Christ is His mediation between God and man.”
This is almost exactly the thought of Philo:
“The Father who engendered all has given to the Logos the signal privilege of being an intermediary between the creature and the Creator.”
In exactly the same philosophical and broad-minded spirit, we find in the Catholic Encyclopedia, under the word Atonement:
“The Atonement is founded on the Divine Incarnation. By this great mystery, the Eternal Word took to Himself the nature of man, and, being both God and man, became the Mediator between God and men. . . . By the union of the Eternal Word with the nature of man all mankind was lifted up and, so to say, deified.”
As has already been suggested, students of Theosophy would, perhaps, hold that the Master had attained to oneness with the Logos; that, being one with the Logos, he was born as Jesus; that his life and teaching set forth eternal spiritual law, the essential being of the Logos; that through his sacrificial death he gained the power to remain among men in the body of the resurrection; able, as essentially one with the Logos, to enter as the Logos into the inmost hearts of men, enkindling them and drawing them into his own life, and therefore into the Logos, whereby they gain immortality.
How is this view of the Atonement to be reconciled with the law of Karma? Is there an essential opposition between the two ideas, or should we seek a deeper truth underlying and reconciling them?
We may take as an expression of the law of Karma the following passage from Professor Franklin Edgerton’s recently published and admirable book, The Bhagavad Gita:
“The Upanishads also begin to combine with this doctrine of an indefinite series of reincarnations the old belief in retribution for good and evil deeds in a life after death; a belief which prevailed among the people of Vedic India, as all over the world. With the transference of the future life from a mythical other world to this earth, and with the extension or multiplication of it to an indefinite series of future lives more or less like the present life, the way was prepared for the characteristically Hindu doctrine of ‘karma’ or deed. This doctrine, which is also axiomatic with the Hindus, teaches that the state of each existence of each individual is absolutely conditioned and determined by that individual’s morality in previous existences. A man is exactly what he has made himself and what he therefore deserves to be. An early Upanishad says: ‘Just as (the Soul) is (in this life) of this or that sort; just as it acts, just as it operates, even so precisely it becomes (in the next life). If it acts well it becomes good; if it acts ill it becomes evil. As a result of right action it becomes what is good; as a result of evil action it becomes what is evil.’ In short, the law of the conservation of energy is rigidly applied to the moral world. Every action, whether good or bad, must have its results for the doer. If in the present life a man is on the whole good, his next existence is better by just so much as his good deeds have outweighed his evil deeds. He becomes a great and noble man, or a king, or perhaps a god (the gods, like men, are subject to the law of transmigration). Conversely, a wicked man is reborn as a person of low position, or as an animal, or, in cases of exceptional depravity, he may fall to existence in hell. And all this is not carried out by decree of some omnipotent and sternly just Power. It is a natural law. It operates of itself just as much as the law of gravitation. It is therefore wholly dispassionate, neither merciful nor vindictive. It is absolutely inescapable; but at the same time it never cuts off hope. A man is what he has made himself; but by that same token he may make himself what he will. The soul tormented in the lowest hell may raise himself in time to the highest heaven, simply by doing right. Perfect justice is made the basic law of the universe. It seems hardly possible to conceive a principle of greater moral grandeur and perfection.”
The Buddhist view of Karma is exactly the same. In Buddhism in Translations, Mr. Henry Clarke Warren says:
“’Karma’ expresses, not that which a man inherits from his ancestors, but that which he inherits from himself in some previous state of existence.”
And, speaking of the stories in his Buddhist Legends, Mr. Eugene Watson Burlingame says:
“In each and every story it is at least the ostensible purpose of the writer to illustrate the truth of the maxim, ‘whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’”
So the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist books and the later Vedanta all teach the law of Karma, the law of the conservation of energy in the moral world. As individuals, we inherit from ourselves in some previous state of existence; we are even now creating our future states of existence. How can there be any room for Atonement, or even for a Mediator?
The answer has already been suggested. As individuals, we are responsible under the law of Karma for all our thoughts, words and deeds, good or evil; just as under civil and criminal law we answer for our own debts and crimes. But we are also something else, more and greater than separate persons; we are all potentially one with the Logos, with which those whom we call Masters are already one, in essence and in realization. That part of the Logos which has already realized itself can illumine and aid that part of the Logos which still feels itself to be isolated, orphaned, miserable. Or, to put the same truth in simpler words, the Master can help the disciple who appeals to him for help, can impart to the disciple his own divine life. The law of Karma is not thereby violated. The law of Karma, the conservation of energy applied to the moral world, is an expression of the essential nature of the Logos. The wisdom and power and love of Masters, and their ability to help, are likewise an expression of the essential nature of the Logos. There is no disharmony or contradiction.
Therefore we find in the Katha Upanishad, side by side with the law of Karma, such a sentence as this:
“Smaller than small, mightier than mighty, this Oversoul is hidden in the heart of man. He who has ceased from desire, and passed sorrow by, through the grace of the Ordainer beholds the greatness of the Oversoul.”
The Bhagavad Gita likewise teaches the law of Karma. But we also find there such a verse as this:
“Ever continuing to perform all works, taking refuge in Me, through My grace he gains that everlasting home.”
Gautama Buddha taught the law of Karma, perhaps more rigidly and inclusively than it had ever been taught before. Yet it is recorded that Buddha said:
“May the sins of this age of evil rest on me, but let mankind be saved.”
And every disciple of the Buddha must repeat the sacramental formula: “I take my refuge in the Buddha.”
Finally, in the later Vedanta, which equally teaches the law of Karma, we have, in the Crest Jewel of Wisdom, such a sentence as this:
“It is the essence of the very being of those of mighty soul to seek to heal the sorrows of others. . . .”
Or again, the disciple says:
“Through infinite compassion, thou, Master, hast become my saviour.”
In these Oriental scriptures, there is, therefore, a perfect reconciliation between the law of Karma and the power of the Logos, or of the Master who has become one with the Logos, to heal and to save.
In the same way, there is, in the New Testament, an entire harmony between the two doctrines. Paul, as we saw, first developed the doctrine of the Atonement. Yet it was Paul who wrote the words quoted to illustrate the inexorable working of the law of Karma:
“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Jesus said that the Son of man had come to give his life a ransom for many. A few days later, in the parable of the sheep and the goats, he expressed the spiritual essence of the law of Karma.
There is, therefore, this overwhelming testimony in favour of the truth of both doctrines: the law of Karma, and the power of Masters to save, because they have become one with the Logos. In everyday life, we can find exactly the same reconciliation of the two apparently opposite principles. It is true, on the one hand, that a child’s growth depends almost wholly on its own efforts; it must eat, it must learn to use its eyes, it must learn to walk and talk, wholly through efforts of its own. But it is also true that the child’s mother suffers for it even before the child’s birth, in its birth, after its birth, ceaselessly; and that, without the mother’s continuing self-sacrifice, the child could not live. In the same way, it is true that a student must advance by his own efforts, learning to read, to write, learning arts and sciences, and that his advance depends absolutely on his own exertions. It is also true that at each moment he is profiting by the work of others, those who have stored up the wisdom he is mastering, who have practised the arts and developed the sciences which he sets himself to learn. And he is helped, or should be, by his instructors, day by day as long as his studies continue. This really illustrates the twofold principle. He is an individual student; he is also an integral part of studious humanity, through whose veins a single life of erudition flows.
Or take a simple illustration from commerce. It is broadly true that every merchant succeeds in direct proportion to his own insight and energy; he makes his own Karma. But it is also true that he is completely dependent on the rest of mankind; on the producer and manufacturer on the one hand, and on the purchaser on the other.
In like manner, in the spiritual world, for which all these phases of human life are the preparatory classes, it is true that the disciple’s progress is absolutely dependent on his own efforts; he who sows little shall reap little, he who sows much shall reap much. But it is also true that the Master aids the disciple at every step, giving of the substance of his own life to aid him; the Master guides the footsteps of the disciple in the spiritual world to which he has introduced him, and in fact holds back the disciple’s adverse Karma, in order that the disciple may enter the Path. The Master advances spiritual capital to the disciple, to enable him to begin to earn.
The metaphor suggests its moral: Just as he who has borrowed capital and has earned money by using it, will repay in full and with interest all that he has borrowed, so the disciple, who has received of the Master’s life and force, will be passionately eager to make a return at the first possible moment; his adoring love and his sense of justice will equally compel him. So will the account be squared, and the law of Karma satisfied, when, through the Master’s help, the disciple has attained salvation.
It is possible that some who have built up mental images of the mystery of the Redemption, may think that the Master’s greatness is diminished by this view. But this is an objection of the surface of the mind. The cure is deeper and more immediate knowledge. Even a little experience of the Master’s transforming power and love and wisdom will fill the heart of the disciple with a splendour of adoring gratitude, a living realization of Divinity, in comparison with which the speculations of theology are but shadows. And at the same time the disciple will realize in deep humility the vital importance of his own acts and efforts; the Master who helps him has thereby put himself at the disciple’s mercy. It is a most sacred trust, for this relation is the holiest in human life, making that life divine, immortal.