Part 11 (1/2)

Commoro (loq.).--”Existence AFTER death! How can that be? Can a dead man get out of his grave, unless we dig him out?”

”Do you think man is like a beast, that dies and is ended?”

Commoro.--”Certainly. An ox is stronger than a man, but he dies, and his bones last longer; they are bigger. A man's bones break quickly; he is weak.”

”Is not a man superior in sense to an ox? Has he not a mind to direct his actions?”

Commoro--”Some men are not so clever as an ox. Men must sow corn to obtain food, but the ox and wild animals can procure it without sowing.”

”Do you not know that there is a spirit within you different from flesh?

Do you not dream and wander in thought to distant places in your sleep?

Nevertheless your body rests in one spot. How do you account for this?”

Commoro (laughing)--”Well, how do YOU account for it? It is a thing I cannot understand; it occurs to me every night.”

”The mind is independent of the body. The actual body can be fettered, but the mind is uncontrollable. The body will die and will become dust or be eaten by vultures; but the spirit will exist forever.”

Commoro--”Where will the spirit live?”

”Where does fire live? Cannot you produce a fire*

(* The natives always produce fire by rubbing two sticks together.)

by rubbing two sticks together? Yet you SEE not the fire in the wood.

Has not that fire, that lies harmless and unseen in the sticks, the power to consume the whole country? Which is the stronger, the small stick that first PRODUCES the fire, or the fire itself? So is the spirit the element within the body, as the element of fire exists in the stick, the element being superior to the substance.”

Commoro--”Ha! Can you explain what we frequently see at night when lost in the wilderness? I have myself been lost, and wandering in the dark I have seen a distant fire; upon approaching the fire has vanished, and I have been unable to trace the cause, nor could I find the spot.”

”Have you no idea of the existence of spirits superior to either man or beast? Have you no fear of evil except from bodily causes?”

Commoro.--”I am afraid of elephants and other animals when in the jungle at night; but of nothing else.”

”Then you believe in nothing--neither in a good nor evil spirit! And you believe that when you die it will be the end of body and spirit; that you are like other animals; and that there is no distinction between man and beast; both disappear, and end at death?”

Commoro.--”Of course they do.”

”Do you see no difference in good and bad actions?”

Commoro.--”Yes, there are good and bad in men and beasts.”

”Do you think that a good man and a bad must share the same fate, and alike die, and end?”

Commoro.--”Yes; what else can they do? How can they help dying? Good and bad all die.”

”Their bodies perish, but their spirits remain; the good in happiness, the bad in misery. If you leave no belief in a future state, WHY SHOULD A MAN BE GOOD? Why should he not be bad, if he can prosper by wickedness?”

Commoro.--”Most people are bad; if they are strong they take from the weak. The good people are all weak; they are good because they are not strong enough to be bad.”

Some corn had been taken out of a sack for the horses, and a few grains lying scattered on the ground, I tried the beautiful metaphor of St.

Paul as an example of a future state. Making a small hole with my finger in the ground, I placed a grain within it: ”That,” I said, ”represents you when you die.” Covering it with earth, I continued, ”That grain will decay, but from it will rise the plant that will produce a reappearance of the original form.”