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XV
IF IT WERE POSSIBLE, IT WOULD NOT BE DREADFUL

IT seems, therefore, that a survival with our present consciousness is as impossible and as incomprehensible as total annihilation. Moreover, even if it were admissible, it would not be dreadful. It is certain that, when the body disappears, all physical sufferings will disappear at the same time; for we cannot imagine a soul suffering in a body which it no longer possesses. With them will vanish simultaneously all that we call mental or moral sufferings, seeing that all of them, if we examine them well, spring from the ties and habits of our senses. Our soul feels the reaction of the sufferings of our body, or of the bodies that surround it; it cannot suffer in itself or through itself. Slighted affection, shattered love, disappointments, failures, despair, treachery, personal humiliations, as well as the afflictions and the loss of those whom it loves, acquire the sting that hurts it only by passing through the body which it animates. Outside its own sorrow, which is the sorrow of not knowing, the soul, once delivered from its body, could suffer only at the recollection of that body. It is possible that it still grieves over the troubles of those whom it has left behind on earth. But, in the eyes of that which no longer counts the days, those troubles will seem so brief that it will not grasp their duration; and, knowing what they are and whither they lead, it will not behold their severity.

The soul is insensible to all that is not happiness. It is made only for infinite joy, which is the joy of knowing and understandlng. It can grieve only at perceiving its own limits; but to perceive those limits, when one is no longer bound by space and time, is already to transcend them.

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