Deathbed scenes

- Scene 2 -
A scholar


2 August 1847

et us go to the sickbed of a scholar, for the preservation of whose life - as you like to say - there is no longer a herb growing. There we look at this second famous man and see how he spends the last hours of this life, how he awakens in the beyond and into what direction his love points him.
The man whom we shall put under scrutiny was in the world a philosopher as well as an astronomer "in optima forma", as you say.
In his great zeal to investigate the stars, this man has reached an age of seventy-odd years. On a very cold winter's night, while watching the stars, he caught a cold and was found almost frozen stiff at his telescope. Taken to his warm lodgings by his friends, he was provided with the best possible medical care, so that after a few hours he had rallied sufficiently to make known to his friends his so-called last will and testament, which was as follows:
"In the name of the inscrutable Deity! Not knowing how long the inscrutable Fate will allow a man to hang on to this miserable life and not knowing what will replace it, this is my will. First of all I want you, my dear friends, if I should die, to preserve my body through embalmment and take it in a well-made copper coffin to a vault containing several of my most esteemed colleagues, who as it were are waiting for me. But the entrails, which are first to decay, preserve in alcohol in a special urn and display them in my museum in a conspicuous spot. In this way I win live on at least in the memory of the people, since there is no hope of survival after physical death anyway.
As for my property, you, my friends, know anyway that in this world a scholar rarely ever has more than is absolutely necessary for his daily spiritual and physical sustenance, and so it is now with me as it has always been. I have never had any money and can, therefore, leave none. Soon after my demise sell what I have to leave, so that you can do with the money what I first asked you to do.
When I am deceased, inform my three children, who are all well provided for; the eldest son, my favorite child, who follows in my footsteps, shall inherit my books and writings in their entirety and as soon as feasible arrange for the publication of my unedited writings.
This is my last will concerning this beautiful stellar world, which henceforth I shall no longer behold and consider.
Oh, what a miserable being man is! Full of noble ideas, full of hopes for a beyond while he is still treading the earth as a healthy man, but before the open grave all that evaporates like the dreams and imaginings of a child and their place is taken by the sad reality, namely death as the last moment of our existence and with it, annihilation which knows no limits!
Oh friends, it is a heavy, terrible thought to pass from "existence" to "non-existence" for the one who, like I, now stands at the open grave! My innermost is calling out to me: you die, you are dying! Only a few minutes, and the black night of eternal, limitless annihilation has seized your whole being!" Oh friends, this call is horrifying for the one standing on the brink of the grave, looking with one eye at the dear beautiful stars and with the other at the eternal, dead night, where no idea enlivens the decaying ashes, no consciousness, no memory!
Where will this dust have been blown to in a thousand years? Which gale will unravel it from its grave, which wave of the ocean or which other, new grave will swallow it?
Oh friends, give me a drink, for I am terribly thirsty. Give me a consolation to lessen my great fear! Give me of the best wine, so that I refresh myself once more and, intoxicated, find it easier to wait for the terrible death!
Oh you horrible death, you greatest disgrace for the majestic human spirit, which has created such glorious things and made discoveries to its greatest honor! This spirit must now die, the greatest disgrace is its reward: death, eternal annihilation!
Oh Fatum, Oh Deity, having created eternal stars, why not create an immortal human being? Oh folly, how great you must be in the Deity to take a pleasure in creating what is most noble only to destroy it again forever or to form ignominious worms or infusorian out of human beings!
Must I die? Why must I die? What did I do, what did millions do to deserve death? Truly, a better creation could have been established in a madhouse than this mortal one by a supposedly wise Deity!"
Here the surrounding friends and doctors admonish our astronomer to calm down, if he wants to recover. For it was nowhere written that he had to die because of this certainly very heavy cold; on the other hand, such mighty emotional upsets could in all earnest cost him his life.
This admonition had little effect on our astronomer, for he flared up even more and said in great excitement: "Away, away with your help! Away with this miserable accursed life! If man cannot live forever, life is the greatest and most disgraceful deception, and death and non-existence only the truth. The wise man must be embarrassed about such a sham life lasting from today till tomorrow. Therefore, I will no longer live! This most miserable life now disgusts me a thousand times more than the most miserable death. Therefore, give me poison, give me the strongest poison, so that I can get rid of this sham life as soon as possible. A curse on such a life, such a gnat's life, and eternal shame to the primordial force or Deity or whatever sort of sewer spirit it may be, which could not or would not give a life to the noble man which would compare favorably with the stars in duration also.
So away with this life, away with this divine deception! If it cannot give a better life to man, why should man care for it; let it keep such a life! Good-bye, my dear friends. I am dying, I want to die, yes I must die, for as a most noble human spirit I could now no longer bear the shame of this sham life!"
Here the doctors again admonish our astronomer to calm down. But he falls silent, not saying another word. The doctors give him musk, but he flings it away. They entreat him to take medicine, but he talks less and less and begins to gasp for air. He is given massage in an attempt to rouse him from his lethargy, but in vain. After some time the death rattle subsides, but it is replaced by a strong delirium - as it appears to the world, in which the astronomer says the following words with a hollow, shrieking voice:
"Where are you, which I loved so much, you beautiful stars? Are you ashamed of me, hiding your lovely countenance from me? Oh, do not be ashamed of me, for the same fate, which has now come upon me, is in store for you. Also you will die as I have now died. But for this do not be angry with the weak Creator, as I was angry with Him. You see, He surely had the best intention, but too little wisdom and power, wherefore all His works are so feeble and perishable. He would certainly have done better if He had never created anything, thereby making only a fool of Himself before us, His wise created beings; for an imperfect work cannot be traced back to a perfect Master. Therefore, no more recriminations for the poor fellow of a Creator, Who will in the end have to do to sustain Himself beyond the limitless transience of all His works.
Oh you poor Creator! Only now can I see that you are surely a thoroughly good being and would have the greatest joy Yourself, if Your creation had been a greater success, but "ultra posse nemo tenetu" (nobody can go beyond his capabilities). A scoundrel who tries to do more than he can. You, however, did not go beyond Your capabilities, and so you are no scoundrel!
Oh you good man Jesus, who has given to the world the wisest moral teaching together with many a pseudo miracle! You too relied too much on your presumed God - Father, who then forsook you owing to his evident weakness exactly when it would have been time to support you with an omnipotence scattering your enemies like chaff! When you were hanging on the pillory, it was surely too late to exclaim: "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me!" For you see, your God has had to forsake you long ago because he lost the power to support you, as well as now me. He did what he could, and would have liked to do more, but, you see, also here the "ultra posse nemo tenetur" still holds good.
Oh, but this is ridiculous. Now I have died, but I am still alive, like a deceived donkey. The funniest part is that I am under the impression that it is a sheer impossibility ever to die! But where did the earth glide to, and where are my good friends? I hear and see nothing except myself alone. At the same time I am fully conscious, my memory clearly reaching far back beyond my mother's womb. It is truly strange! Should the Deity try to show me that It can achieve more than I have expected of It lately? Or is my body still alive at the last moment of its annihilation, my present life resembling the after-glow of those suns which became extinct trillions of years ago and live on only in the emanation of the light through the infinite space?
However, as for such a sham life, which, mathematically thinking, must last forever, because the emanating ray can never meet a finite border and can therefore never be completely extinguished, I am now only too clearly aware, indeed, a thousand times more clearly than of anything in my whole earthly life. Only, as mentioned before, that I hear nothing and see nothing but myself. Oh, oh, quiet now! It seems to me as if I heard a low murmur, a whisper! Also a light, very sweet sleep is trying to overwhelm me. Yet it is no sleep, no, no, it is only like awaking from a sleep?! But now quiet, quiet; I hear voices from afar, voices I know, well-known voices! Quiet, they are coming, they are coming closer!"
Here our astronomer fell completely silent, not even moving his lips. From this the friends and doctors surrounding him concluded that this meant his end was near; and anyway half the speech rendered here was heard by those present more like a gasping shrieking than an articulated expression of a presumed inner fantasy of the dying organism.
The doctors went to any length to revive him - but in vain - and allowed the astronomer who, they thought, had sunk into the most profound lethargy, to rest, waiting to let nature take its course. However, they waited in vain, for nature affected nothing but the soon occurring real death.
Where for the doctors the "ultima linea rerum" (the ultimate goal of things) is reached, they take their leave. And we too take our leave, but not like the doctors but like spirits, who can follow the just deceased man also into the beyond and observe what he will do there and where he will turn.
Look, he is still, just as in the world, on his bed and apart from the three angels mentioned no one is present. And over there, behind the three messengers there is Somebody Else!
Listen, he is still talking, saying: "You see, now I hear nothing again. What sort of acoustic deceptions had there been? Hm, hm, now everything is as quiet as a mouse. Do I still exist or am I dead? Oh, I am under no circumstances dead, for I have sensations, have the clearest awareness, thinking, remembering everything I have ever done in every detail, only the night, the night, the accursed night, which will not go! I must try to call out aloud for fun's sake, perhaps somebody will hear me for fun's sake?! Hallo! No one near who could help me out of this night? Help me, if someone happens to be in my vicinity!"
Now messenger A speaks up saying to B: "Brother, lift him out of his grave!" And messenger B bends over the astronomer and speaks: "Let there be what the Lord of all life and existence wants in all eternity: rise from your earthly grave, you earthly brother!"
You see, in an instant the astronomer rises and his body falls back like a dissolving mist! But the astronomer calls out: "Brother, since you have pulled me out of the grave, pull me also out of my night!" And the messenger C speaks: "Thus it is from eternity the Lord's will that all His created beings, and particularly His children, shall have light and walk in clear vision in the light. So open your immortal eyes and look and see what you will like. So be it."
Now for the first time in the spiritual world the astronomer opens his eyes and sees his surroundings clearly. And he is very happy to see, according to his idea, people again and the ground on which he stands. But now he asks: "Dear friends, where are you? And where am I? For on the one hand this looks very familiar and on the other hand very strange. Besides, I feel so light and unusually healthy and do not quite understand how I got here and how the power of your words made me seeing. For I was stone-blind in earnest."
Angel A speaks: "You have died for the world according to the body and are now - forever alive according to your soul and your spirit - here in the actual true world of life of the spirits. We three are angels of the Lord, sent to you to awaken you and guide you on the right road to the Lord, your God and our God, to your Father full of love, patience and mercy, Who is our Father also, holy, exceedingly holy, Whom in your last hour on earth you called "a weak Deity", since you were blind, and Who forgave you everything because you were blind and weak. Now you know everything, do accordingly, and you will be forever exceedingly blissful, like we are!"
The astronomer says: "Brothers, friends of God, lead me wherever you like and I will follow you! But if ever I should have the endless grace of beholding God, do strengthen me mightily. For I am feeling forever to miserable, despicable and worthless to bear this most holy sight. But there I see somebody else who regards us in a most friendly manner. Who is this Glorious One? Surely also a messenger of the heavens?"
Angel A says: "Yes, probably a messenger of all the heavens. Go to Him, the road is short. He Himself will reveal it to you."
The astronomer goes; and the certain Somebody goes to meet him and says: "Brother, do you not know Me?" And the astronomer replies: "How should I know you, since I see you for the first time? Who are you, dear, glorious brother?"
The Most Friendly One speaks: "Look at My stigmata. You see, I am your weak Jesus and come to meet you to help your weakness with My weakness, for if I were to meet you with My strengths, you would have no life. You see, every beginning life is a tender plant, which cannot live without air, but the gale kills the life of the plant. Thus I too am only a tender breeze which meets you to revive you fully, not a gale to destroy you. Love Me as I have loved you from eternity, and you will have the true eternal life."
Speaks the astronomer: "O You my most beloved Jesus! So it is You, Who gave the most glorious teaching to the dwellers of the earth and was crucified for it?! Oh, teach me also the right path leading to God, which you taught. You shall not ever be crucified for it by me! However, if possible, let me at the same time contemplate in full clarity the great creation, which has been my main concern all my life."
Speaks Jesus: "Your road to God will not be far if you will enter it at once. If, however, you at first want to travel through your stars, you will have a long road. Now choose what you prefer!"
Speaks the astronomer: "My most beloved Jesus, you see, I am far from being ready for God. So if you can, help me to mature in the stars."
Speaks the Lord: "It will be done to you according to your love! Choose one out of these three angels, who will guide you and will show you at the end of your journey who your presumed Jesus is, Whom you know as a man who was crucified."
Here you can again see how this astronomer is looking for his "water" in which alone he wants to swim towards Me, not heeding the fact that I had already been with him and he with Me! Therefore, beware of the too learned water of the astronomers and geologists, for it does not draw to Me, but after the love of science!
This longer example for this purpose. Amen.