The subject of immortality has long ceased to be a living issue with me; and though I know that some people agonize about it, I am confirmed in my old impression that this is a verbal or mythical obsession of the human mind, rather than a literal belief. Everything, in myth and religion must be understood with a difference, in a Pickwickian sense, if we are to understand it truly, and not to import an unnatural fanaticism into the play of poetic fancy. . . .
Orthodox heavens are peaceful: souls are not supposed to change and pass through new risks and adventures: they merely possess, as in Dante, the truth of their earthly careers and of their religious attainment. In other words, souls in heaven are mythical impersonations of the truth or totality of those persons’ earthly life.
. . . this life, and anything truly living, is something dramatic, groping, planning, excited, and exciting. It is dangerous: and Nietsche needn’t have told us to live perilously: it would have been enough to tell us to live.
From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Five, 1933-1936. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
Location of manuscript: Unknown.