The Process of Death
To this the Tibetan writes:
To understand death
Redemption from death comes about through a proper understanding of the mystical experience we call death…. Let us first of all define this mysterious process to which all forms are subject and which is frequently only the dreaded end, – dreaded because it is not understood. The mind of man is so little developed that fear of the unknown, terror of the unfamiliar and attachment to form have brought about a situation where one of the most beneficent occurrences in the life cycle of an incarnating human being is looked upon as something to be avoided and postponed for as long a time as possible.
Death, if we could but realise it – one of the most practised activities. We have died many times and shall die again and again. Death is essentially a matter of consciousness. We are conscious one moment on the physical plane, and a moment later we have withdrawn onto another plane and are actively conscious there. Just as long as our consciousness is identified with the form aspect, death will hold for us its ancient terror. Just as soon as we know ourselves to be souls and find that we are capable of focussing our consciousness or sense of awareness in any form or on any plane at will, or in any direction within the form of God, we shall no longer know death.
Death as catastrophic end?
Death for the average man is the cataclysmic end, involving the termination of all human relations, the cessation of all physical activity, the severing of all signs of love and of affection, and the passage (inwilling and protesting) into the unknown and the dreaded. It is analogous to leaving a lighted and a warmed room, friendly and familiar, where our loved ones are assembled, and going out into the cold, dark night, alone and terror stricken, hoping for the best and sure of nothing.
Death and sleep
But people are apt to forget that every night, in the hours of sleep, we die to the physical plane and are alive and functioning elsewhere. They forget that they have already achieved facility in leaving the physical body; because they cannot as yet bring back into the physical brain consciousness the recollection of that passing out, and of the subsequent interval of active living they fail to relate death and sleep. Death, after all, is only a longer interval in the life of physical plane functioning; one has only gone “abroad” for a longer period.
But the process of daily sleep and the process of occasional dying are identical, with the one difference that in sleep the magnetic thread or current of energy along which the life force streams is preserved intact, and constitutes the path of return to the body. ln death, this life thread is broken or snapped. When this has happened, the conscious entity cannot return to the dense physical body and that body, lacking the principle of coherence, then disintegrates.
Soul and Life
It should be remembered that the purpose and will of the soul, the spiritual determination to be and to do, utilises the thread soul, the life current as a means of expression in form. This life current differentiates into two currents or two threads when it reaches the body, and is “anchored”, if I might so express it, in two locations in that body. This is symbolic of the differentiations of Atman, or spirit, into its two reflections, soul and body.
Consciousness aspect of the soul
The soul, or aspect of consciousness, that makes a human being a rational, thinking entity, is “anchored” by one aspect of this thread soul to a “seat” in the brain, found in the region of the pineal gland.
Life aspect of the soul
The other aspect of the life, which animates every atom of the body and which constitutes the principle of cohesion or of integration, finds its way to the heart and is focussed or “anchored” there.
The soul, seated in the heart, is the life principle, the principle of self-determination, the central nucleus of positive energy by means of which all the atoms of the body are held in their right place and subordinated to the “will to be” of the soul.
This principle of life utilises the blood stream as its mode of expression and as its controlling agency, and through the close relation of the endocrine system to the blood stream, nervous system, we have the two aspects of soul activity brought together on order to make man a living, conscious, functioning entity, governed by the soul, and expressing the purpose of the soul in all the activities of daily living.
Processes at death – the house is empty
Death, therefore, is literally the withdrawal from the heart and from the head of these two streams of energy, producing consequently complete loss of consciousness and disintegration of the body. Death differs from sleep in that both streams of energy are withdrawn. In sleep, only the thread of energy, which is anchored in the brain is withdrawn, and when this happens, the man becomes unconscious. By this we mean that his consciousness or sense of awareness is focussed elsewhere. His attention is no longer directed towards things tangible and physical, but is turned upon another world of being.
In death, both the threads are withdrawn or united in the life thread. Vitality ceases to penetrate the body through the medium of the blood stream and the heart fails to function just as the brain fails to record, and thus silence settles down. The house is empty. Activity ceases except that amazing and immediate activity which is the prerogative of matter itself and which expresses itself in the process of decomposition.
Man as part of the One Life in which we live, weave and have our being.
From certain aspects, therefore, this process shows the unity of man with all that is material; it proves that he is a part of nature himself, and by nature we mean the body of that One Life in which we “live, weave and have our being”. In these three words: to live, to weave and to be, we have decided the whole matter:
Being is perception, self-consciousness and self-expression; for this the head and the brain of man are the external symbols.
Life is energy, desire in form, cohesion and attachment to an idea, and for this the heart and the blood are the exoteric symbols.
Weaving indicates the growing into and reacting of the being, perceiving, living entity towards the universal activity, and for this the stomach, pancreas and liver are the symbols.
We are thus part of nature, of the One Life, when we live and also when we pass through death.
…..will be continued
Alice A. Bailey: Death: The Great Adventure
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