Difference between revisions of "Death"

From Theosophy Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
(See also)
 
Line 84: Line 84:
  
 
== See also ==
 
== See also ==
* [[Life after Death]]
+
* [[Life_after_Death|Life after Death]]
 
* [[Kama-Loka]]
 
* [[Kama-Loka]]
 
* [[Devachan]]
 
* [[Devachan]]

Latest revision as of 17:16, 29 August 2019

Death, in the Theosophical view, is the process by which the three lower principles (the physical body, linga sharira, and prana) are left behind before consciousness enters into the post-mortem processes. In the words of the Mahatma K. H.:

When man dies, his second and third principles die with him; the lower triad disappears, and the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh principles form the surviving Quaternary.[1]

Theosophical attitude

In the Theosophical literature death is seen as a natural process, being part of the cycle of reincarnation. The life after death is regarded as more real than that of physical life, especially in the case of spiritual people. Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

Happy those of its warriors by whom Death is regarded as a tender and merciful mother. She rocks her sick children into sweet sleep on her cold, soft bosom but to awake them a moment after, healed of all ailing, happy, and with a tenfold reward for every bitter sigh or tear. Post-mortem oblivion of every evil—to the smallest—is the most blissful characteristic of the “paradise” we believe in. Yes: oblivion of pain and sorrow and the vivid recollection only, nay once more the living over of every happy moment of our terrestrial drama; and, if no such moment ever occurred in one’s sad life, then, the glorious realization of every legitimate, well-earned, yet unsatisfied desire we ever had, as true as life itself and intensified seventy-seven times sevenfold.[2]

Near-death review

When death is approaching, a change in consciousness begins to happen in many instances. Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

While physical memory in a healthy living man is often obscured, one fact crowding out another weaker one, at the moment of the great change that man calls death - that which we call "memory" seems to return to us in all its vigour and freshness.[3]
Through our "soul" it is then that we see, clearer and still clearer, as we approach the end; and it is through the throbs of dissolution that horizons of vaster, profounder knowledge are drawn on, bursting upon our mental vision, and becoming with every hour plainer to our inner eye. Otherwise, how account for those bright flashes of memory, for the prophetic insight that comes as often to the enfeebled grandsire, as to the youth who is passing away? The Nearer some approach death, the brighter becomes their long lost memory and the more correct the pre-visions. The unfoldment of the inner faculties increases as life-blood become more stagnant.[4]

Before the connection between the linga sharira and the physical body is severed there is a full review of the life just lived, where consciousness watches the whole of his past life in a completely objective way:

At the solemn moment of death every man, even when death is sudden, sees the whole of his past life marshalled before him, in its minutest details. For one short instant the personal becomes one with the individual and all-knowing Ego. But this instant is enough to show him the whole chain of causes which have been at work during his life. He sees and now understands himself as he is, unadorned by flattery or self-deception. He reads his life, remaining as a spectator looking down into the arena he is quitting; he feels and knows the justice of all the suffering that has overtaken him.[5]

This phenomena is the result of the soul reading the personal records of the ending life in the astral light:

That flash of memory which is traditionally supposed to show a drowning man every long-forgotten scene of his mortal life — as the landscape is revealed to the traveller by intermittent flashes of lightning — is simply the sudden glimpse which the struggling soul gets into the silent galleries [of the astral light] where his history is depicted in imperishable colors.[6]

According to the Mahatmas every person, regardless of the kind of death, undergoes this conscious review. This is a very important process that should not be disturbed by noise or strong emotions of those around the dying person:

At the last moment, the whole life is reflected in our memory and emerges from all the forgotten nooks and corners picture after picture, one event after the other. The dying brain dislodges memory with a strong supreme impulse, and memory restores faithfully every impression entrusted to it during the period of the brain's activity. That impression and thought which was the strongest naturally becomes the most vivid and survives so to say all the rest which now vanish and disappear for ever, to reappear but in Devachan. No man dies insane or unconscious — as some physiologists assert. Even a madman, or one in a fit of delirium tremens will have his instant of perfect lucidity at the moment of death, though unable to say so to those present. The man may often appear dead. Yet from the last pulsation, from and between the last throbbing of his heart and the moment when the last spark of animal heat leaves the body — the brain thinks and the Ego lives over in those few brief seconds his whole life over again. Speak in whispers, ye, who assist at a death-bed and find yourselves in the solemn presence of Death. Especially have you to keep quiet just after Death has laid her clammy hand upon the body. Speak in whispers, I say, lest you disturb the quiet ripple of thought, and hinder the busy work of the Past casting its reflection upon the Veil of the Future.[7]

This review is important in that it has an effect on the post-mortem states that are to follow, as explained by Master K. H.:

We create ourselves our devachan as our avitchi while yet on earth, and mostly during the latter days and even moments of our intellectual, sentient lives. That feeling which is the strongest in us at that supreme hour; when, as in a dream, the events of a long life, to their minutest details, are marshalled in the greatest order in a few seconds in our vision, — that feeling will become the fashioner of our bliss or woe, the life principle of our future existence.[8]

Mr. Sinnett, upon receiving this answer, asked: "But do the thoughts on which the mind may be engaged at the last moment necessarily hinge on to the predominant character of its past life? Otherwise it would seem as if the character of a person’s Devachan or Avitchi might be capriciously and unjustly determined by the chance which brought some special thought uppermost at last?" To this, the Master answered:

It is a widely spread belief among all the Hindus that a person’s future pre-natal state and birth are moulded by the last desire he may have at the time of death. But this last desire, they say, necessarily hinges on to the shape which the person may have given to his desires, passions, etc., during his past life. It is for this very reason, viz. — that our last desire may not be unfavourable to our future progress — that we have to watch our actions and control our passions and desires throughout our whole earthly career.[9]
Such thoughts are involuntary and we have no more control over them than we would over the eye's retina to prevent it perceiving that colour which affects it most. At the last moment, the whole life is reflected in our memory and emerges from all the forgotten nooks and corners picture after picture, one event after the other. The dying brain dislodges memory with a strong supreme impulse, and memory restores faithfully every impression entrusted to it during the period of the brain's activity. That impression and thought which was the strongest naturally becomes the most vivid and survives so to say all the rest which now vanish and disappear for ever, to reappear but in Deva Chan.[10]

Effect of the last thoughts

It is said that last thought a person has at the moment of death will affect the nature of the future life:

It is a widely spread belief among all the Hindus that a person’s future pre-natal state and birth are moulded by the last desire he may have at the time of death. But this last desire, they say, necessarily hinges on to the shape which the person may have given to his desires, passions, etc., during his past life. It is for this very reason, viz. — that our last desire may not be unfavourable to our future progress — that we have to watch our actions and control our passions and desires throughout our whole earthly career.[11]

The Mahatmas seem to connect this popular belief with the near-death review and its effects, because the thoughts and feelings that are stronger during this will determine to a great extent the nature of the after-death experience:

That feeling which is the strongest in us at that supreme hour when, as in a dream, the events of a long life, to the minutest details, are marshalled in the greatest order in a few seconds in our vision, that feeling will become the fashioner of our bliss or woe, the life-principle of our future existence.[12]

Since those thoughts and feelings are but the reproduction of what the person has felt during life, they cannot be chosen voluntarily:

Such thoughts are involuntary and we have no more control over them than we would over the eye’s retina to prevent it perceiving that colour which affects it most. At the last moment, the whole life is reflected in our memory and emerges from all the forgotten nooks and corners picture after picture, one event after the other. The dying brain dislodges memory with a strong supreme impulse, and memory restores faithfully every impression entrusted to it during the period of the brain’s activity. That impression and thought which was the strongest naturally becomes the most vivid and survives so to say all the rest which now vanish and disappear for ever, to reappear but in Devachan.[13]

Unconsciousness after dying

When this review is finished the person falls into unconsciousness, before the post-mortem processes begin.

Every just disembodied four-fold entity — whether it died a natural or violent death, from suicide or accident, mentally sane or insane, young or old, good, bad, or indifferent — loses at the instant of death all recollection, it is mentally — annihilated; it sleeps it’s akasic sleep in the Kama-loka. This state lasts from a few hours, (rarely less) days, weeks, months — sometimes to several years. All this according to the entity, to its mental status at the moment of death, to the character of its death, etc.[14]
Thus, when man dies, his "Soul" (fifth prin.) becomes unconscious and loses all remembrance of things internal as well as external. Whether his stay in Kama Loka has to last but a few moments, hours, days, weeks, months or years; whether he died a natural or a violent death; whether it occurred in his young or old age, and whether the Ego was good, bad, or indifferent, - his consciousness leaves him as suddenly as the flame leaves the wick, when blown out. When life has retired from the last particle in the brain matter, his perceptive faculties become extinct forever, his spiritual powers of cogitation and volition - (all those faculties in short, which are neither inherent in, nor acquirable by organic matter) - for the time being.[15]

Apparitions of the dying person

Can a person be brought back to life?

But, in the case of what physiologists would call "real death", but which is not actually so, the astral body has withdrawn; perhaps local decomposition has set in. How shall the man be brought to life again? The answer is, the interior body must be forced back into the exterior one, and vitality reawakened in the latter. The clock has run down, it must be wound. If death is absolute; if the organs have not only ceased to act, but have lost the susceptibility of renewed action, then the whole universe would have to be thrown into chaos to resuscitate the corpse - a miracle would be demanded. But, as we said before, the man is not dead when he is cold, stiff, pulseless, breathless, and even showing signs of decomposition; he is not dead when buried, nor afterward, until a certain point is reached. That point is, when the vital organs have become so decomposed, that if reanimated, they could not perform their customary functions; when the mainspring and cogs of the machine, so to speak, are so eaten away by rust, that they would snap upon the turning of the key. Until that point is reached, the astral body may be caused, without miracle to reenter its former tabernacle, either by an effort of its own will, or under the resistless impulse of the will of one who knows the potencies of nature and how to direct them. The spark is not extinguished, but only latent - latent as the fire in the flint, or the heat in the cold iron.[16]

Destiny of the lower principles after death

Thus, the "Linga-Sarira" is "dissolved with the external body at the death of the latter". It dissolves slowly and gradually, its adhesion to the body becoming weaker, as the particles disintegrate. During the process of decay, it may, on sultry nights, be sometimes seen over the grave. Owing to the dry and electric atmosphere it manifests itself and stands as a bluish flame, often as a luminous pillar, of "odyle", bearing a more or less vague resemblance to the outward form of the body laid under the sod. Popular superstition, ignorant of the nature of these post-mortem gaseous emanations, mistakes them for the presence of the “suffering” soul, the personal spirit of the deceased, hovering over his body’s tomb. Yet, when the work of destruction has been completed, and nature has broken entirely the cohesion of corporeal particles, the Linga-Sarira is dispersed with the body of which it was but an emanation.[17]
Prana is not, it must be remembered, the production of the countless "lives" that make up the human Body, nor of the congeries of the cells and atoms of the Body. It is the parent of the "lives", not their product. As an example, a sponge may be immersed in an ocean; the water in the sponge's interior may be compared to Prana; the water outside is Jiva. Prana is the motor-principle in life. The Body leaves Prana, Prana does not leave it. Take out the sponge from the water, and it becomes dry - thus symbolizing death.[18]

According to Annie Besant, embalming the body to then bury it is not a good idea:

Question — Does embalming and preserving the body make any difference with the astral body?

Answer — Not to the astral body. It does to the etheric double. It keeps the etheric double hanging around the physical form.

Question — Then it really makes no difference to the individual?

Answer — Except that the etheric double being preserved may be used for various mischievous purposes, and therefore it is very undesirable to preserve it by preserving the dense part of the body. Far better to let it go.[19]

See also

Online resources

Articles

Books

Audio

Video

Additional resources

Notes

  1. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 68 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 192-193.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 71.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 452.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 347.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1972), 162.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 179.
  7. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93B (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 326.
  8. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 70C (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 209-210.
  9. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93B (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 326.
  10. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93B (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 326.
  11. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93B (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 326.
  12. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 70-C (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 209-210.
  13. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93B (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 326.
  14. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 85-B (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 263.
  15. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 70-C (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 210.
  16. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 482.
  17. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1991), 53-54.
  18. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 707.
  19. Annie Besant, Theosophical Lectures, (Chicago: The Rajput Press, 1907), 146-147.