As I sit here contemplating the subject I have decided to cover, wonder whether I really know what I am getting into. Most people won’t even talk about politics or religion, two of my favorite subjects. I am about to summarize my understanding of life and death, or death and living. This is no small task, but that is what makes it important. That and the idea that death has probably been the subject of more lies, stories, misguided fabrications and misunderstanding than any other in the history of mankind’s struggle to understand himself and the universe we inhabit since the dawn of time (another immense subject that will get little treatment here).
Much of this, I believe has sprung from the need to tell our children why grandma won’t be coming over on Sundays anymore. As adults we don’t really know where she is, so it’s nice to tell our children what we hope; that she is in a better place. I believe children are much more capable of assimilating and understanding truth than we think they are, and even more capable than we are at times, but in this case no one really knows what the truth is. Even if they do they don’t have the ability to convey that understanding to us and we have no ability to verify what they say. This involves more than just the barriers and blank spots that language represents, but also abstract ideas that lie outside the ability of the concrete mind to digest.
What I have to say on the subject will proceed, as always, from my understanding of the principals contained within the Ageless Wisdom teachings which are purported to be at the core of all of the major religions of the world. There will still be no way to prove what I propose and again, as always, it is up to the individual student to use the intuition to determine what part or parts of this position resonate with his or her consciousness and warrant further consideration. This is all that one can ask under the circumstances.
It begins with an understanding of the nature of the human constitution, which we have covered in previous articles contained within the archives (link) section of this newsletter. The articles titled “Spirit Soul and Personality” and “The Human ‘Being’” may be worth reading if you are unfamiliar with what the teachings have to say on this. In order to stay on the subject I will assume a certain level of understanding of that topic as I proceed.
Most of us believe we have a soul, or consciousness that indwells the body. Its existence is proposed in all of the world’s religions. Its departure at death is a fairly universal tenet as well. Without the soul’s support or at least presence, the body lies down and decomposes. What the Ageless Wisdom teachings tell us is that the indwelling soul is the human being and the physical body with its energetic or “etheric” counterpart, as well as the Astral (emotional) and Manasic (mental) bodies are merely sheaths taken on by the soul in order to interact in the lower three worlds or planes of manifestation. The soul has no sex, nationality, race (other than Human) or personality of its own. As a matter of fact the personality is a term used to identify the sum total of those three sheaths or bodies with which we interact and experience the physical world and, each other.
The soul is that immortal “you” which for the purposes of this conversation will not “die” and remains intact at physical death to continue on in unknowable realms when that personality is no longer of use and or the physical body no longer functions. Reincarnation is the belief that the soul takes on new forms in succession in order to further perfect is grasp of, and ability to function in, the physical world and the “use” of matter for that expression and interaction. This belief is not necessary in order to grasp the process of life and death as I understand it, but it certainly fits in and ties the pieces together for me.
In trying to understand this process people have asked me questions like; how many lives will I have? If we look at it from the perspective of the soul, the indwelling thinker in the body, the answer is “one”. Your soul, being the “real” you will live only once, through many incarnations and episodes, through many differing garments or bodies. If you think about it, even in a single lifetime we have had many different bodies. We are taught by medical science that every cell in our bodies is replaced over the course of 7-10 years and some in cell types over the course of days. You don’t have the body you occupied at your 5th birthday, but your memories are contained in your consciousness; the consciousness or soul that is the real you. This aspect will not die, so eternal life, in the context of these teachings, is a reality.
The Christian Churches, and they are many, teach of an immortal soul that does not pre-exist birth but lives on after death. We are told that if we live and exemplary life here on earth we will go on to live in Heaven, a place with no pain or death which is depicted in the clouds with Angels playing harps. I saw a woman interviewed after the horrific murder of her sister talking about a plane ride in which she felt closeness to her sister being up in the clouds where her sister undoubtedly now resided. I find this as hard to believe as she might find the concept of reincarnation in which her sister had not died, but the physical body she had employed as a means of contact with the world we inhabit had been destroyed and she would now have a period of rest (pralaya) until she deemed it beneficial to begin the process anew. From the perspective of the Ageless Wisdom the crime of murder is that the mechanism for the soul’s purpose in the world is destroyed, ending the possibility (in that particular cycle) of the soul fulfilling that purpose.
A recent television documentary proposed the possibility that the ostuary (or bone box) used to hold the final remains of Jesus may have been recovered. After the show a panel was convened with various religious leaders arguing against the possibility that this was for real. One of these high level priests was insisting it could not be the case because Jesus had ascended in his physical body to heaven. He essentially said that the entirety of the faith hinged on this occurrence and that his belief system disintegrates if the ostuary was in fact used for Jesus’ mortal remains. I wish I were there to ask the question no one asked. If he ascended in a physical body, where did it go? How can he enter this non physical realm physically? Heaven is not a place. If it “is” at all, it “is” a state of conscious being. The polar opposite, Hell, is not an underground dungeon that can someday be excavated either. If it exists, we are in it now. This is where there is pain and suffering if we allow it and “death” as we understand it.
The process of the withdrawal of the soul from the “mortal coil” (Shakespeare) happens in stages. The death of the physical body is the first and of course the most obvious. The successive stages of withdrawal from the subtle bodies of the human personality, we will cover in Part II.