THE MOMENT OF DEATH
We'll write it in the second person. Here, the dying man will be...YOU.
First, your death throes may vary from a split second to an hour. We don't want to minimize death throes. That last physical experience no doubt varies with the manner in which you die. If you are blown up by a hydrogen bomb, it's got to be quick. If you sicken and die, it may be far worse. At least, with luck, such misery only happens once in a physical lifetime. At some point you will sink into unconsciousness, and that's when the death experience really gets rolling.
Say Buddhist monks, you will experience, first, the "Clear Light of the Natural Condition" for a few seconds. Then, if you're the average Joe Six-pack, you likely will sink like a stone through descending states of awareness toward rebirth (reincarnation; some say resurrection).
The Clear Light of the Natural Condition is one you have experienced before, say some psychics. This Clear Light of the Natural Condition amounts to a temporary merging with The Great Body of Radiance or God.
Certain monks who have meditated all their lives believe they will be able to stay in this state forever, never having to reincarnate. It's described as a state of utter bliss. It's a state certain monks learn to experience while in trance. A lifetime of practice will allow these fortunate few to stay in this Clear Light of the Natural Condition and never return to Earth in another body. For these individuals, their studies are over, their work is done.They will be with God forever.This very, very nice way to be is referred to in some countries as "Heaven".
Let's say YOU, however, have not prepared yourself for this momentous event (your dying). You'll likely find your stay in the Clear Light of the Natural Condition very brief.
Some practice partying, some practice dying
Says the Wentz translation, "If, when dying, one is familiar with this state (having practiced to achieve it throughout his physical life), the wheel of rebirth is stopped and liberation from the cycle of birth and death is instantaneously achieved. But such spiritual efficiency is so very rare that the normal mental condition of the dying person (for example, perhaps, yourself) is unequal to the supreme feat of holding on to the state in which the Clear Light shines.There follows (your) progressive descent into lower and lower states, as a very-aware mind without a body."
That's who you ARE, now. It's best to roll with it.
All this is taking place over a period of 15-30 minutes.
"Without a physical body, you descend from the Clear Light of the Natural Condition. During this time, you'll ask yourself whether you are alive or dead. It will be almost impossible to tell. You honestly will not know, according to the monks. As you descend toward Earth awareness again, you'll see and hear your friends weeping and wailing over your physical corpse. You may try to comfort them or tell them to lighten up, but it won't work. They can neither see nor hear you. You may yell at them, but to no avail.This state of affairs, say the monks, is extremely frustrating. You'll likely walk away from them quite angry.
But that's not all, monks say.
Moving on in this series of physical-death proceedings, you'll hear sounds, and see lights, and rays. These will awe, frighten and terrify you, and cause you much fatigue (sounds like an 80s disco). At this point, you will be uncertain of the reality you are experiencing. A monk who is dying prays thus:
"Alas! When the Uncertain Experiencing of Reality is dawning upon me here, with every thought of fear or terror or awe for all (apparitions) set aside, may I recognize whatever (visions) that appear as the reflections of my own consciousness. May I know them to be of the nature of apparitions...When at this all-important moment (of opportunity) of achieving a great end (is upon me) may I not fear the bands of Peaceful and Wrathful (Deities) which are my own thought forms."
Americans are good at technology, and have made the world, in my view, a far better place because of it. But Tibetan monks reportedly were far better acquainted with knowledge of individual life and death. If you are a dying monk, your colleague would be whispering in your ear the following:
"While your body and mind were separating, you must have experienced a glimpse of the Pure Truth, subtle, sparkling, bright dazzling, glorious and radiantly awesome. It appeared like a mirage moving across a landscape in springtime in one continuous stream of vibrations. From the midst of that radiance, the natural sound of Reality, reverberating like a thousand thunders simultaneously sounding, will come. Don't be daunted by this experience, nor terrified, nor awed. That is the radiance of your own true nature. Recognize it."
Your monk friend will continue whispering in your ear that "The body, which you now have, is called the thought body of propensities (innate inclinations; tendencies).Since you no longer have a material body of flesh and blood, whatever may come---sounds, lights, or rays, are unable to harm you. You are incapable of dying. These are your own thought forms (not dangerous at all, just highly theatrical)."
The tireless monk will continue, "If you don't by now recognize your own thought forms from whatever meditation or devotion you may have performed while in the human world the lights will daunt you, the sounds will awe you, and the rays will terrify you. If you don't know these key teachings, you will have to wander in a state of always-becoming (wandering around like a ghost).
The 23rd Psalm
If we may step out of Buddha land for a brief intermission, it might be good to remember the 23rd Psalm : "Yes, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Your rod and Your staff will comfort me, and I shall know no evil...."
If you know the Savior Jesus Christ know him deeply in your heart this dying business should be a cake walk, and you might be able to stay with God (translated: a situation in which you stay permanently in the Clear Light of the Natural Condition). Without Him, it likely will be precisely as the monks describe.
That's about it. In just a half-hour, you'll experience all of the above. Your "window of opportunity" to be with God depends on you. Among Buddhist monks, only a few make it out of the "wheel of birth and death".
Christians, meanwhile, are banking on the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, and His having earned the right to control all the judicial and administrative powers of God. With this same power, He intercedes for us at our time of death, and helps us stay in heaven with the Father. We are not, as the monk might say, worthy at all. But in Christ, we are made worthy by His voluntarily shedding of his own blood some 2015 years ago.
To your death bed, Christ will send the "Comforter" as he did on the day you were saved, and walk you through this interesting event: your physical death.
Edgar Cayce (Pronounced "Casey" 1877-1945), a devout Christian when awake, and a profoundly effective psychic when in trance, expands on the death experience as outlined above. Cayce's trance-state mind (his subconscious) gradually merged with his conscious mind during his lifetime, at the end of which he recognized there was no conflict between his trance state discoveries and the knowledge divulged in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Anyone can gain knowledge of Cayce's life and service by looking up his Association of Research and Enlightenment (Virginia Beach, VA) on the Internet. Those curious about life and death will find a wealth of knowledge awaits them at the A.R.E.
Cayce has much to say about the death experience, but we'll start with the experience itself, in American terms, ala Cayce.
The psychic contends it is the fear of the unknown that makes man dread death. "The pangs of death are the loss of self", Cayce once said.
In other words, you have a body, a name, an address, friends, loved ones, food preferences, a country... and on and on. And you've had an ego that for years has said "I am so-and-so; this is my mom and dad, this is my wife, these are my kids, and this is what kind of work I do. Well, all of that is pretty much down the tubes as your body winds down toward physical death. Ah, but there's a positive side.
First, your (immortal) subconscious mind which, Cayce says forgets nothing remembers all you have been, done, and experienced, far better than your ego does (did). So in a sense, YOU are far more alive after you get rid of that physical body and become aware of the real YOU that doesn't ever die. As the Bible says, "Ye shall know all things from all times."
"When the soul departs from the body (in death) it has all the form of the body from which it has passed...It appears, in the infinite...with all the attributes of the physical being, including the appetites...." says Cayce. This body, an "astral body" may be seen by "those attuned to the infinite" (psychics/saints/monks)". But it can't be seen by your Joe Six-pack family and friends. Do we really have such a body that lives on when the physical body goes into the ground? What does the Bible say about this "astral body"?
Corinthians 1:15, V 30-52:
"There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; and the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one thing, and the splendor of the earthly, another...So it is with the resurrection of the dead.
"What is sown in the earth as a perishable thing is raised in glory; sown in weakness, it is raised in power; sown as an animal body it is raised a spiritual body.
"If there is such a thing as an animal body, there is also a spiritual body...Listen I will unfold a mystery: we shall not all die, but we shall all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet-call. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will rise immortal, and we shall be changed.
"This perishable being must be clothed with the imperishable, and what is mortal must be clothed with immortality. And when our mortality has been clothed with immortality, then the saying of the Scripture will come true: 'Death is swallowed up; victory is won! O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and sin gains its power from the law; but, God be praised, he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'
"Therefore, my beloved brothers, stand firm and immovable, and work for the Lord always, work without limit, since you know that in the Lord your labor cannot be lost" (New English Bible.)
The literature is filled with anecdotes about the existence of what some call the second body (or astral body, or spiritual body, call it what we will).
The second or spiritual body
In his book, Unknown But Known, psychic Arthur Ford gives us another view of this "second body" manifesting itself, this time under conditions of extreme physical stress on battlefields or in high-impact accidents. He describes the out-of-body experience of British soldier C. K. Jenkins, who was hit by enemy fire in World War I. Jenkins said he was hit in 1917: "My body was blasted from me so quickly I was not aware of its falling. I went on without it, feeling vitally alive and free. Then I realized I'd have to go back. (He had discovered that) My body is not really me, but only a cloak of skin that I wear."
His experience is nothing like that of the Buddhist monk as described earlier. But he took from the experience the realization there are indeed "two bodies" to each of us, and when the physical body falls, the second vitally charged body remains standing. Some say this second body stands forever and cannot die (."O death, where is thy victory?")
Ford also quotes London fireman Sam Bourne, whose fire station suffered a direct hit during World War II.
"I heard a roar and then was out of my body. I could see the earth-body lying under a joist. I was about five feet above it, free as air and feeling no pain. I was conscious of every detail in the room, and I had a form. A friend had been sitting by the window, and I thought, 'I must go and help him.Then, in what I could only describe as a thunderclap, I was back in my body and we were being rescued by soldiers. I will never forget the glorious feeling of freedom and lightness while I was functioning in my spiritual body. If this is death why worry?"
Ford quotes his own psychic source for one anecdote regarding the death experience and what happens immediately afterward.
"We are not sent either to heaven or to hell; we just continue to live. Some of us have to learn many lessons, but as soon as I got out of the body I had no more fear, resentment or hatred, for these are human limitations. I was met by my mother and brother (both deceased). They let me sleep for a while, but not very long. Then I began to function in a perfectly free body. Bless you, I am with you. Know that these sad things are left with the body. Nothing can affect the mind, which is the individualized part of God. The brain can be affected, but it is only a transmitting instrument."
An analogy might be that one can destroy a radio, but the radio announcer remains unaffected.
Says psychic Ford, "Two things are absolutely essential to the overcoming of the fear of death.The first is to achieve conviction of survival of human personality after biological death by honest confrontation with the evidence.The second is to sustain this conviction against the eroding forces brought to bear on it by a materialistic society. These two things accomplished, the truth of survival becomes part of one's core belief like gravitation...The two aspects of belief, emotional and intellectual, go together. Without the emotional support of immediately experienced phenomena, intellectual doctrine is likely to be sterile."
Joe Six-pack, though likable as hell, is a materialist. There's no need to say more.
Says psychic Edgar Cayce, there is a point-of-view (enjoyed by saints and psychics who sometimes are one and the same) that sees you (with your body), and the REAL you (soul) all at the same time in the same place on a given day.
When that same psychic sees your physical body die and your soul separate from it, he continues to see the real YOU awake as the Bible calls the spiritual body. He witnesses your death experience as little more than the shedding of a fingernail (your physical body). The body has served its purpose. The REAL you, that immortal portion that is more you than your earthly ego ever could have been, keeps on keeping on as it always has and always will. It doesn't die. It can't die. Psychics worth their salt can see the whole process happen again and again as they see people physically die and become "clothed" in their imperishable, immortal body.
Cayce has more to say about the matter at hand.
After the "pangs of death" have been experienced, and YOU settle into your non-earthly life, and you've gone through the stage of trying to interrupt your relatives' sorrowful conversations about your death, you are living in what Cayce calls the Astral World. It's a lot bigger than the Earth world. And as you navigate within it, you do so with many more senses than the five earthly ones, and you forget absolutely nothing about your just-ended life and as it turns out, many lives before the one just ended (Bible "Ye shall know all things from all times".).
While we realize Corinthians does not refer to past lives and reincarnation, Cayce says other Biblical books do. This writing won't address those books.
Meanwhile, in this Astral World, Cayce says "The spirits who have passed from the physical plane remain about the plane until their developments carry them onward."
He seems to indicate that life at our level is a schooling process. After we die, school goes on, but the lessons are learned in a different part of the same campus.
Cayce would seem to agree with the Buddhist monks, who believe the Clear Light of the Natural Condition is the ultimate state of being to which man should aspire.
Aspiring is one thing, achieving is another.
Buddhist monks did not have the Sacrifice of Jesus to intercede for them, so few achieved the goal of "getting off the wheel of birth and death.
Three ways to go
For those who don't have Jesus the Christ, the spirits of all who have passed from the physical plane can go in three directions: return to schoolhouse Earth for a continuation of lessons in the physical plane, continue lessons in the Astral plane, or move onward through greater planes toward God, Heaven, the Clear Light of the Natural Condition, whichever term you prefer.
In the Cayce cosmology, after death, YOU no longer have a physical consciousness (your ego); your consciousness now is what your subconscious was during your physical lifetime. Your subconscious was always there during your physical life; but was only accessible to your ego mind when it was dreaming or in trance. Now it's front and center. It's YOU. It's the everyday mind of your astral body (what the Bible calls the heavenly body).
This formerly subconscious mind, forgetting nothing, lays before you everything you have ever done, who you did it with or to, why you did it, and its consequences. For some, this might be a truly hellish experience.
Says Cayce, "All the acts, deeds and thoughts done in the (physical) body are ever present before that being. Then consider what hell (has been dug) by some, and what haven and heaven (has been built) by many.
Again, if your ego is intelligent enough seriously to "give it all to Christ" in a spirit of repentance before you physically die, Christ will intercede for you, and wipe your sins away from your forget-nothing memory. He'll thus render you acceptable to God, letting YOU achieve and remain in the Clear Light of the Natural Condition (as the monks would say). The choice seems entirely up to that little ego who now controls your life here on Earth as you read these words.
After you physically die, as the monks indicate, you might not even be aware you've croaked.
Many carnal minds have passed from the body for days before they realized they were passed, said Cayce. When asked "Does death instantly end all feeling in the physical body; and if not, how long will it feel? Cayce said "...It depends on how great are the appetites and desires of (that particular) physical body.
As to how long: many an individual has remained in that called death for what ye call years without realizing it was dead, said Cayce.
Since the Bible and Cayce point out we have a spiritual body after we physically die, what is the actual experience like? After all, that's what we started out to describe.
Hugh Lynn Cayce, Edgar's son, who took the helm of the Association of Research and Enlightenment after his father died, said his father told him what the actual experience is like.
The experience of dying
Quoting Edgar Cayce now, he said:
"Let me tell you now of an experience of my own. I feel that it was a very real experience, and as near an illustration of what happens at death as it would be possible to put into words. On going into the unconscious state, on one occasion, to obtain information for an individual, I recognized that I was leaving my body.
"There was just a direct, straight, and narrow line in front of me, like a shaft of white light. On either side was fog and smoke, and many shadowy figures who seemed to be crying to me for help, and begging me to come aside to the plane they occupied.
"As I followed along the shaft of light, the way began to clear. The figures on either side grew more distinct: they took on clearer form. But there was a continual beckoning back, or the attempt to sidetrack me and bring me aside from my purpose. Yet with the narrow way in front of me, I kept going straight ahead. After a while I passed to where the figures were merely shadows attempting to urge me on, rather than to stop me. As they took on more form, they seemed to be occupied with their own activities.
"Finally, I came to a hill, where there was a mount and a temple. I entered this temple and found in it a very large room, very much like a library. Here were the books of people's lives, for each person's activities were a matter of actual record, it seemed. And I merely had to pull down the record of the individual for whom I was seeking information. I have to say as Paul did, 'Whether I was in the spirit or out of the spirit, I cannot tell'; but that was an actual experience."
Cayce says a person's viewpoint that "life and death are one" is needed.
"It is not all of life to live, nor all of death to die; for one is the birth of the other when viewed from the whole or the center, and is but the experience of an entity in its transitions to and from that universal center"....
A psychic's viewpoint, if Cayce is to be believed, is one in which the psychic could watch you die, watch you emerge from your body, then watch you reincarnate within a newborn infant. And if the psychic could live a thousand years, he might watch you undertake this birth-death-rebirth process several times.
What we have researched here simply explains what happens at the point of each physical death, what happens after death, what the whole experience is like, and what happens on a continual basis with your eternal life.
"Each entity must and will some day attain...the ability to be conscious of physical death without the physical suffering...but that day to most is far, too far, away," Cayce said.
If dying and reincarnating became a process as familiar to the average person as taking a shower, it might be a different world, indeed, for all.
Corinthians 1:15, V 30-52:
Three ways to go