THE ART OF DYING
The problem of death or the art of dying. This is something which all seriously ill people must inevitably face, and for which those in good health should prepare themselves, through correct thinking and sane anticipation. The morbid attitude of the majority of men to the subject of death, and their refusal to consider it when in good health, is something which must be altered and deliberately changed. Christ demonstrated to His disciples the correct attitude, when referring to His coming and immediate decease at the hand of His enemies; He chided them when they evidenced sorrow, reminding them that He was, occultly speaking, "making restitution to the Monad"; ordinary people, and those below the grade of an initiate of the third degree, make "restitution to the soul". The fear and the morbidness which the subject of death usually evokes, and the unwillingness to face it with understanding, are due to the emphasis which people lay upon the fact of the physical body, and the facility with which they identify themselves with it; it is based also upon an innate fear of loneliness, and the loss of the familiar. Yet the loneliness which eventuates after death, when the man finds himself without a physical vehicle, is as nothing compared to the loneliness of birth. At birth, the soul finds itself in new surroundings, and immersed in a body which is at first totally incompetent to take care of itself, or to establish intelligent contact with surrounding conditions for a long period of time. The man comes into incarnation with no recollection as to the identity or the significance to him of the group of souls in bodies with which he finds himself in relationship; this loneliness only disappears gradually as he makes his own personality contacts, discovers those who are congenial to him, and eventually gathers around him those whom he calls his friends. After death this is not so, for the man finds on the other side of the veil those whom he knows, and who have been connected with him in physical plane life, and he is never alone as human beings understand loneliness; he is also conscious of those still in physical bodies; he can see them, he can tune in on their emotions, and also upon their thinking, for the physical brain, being non-existent, no longer acts as a deterrent. If people [Page 69] but knew more, birth would be the experience which they would dread, and not death, for birth establishes the soul in the true prison, and physical death is only the first step towards liberation. (17 – 391/3).
(1) After all, death is in itself a work of restitution. It involves the work of rendering back of substance to the three worlds of substance, and doing it willingly and gladly; it involves also the restoration of the human soul to the soul from whence it emanated, and doing this in the joy of reabsorption. You must all learn to look upon death as an act of restitution; when you can do this, it will take on a new light and true meaning, and become an integral part – recognised and desired – of a constant living process.
If I were asked to say, what is the major task of healing groups, such as the Hierarchy seeks to see functioning in the future, I would say it is to prepare human beings for what we should regard as the restorative aspect of death, and thus give to that hitherto dreaded enemy of mankind, a new and happier significance. You will find that if you work along these indicated lines of thought, the entire theme of death will constantly recur, and that the result of this will be new attitudes to dying, and the inculcation of a happy expectancy, where that inevitable and most familiar event occurs. Healing groups must prepare to deal with this basic condition of all living, and a major part of their work will be the elucidating of the principle of death. The soul, we are told, must return to the one who gave it. To date that has been an enforced and dreaded restitution, one which engenders fear, and which leads men and women everywhere to clamour for the healing of the physical body, overemphasising its importance, and making them regard the prolongation of earthly existence as the most important factor in their lives. During the next cycle, these wrong attitudes must come to an end; death will become a normal and understood process – as normal as the process of birth, though evoking less pain and fear. This comment of mine is in the nature of a prophecy, and should be noted as such. (17 – 389/90).
(2) The words "earth to earth and dust to dust", so familiar in the burial rituals of the Occident, refer to this act of restitution, and connote the return of the physical body elements to the original reservoir of matter, and of the substance of the vital form to the general etheric reservoir; the [Page 70] words "the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" are a distorted reference to the absorption of the soul by the universal soul. The ordinary rituals, however, fail to emphasise that it is that individualised soul, in process of reabsorption, which institutes and orders, by an act of the spiritual will, that restitution. (17 – 435).
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
(1) I feel that the best that I can do, in order to clarify this subject more completely, is to describe the sequence of events which happen at a death bed, reminding you that the points of final abstraction are three in number: the head, for disciples and initiates and also for advanced mental types; the heart, for aspirants, for men of goodwill, and for all those who have achieved a measure of personality integrity, and are attempting to fulfil, as far as in them lies, the law of love; and the solar plexus, for the undeveloped and emotionally polarised persons. All I can do is to tabulate the stages of the process, leaving you to accept them as an interesting and possible hypothesis awaiting verification; to believe them unquestioningly because you have confidence in my knowledge, or to reject them as fantastic, unverifiable, and of no moment anyway. I recommend the first of the three, for it will enable you to preserve your mental integrity, it will indicate an open mind, and at the same time it will protect you from gullibility, and from narrow-mindedness. These stages, therefore, are:
1. The soul sounds forth a "word of withdrawal" from its own plane, and immediately an interior process and reaction is evoked within the man upon the physical plane.
a. Certain physiological events take place at the seat of the disease, in connection with the heart, and affecting also the three great systems which so potently condition the physical man: the blood stream, the nervous system in its various expressions, and the endocrine system . . .
b. A vibration runs along the nadis. The nadis are, as you well know, the etheric counterpart of the entire nervous system, and they underlie every single nerve in the entire physical body. They are the agents par excellence, of the directing impulses of the soul, reacting to the vibratory activity which emanates from the etheric counterpart of the brain. They respond to the directing Word, react to the "pull" of the soul, and then organise themselves for abstraction. [Page 71]
c. The blood stream becomes affected in a peculiarly occult manner.
d. A psychic tremor is established, which has the effect of loosening or breaking the connection between the nadis and the nervous system; the etheric body is thereby detached from its dense physical sheath, though still interpenetrating every part of it.
2. There is frequently a pause at this point, of a shorter or longer period of time. This is allowed in order to carry forward the loosening process as smoothly and as painlessly as possible. This loosening of the nadis starts in the eyes. This process of detachment, often shows itself in the relaxation and lack of fear which dying persons so often show; they evidence a condition of peace, and a willingness to go, plus an inability to make a mental effort. It is as if the dying person, still preserving his consciousness, gathers his resources together for the final extraction. . .
3. Next, the organised etheric body, loosened from all nervous relationship through the action of the nadis, begins to gather itself together for the final departure. It withdraws from the extremities towards the required "door of exit", and focusses itself in the area around that door, for the final "pull" of the directing soul. ... A dual attractive process is at this stage going on:
a. The vital body is being prepared for exit.
b. The physical body is responding to dissolution.
It might be added that a third activity is also present. It is that of the conscious man, withdrawing his consciousness, steadily and gradually, into the astral and mental vehicles, preparatory to the complete abstraction of the etheric body when the right time comes. The man is becoming less and less attached to the physical plane, and more withdrawn within himself. In the case of an advanced person, this process is consciously undertaken, and the man retains his vital interests and his awareness of relationships to others even whilst losing his grip on physical existence. In old age this detachment can be more easily noted than in death through disease, and frequently the soul or the living, interested, inner man, can be seen losing his grip on physical and, therefore, illusory reality.
4. Again a pause ensues. This is the point where the physical elemental can at times regain its hold upon the etheric body, if that is deemed desirable by the soul, if death is not part of the inner plan, or if the physical elemental is so powerful that it can prolong the process of dying. This elemental life will sometimes fight a battle lasting for days and weeks. When, however, death is inevitable, the pause at this point will be exceedingly brief, sometimes only for a matter of seconds. The physical elemental has lost its hold, [Page 72] and the etheric body awaits the final "tug" from the soul, acting under the Law of Attraction.
5. The etheric body emerges from the dense physical body in gradual stages, and at the chosen point of exit. When this emergence is complete, the vital body then assumes the vague outline of the form that it energised, and this under the influence of the thoughtform of himself, which the man has built up over the years. This thoughtform exists in the case of every human being, and must be destroyed before the second stage of elimination is finally complete. We will touch upon this later. Though freed from the prison of the physical body, the etheric body is not yet freed from its influence. There is still a slight rapport between the two, and this keeps the spiritual man still close to the body just vacated. That is why clairvoyants often claim to see the etheric body hovering around the death bed or the coffin. Still interpenetrating the etheric body, are the integrated energies, which we call the astral body, and the mental vehicle, and at the centre there is a point of light which indicates the presence of the soul.
6. The etheric body is gradually dispersed as the energies of which it is composed, are reorganised and withdrawn, leaving only the pranic substance which is identified with the etheric vehicle of the planet itself. This process of dispersal is, as I have earlier said, greatly aided by cremation. In the case of the undeveloped person, the etheric body can linger for a long time in the neighbourhood of its outer disintegrating shell, because the pull of the soul is not potent, and the material aspect is. Where the person is advanced, and therefore detached in his thinking from the physical plane, the dissolution of the vital body can be exceedingly rapid. Once it is accomplished, the process of restitution is over; the man is freed, temporarily at least, from all reaction to the attractive pull of physical matter; he stands in his subtle bodies, ready for the great act to which I have given the name "The Art of Elimination".
The Integrity of the Inner Man: One thought emerges as we conclude this inadequate consideration of the death of the physical body in its two aspects: that thought is the integrity of the inner man. He remains himself. He is untouched and untrammelled; he is a free agent as far as the physical plane is concerned, and is responsive now to only three predisposing factors:
1. The quality of his astral-emotional equipment.
2. The mental condition in which he habitually lives.
3. The voice of the soul, often unfamiliar but sometimes well known and loved.
Individuality is not lost; the same person is still present upon the planet. Only that has disappeared which was an integral part of the tangible appearance of our planet. That which has been loved or hated, which has been useful to humanity or a liability, which has served the race or been an ineffectual member of it, still persists, is still in touch with the qualitative and mental processes of existence, and will for ever remain – individual, qualified by ray type, part of the kingdom of souls, and a high initiate in his own right. (17 – 472/8).
(2) The process of death is occultly as follows:
a. The first stage is the withdrawal of the life force in the etheric vehicle, from the dense physical body, and the consequent "falling into corruption" and becoming "scattered to the elements". Objective man fades out and is no more seen by the physical eye, though still in his etheric body. When etheric vision is developed, the thought of death will assume very different proportions. When a man can be seen functioning in his etheric physical body by a majority of the race, the dropping of the dense body will be considered just as a release.
b. The second stage is the withdrawal of the life force from the etheric body, and its devitalisation . . .
c. The third stage is the withdrawal of the life force from the astral or emotional form, so that it disintegrates in a similar manner, and the life is centralised elsewhere. It has gained an increase of vitality through physical plane existence, and added colour through emotional experience.
(1) The worker in white magic must hold himself free as much as he can from identifying himself with that which he has created or has attempted to create. The secret for all aspirants is to cultivate the attitude of the onlooker and of the silent watcher, and, may I emphasise the word silent. Much true magical work comes to naught because of the failure of the worker and builder in matter to keep silent. By premature speech and too much talk, he slays that which he has attempted to create, the child of his [Page 74] thought is still-born. All workers in the field of the world should recognise the need for silent detachment, and the work before every student who reads these Instructions must consist in cultivating a detached attitude. It is a mental detachment which enables the thinker to dwell ever in the high and secret place, and from that centre of peace calmly and powerfully to carry out the work he has set before himself. He works in the world of men; he loves and comforts and serves; he pays no attention to his personality likes and dislikes, or to his prejudices and attachments; he stands as a rock of strength, and as a strong hand in the dark to all whom he contacts. The cultivation of a detached attitude personally, with the attached attitude spiritually, will cut at the very roots of a man's life; but it will render back a thousandfold for all that it cuts away.
Much has been written anent attachment and the need to develop detachment. May I beg all students in the urgency of the present situation, to leave off reading and thinking about it aspirationally, and to begin to practise it and to demonstrate it. (4 – 559/60).
(2) It is only in a spirit of real detachment that the best work of a disciple is done. The disciple comes to realise that because of this detachment he is (for the remainder of his life) simply a worker – one of a great army of hierarchical workers – with supposedly no personality inclinations, objectives, or wishes. There is for him nothing but constant work and constant association with other people. He may be a naturally isolated person, with a deep craving for solitude, but that matters not. It is the penalty he must pay for the opportunity to meet the need of the hour. (5 – 55).
(3) Physical fatigue need not necessarily impair in any way his usefulness. With many people, physical conditions impair their work, for their attention becomes focussed on the undesirable physical situation; disciples, however, often have a curious capacity to continue with their work, no matter what may be happening to them physically. The physical brain can be so much the reflector of the mental life, that he will remain essentially unaffected by any outer conditions. The disciple learns to live with his physical liabilities under adverse conditions, and his work maintains its usual high level.
The emotional problem may be the hardest. But only the disciple can handle his own self-pity and free himself from the inner emotional storm in which he finds himself living. (5 – 56).
(4) It leads him to assume the position that not one single thing which produces any reaction of pain or distress in the emotional body, matters in the least. These reactions are simply recognised, lived through, tolerated, [Page 75] and not permitted to produce any limitation. All disciples would do well to ponder what I have just said. (5 – 57).
(5) 'Lord of my life, how can I do the duty of this day yet seek detachment? Meet every need yet free myself from ties and bonds?' God said: 'The sun draws near and vivifies the earth. Naught can it take from out the earth. Live likewise. Give and ask naught!' (5 – 392).
(6) Preserve ever the attitude of the Onlooker in the head. Thus the detachment of the soul will grow, whilst the attachment of the soul to souls will grow and increase. (5 – 623).
(7) Detachment is the path of least resistance for a first ray nature. (6 – 523).