The race has been hypnotized with the idea of Death. The common usage of the term reflects the illusion. We hear those who should know better speaking of persons being "cut down by the grim reaper;" "cut off in his prime;" "his activities terminated;" "a busy life brought to an end;" etc., the idea expressed being that the individual had been wiped out of existence and reduced to nothingness.
In the Western world this is particularly true. Although the dominant religion of the West teaches the joys of the “hereafter” in such strong terms that it would seem that every believer would welcome the transition;
although it might well be supposed that relatives and friends would don gay robes and deck themselves with bright flowers in token of the passage of the loved one to a happier and brighter sphere of existence—we see just the opposite manifestation.
The average person, in spite of his faith and creed, seems to dread the approach of “the grim reaper,” and his friends drape themselves in black robes and give every other outward token of having forever lost the beloved one. In spite of their beliefs, or expression of belief, Death has a terror which they seemingly cannot overcome.
To those who have acquired that sense of consciousness of the illusion of death, these frightful emotions have faded away. To them, while they naturally feel the sorrow of temporary separation and the loss of companionship, the loved one is seen to have simply passed on to another phase of life, and nothing has been lost—nothing has perished.
There is a centuries’-old Hindu fable, in which is told the tale of a caterpillar, who feeling the approach of the langour which betokened the end of the crawling stage of existence and the beginning of the long sleep of the chrysalis stage,
called his friends around him. “It is sad,” he said, “to think that I must abandon my life, filled with so many bright promises of future achievement.
Cut off by the grim reaper, in my very prime, I am an example of the heartlessness of Nature. Farewell, good friends, farewell forever. Tomorrow I shall be no more.” And, accompanied by the tears and lamentations of the friends surrounded his death-bed, he passed away.
An old caterpillar remarked sadly: “Our brother has left us. His fate is also ours. One by one we shall be cut down by the scythe of the destroyer, like unto the grass of the field. By faith we hope to rise again, but perhaps this is but the voice inspired by a vain hope. None of us knows anything positively of another life. Let us mourn the common fate of our race.” Whereupon, sadly, they departed.
The grim irony of this little fable is clearly perceived by all of us, and we smile at the thought of the ignorance which attended the first stage of the transformation of the lowly crawling thing into the glorious-hued creature, which in time will emerge from the sleep of death into a higher form of life.
But, smile not, friends, at the illusion of the caterpillars—they were but even as you and I. For the Hindu story-teller of centuries ago has pictured human ignorance and illusion in this little fable of the lower forms of life.
All occultists recognize in the transformation stages of the caterpillar-chrysalis-butterfly a picture of the transformation which awaits every mortal man and woman.
For death to the human being is no more a termination or cessation than is the death-sleep of the caterpillar. In neither case does life cease for even a single instant—life persists while Nature works her changes. We advise every student to carry with him the lesson of this little fable, told centuries ago to the children of the Hindu race, and passed on by them from generation to generation.
Strictly speaking, from the Oriental point of view, there is no such thing as Death. The name is a lie—the idea an illusion growing from ignorance. There is no death—there is nothing but Life.
Life has many phases and forms, and some of the phases are called “death” by ignorant men. Nothing really dies— though everything experiences a change of form and activity.
As Edwin Arnold so beautifully expresse it in his translation of the “Bhagavaad Gita”:
"Never the spirit was born; The spirit shall cease to be never. Never was time it was not; End and beginning are dreams. Birthlessand deathless, and changeless, Remaineth the spirit forever; Death hath not touched it at all. Dead though the house of it seems."
Materialists frequently urge as an argument against the persistence of life beyond the stage of death, the assumed fact that everything in nature suffers death, dissolution, and destruction. If such were really the fact, then indeed would it be reasonable to argue the death of the soul as a logical conclusion.
But, in truth, nothing of this kind happens in nature. Nothing really dies. What is called death, even of the smallest and apparently most inanimate thing, is merely a change of form and condition of the energy and activities which constitute it.
Even the body does not die, in the strict sense of the word. The body is not an entity, for it is merely an aggregation of cells, and these cells are merely material vehicles for a certain form of energy which animates and vitalizes them.
When the soul passes from the body, the units composing the body manifest repulsion for each other, in place of the attraction which formerly held them together.
The unifying force which has held them together withdraws its power, and the reverse activity is manifested. As a writer has well said: “The body is never more alive than when it is dead.” As another writer has said: “Death is but an aspect of Life, and the destruction of one material form is but a prelude to the building up of another.” So the argument of the materialist really lacks its major premise, and all reasoning based thereon must be faulty and leading to a false conclusion.
But the advanced occultist, or other spiritually developed person, does not require to seriously consider the argument of the materialists, nor would he even though these arguments were a hundred times more logical.
For such a person has awakened within himself the higher psychic and spiritual faculties whereby he may actually know that the soul perishes not when the body dissolves.
When one is able to leave the physical body behind, and actually travel in the regions of “the other side,” as in the case of many advanced individuals, any purely speculative discussions or arguments on the realty of “life after death” take on the appearance of absurdity and futility.
If an individual, who has not as yet reached the stage of psychical and spiritual discernment whereby he is given the evidence of the higher sense on the question of the survival of the soul, finds his reason demanding something akin to “proof,” let him turn his mental gaze inward instead of outward, and there he will find that which he seeks.
For, at the last, as all philosophy teaches us, the world of the inner is far more real than is the world of the outer phenomena. In fact, man has no actual knowledge of the outer—all he has is the report of the inner upon the impressions received from the outer.
Man sees not the tree at which he is gazing—he perceives but the inverted image of that tree pictured upon his retina.
Nay, more, his mind does not even see this image, for it receives only the vibratory report of the nerves whose ends have been excited by that image. So we need not be ashamed of taking mental stock of the inner recesses of our mind, for many of the deepest truths are recorded there.
In the great subconscious and super-conscious regions of the mind are to be found a knowledge of many fundamental truths of the universe.
Between two of these truths most strongly impressed there are these
- the certainty of the existence of a Supreme Universal Power, under, back of, and supporting the phenomenal world;
- the certanity of the immortality of the Real Self—that Something Within which fire cannot destroy, water cannot drown, nor air blow away.
The mental eye turned inward will always find the “I,” with the certainty of its imperishability. It is true that this is a different kind of proof from that required regarding material and physical objects, but what of that?
The truth sought is a fact of spiritual inner life, and not of the physical outer life—therefore it must be looked for within, and not without, the soul itself.
The objective intellect concerns physical objects alone—the subjective intellect, or intuition, concerns psychical and spiritual objects; the one the body of things, the other the soul of things. Look for knowledge, concern either class of things in his own appropriate region of your being.
Let the soul speak for itself, and you will find that its song will ring forth clearly, strongly, and gloriously:
“There is no Death; there is no Death; there is no Death; there is naught but Life, and that Life is Life Everlasting!”
Such is the song of the soul. Listen for it in the Silence, for there alone can its vibrations reach your eager ears. It is the Song of Life ever denying Death. There is no Death—there is naught but Life Everlasting, forever, and forever, and forever.
Next: The Planes of Life
The Life Beyond Death Published 1912 by Yogi Ramacharaka