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Adi & Praja 152

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 9

Issue 152: Dying and after

We want to know the rest of what happens after death and before rebirth, and how and why reincarnation takes place. This was the subject of Shano’s next lesson.


(Dying and after – scientifically)

Dying and after – scientifically

Now follows a series of Shano’s lessons about the processes of dying and what happens after dying from a scientific point of view. You need to be smart to follow these lessons. You are smart, aren’t you? The lessons are mainly derived from the Tibetan Buddhists’ teachings about it, supplemented by essential things that can be found in modern Theosophical literature. Very much has been written about this in theosophical literature. But not what the Tibetans taught. If you find it too difficult, skip this for now and just remember that death is a natural process and that there is nothing to be afraid of (unless you are a really evil and mean and cruel person, and do not want to put an end to your own attitude. I guess none of my readers belong to this type, but you never know for sure, of course).

First we have to understand what we really are, as far as our bodies and our daily consciousness is concerned. This is only about humans – not every creature dies in the same way – for example plants and animals and minerals die differently, because they don’t have all the things within them that humans have. Then there are innumerable invisible beings, which do not die at all in the sense we understand it – they merely go through gradual transitions in their own cycles. It is said that in the far past, in the beginning of mankind, even people never died – they just flowed from one generation into the next, only gadually and continuously changing the materials of their body. No fathers and mothers and sexual intercourse and organs like a womb or penis were necessary then – and they won’t be in the far future.

Well, let me ask you a question: “What are you composed of?” “Who are you who dies and survives dying?” Think a little about this question before we proceed …

* * * * * * *

If you have thought about it (or not) we will now continue. Of course Shano had thought a lot about it. He said that he had a body, and a consciousness, which included a mind, emotional feelings and what he could perceive with his sense organs, in other words, what he could see, hear, feel taste, smell and think. In that sense, he proposed, the brain could also be regarded as a sense organ, because it perceives thoughts. But beyond perceiving thoughts, the brain – or the mind using that brain – can also process and integrate incoming sense impressions, such as sounds and images and tastes etc., and thoughts also, into something that is recognizable for the consciousness as the same as the source where it comes from. So you can see an apple, taste an apple, smell an apple, feel an apple and think about the apple and it is all the time the same source: the apple. The hearer hears the same music as the performer hears in his mind, and then brings it into the air with the help of his musical instruments or his voice, or that someone in a restaurant tastes what the cook had in mind before he started cooking – at least more or less. It is amazing to think of: first there is music or a menu in the mind of the artist; the artist or cook has to transform it into coded information by means of his action organs, like his hands, or mouth or feet and instruments or utensils into a combination of tones or food ingredients – because what enters your ear or your smell and taste cells are only vibrations, recoded into electrical information – and your consciousness knows how to decode that, and recognize a pizza for a pizza, and not a mango pudding when the cook meant a pizza – or a rock concert when the musician intended soft jazz. So even though there is no direct contact between the consciousness and the artist and the consciousness of the one who enjoys the artist’s or cook’s products, still they can agree about things and talk about it. These were the ideas Shano presented for his teacher. Do you, the reader, have similar ideas?

Then the teacher started explaining the Buddhist views which are most understandable for everyone. The view of the Buddhists is that we have five groups of properties which make up a human beings. These five are: 1) astral and mental tendencies. We had physical features (built according to the astral ones) and mental habits in the past before we died last time and developed them in a former and many former lives. These tendencies or ‘unconscious memories’ together become the fashioners, the ‘composers,’ the architects of the next four groups: 2) As a result the higher mental or philosophical consciousness wakes up, among which are all the memories of the past – not only of this life, but, on a more subtle level, of all former lives; 3) forms (preceding physical forms) including colors, i.e. the models of material things that you can give a name); 4) feelings; 5) perceptions – contact with things one can feel, hear, see etc.

As far as the part of ourselves that dies at death is concerned (about that what doesn’t die at death we don’t talk here), we are composed of ‘elements’: earth, (solidity), water (moisture), fire (the warmth in our body) and air or wind i.e. prāṇa or vāyu (the energetic streams or movement in our body, but also your breath, our life-energies which become the vehicles of our thoughts). Of these four ‘elements’ our body and its energy and activity are composed.

Then they (I mean the Tibetans) mention the six ‘sources’ of our sense organs, the outer organs called eye, ear, nose, tongue, body (body relates to touch by pressure, hot and cold) and the mental organ; and the five objects of the senses are forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects and thoughts.

Thoughts as the object of mind can be used by the mind for what they call the ‘five exalted wisdoms’: these are the kinds of things the mind is able to perform. These five wisdoms are: reflective wisdom (i.e. you use the thoughts in your mind, compare them, put them logically together and may draw some kind of conclusion); the wisdom of equality – which recognizes what is the same in different things (like the ‘fruitness’ of both an apple and a papaya); the wisdom of individual investigation (what you search out for yourself); the wisdom of how to accomplish activities (‘practical intelligence’); and the wisdom of the world of the things around us (understanding the things of the world around us). So this defines the worldly mind in all its properties: it can reflect, recognize the relation (equality) between things, it can do research or investigate the world around us, it knows how to steer our activities and knows what to do and how to react to all things and handle all things that happen around us (and inside our body, such as our heart beat). Finally we can understand things (much better than animals – who just work with their predefined data-input, but do not understand the process). Does this make sense to you? At least for Shano it made very much sense: he could think of no mental activity that was not included in this enumeration, and he could not imagine a sound mind which would be lacking even one of these.

As I said, this is what we are when we are alive in a physical body: we can see and hear and smell and taste things, do things, feel things, think things. And this all we are going to lose when we die. It is about all what is we would call ‘I’ or the ego. If we don’t think, feel, have a body and no movement, what remains? Nothing!? When I am dead I can no longer think, feel, move.

So, asked Shano: “Then we must conclude that when we are dead we are dead. Full stop. We are nothing anymore when we can not even think and feel. We can not learn and we can not feel, we can not perceive anything, and we don’t have any basis for consciousness any more.” “But,” added Shano, “That is contrary to all I have learned before and have experienced in my whole life. I have even seen with my clairvoyant eyes people alive with feelings long after they were dead and their bodies were burnt. And there are thousands of reports of people who remember former lives. This cannot be true, can it?” “I cannot even think any more about what you put before me now,” he added disbelievingly and somewhat sad.

“Don’t worry,” answered the teacher. “The lessons on this subject are far from finished. At the end you will understand the whole thing.” “Oh,” said Shano, “ – yeah, I hope so.”

We are now first going to discuss the process of dying of the body, the feelings and the mind. This is what Tibetan Buddhists call ‘the eight dissolutions.’ Whatever you are dissolves in seven stages.

D a i l y T h e o s o p h y ©

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