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Chapter 6: The Reason for Life and Death

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6 The Reason for Life and Death

There are differences between physical and subtle bodies. It is said in some scriptures and modern writings that the subtle body has full sense perception and mental perception, but on its own level. Thus the dead can see the dead, it is said, and in some cases the dead can see the living (though some authors seem not to support this). The bodies of the dead are made of a particular degree of astral matter and can pass through physical objects without obstruction. One will transport oneself within virtually no time to a destination thought of or wished for. Thus fear, anger, hatred, jealousy and other negative thoughts and feelings create immediate hell for the dead man or women who has no control over such feelings, whereas higher or spiritually positive thoughts create pleasant states in his or her experience. One ‘goes to’ where one feels attraction – compare a pub to a temple.

However, independent decisions1 based on scientific perception, logical reasoning or religious contemplation can not be made by the dead. Science in the regular meaning of the word does not exist there, but the essence of the knowledge gained by scientific study and experience and all other experiences during the last life will be accepted by the jīva (in this case the reincarnating ego) and will be part of the dead entity even clearer than during life. It is like a process of digestion in which the essential is separated from the waste. Thus there exist no true books that one can study after death, except perhaps in one’s wishful desire. In his or her desire libraries may be visited and books may be read, but it is an illusion. No wisdom will be added by it. Indeed death is too spiritual to have need of books, computers and you-tubes. Death is meant for the growth of the higher faculties, of buddhi. Death is the wise provision of nature and in general, especially for those with true spiritual interests, takes a far longer period than physical life. During death the mind finds itself in a more spiritual state and is able to derive the essence of what it studied from books, and that depending in how far one has spiritually ‘chewed’ the information acquired during study. In a limited way the same takes place every night when we sleep. Sheer accumulation of knowledge belongs to the physical brain only and is entirely lost at death – and it is therefore useless to just accumulate facts. In that sense, the brain is as vulnerable and evanescent as a hard disk. Therefore acquainting oneself deeply with spiritual literature and the spiritual side of the sciences is infinitely more useful. During death one becomes wiser, but not more learned.

As said, there are chakras on different levels, which are the interfaces between different phases of matter through which the different layers from high down to the various structures of more subtle and more gross matter communicate in both directions. In conclusion: a living being from soul down to all its vehicles is even much more complex and intelligent and amazing than we already conclude if we just study the complex physical brain. Though such studies are far beyond the possibilities of modern science, the very facts given to us by ancient literature and also modern occultism could open us for at least the acceptance of the possibility that an individual essence, inner subtle bodies and energetic processes truly exist and interwork. Even taking notice of this very idea could save science from its rigid materialistic dogmatism that till now narrows its views, hampers its progress, and creates vast amounts of suffering due to despair and ignorance among humankind.

Why do we have brains?

But if we can function with no physical body and no physical brain, why do we have one? Why did the soul develop physical sense organs and a physical brain? Apparently our gross material sphere is the only karma-bhūmi, the only circumstance which is by nature ‘rigid’ and inert enough to make spiritual progress and reach liberation through self-effort.

Even people of the highest intellectual and spiritual accomplishment in the heavens have to return at least once to our physical sphere in order to accomplish total emancipation or liberation, as teach both Jainism and Buddhism. Therefore, the ātman, our all-pervading individual essence or soul, needs to develop an instrument on this, our physical level. As I interpret it, only during this connection between soul and matter the inner being of each entity can concentrate enough – or should we say ‘is retarded or hampered enough’ to turn experiences into self-conscious experiences for our essential being. Only during incarnation on this level one can make true progress: how pitiful that so many waste their time pleasuring in the merely evanescent, i.e. their body and their psychology! Even if not evil, it is no good.

The Buddha has emphasized most strongly that there exists no objective unchangeable ātma in any living being, but that the totality of our being is always changing and in eternal progress. This is the reason for the semi-endless physical embodiments the jīva must take before reaching nirvāa. After a long period of human nirvāa and conscious oneness with our own individual essence – which is no more than a drop of an infinite ocean – our spark will reawaken for a new and loftier pilgrimage. Our present jīva (‘soul’ or living-conscious being) – starts as a most primitive being after a former nirvāa in which it reached self-conscious and omniscience on another level. It begins its new pilgrimage with maximum limitations and has to go the whole cycle of necessity to reach omniscience, and visit every nook and corner – every space point and every time-moment in the universe, and then reach nirvāa, but on a higher level than before when it reached a lower nirvāa.

My conclusion is that true Theosophy and Science are good companions. No theosophist or other occult or religious thinker should ever make the mistake to think that they know everything or even anything better and that all problems have been solved by their founders, teachers or holy books, etc. Apart from a few great yogis in the past, we personally have no better tools available to reach knowledge than modern scientists can give. Science at this moment adds its refined, but still grossly material tools to the service of the god(dess) of Truth. Theosophy will give to science a spiritual side and will be a guide on the sideline in long centuries to come.

  1. ‘Independent’ means, without the use of the physical body and faculties of the medium or the sitters – something which is only possible for the ‘lower spirits’, of the séance room. []
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