AGNI YOGA WEB TV
„ASPECTS OF THE PRACTICE OF AGNI YOGA“
Preparation for Death in Dignity
Dear Agni Yogis,
this Broadcasting is addressed not only to the elderly, who are already more than 80 years old and facing death, but to everyone, especially the youth!
Few are aware: Your attitude towards death is of the utmost importance for the quality of your life today: If you regard yourself as an immortal spirit living eternally, your present day earthly life will be joyful. If, on the other hand, you are an old, mortal man and expect your existence to be completely wiped out within the near or distant future, you will only lead a miserable life.
Denn solang’ du das nicht hast,
dieses stirb und werde,
bist du nur ein trüber Gast
auf der dunklen Erde.
For as long as you do not have,
this dying and growing,
you are just a dull guest
on a dark earth. (Goethe)
Since times immemorial all teachings of higher wisdom tell, and to you as an immortal applies even more: From the very first day, your whole life should be a preparation for the return to the Supermundane World, your true homeland.
Poorly will live the one who does not know how to die properly. (Seneca, On Tranquillity of Mind XI, 4)
If you want to die in dignity, you have to know: Your true, higher self is immortal and eternal. Furthermore, you should know: How does the Other World look like, in which you will live after the death of your body? What conditions are prevailing and what laws are ruling there?
Therefore, you should have watched our Broadcastings "The Secret of Immortality" (Series “Experiment Immortality”), "Death and Rebirth" and "The Supermundane World" (both Series "Introduction to Agni Yoga"). Without the basic knowledge conveyed there, we can hardly speak meaningfully about the right attitude towards dying.
1. No End
Cézanne „Three Skulls“
The attitude towards death reveals the level of the spiritual culture of a time. It is a shame how many people who call themselves Christians are filled with fear of death and thus reveal their lack of higher knowledge. Religion, as it is taught today, can offer them neither comfort nor help.
Fear of death is the weightiest self-judgment. Fear of death shuns growth and envies each one who welcomes a change of life. An indescribable terror is the fear of death; one cannot escape it, it is a freezing paralysis. Beware the fear of death. (Community 236)
The terrible misconception that death means the irrevocable end of our existence drives people into an abyss without a way out. It ruins exactly our best opportunities: unlimited evolution.
He who dies through his insistence that there is no life after death actually furnishes a typical example of the independent action of psychic energy. He practically commands himself to cease living and achieves the results of his command. (Fiery World I, 467)
For you as a spiritual being living eternally, there is no death in the sense of the complete extermination of your existence. This existential problem is solved by your accepting the law of rebirth. Then, death loses its terror.
When the principle of infinity applies, there can be no limit to anything or anyone, neither to the Universe as a whole nor to you as an individual being.
The yogi knows no death, for the awakened consciousness experiences no interruption of existence. (Agni Yoga 175)
The death of the body serves only to enable the soul to free itself from old, obsolete forms and to create new, better ones.
We must die that life may have more perfect expression. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 16 “Unselfish Love”)
One must accept all transitions as improvements. (Fiery World I, 340)
2. Change of Existence
The so-called death is only a transition to another state of being, a passing from one level to the other.
Crossing into the Supermundane World is as easy as entering the next room. (Supermundane 894)
The Existent is indestructible and manifold in its states. (Heart 307)
“We do not die, but change”—can one speak any more clearly about eternal life? (Fiery World II, 369, Heart 170, Fiery World I, 360)
Agni Yoga conveys words of Jesus that are not mentioned in the Bible. One of them is:
You are used to fearing death because you were not taught about the passing into a better World. (Supermundane 160)
Dying is a natural part of our eternal journey. As the saying goes:
You have already died countless times – and every time you have survived!
The step into the spiritual world is nothing special in itself: You take it every evening, namely when falling asleep. You spend about half of your earthly life in the so-called realm of the dead, as sleep is the brother of death.
It is impossible to convince people of the naturalness of the change of existence. (AUM 573)
Death is no more than the shearing of the hair, in both cases is matter cast off. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 100)
As we had already said ("The Secret of Immortality"): The new, immortal man walks a continuous, uninterrupted, eternal path through the most diverse material and non-material spheres, worlds and levels of existence. Your future life in the world of the soul is just another stage of this infinite journey.
Only the concept of the oneness of the path will impel people to live in beauty, and to depart this life as wayfarers continuing their journey. (Fiery World III, 69)
3. Return to the Homeland
Nicholas Roerich “Star of the Morning“
Your Eternal Individuality leaves the sphere of the coarse physical existence. It lays down its material vehicle, the body. It starts a new life in the world of the spirit.
People call this death, but it really is birth. (AUM 153)
Strive to reach the understanding that the end is a beginning. Thus is Infinity attained. (Infinity I, 149)
The soul returns to its homeland. For the spirit it is indeed a relief to be freed from the prison of the body and to be allowed to leave the earthly vale of tears after all.
Life on Earth then becomes a journey which the spirit undertakes in order to expand its knowledge and consciousness on this long and dangerous excursion into matter, and not vice versa. The spirit comes from above and returns there when he has fulfilled its task. In this sense, the longing of the spiritually developed people to return to the eternal homeland is understandable, since we are only temporary guests on earth, which can offer the spiritual man no earthly pleasures any more, but only sacrifices, humiliations, suffering and work. (Leopold Brandstätter (Leobrand) Letters on Living Ethics, Letter XXIII, 19)
You continue your labour; but only if you have done on earth work on spiritual goals, which you may resume in the World Beyond.
If people could understand that for a pure and aspiring man the very crossing into the Subtle World is the highest joy, the highest exaltation, and a full joining in the beloved labor, then many would strive to attain this joyous and broadened state through a worthy life on Earth. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 15.03.1938)
It is fortunate when one is so imbued with commitment to the Good, that when crossing to the Supermundane World one can immediately continue the labor of light. (Supermundane 634)
You meet again your true relatives, your soulmates.
Farewell only means a new welcome. (Heart 515)
What about the dear ones? The higher you ascend, the better and closer you will see them. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 225)
True affinity of souls usually does not manifest itself on earth, but only in the Other World.
All earthly bonds, spiritual and of the heart are not only preserved in the Subtle World, but even grow and become more refined. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 11.02.1938)
Nothing can separate souls bound by love. (From the Mountain Top Vol. I, Lesson “Love is God”)
Those for whom you may have searched in vain during earthly life: your closest and best friends, will await and welcome you on the threshold.
A yogi enters the Supermundane World consciously, as a welcome and awaited guest. (Supermundane 900)
Great is the joy when one can enter these new conditions as if into a welcoming home, to find there all those for whom one has yearned, and to sigh with relief that one more earthly journey has been fulfilled. (Supermundane 380)
Section I: Preparation for the Transition
As well as for a dignified life, you must strive for a dignified death.
The thinkers knew that the beautiful eternal life has many boundaries that must be crossed with dignity. (Supermundane 615)
Let the transition be easy; simpler, easier, higher and more joyful; do not concern yourselves with the soles when wings grow upon your shoulders. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 261 )
You should celebrate the transition to the Upper World like a feast day: solemnly, worthily and joyfully.
One should enter joyously this beloved motherland. (Supermundane 750)
At such an important step of your infinite journey you should leave nothing to chance: As you prepare a baptism, a wedding or a birthday party carefully, so that the celebration succeeds.
Dignified dying wants to be well planned!
There is so much to consider: Where do you want to die? At home, in a hospice or in a hospital? Do you really wish to entrust yourself to the doctors? They do not know anything about your Eternal Individuality. Therefore, they tend to torment you to the last second with their attempts to extend your already completed physical life by a few insignificant hours or days.
Every traveller who is enlightened by thought about the eternal path can proceed in joy. One should approach the Fiery World with a whole purpose, with all desire and with the whole heart. (Fiery World II, 425)
Consider carefully and in time: How do you create a pure, solemn atmosphere? Do you want to cross over alone, or are relatives or clerics to assist you? Which instructions do you have to give in order to make sure that in fact everything will proceed as you wish?
In order to find the necessary peace, you must irrevocably sever all your ties with the world already weeks, better months before death. This means above all:
Look forward, not backward! Turn your attention away from the material world and towards the realm of the spirit. Finish your mundane projects and put them into younger hands. Settle your earthly affairs. Distribute your possessions and, as the saying goes, put your house in order. Say goodbye to your family, friends, acquaintances and co-workers.
Take the great step actively, consciously and with due consideration! Do not allow fate to take you off like a passive victim unconsciously and unprepared in the midst of everyday hustle and bustle!
You do not necessarily have to predict, like some saints, the exact day of your death. But you should be able to sense when the end draws near, so that you may bring your normal everyday life to a close and turn to the transition in time.
1. Transition to a higher, better World
Botticini “The Assumption of the Virgin“
The most important preparation is: Look forward to the new, exciting stage of your life that lies ahead of you!
Many people are already ossified to such an extent that even the slightest change of circumstances means a problem for them. That must not be: Life is constant movement and incessant change!
To enter a new house is to open the opportunity for new accumulations of experience. One can retreat to such a state of limitation that just moving to a neighboring town becomes a major event. Worse, one could fear to move from one house to another, and even a change of garment would present difficulties. People who fear change fear death most of all. They fear to think of it, and of a passing moment they make a final state. (Agni Yoga 240)
Regard the transition as an adventure! You will discover a new world full of the most unexpected possibilities! You will be able to express your potential there in a way as it is never possible on the material level.
The so-called death provides the possibility for a new constellation. (Infinity II, 377 [Infinity I, 377])
A high spirit does not resist a natural change of existence. He even rejoices at the possibility of improving a new aspect of his life. (Supermundane 83)
For those of you who have led a decent life on earth, the transition will be an ascent to a higher, more beautiful, more comfortable level of existence!
When the boundary is crossed and one existence terminates, then the step of a higher existence begins. (Infinity I, 87)
He who has knowledge can make these crossings no more difficult than the ascent on the rungs of a ladder. (Agni Yoga 308)
He however, who has led a coarse, unclean, violent or even criminal life is right to awfully fear death: He suspects correctly the more he approaches the transition: He will be brought together with evildoers of his own kind, the pleasure of whom is to torture each other and thus to make a hell of their existence in the Hereafter.
By their death you will recognize them: Those with a good and those with a bad conscience!
2. Is there Life after Birth?
The right attitude towards the entering of the Higher World, which we may truly call a birth, is illustrated by this beautiful story:
There once were twins in the womb, talking about the upcoming birth. The pessimist said, "I am scared. I am going to die. I do not believe in life after birth. This place where I am living now is everything there is. I do not want to leave this beautiful, dark, warm world where I get without effort everything I need."
The optimist said, "I am happy! I am looking forward to the new world in which I shall be living. What new experiences will I be able to make there?"
The optimist was born first. As soon as he came to the world, he shouted to his brother, "Come out as quickly as possible! You cannot imagine how bright and marvellous the world is out here!"
3. Deterring Example Tolstoy
A distressing example of how not to do it is the death of the great Leo Tolstoy: His last weeks were shattered by unbearable domestic scenes and the turmoil over his legacy. He meant to evade all this by escaping from home, and wrote to his wife:
"My departure will sadden you. I regret that, but please understand and believe me that I could not act differently. My situation in the house becomes unbearable, it is already unendurable. Apart from all the bad things, I can no longer live in the conditions of luxury in which I have lived up to today, and now I do what old men in my years usually do: They turn away from earthly life, in order to spend their last days in seclusion and silence."
Tolstoy attempted to evade at least at death all the compromises to which he felt obliged during his lifetime.
At the age of 82, Tolstoy set out to finally realize the long-cherished plan of a life in poverty and seclusion. At night, secretly, the dying man left his house and family and went away by train. He had just one purpose in mind: to get away from everyone and everything. His escape, however, ended in the middle of nowhere at the train station of a tiny village called Astapowo. There, the dying man could go no further. He was provided with a room in a signalman's cottage. There he died after a few days, besieged by his family, countless journalists and many curious. Not even at death Tolstoy managed to realize his dream.
A better preparation could have prevented such an unworthy transition. When you foresee that you will not be able to find the necessary tranquillity within your family, you should look in time for an ashram where this is possible.
4. Example worth imitating: Lama Norbu
May your passage be a feast without any disturbance, solemnly anticipating the sacred atmosphere of the Supermundane World: Dressed in a white robe, with candles and scents, attracting higher beings and repelling lower ones.
The most beautiful death I can imagine is depicted in Bernardo Bertolucci's film "Little Buddha":
After fulfilling his last task, Lama Norbu sits down in the lotus position for meditation and dies peacefully in this dignified posture. For quite some time, his environment does not even notice his passing.
Section II: Preparation for the World Beyond
You have to attend not only to the dignified arrangement of the transition. More importantly, you must prepare your future life in the Higher World, so that you may find your way there at once, resume your work, and continue your ascent.
Let us take the case of someone who realizes the benefits of Good and understands the power of thought creation. Furthermore, he recognizes life in the World Beyond and will not lament leaving Earth, for he knows about his eventual return into physical existence.
Such a person will fall asleep peacefully and will find himself in the World Beyond without losing consciousness. He will not suffer any pain, for his subtle body is not burdened by guilt—he committed no crimes, not even in thought. Thus, he will not be depressed and will quickly understand his whole environment.
He will drive away fear, because he understands that thoughts are his strongest shield. In fact, he can begin to learn and work immediately. He can create his attire and hasten to join useful co-workers. He is ready to share in all the advantages of the Subtle World, and will be ready to make his approach to the higher spheres. (Supermundane 329)
With a sense of responsibility you are preparing for old age, for the evening of your earthly life. It is even more important, however, to plan for the morning thereafter – namely for your stay in the spiritual world.
Sometimes people reach such a height of absurdity that they consider every thought about the future life to refer to the end of earthly existence. At the same time they do not hesitate to arrange their earthly affairs many years in advance. Such actions merely indicate how obscure is the thought about the future life. (Fiery World II, 425)
Before undertaking a journey to a foreign country, don’t you inform yourself about the conditions (for example, the weather conditions) prevailing and the laws applying there? You ascertain what you will need there and what you have to take with you. You learn the language in which one communicates there. Exactly in the same way you should proceed with your quite mistakenly so-called "last journey".
1. Preparation already on Earth
It is of the utmost importance that you realize: The preparation for your future life in the world of the soul must begin already now, during your stay on the material level.
The skills you need in order to find your way in the Subtle World, to live consciously and to act meaningfully there, can only be acquired during your earthly life.
It is difficult for people to understand how urgently they need in the Subtle World a knowledge acquired on Earth — and not only the knowledge itself, but also receptivity and comprehension. (Supermundane 128)
Once arrived in the Other Side, it will be too late to acquire the qualities which are needed there. Then you will have to get along with what you have appropriated on earth. Those who are poorly prepared will have a hard time in the Supermundane Spheres.
Is it not far better to provide oneself already now with the complete information that is needed for the future journey? (Supermundane 391)
2. Do not wait until the very last Moment
It would be a grave mistake to wait with your preparation for the afterlife until the very last moment. In the new, completely foreign circumstances, you will need a whole range of skills. It takes a lot of time to acquire them all – one may say, your whole lifetime!
If you wish to make a speech in a language you do not know, it is unwise to start preparing the night before you deliver it. If you wish to perform on an unfamiliar instrument, it is unwise to start practicing the night before you go on stage. If you wish to cross into the Subtle World, it is unwise to begin preparations the evening before you depart.
It is horrible when a person who has turned away from thought about the Subtle World his whole life behaves like a negligent student and only on the eve of his crossing begins in confusion to repeat words he has never really understood. (Heart 170)
The sooner you start preparing, the better.
People become pious as they near the crossing into the Subtle World. They fail to discern that such a hurried bribery borders upon blasphemy. Thus there results, not a realization of the Higher World, but a hurried payment for the best place, whereas the approach to the Higher World should begin in the first days of earthly life. (AUM 102)
Let us look at some examples of how this preparation should look like. We can list up just a few of the most important features.
3. Improve your Emanations
Nicholas Roerich “Fiat Rex“
We have already learned: There is no light in the Subtle World! There, you can illuminate and recognize your surroundings with the help of the light of your own aura only.
With such a treasure the traveller enters radiant into the Supermundane World, for his inner light has been increased. (Supermundane 863)
Without a spiritual radiation you will dwell in darkness over there. Therefore, you have to create a pure, strong and clear aura during your earthly life. Otherwise you will not be able to see anything in the World Beyond.
The emanations of those thinking in tangled and lengthy ways are weak and will not light up their path. They will regret that during the days of their earthly existence they did not find the time for the work of mental progress. (Supermundane 940)
The illumination which you are able to radiate up there helps not only you yourself, but also your fellow men.
Man can increase his emanations through the power of his will and by expanding his consciousness. Only thus is man able, through an order of his will to increase his ability to bear light. This will help man in the Supermundane World, and he will become a true light-bearer. He will help himself and his surroundings by kindling the guiding light of the broadening of consciousness. (Supermundane 834)
It is above all your accumulated psychic energy which generates this inner light.
Though so imperceptible in earthly life, Agni [psychic energy] becomes the guiding principle in the Subtle World. And not only does it light the path in the Subtle World, it acts as a guide to the Fiery Beings. We behold by Fire, and we ascend by Flame. (Fiery World I, 335)
Certain strata of the Subtle World dwell in darkness, because the light of their dwellers is faint. Few understand that the dwellers themselves can be like beacons of light. But precisely purified Agni serves as a beacon of light for all. Many ask themselves, “Will I shine?” (Fiery World I, 615)
Those who pass over unprepared will be unable to find their way, blunder in darkness and remain in a terrible state of obscurity and confusion.
Blindness in the Subtle World is dreadful. Imagine yourself entering a half-darkened house, in the corners of which lurk indistinguishable images, all intermingled, and surrounded by indistinct spots. Even where no particular monsters exist, he who is blind and malicious will see horrible shapes. (Fiery World I, 390)
4. Expansion of Consciousness
After death, you enter a spiritual world. Here your five outer senses do not help you along. In a non-material world, you have to be able to perceive the non-material reality. For that you need your inner senses, your sensitivity.
In the Supermundane World, orientation is possible through your consciousness only.
The better possibilities can be awakened by those who are able to perceive with a spiritual consciousness. But for the preservation of consciousness it is necessary to sense this during one’s lifetime. (Community 21)
You arrive at a new, completely unknown sphere. Only with an unprejudiced, wide consciousness will you be able to find your way there.
If it is difficult here to preserve clarity of consciousness, there it is even more difficult because numerous manifestations are encountered of orders of evolution new to us. Thus, one should preserve especially the covenant about clarity of consciousness. (Fiery World I, 105)
Everyone must understand that he will meet with so many new conditions in the Supermundane World that only the breadth of his perceptions will help him to grasp the meaning of it all. (Supermundane 870)
The one who has rejected spiritual realities on earth will negate the supersensory reality in the Hereafter as well. Therefore, he will not recognize it, nor be able to adapt to it, and thus remain in the truest sense of the word "unworldly" over there.
Even though he possesses an intellect developed to its utmost, a materialist who denounces spirituality and the possibility of existence in the higher worlds may remain without a conscious life in the higher spheres of the Subtle World; for, having neither created nor strenghtened the higher attractions, he will be drawn almost immediately into the whirl of the attraction of the Earth, and in a semi-conscious or unconscious state he will await a new incarnation. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 11.01.1935)
Something you are unable to imagine, because your consciousness is too narrow, you will not perceive either, although it is completely real. And if you do not see something, which actually exists, you will remain unclear about your environment and its impact on you and your life. Imagine there is something near you, but you do not recognize it – what kind of consequences will that have?
Those who think chaotically are like those who wave their hands in the dark, unaware of the object they hit. (Hierarchy 172)
In the Broadcasting “Expansion of Consciousness” (Series “Introduction to Agni Yoga”) we had already spoken about many examples of that reality which is invisible to the physical eye: The effect of thoughts, of the gaze, of radiations, colours, sounds and scents, or the intervention of Higher Powers in our lives. These and many more intangible facts you are to recognize already during the incarnation on the material level, but even more so after the transition to the spiritual realm.
For example, if you did not learn to read the aura of another man on earth – and without an apparatus!–, you will not be able in the Subtle World to see who you are dealing with, what kind of a being you have before you.
Expansion of consciousness is only possible on earth.
Learn that you bring into the astral plane only what you have acquired on Earth. Ignorance remains there as it is here. One can receive there only what one has learned to desire here. It is almost impossible to acquire there a new broadening of consciousness. Therefore, accumulate a store of consciousness here, that you may not walk around in a worn-out garment. (Agni Yoga 62)
Training in consciousness is impossible outside of everyday life. (Heart 598)
In the Spiritual World, you will have to get along with that comprehension which you have acquired on the material plane.
Whatever is not realized here will not be realized in the Subtle World. One must first learn to think here on Earth. Thus, it is impossible to acquire in the Subtle World those qualities that we have disregarded in our earthly lives. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 06.07.1937)
Giotto “Baptism of Christ“
Necessary in preparation for your otherworldly existence is, above all, a thorough purification, preferably carried out every day: At the very last minute, shortly before death, you will no longer be able to wash off all the dirt accumulated in the course of a long life.
We repeat: You go over as you are. You will take all your bad qualities with you to the Other World.
If the spirit does not free itself in time from earthly attractions and lust, the subtle body cannot separate in a pure condition from the physical. In such cases, it bears a distinct deposit of earthly passions. (Heart 273)
If you have lived filthily down here, you will end up above there among your kind, among the unclean. Many who believe themselves saints on earth will be highly surprised in what a low sphere they find themselves in the Upper World.
Anyone who believes that he will become pure as an angel just by dying is terribly mistaken.
Our lower desires literally continue to cling to us and make the ascent to higher levels impossible. Nothing unclean can penetrate into a high, pure sphere. You will not dare to go to the altar in a dirty wedding dress; even less can you appear in Heaven with a dirty soul!
Departing from the earthly sphere, the spirit must be cleansed of lower emanations. Any superfluous husk which the spirit brings along into the Subtle World causes inexpressible pains. In a well-developed consciousness a purification takes place which frees the spirit from the husk. But the spirit which zealously retains its earthly habits experiences in the Subtle World all the weaknesses which it was accustomed to undergo on the earthly plane. Going uphill, any superfluous load causes shortness of breath in the Subtle World. (Fiery World III, 84)
The desire for material things torments us up there, because in this spiritual world we are unable to satisfy it. In vain asks the drunkard for alcohol, the gourmet for food, and the lecher for whores – that really is hell!
It is very distressing to carry things which were not previously outlived, and which in the Subtle World become a burden. Most painful of all is the perception of one’s own coarseness. Even in the lower supermundane strata is felt the weight of one’s own crudities. Often there are heard wails from the supermundane strata which are the appeals of the spirits not yet cleansed of this burden. It is reprehensible to litter the Subtle World with the same lightmindedness as the earthly one. And coarse accumulations form, as it were, unerasable layers which are always visible. (Fiery World III, 84)
6. Thought Creation
Everything in the Supermundane World is created by our thoughts. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you practice this particular creative power already on earth. This means: You must learn to think briefly, concisely, clearly, purposefully and beautifully.
The earthly existence cannot be final, and in such a transitory state one may only prepare that which is most needed for the future flight, in other words—sharpen thought. Wings grow only through thought. (AUM 104)
If we lose clarity of thought in earthly battles, how can we maintain it during transition into the Subtle World? (Br I, 217)
How many people are there who are unable to produce just one clear thought and to distinguish the essential from the nonessential, the important from the unimportant, and the desirable from the necessary.
They do not know what they want, so they do not have a goal and thus cannot follow a path.
They are unable to relate adequately even the simplest incident: They fill their narrative with such heaps of uninteresting and irrelevant details that they lose sight of the red thread and get more and more lost, so that finally one gives up following them.
Urusvati values clarity of thought. Imagine a dweller who is used to thinking in tangled and lengthy ways. He will experience great difficulty in communicating with those around him. It is pitiful to look at such inarticulate ones, for they become tangled in a labyrinth of dark, weak thoughts. (Supermundane 940)
Such people are incapable of building anything meaningful in the Upper World. They will only produce chaos with their confused thoughts.
It is regrettable that people enter the Subtle World so unprepared for it; they bring their base habits along, and they squander the forces of thought on imperfect forms. In the Subtle World the creativeness of thought is developed in all domains. It is difficult even to imagine on what delusions this precious power is expended! People should be advised to get used to thinking, even a little, about the beautiful, in order to avoid manifestations of ugliness. (Fiery World I, 139)
Some are not even able to procure adequate clothing up there!
In the world of thought we usually wear the garment of a former life. Those who have not preserved a clear memory of the past frequently have difficulties in the Subtle World. They remember only random parts of their garments of various epochs, and thus create an ugly mixture. They feel a need to create a garment for themselves immediately, but their undisciplined imagination can visualize only scraps of their attire. (Supermundane 62)
Therefore, during your life on earth, you have to practice to think great, beautifully and clearly. Then only will you be able to create something great and beautiful in Heaven.
A person who has accumulated a clear, benevolent consciousness on the earthly plane will also be a good builder in the Subtle World. He will contribute not monstrosities but the beautiful proportions and rhythm that answer to the majesty of the Infinite. (Heart 332)
If we imagine the greatest Spiritual Toiler on Earth, he will represent a tremendous power in the Subtle World. (Supermundane 102)
Indispensable for this is imagination:
You cannot build something that you cannot imagine.
Therefore, only those who have acquired a broad imagination on the material plane will be great creators in the spiritual world.
It is difficult to remember about imagination when we are already in the Subtle World. There we must apply it, not generate it. (Fiery World I, 458)
Already on earth you have to get used to thought-creation, which you may continue in the spiritual realm, otherwise you will remain unemployed there.
Urusvati was astonished at the crowds in the Subtle World that roamed idly with no work to do. They are small townsfolk crowded together as in the square of any modern town. (Supermundane 82)
There is a certain kind of person, for whom there is nothing to do on Earth and therefore nothing worthwhile living for. However, if he carries such thoughts with him into the Subtle World, he will continue the same idle existence there. (Supermundane 220)
7. Communication without Words
Nicholas Roerich “St. Francis of Assisi“
In the Subtle World there is no language. The communication takes place directly with the help of our thoughts. Thus, you will be able to talk to other souls there only when you have learned to think briefly, concisely, clearly and focused on the essential. Otherwise, you can neither send out a clear, understandable thought nor grasp a thought sent to you.
Picture a man who has entered the Supermundane World and knows only how to communicate by speech; he will find himself in a deplorable situation. He will not easily learn thought-transmission. At first he will, like a mute, repeat words silently to himself. But if those words are not accompanied by clear thoughts, communication will not be possible. (Supermundane 804)
We have to practise already on earth this understanding directly from heart to heart.
Even in the physical world hearts resonating in harmony transmit a great deal to each other through the language of the heart. Let this language be a constant reminder about the potential of the Subtle World. (Heart 522)
Why should one wait until one is in the Subtle World to learn the art of thinking, when one can prepare oneself for this advancement while in the earthly life? Everyone, under any conditions, can perform his own experiments in mental discourse, and perhaps an answer will come to him. (Supermundane 804)
As we have seen in the Broadcasting on meditation, you may already during your material incarnation get in contact with another being, for example your teacher, by spiritual means and lead with him a conversation without words.
A hermit was once asked how he could dwell in continuous silence. He was much surprised and said, “On the contrary, I am never silent, but converse constantly—so many companions visit me.” The hermit had drawn so near to the invisible world that it had become entirely perceptible to him. Prayer became communion, and that world revealed itself in all its magnitude. To such a spirit his own transition into the Subtle World is altogether imperceptible. (AUM 41)
Only gradually will the traveller understand how to express thoughts without words, and thus learn to receive thought-transmissions from his new neighbours. The teacher will also turn to him mentally. (Supermundane 804)
8. Living in two Worlds
Nicholas Roerich “Stronghold of the Spirit “
Of course, the best preparation for the Higher World will be to visit these spheres regularly and to participate in the life up there already during your earthly stay.
There is complete consciousness in the Subtle World only for those who created the bond with the higher worlds while still living, by reason of the aspirations of the heart toward evolution, and by persistent attempts to preserve such consciousness. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 11.01.1935)
In the Broadcasting about "Living in two Worlds" (Series "The 10 Pillars of the Practice of Agni Yoga") we talked about how you can live in Heaven while still dwelling on earth.
How wonderfully is the spirit which has understood the transitory existence on Earth impelled into the Subtle World. One should consciously prepare the spirit for the breaking away from Earth. When the fiery spirit plunges into the supermundane spheres the Subtle Spheres are not foreign to it, because this spirit has known the spatial manifestations. (Fiery World III, 95, 96)
The Broadcasting on "Meditation" shows how an incarnated being can make visits to the spiritual world, his homeland.
In this way, you may practice the transition and the continuation of your existence on the higher levels every day.
9. Preparation for your Heaven
Nicholas Roerich “Star of the Morning“
We had found out: Not everyone goes to Heaven. If you want to reach the sublime realm of the Supermundane World, you must be worthy of it.
To put it bluntly: The one who has lived like a swine down here on earth, goes over to the world of the soul with a corresponding aura. For him, the access to higher, purer spheres is blocked by Cosmic Law.
According to the law of correspondence, you will reach those heights that are in accordance with your consciousness, the essence of your nature, your aspirations, your dignity, and your spiritual maturity.
By far the most important preparation for death therefore is: During the time of earthly life form as clear as possible a picture, and imagine in great detail: How does the highest imaginable world look like to you?
Where exactly do you want to go?
What is your Heaven, your personal paradise? Where, at which place do you want to live in eternity? How does your true home look like?
Keep in mind: Heaven is less a location than a community of soulmates. Therefore, the question you have to ask yourself is first of all: Who are your true, eternal friends? Where are you safe? Into which community of the Subtle World would you like to be received?
You should bethink and plan your earthly life by looking back from its end! Only then can you live meaningfully.
This means: First determine for yourself where you want to end up after death. Only then can you arrange your earthly life in such a way that you have the prospect of actually achieving this high goal.
Even in moving into a better apartment people select their best possessions, and no one takes his dirty rags with him. Just as carefully and worthily must man prepare for his dwelling in the Subtle World. (AUM 535)
The eternal home of an Agni Yogi is, of course, the place in the Subtle World where his teacher lives; whether this is a temple, an ashram, an academy, a hut, a cave, a monastery or any other sanctuary. There you lived in communion with your classmates before birth. There you want to return after death.
How can you prepare yourself today for your future existence in this place? Leave the earth in meditation in the evening of each day. Conclude all your worldly affairs and practice the so-called "last journey" every day already during this lifetime.
Visit your true homeland regularly. Have spiritual conversations with your teacher and your classmates again and again already today. Maintain and strengthen the connection with your spiritual family. Then the community of the higher world which you are striving for will not be foreign, but already well-known to you.
While still on Earth, people should suggest to themselves where precisely they would like to continue their progress. They must concentrate their free will so that their thinking manifests itself as a messenger who prepares in advance their place in the Subtle World. Let your thoughts fly ahead of you and prepare your next beautiful dwellings. (Supermundane 220)
Once arrived at the doors of Heaven, however, you will be admitted only if you have confirmed through your way of life on earth that by your very nature you truly are a member of this illustrious community.
If you want to be part of the "Communion of Saints" of whom the Apostles’ Creed speaks, you must prove on the material level that you are indeed a saint.
If you want to go to Heaven (as a disciple: to your teacher's Ashram), you must already live down here on earth according to the rules and customs (the Law of the Disciple) that apply there.
If you do not do this, you exclude yourself from the community of which you are dreaming. The inexorable law is:
On earth we must earn the right to live in the spiritual world in a higher place among higher beings.
Therefore, consider very carefully already now where you want to get later. Do not aim too high. Choose only an ideal that you are able to realize, being as you are.
Of course, you should dream of a better, purer, higher world, where (unlike on earth) you may reveal your real essence. But these dreams, if they are to be productive and leading to a genuine future, must not lose touch with reality.
They should aim at realizing your true, inner nature. You must not form an illusionary picture that has nothing to do with the person you really are.
The good thing is: By the exercise "Living in two Worlds" you can test in time before death during everyday life whether you are actually able to live according to the customs of the Heaven you are dreaming of.
Should you then realize that you have been aspiring too high (there are those who already envisage themselves as disciples of a Mahatma!), you can still aim lower. This is better than indulging in illusions and being bitterly disappointed in the Hereafter.
Section III: Proper Behaviour of the Relatives
Delacroix “The last Words of Emperor Marc Aurel“
Even more than the dying person, those left behind are often helpless and completely overwhelmed by the situation. Many have no idea of how to behave properly.
When someone weeps at a funeral, there may be found one who deplores such ignorance. Likewise, if someone rejoices at such an occasion, people are indignant at a seeming madman. Thus, people cannot grasp the relationship of the earthly existence to the superearthly state of being. They are forbidden to think about reincarnation, and they are agreed that they dwell on the edge of an unknown abyss. (AUM 573)
The unworthy screeching and whining at the bedside of a dying must come to an end. It only contributes to make an already difficult situation even worse.
Of course, the cause of the retention on the astral plane is usually in the last remaining near ones. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 225)
Those left behind have to learn to behave appropriately and not to impede the transition.
A most cruel treatment of the departing ones is often manifested. It may be said that it is not death which torments, but living people. (Fiery World III, 97)
The right attitude is: We watch the dying undertake a difficult ascent. Our task is to support him to the best of our abilities.
Most people do not know how to behave worthily towards the deceased and thereby disturb their ascent. It is essential to have a proper, harmonious attitude. Let us imagine a dear one who is in an adjoining room absorbed in some important work. Our first impulse is to safeguard his quietude and take all precautions against disturbing him. We provide the best conditions for the speedy fulfillment of his task.
We are concerned about the work, and send our benevolent thoughts to him. We know that our dear one is near us, and although we would like to see him, we realize that we have no right to disturb his concentration. We are patient, knowing that we shall be together at the appointed hour. We would like to tell him a lot, but we gather all caution. Thus we proceed because we love our neighbour.
We shall not allow a single word of evil, not wanting disharmonious currents to disturb his work. We behave as it is proper towards a beloved one. We do not grieve about an imaginary loss as we know that our dear one lives and is near. We act wisely if we do for the deceased everything that we would do for a temporarily absent friend. Let us send a smile of love to the deceased. (Supermundane 354)
1. No life-prolonging Measures
Conventional medical treatments aiming at artificially extending life or bringing a nearly dead back to life are pointless and even harmful. They violate the dignity of the transition. They reveal ignorance of man's higher nature.
What is the point of artificially prolonging the earthly stay of a traveller which is nearing its natural end by a period of time that is completely meaningless in view of the infinity of his journey?
It is obviously wrong to cause harm to the Eternal Individuality of a man only in order to postpone for a tiny moment the natural decay of his perishable personality.
It is inadmissible to recall the spirit into the earthly spheres when it already has broken away. Tissues which already have been freed from earthly attractions must be strained in a terrific effort in order again to be assimilated into the earthly atmosphere. People should learn to think during someone’s departure, as well as during birth, and should be able to ease the processes. As delays are harmful during birth, they are likewise harmful during death. The formation of the new subtle body must be taken into consideration. Wounds caused to the departing one must be cured in the Subtle World. (Fiery World III, 97)
Why should we tie down by force an immortal soul that wishes to return to its homeland in a natural way?
Any forcing of the heart’s activity after the subtle body has separated from the physical would constitute a real crime. Each artificial heartbeat will draw back the subtle body, perpetrating an inadmissible act that causes decomposition and suffering. (Heart 354)
Furthermore, we should not arouse any false hopes in the dying one. This would deprive him of the opportunity to concentrate on the transition.
When the physician sees that the death of a patient is inevitable, an artificial attempt to prolong his life may cause severe suffering to the departing one and might even seriously harm his subtle body. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 23.11.1937)
2. Accompanying the Dying
Accompanying the dying is a task that has recently been adopted by the hospice movement. However, only truly knowledgeable people can actually be of any use. The many helpers who are themselves helpless in the face of death cause nothing but confusion despite all their good will.
Preparation for dying is actually the right word. This, however, as we have seen, needs to begin already decades before death.
Teach the immortality of the soul and the uninterrupted continuance of life! This will be the only real consolation for the dying and their relatives.
Once again, true help consists of spiritual assistance! The parish in which I am living has recently built a hospice with 10 places. Costs: one million Euros! That means 100,000 Euros for each death room!
But what do we need in physical furniture for a transition in dignity? No more than a table, a bed and a chair!
This example shows once more the mistaken orientation of our spiritually impoverished society. We undertake gigantic material efforts which, lacking a spiritual basis, remain fruitless and miss the essential.
Section IV: The Transition
Hieronymus Bosch “Flight to Heaven“
1. Liberation from the earthly Attraction
Death means: The soul separates from the body and from the earth. You should view that as a liberation from all the burdens and responsibilities which were imposed on you so far. All this is over now. You are being relieved. You really have done enough. You may now put your hands in the lap and take a rest.
At the threshold of the passage into the Subtle World there occurs a separation of the mental body from the physical. The development of fiery receptivity assists the flight into the Higher Spheres. The separation of the mental body can be clearly realized by the spirit which senses the breaking away from the Earth and aspires into the Higher Spheres; thus takes place a unification of the two Worlds, which liberates the spirit from the physical body. (Fiery World III, 95)
Repellent, and an impediment to the youth are those who consider themselves irreplaceable and try to rule even from the deathbed a life that has long ceased to be theirs.
You must not allow yourself to be held back down here by continuing to be bound to relatives and friends, or to unfinished tasks. You are confronted with new challenges! Those who are left behind must as of now get along without your help.
The liberated spirit always aspires into the higher spheres, but the spirit attached to Earth remains for a long time enchained in the lower strata of the Astral World. The bond between the physical body and the astral is not easily broken by an earthly consciousness. The occurrence of a rupture between the bodies recoils painfully on those spirits which manifest earthly attractions. During the ascent of the spirit, of course, the liberation is realized at the point of breaking away from the Earth. The cosmic law of attraction corresponds to this attachment, which is intensified by the energy of the consciousness. (Fiery World III, 296)
2. Do not get caught in the lower Spheres
You are going to Heaven! You must not get caught in the lower layers around the earth!
The spirit which dwells within the confines of selfhood has no other path but grief. Breaking away then is frightful, and the spirit is for a long time attached to the earthly sphere. (Fiery World III, 68)
On your way up, you must cross as quickly as possible the terrible astral world; as in the opposite case at birth, when you came from above and were striving downwards through those ugly spheres.
Let us imagine a sphere filled with the gases of base desires. Such spheres do engulf spirits which have not as yet been liberated from earthly burdens. The spirit impelled to the Fiery World manifests its own attraction by straining all fiery energies. On the path to the Fiery World, saturation of the consciousness by the Higher World produces its spiral which draws the spirit away into the Higher Spheres. (Fiery World III, 296)
Do not be captured by the many hands that try to thwart your ascent and to drag you down!
It is deplorable to enter the Subtle World in a confused and distracted state. When the consciousness is clear it leads upward just as gas lifts a balloon. No one and nothing can detain in the lower strata a steadfast consciousness which strives toward Good. (AUM 103)
You should not increase the army of abominable lower beings who are stuck in the lower strata near the earth. They are desperately making the inappropriate attempt to continue to participate in material life; they still pursue their unfulfilled desires and harass or torture the incarnated people.
Such interworldly creatures continue to wander about the earth as disembodied ghosts. Not only do they loiter around cemeteries, they also return to their former homes, old workstations, or other favourite places. Sensitive people can feel their presence and even see them.
The astral body, the husk, also moves and may be visible! Highly developed people can sense such corpses, forgotten on Earth. (Br I, 153)
3. Striving to higher Spheres
When you are crossing over, you have to make a firm resolution: I want to detach myself immediately from the earth and fly into the highest possible spheres of the spiritual world.
Upon entering the Subtle World one should firmly bear in mind the resolution to go toward Light and to hasten to self-perfection. (Fiery World I, 660)
Many people pass on into the Subtle World in a wrong state of mind. Some cross over in fear and terror, others in hatred and resentment. Some cling to their earthly attachments, and others believe that when the bodily sheath dies, there is nothing else. Everyone must cross the threshold free, aspiring to perfectment. Everything should proceed naturally, without preconceptions. (Supermundane 636)
May your aspiration to the heights be strong and unerring!
At the threshold into the Subtle World striving plays the decisive role. Striving into the higher spheres gives the spirit the strength to break away from the Earth. (Fiery World III, 298)
Do not look back down to the earth, but only upwards, to your high goal!
The misery and grief of those who are carried away from Earth binds them thereto. The best instance of this is found in the Biblical legend about Lot. For a new life they walked out of the city, and only one condition was imposed upon them—not to look back. But the wife of Lot looked back, and bound herself to Earth.
Religion says: He who goes to his fathers will dwell with them; he who goes to the angels will dwell with them; and he who goes to God will dwell with Him. It means that he who has ordained for himself the utmost progress arrives at the best attainment. Therefore, the best bidding to the one who departs from Earth will be—“Hurry, without looking back.” (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 225)
It is impossible to develop such a strong aspiration to the highest spheres at the very last moment during the transition itself. Your striving will be powerful and purposeful only if it has been the leading idea of your whole life already during the earthly incarnation.
Upon leaving the earthly sphere the spirit is strained in the consciousness by those achievements which were dominant in that life. The life of a man has, as it were, its leitmotifs, and upon these songs, or laments, the spirit is strained. The achievements of the spirit lead upward, and departure from the earthly sphere is always a joy for the spirit which has realized the luminous achievement of Service. Even during physical pains the spirit surmounts all earthly infirmities. In the breaking away from Earth the bond with the Higher Worlds, to which the spirit aspires, is strengthened. The ladder of ascent is built upon the devotion to Hierarchy. (Fiery World III, 68)
Now it transpires how much higher knowledge, what true achievements you have assembled. In particular, the more psychic energy you have accumulated, the faster and the higher you can climb up.
Each one enters that sphere which corresponds to his psychic state. (Supermundane 647)
It is a natural desire to want to know how the transitions into different spheres are accomplished. It is not difficult to understand that purified Agni is the decisive factor. If we gradually fill a balloon with combustible gas, it will begin to rise proportionately. If the balloon cannot retain the gas it will descend. This is a crude example of the principle governing transition into the various spheres of the Subtle World. The subtle entity can ascend by itself if its fiery seed is appropriately filled. Fire—the transmuter—helps to assimilate the new and higher conditions. (Fiery World I, 621)
4. The Goal in View
Nicholas Roerich “Star of the Morning“
In order to quickly cross the terrible lower strata of the Supermundane World and to penetrate into higher, brighter realms, you must first of all have your goal in the Hereafter clearly in view!
You absolutely have to know where exactly you want to go!
You cannot meaningfully walk a path, you will wander around aimlessly and reach no great height, unless you know exactly the destination of your journey.
The completion of the last step should fill the traveller with joy, because he knows Whom he approaches. (Agni Yoga 167)
If you are a spiritual disciple and have a teacher, that goal will of course be the ashram, the abode of your true, spiritual father in the world of the soul.
Nothing can confuse the traveller who already has caught sight of his home. (Fiery World I, 523)
If you have visited your home daily in meditation during your lifetime, the ascent to this height will be a path with which you are already familiar.
Great is the happiness of a man who enters a Subtle World which is already known to him. (Supermundane 391)
5. Accept Help
Hieronymus Bosch “Flight to Heaven“
Prepare mentally to meet one or the other of your soulmates on the threshold.
In the Subtle World even departed dear ones cannot help if they are rejected, for rejection dispels a considerable part of the help offered. Forced help can break the hand! (Supermundane 391)
Don’t be afraid! Look forward to him! Do not push him back when he approaches you! Be open to his help!
Above all, despair and confusion prevent from adapting to the new conditions. But if we remember firmly whither and wherefore we go, we will instantly find many helpers. (Fiery World I, 660)
Of course, you may expect support in ascending, above all, from your teacher, towards whom you are climbing. Do not forget to call him urgently!
His thoughts may become so confused that, not yet adapted to the Subtle World, he will not think to call for the Guide’s help. Does not the same thing happen in earthly life? No one speaks about Guides while in the earthly state, and in the Subtle World this close bond often goes unused. (Supermundane 391)
He will stand by your side and assist you, so that you may swiftly find your way in the new circumstances and quickly reach the height you deserve.
Many hearts which have accepted the power of Service aspire to the Higher Worlds. A ray of help is extended to the devoted disciple. (Fiery World III, 68)
However, it will be difficult for you to receive help if you did not make yourself familiar with the possibility of mental guidance already during your earthly life, if you did not practise listening to the voice of a non-incarnated teacher. In the Subtle World it will be too late to develop this ability! Without it you will not hear the teacher even if he speaks to you there.
It should not be thought that each new dweller in the Subtle World will at once be given a Guide. He must first find within himself the possibility to understand mental guidance, otherwise he cannot achieve an understanding of such help. (Supermundane 837)
6. Significance of the last Hours before Transition
Nicholas Roerich „Warrior“ (Draft for the Opera Prince Igor)
Particularly the last hours before the transition are decisive for the place, the height which you will be able to reach in the World Beyond.
One should be very solicitous about the last hours of the sojourn on Earth. Often the final striving can predetermine the succeeding life, also the strata in which the spirit will dwell. (Fiery World III, 97)
Remember that we create ourselves our devachan [Heaven] as our Avitchi [Hell] while yet on earth, and mostly during the latter days and even moments of our intellectual, sentient lives. That feeling which is the strongest in us at that supreme hour; when, as in a dream, the events of a long life, to their minutest details, are marshalled in the greatest order in a few seconds in our vision (That vision takes place when a person is already proclaimed dead. The brain is the last organ that dies) — that feeling will become the fashioner of our bliss or woe, the life-principle of our future existence. (Mahatma Letter No. 20 c of 25.07.1882))
The last striving just before the transition determines your further path. Therefore, preserve clarity and consciousness as long as possible and aim as high as you can!
Upon the casting away of matter, the final thought is like an arrow. This moment determines the direction of the flight. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 99)
The higher up, the more pleasant the stay; and on the border of the mental plane the spirit can rest. But one must consciously avoid the lower strata. It is necessary that the outbreak of the consciousness propel the kernel of the spirit upward as far as possible. Therefore, the moment of transition is so important, for in it one may dispatch oneself to the higher strata. It is very difficult to rise when one got caught in the lower strata. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 225)
7. Transition with uninterrupted Consciousness
We had already said (Broadcastings "The Secret of Immortality"): To attain immortality means to preserve a continuous uninterrupted consciousness – the consciousness of your true Eternal Individuality – during all the various changes of existence.
When you create a new consciousness at every stay on earth (once Mr. Smith, another time Mrs. Miller), each of which ends upon your leaving this world, you are but mortal. You have achieved immortality only when you manage to remain one and the same once and forever. That means:
Preserve one single individuality!
In all material and non-material worlds, regardless of which part of your eternal journey you are about to travel, and also during the transition from one level to the other.
A yogi can pass into the subtle state while in full consciousness. (Supermundane 896)
Accordingly, you must learn to cross over to the spiritual world without an interruption of your consciousness.
It is the body that dies, not the consciousness!
Especially noteworthy is the transition wherein consciousness is preserved. Then it can be clearly seen how the earthly tatters fall off and the imperishable accumulation emerges, revealing itself to be the true treasure. (AUM 153)
This is a difficult and challenging spiritual exercise. However, it is at the top of the training program of the man of the future: If you want to be an immortal spiritual being, you must be able to consciously visit your homeland and to live there consciously.
Refinement of striving will provide calmness during the transition from one state of existence to another. Thus is achieved the quality of an Arhat, who never interrupts the flow of consciousness and constantly strives toward the future. (Agni Yoga 130)
Prepare yourself for this conscious dying already in the incarnated state: You can try to experience without an interruption of your consciousness, and to live consciously through, the transition to sleep – the brother of death – in the evening, and the awakening from sleep in the morning.
Falling asleep should be a conscious transition into the Higher World. (Supermundane 24)
In the evening, do not think of falling asleep. Rather think of entering in spirit the ashram of your teacher in the Upper World (as in meditation). Report for duty for the night as well! Offer your cooperation to cope with the tasks that need to be done in the Subtle World!
In order not to lose consciousness, the most important thing is to remember and strengthen throughout one’s life the decision to maintain consciousness during the transition. (Supermundane 304)
In the morning, when you wake up, when the world of the soul is still close and memory has not yet faded away, first capture a tail of your last dream and try to remember your work during the night hours.
One should start by continually feeling himself to be living in two worlds. This is not difficult at all because we cross each night into the Subtle World, where, if our subtle body has been sufficiently developed, we can apply our subtle energies with good benefit. When we go to sleep not thinking of rest, but striving to the Hierarchy of Light with a thought of useful labor, we thus direct our energies to active help where it is most needed. Consciously sending oneself into the Subtle World can be increased to such an extent that we begin to remember clearly our many-sided work at night and our visits for the purpose of rendering help to people often quite unknown to us. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 23.04.1938)
8. The Moment of Transition
The moment of transition itself is of a unique nature. It is experienced according to the level of consciousness.
The precise moment of transition into the Subtle World is accompanied by a sensation of dizziness, as during fainting or at the beginning of a fit of epilepsy. The sensations that follow depend entirely upon the preparedness of the consciousness. If the consciousness has been obscured or dimmed, the senses cannot be transformed in the new condition. In this case a kind of oblivion or drowsy roaming about occurs. This state is not a pleasant one. Thus, if Agni has been awakened during life through knowledge or heroic feeling, it will immediately accomplish the great transmutation. Like a veritable torch, it will indicate the way; like radiant helium it will carry one up into the predestined sphere. (Fiery World I, 335)
This instant, depending on the spiritual state of our being, may be a moment of special, highest consciousness.
Death which unseals the eyes does so by relinquishing the blinders which have previously intercepted the light so that the inner senses may be opened. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. II, Lesson “Sealed and unsealed Eyes”)
It can give us a glimpse of bright realization: We procure ourselves a view over our whole life and are finally able to assess its events from the point of view of eternity according to their true meaning.
Wondrously and instantaneously the consciousness of a thinking person is transformed while crossing into the Supermundane World. Some events of the life just passed gain significance, while others lose their importance. The earthly achievements believed to be most important prove to be meaningless, whereas every self-sacrificing deed in service to humanity grows in radiant glory. Those deeds bring joy, while the earthly achievements are transitory, and turn into dust. Man reaches the highest summits through those soaring thoughts to which he may not even have paid attention. Characteristically, he ignores his valuable achievements and drowns himself in the hubbub of the bazaar. This is the essence of the reevaluation of one’s earthly existences. (Supermundane 609)
On the threshold to the spiritual world, our inner senses are sharper than they used to be in the bonds of matter. Already half detached from the body, we are now in a position to perceive more subtle realities than before.
Each man bears a secret within himself. Rarely does the curtain of the past roll back. Only by transcending the boundary of Earth is man enlightened in the realization of a portion of his secret. The memory is suddenly illumined, and the past stands out in all justice. It can be understood why this most subtle treasure cannot be revealed amid crude conditions. (AUM 153)
Section V: After Transition
Finally, you have to provide for the fate of your bodily shell after your departure.
From the spiritual point of view, a cremation is recommended, that is the burning of the mortal remains. Let us not pollute Mother Earth with our leftovers! In addition, the soul can detach from matter more easily and quickly if its physical cover is immediately done away with.
What effect has cremation upon the entity just leaving the physical body? It permits the essence of the astral to escape more easily. It makes it easier to get away; it is not tied to the physical body as long as it must be if gradual disintegration of the atoms is permitted. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. III, Questions and Answers after Lesson “Geometry of the Universe”)
However, one should not proceed with the cremation too fast, that is, it should take place at the earliest after three days. The speed at which the subtle body disengages from the flesh is individually different.
When the will is lazy, the astral body emerges lazily. Some can do everything on time, whereas others are late in everything; yet this is no reason for scorching someone’s heels! In India the discarded shell is often burnt too soon, and that may cause considerable injury to the subtle body. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 06.05.1937)
Helena Roerich describes an ancient worthy ritual of dealing with the corpse:
In Atlantis there existed the following custom: The deceased was not touched, but was thickly sprinkled with oil of eucalyptus and was immediately covered with the sacred shroud and showered with flowers. For three days and three nights fire was kept burning around the body in a closed circle, and immediately following the departure of the astral body, the physical body was burnt. This is a very wisely conceived ritual. This ritual and the sacred shroud were called “Purificatory of Peace.” (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 06.05.1937)
The first 40 days after death are especially important for the ascent in the Subtle World. This knowledge has been preserved by the Orthodox Church. Prayers for the departing soul are particularly welcome and useful during this time. One may send strength and the best wishes for the highest possible ascent. But one must not obstruct the path of the departed by wailing and moaning and trying to tie him down on our side.
For a consciously developed spirit the period of sojourn on the astral plane could be limited to the interval of forty days, but various earthly conditions have prolonged this time to an interminable period. The misery and grief of those who are carried away from Earth bind them thereto. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 225)