AGNI YOGA WEB TV
„INTRODUCTION TO AGNI YOGA“
Death and Rebirth
Ladies and gentlemen,
I welcome you to Broadcasting 8 of our Series "Introduction to Agni Yoga".
Today we shall be dealing with another existential problem of human existence: What happens to us after the death of the body? If you want to live properly, you must have a satisfactory idea of what awaits you after death. When your soul is eternal, then there is more which is important than just this one single earthly life.
You do not take the immortality of your soul really seriously - otherwise you would never be satisfied with the childish, obviously inadequate explanations about the afterlife that today's Western thinking has to offer.
1. No End, no Standstill
We had already noted in the Broadcasting about the law of evolution: There is no end to the universe and not standstill, but only unlimited development.
Once you become truly aware of the eternity of your spiritual being, you cannot believe any longer that you should rest and sleep after the death of your body, to be woken up only eons later at Doomsday.
Still less will you think it possible that after the Final Judgment, there will be an eternal, unchanging state which you will spend either in heaven or in hell.
Your soul cannot die. According to its fiery nature, it cannot rest for an eternity either. It can only work tirelessly in all material and non-material worlds.
The striving of the immortal soul to perfection cannot end abruptly with the change of existence. An eternal standstill is completely unthinkable and intolerable - even in heaven: Only motion is life, standstill is death.
Let us listen to the beautiful words of Goethe:
For me, the conviction of our continuation arises from the concept of activity. Because if I work tirelessly until my end, nature is obliged to allocate to me a different form of existence, if the current one is unable to endure my spirit any further. (Goethe to Eckermann, February 4, 1829)
If Western man wishes to advance in knowledge, to overcome outdated ways of thinking and to step up to a higher level, he must make himself familiar with the law of reincarnation. On the way towards a world religion common to all men, this Eastern concept is certainly superior to today's Christian teaching.
This law states: Your soul, after the death of the body, goes over to the Higher World. After a certain period of time, you will return to earth in order to be born again as a human being - not as an animal!
"Transmigration of souls" is an appropriate term: Your true nature is on an eternal pilgrim‘s journey. You enter various planes of existence and use there temporarily appropriate covers (bodies), through which you can act, but which you cast off upon leaving the sphere.
It is of the utmost importance that you learn to comprehend your eternal path as one single life that only takes place in different material and non-material worlds. You should imagine your infinite existence as shown here:
Your soul comes from the Higher World. It descends at birth down to earth, to lead down here, in a perishable body, a brief mortal existence as Mrs. Miller or Mr. Baker. After the death of the body, the soul returns up again to your true homeland, to continue to live there. After some time it goes down again to a new life on earth, this time as Mrs. Brown or Mr. Smith. So it goes on forever.
Here we can see again what we have already discussed in our Series "Experiment Immortality": You are not Mrs. Miller or Mr. Baker: These are temporary, limited identities, which will cease to exist already in some 50 or 80 years’ time. You are your spiritual being, the soul, that lives eternally in many different spheres.
We have already discussed in the Series "Experiment Immortality", and will later describe in more detail, how you can train, let grow and strengthen your eternal individuality.
Incidentally, on the drawing above, the lifelines at the top are not without reason drawn longer than the ones at the bottom: You spend much more time in the spiritual world than on earth. From this, too, you can see that above there is your true home, and not down here.
3. Accumulations are preserved
We had already seen (Series "Experiment Immortality", Broadcasting 1 "The Treasure"): Without the recognition of your eternal existence, your life is senseless - absurd, as the modern philosophers have found out.
The striving towards beauty and perfection that you feel with such a force and certainty within yourself, would be meaningless and futile if only one single earthly life would be available to you: This short period of time is not enough to come even near to unfold the gigantic potential that lies within you.
Furthermore: Why you should make any efforts at all to clean and to refine yourself, if all that which you achieve will be completely destroyed upon death? Unfortunately, this inappropriate view of the cosmic order induces many not even to try to come closer to perfection.
On the other hand, the law of rebirth opens immense possibilities for you: None of your efforts will ever be in vain: Their essence is not lost with death but enriches your eternal seed of the spirit. The achievements, the good and bad qualities that you accumulate by the experiences of many lives, are preserved as accumulations of the soul and continue to accompany you on your infinite path.
Each new life offers to the soul new opportunities to grow: to gain experiences and to perfect itself further. That is, to improve its accumulations – but also to deteriorate or to lose them completely.
There are no inherited qualities, but only those already developed in earlier lives.
You should not seek achievements such as the liberation from bad habits just for one lifetime, but for eternity.
4. Accumulations as true Wealth
The individuality, the unique character of every man is formed by his eternal spiritual seed – the monad – meeting with the changing material conditions, by the experiences that the ego makes in all worlds.
It consists of those positive and negative accumulations that adhere to the seed of the spirit. These are our true wealth. It is much more important to care about these accumulations than about things that we shall lose anyway, at the latest upon death.
These are the treasures, the eternal spiritual goods that should we collect, according to the words of Jesus, instead of earthly riches:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6, 19, 20)
Or let us hear again Goethe:
What you have acquired deep in your heart, you cannot lose by death.
The level of achievement reached in previous incarnations determines our current possibilities.
It is the very purpose of the many incarnations to enable you to prove yourself under various circumstances, to get rid of outdated habits and to acquire new, until now still missing qualities.
5. Perfection only on Earth
Three considerations should convince even the most sceptical Westerner of the truth of the concept of reincarnation:
The first is: If your soul of the immortal, your eternal individuality, apart from temporary periods of rest, continues to go on living and acting in infinity - does it not suggest itself to assume that this will happen, in the foreseeable future, on the planet to which you are bound for the time being – namely on earth? Later, there may be higher worlds opening up to you - but for now you have still so much to learn down here that even you yourself could not imagine any other place that would be better suited for your further advancement.
People in their present condition are by no means outgrown of the earthly circumstances and therefore not yet ready for "heaven" or other higher worlds. Therefore, it would simply not be reasonable to move you now to another, higher level of existence. You would not find your way there and would not feel comfortable either. It is entirely in accordance with the law of goalfitness that you have to return to the earth as long as you have to learn something down here.
6. Memories of past Lives
The second proof of reincarnation are memories of past lives on earth, which many people have, for example, under hypnosis.
Some remember - as is being scientifically researched - foreign languages which they never heard in their present lifetime.
One or the other of you may have already noticed once or twice that you met again a related spirit, an "old friend" from a previous life. So Goethe says to Charlotte von Stein:
Oh, you were in bygone times
my sister or my wife. (Poem "Why did you give us the deep glances")
Especially children have memories of past lives. In their first seven years, they are still very close to the world beyond. So the memory of the past, of past lives before birth, is not yet blocked. Does not a child's mouth make known the truth when he says: "In those days, when I was a grown-up"?
7. Diversity of Human Beings due to Accumulations
Finally, only the accumulated experiences from past lives can explain why people are so different as from birth. It is quite obvious that the children bring with them from the past something of their own to the earth that cannot be explained by the circumstances of their actual life.
What a relief will it be for vexed parents when they realize that they are not responsible for that what their child brings with him! The child is already formed to such an extent as a personality of its own, as would never be possible in the few years of his present earthly life.
Smallest children of gentle parents can be true little devils - or a genius like Mozart, who composed his first symphony at the age of eight!
Let us listen to a small part of this sounding proof of reincarnation:
Wolfgang AmadeusMozart (1756-1791), Symphony No. 1 in E flat major,
2nd Movement (Andante), composed 1764
The wisdom that speaks from these sounds can be explained neither with the musical education by his father, nor with other circumstances of the young boy’s life. Here you sense the spirit of a great master, a perfection exhibited already in childhood, which can be achieved in no other way than by striving hard for many lifetimes.
Do not believe the old wives' tale that the heavenly powers pour out of a horn of plenty indiscriminately and arbitrarily talents of all kinds, regardless of the inner justification, over the worthy and the unworthy! This is a poor idea!
Instead, Agni Yoga says: Everything is labour and experience. (AY 225).
One can explain the level of development of people standing higher than others only by the fact that they have advanced further than the others through their own efforts in previous lives. For each of us it is possible to rise during many lives step by step.
Begin to analyse yourself. Then you can certainly find out if you were already active, in earlier incarnations, spiritually or intellectually, in a leading position, as a craftsman or an artist - that is, if you have already developed the respective qualities or not.
Or do you feel an affinity to certain places, certain countries, certain personalities or certain times? Then you were probably once in a previous earthly life in physical contact with them.
8. Bible and Rebirth
In the New Testament, we find a clear reference to the reincarnation of the soul in the words of Jesus about Elias and John the Baptist:
The disciples ask about the prophecy of Malachi (Malachi 3, 1, 23, 24): Will not the Lord send His messenger, the prophet Elias, before He comes to earth (Matthew 17, 10)? Then Jesus:
Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. (Matthew 17, 11, 12)
Then the disciples understood that he meant John the Baptist (Matthew 17, 13). John the Baptist is thus Elias reappearing on earth:
And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. (Matthew 11, 10, 14)
Already the angel announced about John:
He shall go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias. (Luke 1, 17).
John is also externally represented as Elias’s similar (Matthew 3, 4; 2. Kings 1, 8).
The Bible thus clearly describes that the spirit of Elias continues to live and act as John the Baptist.
9. Early Christianity and Rebirth
The early Christianity has widely affirmed rebirth, especially the great teacher Origen and the Gnostics. This doctrine was condemned as heresy only as late as the year 553 in connection with the Second Council of Constantinople.
Not only theological, but also secular considerations have played a role thereby: The Council itself does not express an opinion on the rebirth doctrine. This was discarded in an edict of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian, of which it is unclear to what extent it has ever found the consent of the Church and the Pope. The fact remains that Justinian threatened and physically mistreated the then Pope Vigilius so long until he yielded to his will.
It is not to be overlooked that the position of the Church as a mediator of the divine grace cannot be maintained, when man can approach perfection for himself by his own efforts over many lives.
10. Plato and Rebirth
The argument that the doctrine of reincarnation, as an Eastern concept, is foreign to Western thinking, is nonsensical: When the Western world view was founded by Pythagoras and Plato, rebirth was quite naturally included. Only the Church has later removed it from there.
Plato's dialogue "Phaedon" is entirely dedicated to the life of the immortal soul before birth and after death. The Christian has no choice but to follow Plato's thought: If the soul is immortal, it must already have existed before we were born.
At the end of the dialogue "The Republic", Plato talks about someone who was already dead, but then returned from the afterlife and reported what he saw there: The reward for the good and the atonement of evil deeds in the Upper World; the eternal law that assigns to everyone what is due to him; and the souls who after a certain time select for themselves a new life on earth.
Socrates ends with the words: He who follows this teaching, will
preserve his soul spotless. If we, as I teach it, believe in the immortality of the soul and its strength to survive all the evil and all the good that it encounters, then we shall forever hold on to the way upwards and devote all our striving to justice and virtue. So we shall be our own and the Gods’ friends. (Book 10, XVI)
To this age-old wisdom we need to return.
11. Transition as Change of Existence
The attitude towards death reveals the level of the spiritual culture of the time. It is shameful how many people who call themselves Christians are filled with fear of death. Therewith, they prove their materialism and lack of higher knowledge. The traditional religious doctrine offers them no comfort and no help. The mistaken belief that with death, the existence of a man comes to an end, pushes people into a terrible abyss with no way out. It destroys exactly their highest possibilities: namely evolution in infinity.
The purpose of the death of the body is to allow the soul to cast off old, survived forms and to create new, better ones.
The so-called death is only a transition to another state of being, a passage from one level of existence to another. As Agni Yoga says:
Crossing into the Supermundane World is as easy as entering the next room. (Supermundane 894)
Or yet another apt quotation:
Death is no more than the shearing of the hair, whereby also matter is cast off. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 100 [Part 2 II. 4.])
The soul returns to the realm of the spirit, to its true homeland. For the spirit it is almost a relief to be freed from the prison of the body.
You continue with your work in the afterlife. You will meet again your "soul mates", those persons with whom you are really spiritually related.
12. Transition in Confidence
Filled with this knowledge, you can cast aside fear and go over calmly and confidently, even joyfully.
Now you understand how Bach could sing: "Come, sweet death" or "I am longing for my death"; from where he took the strength and the confidence to decorate these lines with so wonderful melodies that they finally put us to rest as the lullabies of our childhood days.
The same wisdom speaks from Mozart's wonderful words to his father:
As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such a close relationship with this best and truest friend of mankind that death's image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling; and I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness. I never lie down at night without reflecting that —- young as I am — I may not live to see another day. Yet no one of all my acquaintances could say that in company I am morose or disgruntled. And for this blissful happiness, I thank my Creator every day and wish it from all my heart to any one of my fellow human beings. (Letter of 04.04.1787)
13. Transition in Dignity
As well as to lead a dignified life, we should strive to die with dignity. As Seneca rightly says:
That man will live ill who does not know how to die well. (On Tranquillity of Mind XI, 4)
The hours of transition to the spiritual world are critical to the place that you will be taking in the afterlife. Therefore, you must already prepare timely and thoroughly while here on earth for the transition and your future life. It would be a serious mistake to begin with this effort only at the last moment - then it will be too late to acquire the skills you will need urgently in the new, so different conditions above.
The transition to the higher world is an important step of your infinite life path. You must make an effort to arrange it in a worthy, solemn and joyful way. The consciousness of immortality will produce with time a culture of dying quite different from the existing sad and depressing one.
But also those left behind have to learn to behave adequately towards the departing. Often, they are the ones who disturb the concentration on a worthy transition, basically out of selfishness, by whining and trying to retain the departing one.
Tolstoy - one of the greatest spirits of all times - run away from his family and died in a miserable railway station in the wilderness. Do not let it get that far! Prepare yourselves in time!
14. No life-prolonging Measures
The conventional medical interventions to prolong life or to call back to life nearly dead patients, are senseless and harmful because they violate the dignity of the transition.
They are evidence of ignorance of the higher nature of man: What sense should it make in the face of infinity, to artificially prolong the stay of the wanderer on earth that comes to its natural close – by a period of time which in any case is completely insignificant in view of his eternal path?
It is obviously absurd to violate the higher self of a man in order to postpone the disintegration of his lower nature a tiny little bit longer. Why does one retain an immortal soul, for which the time has come to return home, down here by force?
15. Striving to the highest Spheres
If you go over, you must endeavour to reach the highest possible spheres. The moment of transition is crucial to the height that you will reach.
If you have your goal in the other world firmly in mind – for example the home of your true, spiritual father – and if you strive there with all your might, then you will be able to cross the terrible lower strata of the non-material world quickly, and then you can penetrate upwards into higher, brighter realms.
He, however, who goes over unprepared and without a clear idea what to expect on the other side and how to behave there, he will be caught in the lower spheres and wander about aimlessly there for a long time.
The feelings and thoughts that you harbour in the last moments of your life on earth decisively determine the direction in which your further journey goes: downwards or upwards.
16. Moment of Transition
Agni Yoga teaches: You are mortal when you form on each level of existence a new, limited consciousness which ends when you leave this world(Mr. Brown in this incarnation, Mrs. Miller in the next incarnation),.
You are immortal, when you manage to maintain one and the same consistent consciousness (namely the consciousness of your true eternal individuality) throughout all the various changes of existence; when you are always one and the same personality in every material and non-material world which you are visiting on your eternal path.
Accordingly, it is possible to go over to the spiritual world consciously, without a break, in full awareness. You can practice this by trying to experience consciously, without interruption of awareness, the transition into sleep – the brother of death - and the waking up. We shall deal with this later in more detail.
It is rightly said: "Death opens the eyes." The transition into the Higher World is a moment of particular, high awareness. You will be granted a brief glance of bright knowledge that illuminates your whole life in a flash. You then can perceive all of your life’s events from the perspective of eternity in their true meaning.