RE Is There Life After Death? Recommended Reading
Jun 28, 2006 08:36 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
RE Is There Life After Death?
WHAT IS DEATH ?
This article has been attributed to HPB.
Has anyone a note on the original source of publication ?
WHAT IS DEATH ?
Two things happen in the minds of most men and women who lose a close friend
First, whether or not a person believes in heaven or hell, or has been told
that death is the end of all thought and feeling for the one who has gone,
he finds himself re-asking the question, "Where are the dead?" in such a way
as to show he had not been really impressed by either of the two usual
Second, he sees clearly how the greatest sadness of death comes from
realizing that something of importance was left uncompleted between himself
and the one now separated from him; he desires to believe that there may be
some way in which his knowing or loving the other person may continue toward
a better adjustment or fulfillment.
It is because these two things happen in the mind of a man or woman when he
is faced with the death of a friend, that the theosophical viewpoint becomes
a natural thing to consider seriously.
For Theosophy holds that
(1) there is a continual evolution for every human soul,
(2) that there is no final heaven or hell, and
(3) that all who die return again to earth where they may, according
to natural law, recover lost friends and
(4) proceed to develop further, as well as to deepen the bonds of
understanding only temporarily cut off by the dissolution of the physical
The theosophist feels that it is both sad and unnecessary for the natural
questions about death to be left without any hope of a reasonable answer.
Many who talk of science as the only sort of real knowledge say that there
is no scientific basis for hope that man may live another life on earth. But
the "science" we know today, according to the greatest scientists
themselves, covers only a very small part of the things which need to be
All that a scientist can say is that he has as yet found no way to prove
that the soul lives when the body dies.
The man of religion who says, "There is only one true teaching of what
happens to the soul after death, and man cannot live again on earth," may be
mistaken, for he also offers no evidence against the soul's rebirth.
If men were only their bodies, they could not ever feel, as they do, that,
even though loved ones have gone from their bodies, they must still exist.
It is as much a part of man to feel that the "dead" are not completely
"gone" as is the instinct of love or the desire to understand. In all the
religions of the world, this one natural belief occurs in some form -- the
belief that there is much more to man than the body that we see, and that
the inner person is so much more important than the body that he must
continue to live somewhere after the body dies.
>From this point on, the theosophist -- that is, one who is convinced that
there can be a real science of the inner man, possible for anyone to know --
feels that merely to accept or try to believe any theological notion
promising a future life in heaven will help but little. In the first place,
no one can learn anything either in heaven or hell, as these "places" are
commonly described, and if we think those whom we have loved must always go
to a place where they can no longer expand and grow, the story is just as
sad and hopeless as it would be if we said that nothing lives after the body
The theosophical view is really older than any religion, because it is
natural to man.
It was held as the truest thought by the Hindus and Egyptians and Greeks --
to name but a few in ancient times -- that death is simply a longer sleep
than that we experience every night of our lives, after which the soul wakes
again in a new body.
All through the centuries this idea has been expressed by poets and
Theosophical writers have called this idea of rebirth "reincarnation,"
signifying that the soul, or real man, incarnates again in flesh when the
suitable conditions for a further working out of its destiny are provided by
a new body.
Theosophists say, then, in answer to the question, "Where are the dead?"
that we might consider, there can be no such thing as someone "dead". The
man who loses his body is, simply, according to this view, resting -- and,
The oldest and most complete theories on "after-death states" are those once
held in India, in the days of a wise and great civilization; they are now
set forth in Theosophy.
The general ideas which these old beliefs represent seem to have been
natural to many other peoples who were philosophers instead of believers in
a Personal God.
This is probably because they are extensions of what man can learn about his
own mental states during life.
The old Hindu ideas of "Devachan" - the "land of the Gods" -- meant a state
in which for a time between births each man exists in godlike fashion within
his surviving mind.
On the other hand, "Kama-loka" -- "the plane of Desire" -- represents a
condition of confusion just following the death of the body, when the soul
is separating itself from all the irrational passions and desires active
during the life last lived; that is, wrestling psychologically with various
impediments of the passional nature, finally casting them aside, and then
passing beyond the reach of emotional stress into a dream-like world where
the hopes and aspirations unrealized in life are worked out to a kind of
fulfilment. This period of Kama-loka, like the happier sort of dream-state
[Devachan] which follows, was held to be long or short entirely according to
the nature of a person's altruistic and noble thoughts and emotions during
Anyone who has been severely ill or confined to bed for a long time is in a
good position to understand this idea, for he will probably think of this
period as a sort of "nightmare."
Regrets, disappointments and burning personal ambitions to accomplish things
which his condition mades impossible of fulfilment, at first, tend to engage
all his thoughts; later, a calmness of more constructive thinking may
Men in great suffering are very apt to look first at the very worst of
themselves and their lives, and afterward, toward the very best. And such -
as the Hindus, Egyptians, and some of the Greeks taught - is the case after
the death of the body.
The soul, alone with its memories, struggles first to free itself from those
most disturbing. This would suggest what the origin of the Catholic doctrine
of Purgatory may have been. After such a period, the "Devachan" of the
Oriental philosophy becomes more understandable, since all men live with
many worthwhile and creative desires which they are not able to bring to
completion. Yet there are a very real part of the man, and demand a mental
assimilation when their practical accomplishment on earth is denied.
The notions about heaven and hell, with which the people of "Christian"
nations are more or less familiar, are probably the crude remains of earlier
and more philosophical ideas. If we consider hell and heaven to be states of
mind instead of places, it is easy to see the reason for such ideas.
For each man, in the course of his normal living, enters periodically into
states of great happiness and great unhappiness, and further more, while he
is in them, he is apt to forget everything else. The mind, in other words,
builds its own world. Is it so strange, then, to imagine that after the
death of the body this same process may continue, in an even more intense
degree, since no physical interruptions are possible?
Those who have "died" may logically be thought of as still existing, in one
of these two states. Each state will last just as long as the nature of the
person demands. Those who tired easily from psychological strain during life
might require a long period of mental readjustment, while those who seemed
to have the energy at all times to enter vigorously into even the most
difficult experiences might be ready to be born again on earth in a much
The great philosopher Plato wrote an allegory in the last book of his
Republic about souls making themselves ready to come back to earth again.
Each one, he said, had a choice as to when and where to be born, but that
choice must always be in accord with the soul's capacities and needs. So it
is really a matter of being drawn naturally to the environment best suited
to the soul, as provided by parents, family, and nation.
It would, however, be a mistake to think that one who held reincarnation to
be true would therefore judge men by their environments - a pleasant
environment meaning that they were "good souls," and an unpleasant one
meaning that they were "bad souls."
The greatest of men often take upon themselves the most difficult and
apparently unrewarding tasks for reasons which they themselves must
understand much more clearly than can those around them. So it might be for
souls who are resting between births: some souls might be drawn to a very
difficult family situation and take up such a burden, knowingly.
If there is a soul in man, assuredly it does not think in terms of physical
wealth or personal ambition, nor care about what the short-sighted part of
man's nature calls success or failure.
Some people have felt that they could not consider seriously the possibility
of reincarnation because they do not remember their past lives. Yet what of
the victims of amnesia, who carry with them the results of many things done
by them in a past which they cannot remember?
If men are reborn, it would, as a matter of fact, be impossible to expect an
entirely new body to retain and give expression to the details recorded by a
different physical brain hundreds of years ago. The idea suggested by
reincarnation is that the soul, not the brain, continues to live.
And what is a "soul"? If the word has any meaning at all, it must stand for
those unique qualities of character which distinguish us, far more than any
physical differences, from our fellow human beings.
And our most important qualities do not depend upon the memory of the brain.
Our most important qualities are our attitudes of mind, formed through
experience provided by brain, yet retained as moral instincts rather than as
A man's particular set of memories may be almost indistinguishable from
those of others, yet his basic attitude toward life, and the use which he
makes of the same experiences, differ greatly. Each person is a distinct
individual, even in the case of identical twins.
This simple fact, so clear in all human experience that it is folly to deny
it, will also explain why we are often so certain that the one who dies is
not dead - why should the most important thing about a person - his
individuality - be assumed to be lost?
And if the essential character of a person is not thought to be lost - if
some kind of immortality seems sure - what kind of life after death may our
reason accept? Strong arguments for the logic of reincarnation are furnished
by observed laws of nature.
Everything in the natural world develops through those rhythms of recurrence
which we call the cycles of the seasons; each new year brings a new phase of
life and growth to the plant or tree. Every year is "the same," in that it
is but a repetition of certain opportunities for growth which existed
before, yet no plant or tree is the same in stature as it was before the
season began. The appearance of death which comes with the winter does not
keep the hidden life within the tree from reaching the next spring.
So it also appears to be with the mental growth of man. From day to day he
is brought back to the same general conditions of life, yet he may grow in
inner stature with each new repetition of opportunity. All learning is
cyclical. Often we fail to grasp the full significance of an experience
until we have passed through it many times.
The Eastern doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation answer to a common human
feeling - that what we fail to learn in the first attempt may somewhere and
sometime be grasped more firmly by the mind and correctly understood. This
thought of many lives or cycles of growth for each man gives the widest
horizon to human potentialities, and because of this very fact is the most
natural to imagine.
Those who hold the idea of reincarnation in their minds see that it brings
them calm, and that the idea is sensible. Death is neither to be feared nor
envied. The "dead" are neither greater nor less than those of us who are now
alive. The dead will live again and we shall die again always the same real
persons which we make ourselves, yet always expressing different parts of
our natures in different states and conditions of consciousness.
It is moreover possible to think that we may be reunited with those we have
loved, when there is a strong enough reason for this occurring; and that we
may be born in the sort of environment which will help us to find each other
again in another life. In the meantime, it may be that occasionally we shall
experience a different form of "contact" with one who has "died." If our own
thoughts and feelings are able to reach to the same state in which the other
mind exists, there may be a strong feeling of communion, translated by us
into an extremely happy and vivid dream.
All claims made by mediums and seance-sitters that they can "make contact"
are somehow unconvincing, since none of these purported communications ever
seems to give the feeling of the living presence of the one who has died, as
do vivid dreams.
The medium may stumble upon the atmosphere of confused impressions left by
the soul in its early after-death struggle to reach beyond the "drag" of the
physical world, but no spiritualistic communication is, or ever has been,
inspiring or creative. Whatever the medium contacts, it is not the man or
woman or child we knew or cared about, any more than is the body which has
been buried or cremated.
The real contact between any two friends, living or "dead," is the contact
of mutual understanding and love, and the inspiration of worth-while things
undertaken in common. Why is it not possible for such relationships to pass
untroubled through death, and back to life again? Such is, perhaps, the
wisest teaching of all the ages, because it is at once the most natural and
the most hopeful.
The following lines, written by the Teacher of Theosophy of the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries, pass on the inspiration of a wider and more
intimate view of death than any mere words of solace can afford. It is the
view which, although here taken from the pages of The Key to Theosophy, has
been taught in part or whole by countless sages, seers and spiritual
reformers, and which any man can make his own.
"There is hardly a human being whose Ego does not hold free intercourse,
during the sleep of his body, with those whom it loved and lost, yet, on
account of the positiveness and non-receptivity of its physical envelope and
brain, no recollection, or a very dim, dream-like remembrance, lingers in
the memory of the person once awake. .
We are with those whom we have lost in material form, and far, far nearer to
them now, than when they were alive. And it is not only in the fancy of the
Devachanee, as some may imagine, but in reality. For pure divine love is not
merely the blossom of a human heart, but has its roots in eternity.
Spiritual holy love is immortal, and Karma brings sooner or later all those
who loved each other with such a spiritual affection to incarnate once more
in the same family group.
Again we say that love beyond the grave, illusion though you may call it,
has a magic and divine potency which reacts on the living.
A mother's Ego filled with love for the imaginary children it sees near
itself, living a life of happiness, as real to it as when on earth - that
love will always be felt by the children in flesh. It will manifest in their
dreams, and often in various events - in providential protections and
escapes, for love is a strong shield, and is not limited by space or time.
[ H. P. BLAVATSKY ]
[ Attributed to HPB (?) Sources ? ]
Thoughts on DEATH and REINCARNATION
"...a resuscitation, after the soul and spirit have entirely
separated from the body and the last electric thread is severed, is
impossible." ISIS I 481
[ A person can be revived ] "...whose astral 'vital
body' has not been irreparably separated from the physical
body by the severance of the magnetic or odic cord." S D I
THE FORCE OF TANHA -- THE THIRST FOR LIFE
"Struggle for Life" - everywhere, a pretended law
- Theosophy will assign it its proper place
"Self-preservation" - a slow suicide and mutual homicide
- applies only to the physical Self preservation
- reinvolution into the animal
impossible [WQJ I 105, 110-11 ] HPB ART I
[ In this article the subject that is most emphasized is "the
Struggle for Life." It has, contrary to generally accepted views in our
times, received from the Great Master a special consideration. He [the
Master] has recommended "a practical con-tempt for this earthly life." He
observes that the attempt to keep life in a body, even when it is plainly an
increasing pain and burden, is not desirable.]
[ He (the Master) adds:
"Teach the people to see that life on this earth, even the
happiest is but a burden and an illusion, that it is but our own Karma, the
cause producing the effect, that is our own judge, our savior in future
lives--and the great strug-gle for life will soon lose its intensity..."
THEOS. ARTICLES & NOTES, pp. 191-2.
[ Is it because we still fear the pause we call death, and the
"loss" for a long time of our loved ones ? We don't fear sleep, even though
there is no surety that we will awake from that unconsciousness.]
[ Tanha the "thirst for life" [ GLOS 319 ] seems to explain
that it is a "clinging to life" that causes reincarnation. Why should this
be so exaggerated at this cycle ? ]
HPB indicates that the second force that propels evolution is
"the lower astral body or the personal Self." Secret
Doctrine, II, 110
She adds, lower,
"...unless the higher Self or Ego gravitates towards its
Sun--the Monad--the lower Ego, or personal Self, will have the upper hand in
every case. For it is this Ego, with its fierce selfishness and animal
desire to live a Senseless life (Tanha), which is the "maker of the
tabernacle," as Buddha calls it in Dhammapada..." SD II 110
[There must be an appropriate place and entity through which
this force that loves life works. In man, is this an error ? Or is it that
the force of the desire at this stage is wrongly di-rected ? Could we be
interfering with the progress of Karma by prolonging our life and using the
advances of medical science to do this ? ]
[Should we be content to surmise that the evolutionary guidance
that the thinking man gives to the "little lives" may be spread over many
bodies, and need not be concentrated in this one. Is this a case of
misplaced "love ?" Has this emphasis been wrongly placed, or distorted ? ]
"...This desire for a sentient life shows itself in everything,
from an atom to a sun, and is a reflection of the Divine Thought propelled
into objective existence, into a law that the Universe should exist...."
SD I 44
[ See S D II 176, 578 ]
"...They [Nidanas] belong to the theory of the stream of
catenated law which produces merit and demerit, and fi-nally brings Karma
into full sway. It is based on the great truth. that re-incarnation is to
be dreaded, as existence in this world only entails upon man, suffering,
misery and pain; Death itself being unable to deliver man from it, since
death is merely the door through which he passes to another life on earth
after a little rest on its threshold--Devachan." SD I 39
[ But this does not fully allay the fears and doubts that our
personality, with its present education and the set of values has instilled
in it since childhood in this civilization.]
LAST THOUGHTS AT TIME OF DEATH: Kama-Loka, Devachan
"The last series of powerful and deeply imprinted thoughts are
those which give color and trend to the whole life in devachan." Are the
last thoughts meant here to be those occurring immediately before the
physical death or those of the "review." The Ocean of Theosophy, p. 113
"The body of the inner man is made up of thought" (p. 59).
[On Ocean p. 54, Mr. Judge distinguishes between the thinking
process of the lower and the higher Manas. Later he observes that thought
and desire (kama) are interlinked
"The breath leaves the body and we say the man is dead, but that
is only the beginning of death; it proceeds on other planes. When the
frame is cold and eyes closed, all the forces of the body and mind rush
through the brain, and by a series of pictures the whole life just ended is
im-printed indelibly on the inner man not only in a general outline but down
to the smallest detail of even the most minute and fleeting impression...the
real man is busy in the brain, and not until his work there is ended is the
person gone...the remaining five principles are in the plane of kama loka."
OCEAN p. 99
[One may thus distinguish between those thoughts over which we
have control, while body and brain are being used, with our conscious
attention, and those which follow naturally as a result of the process which
follows immediately upon the death of the body, and which is called the
"review" as just described.] Ex-plaining the state of kama loka, Mr. Judge
"Kama-loka...is the astral region penetrating and sur-rounding
the earth...the ruling force is desire devoid of and divorced from
intelligence...it partakes of the nature of the astral matter which is
essentially earthly and devil-ish... (Ocean, p.
"Struggling out of the body the entire man goes into kama-loka,
to purgatory, where he again struggles and loosens himself from the lower
skandhas; this period of birth over, the higher principles.
Atma-Buddhi-Manas, begin to think in a manner entirely different from that
which the body and brain permitted in life.
(Ocean p. 109)"
"...the Ego being minus mortal body and kama, clothes itself in
devachan with a vesture...Everything is as real to the being as this world
seems to be to us. It simply now has gotten the opportunity to make its own
world for itself unhampered...Its state may be compared to that of the poet
or artist who, rapt in ecstasy of composition or arrangement of color, cares
not for and knows not of either time or ob-jects of the world." Ocean,
[ Ocean, Page 111, Judge then describes the difference bet-ween
objective and subjective thinking, explaining how it is pos-sible for the
life in devachan to be a sublimation of the experi-ences and impressions of
the physical life last lived.]
[The pathway to rebirth is described (p. 113) as the force of
tanha, the "thirst for life." Lodged in those psychic impuls-es that were
made innate to the skandhas (life-atoms) we have used, these begin to draw
the Ego back to rebirth through the power of unexpended psychic energies
left unresolved on the phys-ical plane from the last life and lives.]
"The whole period allotted by the soul's forces being ended in
devachan, the magnetic threads which bind it to earth begin to assert their
power. The Self wakes from the dream, it is borne swiftly off to a new
body, and then, just before birth, it sees for a moment all the causes that
led it to devachan and back to the life it is about to begin, and knowing
all to be just, to be the result of its own past life, it repines not but
takes up the cross again--and another soul has come back to earth"
Ocean, p. 116
[ We might recall the observations made by friends at the time
of HPB's "death." They reported that she was in the habit of tapping her
foot while thinking deeply, and although seemingly comatose, this tapping
continued until the moment when the body was surrendered by her to death.
HPB, as an Adept, controlled her body and brain up to that final moment. We
could conclude that her last thoughts in the living brain were of a
different order from those of an average person, who might die when under
the immediate sway of some great emotion.] See "In Memoriam"
"The victim of accidental death, whether good or bad, is
irresponsible for his death even if his death were due to some action of his
in a previous life or antecedent birth, was, in short, the working of the
law of retribution, still it was not the direct result of an act
deliberately committed by the person-al Ego of that life during which he
happened to be killed. Had he been allowed to live linger, he might have
atoned for his an-tecedent still more effectually; and even now, the Ego
having been made to pay off the debt of his maker (the personal Ego), is
free from the blows of retributive justice. The Dhyan Chohans, who have no
hand in the guidance of the living human Ego, protect the hapless victim
when it is violently thrust out of its element into a new one before it is
matured and made fit and ready for that new place. We tell you what we
know, for we are made to learn it through personal experience. Yes, the
victims, whether good or bad, sleep to the hour of the last judgment, which
is that hour of the supreme struggle between the 6th and the 7th, and the
5th and the 4th "principles" at the threshold of the ges-tation state. And
even after that, when the 6th and 7th princi-ples, carrying with them a
portion of the 5th have gone into their Akasic Samadhi, even then it may
happen that the "spiritual spoil" from the 5th "principle" will prove too
weak to be reborn in Devachan; in which case it will then reclothe itself
in a new body--the subjective "Being" created from the Karma of the victim
(or no victim, as the case may be), and enter upon a new
earth-existence--whether that be upon this or some other planet. [globe or
plane]" Mahatma KH
M. LETTERS to APS pp. 131-3, Theos Art. & Notes. p. 239-40
"...the suicides and those killed by accident. Both kinds can
communicate, and both have to pay dearly for such visits....They are an
exception to the rule, as they have to re-main within the earth's attraction
and in its atmosphere--the Kama-loka--till the very last moment of what
would have been the natural duration of their lives...it is a sin and
cruelty to re-vive their memory and intensify their suffering by giving them
a chance of living an artificial life, a chance to overload their karma, by
tempting them into open doors, viz., mediums and sensi-tives, for they will
have to pay roundly for every such pleasure...The Suicides, who, foolishly
hoping to escape life, find themselves still alive, have suffering enough in
store for them from that very life. Their punishment is in the intensity of
the latter. Having lost by their rash act their 6th and 7th principles,
though not forever, as they can regain both, instead of accepting their
punishment and taking their chances of redemp-tion, they are often made to
regret life and tempted to regain a hold upon it by sinful means. In the
Kama-loka, the land of intense desires, they can gratify their earthly
yearnings only through a living proxy; and by so doing, at the expiration
of the natural term, they generally lose their monad forever. As to the
victims of accident, these fare still worse. Unless they were so good and
pure as to be drawn immediately with the Akasic Samadhi, i.e., to fall into
a state of quiet slumber, a sleep full of rosy dreams, during which they
have no recollection of the accident, but move and live among their familiar
friends and scenes until their natural life-term is finished, when they find
themselves born in the Devachan, a gloomy fate is theirs. Unhap-py shades,
if sinful and sensual they wander about (not shells, for their connection
with their two higher principles is not qu-ite broken) until their
death-hour comes. Cut off in the full flush of earthly passions which bind
them to familiar scenes, they are enticed by the opportunities which mediums
afford, to gratify them vicariously. They are the Pisachas, the Incubi and
Succubi of medieval times; the demons of thirst, gluttony, lust, and
avarice; Elementaries of intensified craft, wickedness and cruelty;
provoking their victims to horrid crimes, and reveling in their commission !
They not only ruin their victims, but these psychic vampires, borne along by
the torrent of their hell-ish impulses, at last--at the fixed close of their
natural period of life--they are carried out of the earth's aura into
regions where for ages they endure exquisite suffering and end with en-tire
destruction." [ ML 108-9 ] Theos. Art. & Notes, 236-7
"The rule is that a person who dies a natural death will remain
from a few hours to several short years" within the earth's attraction.
i.e., the Kama-loka. But the exceptions are the cases of suicides and those
who die a violent death in general. Hence one of such Egos who was destined
to live--say 80 or 90 years, but who either killed himself or was killed by
some accid-ent, let us suppose at the age of 20, would have to pass in the
Kama-loka not a few years, but in his case, 60 or 70 years as an Elementary
or rather an "earth-walker," since he is not, unfor-tunately for him, even a
"Shell." Theos Art. & Notes, p. 237-8
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Subject: Is There Life After Death?
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