We have seen that there are two routes in the spiritual path – one where we reincarnate [Reincarnation] on successive cycles and the other where we try to achieve in life what happens during death.
Whereas the spiritual path leads the traveller on life’s journey to go through the process he might experience on death during his lifetime, the ‘normal’ traveller travels through ‘night’ in a disembodied state and emerges at dawn ready to be born in a new incarnation – a new form.
In practise, what happens after you have died and are waiting to be reincarnated cannot be exactly the same as the steps on the spiritual path for obvious practical reasons – in one case you have physical existence, in another you don’t, and the steps during the death cycle are shown below. In this I will use some of the terminology used by W B Yeats and his wife's 'Instructors' . Note that the names have numerous synonyms in various cultures, it is better to think of them as useful tags rather than hard and fast names.
As the soul is disembodied, no ‘work’ can be done – no task can be undertaken – tasks are only possible in the 'bodied' state, thus the stages in death will be different from those on the spiritual path if only for this reason.
In the following sections I will describe what people have determined happens after death. The way they did this is to use near death experiences, what happens on the spiritual path and advice from ‘guides’ and ‘teachers’ during spiritual experience. What follows is simply me pulling all this together in one composite picture – a synthesis. I think it is worth sounding a cautionary not, however, and I will use a wonderful quote to do so……..
“Near death sensations may not predict what you feel when you actually die, any more than foreplay adequately mimics the rush of orgasm” [from Out of body experiences - David Black]
which rather implies it might be better than this!
Immediately after death
As we are dying we may see visions of all those we loved in life, and then we die. Where do we go after death? Physically nowhere, but immediately after death, the soul lingers at the mirror level – just above the physical level. Some souls get stuck here if the death has been traumatic, but they are helped to ‘move on’. Then the soul starts the journey.
In terms of the vibrational levels and layers we finish up at the level and layer we managed to attain during life. Thus over many reincarnations we might climb and climb and climb higher and higher up the vibrational levels. See the Map of the Universe. [Of course we may sink too, but lets be positive about this].Within this level, there may be further segmentation in the matrix , so that we are ‘grouped’ with like Higher spirits. Thus all the myths concerning ‘paradise islands’ and ‘homelands’ have some basis in the actuality of the way the levels and layers are organised. Assuming that you have all reached the same ‘level’ you may well be joined with the Higher spirits of your ancestors and loved ones.
There is thus in some senses a ‘journey’ of sorts involved in death to get to our location in the matrix. In ancient times, it was believed that a psychopomp was needed to escort the Higher spirits and help them find their way. Most near death experiences, however, tend to indicate that the Higher spirit is escorted by those already in the spiritual realm.
This is why many people who have near death experiences see tunnels and the tunnels are of varying sorts. It depends on where they are destined as to the sorts of tunnels they see.
Many of the additional functions needed for the physical are gradually stripped away from us during this time – language [which is not needed], and the specific functions of reasoning and intellect needed on earth. Memory goes, and as memory goes so does learnt function. In death, much of the function we acquire in life is wholly unnecessary and is not carried over. We will no longer know how to read, write, talk, negotiate, barter, use money or bake cakes or drink beer or wine or water, we will not know how to laugh, or smile, or dance, or sing, or walk, or eat.
Perceptions and perceiving don’t go. Perception from now on is direct. Imagination also goes [though the ability to create may be preserved depending on our role]. All communication from now on is ‘symbolic’, it needs no words. And we gradually become our Higher spirit. There is the first meeting [often seen in near death experiences] then the transfer of consciousness as the personality is annihilated. The Will no longer exists – its role is achieved via the Higher spirit.
The actual template [third template] of the body is also discarded [known sometimes as the ‘husk’] however it appears that the second template is not discarded as it is used occasionally to create images for those in the physical, when a Higher spirit wishes to communicate with us. [Images from accumulated perception are however used more often ]
Most of the emotions also disappear – we have no need for pain and pleasure, anger and fear, lust and depravity! But love stays, as does everything that love produces - kindness, compassion, sympathy and the desire for the truth. Although I have made the Higher spirit sound separate, at this level, the Higher spirit is one with the spirit - the great whole.
There are functions we gain by this that we cannot conceive of in the physical because we are physical!
What appears to be present in the spiritual world is what we receive in spiritual experience, for example, – images and templates, the functions and systems of the universe, ‘wisdom’, ‘conscience’, ‘divine love’, the Great Work [the plan], beauty and an appreciation of it, the energy there.
Apparently, things can go wrong at this stage if the personality fights. People who had a hugely strong ego and the desperate will to live can remain in an odd limbo still feeling the need for pleasure and pain – and with all sorts of miscellaneous function. Similarly those whose death was very sudden or tragic may be ‘bemused’ by what is happening. Suicides can also be in this state. It helps to ‘know’ and let go.
Dreaming back [so called ‘judgement day’]
During dreaming back the Higher spirit reviews the Perceptions. There is no judgement, no punishment, the aim is to find out ‘the Truth’ of the events during life and thereby pull together the threads of cause and effect. The objective is ‘understanding’ [in the loosest sense of the word]. This final picture is also used to determine what will happen next on the subsequent birth. Given that a Higher spirit is the sum of its perceptions then what it has experienced ‘learnt’ [again in the loosest sense possible] helps determine what it is capable of.
The existence of this stage is surmised from what happens during the spiritual path when we are alive, which has the equivalent stage, but of course no one knows whether it happens in the same way.
As it is the Perceptions which are reviewed, the Higher spirit relives the events in the log. It is a little like experiencing sections of a movie film that once you get to an interesting bit of the plot you hadn't understood in first viewing, you are able to see again and again until you've understood the plot.
Remembering that I am relating this as a synthesis of numerous observations, one set of observations appeared to indicate that you can also access the perceptions of other Higher spirits [of both the bodied and disembodied] to understand the consequences of your actions. It is something you seem able to do on the spiritual path when living, so again there is the assumption it can be done in the disembodied state.
W B Yeats [amongst others] was ‘told’ that this stage also offered us the chance to be with those other Higher spirits who formed part of the events in the perception log. This thus answers the question asked by millions 'will I see my loved ones again' and the answer is clearly 'yes, during the dreaming back stage'.
Some observations also indicate that we can perform ‘what if’ analyses at that stage, simulations of what might have happened if we had acted differently.
Shifting [‘judgement day’ continued]
The only source for the observations from which I have tried to synthesise what happens here are spiritual ‘guides’ and ‘teachers’, there is no equivalent stage, as far as I can ascertain, on the spiritual path and certainly we are way beyond anything that occurs in near death experiences. So treat the following with caution.
The stage is an extension of the last one and is about the closest to ‘judgement’ we get, BUT, we do not sit in front of a judge who passes a sort of sentence condemning us to 'hell' or 'paradise' or some endless torment. The process is simple, we reverse roles and 'experience' the feelings of those we came into contact with and on whom we had an impact – victim becomes tyrant, tyrant becomes victim and this for each tyrant and for each victim – so a real tyrant has to go through a massive amount of experience to expiate his actions! It is achieved via Perceptions.
So the Halal butcher slitting the throat of the animal becomes the animal he kills, the man who dupes old ladies on the doorstep of their savings becomes the little old ladies duped in turn, the paedophile becomes the child he has abused – he experiences their terror. The suicide bomber experiences the terror or agonies of every victim of his massacre. The tormentor of small animals becomes the animal he tormented and so it continues. Every act of hurt turned on the person who perpetrated the hurt. How very just.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of this process is that the victims get to also live the perceptions of their persecutors, so that they obtain an understanding of what it feels like to be a persecutor. The objective is to achieve ‘balance’.
There are Intelligences present during this process.
As we can feel no physical pain, we cannot cry or feel emotion in the normal sense we might associate with human life, but what is being felt in a way is forgiveness – to forgive and be forgiven. It is apparently also possible to feel ‘Ecstasy’ not in the sense of some form of ecstatic happiness – the incorrect meaning of the term when applied to spiritual experience - but a form of release, a letting go, the expiation complete.
The shift from the last three stages to this stage takes us over the figurative cusp in the cycle and leads us on towards birth. Because this point in the cycle is the point of balance, it is a time of peace. Interestingly enough all the Higher spirits that are engaged in the previous processes are referred to as ‘the dead’, once this stage is over they are just Higher spirits preparing themselves for a new birth
There is no ‘reward’ or ‘paradise’ it is only where this process takes place – our location in the matrix - that might be considered more congenial than perhaps other places
My perception is that the early stages – equivalent to the Greek Asphodel fields – is a time of – not judgement but review and correction, but the latter stages equivalent to the Elysian meadows is far more pleasant and peaceful.
Note that the name comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means happy, fortunate, or blissful.
Prebirth and foreknowledge
I found it rather difficult to understand the difference between the two stages of prebirth and foreknowledge from the observations, so I have merged them. Both stages prepare the Higher spirit for birth again. Both stages involve the help of Intelligences. Again there is no equivalent stage on the spiritual path for the obvious reason that on the spiritual path one is not dead. At this stage
- We are made aware of the next part of the plan in which we will be involved and thus what our new destiny will be. As we saw, our destiny is determined by what we achieved in the past reincarnations – known from perceptions [which cannot lie] as well as to what extent we managed to achieve what we were given to do. There appears to be a consensus that if we do not pull our weight our lives get progressively harder – less challenging tasks, but more unfortunate circumstances
- We are given a ‘Mask’, in effect a Personality that will match the tasks we have to complete. Once the Personality has been decided this to a large extent determines our birth date
No one is given a destiny they would be unable to fulfil, though at times it may seem quite daunting, and no one is left without the necessary personal attributes that enable them to complete the tasks. How they use them is another matter, but everything they need is provided to enable them to do what ever they have agreed to take on
- We are given a template that we will have on birth that will also help us. Up to a point this helps determine who our parents are going to be, but as anyone will have noticed, children often do not look anything like their parents, as such templates are only a minor factor in the choice of parents
- Our perceptions are ‘closed off’. This happens just before birth so that in theory at least we are not aware of past lives. It is noticeable that in some cases this process does not work properly, which is why some children remember past lives.
- The Higher spirit does all in its capability to prepare itself for the new period in the physical, which means understanding the plan and gaining wisdom ready for the big day. This step is somewhat traumatic – when in the physical we are regarded as being in the ‘shadow world’ by the Intelligences and are seen as if down a ‘hole’ in a dark dingy realm. Thus this is not a time of particular ‘merriment’
“We have no power' said an inhabitant of the state 'except to purify our intention' and when I asked of what, replied 'of complexity'" W B Yeats – A Vision
It is worth adding that this stage is often accompanied by a period of resistance from some Higher spirits as they come to terms not only with the fact they have to be born into life again, but also their role in life – their destiny. The resistance can be that much more strong if they have reached a state of serenity in the beatitude stage.
It appears we choose our parents and thus our circumstances of birth as well as the time of conception, we are in effect spirit babies waiting to be born to the parents we have chosen or at least the spirit world has chosen.
- We gradually start to acquire the functions needed for the physical realm – the emotions, the 5 senses, the imagination, the functions of memory. There are some sources who perceive that these functions are delivered as we drop down our soul cone towards the physical. So some people don’t just have ‘near death’, they have ‘before birth’ experiences from which we can draw, but no consistent picture emerges here, so it is easier to simply say we get these functions at some point.
And the last stage of courses is that we are ‘born’. [Note that this may not be physically born, it may be the point of conception].
For the soul in its first kiss of the body renews an ancient love; and in this kiss, however gentle, are all the desires which brought it back to the world - George Russell [AE]
During its sleep in the womb the spirit accepts its future life, declares it just - W B Yeats
How long is the cycle?
A person may be disembodied for only a very short time– sometimes only a matter of weeks or months before it is born in a new body, however, there are some souls taking on very specific tasks that can wait the equivalent of hundreds of our years before their time comes, so to speak. How long we remain disembodied is dependent on our new destiny.
The increase in the population of the world poses no problems spiritually, although it does mean there are far more ‘inexperienced’ souls around with fewer incarnations. New Higher spirits can be created as and when needed, thus the constant increase in the number of bodies is not a problem. If we think of this analogously, there is no difficulty producing copies of a software package. Where the difficulty seems to come is when there are too many Higher spirits with numerous incarnations but not a great deal to offer from all this earthly life. According to Rudolf Steiner
“Let us suppose ….. there are no more bodies in which souls that have grown too much involved in their bodily nature can incarnate. Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity…. They are, as it were, too good for the bodies of a subordinate order and for the other bodies too bad. They must therefore live a bodiless existence”
So in effect, some Higher spirits don’t get a task and wait in a sort of limbo. This incidentally is not paradise!