Through the Portal of Death
A time comes when the prudent person, feeling intuitively or knowing medically that he has entered the last months or years of his life, ought to prepare himself for death. Clearly an increasing withdrawal from worldly life is called for. Its activities, desires, attachments, and pleasures must give way more and more to repentance, worship, prayer, asceticism, and spiritual recollectedness. It is time to come home.
When the hour comes to desert the body, he will be ready for the fated event, without that desperate struggle to hold on to a form which has served its purpose seen too often in the ignorant.
… At the moment of death of a disciple, the teacher will always be present spiritually to help him pass out of the body in a peaceful state of mind. If, as should be, the disciple places his last thoughts and faith in the teacher, that will call to the teacher wherever he may be, and he will appear to the mind’s eye of the dying disciple…
When he lies almost dying he may receive verification of the belief that a dying votary will see his god or guru or saviour come to take or guide his soul to the higher world.
Death can open out higher possibilities to the man who leaves this existence in faith, who trusts the Overself and commits himself to its leading without clinging to the body which is being left.
The process of dying may become a fulfilment of long years of aspiration for the quester…
Just when life is ebbing fast away, when death is vividly in attendance, the long-sought but little found state of enlightenment may arise and accompany the event.
The aspirant whose efforts to attain inner freedom and union with the Overself while living seem to have been thwarted by fate or circumstances, may yet find them rewarded with success while dying. Then, at the very moment when consciousness is passing from the body, it will pass into the Overself.
If there is any loss of consciousness during the change called death, it is only a brief one, as brief or briefer than a night’s sleep. Many of the departed do not even know at the time what has really happened to them and still believe themselves to be physically alive. For they find themselves apparently able to see others and hear voices and touch things just as before. Yet all these experiences are entirely immaterial, and take place within a conscious mind that has no fleshly brain.
There is a particular moment while a person is dying when the Overself takes over the entire process, just as it does when he is falling asleep. But if he clings involuntarily and through inveterate habit to his smaller nature, then he is only partly taken over; the remainder is imprisoned in his littleness.
Unless the human ego were itself an emanation of the Overself it would be quite unable to identify itself with the sensation of severance from the body during the process we call dying.
Drowning persons who were saved and survived have told of the feeling of time slipping backward and their whole lifetime being replayed. This is an experience which is not theirs alone; it happens to all who pass through the portal of death.
It is paradoxical that the moment of his death should automatically bring to life again all of a man’s past. He has to repeat it all over again, this time from a different point of view, for the selfish, coloured, and distorting operation of the ego is absent. Now he sees it from an impersonal and uncoloured point of view. In other words, he sees the real facts for what they truly are, which means that he sees himself for what he really is…
It would be wrong to say that the pictorial review of life experience when dying is merely a mental transference from oneself … to those persons with whom one has been in contact during the life just passed, as the pictures unveil before him. What really happens is a transference from the false ego to the true Self, from the personal to the impersonal. It is a realization of the true meaning of each episode of the life from a higher point of view.
How trifling all his earthly successes must seem to a dying man! Such is the state of mind which may be called inner detachment and which the aspirant needs to cultivate.
The inner work of philosophy results in liberation from the fear of death–whether the death which comes naturally through old age or that which comes violently through war.
The man who has studied these teachings does not believe that death can bring him to an end even though it must bring his body to an end. It is both a logical and biological truth for him that his inner personality will survive, his mind will continue its existence.
The animal part of us is doomed to oblivion, the spiritual part is ageless and deathless. The physical body belongs to the animal part. All attempts to perpetuate it must fail and arise from confusing the two levels of being, the transient and the eternal.
We may deplore our foolish behaviour in life, our stupid errors or our fleshly weaknesses, but in those moments of dying we have the chance to die in wisdom and in peace. Yes, it is a chance given to us, but we have to take it by keeping our sight fixed on the highest that we know.
I have witnessed some advanced souls going through the process of passing to another sphere of consciousness, the process we call death, who spread mental sunshine around so that the bereaved ones gathered at the bedside felt it as a consoling counterbalance to their natural human grief. The truth made some kind of impression upon them that this universal event in Nature can actually be a change to brighter, happier, and freer existence.
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