By SRI SUDHINDRA
The most common understanding of death is that which has life evidently dies — on a prescribed day, on this living planet, and at the stoppage of the biological clock. The clock stops because of a weak battery, following its use after a given period.
Likewise, life span too ends — be it natural fading away, disease, unnatural withering away, suicide or accident and unnatural death. This reveals that which is born with life dies before or after the termination of one’s life span, according to the will of the unknown.
The Hindu text, Garuda Purana, narrates the transmigration of the soul. The journey of the soul amidst hardship, while reaching the Abode of Yama [God of Death], followed by accounting procedures and rituals performed by the performer for the deceased, while recounting elaborately the spirit or soul’s easy movement with the angels of Yamapuri [Yama's Abode]. This is said to bestow vigour for the spirit or soul as his/her son/s perform rituals for 13 days. But, no one knows what death or dying is.
In the 14th Century, the word, Dighe, [pronounced dye] was used in Friesland, Holland, when Black Death [plague] devastated the whole province — annihilating as much as one-third of the population.
Since it was “sensitive” in nomenclature and fostered in the early twentieth century by sycophantic funeral chiefs, the usage of the term “dying” and “death” gave way to synonyms, such as “expired” “passed away,” or “breathed last.” By the middle of the twentieth century, dying and death became forbidden words, even among doctors consulting with families or patients.
The other terminology used is end-of-life. However, the ideal usage has been end-phase of life, where the body organs and systems fail, medical gadgets and medicines do not support, and the person, who becomes [in]dependent, goes into a state of collapse, or dying, or clinically dead.
A book which emphasises dying or death is found in the Buddhist text, Bardo Thodol, also called The Book Of The Dead, chanted by Tibetan spiritualists or masters for mental liberation or spirit’s independence. The verses are chanted sitting beside the dead-body requesting the spirit or soul to know what it should do after liberation — take rebirth in a particular place, chose parents, and act from its own independent thought.
What does Bardo mean — it means “between state,” and Thodol means “liberation through understanding.” One ought to speak in the ears of body after death. Whatever you feel, speak always good things about s/he, so that the spirit or soul carries and applies that intelligence during the period of rebirth.
Following the transition period of life experiences and after death, the way the spirit or soul struggles to re-enter a motionless body indicates the loss of leaving one’s dear ones and members of family — this is rather tragic, but a part of life. The chanting of mantras, or reading Bardo Thodol, obviously suggests that the method should go on over the cycle of life, death and rebirth — or, if rebirth is taken, selecting a country, a good place and couple. Once this happens, the spirit or soul will find the answers to navigate intelligently in the right direction.
Since intelligence, mind, spirit or soul continue to live after death, while experiencing a series of rebirths, we, human beings, have the ability to navigate or guide ourselves to come out of the life-death cycle. We discard our bodies and navigate in search of a new body like finding new clothes all right — but, this happens by way of expanded self-awareness through the power of meditation, concentration, or listening to the chanting of mantras. There are instances of infants in the womb acquiring amazing knowledge and becoming perfect human beings — controlling their own passage over the cycle of life, death and rebirth, or destiny.
What you think you become at the time of death, because a brief interval of light vision is visible just for a fleeting moment. Even when the soul gets distracted by wants, or a celestial mirage, or caught in self-centeredness, covetousness, panic, arrogance and rage at the lower level of existence, it considers a satisfying vision, while attaining spiritual strength — through good acts, overcoming weakness, moving away from darkness to light, developing calmness, with no fear of thought whatsoever. It is, therefore, blessed in this life itself.
To know or understand the state of experience during, or after, death can be deciphered only by reading spiritual texts in this life span, or attaining success in preparing one’s own death — while guiding the soul to attain affordable goals, and liberating the entire cycle of birth-death as well as rebirth. In reality, it is not so simple; it is self-evident that death is the outcome of the process of dying.
No two people experience similar conditions in an emergency. Is he/she dying? Whether doctors have failed to bestow treatment, or some miracle or medicine might work to postpone death, or push one into coma, ventilators or artificial respiratory gadgets? Is s/he is in a state of balanced dying? Or, s/he is already dead?
We often notice that no person, relative or doctor spends more time with the person dying — irrespective of the fact whether one is rich or poor. When does the dying commence? Dying just begins at birth. Many factors build up the condition of death circumstances — fear of the unknown, denial by close ones, fatal accidents, anxiety, ill-health, habits, discordant family life, and doubt in one another, religious implications and anger.
Picture this. Old Egyptian beliefs of life after death followed prayers and miraculous speeches to the deceased person to enable him/her in overcoming trials and dangers of the next world, or emerge from the tomb safely in a spiritualised form — for everybody to witness. The ancient Egyptians had ritualistic concepts for both the afterlife and the afterworld.
Death, as the wise say, must be welcomed as you invite guests. You should never panic or fear it, because the movement, or transmigration, from one plane to another can be a beautiful or painful experience depending on one’s mental consciousness during death. However, there are fearful stories depicting the soul’s onward journey, following its departure from Earth. With death, you are more forgotten than remembered, unless you have made a mark in life like great people.
The Spirited Soul
When all products, materials and gadgets are graded, the spirit or soul might also be classified according to one’s deeds, thoughts and actions, emanating from one’s previous birth to the present, and carrying it to next birth. Since there is a purpose for every spirit or soul, during its sojourn on Earth, fruits are given according to gradation, or efforts put in by the seeker — through truthful or other means. It all goes in accordance of one’s willingness to consider the physiological and mental processes for a longer period at the time of dying. The body becomes cold after death; it merges with fire, becoming warm, as water bodies drain out and merge with the pancha boothas [five elements].
In spite of stupendous scientific and technological advance, no one has so far claimed to have “seen” life or prana entering during pregnancy, or the infant “absorbing” it inside the womb of its mother. Many physicians and psychiatrists disapprove of any spiritual account; they simply do not acknowledge the existence of the soul or spirit. While many in the recent past contemplate or say — that there is not much time, so we must take all things from this life, for example, eat, drink, love, achieve power, status, glory, earn money, make more.
Any which way you look at it, just don’t think about death or dying. What if death is not the end of life? Or, who knows the future has a better life than the one we know of… in our material world?