Everyone is fascinated by imagining what happens when we die. We’re entranced when we see it in movies, we anticipate it when thinking of our elders, and we wonder what might become of us, upon our demise.
When I learned to consciously exit my body long ago, I remember feeling a subtle death upon every exit. Perhaps this was my body and soul remembering what souls do – they enter, interact for a time, and eventually leave.
Exiting my body and moving through walls, wandering into other rooms, or jetting across the city, I would be conscious of the living, physical body that I had left behind. While in the midst of these out-of-body journeys, I would often crave my body and wonder if it was safe from harm.
I eventually came to realize that our souls are incredibly pure and they love our bodies. After some experiences with other out-of-body spirits, I would understand that our bodies can easily be inhabited and controlled by other spirits. Our job is to protect our souls AND our bodies.
After sensing shadowy souls in my midst, I chose to stop exiting my body for sport and came to respect this life as a miracle. After many exits and journeys, I choose to never exit my body again.
Going forward and through to today, I am fascinated by the notion of a physical form (my body) and a spirit (my soul) coming together, merging, and having experiences together. This is absolutely amazing to me. When putting these experiences into the hopper labeled Death, I am even more entranced by the notion.
“The soul is unborn and eternal, everlasting and primeval. It is not slain by the slaying of the body.”
— Bhagavad Gita 2.20
While some of us think about what happens when we die all the time (heck, I certainly do!), others wait until their physical bodies are failing them or moments prior to their final breath.
You might be devoted to a specific religion because you fear death or hope your deity will protect you when you are thrust from your physical body. You might see death as a joke or a new beginning. You might view the life-death event as something that concludes when we die or you might imagine the life-death cycle to continue ad Infinitum.
Regardless of how you might imagine death or contemplate the temporary nature of your current, physical existence, passing beyond this life is inevitable. In some cases, it might even be enviable. And while death has a mystique that appears evasive and elusive, it is certainly something you can come to understand.
Every major religion makes attempts at defining the course of activities and realities we’ll experience upon our deaths, but Hinduism seems to approximate death better than all other religions and ideologies. With no inherent judgment in the lingo or proposed persecution, like we might find in the world’s other most popular religions, and delivered in such a matter-of-fact manner, much of these writings appear more plausible and based on real-world experience. I love that about Hinduism.
What Is Brahman?
Hindu scriptures teach us that Brahman is the ultimate and sole reality. It is the singular, undivided, living consciousness, embodying all aspects within and without, above and beyond, physical and non-physical, material and non-material, breathing and non-breathing, and throughout all realities and realms, inclusive of and far beyond spacetime. There is no “other,” there is only Brahman.
The Journey Of Jivas.
A jiva is a soul, like you and me, and the embodiment of a distinct aspect within the eternal nature of Brahman. Brahman is pure and unchanging. Jivas diverge upon every birth. They are cloaked in Maya or earthly desires, and their derivatives, which means they are ignorant, or varying degrees thereof.
The state of a Jiva or soul is such that each is generally unable to recognize its oneness with the All-That-Is or Brahman, yet they act within their realities like chaotic particles in three-dimensional space. Brahman is foundational to reality, as it IS reality. Jivas most often experience Brahman as a sideshow, an idea, rather than the ultimate expansiveness inherent within them.
While liberated souls like Amma and other enlightened Beings will merge with All-Consciousness upon passing from this life, the rest of us will most likely have a different path. That said, anything is possible!
Amma, The Hugging Saint, found at Amma.org, says this about death: “There is a very subtle sheath covering our gross, physical bodies. All of our thoughts are imprinted in this layer. Like a tape recorder, this covering records all acts which we do mentally, verbally, and physically while we are alive. This forms a covering of thoughts.”
This cloak is durable and it’s energetically magnetized to our spirit, soul, or jiva. When we exit our bodies, this Maya or layer comes with us. As we rise out of our bodies and into the non-physical eternal planes of existence, we are still connected to and can interact with the physical planes. This means that, upon our deaths, we can choose to become traveling ghosts, off to seek adventures throughout the realms! I can imagine flying through the skies across eternity!
This might sound more positive than it is. If we’re wandering around like ghosts, we’re probably missing a well-formed, congruent, or elevated intention. Without this type of intention, we might continue to wander aimlessly and indefinitely. The same can be said for our real-world lives in this three-dimensional reality, here on Earth. This is why the Hindu and Buddhist texts encourage deep contemplation and spiritual exercises near to and just prior to our deaths.
When we die to this physical body, rather than wandering, we might rise to a particular plane of existence that is akin to our actions during our lifetimes or in line with the vibration of our focus at the moment of our deaths. Wherever we might arrive in the other realms and planes, the soul, or jiva has no physical form. It is not recognizable to having recently lived a life in a physical body. While the outer layers of thought and Maya might appear in human-shaped forms, these forms are temporary and do not represent the nature of the jiva or soul.
As a jiva, and regardless of whether or not we are cloaked in memorable forms, we still might feel thirst and hunger. This is due to the tendencies of our most recent lives. These can dissipate over time.
“Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity — but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our “biography,” our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards…
It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?
Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn’t that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?”
― Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
If we have lived a spiritually-focused life and released many of our desires prior to our deaths, we might rise to beautiful realms where other souls equal to or more expanded than our natures might exist.
In most cases though, when we are traversing from this life to the next, we tend to carry some of our unfulfilled desires with us. Since desires are imaginary and born from mind and ego (both temporary structures), the magnetic natures of our desires will attract and pull emptiness into our spheres.
This emptiness will feel like a mid-ocean, where nothing feels real or possible. It’s in this space that we might feel direction- and purposeless. Given our spiritual tendencies from prior lives, we can move beyond these oceans. If we have been devotional to a master or guru, we will have better chances at evolving our souls when existing within or visiting the mid-oceans.
These jivas or souls are not innocents. They might even carry intentions and demands akin to our noisy neighbors and imagined enemies. To appease and exercise their desires and attitudes, they might attack other living Beings and people. They do this by moving within the breath of other individuals and life-forms.
As the living Being breathes, the jiva-entities can move into and throughout soul’s that physical body or the soul itself. By doing so, disembodied jivas have the ability to destroy a weak-minded jiva’s consciousness. They might even push them to eat and act according to their wills. This type of attack is only possible when the living Being has no boundaries, awareness, or mental ability to protect themselves.
“Two birds sitting in the tree (the body). One bird, the jiva is enjoying the fruits of the tree and the other the Paramatma is watching the jiva.”
— Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (4.7)
The Soul’s Options When We Die
Jivas (you and me when we die) have options when we are living in the other realms and planes. Soon after our physical deaths, we might immediately choose another body to enter, thereby starting a brand new life. Upon entry into the new life form, we will adopt unique and new layers of thoughts, intentions, attitudes, and personalities. As we are born into and experience the cultural aspects of that body’s existence, our minds, hearts, and identities morph to appease the attributes of those cultural, societal, religious, and family-story projections.
Jivas do not often enter the bodies while the physical forms (babies) are within the womb. It is most often just prior to birth that the soul (jiva) infuses itself into the meat of the body. The jiva does this through the baby’s breath or the child’s first meals.
In all, a jiva’s post-death journey, spiritual up-leveling, and new-birth potential will be dependent upon the karma they have yet to resolve during all of their prior lifetimes. A soul will continue birthing and rebirthing until all desires and energetic, karmic attachments are dissolved or eliminated. This notion should inspire us to live according to dharmic ideologies, whereby we remain unattached and unimpeded by life’s conditions.
When we die, we can be uplifted, and our jivas can be healed through the rituals and prayers of those we left behind. By chanting certain mantras throughout our lifetimes and with the help of others chanting mantras after our deaths, we can receive higher levels of birth and more expanded planes of existence. Mostly, rituals, mantras, and prayers will help our jivas to stop their wandering – in this life and in the afterlife.
“If the tip of the hair were to be divided into one hundred parts and each part was divided into 100 more parts, that would be the dimension of the Jiva (soul)”.
— Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (5.9)
Catholicism & Christianity On Death
In Catholicism and many factions of Christianity, it’s less about the laws of nature and spirit, and more about judgment. Since consciousness is pervasive and comprises God (and all eternal Beings), the idea of judgment is obsolete. Nevertheless, many Catholics believe they are judged upon their death, all according to how they lived. Based on a life’s merit, a soul is then sent to either Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory.
When souls live according to “God’s plan” or the “bible,” then they go to Heaven. If they were dark and lived antithetical to God’s law, then they will go to Hell. Anybody sitting in the middle of the spectrum will be awarded Purgatory, a place where they can go so prayers and their own revised intentions can help them up-level or downlevel.
While these teachings have remnants of the organic truths of spirit, they define God and Consciousness as predominantly judgmental, rather than loving. That said, even Hinduism notes that our actions and intentions will result in various forms of karma, all of which must be dissolved to achieve higher states of consciousness.
Osho, Chogyam Trungpa, Yogi Bhajan, and today’s Amma all encourage people to express themselves through art and creativity. The reason they do this is twofold: to bring more bliss into the world and to express desires so they will eventually dissolve. It is absolutely true that all desires eventually dissolve.
Unfortunately, there are so many desires to accrue, we might never work through all of them. This is why the goal is to reach beyond desire and into the bosom of the Divine. This is where we will experience our most expanded and liberated natures.
“Neither fire, nor wind, birth, or death can erase our good deeds.”
— The Buddha
How Do Thoughts Form Layers That Surround Our Jivas (Souls)?
Every thought, intention, and action that we allow ourselves to participate in has an energetic footprint. This footprint is magnetic in nature and it actually carries some weight. Yes, it has mass. This mass is something that we birth each time we conjure a thought and every time we engage in an action.
We’re all young wizards and witches trying to embody brews that lean toward positive vibrations. We can be sneaky and egoistic. Most of us, even amid our prayers are hopeful that the recent dirty deed we performed had gone unnoticed. We love to ‘get away with it’ or get our way with things. It’s a lovely dream, but it’s an illusion.
We can’t get away with anything. The challenge is that our minds are so adept at creating confusion, projections, selfish desires, and a variety of sugary, soul-numbing sweets, we might continue like this for generations, if not, eons.
The trick is to be mindful of every thought and then release it. Watch the thoughts bubble upward and then disappear. We need not take action on every little fart that homesteads in our tired, narcissistic noggins. We can just allow our minds to create and allow our spirits to watch these creations dissolve into nothingness.
After all, we are nothing. We are conjured little movies that reside nowhere. While the Akashic Records can record details, once they occur, they no longer exist. Yet, while the past is like a canceled check, the remnants of our past, if mired in karma, will be seated at our dinner tables for lifetimes to come.
What Can We Do To Continually And Lovingly Clear Our Souls In Preparation For Spiritual Life & Eventual Conscious Death?
While we are here on earth to participate in activities and exhaust our desires, we are also here to have a little bit of fun. The challenge is to embody bliss and love while also never hurting ourselves or others throughout the process.
Through the courses of human interactions, it becomes quite probable that you’ll fuck up. You might mess up so badly that you can’t imagine clearing that from your “permanent record.”
Luckily, it’s all purgeable. Every thought, intention, action, relationships, and projection is extinguishable through prayer, meditation, devotion to the divine, and conscious action. All of these things will offset your bad deeds.
You might say something horrible to someone, burn a bridge in technicolor, or perseverate on vengeance throughout multiple lifetimes.
While living our wonderful lives, we might prepare for when we die in subtle and spiritual ways. We have many options when it comes to modalities that lead to liberation.
— Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning and evening
— Pray for others. When we do this, the universe prays for us.
— Invite Light-Beings & Masters to help you with your evolution.
— Choose a living Master, a guru, to help you evolve during this lifetime.
— Do Kundalini Yoga, alone at home, and with focused attention.
— Forgive everything as quickly as possible.
— Pray for your soul and ask others to do the same.
— Remember God in everything you do.
I know this list is a tall order, but it’s a lovely set of activities to invite into your life. Even a little effort will spark God’s reach to penetrate your heart and life with divine light. Allow Her/Him/Them to merge with you in your every thought and action.
You Are A Limitless And Expanded Soul!
Once you realize your limitlessness, you can formulate the correct levels of hope. From there, you can create game-plans to up-level your jiva’s vibration. With every positive deed and intention comes an improved set of magnets.
Reach to the divine, be devotional in every way, and afford yourself the forgiveness you deserve. Afford the same forgiveness to others and release the details of events gone by. If you can move more fluidly throughout your reality, your life will become more effortless and your karma will dissolve according to that lovely, lightness of Being.
God Bless You! Be Strong! Be Wild! Find Clarity! And Enjoy This Life With Love!