Just as a caterpillar, having reached the end of a blade of grass and approaching another one collects itself, even so this atman, having discarded the body and overcome ignorance, approaching another one collects itself. That to which the heart is attached, toward this the subtle body moves together with its action which still adheres. Attaining the goal of whatever actions he performed here on Earth, he goes once more from that world to this world of action.
Shukla Yajur Veda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 4.4.3 & 6 VE, P. 759
The Doorway Called Death
There is a lot to be said about death and reincarnation. Most people are afraid of death because it is the most dramatic experience that has happened to them during a lifetime, as it put a stop to a lot of aggressive prana going out through a physical body. At transition, this prana has to contract immediately and go to seed. What is death? The realization is that nobody dies. You can’t say a human dies because he must now live in his astral body rather than his physical body. We live in our astral body twenty-four hours a day and in our physical body only sixteen hours a day. That means for eight hours each day we are already “dead.” When the soul departs the physical body at death, one chapter of life has ended and another chapter of life has begun. It is a total continuum, except that after departing the physical body, the being is full time awake, because on the astral plane we don’t have to sleep.
There are helpers in the inner world who assist those who have departed their physical sheath through their new adjustments, as well as assist with preparations for their reentry into flesh — reincarnation. These helpers are well trained, efficient, courteous and kindly. They are similar to those found performing the same services in this physical world, the doctors, nurses, psychologists, religious workers — aiding souls as they enter or exit the earth plane. In the physical world, hospitals now even help you to die. Or accidents may occur or old age simply comes. In any case, the assistance is there through the medical profession, the mortuaries and so forth to care for the dying and take care of the remains. These are all well trained, kindly people doing their jobs. The soul meets them again at birth when reentering the flesh, in the hospital and in the home. It is the loving care of such workers that assists the mother through the many years ahead until the child is fully grown. A doctor or nurse will perform the same professional duties when disembodied, continuing along, doing the same kind of things they did during their last physical life. The process of reincarnation is a revolving cycle.
Those who abide permanently in their astral body are not alone. They are with other people, some who remain on the astral plane permanently, some who are just visiting. It is a fuller life, not lesser. People die on the astral plane, too. When they take a birth, their old astral body has to be disposed of. Those on the astral plane have to “die” there to come here, and later they have to “die” here to go there.
The mind does not need a physical body to function properly. Nor do the emotions. Nor does the soul. A disembodied person is totally functional in every respect. Suppose a seamstress dies. On the astral plane, she may keep making dresses, but with a difference: she would now have all the fabric she ever wanted. But she would probably continue this same activity. She would not become a carpenter. However, it is not possible to experience the karmas of this physical world in the inner worlds. For this, a physical body is needed. When the time comes for acquiring and entering a physical body, proper parents must be chosen, an environment and country. This can be time-consuming and is sometimes disappointing on the occasion of miscarriage or abortion. But negatives aside, when the first cry and mother’s gentle hug is experienced, this is reincarnation.
Mourning and Fear of Death
People wonder about their past lives, but it doesn’t really matter who you were in your past lives. It is the cumulative creation of what you’ve done in the past which has manifested in what you are in this life that should concern you. Knowing how these things are going to manifest in the future is a forewarning that can improve the quality of the next life. Therefore, though possible, it is irrelevant to know what nationality, station in life or occupation one was in the past. What is relevant is the knowledge of accumulated deeds of all the past lives, especially those that will manifest in this life.
People who don’t truly understand reincarnation fear death. Fear of the unknown is part of the human psyche. To understand reincarnation, you have to understand and accept the existence of the astral body and have an intuitive knowledge of the soul. Then you understand that reincarnation is as natural as a child becoming a teenager and a teenager becoming a young adult. Reincarnation records are kept in the sahasrara chakra of every individual. They are readable by inner-plane helpers and by trained psychics. The sahasrara chakra is in the akasha. Every soul is packing his dossier right along with him.
Devotees ask, “When someone dies, what should be the attitude of loved ones?” Because the fear of death is so much a part of social consciousness today, as ignorance prevails in these matters, sorrow rather than joy is often experienced. In not understanding life in its fullness, many cannot help but misunderstand death. The attitude should be one of joy based on beliefs that come from the knowledge of karma and samsara. Experience of joy and a total release of the loved one would come from a pure understanding of the processes of life.
A better word than death is transition, passing into a new form of life — life into life. It is similar to moving to a new country, having completed all of one’s tasks. Death is a closing of the door on deeds well done, on all beneficial karmas. Karmas performed in ignorance will be faced at a later time. Death is also the opening of a new door to a place where the good and the bad, the happy and the sad experiences are forgotten. Should we not be cheerful and joyous that our loved one has earned a new start, having completed another step on the path?
Inordinate grief, sorrow and loss are felt by those who do not understand the Sanatana Dharma. They are dwelling in the world of darkness. Those who live in the worlds of light understand intuitively. They are happy that the person’s karmic cycle has ended. You have to realize that the person who is dying is going on a joyous journey, and he knows it. He is still going to see his loved ones who are still connected to their physical bodies when they sleep at night, and he is not losing anybody. So, one or two close loved ones in the vicinity at the time of death is enough consolation. Even if no one is with him, he is fine. He is going on a journey. He has the fullness of everything. Why should you mourn for the person who is, at the death experience, having the highest moment of his life?
Mourning at death, for example, is not a part of the Chinese culture. They send money and paper houses and write letters to the departed through the fire ceremony. Morbid mourning is not a part of every culture, as it is among those heavily influenced by Christian beliefs. We must remember that Hindus are often so influenced. Dying is not a super traumatic experience anymore, as people move around the world so much, wives are working and families are not that close. But the fact is that the departed person does not go away, has two bodies besides the physical — astral and soul — and is always there, existent. Whether he is living in his astral body, his purusha body or is in San Francisco or Paris, he is always there.
Ancestor worship is a form of communicating with departed ancestors, seeking to be guided by their advice because they have a broader vision, a superconscious vision. They are not bothered by the mundane affairs of eating and sleeping and family intrigues. They know how to bring the collective family along to its next phase of development. They will eventually, of course, seek to reincarnate in the same family to work out their prarabdha karmas. One reason for the Hindu shraddha ceremonies is to help the departed soul be reborn in the same family. Similarly, we would want our monks to come back to the same monastery and keep coming back until they fulfilled their highest aspirations. The Hindu wants to be born back into the same family, even in the same house, and families want to bring relatives back as well, so the karmas can be worked out consistently, lifetime after lifetime. This is one reason that on the nakshatra of the death, certain rites are performed to court the departed person back.
In many Hindu traditions, after the death of a loved one, shraddha ceremonies are performed on the death anniversary for twelve years. Therefore, each family that shares in ancestral worship or ancestral communication is, in a sense, a tribal group within a sectarian portion of the religion. Who better would know the solutions within a family than someone who has lived in it? If the ancestor has already reincarnated, the whole family would intuitively know it. Then they would seek advice from another ancestor, perhaps through a psychic channeler. If an ancestor reincarnated outside the family, they would also be told. Those who practice ancestor worship generally seek for channelers outside their community, from those who don’t know their family.
In the fifty years of our Saiva Church, we have documented birth to death to birth again within the lives of our devotees and close initiates. A continuum of birth to death to birth to death, a continuum of karmas in unbroken continuity — that makes up a spiritual, alive religious organization.
The greater the maturity of your soul, the longer you can stay in the inner planes. Some world-of-darkness people come back immediately. They die in one end of the hospital and are born in the other end. The average person would usually reincarnate somewhere within the twelve-year cycle. If the family realizes the person is coming back and prays for that to happen, he or she would have to come back within twelve years. Once they realized the person is back, they would stop doing the ceremony and be off doing other things.
At this time in the Kali Yuga, the races of the world are relocating to improve genetics and to recreate families with better genes by intermarrying between races and in different localities. It is a time of breaking up, a time of destruction. But the new race coming out of this into a good genetic body will be the industrious spiritual leaders for a better world which will recreate itself around them.
Life in the Inner Worlds
The world is quite blissful from the perspective of someone who has reached a high stage of maturity, and life on the inner planes for him is even more blissful. This is because all of the lower chakras, the instinctive and lower natures, are totally inoperable. So, it is a wonderful, self-perpetuating time, a time of rest and healing, of meeting others known on the Earth who have experienced the same level of bliss. For some it may be a time of communicating with those on the Earth, learning how to channel messages to them. This sojourn in the in-between is similar to sleep, which is an earned time of rest for the physical body. After death is a cosmic sleep for all the inner bodies.
Even someone who has committed the most heinous sins and played the part of the destructive element of Siva’s great dance would, after death, experience the Narakaloka only for a limited period, until he again enters flesh and continues his mischief or repents, performs sadhanas and lifts himself up into the Devaloka. However, by no means should death necessarily be taken as a form of liberation from rebirth. It is for the vast majority an in-between period of preparation for the next life, a time to gain faith and strength to face the impact of the already-developed good, bad and mixed karmas of previous lives.
Within the inner worlds, there are realms far more subtle than the astral plane. Advanced souls residing on the astral plane are able to access those higher worlds at will, there to learn from and receive blessings from rishis and great devas. For most, in order to do this, the astral body would not “die,” but simply be left behind temporarily. Similarly, here on the physical plane, you can go into meditation and get “beamed up” into the higher world in your purusha body. Your physical body and astral body are temporarily left behind. However, there are beings in the inner world who reside fully in these higher planes in their mental body, having dropped off their lower astral body long ago. But the law is that after death you won’t be able to go any higher in the inner worlds than the level you had attained in a physical birth, because it is only in physical birth that all twenty-one chakras are available. In physical birth, the lowest ones become attainable, and the highest become attainable as well. Whatever your attainment on Earth is, you carry that with you into the astral worlds unchanged. Whatever your accomplishments are of living in the gamut of the chakras, lower or higher, you can’t go lower and you can’t go higher in the inner planes. That is why you need a physical birth.
I was once asked about atura sannyasa, renouncing the world at the moment of death? Personally, I think that is like icing a stale cake. People do it, it is possible, and it may quiet a person’s mind if he wanted to do that, but it does not mean a lot. Perhaps he will be a sannyasin in his next life, but maybe he will not. If you are going to be a sannyasin, you have to try to live the life.
Occasionally a great soul will know before his grand departure, his death, that he will not be reincarnating again. In this case the astral body has to be totally absorbed by the causal body while he is alive in his physical body. That means all the lower chakras have to be closed off. When this has occurred, the soul body takes over the physical body and there is very little astral body present, just a shell. Eliminating the astral body and the chakras it is attached to is accomplished through yoga and tapas in a physical birth. This is a process that goes on in the First World. To fulfill these various laws relating to the chakras and the soul’s unfoldment, it is very important that we have a physical planet at a certain distance from a sun, with edible vegetation, fertile soil, breathable atmosphere, a benign climate and gravity, all suitable for human life. You have seven chakras below the muladhara in the world of darkness. Through dharma and following the principles of Saivism, they are to be slowly closed off and systematically put to rest. The nature of the chakras is what makes one individual different from another, other than the personal vibratory rate.
Creating on The Astral Plane
The astral plane is within this world as its etheric counterpart, and when you drop off the physical body, you are in it. You are in it now but are not aware of it as yet. It is a world just like this one. You can travel from country to country on the astral plane. While I was studying in Sri Lanka in 1948, my teacher living in America used to come and visit me in the astral body. When I returned to America, people from Sri Lanka used to come on the astral plane and visit me in America, and I would see them in their astral bodies. While I was in Sri Lanka, I introduced a yogi from the Himalayas to my teacher in America, and they met on the astral plane. The next day, the yogi came back and described my teacher perfectly and told me of their conversation. After I returned to America, one day my teacher asked, “Who was that yogi that I met on the astral plane?” and then described him perfectly, and told of the same conversation as well.
If we did not use the astral body on a daily basis, we could not move the physical body. It is not the physical body that moves; it is the astral body that moves within it. When we step out of the physical body in the astral body, we cannot move the physical body until we get back inside it. While conscious in the astral body, we are more on the astral plane than on the physical plane. Only when the astral body and the physical body are connected do we seem to be in a physical world.
Because the astral plane is of a higher rate of vibration, or a more intense rate of vibration, prana flows within it a little freer and faster. We have everything there that we have on the physical plane. However, things there are manifested by the mind quickly, whereas on the physical plane they are created more slowly. This is because the physical body needs the muladhara chakra in order to function, and this brings us into a different dimension of time. The first chakra is not so dominant on the astral plane. Therefore, we are in reason and in will. If we want to build a house, we just think about it, and a house becomes constructed within a matter of minutes; whereas it takes a matter of months on the physical plane.
On the astral plane, we see other people — other people that have died and do not have a physical body and people that do have a physical body but have just left it for a time. They have left their physical body sleeping and they are traveling on the astral plane. Therefore, it is a more populated plane than this Earth, but there is more room in it, being of a lighter substance. Then, too, uninhabited land on Earth and the oceans are used on the astral plane.
Why do we sleep? The mental body, which we dream in, is within the astral body and functions through the astral brain of that body. Through certain hours of the day during the waking state, the astral body uses the physical body, and the mental body works through the astral-body brain and the brain of the physical body. There is also another body to be considered, and that is the soul body. This body is what we touch into at least once through the sleeping state, and that gives not only a release of the karmas, often karmas that have been concluded, but also a new flush of energy into the astral, mental and physical bodies. So, we touch into the Divine through sleep. We must remember that the astral body doesn’t need sleep; nor would the physical body need as much sleep if the Divine hookup were always perpetuating or flooding through the energy.
It is a twenty-four-hour cycle of consciousness. Our individual awareness simply moves from physical consciousness into mental, emotional or astral body consciousness, or soul consciousness in the case of deep sleep, where nothing is ever remembered. People wonder why they don’t recall their dreams. It is as difficult to recall a dream that happened last night as it is to recall what you were thinking about between 12 noon and 4PM three days ago. Now, should the dream last night have been a fantastic departure from your personal reality, you would recall it. If your thoughts three days ago between 12 noon and 4PM were a fantastic departure from your personal reality, you would certainly recall that. It is the process of recall that is being challenged, not the connection between the sleep state and the waking state.
We do not usually remember our astral experiences, because the astral brain and the physical brain are of two different rates of vibration. Therefore, when we return to the physical body after being in the astral body during sleep, any knowledge that we have gained on the astral plane begins to seep through into the physical plane during a period of four days afterwards. This knowledge accumulates, and we call it an inner knowing. Ideas seem to come to us from within, but actually we did learn and discuss them previously on the astral plane.
Awareness, The Traveler
Reading and analyzing dreams from the shumif perspective, of awareness flowing through the mind — the inner mind being stationary, and awareness being a mercury-like substance that is aware in various states — will keep the aspirant emotionally and intellectually detached from areas of consciousness, or mind, which he becomes conscious in as he travels here, there and everywhere, as he does through the day. We therefore know that we need not be emotionally or mentally attached within our dreams to everything that happens. In the very same way we are not mentally and emotionally attached to even two-thirds of what we see and experience in our waking state on television or when we are walking about in public. Therefore, the shumif perspective, once it is well set within the subconscious, aids in understanding dream consciousness juxtaposed to waking consciousness and seeing them as one and the same. Pure awareness, nif, never sleeps. This mercury, mirror-like substance travels here and there, guided by the will of the perceiver. It is the venerable eye of the purusha. It is constantly aware, from the moment of the creation of the soul; and at the soul’s final merger into Siva it experiences super, super, super, superconscious totality. Most people who meditate do not enter the astral plane during sleep. When they sleep at night, they go deeper within than the astral, into superconsciousness, in the beautiful body of the soul. There they communicate with other people who are also in their body of the soul.
On the astral plane, talking is done through thoughts. It is the world of thought. On the inner plane of the soul, intelligence is transferred from one to another through light vibrations. This is a beautiful form of communication. The body of the soul can also appear on the astral plane and communicate with those who are functioning in their astral bodies, even though the body of the soul is a more refined body. It is these two bodies that are predominantly used on the astral plane. The intellectual body is used primarily through the day when we are awake, as is the physical body. Man carries his intellect into the astral as well.
Modern man does not use his physical body as much as his ancestors used to. He sits and walks and occasionally exercises, and that is about all. That is why much of his energy has been transmuted into the intellect. Our astral body, body of the soul and intellectual body all are very definite forms in the inner ether. They are used most by the evolved, educated, modern man. To understand these bodies, we have to forget the way we usually think about things and think about them differently, from a new perspective. Then insights are gained.
Some people do at times see what we call ghosts and wonder what they are. They are astral beings without a physical body. Only rarely are they able to have any effect on anything in our world and are generally harmless. A ghost is a person, a soul, just like all of us, that has lived in a human body and died, and is now in the part of the astral plane called the Pretaloka.
The word ghost generally has unfavorable connotations attached to it such as scary, haunting, perhaps even fear, for most people do not fully understand what a ghost is. From the ghost’s point of view, he feels very much alive, living in the inner world which this outer world mirrors. Ghosts, more often than not, see us, but we don’t see them, except very rarely, and they feel hurt when not included in family gatherings, and sad at being mourned for. Often the realization that they have “departed” comes to them slowly, but comes especially when they find they can now walk through closed doors, even walls.
There are certain astrological times, such as Halloween, when ghosts are most easily seen. I was in Singapore on one of those days when all the Chinese people were in the street sending prayers through fires to the inner world. The prayers were printed and purchased and then burned in piles on nearly every street. The astral doubles of the prayers were collected by astral helpers trained for the job, then given to the departed relatives to be read by them. When we asked about the event, we were told that this was the time of year when ghosts make their visitations. And actually, in the early morning, upon awakening in our hotel, the mathavasis and myself saw ghosts walk through the walls, stare at us in our beds, then pass on through a wall into another room to investigate the other guests. This was a shared experience, for we all saw the same ghosts. We talked about it at breakfast. Some found it a little bit scary, as the astral beings were all draped in white, which was, of course, their pranic body covering their astral body. They looked white because they still maintained an odic body made of ectoplasmic substance.
Possession and Mediumship
Ghosts are mysterious, unknown and not understood by most people and therefore feared. They usually stay close to a familiar place in the physical world and are occasionally seen or felt by people who knew them, especially if they have just recently passed on. At the time of passing, their astral body hovers over their physical body until they become aware that they have died. Inner-world helpers eventually explain to them the facts of death and take them deeper into the Devaloka to do what they have to do to prepare for another physical birth. In unusual cases, the astral person remains in a favorite area of the physical world for an extended length of time, making his presence felt by people in the Bhuloka. This is what is meant by the word haunting.
On rare occasions, we may experience one or more ghosts in our presence. When this happens, we must project love, while visualizing pink and light blue. This will help them, and they will eventually realize that all is well with the life they left, and be able to continue their evolution, released from the static state they have been experiencing. This is the great siddhi of love. Everyone has this power. Few use it.
In one sense, we could say that the devas of the Devaloka are also ghosts, for they are discarnate entities, too, the difference being that they are helping the Gods of our religion and are fully functioning at their duties in-between physical births, completely aware of who and what they are. The places they inhabit most frequently are the hundreds of thousands of great temples of our religion, the homes of the Gods.
When an Earth-bound soul claims a body of a physical person, this is known as possession. In most cases that soul is very upset at not having a physical body, because he has things to do, desires. Such a soul finds somebody who is susceptible, who is on drugs or half out of his body for some reason, takes over that body and uses it for a while to satisfy his desires. In Asia they have dances, songs and temple rituals, and in America they have electrical shock treatment, to get rid of the unwanted astral entity. It’s the same primitive process, called exorcism.
Mediumship is another matter. There is no conflict. It is communication by arrangement and can be accomplished on many different levels. One is clairvoyantly, where pictures and impressions are received. Another is clairaudiently, where actual words are heard. Still another is vocally, where the entity temporarily uses the voice of the medium to speak out a message. Mediumship is a temporary arrangement and, to be safe, it should be a definite arrangement. This is to protect the medium from astral Earth-bound entities who might do harm to him or, through him, to others. Even once that arrangement is set up and certain inner codes are established, communication does not happen all the time, or even at will. My advice for those who are intrigued with channeling is, if you want to channel something, channel your own superconsciousness. Any channeling without the code and the authorization from your teacher is a sure road to the asylum. Without such precautions, if some trauma were to come up in your personal life, some emotional disorientation, you could have lower-plane people talking to you twenty-four hours a day and not be able to turn it off. The first person comes talking to you, then the next — people trying to talk you into committing suicide because they want to see you fully on the other side. Precautions are always taken by psychically trained occultists to protect themselves and others from such intrusions.