Instances of radical personality change, and that too for the worse following survival after prolonged and near fatal illness have been documented in history. What about prolonging life in a body that the soul has already decided to quit? What if life returns and continues but not the soul?
Death raises many an ethical question and as with everything else related to death, none have a simple answer. To name a few of the ethical dilemmas, there is euthanasia, artificial life support, resuscitation, post-mortem examination, abortions, suicide victims and survivors, homicide, capital punishment and animal experiments.
Excerpts from “Life After Life” by Raymond Moody
Experiencing the physical body as separate from the self is an indication that the power of the senses does not come from the organs that conduit them but from another layer of consciousness deeper than the physical. The method of investigating these truths would be through a development of the subtle senses or by evolving the sixth sense, termed as intuition in ancient psychology.
The soul is clothed in many sheaths that protect the divine seed till it becomes ready and mature to express itself. The soul moves from birth to birth through a series of identifications with one or the other sheaths, which creates a false sense of self called the ego. Sheaths dissolve one by one during the intervening period after death, and we begin to forget our ego-identity of who we were in our outer aspects, and wake up to the true soul.
The issue of existence of the soul cannot be settled by an armchair discussion or a seminar and debate in the prestigious centers of learning, which excel only in the mental domain and have little knowledge of what lies beyond the range of our limited senses. However there is a possibility of exploring and realising deeper truths within us.
In Attachment to the Chapter 4 of the book, Dr. Alok Pandey brought together several selections from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’s writings.
“Life upon earth is a field of growth, a great opportunity to progress, an opportunity that even the gods covet. Birth, death, rebirth, and all our struggle and pain help us in this development, which for the most part takes place unconsciously (for the surface mind).”
” It is not Justice but Love and Grace that sustain this world, and it is Love and not Justice that will save it.”
To fully understand the mystery of death and rebirth we need to understand the mystery of life. In his awakened consciousness man innately aspires for terrestrial perfection, searches after true love and unmixed bliss. He hopes to bring infinity down in finite terms. Is it vain chimera or a deeper possibility for which the whole adventure of space and time stands justified?
As in life so also in death, our own state determines the experiences we go through. Just as departing in a state of luminous joy and peace opens us to the higher worlds of light so also departing in a state of depression or pessimism projects us straight into the worlds of gloom and darkness.
A concluding part of the Chapter III “The Shroud of Death” of the book, containing 3 large quotes from various sources and author’s commentary to each of them.
“Of all fears the most subtle and the most tenacious is the fear of death. It is deeply rooted in the subconscient and it is not easy to dislodge. How can one overcome this fear? Several methods can be used for this purpose. But first of all, a few fundamental notions are needed to help us in our endeavour. The first and most important point is to know that life is one and immortal. Only the forms are countless, fleeting and brittle.”
Nothing hurts our human sensibilities and belief in a just and fair world as the death of a young one. It is very difficult to accept an untimely death, with the sudden shattering of all hopes and dreams. Did a cruel god devise all this just to inflict pain? Is there a contrary power that mars the all-loving Creator’s Work? Is it some ghost of a bygone karma?