Death is a moment of intense concentration. It is a moment of great transition, from one state of existence to another and like all such intense moments and transitions of life, it very special. One needs to become conscious of this moment of life when one form is being dissolved and the soul is entering into its essential state. This evening we share some reflections and truths about this crucial and critical moment of which we hardly know and yet which holds so much importance in our life.
Words of Sri Aurobindo
The psychic being at the time of death chooses what it will work out in the next birth and determines the character and conditions of the new personality. Life is for the evolutionary growth by experience in the conditions of the Ignorance till one is ready for the higher light.
* * *
The dying wish of the man is only something on the surface—it may be determined by the psychic and so help to shape the future but it does not determine the psychic’s choice. That is something behind the veil. It is not the outer consciousness’s action that determines the inner process, but the other way round. Sometimes, however, there are signs or fragments of the inner action that come up on the surface, e.g. some people have a vision or remembrance of the circumstances of their past in a panoramic flash at the time of death, that is the psychic’s review of the life before departing.
* * *
The psychic being’s choice at the time of death doesn’t work out the next formation of personality, it fixes it. When it enters the psychic world, it begins to assimilate the essence of its experience and by that assimilation is formed the future psychic personality in accordance with the fixation already made. When this assimilation is over, it is ready for a new birth—but the less developed beings do not work out the whole thing for themselves, there are beings and forces of the higher world who have that work. Also when it comes to birth, it is not sure that the forces of the physical world will not come across the working out of what it wanted —its own new instrumentation may not be strong enough for that purpose; for there is the interaction of its own energies and the cosmic forces here. There may be frustration, diversion, a partial working out—many things may happen. All that is not a rigid machinery, it is a working out of complex forces. It may be added however that a developed psychic being is much more conscious in this transition and works much of it out itself. The time depends also on the development and on a certain rhythm of the being—for some there is practically immediate rebirth, for others it takes longer, for some it may take centuries; but here again, once the psychic being is sufficiently developed, it is free to choose its own rhythm and its own intervals. The ordinary theories are too mechanical—and that is the case also with the idea of pun. ya and p¯apa and their results in the next life.
CWSA 28: 532 – 533
* * *
Words of the Mother
I have received your note and it didn’t surprise me, because just about a month ago I received what seemed like an SOS from your mother, telling me your father was rapidly declining. I have done what I could, mainly to bring in some tranquillity, some calm, some inner peace. But I haven’t done…. You see, there are always two possibilities when people are so seriously ill: they can be helped to die quickly, or else made to linger on for a very long time. When I have no outer or inner indications, all I ever do is apply the consciousness for the best to happen to them (the best from the soul’s standpoint, of course).
Do you know whether your father has expressed any wish?
According to my mother’s letter, he says he no longer particularly cares to live, that his days are so miserable….
But he still doesn’t want to pass away? Is he suffering a great deal ?
(Mother remains silent for a moment, then says.) Over the years I have had a considerable number of experiences in this realm, and my first action is always the same: send the Peace (I do this in all cases, for everyone) and apply the Force, the Power of the Lord, for the best thing to happen. Some people are very sick, sick to the point where there is no hope, where they cannot be cured, where the end is coming; but they sense that their souls must still need to have certain experiences, so they hang on-they don’t want to die. In such cases I apply the Force for them to last as long as possible. In other cases, on the contrary, they are weary of suffering, or indeed the soul has finished its experience and desires to be liberated. In such a case, if I am sure of it, sure that they themselves are expressing the desire to depart, it’s over in a few hours – I say this with certainty because I’ve had a considerable number of experiences. There is a certain force which goes out and does what is necessary. I haven’t done either of these things for your father – neither to prolong his life (because when people are suffering it’s not very kind to prolong their lives indefinitely), nor to finish it, because I didn’t know – one can’t do either without knowing the person’s conscious wish……
….There was an experience like that quite recently. A.’s mother was ill – old and seriously ill. Seeing her declining, A. wrote to me: ‘If the time has come, make it happen quickly – don’t let her suffer.’ Then I saw very clearly that there was still something in her which didn’t want to go; and when I applied the Force for the best to happen she suddenly began to recover! It must have coincided with a kind of inner aspiration in her – no more fever, she was feeling well. And A. began preparing to come back here. ‘If she’s recovering,’ he said, ‘there’s no longer any point in my staying!’ The same evening she had a relapse and he sent me a telegram. Meanwhile (it was evening) I had gone upstairs to ‘walk’; suddenly The Will came (which is a very, very rare thing), The Will: ‘Enough, now it must finish – it’s enough as it is.’ Within half an hour she was dead.
These things are very interesting. They must form part of the work I have come on earth to do. Because even before encountering Theon, before knowing anything, I had experiences at night, certain types of activities looking after people who were leaving their bodies – and with a knowledge of the process; I didn’t know what I was doing nor did I seek to know, yet I knew exactly what had to be done and I did it. I was around twenty.
As soon as I came upon Theon’s teaching (even before meeting him personally), and read and understood all kinds of things which I hadn’t known before, I began to work quite systematically. Every night, at the same hour, I was working to construct – between the purely terrestrial atmosphere and the psychic atmosphere – a path of protection across the vital, so that people wouldn’t have to pass through it (for those who are conscious but without knowledge it’s a very difficult passage – infernal.) I was preparing this path, doing this work (it must have been around 1903 or 1904, I don’t remember exactly) for months and months and months. All sorts of extraordinary things happened during that time – extraordinary. I could tell long stories….
Then, when I went to Tlemcen, I told Madame Theon about it. ‘Yes,’ she told me, ‘it is part of the work you have come on earth to do. Everyone with even a slightly awakened psychic being who can see your Light will go to your Light at the moment of dying, no matter where they die, and you will help them to pass through.’ And this work is constant. Constant. it has given me a considerable number of experiences concerning what happens to people when they leave their bodies. I’ve had all sorts of experiences, all kinds of examples – it’s really very interesting.
Lately it has increased, become more precise.
There is a boy here, V., who is especially interested in what happens at the moment of death (this seems to be one reason why he has reincarnated). He’s a conscious boy, a remarkable clairvoyant, and he has a power. And we have had (how to put it?) some quite interesting correlations of experiences concerning people who pass away here. Extremely interesting and extraordinarily precise: he sends word to me, I reply, and at night when the disincarnated person comes he says, ‘Mother has done this and says to do that,’ and the person does it. And we don’t need to speak – such precision!
This happens in sleep?
He might do this work in sleep, or sometimes in meditation, or in a kind of trance he enters into – it depends on the case.
I will give you a concrete example, then you’ll understand. When I.B. was killed, I had to gather up all his states of being and activities, which had been dispersed by the violence of the accident – it was terrible, he was in a dreadful state of dispersion. For two or two and a half days the doctors fought in the hope of reviving him, but it was impossible. During those two days I gathered up all his consciousness, all of it; I collected it over his body, to the point where, when it had come and formed itself there, such vitality, such life was coming back into his body that after some hours the doctors believed he would be saved. But it couldn’t last (it wasn’t possible – a part of the brain had come out). Well, when not only his soul but his mental being, his vital being, and all the rest had been properly collected and organized over his body and had realized that the body had become quite unusable, it was over – they gave up the body and it was over.
I was keeping I.B. near me because I already had the idea of putting him immediately back into another body – his soul was not satisfied, it had not finished its experience (there was a whole combination of circumstances) and it wanted to continue to live on earth. Then, that night, his inner being went to find V., lamenting, saying he was dead and hadn’t wanted to die, that he had lost his body and wanted to continue to live. V. was very perplexed. He let me know about it in the morning: ‘Here’s what has happened.’ I sent word to him of what I was doing, that I was keeping I.B. in my atmosphere and that he should stay very calm and not get excited, for I was going to put him back into a body as soon as possible – I already had something in view. The same evening I.B. again went to find V., with the same complaint. V. told him very clearly, ‘Here is what Mother says, here is what she is going to do; come now, be calm and don’t torment yourself.’ And he saw in I.B.’s face that he had understood (the inner being was taking on I.B.’s physical appearance, naturally); his face relaxed, he became content.
He went away and he never came back. That is, he stayed tranquilly with me, until I was able to put him into C’.s child.
This correlation in the work is very interesting because it has quite practical effects – V. was able to communicate exactly what I had to say to I.B., and I.B. understood better through him than through me directly….
I was telling you the other day how vexing it is that we are all on different planes all the time, but on that particular plane it works very well with this boy – on this one point, this tiny, precise point concerning the moment of leaving the body. We can do interesting work this way.
Is one snatched up by the vital zone upon leaving the body?
No, it depends.
It depends entirely upon the way people die: on the way they leave their bodies, on what is around them, on the atmosphere created for them.
If they call me, then it goes well.
There have been very, very few cases, a quite minimal number, when people have called (not very sincerely) and their call hasn’t had much effect.
But even these people have a protection…..
But it’s very rare that people get no response.
Not long ago M.’s sister died (psychologically, she was in a terrible state – she had no faith). Well, on that day, just when I came to know that she was passing away, I remember being upstairs in the bathroom communicating with Sri Aurobindo, having a sort of conversation with him (it happens very often), and I asked him, ‘What happens to such people when they die here at the Ashram?’ ‘Look,’ he replied, and I saw her passing away; and on her forehead, I saw Sri Aurobindo’s symbol in a SOLID golden light (not very luminous, but very concrete). There it was. And with the presence of this sign the psychological state no longer mattered – nothing touched her. And she departed tranquilly, tranquilly. Then Sri Aurobindo told me, ‘All who have lived at the Ashram and who die there have automatically the same protection, whatever their inner state.’
I can’t say I was surprised, but I admired the mighty power by which the simple fact of having been here and died here was sufficient to help you to the utmost in that transition.
But there are all sorts of cases. Take N.D., for example, a man who lived his whole life with the idea of serving Sri Aurobindo – he died clasping my photo to his breast. This was a consecrated man, very conscious, with an unfailing dedication, and all the parts of his being well organized around the psychic. The day he was going to leave his body little M. was meditating next to the Samadhi when suddenly she had a vision: she saw all the flowers of the tree next to the Samadhi (those yellow flowers I have called ‘Service’) gathering themselves together to form a big bouquet, and rising, rising straight up. And in her vision these flowers were linked with the image of N.D. She ran quickly to their house and – he was dead.
I only knew about this vision later, but on my side, when he left, I saw his whole being gathered together, well united, thoroughly homogenous, in a great aspiration, and rising, rising without dispersing, without deviating, straight up to the frontier of what Sri Aurobindo has called ‘the higher hemisphere,’ there where Sri Aurobindo in his supramental action presides over earth. And he melted into that light.
Some time before his heart attack he said to his children: the gown is old, it must be thrown away.
But people are so ignorant! They make such a fuss over death, as if it were the end – this word ‘death’ is so absurd! I see it as simply passing from one house into another or from one room to another; you take one simple step, you cross the threshold, and there you are on the other side – and then you come back.
Have I told you about the experience I had the day I suddenly found myself in Sri Aurobindo’s home in the subtle physical? Well, it’s as if I took a step and entered a far more concrete world than the physical – more concrete because things contain more truth. I spent a good while there with Sri Aurobindo and then, when it was over, I took another step and I found myself back here … slightly dumbfounded. It took me quite some time to regain my bearings here, because it was this world that seemed unreal to me, not the other.
But it’s simply that – you take a step, and you enter another room. And when you live in your soul there is a continuity, because the soul remembers, it keeps the whole memory; it remembers all occurrences, even outer occurrences, all the outer movements it has been associated with. So it’s a continuous, uninterrupted movement, here and there, from one room to another, from one house to another, from one life to another.
People are so ignorant! That’s what irritates those who have passed to the other side – people don’t understand, they shoo them away: ‘What does he want? Why does he bother me? He’s DEAD!’
June 24, 1961
* * *
I remember, the very day when Janina died (she died around 6 in the morning, I think), around 4 in the morning, something made me suddenly take interest in this question: What will the new form be like? What will it be? I was looking at man and at the animal, and then I saw that there would be a far greater difference between man and the new form than between man and the animal. I began to see certain things, and it so happened that Janina was there (in her thought, but a material enough and very concrete thought). It was very interesting (it lasted a long time, nearly two hours), because I saw all the timidity of human conceptions, while she had made contact with something: it wasn’t an idea but a sort of contact [with a future reality]. And I had the sense of a more plastic Matter, more full of Light, much more directly responsive to the Will (the higher Will), and with such a plasticity that it could respond to the Will by taking on variable and changing forms. And I saw some of her own forms, forms that she conceived (rather like those beings who don’t have a body as we do, but have hands and feet when they will it, a head when they will it, luminous clothes when they will it – things of that sort), I saw that, and I remember I was congratulating her; I told her, “Yours was a partial but partially very clear perception of one of the forms the new Manifestation will take.” And she was very happy; I told her, “You see, you have fully worked for the future.” And then, suddenly, I saw a sapphire blue light, pale, very luminous, with something like the shape of a flame (with a rather broad base), and there was a kind of flash – pfft! – and it was gone. She wasn’t there anymore. I thought, “Well, that’s odd!” An hour later (I saw that around 6 A.M.; all the rest had lasted about two hours), they told me she was dead. Which means she spent the last moments of her life with me, and then, from me, pfft! went off towards … a life elsewhere.
It was very abrupt. She was so happy, you know, I told her, “How well you have worked for the future!” And all of a sudden, a sort of flash (a sapphire blue light, pale, very luminous, with the shape of a flame and a rather broad base), pfft! she was gone. And that was just the time when she died.
It’s one of the most interesting departures I have seen – fully conscious. And so happy to have participated! … I myself didn’t know why I was telling her, “Yes, you have truly participated in the work for the future, you have put the earth in contact with one of the forms of the new Manifestation.”
August 11, 1964
* * *
Canst thou see God in thy torturer and slayer even in thy moment of death or thy hours of torture? Canst thou see Him in that which thou art slaying, see and love even while thou slayest? Thou hast thy hand on the supreme knowledge. How shall he attain to Krishna who has never worshipped Kali?
“All is the Divine and the Divine alone exists.”