THE MYSTERY OF DEATH
NOTHING DIES IN NATURE
Death and deathlessness both inhere in the nature of all that is - all that combines in itself both matter and spirit. Matter is but a projecting screen for the spirit - the all-pervading spirit that attracts matter in varying degrees of densities and vibrations to manifest itself in various patterns of forms and colours, at different levels of existence. Spirit by itself without material mantle to manifest itself on the earth-plane is a void; for spirit without the covering of matter cannot be seen with the eyes of flesh just as the power of spring makes itself felt only when it acts on flowers and fruits making them bloom and blossom with juicy fragrance and luscious flavour.
Man represents in him the doctrine of trinity on earth, as he combines in himself body, mind and soul, the last being of the essence of God, the life-breath enlivening both the body and the mind making one a living man, with the breath of God surging in him from top to toe.
The human body is individualised matter inasmuch as spirit enshrouded therein seems to be an individualised spirit like the sun reflected in so many water pots. At death, the body, composed as it is of different elements, dissolves and returns to the cosmic reservoir of substances, ultimately merging in one primal substance; and the soul returns to God:
"As soon as the silver cord is loosened, the golden bowl is broken
like a pitcher at the fountain or the wheel at the cistern. Then the
dust returns unto the earth as it Was and the spirit returns unto
God who gave it." (Eccl. 12: 6-7)
A living man is not something independent of, and apart from the Supreme Power, that flows in him. He is a product of the Supreme Power acting on material plane through an organised body of waves which produce a state of consciousness in him. Man exists when the Supreme Power runs in and through his bodily mould, but when that Power withdraws unto Itself, he is no more a living entity for all functional activity in him ceases and what remains? - nothing but a mass of inert matter the same as before in shape and substance, but without the living life-impulse that was pulsating in him moments before.
Like man, the entire universe is a manifestation of the one life-principle, the principle of living consciousness in varying degrees, right from Logos down to the atoms of the material elements perpetually moving in rhythmic motion, forming and reforming in quick succession many patterns by the Supreme Power acting in and upon them. In short, the intelligence of the universe abides, and abides forever and anon, in the heart of each atom which is dancing to its tune like the eternal dance of Siva, the living embodiment of Shakti, the Mother of the universe. In the esoteric cosmogony, the theory of 'dead' matter does not find any place whatsoever for matter cannot exist by itself without the cohesive power inherent therein. Matter in fact is energy in congealed form.
In ancient philosophy, a sharp distinction was drawn between 'being' and 'existence.' The Logos, the Archetypal world is that of true being, changeless and eternal; while 'existence' is an expression and expansion or a moving forward and outward into the world of becoming, a world of ceaseless change and transformation from moment to moment.
Physiologists and physicians like botanists, horticulturists, floriculturists, tell us a lot of the mechanical and chemical processes going on in the human metabolism or in fact in any living organism, be it a tree, a flower, a fruit, an ant or an elephant; but cannot tell us why they live, how they live, what for they live, what is life itself, and above all what is consciousness that characterises the life-impulse on any and every plane of existence.
The cosmic cycle proves that life is eternal. It is an endless process. It continues on and on, assuming one form after another in endless series, appearing, disappearing and reappearing like waves and bubbles on the stream of time - time rolling down from eternity to eternity. Nature is but one vast reservoir of life and matter in which nothing is lost and nothing dies, no matter how forms may change, and change kaleidoscopically in less than the twinkling of an eye. It is this changing process that is commonly called death - death of one form at one place and birth in another form at another place or on another plane. Invisible vapour arising from the sea dies so as to change into visible solid snow on the mountain top and the visible snow in its turn taking once again the reverse process-the process of death, melts into liquid water and water changes back into invisible gaseous aeriform or vapour again, making a continuous chain of cause and effect. Similarly, man becomes visible entity when spirit puts on a human form and then in course of time that very man of so many parts on the stage of life (at once son, brother, husband and father; now an infant, then a young man and lastly a dotard), ultimately becomes invisible when the spirit in him withdraws causing to the consternation of those around, a void in the vast web of relationships that he wove around him during his existence on the earth-plane. This is what actually happens at the time of the final change when the physical body disintegrates and resolves into the cosmic order of things, and life currents merge into the great cosmic life-principle which is vitally organic in nature; and not chemically inorganic and mechanical.
Death is not what it seems to be, and what it is taken for in common parlance. Death and life are correlative terms on the earth-plane only, but in reality there is no difference between the two, and in fact one cannot be contradistinguished from the other; for death cannot swallow life nor can death put an end to life. It is just an interchangeable process as two sides of a coin rotating on its axis. Do we not see day and night, light and darkness, alternately coming and going, as the rotating earth spins and revolves round the sun casting shadows of varying lengths at different places while the sun itself continues to shine all the time. Death does not mean total extinction or annihilation as, at times, it is believed to be. It is nothing but a change of consciousness from one place of existence to another place of existence. Life, on the contrary, is one continuous process which knows no end for the so-called death that follows life is not lifelessness but life in another form at another place, here on earth or elsewhere and in a different form, with a different name, and under different set of circumstances as is adjudged by Divine Dispensation working on the inexorable law of action 'as ye sow, so shall ye reap.' Life being a positive expression of the Supreme Being, is not subject to the negativity of death, and the latter cannot, therefore, extinguish the former - the eternal flame of life.
We have the testimony of an unbroken line of Masters who taught that life and death are mere words in the world of duality, meant to describe the surface effect or the circumferential shifting of the state of consciousness of the Inner Being dwelling at the centre. These are merely visible and invisible stages in the cosmic cycle through which the inner man passes. The lamentable, horrifying and much-dreaded death is, in reality, a rebirth (being born again of the inner man) into a life which may be more joyous and more beautiful than known hitherto. "Death the awe- inspiring and heart-rending death," says Kabir, is to me a harbinger of joyous life, and I welcome it fully." The Gospels also tell of the Kingdom of God that awaits one beyond the death-door:
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God ......
Except a man be born of water and of spirit, he cannot enter
into the Kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born
of the spirit is spirit ......
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but cans't not tell whence it cometh and whither
it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the spirit.
Thus with each successive death or
dissolution of form, the spirit freed from the solid mould, renews from
strength to strength and from power to power, growing in greater and wider
consciousness than ever before. In this context Maulana Rumi tells us:
I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was a man.
Why should I fear ? when was I less by dying ?
Yet, once more, I shall die as man, to soar--
With angels blessed, but even from angelhood
I must pass on; all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
I shall become what no mind e'er conceived.
Oh! let me not exist, for non-existence
Proclaims in organ-tones, "To Him we shall return."
Death then is another name for a change in the central life-principle, the pivot round which organised life-monad moves and functions. It is a change from one set of circumstances to another set of circumstances, in different forms and under different conditions as most suited to the ultimate unfoldment into full efflorescence of the Self or the living-monad, leading to greater and greater awareness of, and arising into the higher, spiritual values of life:
Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not sleep (in death),
but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye......
raised incorruptible....putting on incorruption ......and immortality....
swallowing Death in victory (defying) the sting (both) of death
and (the fear of) grace.
In 'Man the Unknown' Alex Carel says: "Man is made up of a procession of phantoms, in the midst of which strides the unknowable Reality." Nanak, likewise, speaks of himself, in much the same strain: "In the midst of the outer physical mould, called Nanak, plays the invisible Power of the Supreme Being."
In Bhagwad Gita, the Song of the Adorable One, Bhagwan Krishna, the seventh avtar of Vishnu, one of the famous triad in the Hindu mythology, tells us:
Know thou, O Prince of Pandu, that there was never a time, when I,
nor thou, nor any of these princes of earth was not; nor shall there
ever come a time, hereafter, when any of us shall cease to be. As
the soul, wearing this material body, experienceth the stages of
infancy, youth, manhood and old age, even so shall it, in due course
of time, pass on to another body, and in other incarnations shall it
again live, and move and play its part. Those who have attained the
wisdom of the Inner Doctrine, know these things, and fail to be
moved by aught that cometh to pass in this world of change - to such
Life and Death are but words, and both are but surface aspects of
the deeper Being (within).
Thus it is clear that under the cosmic cyclic law, all things move in a circle and all things are eternal. The dance of Siva, at once the god of death, and death leading to rebirth, not unoften at a higher level of existence, goes on forever and forever. Under this ever-revolving wheel of life, man, by a process of evolution or growth, keeps changing from a mere physical to an astral, then to causal and finally to a spiritual being on various planes of existence until he rightly comes to his own; knows and realises the ever-evolving principle of consciousness in him in its fullness which he potentially is and embraces the totality of his being. "All the same, we live, move and have our individual being in God (the Universal Being), for we are His offspring and He is the very being of our being and without His Power working in us, we cannot exist and function." (Acts 17:23-24).
'Like begets like.' Each thing, be it a plant, an animal or a man, grows from the seed after its own kind, though according to a set pattern of life determined by the quality inherent in the seed. "God giveth it (the seed) a body as it hath pleased Him and to every seed his own body." (1 Cor. 15:38-40). Man at the highest rung in the ladder of life on earth is not fragmented from his Maker. The Father is in the son in a potential form and the son is firmly rooted in the Father, though he may, circumstanced as he is, not know it owing to limitations of the fleshly raiments in which he lives all the time functioning on the earth-plane. Because of the Power of God working him, he verily but unwittingly lives in the temple of God: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of the holy God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (and therefore is you). The term 'man' is merely a name applied to the incarnated God-spirit on the earth-plane. This then is the famous doctrine of holy trinity: A whole consisting of three parts - the Father (the Universal Spirit), the son (the individualised spirit clothed in body, mind and intellect) and the Holy Ghost (the saving links or life-lines between the two by following which the human-spirit transhumanises the human trappings) - all combined in man. Hence the exhortation of the Prophet of Galilee: "Be ye Perfect as your Father in heaven is Perfect." Perfection comes from the Perfect One.
'Perfection' then is the goal of human life which consists in self-unfoldment or evolution of the individual spirit by transcending the limitations of body, mind and intellect and by tapping the deep-rooted latencies in the depths of the great sea of unconsciousness yet unexplored and unknown. It is indeed a difficult task but not impossible to achieve, if one is lucky enough to contact a Master-soul, well-versed both in the science and art of Pra Vidya or the knowledge of the worlds that are heavenly and lie beyond the senses which help us only in the realm of Apra Vidya or the knowledge of the empirical world of observation and experimentation. "The Kingdom of God cometh not by observation - the Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:2 1). The Kingdom of God is not to descend from the clouds above. It is already there in man and one can witness its glory by the process of inversion (akin to death), a voluntary process of course while living, as was taught by the Masters to their chosen disciples, from times immemorial. What a man has done, man can do if there is proper help and guidance from some Godman. Every Saint had a past and every sinner has a future.