Recently a friend from long ago died. I could see them up in the inner planes bright and sparkly, happy and thrilled at how they looked energetically. They were staying around, showing those of their friends and family who could see them how marvellous they looked and how happy they were.
And then, it was onwards to the next part of their adventure in the grand journey of Life.
Knowing them as I did, I knew they considered themselves as a soul with spirit, in a physical body. They thought of death as a transition and they knew about reincarnation.
For people who have such an outlook, death is just another step on the journey. The soul and spirit doesn’t die, it goes on. Those left behind who have this outlook can appreciate this and sometimes see the person who has died move on. This gets mixed in with the feelings of loss for those people who were close, as that person is no longer there, and a big part of their lives is gone.
In my own experience recently, two other people died and came close by on the inner planes basically glowing, and looking so radiant, saying their goodbyes before heading off. What helped is that they appreciated that death was a transition onto the inner planes, so there was no fear, anger, or trauma. Nor did they desperately try to hang on in a body that was too ill. Emotionally, they were at peace.
Emotions are important in death. Many years ago I had a sense that a much-loved elderly relative, was going to die, and they had about four months to live. I felt some preparation would help. They were still a bit active and mobile. They weren’t particularly religious or spiritual. They were kind and tried to be thoughtful in how they lived, which is pretty much a spiritual quality. I came across a book that would help me prepare.
In the 1980’s there was a book published called “The Tibetan book of living and dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche. In it there was a description of the Buddhist concept of the Bardo states. In Christian thinking there is the concept of heaven and hell, where souls go depending on whether the person has been “good” or “bad”, according to what other people determine is good and what is bad.
The Bardo states are more nuanced. There are several levels to them. There are several levels to the pleasant Bardo states, and there are several levels to the unpleasant going from the mildly depressing to the hellish. What determines where a soul goes is what they have done and the karmic consequences of that, and what the soul/person needs to go through to deal with those consequences, and also to deal with the energy of their emotions during dying, during leaving their physical body.
So if a person dies having being good overall, and they are happy and at peace, they go onto a positive level of the Bardo states for a while. If a person dies and has been negative in what they have done in their lives, they go onto an unpleasant Bardo states to repeatedly re-experience their actions to wear out the energy of that. Also, if a person is angry or fearful about their death, they go to a Bardo state to wear out that emotional energy before moving on. The same goes for feelings of addictions, they hang around on a Bardo state re-experiencing those sensations until they are used up.
The Buddhist concept of the Bardo states seems like a good explanation of what happens after death.
With regards to preparation, the Buddhists have prayers to prepare someone for death. These prayers clear any negative energy and provide positive emotional energy to alleviate any fear or anger at the time of death. The result is they go onto a positive Bardo state when they die. Prayers done properly and with focus are like light-filled words propelled by a loving intention, to bring about a positive change or situation.
I said the prayers daily for a couple of months, until it felt like time to stop. When the much-loved relative died I felt there to be a lot of peace about the death, and that they were happy with where they now were. For myself, I just felt a warm happiness for them rather than a sense of loss, as if the prayers I had done over time had worked on me, too.
With the recent deaths, for myself and for the friends who had died, there was the appreciation that death is just a transition and a part of the on-going journey of Life. We also held the concept of reincarnation, so we knew we had had many lives, and there were more to come, and we had died and been born many times. So what is there to worry about?
The best explanations of the reincarnation process and why it happens that I came across was by someone called Meher Baba. I found that understanding something of the reincarnation process stopped death from being a finality. I see it now as a transition we have done many times. I also found learning about reincarnation helped me to understand more of the big picture of what Life is all about. But that is another story.
For more about reincarnation and how belief in it can affect our approach to life, click here for an article on this blog.
For more on death from a spiritual point of view click here.