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Sep 17, 2001 11:56 AM
by Etzion Becker

Enjoy this one. Etzion
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Shar Wiseman <Babaette7@AOL.COM>
To: <Baba@eccinfo.ECC.EDU>
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2001 3:01 PM

> Pascal M. Kaplan, Ph.D.
> However painful the moments or months before death may be,
> the experience of dying itself -- that is, the withdrawal of the
> subtle body from the physical and the snapping of the silver
> cord -- is completely painless and brings release from whatever
> physical pain has been endured in the body.
> In normal cases where the individual has taken the opportunity
> to prepare himself for death, the transitional phase lasts about
> three to four days. During this time, the individual usually
> remains near the physical body and will often even attend the
> funeral; or, if for some reason that is not possible, he or she
> tends to gravitate to a favorite place or object at home. It is
> also not uncommon for close friends and relatives to experience
> the presence of the departed person at their own homes as a
> sort of farewell visit.
> Under normal circumstances, this three-to four-day period is
> sufficient for the deceased person to release himself from
> emotional attachment to the body and to move forward toward
> the light which indicates the entrance to the astral plane proper.
> Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the ease of such a
> normal transition, however. What Meher Baba calls non-normal
> situations also arise which complicate the transition period for
> some individuals. In cases where there is sudden death in war
> or an accidental and unanticipated death, the person may be
> confused for a while and may require longer than the normal
> three to four days to adjust to the fact that he has died. Others
> may choose to remain earthbound because of some unfinished
> business which they cannot or will not release -- for example,
> overseeing the disposition of their worldly belongings or
> worrying about their families. It is to such souls as these who,
> for whatever reasons, need help in accepting the fact of their
> death, that the Helpers (sometimes referred to as the Ieague
> or White Brotherhood) come to offer aid and counseling. These
> Helpers, who serve others much as psychologists and social
> workers do in the physical, are also on hand at times of
> massive disasters or catastrophes involving loss of life.
> The quality of the transition period of those who die is strongly
> influenced by the attitude, thoughts and feelings of those who
> are left behind. A. E. Powell, for example, writes:
> Thus, although the living often suppose themselves to
> have "lost" the dead, the dead are never for a moment
> under the impression that they have lost the living.
> A man, in fact, living in his astral body after death is
> more readily and deeply influenced by the feelings of
> his friends in the physical world than when he was on
> earth, because he has no physical body to deaden
> his perceptions. (8)
> During the whole period of the astral plane life,
> whether it be long or short, the man is within the
> reach of earth influences. In the cases [of
> uncontrolled grief] just mentioned, the passionate
> sorrow and desires of friends on earth would set
> up vibrations in the astral body of the man who
> had died, and so reach and rouse his mind. . . .
> Thus aroused . . . to vivid remembrance of earth
> life, he may endeavor to communicate with his
> earth friends. . . . Such an awakening is often
> accompanied by acute suffering, and in any event
> the natural process of the ego's withdrawal is
> delayed.(9)
> Thus excessive grief, or seeing friends and loved ones acting
> and feeling as though one no longer existed, may have a
> debilitating effect on the one who has died, making it
> emotionally more difficult to adjust to his new life-situation.
> Parents with young children know how much easier and more
> enjoyable it is to leave them with a sitter when they wave
> good-bye happily than when they cry and resist the separation.
> It is the same sort of situation at death.
> Spiritual teaching does not for a moment counsel forgetfulness
> of the dead, of course; on the contrary, it suggests that
> affectionate remembrance be combined with prayerful thoughts
> to remind the deceased to orient themselves toward God and
> toward the spiritual light that is often experienced at the
> moment of death. That is said to provide the best support for
> those whose time has come to make the transition.
> Those persons who, as atheists and skeptics, have denied the
> continuity of conscious existence beyond physical life tend
> also to experience difficulty during the transitional stage. In
> some cases, such persons steadfastly refuse to believe that
> they have in fact died, reasoning that they cannot be "dead"
> since they know that death entails the cessation of all
> consciousness! Others have projected such a powerful image
> in their minds of death as the total quiescence of
> consciousness that when they die they virtually hypnotize
> themselves into a state of deep sleep or coma. Writing in "A
> World Beyond," Ruth Montgomery reports:
> When such a soul finds himself on this side of the
> open door, he will not accept the fact, for he knows
> that there's no such place. When others try to rouse
> him from torpor here, he eyes them with hostility,
> believing them to be figments of his own imagination.
> He had expected neither punishment nor reward
> after physical death . . . and he knew that his soul
> had perished with his body. For a long time this
> soul may lie in stupor, waiting for the so-called
> hallucination to pass away. . . . Sometimes a soul
> wastes eons in this state, simply because the soul
> mind has not yet accepted the fact that it is alive;
> but more often the soul is able to shake off the grip
> of the stubborn physical mind and awaken to the
> reality that this is the real state . . . . (10)
> Still others are said to experience incredible terror at the
> realization that their denial of God and afterlife were erroneous.
> They fear that by their denials they have brought upon
> themselves the awful punishments which conventional religions
> ascribe to nonbelievers. Although in fact there is no literal hell,
> fire or brimstone, the fear itself results in severe mental agony
> for these souls. In each of these cases one sees how one's
> expectations and beliefs concerning what happens in the
> afterlife shape one's actual experience. And in such instances
> also, the Helpers seek to ease and facilitate the transition.(11)
> A more difficult transition experience results from suicide,
> where there can be severe psychic aftereffects. While in some
> rare instances suicide may be motivated by altruistic or true
> spiritual concerns and insight (for example, when someone
> dies of a hunger strike in order to better the welfare of the
> masses, or lays down his life for his country or religion or out
> of a longing for God), in the vast majority of cases, the
> predominant or underlying motive is simply that of wanting to
> avoid some physical or emotional suffering or pain, or else
> sheer disgust for the conditions of life. When suicide results
> from such motivation, a situation is created wherein the
> individual finds himself dissociated from the physical before
> having lived through all that was destined to be experienced in
> that particular lifetime. As Murshida Duce has explained it:
> When we suicide, we can neither go forward nor
> backward, so we stay earthbound for a long time.
> We realize what we should have done while we
> had a body, and we can't do it without one. We
> did not finish our appointed tasks so we cannot
> go ahead in the astral world.(12)
> Thus, because he continues to feel driven to pursue physical
> experience but has no means to actualize such impulses,
> there results a state of intense frustration and suffering. This
> state persists either until the impressions and impulses
> subside of their own accord, which may be a matter of
> centuries, or until the individual is freed through the effects of
> prayer and/or through the grace of a spiritual master. In any
> case, the mental suffering which is the ordinary consequence
> of suicide is much more severe than any amount of discomfort
> or suffering which could result from the working through of even
> the most difficult life-situation or enduring painful disease. It is
> for this reason that most religions regard suicide as one of the
> greatest possible sins.
> Certain habits developed in the physical life can have equally
> detrimental psychic aftereffects in the astral. For example,
> those who develop addictions to drugs or to alcohol tend to
> remain earthbound for quite some time because of the
> persistence of their craving for drugs or for a drink. Unable to
> satisfy their craving directly, they must either undergo the
> severest withdrawal pains or, as often happens, they seek to
> satisfy their craving -- if only temporarily and vicariously -- by
> associating themselves with an embodied person who, like
> themselves, indulges in the habit. This latter situation explains,
> in part, the various possession phenomena so often evident in
> cases of drug and alcohol abuse.
> To appreciate the severity of this situation, we must understand
> that one major difference between the physical plane and the
> astral plane is the felt-intensity of subjective experiences.
> Because consciousness in the physical is directed outwardly,
> and because there are so many distractions to disperse it --
> sounds, bodily feelings, sights, smells, etc. -- the physical
> body serves to dampen the intensity of subjective experience.
> This is noticed in the fact that feelings tend to be so much
> more vivid in dreams than in waking consciousness. Because,
> in the astral, consciousness is no longer mediated by the
> physical, the craving for drugs or alcohol is experienced with
> many times the intensity of the same craving in the physical.
> This gives some indication of the severity of the withdrawal
> pains for those who enter the astral with such habits or
> cravings, and why this is often spoken of as a hell-state.
> Since the same sort of craving, though to a lesser degree, is
> experienced by those who enter the astral with addictions to
> cigarettes, coffee, chocolate or any other substance or desire
> -- for example, sex-lust -- which requires satisfaction through
> the physical body, spiritual masters advise their students
> always to remain in control of such activities, lest they become
> uncontrolled habits.
> Apart from such non-normal circumstances or situations, the
> transitional phase usually lasts from three to four days, after
> which time the deceased individual is ready to sever his earth-
> consciousness, at least for the time being, and begin the
> second major phase of the afterlife process.
> (8) A. E. Powell, THE ASTRAL BODY (London: The Theosophical
> Publishing House Ltd., 68 Great Russell Street, 1973), p. 114
> (9) Ibid., pp. 134 - 135
> (10) Ruth Montgomery, A WORLD BEYOND (New York: Coward,
> McCann & Geoghegan, Inc., 1971), p. 118
> (11) See, for example, Helen Greaves, TESTIMONY OF LIGHT
> (London: Church's Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual
> Studies, 1969)
> (12) Ivy O. Duce, WHAT AM I DOING HERE? (San Francisco:
> Sufism Reoriented, Inc., 1966), p. 25
> >From UNDERSTANDING DEATH, by Pascal M. Kaplan, Ph.D.,
> Pages 8 - 15, Copyright 1977 by Pascal M. Kaplan, Published
> by Sufism Reoriented, Walnut Creek, CA

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