|Sunday, 22 September 2002|
by Dr. Gamini Karunanayake, MBBS (Cey) D.L.H. (Eng) D.L.H.R.C.P. (Lond) R.C.S. (Eng)
All great saints and teachers of different faiths have in their teaching referred to life beyond the present Rama Krishna, Gotama Buddha, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammed, Sai Baba and many others including the great Rishis of Vedic India taught that, we should all live according to certain ethical standards that have been laid down, so that our present and future lives beyond would be happy, until we obtain final liberation and escape from the endless cycles of births and deaths (Samsara). In spite of revelations by great teachers of the continuance of life after death, there are still some people who believe the present life is the last and therefore 'one should make the best use of it while it lasts' in a manner that suits their thinking.
Near death experience
Theosophical researchers, scientists, doctors of medicine, yogis and other researchers, have published articles on the existence of life after death in this article, material has been published from their writings. Dr. Raymond Moody has researched on "death bed experiences" (i.e. people who were pronounced as 'clinically dead' were revived and they spoke of their experience while they were in a clinically 'dead' state). The majority of patients who 'died' said that, they left their bodies and hovered above their physical lifeless form, and observed the doctors trying to revive their body. Elizabeth Taylor, the beautiful and famous actress who nearly died of pneumonia had this particular experience.
Similarly, there were other patients who were pronounced clinically 'dead', but later they were able to identify the doctors and nurses who attended on them. Some patients were able to rise above their prostate bodies and "see" and identify patients who were occupying other rooms in the hospital. In Dr. Moody's study, the patients who were pronounced dead experienced going through a long dark tunnel at very high speed, and meeting a 'being bathed in light' at the end of the tunnel, who lovingly welcomed them and had a conversation with them regarding their life "performance" in this world. Various important aspects in their life were reviewed in flash backs like on a TV screen.
At the end of the meeting, the 'dead person' was made to understand that he or she had some more duties to attend to in this world and therefore it was best that life returned to his or her body. The 'being of light' at the end of the dark 'tunnel' was Jesus to Christians, and people of other faiths perceived the being of light as the leader of their faith. There are others who have ascended to heavenly planes, and seen the beauty of the inhabitants and the environment there. Some others have seen the misery and frustrations in other darker planes where beings were regretting their lapses in this world.
What happens after death
It has been revealed that when a person discards his physical body at death he gets onto his spirit body or the astral body which is very subtle (and is a look alike of the youthful physical body). Those who have performed charitable deeds and accumulated good Karma will ascent to the higher astral worlds where they will have a contented and happy life.
The ordinary decent man will wake up in the lower astral plane which is a subtler counter part of the physical world, but it is more beautiful. Those persons who have been brutal and whose desires are utterly depraved will wake up in the grosser still lower level of astral plane. Here the environment is grey coloured or dark, and living there is extremely unpleasant and miserable. The inhabitants will experience frustrations due to their inability to work out their physical passions through their astral bodies which are not equipped for such fulfilment. This harrowing experience may well be termed a purgatory, but it is temporary and lasts until his depraved desires are worn out. The term apaya (Niraya) used in Buddhist literature could correspond to this grosser astral plane.
In the ordinary lower astral plane the inhabitants are able to communicate with certain people, especially friends and relations through a 'medium'. It is known that, Sir D. Baron Jayatillake a former head of the Cabinet of Ministers was in regular communication, for over ten years with a well known diplomat and ambassador to an European country. Sir DBJ was living after his death in an astral plane and he gave advice to the diplomat on matters relating to Buddhism, philosophy, psychology etc and also on personal matters. The communications were in the form of automatic writing from the spirit of Sri DB who on a few occasions gave demonstrations of telekinesis, that is, the movement of physical objects through space after dematerialising (Reference Spiritual Inquiry for the youth by C. Shanmuganayagam). Later, the spirit of Sir DB informed the diplomat that he was moving into a higher plane of existence from where contact with the human world is not possible due to human society being so polluted.
In Buddhist literature, it is stated that persons who have reached the Devalokas would develop an aloofness from wordly attachments. However, liberated souls living in the higher heavens could come down to earth and communicate with spiritually advanced people. In the book 'Autobiography of a Yogi', Swami Yogananda's guru Sri Yukteswar after his death came back to his beloved devotee, in flesh and blood form to give a sermon on the after life in other planes of existence. Sri Sathya Sai Baba's mother Easwaramma, who died long years ago has been seen on several occasions in her physical form talking to Sai Baba in his Ashram.
Swami Yogananda while lecturing on a topic of a spiritual nature had seen some of his devotees who died earlier, seated in the lecture hall, in their astral bodies and listening to his lecture.
Life in the higher astral heavens
It has also been stated that, the astral cosmos is much larger than the physical cosmos, and infinitely more beautiful. It is teeming with astral beings who have arrived from the physical world. The environment there is extremely beautiful, and pleasant. There are beautiful flowers, streams, waterfalls etc. The fruit trees hear extremely delicious fruits. There are no snakes and insects but birds and butterflies are present. The climate is always a very comfortable spring time with no extremes of temperature.
The astral inhabitants are not born from the wombs of a woman, but they automatically arrive in the youthful form and are welcomed into household occupied by persons who have similar spiritual and mental tendencies. As such there are no differences of opinion of serious nature and therefore there is always peace and harmony in the household and the community. Friends of previous lives in the physical world recognise each other in the astral world. One can meet several fathers, mothers, brothers, wives, husbands and other relatives of previous lives. As such, it is difficult to decide whom to love in particular as all have been connected at sometime or other. That is why all religious teachers advise us to love everybody equally.
Communication among all astral world residents is by telepathy or thought transference astral persons can sometimes observe human activities, but certain human beings who are spiritually developed can view the astral world e.g. Swami Yogananda was able to see the spirit of the mother of one of his devotees after she died of breast cancer. She was being escorted by astral helpers to her new residence in the astral world. Her career was fully cured. There is extremely melodious heavenly music composed by famous musicians Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Kabirdas, Mirabhai who are now living in the astral heavens.
They are entertaining vast astral audiences. Most of us living in the physical world are able to contact our dead relatives living in the astral world. When we are in deep sleep astral body detaches from the physical body and goes to the astral planes. When we wake up, we are not able to recollect but the astral beings know this and therefore they do not miss us so much. During the Second World War, the great Indian Saint Sri Aurobindo who is now living in the highest of the astral heavens decided that he should stop Adolph Hitler from destroying the world. Hitler summoned a conference of his Military Generals to decide on whether he should first attack Russia or Britain.
He told the generals to decide on that issue and he himself retreated to another room to 'meditate'. It was at this stage that Sri Aurobindo intervened to influence Hitler mind that he should first attack Russia and not Britain. This decision taken by Hitler against the advice tendered by his Generals resulted in disastrous consequences for Hitler and Nazi Germany. Thus Sri Aurobindo saved the world from the Nazi dictator (Ref Howard Murphen "Where the road ends")
The causal or Brahma worlds
Astral inhabitants can reincarnate into the physical or causal worlds. Their life span is about 1,500 to 2,000 years. Our being is composed of three parts. (1) physical body (2) Astral body (3) causal body. These three bodies are joined together due to the force of unfulfilled desires. The Causal body is composed of mind and ideas and is represented by a spark of light. In Buddhism, the beings in the Brahma lokas are of two types. Those with a body (Rupa) and those with mind only (Nama). Beings of the physical world can go direct to the Brahma worlds, if they have developed their minds in meditation to a very high level. The beings in the causal world are only one step away from total liberation or Nirvana. They have only to apply themselves to get rid of the remaining traces of desires to achieve liberation.
People who accumulate good or wholesome Karma by performing Dana, Seela, Bhavana (charity, morality, meditation) need not unduly fear death, as they will be able to be happy in life beyond. Others who accumulate bad or unwholesome Karma will have to improve themselves sooner than later, to avoid the consequences in this very life, and in the life beyond.
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