“There is no death, only a change in the worlds. Though death seems to most of us a fearsome and unfamiliar affair, we are constantly being educated in its ways, for life is a continual process of change, and each change is a little death survived. Not only do we live encircled by death, but to live is itself to die: From the moment of birth, each breath we take inexorably draws our death nearer. Nevertheless, despite its constant proximity, death for most of us is the mightiest of challenges.”
“When a person here is deceasing, his voice goes into his mind; his mind into his breath; his breath into heat; the heat into the highest divinity.”
The Chandogya Upanishad
“This is how the death experience will be: When one practices good actions, one can die peacefully. At the moment of death, wealth, good positions, husbands, wives and possessions do not mean anything. No matter how much we have, we all leave this world empty of materiality. Worldly wealth has no meaning at this moment, only inner wealth. Divine wealth takes us to the divine. Depending on how we have spent our life, we will experience one of two paths: One is light, beauty, joy, contentment and merging with divinity; one is non-light, based in fear.”
Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi, Founder, Humanity for Unity
According to Buddhism, it is important to train ourselves right now so that we can die well. When our vital functions cease, the gross level of consciousness dissolves and the subtle consciousness, which does not depend on a physical support, manifests and offers a unique opportunity to the seasoned practitioner to progress towards enlightenment. That is why, particularly in the Tantras, one finds many meditation methods aimed at preparing the practitioner for the moment of death.
“Death is a part of all our lives. Whether we like it or not, it is bound to happen. Instead of avoiding thinking about it, it is better to understand its meaning. We all have the same body, the same human flesh, and therefore we will all die. There is a big difference, of course, between natural death and accidental death, but basically death will come sooner or later. If from the beginning your attitude is ‘Yes, death is a part of our lives,’ then it may be easier to face.”
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
“What is death? Death is the cessation of the connection between our mind and our body. Most people believe that death takes place when the heart stops beating; but this does not mean that the person has died, because his subtle mind may still remain in his body. Death occurs when the subtle consciousness finally leaves the body to go to the next life. Our body is like a guesthouse and our mind like the guest; when we die our mind has to leave this body and enter the body of our next rebirth, like a guest leaving one guesthouse and traveling to another.”
Kadampa Buddhism, Death-and-dying.org
Tibetan Buddhism –
“Central to the Tibetan concept of after-life existence is the Bardo. The word means literally ‘intermediate state’…the Bardo Thodel describes a distinct sequence of states (bardos) through which the individual passes through between death and rebirth.
There are three distinct stages:
The Chikai Bardo: Intermediate period of the moment of death. This includes the process of dying and the dissolution of elements (earth, water, fire, and air) that make up the physical body.
The Chonyid Bardo: Intermediate period of visions of deities.
The Sidpa Bardo: Intermediate period of rebirth. During this bardo the consciousness descends and chooses a new body to be born into.
M. Alan Kazlev, from the Tibetan Afterlife (Tibetan Book of Death)
“The Jewish tradition teahes that death does not end a soul’s existence. Life – our essence, our spirit – survives the failure of the flesh. Rather, death represents a transition from one state of consciousness to another level of consciousness – a disembodied spiritual awareness. After bodily death, a person’s immortal soul enters several non-material realms where it undergoes a series of transformational experiences designed to help purify it and consolidate the lessons of the life just lived. Life after death – this represents an evolutionary journey of consciousness consisting of various stages of learning accompanied by an integration of the experiences from the deceased’s immediate pat life.”
Lewis D. Solomon, The Jewish Book of the Living and the Dying
“While death represents the soul’s elevation to a higher level, it nevertheless remains a painful experience for the survivors. At the same time, it must serve – as must all experiences in life – as a lesson. We must see death not as a negative force, but as an opportunity for growth. The Sages teach us that it would be barbaric not to mourn at all, but that we should not mourn longer than necessary. To diminish our expression of grief is unhealthy and inappropriate, but to allow our grief to overwhelm us is to selfishly overlook the true meaning of death – the fact that a righteous person’s soul has found an even more righteous home.”
Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Jewish Learning Institute: Soul Quest: The Journey Through Life, Death and Beyond
“The experience of death is rather like that of a man who has lived all his life in a dark room and suddenly finds himself transported to a mountaintop. There his gaze would embrace all the wide landscape; the works of men and women would seem insignificant to him. It is thus that the soul torn from the Earth and from the body perceived the inexhaustible diversity of things and the incommensurable abysses of the worlds which contain them; the first time it sees itself in the universal context…and takes account of the fact that life has been an instant; but a play.”
Fithjof Schuon, Understanding Islam
“A classical Christian perspective on death typically refers to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospel of John is often quoted: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ In the Epistle in Romans we read: ‘For if we have been united with Christ in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with a resurrection like his.’ Yet, the subject of death and life after death has always been part of everyone’s human story since the beginning of history. And this Christian emphasis is not necessarily the story of Jesus, but rather the storytellers of Jesus after Jesus’ death.
Professor Marcus Borg expresses concern with the over emphasis of the Christian afterlife as it distracts from the more essential teachings of Jesus. It can also be divisive, creating distinctions between the believers and non-believers, righteous and the unrighteous. Borg also reminds us that there is in the Lord’s Prayer asking that God take us into heaven when we die. Rather it is stated, ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Marcus Borg states that as a committed Christian he is an agnostic about the afterlife and clarifies agnostic precisely as one who simply does not know for certain. Then he states, ‘What I do affirm is very simple: when we die, we do not die into nothingness, but we die into God.’ In other words of the apostle Paul: ‘We live unto the Lord and we die unto the Lord.’ So whether we live or die, we are the Lords.’ For me, that is enough.”
Gregg Anderson, Minister
“The story of Mary Magdalene really begins at the moment of Jesus’ physical death, and its epicenter is always the profound transition point between dying and awakening to a new reality. The difference between the two streams is that for canonical gospels (at least in their orthodox interpretation) Jesus returns from the dead to fully resuscitated human body. In the wisdom stream, by contrast, Mary Magdalene I the one who crosses over, and their meeting takes place in the imaginative realm, but in any case this is not the main point. Her recognition of him is not simply a raw human response to a stupendous miracle; it reflects a transformed consciousness that allows her to match him at his own density.”
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene
“The heart of the understanding of death is the insight that birth, growth, death and rebirth are a cycle that forms the underlying order of the universe. We can see the cycle manifest around us in every aspect of the natural world, from the decay of the falling leaves that feed the roots of growing plants, to the moons waning and waxing. Hard as it is for us to die, or to accept the death of someone we love, we know that death is part of the natural process of life. Therefore, we can trust that death, like every other phase of life, offers us opportunities for growth in wisdom and love.”
Starhawk, The Pagan Book of Living and Dying
“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb. And when the Earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
Kalil Gilbran, The Prophet
Death and Dying Experts –
“the experience of the dying frequently includes glimpses of another world and those waiting in it. Although they provide few details, dying people speak with awe and wonder of the peace and beauty they see in this other place. They tell us of talking with, or perhaps sensing the presence of, people they have known and loved. They know often without being told, that they are dying, and may even tell us when their deaths will occur.”
Maggie Callahan & Patricia Kelley, Final Gifts
“Some common, clear lessons come to us from those who have been technically dead but were brought back to life. First, they share that they are no longer afraid of death. Secondly, they say they now know that death is only the shedding of a physical body, no different from taking off a suit of clothes one no longer needs. Third, they remember having a profound feeling of wholeness in death, feeling connected to everything and everyone, and never alone, that someone was with them.”
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Life Lessons
“Our empirical experience of death is the disappearance from the physical plane of living beings. Such is the fact of our experience from without, that we have by means of our five senses. But the disappearance of such is not confined to the domain of outward experience of the senses. It is experienced also in the domain for the inner experience, that of consciousness. There, the images and representations disappear just as living beings do so for the experience of the senses. This is what we call ‘forgetting.’ And this forgetting extends each night to the totality of our memory, will and understanding – of a kind such that we forget ourselves entirely. This is what we call ‘sleep.’ For our whole experience (outer and inner) forgetting, sleep and death are three manifestations of the same thing – namely the ‘thing’ which effects disappearance. It is said that sleep is the younger brother of death…Forgetting, sleep and death are three manifestations – differing in degree – of a sole principle or force which effects the intellectual, psychic and physical phenomena.”
Anonymous/Robert Powell, Meditations on the Tarot
“Death cannot be gone through from the outside, reproduced, as it were, in vitro. Each one of us must accept it absolutely alone, must and can meet death only once. The outsider, for example a doctor, can assist the dying person, can accompany him on the way of his agony, but cannot enter with him into his actual death.”
Ladislaus Boros, The Mystery of Death
Soul Remembering –
“Birth and death are two sides of a swing door. To go beyond the gates of death is to gain access to the realm of the soul where you can put yourself back in tough with your life purpose and life gifts you may have chosen before you were born. Plato’s haunting account of how souls choose their life paradigms, or life patterns, in the closing pages of his Republic was attributed to the insights of a soldier who had died and come back. Plato taught that things that are truly worth knowing come to us through anamnesis, or, ‘remembering.’”
– Robert Moss, Dreamgates