FIRST SPIRITUAL TEMPLE
Founded in 1883
Death and Dying
The Journey of the Soul
By Rev. Simeon Stefanidakis
Death: The Opening of the Way
“Death is the only event which we can predict with absolute certainty, and yet it is the event about which the majority of human beings refuse to think at all until faced with the imminent and personal issue. People face death in many different ways; some bring to the adventure a feeling of self-pity, and are so occupied with what they have to leave behind, what is about to end for them, and the relinquishing of all they have gathered in life, that the true significance of the inevitable future fails to arrest their attention. Others face it with courage, making the best of what may not be evaded, and look up into the face of death with a gallant gesture because there is nothing else they can do . . . Still others refuse altogether to consider the possibility; they hypnotize themselves into a condition wherein the thought of death is refused all lodgment in their consciousness, and they will not consider its possibility, so that when it comes, it catches them unawares; they are left helpless and unable to do more than simply die.”
From Bethlehem to Calvary by Alice A. Bailey
Thus wrote one of the 20th century’s most amazing visionaries, Alice A. Bailey. She also referred to death as The Great Adventure. And, indeed, it is. The words above are so true, and they speak to us all. How we actually experience death depends, to quite a large degree, upon how we perceive this great adventure while living upon the Earth plane; in other words, how we perceive life!
What is death? How do we experience death? Does it hurt? How quickly does it happen? What about life after death; do we survive? If so, in what capacity? Do we meet loved ones who passed before, or do we lose all sense of personal identity and recognition? What is the after-life like? These are just a few of the questions surrounding death which people have asked and pondered over since the beginning of earthly time.
In following the journey of the soul, death truly becomes a great adventure in which the way is opened for the soul to pass from one realm of life into another. It marks a point of transition. How we each get to that ubiquitous state of transition varies with circumstances. What we experience after we cross that elusive threshold, known as death, also varies with the individual. But the actual experience; the actual crossing over the threshold, between one realm of life and another, is amazingly quite similar for most people.
Life, in many ways, is a series of deaths. We are always moving from one experience to another. The point is: we are always moving! Thus it is with death. The point is: we are always living! Death, then, becomes a very natural part of life. We move from one room into another. Depending upon which side of the doorway we happen to be in comparison to the one crossing the threshold, we label that transition either death or birth. Please note this last statement. Death and birth are basically the same process. Both involve the soul’s passing through the same doorway. The only difference is the direction of movement. What is death on the Earth plane is birth in the Spirit world. And birth onto the Earth plane can be considered death in the Spirit world.
Physical death is but one of many deaths which we encounter as we move from one earthly life to another. We could settle, once and for all, the question of death by saying that death does not exist; that there is only life; that death is but one of countless experiences found in life. But that would be quite a lot to ask you to accept, without some further instruction.
Therefore, let us look at this wonderfully great adventure, known as death. Before we examine the process of physical death, we need to look at the question of survival. Nobody can deny the existence of death. The vital question surrounding death is: do we survive the experience; if so, how? Once we understand that we do survive death, we can then look at the process of death itself and what follows.
Proof of Survival
In looking at the dilemma of proving that we do survive death, we are confronted with the following question: what constitutes proof? Proof of survival is a very personal matter. What is unquestionable proof for one person may hold no validity for another. Therefore, we must begin by saying: we are not attempting to prove survival here. Proof must come from within; but proof often approaches upon the wings of knowledge. And knowledge is something that we can provide.
There are several phenomena which psychic researchers have, over the years, investigated that indicate the validity of life after death. They are:
- Astral Projection
- Clinical or Near-Death Experiences
The Death Process: Preliminary Remarks
Regardless of how one approaches death, the process itself is quite similar for most people. If death comes suddenly and the person does not believe in any form of after-life, then the conscious mind is most likely not prepared for the experience, and there could be a period of confusion after death. Thus, the importance of understanding death before we meet it face-to-face.
If, on the other hand, death comes upon the individual gradually, let us say after a lengthy period of illness, then the personality is given an opportunity to prepare for the experience. This can be helpful for a person who has never thought about death, or who does not believe in any form of after-life. This period of preparation can last for a few days, up to several years, depending upon:
- The needs of the spirit. What did the incarnating soul plan for this period of earthly transition? For most people, the general time and condition of death are planned prior to coming onto the Earth plane.
- The resistance of the earthly person to let go of the form aspect of life. This is a powerful force; one which may cause a person to linger upon the Earth plane well after his or her planned time of death. If the person is strongly body-oriented, he or she will consider that letting go of the body means letting go of life. We are all subject to the attractive powers of the Earth plane, and we tend to cling to the body with great tenacity.
Finally, with modern-day technology, there is the issue of life support systems. Who makes the decision for whom concerning death? Is the spirit ready to leave, while family members insist on keeping the body alive? How does this affect the spirit? What is the definition of death, and who decides that all criteria for that definition have been met? These are complex questions which run right to the roots of what we are attempting to teach in these lessons.
Regardless of influences that may cause one to cling to the body, physical deterioration and other factors will eventually bring about permanent separation from the earthly form, and death will ensue. When it comes to death, let us remember one important fact: the only thing we take with us on this Great Adventure is who we are; nothing else!
If you would like to understand death, dying, and the great journey of the soul, then we encourage you to consider our classic: “The Journey of the Soul.” You may order this book through our online Bookstore.