'When We Die ...' -
Chapter 1, Present Views on the Subject

Compiled by Geoffrey Farthing

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A comprehensive description, in outline, of the processes and subjective states in the period between lives, with some information about spiritualistic and psychic phenomena.

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In world literature there are many accounts of what happens to us after death. The Tibetan and Egyptian Books of the Dead contain accounts with much in common. Unless we have the key to their symbolic language, however, it is difficult indeed to be sure we have come to the meaning intended.

There is also a mass of material on the subject written by, or for, mediums and psychics. Most of this is written seemingly to reassure us that there is an existence after death. There is always a great outpouring of it during and after wars. The messages "from the other side" are of great comfort to the bereaved. Most of this literature is intended to be comforting. It is also often glamorised, of the "wishful thinking" kind and often very sentimental. The accounts do not bear reasonable examination. For example, mothers who died young, they say, have their children as they knew them, with them, as children. Those same children, however, grew up and married in real life. In the after-life they might want to share their lives with their husbands and their children, not as children again themselves with their parents. Do the dead divide themselves into many parts and become several people at once?

Then there is another class of literature which stems from the attention that great contemporary men have given to the subject of the after-life. Some scientists, soldiers and philosophers have taken an interest in it, have examined mediums and much "evidence", and have then written, or have had written, accounts of their

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findings. All they say is based on mediumistic reports, but the conclusions are generally objectively presented.

Much of the literature from each of these sources claims to be "authoritarian". It is spoken by, or derives from, one who is "there" already and should therefore know from his own experience; but it must be remembered that in every case the "entity" is speaking through a medium. This is felt to be important. It is claimed that the knowledge given us in the following extracts from the Letters is also authoritarian. But the authors of the Letters were living men in full possession of their faculties.

An extensive examination of the former material shows common features and some divergent ones.

The common features are that mediums can and do contact something which enables them to "bring through" in varying degrees something of and from the "departed". The simple message telling a relative of something that only he and the departed could know about is one kind. Sometimes the voice of the departed is assumed by the medium. Sometimes characteristic mannerisms are shown. Sometimes even the medium's physiognomy will change and assume that of the departed. Sometimes combinations of all these will occur and even materialization on rare occasions.

That all these phenomena can be produced is an indisputable fact. What is not fact is the interpretations put upon them.

The next important set of phenomena is that of coherent messages continued, at intervals, sometimes over years, telling us of life "on the other side", with or without exhortations and moral teachings. Sometimes we get teachings of a high order, evincing a knowledge of the past, sometimes the remote historical past, and some depth of understanding and high morality. This

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class of phenomena almost exclusively stems from the psychic leader of a small group assembled to assimilate and disseminate the teachings of the "great one" (usually male), who is giving them out through his chosen instrument (usually, but not always, female) on earth.

Except for the moral content, which is essentially the same but maybe with different emphasis and in different terms, there are considerable divergences in these teachings as they relate to the particulars of the life after death. They are all more or less agreed that the life, eventually if not immediately, is very pleasant in pleasant surroundings. They nearly all say that the departed ones know what is happening on earth, but some say they do not. Some say the departed can get communications from "the living". Others seem to say not, or not directly. Some teachings say that they, the departed, can be influenced and helped by the prayers of those they have left behind.

There is general agreement that there is a movement on to higher states of being after a longer or shorter time in the immediate post mortem realms. It is a progression to a higher and glorious state of spirituality, seldom however, specifically described and very seldom, if ever, described by one who is in that state. The exponents of this progression are usually silent on the matter of reincarnation or deny that there is such a thing.

Occasionally, as in some second generation theosophical literature, we get a combination of the progression, in consciousness, from some purgatorial state, through the astral and lower mental planes to the spiritual ones before an eventual, consciously selected, rebirth.

Which of all these variations is right? Disregarding the really ancient teachings because they have probably suffered in transcription, translation and

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interpretation, it appears that none of them is completely so and most of them are fundamentally wrong.

This is a serious assertion. What are the grounds for it?

The first is that the processes of nature constitute a whole process. They in themselves must be whole, continuous and harmonious with each other and with the total process. If this were not so nature would be chaotic.

Nature proceeds according to Law, the laws of Nature. These include not only the law of action and reaction but that of cycles, of periodicity.

A study of this Law and of the end to which all Nature is moving, shows what is consistent with the whole, the total process, and what is not. A study of the basic theosophical literature, i.e. The Key to Theosophy, The Secret Doctrine, The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, etc., gives us an insight into this total process.

Of this literature only The Mahatma Letters give us a coherent, explicit and comprehensive, if not detailed account of what happens after the death of the physical body. This account also fits completely the grand scale process according to the Law. It also accounts for and reconciles all the phenomena and material from mediumistic and other psychic sources.

What do the Letters tell us? The following is an account, put together in more or less consecutive order , from the numerous references in the Letters, and there are one or two quotations from The Key to Theosophy. Needless to say, what is written is likely to arouse strong feelings in those who believe conditions in the "afterlife" to be different from what is set out here.

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