What Happens When We Die
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
We live in a culture in which even an innocent inclination to think or talk about death is considered perverse and morbid. But just the fact that death is an experience that each and every one of us must go through ought to tell us that such a cultural view is both irrational and emotionally reactive. In our great fear about death we refuse to embrace it as what it really is—that is, a part of life. And even those who have achieved a degree of acceptance about this tend to look at it as the most unpleasant and unappealing of all human experiences. Death may be unavoidable, they reason, but it will forever be dreaded and thought of as the grim reaper.
The main culprit in this unanimous traducing of death is ignorance. Because we do not know much about death, we are prone to imagine the worst. We know that we all must die but we are driven mad by the suspenseful dearth of knowledge pertaining to what happens afterwards. Thus we come to view the inevitability of this fate as both cruel and tragic. Furthermore, our fears are exacerbated by the fact that no one has ever returned from the experience of death to tell us what it is all about. In fact, at this point our fears are so all-consuming that we probably would not believe them, even if they did. In any case, our emotionally tainted logic leads us to conclude that since no one ever returns from death it must be a cruel and final cessation of all we have come to cherish and love about being alive.
Though none return from death, there is a means by which our ignorance about it can be
dispelled. This means involves the same gift of perception that we associate with religious faith. But the faith that has the power to dispel ignorance is never blind or subjective. Rather it is a highly developed spiritual faculty, the fruits of which reveal scientific knowledge and objectivity. It is by this same impulse that the prophets of old prophesied among the people with unwavering confidence and full accountability. Their prophecies were uttered not as hunches but rather as knowledge—a knowledge that transcended the temporal tenses. And the fulfillment of their prophecies was the proof of their scientific objectivity. Where does this prophetic gift come from? I quote the writing of Daniel the Prophet. When commanded to not only interpret a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar but to tell him what the dream was, Daniel said, “No wise man, enchanter, magician, or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Daniel 2:27,28). And what happens after we die would certainly qualify as one of life’s most profound mysteries.
It is therefore by this same gift of divinely inspired prophecy that I will speak to you about death. And for those of you who can receive it, I feel certain that you will find the collective torment associated with death greatly assuaged by what I have to say. Moreover, you may very well derive a sense of comfort and assurance from my words.
The basic premise of my prophetic insight into what happens after we die is that life is consciousness, and consciousness does not and indeed cannot die. Therefore what we call death, though most definitely causing the cessation of some of the temporal aspects of the human psyche—aspects such as intellect and the physical body—has little or no affect upon our spiritual consciousness, which not only lives on but lends to the experience of death a sense of continuity and even familiarity. It is in this way then that the great fear surrounding death will be shown to be highly irrational. If our fear of death is indeed a fear of the unknown, the fact that our spiritual consciousness remains unchanged after we cross the great divide will effectually put such a fear to rest forever. For, what is our spiritual consciousness, if not our true essential sense of selfhood?
Our spiritual consciousness is both eternal and infinite. This means that not only does it not die; it can in no way be constrained by the kinds of barriers we regularly encounter on the earthly plane. Rather it moves freely from and through all temporal divides. It is for this reason that many people are able to experience a heavenly calling even while still alive in the physical body. Spiritual consciousness knows no barriers and freely responds to the input of divine light, whether we are alive in the body or dead.
What this reveals is that within every living human being’s psyche there exists a kind of portal, through which spiritual consciousness is able to pass in and out of, sometimes busy about the tasks associated with tending to bodily necessity on the earthly plane and sometimes transcending that mundane reality in favor of a more elevated heavenly communion. That is the function of what we call meditation. In meditation we practice lifting our eternal essential self up above the earthly plane, where it can accrue a degree of peace and relief from its earthly problems. We consciously make the effort to exit the earthly plane for a time in order to commune with a higher strata of being. Thus as often as we meditate, we pass through the open portal within our psyche and ascend into the heavenly realm, only to later return through the same portal. In this way we gain several positive benefits, including the renewing of our strength and replenishing of our vital energies.
This portal then becomes a very valuable mechanism in our inner world, for it affords our essential self this beneficent mobility. Though it is often overlooked and unappreciated, almost everybody uses it at one time or another.
There is, however, one instance in our human life experience in which our psyche’s portal closes. And that is the experience we call death. When this occurs, all mobility of consciousness between the earthly and heavenly planes ceases. This is, in truth, all that death is. It is in no way the cessation of our life, only a restriction of our mobility. The bridge that we once freely traversed between the earthly and heavenly planes suddenly becomes an impassable yawning chasm.
The restriction of mobility caused by death is governed by universal created law. There is no way for us to circumvent this law. And that is why, according to our natural human perception, no one ever returns from the dead. Even if we wanted to, what we would find is that our psyche’s portal has not only closed; it has dissolved.
The good news is that our essential self—that is, our spiritual consciousness—is virtually unaffected by death. True, we may find ourselves facing a new challenge in regards to what lies ahead of us, but this need not lend the death experience an unpleasant quality. For though our experience may be new and uncertain, we will not be. We will still be the same self that we now know ourselves to be. Thus there will not only be a sense of continuity that accompanies this transition; there will also, in most cases, be one of comfort and familiarity.
Of course, it goes without saying that this sense of familiarity will be impacted by the degree to which we have cultivated the knowledge of our essential self in this lifetime. If we were totally unfamiliar with our true enduring self during the days of our earthly sojourn, it will not bring us much comfort to be suddenly confronted with this self after death. If this is our situation, we might very well feel just the opposite sensation from that of familiarity—that is, the sensation of alienation and estrangement. But there are very few among us that go through an entire earthly lifetime without cultivating some degree of self-knowledge. Nearly everyone therefore will feel at least a semblance of familiarity with that self after death.
Because all this is governed by universal created law, there are no real variables in the death experience itself. It is the same for all of us. The portal in our psyche that once enabled us to cross from the earthly plane to the heavenly plane closes, and all such mobility ceases. Our spiritual consciousness lives on eternally, and the familiarity with this essential Self that we have cultivated in this lifetime accompanies us across the great divide. In other words, we will still be ourselves. But there are some variables pertaining to how we lived our lives prior to the death experience that can come into play.
Perhaps the most prominent of these variables involves the degree of attachment to aspects of our earthly life situation that we inadvertently developed over the years. This variable could potentially render our individual death experience as one of deep pain and suffering. There is no pain inherent in the actual transition. Nor is it necessarily painful to have the portal in our psyche close and our mobility restricted. But death can nonetheless be painful to those who have developed strong attachments on the earthly plane. For these, death represents a cruel barrier—one that cuts them off from all they had grown to love and cherish while alive in the body. Therefore instead of acceptance and confidence pertaining to the death experience, these tend to go to the grave with a good deal of kicking and screaming.
Attachment invariably results in suffering. This maxim holds true during our lifetime, as well as after. But it is especially problematic in how it impacts our death experience. It can add a very painful burning sensation to our already incapacitated fearful mindset. What constitutes our attachment? It is different for everyone, of course, and it can also be mysteriously revealing of one’s present state of karma. Almost inexplicably, for some, the degree of attachment to their earthly situation increases incrementally as they go through life. But for others, just the opposite happens. Perhaps through the influence of karmic wisdom, these are inclined to progressively sever their attachments to the earthly plane as they age. This then comprises a very effective preparation for the death experience—one that can make the transition remarkably easy and pain-free. In contrast to those who go kicking and screaming, the refrain of these prepared ones will be simply, “I’m ready to go!”
Many people develop a strong cord of attachment to their accomplishments. For, often these are hard-won and painstakingly built. It is not so much the material things that ensnare them. Rather it is the sense of identity and purpose bound up with facing the challenges of life in this world and overcoming hardships and obstacles.
For others, their greatest attachment is to the people they have become involved with. Whether with family members or friends, relationships of this sort can become so close and entangling that it is almost inconceivable to think of severing the ties. When such is the case, these often find comfort in the idea that they will be reunited with loved ones after death. But there is certainly no guarantee of this. Why? Because the human personality we were on the earthly plane is usually not retained after death. The essential Self of spiritual consciousness is always retained, but the added nuances of our ego-built personality are not. And it is often these added nuances that attract others to us in a relational mode.
Unfortunately, in our culture there is very little emphasis placed on the idea of cultivating a consciousness of detachment as we age. In fact, there is even a cultural justification that comes with attachment. The belief that this lifetime is, in all likelihood, all there is to life and that after we die we simply cease to be clearly fosters the developing of strong attachments. For, if we only live once, we might as well try to live as fully as we can. And in most people’s minds this means building strong attachments and passionately holding on to them. But wisdom would have us heading in the exact opposite direction as death approaches.
The truth is that our lives on the earthly plane are short. This is acknowledged by the wise, who, when viewing their lives in retrospect realize that the time has passed by almost like the blinking of an eye. So it is that those who form heavy attachments over the course of their lifetime display a blatant shortsightedness. They build up their earthly mansions as if they will last forever. In defiance of Jesus’ teaching, they store up for themselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19). Then when death calls, they are devastated by its apparently harsh requirements—those being that none of the earthly treasures to which they have become attached can accompany them to the other shore. It is as if there is a huge bonfire burning next to the exit door, and any extra baggage they try to take with them must be put into the fire before they pass through. Thus earthly attachments always result in the sensation of burning.
When we die, the portal between heaven and earth closes. Another variable that can impact our death experience involves which side of the portal we are standing on (in our consciousness) when death occurs. All human beings will make it through to the heavenly side, but if we are standing on the earthly side, with our feet firmly planted there, we may have to be dragged across the great divide. We will be saved but only as if by fire, with our clothes and bodies singed with burns and the smell of smoke filling our nostrils.
On the other hand, if we are already standing on the heavenly side (in our consciousness), our transition is sure to be an easy and graceful one. We will not even have to “pass through.” Rather we will simply watch as the portal closes and say, “Well, that’s that.” There will be no suffering, no pain, and no fire. Therefore for these, death holds no terror whatsoever. They will look down from their transcendent seat in heaven and see that the portal has closed. They will acknowledge that their access to the earthly plane has now been cut off, but they will have no cause to lament this development. This is because they have long since put their earthly house in order, in preparation for death’s call. Now they would not even think of trying to go back.
All will come through death with their spiritual consciousness (essential Self) in tact, but not all will find the heavenly shore to their liking. In fact, only those who have completed the work of full spiritual fruition will find rest in that place. The remainder of “the dead” will feel unfit and antsy, like they don’t really belong there. But this will simply indicate that they are slated for yet another incarnation onto the earthly plane, where they can have the opportunity to resume their spiritual consciousness development work. So their stay on the heavenly shore will, in all likelihood, be a short one. Their death experience will be imminently followed by yet another birth experience onto the earthly plane. Thus the cycle of births and deaths unwinds, until at last one of those earthly incarnations finds them completing the work of full spiritual fruition. After that their stay on the heavenly shore will become permanent and unending.