Something that must be a fact for all people, when they think about it, is that they must die some day. Most people do not think about it except when they, through the death of friends or relatives, come closer to life than usual, and then the thought strikes them with terror. Death is a riddle to most people. "No one has come back and told how it is on the other side, and perhaps there is no 'other side' at all", people usually say. It is therefore natural that I, in my lectures, deal with, among other things, the mystery of death, which will gradually stop being something about which people feel anxious or terrified.
What then is death? First and foremost it is an experience that comes to absolutely all physical beings in this world. No one doubts that they will have to experience it as it is too apparent in all things around us. Furthermore, death is not only a process that will come some day; it is already present within us. You began to die when you were born. Where is the tiny baby's body in which you came to the world? Where is the little child's face with which you in excited expectation looked forward to Christmas Eve, the little face that shone both when you, as a child, heard the wonderful adventure of Christmas and when you experienced all the other happy hours of childhood?
This face does not exist any more on the physical plane. You have another face now. And if you are an old person today one can ask where the young and agile body with which you embraced the one you loved is now. And where is the mature body with which you crowned your life's work and experienced the peak of your physical appearance in this life? These bodies are, if you are today an old man or woman, long since dead. The old person has actually already experienced reincarnation or rebirth several times before he or she has to die.
It cannot be denied that these physical bodies no longer exist. Here you will perhaps argue that an older person's present body is the same as the body the person in question had as a child and as a young person, only now it is worn out. But such a view is based on an illusion. An organism is a "living thing", an organisation of living micro-individuals that we call organs, cells, molecules and atoms. With the exception of the organs, the cycles of these micro-individuals are so quick that their physical existence is of a far shorter duration than that of the macro-being. These beings are therefore continuously replaced in the organism of the macro-being. Every minute there are cells and atoms that are born and die in our organism, so our organism is in fact subject to a continuous process of transformation and in the course of only a few months is almost totally renewed. So it is not an insignificant number of bodies an older person has already left behind. Every renewal must be perceived as a new body. But you do not notice these reincarnations or rebirths much since, behind these transformations, you go on with a continuous, uninterrupted experience of life. The replacement takes place gradually and in such a gentle and harmonious way that it does not normally disturb or interrupt the experience of life. But if one imagines that the replacement of these micro-beings took place at the same time the organism would have to die and an entirely new organism would have to replace it. A kind of deathprocess would then have to take place between these replacements. The body we had as a child would then be unchangeable until that moment when we were mature enough to take possession of the body we had as a youth, and the concept of "growing'', in the sense in which we know it, would be unknown to us. The replacement that could not happen gradually must then happen suddenly. We would have to fall into a kind of sleep or hibernation, and during this sleep the new body, which should bear our youth-consciousness, would have to grow quickly and the child-body would just as quickly have to shrivel up and be discarded in favour of the new. We would then wake up in a new body and use it for a period until a new replacement should take place.
There are in fact beings in this physical world who experience their renewal of life according to this principle, namely various insects who go through the caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly stages. These beings must experience a kind of death-process between each of the stages within each local terrestrial life. Imagine if we had to go through the same! One fine day we would be overwhelmed by an intense desire to sleep deeply, and the body by which our relatives and friends were used to identifying us would shrivel up and wither, and a new body would grow in its place. The day-consciousness would thereby again be able to manifest itself and we would wake up in a new, beautiful body that no one would recognise as ''us". Indeed, we could even participate in the burial of our recently discarded body. For some people all this will sound comical, for others perhaps alarming, but there are however beings in the universe and even on this planet that experience the physical renewal of life according to such a principle.
I have touched on all of this only because it in reality lifts a first little corner of the veil that covers the process that people call "death" and that is so often terrifying for them. But the human being has no cause to be afraid of death other than those causes he himself creates. And through spiritual science the modern seeker has the possibility to make himself familiar with what happens during the process of death so that the anxiety and uncertainty can be overcome and be replaced by confidence and security. It is quite true that after the deathprocess with which people are familiar there is only the discarded physical body or corpse left. One is not able to see the being appear in a new form. But is this an unshakeable proof that the consciousness is wiped out on the decomposition of the organism? No - we can only physically experience another person's consciousness when this other person has a physical body through which to manifest himself, just as we can only experience radio waves when there is a radio through which they are transformed into sound waves.
But we are in no doubt that radio waves exist even if we cannot hear them. The consciousness or mentality of the living being is also a reality that exists in ray- and waveform. It is these energies that cause the complete renewal of life and the transformation of the organism, both where it occurs in various stages as is the case with the above-mentioned insects, and where a gradual, almost imperceptible transformation takes place as in the case of the terrestrial human being. And if one compares the replacement of the organism of the above-mentioned insects and the replacement of the organism in that species of beings to which terrestrial human beings belong does one not have a proof that this ability to replace the organism is, like all other abilities, subject to evolution? The ability of the terrestrial human being to replace his organism is in reality far more developed than that of the insects.
To be able to replace one's organism quite imperceptibly as the terrestrial human being does in one physical incarnation through the stages of childhood, youth, maturity and old age without having to interrupt the functioning of the day-consciousness, and to be able to have the feeling that it is still the same organism, without this in reality being the case, is something of an ideal in relation to the stage of evolution where the beings in one incarnation have to go through a kind of deathprocess several times.
The terrestrial human being has reached a step in evolution where he is free from that kind of unpleasant interruption in the transformation of the organism until his earthly life, through ill-health, accident or the natural wear and tear of old age, is interrupted and his consciousness is carried by the spiritual or ray-formed bodies, which also carry the consciousness during sleep. But when a more primitive way of replacing the organism than that of the human being exists, is it not just as natural that there also exists a way in relation to which that of the human being must be said to be primitive, but that the human being can gradually learn to use? This means a replacement of the organism where the process we call ''death'' can also be changed into a gradual process of transformation instead of an abrupt transition from one state to another. And thereby the "horror of death'' will be overcome and there will be no more state of shock associated with this process of transformation, which can be the case for people now when they see, with their physical eyes, the physical bodies of other people become corpses without being able, with the same eyes, to see the same people in the ray-formed bodies now carrying their consciousness.
When the transformation of the organism, the principle of rebirth or reincarnation, is thus subject to evolution, there must be a goal for this evolution, and this is to make the replacement more and more imperceptible. Terrestrial human beings and the categories of beings related to them have thus reached this goal to perfection within the individual terrestrial life. Indeed, they have reached such a degree of perfection that the human being does not at all notice the replacement of his organism, and denies reincarnation. They at the moment only notice the process of replacement where it is still not perfect and is called "death". Here they have not yet been able to create a partial replacement of the organism, and; because they are only used to a "partial death", they believe that the total replacement of the organism is tantamount to "total death". But it is only a short time that people will have such a belief based on lack of knowledge of the eternal laws of life. Many seeking people have already begun to succeed in finding a solution to the riddle of death.
But it is not the purpose of life that people should concern themselves with "death" and ''the spiritual world" on a mystical plane: it has to become crystal-clear science, and the human being with his knowledge and creative ability will in time be able to overcome death.
It is the will of Providence or the Godhead that the living being, after a long period in the spiral of evolution, will reach a stage where he is able to experience his eternal existence without the interruptions in the organism that have to occur in the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom of the spiral of evolution. This means that such an imperceptible replacement of the organism as that which the terrestrial human being has come to master within a single terrestrial life, will one day in the future also be mastered by the same being when he glides from the physical state to the ray-formed state.
It is really the concept "resurrection" that will in time be a reality for the terrestrial human being who, when he has reached such a step in evolution, where he is able to control matter with his will, can no longer be described as a "terrestrial human being" but as a "real human being", a "human being in God's image."
In my cosmic analyses and symbols I show where in the spiral of evolution this goal will become a reality. In the last part of the third kingdom of the spiral, the real human kingdom, such a perfect existence will begin to become a fact. Then the being's transition from the physical to the spiritual experience of life will no longer be hindered by any "deathprocess''. The transition will be just as perfect as the transition from childhood to youth, from youth to maturity and from maturity to old age is today for the terrestrial human being.
Until this epoch of evolution has been reached the terrestrial human being must, however, still experience his existence as an appearance demarcated into physical and spiritual separate lives where the transition can only take place as the total replacement of the organisms. This in turn usually causes the being to be conscious in only one of the two spheres, that in which he at the moment finds himself, and often during his stay, at any rate in the physical world, he is apt to deny the existence of the other sphere. In principle it is in a way the same as if the caterpillars were to deny the existence of the butterfly. Through modern spiritual science the seeking "human caterpillars" of our time have, however, the possibility to get to know something other than their own little local "caterpillar-world". They can acquire an overview of the evolution of life, of the process of creation in the midst of which they are situated, and they can acquire knowledge about what promotes the development of that state in which pain, suffering and death are totally overcome.
This state of the imperceptible replacement of the organism that the terrestrial human being now experiences in a physical incarnation has taken him a very long time to reach, and it is just as much a matter of course that it must take some time before the transition to the spiritual world can take place in the same way. But even now the individual terrestrial human being has the possibility to turn death into something beautiful instead of something horrifying. He can learn to die by learning how to live, that is, by getting to know the laws of life and trying to live in accordance with them. The more the human being with his thoughts, feelings and actions lives on the same wavelength as the basic note of the universe or universal morality - to be a joy and a blessing for all living beings - the easier death will be when it one day comes. It will be felt like a renewal of life, a lovely rest from the, at times, rather difficult life in physical matter. But it will not be the kind of rest one can get in an armchair or on a sofa. No - it will be as if one experiences the most wonderful holiday one can imagine. With one's thoughts as the means of transport one can visit zones and spheres at will. This too is based on universal laws. Then a replacement of the organism again occurs. The being must go back to that world in which there is resistance (which causes evolution), that world in which it hurts to think wrongly. But now he gets a new, healthy organism, which is built up in his mother's womb, and new possibilities in a coming physical life to learn to think and to learn to live so that he can gradually overcome death.
The above article is edited from a transcription of a lecture. Published with permission from
© Martinus Institut 1981Published with permission from Martinus Institute 2001-06-18