The great change ordinarily designated as death is no respector of persons. It may come to the young, the middle-aged, the old. But at some time in life each and every one is called upon to lay his or her physical garment aside and take up residence anew in realms beyond our present sphere of cognition.
Knowing that this change is inevitable, surely it is imperative that we learn as much as possible about the great transition. To the unillumined this phenomenon has always been a thing which was beyond understanding and therefore something which, when called upon to meet, filled the great majority with a dread amounting to little less than abject terror. This apprehension, however, did not always exist. In the far-off past, when man's consciousness was focused more in the spiritual realms than in the material, the loss of his physical body was scarcely noticed. He knew himself to be spirit, and his physical garment was something he acquired, kept for a shorter or longer time, and then like a leaf on a tree it fell away from him to be replaced when again needed.
It was not until man lost sight of his heavenly habitat and of the fact that he was an immortal Spirit inhabiting from time to time a physical body, that he began to identify himself with this material vehicle, and came to consider it as his real self, and therefore fear a possible existence without it. In fact, vast numbers of mankind have focused their consciousness on the material to such an extent that they have come to believe that they are the physical body and their existence ceases to be at the moment that death annihilates it.
It seems almost incredible to the spiritually illumined man or woman that such a condition can exist, yet unfortunately we have evidence of it around about us everywhere; and people hopelessly lay their so-called dead away, little realizing that a freed Spirit is returning to its heaven-world home, there to continue an uninterrupted existence.
If for no other reason than the comfort that it will bring to those who know the facts in relation to so-called death, let us examine the truth in relation to this peculiar phenomenon.
Man, the real I, is pure spirit, differentiated within the body of God, which is the entire solar system, both visible and invisible. His destiny is to become a God, as the Initiate Paul tells us, like unto his divine Creator. In order to develop his God-like potential powers he passes through every phase of evolution from the most ethereal to the most dense, encountering experiences which slowly but surely develop his potential capabilities. During one phase of his development he sojourns on this earth plane from time to time inhabiting a physical body. But it is only a small portion of his time that he spends here. The rest is spent in the higher realms where he receives other instruction and is given other tasks to perform, all with the intent of developing his latent potential forces into dynamic energy ready for use at any moment and under direct control of his own Spirit, which is his real self.
Each time an individual descends to the earth plane he becomes encased in a physical body; and the length of time he inhabits it during any particular earth life depends on the number of lessons he has come to learn. There are individual Egos who come to Earth to learn lessons in pre-natal body building and who discard their physical vehicle as soon as that particular task is completed, the time varying anywhere from days, weeks, months, or years. Others use their physical bodies from birth to adolescence, others to adulthood, and still others on to a good ripe old age. But note that the length of each earth life depends on certain lessons that it is necessary for the individual to learn in order that his evolution may be furthered, and none are mere pawns of fate.
Having a certain amount of free will, it is possible for others, at the time of a Spirit's passing through lamentations or other kinds of confusion to frustrate for the time being Nature's plans and cause the passing Spirit to lose the after-death panorama so necessary for its heaven-world progress. In such cases the Spirit usually returns to those who are responsible for the loss, is reborn in their home, and passes out early in earth life, going directly to the First Heaven where it is taught the lessons which the destroyed panorama contained. At the time of passing, all children, and adults as well, are met by loving friends and ofttimes Angels who assist in conducting them into the great beyond.
The heaven-world life of the children is beautiful beyond description. When parents once realize the delightful existence which such little ones lead, and understand the great benefits which accrue to children during their limited stay there, their sorrow will certainly be greatly lessened and their heart wounds will heal far more quickly.
Those who discard their physical bodies under normal conditions are freed entirely from them as soon as the life panorama is etched on the desire body which they take with them into the heaven worlds. Three and one-half days of perfect quiet should be allowed to the Spirit at the time of the transference of the panoramic record from the reflecting ether of the vital body, into the desire body, in which vehicle the Spirit functions when it enters the higher worlds. The pictures thus transferred to the desire body, the vehicle of feeling and emotion, are the basis of subsequent suffering during the Spirit's stay in Purgatory for evil deeds committed, and enjoyment in the First Heaven on account of the good deeds performed during the past earth life.
The time spent by the Spirit in Purgatory can be lessened if the Spirit is perfectly willing to let go and readily acknowledge the wrongs it has committed and the mistakes made when the pictures of them appear in the life panorama, instead of trying to make excuses for itself, or being stirred anew by the anger and hate of the past. This willing cooperation on the part of the Spirit greatly reduces the pain connected with the after-death purgation.
As soon as the physical body is discarded the gates of the elemental kingdom open and the forces which permeate earth, water, fire, and air withdraw from the inanimate form that which belongs to their particular domain and restore it to their own kingdom. The curious feeling in a death chamber, and the fear most people have of a dead (?) body are both caused by the close contact then existing between these busy elemental beings and those who are around the inanimate body. These forces are always present and exceedingly active when any kind of organic matter has to be disintegrated and its particles returned to their respective spheres.
Grief, lamentations, thoughts of despair, and longings to bring back the departed one all tend to make the Spirit earthbound and prevent it from participating in the activities belonging to its new home life. On the other hand, thoughts of love, courage, hopefulness, cheer, and good-will are all most beneficial, their value being practically inestimable. If instead of indulging in harmful practices which actually prevent the progress of the departed Spirit, one would at night, just before falling asleep, pray earnestly to be permitted to go to his or her loved ones as soon as released by sleep, the desire would transport such a one almost at once to their abode and he might spend hours with them which would be profitable to both, and in time he would be able to bring back into waking consciousness many of the experiences encountered on the invisible planes. At such times he could also acquaint the departed friends with the method mentioned whereby they could shorten greatly their sojourn in the purgatorial region.
The time spent in Purgatory is comparatively short -- about one-third as long as the period lived previously in the Physical World. But life in the First Heaven lasts approximately hundreds of years. This region is a place of joy without a single drop of bitterness. Sickness, sorrow, and pain are unknown there, and all ennobling pursuits to which the Spirit aspired are realized in the fullest measure. Beautiful houses, flowers, trees, etc., are his, all composed of the subtle substance of the Desire World. Nevertheless, all things there are just as tangible to the heaven-world inhabitants as our own material possessions are to us.
This glorious region is a place of progress, and contains all that is good and desirable in human aspirations. Here the student and philosopher have instant access to all the libraries of the world; the artist by the power of imagination shapes his models perfectly in living fiery colors of scintillating life and beauty; the sculptor fashions with facility the plastic materials of this world into statues, the delicate beauty of which he never imagined during earth life; the musician also is greatly benefited, for here he hears echoes of celestial strains far sweeter and more permanent than any he ever heard on Earth, and his Spirit revels in their exquisite harmony. The poet finds a wonderful inspiration in pictures, music, and colors which he will be able to use in his next incarnation; and the philanthropist works out altruistic plans to be employed in future earth lives. Here, too, he sees the reason for past failures, learns how to overcome obstacles, and avoid errors that made the plans he used in the past impracticable. And so, after a short purifying sojourn in Purgatory this is the region where our loved ones are to be found preparing themselves for another better, more efficient, more understanding earth life in the years that are to come.
In conclusion let us remember that the Spirit, the real man or woman, is immortal, and therefore cannot die. Accordingly death, when applied to the Spirit's severing connection with the physical body, is a misnomer, for freedom from that slow, plodding imperfect vehicle means life, free, unfettered, and more abundant in a home where joy, happiness, peace, understanding, and progress abound.