The Theosophical Forum – November 1938

HAS DEATH LOST ITS STING? — Irene R. Ponsonby

Is death losing its horror for the normal man and woman? An article entitled "Death Has No Terrors" by Lester H. Perry in The Reader's Digest for May, and a monograph "Why Death?" by the late Joseph P. Widney in The Los Angeles Examiner of July 7th, would seem to justify this opinion.

Mr. Perry presents the verbatim testimony of eminent physicians and of several who have been resuscitated to prove that: "The veil between the two worlds is but a cloud and one passes through it imperceptibly." "The dying person slips drowsily away much as we all, hundreds of times, have drifted into sleep." "Dying is as painless as falling asleep." ". . . we will face it without fear and without bitterness, without reluctance and without repining, without suffering, whether physical or mental; we shall find it, at the last, but a peaceful transition, an eternal change mercifully accomplished."

This is all absolutely true and has been promulgated by the Theosophical Society since the turn of the last century; for death — except that which occurs in accident and war, which brings special provisions of Nature's law of compassion into play — is no sudden, violently imposed, outward affliction, but the culminating apex of a more or less long period of inner self-dissociation and preparation for what to the weary, overtired, human soul is surely a joyous homecoming. We do not come to birth suddenly: physical and other processes precede our advent; so too, other preparations as well as physical ones, presage our passing from Earth. And the Earth-life whose keynote has been harmonious is followed by a serene and refreshing respite, whereas a life that has been dominated by conflict will give place to states of strife until the intense impulses have worn themselves out — for "as a man thinks, so is he" throughout the eternal pageant of Life.

With the refulgent consummation of a fine life's effort surging through him, and the prescience upon him of a benediction yet to be, Joseph P. Widney, scholar, philosopher, educator and writer, paused awhile, five days before his death at the age of 97, to share with his fellows the harvest of a noble character, to add to the inspiring example of a grand old age his stimulating intuitions, so that men's minds might be directed toward the majesty of Being.

Dr. Widney voiced the ancient teachings of the ages when he said: "Everywhere in the universe we find the law of eternal growth. It seems to be the same in every department of the universe — material, intellectual, and spiritual — and the pleasures of heaven would lie in the thought: I, too, am a sharer in the development of the worlds about me." ". . . Without death the drama of life would be a failure" for "the purpose of that drama is the making of a man; not simply for time, but for eternity." "Life as we know it upon this plane is to be lived by successive births and consequent deaths; the soul progressing and developing in accordance with the fixed and unchanging Law spoken in the beginning." "Death is not a calamity! It is the greatest blessing to man that God has made."

These and many supplementary tenets are explained by Theosophy, which elaborates Dr. Widney's verities by stating that the change of death is partly due to a surfeit of life which assails the equilibrium of man's constitution. When the saturation point is reached, involution replaces evolution, assimilation follows absorption, until restored balance ushers the human soul into rebirth and further life-experiencing. In his present state of growth death is a necessity to the average human being who is but partially ensouled. As evolution brings about fuller human ensoulment, the unity of man will become unassailable and Earth-life will be, what it is now for the adept, the highest and most complete state possible to the composite being. Then by means of processes of radiation and irradiation man will dispose of and assume his bodies much as the cells of the physical body are changed regularly during the course of a single Earth-span.

Surely this is the answer to Dr. Widney's question? "Shall man be stopped in his intellectual evolution by the limited range of the possibilities of further investigations in the universe about him, because of the material limitations of the body through which, in this life, he must work?"


The Theosophical Forum

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