I had another dream: Coming home late one evening, tired and completely "all in," I fell asleep and dreamed that I was dead, and my body was laid carefully in a coffin, at the head of which I (my human soul?) stood, and I wondered why everybody around was so concerned over the death of a body. There was wailing and a general emotional disturbance, which I found not only annoying but really absurd. One dear friend of mine, an old schoolteacher, came up to my body, and putting her arms around the lifeless form said: "Oh, my child, you shouldn't have died, it is a terrible misfortune to see one so young and full of the promise of bright fulfilment go like this." This attitude rather shocked me. I could not understand why this kind friend did not speak to me who was standing right there, but spoke only to that poor outstretched corpse.
All this, however, was incidental, for what actually was occupying my attention was my effort to break loose from my body. Something was holding me back, and I found myself desperately tugging at a cord which seemed to be coming from my left side, presumably my heart. I jerked and pulled, struggling hard to break this cord, but something somewhere just as steadily held it firm. I cannot describe the dark torture of those few brief moments. I wanted to die, yet I could not. The cord would not break. In unspeakable agony, still pulling hard for freedom, I again looked about me, and suddenly my eyes fixed themselves upon a figure standing looking at me. It was a man of tall stature, slight of build yet carrying a tremendous reserve strength in the well-controlled body. He looked and looked, right into my eyes, and without thought I grew still, the pain in my heart lessened, my mind began to see light, and I no longer tugged at the cord. Recognising my friend of olden days, a loved Teacher, I knew what I should do. In a flash my decision was made, and with courage and an influx of quiet strength I slipped into my body head first, rose from the coffin, and walked straight to where my friend and Teacher was. No words were needed, he simply nodded and smiled, and at my salute of grateful recognition, said: "Good girl," and walked away. I knew then I had work to do and that he depended upon me to find my strength and use the gift of my life in his service.
A large percentage of persons dream vividly, and at times have what actually amount to "experiences," which lead them to investigate various cults of dream-interpretation. This can be a source of danger unless guided by the sanity of knowledge. The teachings of Theosophy, however, enable the student intelligently to study and thus interpret his dreams (if he wishes to take the time), and to receive help and sometimes a needed warning therefrom. An experience such as that sketched above is not uncommon with a certain type of student, and in the light of Theosophy it becomes interesting as illustrative of some of the teachings of the after-death state, to which we shall briefly point.
How unimportant is the body, and even in degree the human soul, for do we not see here that while the body lay as dead in the coffin, the soul was alive and in full consciousness, and that the soul likewise was controlled by a still higher consciousness? Furthermore, to indulge in wailing and uncontrolled emotion at death is seen to be not only stupid but actually disturbing to the departing soul who requires calm and quiet so that its release may be quick and peaceful. What is sleep and what is death? Perhaps we do not know how near we are to death every night when we so gladly lay ourselves down to rest. Do we not cast off the body night after night on some mysterious yet certain pilgrimage of the soul?
In my dream why could I not die? What was that cord that kept me bound to my body even against my will? What stronger destiny overruled the human? Man has a definite span of life, commensurate with his store of vitality, and until that is exhausted, he cannot really die. This should be a warning to those contemplating taking their life, either consciously or otherwise. You can kill the body, but not the soul, and one sees in the desperate struggle here to leave the body before the karmic hour had struck, that there was something stronger, firmer and more enduring than the body, or even the soul, and that until that store of inner vitality, until the karmic reservoir on all planes of the constitution, has spent itself, release of the soul cannot take place. Hence the struggle between the human desire of the soul to be free of suffering, and the stronger karman of the real ego overruling the human — the cord did not break.
In death, the "golden cord" of life is broken, leaving the body free to dissolve, and the soul to cleanse itself of the last life's stain, so that purified and strong it may come into the presence of the Inner Self — the Knower. In sleep, this cord is not broken but endures, permitting the safe return of the soul to the body after the night's pilgrimage. The Knower is our Spiritual Self, who has won immortality through mastery of humanhood in ages previous to the present, and who thus should act as the guide and helper of the young human soul. It was this Inner Knower who recognised the Teacher and showed the soul which was trying to escape that its duty was to re-enter the body and take up its destined work in life.
"There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will." From karmic threads woven in the past along all lines of our constitution, from physical, astral-vital, mental-emotional, intellectual and spiritual, we are weaving a fabric of consciousness whose pattern imbodies past, present, and future. At times the pattern shows threads of great weakness, and again of unsuspected strengths. When through illness or great suffering the physical vitality is low and the soul balances between life and death, if the karman is favorable, this Spiritual Self, the Knower, can step in and with threads firm and new strengthen the fabric, and thus restore the lost vitality; or to change the metaphor, can enter in and recharge, as it were, the exhausted batteries of soul and body, so that for a few brief moments at least the soul casts off the "garments of darkness" for the "armor of light": a new strength is received, and the destiny of the soul is fulfilled according to the ancient karmic pattern.