Death, in the beautiful philosophy which has withstood the test of time, is a friend. People ask, What is Death? The wise of all ages have taught that Death is Sleep for the soul of man. And what is sleep? Sleep is Nature's method for restoring equilibrium to the tired body. Sleep is necessary for the continued life of man. It is one of Nature's unbreakable laws that we sleep.
No less necessary is the sleep we call Death. The grander life of the undying spirit-soul needs the sleep of death to refresh itself, to regain inner strength and equilibrium. Then, renewed, we can enter on our new day of life ready for what is to come. For the sake of the greater life which spans lifetime after lifetime the soul needs the sleep of death, and takes it.
And yet so many fear this Death, which is only Nature's seal to sanctify our orderly evolution and the release of the spirit for needed rest. They fear because they do not understand. And yet nowhere around us do we see death as an end in itself. We see change, growth, culmination of power, decline into death — and then rebirth. Always there is the rebirth. Always after the winter comes the renewal of life in the spring.
If we really want peace and strength we must learn to view man as an eternal being who wends his cyclic way from invisible world to visible world as what we call birth or death periodically claim him.
Man is not only a child of Earth but he is rooted in the Universe of which the Earth is but a single family-member. Therefore he is at home in the universe. When we become more familiar with death we shall not fear it; we shall know that in a long sleep we have merely left this our earth-house of life to go to other and more spiritual mansions in "my father's house" of the universe.
Remember that you are a child of infinitude, each one of you, inseparable from the boundless Universe in which we all live and move and have our being; remember that you are well taken care of by almighty Nature's laws, which brought you here, which will take you out from this life, and which will infallibly guide you on your way. Trust yourself then to death in happy confidence; die with a strong and happy will; die with gladness when your time comes; be not afraid. . . .
Remember that you are well taken care of. — G. de Purucker: Questions We All Ask
The man we loved is the enduring individuality, who after his rest will return to this earth-life, return to the old associations he loved, to the friends of yore, to meet the problems yet unsolved, to work out the pattern of his life, taking up the threads where last he left them.
But for long years of sleep, purified, beatified, this soul rests,
completely engrossed in the bliss of all his personal earthly affections, preferences and thoughts, and gathers in the fruit of his meritorious actions. No pain, no grief, nor even the shadow of a sorrow comes to darken the bright horizon of his unalloyed happiness: . . . — The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 101
There the soul, purified of all material yearnings, rests in its own sphere, in perfect peace, in perfect bliss, dreaming dreams of all the deeds that it longed to do and could not do; seeing the accomplishments in its consciousness of all the nobler acts that it wanted to achieve in the life last past and that it could not or did not achieve — dreams of spiritual beauty, dreams of spiritual happiness, dreams of spiritual peace, dreams of unspeakable reality. — G. de Purucker: Questions We All Ask
Law and order prevail throughout universal life. And one of these orderly procedures is what we call Death. But when we know we are eternal pilgrim-souls living life after life for experience, fear cannot touch us. We know "we are well taken care of." Poets and philosophers have sensed this truth of ancient wisdom and their writings for centuries have carried the message of hope that this belief inspired them with. The great Frenchman Victor Hugo wrote:
I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest once cut down; the new shoots are stronger and livelier than ever. I am rising, I know, toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but heaven lights me with the reflexion of unknown worlds.
You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of lilies, the violets and the rose as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple. It is a fairy tale, and it is history.
For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in prose and in verse; history, philosophy, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode and song; I have tried all. But I feel I have not said the thousandth part of what is in me. When I go down to the grave I can say, like many others, "I have finished my day's work." But I cannot say, "I have finished my life." My day's work will begin again the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight, it opens on the dawn.
And the Celtic poet Fiona McCleod wrote:
There is great serenity in the thought of death, when it is known to be the Gate of Life.
Nature is very wise. For the one who died there is peace. The hand of mourning does not touch the freed soul. And though we who are here are filled with sorrow, that sorrow is in reality for ourselves at our loss. But as we hold in thought that dear one who has gone, our hearts are sustained by the fact of those immutable inner bonds which unite us, and by the assurance that we are not separated in Nature. We stand here waving a farewell, as it were, to that soul which has preceded us, knowing that we shall meet again. United by a communion of thought that is holy, we take courage, because we are endeavoring to forget our own loss in the recognition of the ineffable peace which soon will enfold the one who has gone. We raise ourselves inwardly to follow his own inward journey; and our own sympathy and understanding frame in words the thought, greater than mere comfort because born of experienced Truth, which bathes that soul itself, quitting this schoolroom of life:
O Divinity of me, that which is part of the Cosmic Essence of Being, thou hast fashioned a temple for the living god of me, my real undying Self. And I have lived there. But my work this time is done. I long for peace and rest. And so for a while I return Home. I need new strength before I return to earth to continue my conscious journey, endeavoring ever to grow inwardly that I may become strong and wise and able to help others!
O my Divinity, blend thou now with me that from the darkness of this earth I may go forth in Light!
1. Given at the funeral service of a friend, in San Diego, California. (return to text)