What is Death?
The great majority of human beings look upon death as an insoluble mystery. Materialistic science with its incredible knowledge of the physical world seems by and large to view death as the cessation of life, a total annihilation of the individual’s consciousness and experiencing of life, even though there are some scientists who will say that death is something that lies quite outside their remit. As physical science is quite naturally an authority for many human beings, due to the fact that it has solved many mysteries in the physical world and has been of immense benefit in many fields, we are inclined to see it as an authority in all areas, including death. We try to resign ourselves to the fact that we live only once, and we therefore do what we can to get the greatest possible enjoyment out of life, even though this might sometimes be at someone else’s expense. We give no thought to death, at least for as long as we do not have the sense that it is imminent. This is the materialist’s attitude to death: either that it is the cessation of everything or that it is something one should not concern oneself with.
But there are also human beings that believe that death is the entrance into another life, a “Heaven” or a “Hell”, another form of existence that they call “eternal life”. In relation to life after death, humankind is divided into two groups, the “believers” and the “non-believers”. If we take the area of human beings who are believers, we can see that this stretches from the very first appearance of human beings as ape-like humans right up to part of present-day humankind. Non-belief, on the other hand, is more recent. It has been rather much in evidence in the last two centuries, and is particularly so in our own time due to the fact that the materialistic attitude to life rules today’s world. The belief in death forms the basis of modern civilisation. We kill the people we do not like. We sentence murderers to death. We arm ourselves for war, which means that we train to kill as many people as possible who belong to nations and races that we do not like. All this happens in the confidence that by killing all these people we annihilate them and therefore no longer need to fear being bothered by them. This belief is a fundamental force in modern civilisation.
But it is not only within our present-day materialistic view that such a display of killing has taken place. From time immemorial people from within the ranks of the believers have also complied with this principle. Is not the law of Moses, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, a proclamation of the death penalty as the only form of justice? Over the centuries Christian as well as Muslim believers have fought a “holy war” in order to wipe out the “heathens” or convert them to the “true faith”. In the case of the religious believers, however, the killings take place in the faith that the killed beings go to Hell and therefore receive further punishment from the very god that one believes one is serving with one’s murderous ways. So, materialists kill in order to annihilate, and believers kill in order to send people to “Hell”. Both cases display a blood-stained, murderous mentality that makes life on Earth a “Hell”, because it is a “demonic” mentality based on hatred and one which brings immense suffering in its wake. Life on Earth is more an expression of death and a belief in death than an expression of life and a belief in life.
Has this killing mentality that has ruled humankind for thousands of years, first of all in the name of religion and later in the name of materialism, brought any improvement to life on Earth by gradually getting rid of all the “evil” people? No, quite the opposite, it seems as if we still have to invent bigger and bigger and more and more ingenious weaponry in an attempt to destroy the “criminal and amoral enemies” we are afraid will kill us, if we do not kill them first. The various methods of extermination have certainly not resulted in a model humankind. Wars, pillaging, murder, criminality and perversions dominate the Earth as never before, and at the same time human beings are suffering hardship, starving to death or are subject to so many illnesses that it is not possible to enlarge the hospitals quickly enough to meet the need. Despite thousands of years of extermination campaigns, humankind is still full of murderers and thieves, who, in ways that are more or less camouflaged, create for themselves a pleasant life by getting rid of all the people who they think in one way or another threaten or aggravate the way their life unfolds.
But it is not merely the human beings that use weapons to kill other human beings that are murderers. Murder is a far more widespread phenomenon in this world than most people think. The weapons or poisons used for such murders most human beings make use of when they are angry, hot-tempered, bitter or full of hatred. They are microscopic murders, murders caused by poisoned remarks and hurtful words that penetrate into other people’s psyche creating cuts and wounds that in the long run have the effect of killing these human beings’ happiness. Life in the jungle is a paradise compared to the hell that exists in the lives of human beings. Civilisation has become an intellectualised jungle, in which people kill with intelligence instead of with teeth and claws. Human intelligence has now even discovered how to release the forces working within the very structure of the body of the Earth, so that it can use them as “weapons of defence”. One can liken humankind to the passengers on a ship out at sea who are at war with one another, and who in desperation have begun to break up their own ship in order to create the raw materials for explosives, with which they are able not only to kill the combatants themselves but also blow parts of the ship to pieces. Would one not say about these people that they have gone mad?
With their atom and hydrogen bombs human beings are creating wounds in the very organism of the Earth, and these wounds are life-threatening for the living beings on the surface of the globe. Were it not for the existence of a power that is stronger than human beings’ power, humankind’s belief in death and their display of killing forces would have quickly put an end to all life on this globe. But this stronger power does exist. It has caused the Earth globe to evolve over the course of millions of years, from the time when it was a glowing mist in space until it became the wonderful dwelling place for living, thinking beings that it is today. And this power will in fact expand and put an end to the attempts of human beings to sabotage the creative process that will lead both the Earth globe and humankind forwards in evolution.
Human beings believe that death either obliterates consciousness and experience of life or it is the entrance to eternal life in either the bliss of Heaven or the torments of Hell. The fact that they have these beliefs is a natural outcome of the temporary evolutionary step that they are on, and they therefore cannot be blamed for displaying jungle mentality. The reason they do so is because with a large part of their consciousness they still belong to the animal kingdom. There also exists, however, in their consciousness the idea of goodness, neighbourly love and a world of peace; this is “the seed in which all the nations of the Earth shall be blessed” through being sown in everyday actions. In this way human beings will overcome “death” and will become divine living beings, not only physically but also cosmically, in contrast to their present state in which even though physically they are bubbling over with vitality, they are cosmically dead beings in the “kingdom of the dead”. The fact is that death is not what human beings understand it to be. Death is the state in which human beings find themselves at present. If death was what human beings believe it to be, and if they were correct in their view that “the evil enemy should be wiped out”, humankind today would, after thousands of years of getting rid of “those who are evil”, consist of noble souls living together in a brotherhood of neighbourly love, or it would at least be governed by such souls. But neither of these situations is the case. The world is governed by those who support war and use force of arms, these people being chosen by the majority of the people. Living conditions for millions of human beings are more severe and more difficult than they ever were for the primitive peoples of the past. These days millions of human beings die of hunger because they have no means of earning their daily bread. All life-giving work in the world has been more or less monopolised and is therefore a privilege. All the physical resources, which by rights belong to and ought to benefit the whole of humankind, are owned privately, partly by individuals and partly by large concerns and companies. This private monopoly of all the world’s natural resources is completely deadly. The small things of value that ordinary people of limited means can obtain through their labour are really only tiny isolated fragments of this private monopoly.
The entire present-day world civilisation, as seen in the way one nation relates to another and one human being relates to another, is worshipping death to the highest possible degree. People believe in death, they live in death by radiating deadly energy, they hate, wreak revenge, punish and gather for themselves the good things in life with the help of death. The death’s icy coldness rules in the world of human beings. Even the scientists, doctors, naturalists and philosophers believe in death. We have the ability to look millions of light years out into space, but all we can say about it is that it is a lifeless mechanism. We are dealing with mere measurements in, for example, weight, distance, time and space, all of which are the lifeless results of calculations. Eating of the “tree of knowledge” is fully under way; death is worshiped instead of life. But is there not such a thing as a “resurrection” from this kingdom of death? There certainly is, and it is precisely this evolutionary epoch that humankind is now on the point of gently moving into. Human beings will experience that what they call death is more of a birth, a transformation process, and that no living being has ever ceased to exist, just as no being has ever begun to live. They have always been and they will always continue to be. Eternity is not something that begins after death or when we are born. Eternity is “something that is” and we are also “something that is”; we are one with eternity itself.
Human beings are what one could call “cosmic corpses” because they identify themselves with the physical body, which is merely an instrument through which they experience life in the physical world. Life itself is not to be found in the physical world; here we experience only the effects of life. The force that sets these effects in motion is something spiritual. This spiritual force pervades the whole universe as a life rhythm, a cosmic breathing, a renewing of life. It manifests through the eternal principle of contrast, without which it would be impossible to experience eternal life. This is the reason why there exists light and darkness, cold and warmth, evil and goodness etc., and it would be impossible to experience any of these expressions of life if their contrasts did not also exist and were able to be experienced by living beings.
We know that there are also two contrasts that we call truth and falsehood. They are two forms of consciousness-energy, and they are the same contrasts that we call “life” and “death”, “goodness” and “evil”, “perfection” and “imperfection”. Humankind is in the process of displaying the culmination of “evil” or “imperfection”, which is identical to “death” or “falsehood”. Have human beings lost the truth? Was there once a time when they were nearer to it? Yes, the truth was once a far greater vital force in human beings than it is at the moment. At one time the belief in an eternal life beyond physical existence was an important driving force shaping human beings’ lives, and it still is for all so-called primitive peoples. The belief in life instead of in death, the belief in life as the absolutely primary aspect in existence and death as secondary and subordinate in the process of living, is fundamental to human beings during their first evolutionary stages as animal-humans. They believe that everything is alive, everything is animated by “spirits”, “gods” and “demons”, and in fact this view of life is closer to the truth than the views held by materialists and atheists. Of course, there is no need for humankind to go back to such a stage in order to come closer to the truth. Evolution, promoted by the principle of contrast, is eternal and the truth that is experienced instinctively by the Bushman or Native Australian is experienced by the cultured human being one hundred percent day-consciously with feeling, intelligence and intuition. This results in the human being giving expression to life in a way that makes it a divine co-worker in the universe, a “human being in God’s image”.
Terrestrial human civilisation as it is at present is a “cosmic graveyard”. The fine palaces, the immense luxury, the grand uniforms, orders, titles etc., are the “grave-stones” showing that “something” is buried here. This “something” will rise from the “grave”, and this will take place through the individual human being that constitutes this “something” changing his or her energy from being a display of deadly thoughts and actions into life-giving, neighbourly love, and for this to come about there is needed not only feeling, but also intelligence and insight into the physical and spiritual laws of life. The entire material, technical and scientific development is “the eating of the tree of knowledge” and for a while this causes human beings to “surely die” due to their lack of understanding of eternal life. But through the principle of reincarnation, which is in fact a link in the eternal rhythm of life or evolution, the individual human being, by “sowing” and “reaping” from one life to another, gains the experiences it needs in order to become a seeker. This is the beginning of its awakening from the state of being cosmically “dead” to being itself “the way, the truth and the life”.