THERE IS ONE thing in which all men believe without exception.
It is death!
Everyone is convinced that it will come.
It is one of the few facts about which there is no dispute or ignorance.
Although everybody from childhood onward reckons with the fact that they must eventually die, yet the majority always try to ward off the thought.
Many people indeed are even irritated if the subject is broached in their presence.
Others again carefully avoid cemeteries and funerals, and if by chance they meet a funeral procession in the street, they seek to efface every impression as soon as possible.
They are always oppressed at such moments by a secret fear that death may one day suddenly surprise them.
An indefinable horror prevents them from seriously grappling with this irrefutable fact.
There is hardly another event that is so inevitable and yet so constantly pushed aside in their thoughts as death; and hardly so important an event in life on earth, except for birth!
It is a striking fact that man wishes to concern himself so little just with the beginning and the end of his earthly existence, whereas to all other events, even quite trivial matters, he tries to ascribe a deep significance.
He examines and ponders over all the intermediate happenings much more than upon that which would enlighten him on everything – the beginning and the end of his life on earth!
Death and birth are so closely linked because one is the result of the other.
In the first place how little serious thought is given to the act of procreation!
Only in very rare cases is there anything to be found worthy of the dignity of a human being!
Just in this matter man cheerfully places himself on a level with the animal, yet without being able to preserve its innocence.
This, indeed, puts him below the animal, which acts according to the level it occupies in Creation.
Man, however, can not or will not keep to the level that befits him, but descends to a lower one, and then wonders why the whole of humanity gradually deteriorates in various respects.
To start with all the customs at weddings are so designed as to make marriage appear merely an earthly affair.
It even goes so far in many cases that more serious-minded people would like to turn away in disgust from the suggestive details which hint at nothing more than earthly intercourse.
Wedding festivities have in many cases degenerated into absolute match-making orgies, which parents conscious of their great responsibility should strictly forbid their children to attend!
However, youths and young women who do not themselves feel disgust at the customs and insinuations during such festivities, and who although responsible for their own actions still do not stay away, may already be counted as belonging to the same base level, and can thus be left out of all consideration.
It appears as if even in this matter people were trying through a drunken revelry to deceive themselves over something they do not want to think about.
If, then, life on earth is built up on such a frivolous foundation, as has indeed already become customary, one can understand that man also tries to deceive himself about death by striving desperately not to think of it.
This pushing aside of all serious thoughts is closely connected with his own base attitude during the act of procreation.
The indefinable fear which accompanies man like a shadow during his whole life on earth largely originates in the fact that he is fully aware of all that is wrong in his frivolous and unworthy actions.
And if he cannot get peace any other way, as a last resort he artificially and frantically clings to the delusion that either death is the end of all things, whereby he consciously acknowledges his inferiority and cowardice at possibly being called to account, or the hope that he is not much worse than others.
But all these illusions do not alter the fact in the slightest degree that earthly death is approaching – coming nearer day by day, hour by hour!
How pitiful it so often appears when the majority of those who so rigidly tried to deny any responsibility in a life after death begin, in their last hours, fearfully to ask the great questions, thus proving they have suddenly become confused about their own convictions!
But their questioning is of little avail then, for again it is only cowardice which, shortly before the great step out of this earth-life, suddenly conjures up the possibility of a continuation of life and of being called to account therein.
However anxiety, fear and cowardice can no more diminish or redeem the unconditional reaction arising from every deed than can stubbornness.
Real comprehension, i.e., a true understanding, cannot be attained in this way.
Prompted by fear, their intellectual cunning, which often enough proved trustworthy during their earth-life, plays a mean trick on dying people during their last hours by inducing them, out of ordinary prudence, suddenly to become outwardly pious; this at the moment when the severing of the ethereal man, who continues living, from the physical body has so far advanced that during this process of separating the intuitive life has become equal in strength to the intellect, which up till then had forcibly subjugated it.
But they gain nothing from this!
They will reap what they sowed through their thoughts and deeds during their life on earth!
Nothing has been improved or changed in the slightest degree!
They will be irresistibly drawn into the network of the strictly operating Laws of Reciprocal Action, so as to experience in the Ethereal World all the errors they perpetrated in thought and deed as a result of wrong convictions!
Such people have every reason to dread the hour when they must leave their physical bodies, which for a time offered protection against many ethereal happenings.
This protection was given to them as a shield and a cover so that behind it they could have changed for the better in undisturbed peace, and even completely redeemed many a thing which would otherwise have hit them severely.
It is doubly sad, yes even ten-fold so, for those who spend this time of mercy which every earth-life represents in frivolous deception, as if it were a drunken revel.
Many there are who have every reason for alarm and apprehension!
The case is quite different with those who have not wasted their existence on earth but who, although at a late hour yet still in time and not impelled by fear and anxiety, have set out on the road to spiritual ascent.
They will take their serious seeking over with them as a staff and support in the Ethereal World.
Without fear and anxiety they can venture to take the step from the Gross Material World into the Ethereal World which is inevitable for everyone, because all that is transient, such as the physical body, must sooner or later perish again!
They may welcome the hour of this release, for it means definite progress for them, no matter what they have to experience in the ethereal life!
Their good experiences will then bring them happiness and the evil ones will be made surprisingly easy, for their good volition will help them in this far more powerfully than they ever dreamed.
The process of dying in itself is nothing but birth into the Ethereal World, similar to the process of birth into the Gross Material World.
After the separation the ethereal body remains attached to the physical body for a time as if with a navel cord.
The higher the soul now born into the Ethereal World has already developed itself towards this Ethereal World during its life on earth, the looser this cord will become.
The more a man’s volition has chained him to this earth, i.e., to gross matter, indicating thereby a refusal to acknowledge any continuation of life in the Ethereal World, the more firmly will this volition bind him with this cord to his physical body and consequently also bind the ethereal body, which he needs as a garment for his spirit in the Ethereal World.
The denser his ethereal body is the heavier it becomes according to the prevailing laws, and the darker it must appear.
Such great resemblance and close relation to matter makes it very hard for the ethereal body to detach itself from the physical body, so that it happens in such cases that it must still undergo and feel the last physical pains as well as the whole process of decay.
Neither does it remain insensible with cremation.
After the final severance of this connecting cord, the ethereal body sinks to that level in the Ethereal World where its surroundings are of corresponding density and weight.
There, in this environment of equal weight, it will find only those of similar tendencies.
It is understandable that conditions there are worse than when on earth in the physical body, because in the Ethereal World all intuitive feelings express themselves in full force and without restraint.
It is different with those people who during their life on earth have begun to strive for all that is noble.
Because they bear within themselves a living conviction about the step into the Ethereal World, the severance is much easier.
The ethereal body of such a person and its connecting cord are not dense.
Their texture is alien to that of the physical body, and this permits the severance to be very quickly effected.
Thus during the entire so-called death struggle or the last muscular twitching’s of the physical body, the ethereal body is already standing beside the latter, if indeed one can speak of a death struggle at the normal death of such a person.
The loose and slender condition of the connecting cord prevents the ethereal being standing beside the body from feeling any pain because, being so frail and light in substance, this cord cannot transmit pain from the physical body to the ethereal body.
Owing to its finer nature such a strand severs the connection more quickly, setting the ethereal body completely free in a shorter space of time to soar to the region consisting of this finer and lighter substance.
There it can only find kindred souls and gain peace and happiness through the increasingly high quality of the intuitive life.
Such a light and less dense ethereal body naturally appears brighter and more luminous, until finally it becomes so transparent that the inner spiritual core begins to break through radiantly before it enters the spiritual sphere as a completely luminous radiant spirit.
Those, however, who are present at a death bed should take warning not to break out into loud lamentations!
When the grief at parting is too strongly expressed, the person in the process of detaching himself, or who is perhaps already standing beside his body in ethereal form, may hear or feel it and be emotionally disturbed by it.
If then pity awakens in him, together with the wish to say a few words of consolation, this again binds him more strongly to his physical body through the desire to make himself understood by the grief-stricken mourners.
He can only make himself understood on earth by the use of his brain.
This effort, however, makes for a closer connection with the physical body, and indeed this is a necessary condition.
The result is that not only does an ethereal body still in the process of detaching itself re-unite itself more closely to the physical body but, if it is already standing detached beside the physical body, it will be drawn back into it once more.
The final result is that he will once again feel all the pains from which he had already been delivered.
When the process of detachment is renewed it is much more difficult, and may even last for some days.
This brings about the so-called prolonged death struggle, which becomes really painful and difficult for the soul wanting to depart.
The blame lies with those who, through their selfish grief, have called it back from its natural course of development.
Through this interruption of the normal course, be it only the weak attempt at concentrating on making itself understood, a new and forced connection has taken place.
To dissolve this unnatural connection again is not so easy for one who is completely inexperienced in this matter.
And, because it desired this reconnection itself, no help can be afforded.
Such a connection can easily be effected as long as the physical body is not yet completely cold and the connecting strand, which often does not tear till after many weeks, is still in existence.
It is unnecessary suffering for the dying man, a rudeness and want of consideration on the part of the bystanders.
Therefore absolute quiet should reign in the chamber of death, a dignity and seriousness corresponding to the importance of the hour!
People who cannot control themselves should be forcibly removed, even if they be the nearest relatives.
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