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At the Feet of The Mother

Dealing with Death (RE 161)

When the soul leaves the gross physical body, it lingers for some time in the vital sheath. In most people this sheath is full of things that are not pleasant such as greed, fear, lust, anger etc. These elements begin to disintegrate when the central will holding them together in the bodily house is withdrawn. It is to destroy these elements that the body is given to fire and elaborate prayers and rituals are performed such as shraddha and asthi visarjan. It is however quite possible that as these elemental energies disintegrate, they may be unwittingly absorbed by someone who is weak in the vital or sensitive. In such cases some dislocation can take place leading to physical or psychological symptoms. In most instances these are temporary but at times they may continue if something in the recipient who has witnessed a funeral is open and receptive to such energies. Rarely some portion of the vital being of the departed may seek temporary shelter in the atmosphere of people who love or, especially when the death was premature or violent, even try to take hold of the body to maintain its continuity. It is for these reasons that children and women (both are generally more open and sensitive) were best advised to avoid the funeral. The rule of taking a bath soon after returning from a funeral was also for this reason. 

However these are general rules for the masses. Much depends upon the individual who has departed. There are some whose atmosphere is quite good because they have lived largely a clean life detached from worldly things and turned towards a higher and nobler ideal. Also, if the funeral ground is kept neat and clean these elemental energies cannot linger long. 

As to empathy, it should be there. For those who are left behind it was not the protoplasmic sheath but the personality that has gone ahead further in its journey. That is the origin of grief and not merely the absence of the body. What is needed is an understanding of the human condition that in its ignorance wants to hold on to people and things forever in the same way as they are accustomed to. This is not permissible nor desirable as it is counter-progress. All this needs to be slowly brought home to those left behind that death is not an end but the soul’s opportunity. However those with whom we share bonds that are deeper and rooted in the soul are lost only for a while. They meet us across lives and something within feels the old links even though the senses and the outer mind has forgotten.

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