Your consciousness, as you think of it, may of course leave your body entirely before physical death. (As mentioned earlier, there is no precise point of death, but I am speaking as if there is for the sake of convenience).
Your conscious self leaves the physical organism in various ways, according to the conditions. In some cases the organism itself is still able to function to some degree, although without the leadership or organization that existed previously. The simple consciousness of atoms, cells, and organs continue to exist, after the main consciousness has left, for some time.
There may or may not be disorientation on your part, according to your beliefs and development. Now I do not necessarily mean intellectual development. The intellect should go hand in hand with the emotions and intuitions, but if it pulls against these too strongly, difficulties can arise when the newly freed consciousness seizes upon its ideas about reality after death, rather than facing the particular reality in which it finds itself. It can deny feeling, in other words, and even attempt to argue itself out of its present independence from the body.
Again, as mentioned earlier, an individual can be so certain that death is the end of all, that oblivion, though temporary, results. In many cases, immediately on leaving the body there is, of course, amazement and a recognition of the situation. The body itself may be viewed, for example, and many funerals have a guest of honor amidst the company – and no one gazes into the face of the corpse with as much curiosity and wonder.
At this point many variations in behavior emerge, each the result of individual background, knowledge, and habit. The surroundings in which the dead find themselves will often vary. Vivid hallucinations may form experience quite as real as any in mortal life. Now, I have told you that thoughts and emotions form physical reality, and they form after-death experience. This does not mean that the experiences are not valid, any more than it means that physical life is not valid.
Certain images have been used to symbolize such a transition from one existence to another, and many of these are extremely valuable in that they provide a framework with understandable references. The crossing of the River Styx is such a one. The dying expected certain procedures to occur in a more or less orderly fashion. The maps were known beforehand. At death, the consciousness hallucinated the river vividly. Relatives and friends already dead entered into the ritual, which was a profound ceremony also on their parts. The river was as real as any that you know, as treacherous to a traveler alone without proper knowledge. Guides were always at the river to help such travelers across.
It does not do to say that such a river is illusion. The symbol is reality, you see. The way was planned. Now, that particular map is no longer generally in use. The living do not know how to read it. Christianity has believed in a heaven and a hell, a purgatory, and reckoning; and so, at death, to those who so believe in these symbols, another ceremony is enacted, and the guides take on the guises of those beloved figures of Christian saints and heroes.
Then with this as framework, and in terms that they can understand, such individuals are told the true situation. Mass religious movements have for centuries fulfilled that purpose, in giving man some plan to be followed. It little mattered that later the plan was seen as a child’s primer, a book of instructions complete with colorful tales, for the main purpose was served and there was little disorientation.
In periods where no such mass ideas are held, there is more disorientation, and when life after death is completely denied, the problem is somewhat magnified. Many, of course, are overjoyed to find themselves still conscious. Others have to learn all over again about certain laws of behavior, for they do not realize the creative potency of their thoughts and emotions.
Such an individual may find himself in ten different environments within the flicker of an eyelash, for example, with no idea of the reason behind the situation. He will see no continuity at all, and feel himself flung without rhyme or reason from one experience to another, never realizing that his own thoughts are propelling him quite literally.
I am speaking now of the events immediately following death, for there are other stages. Guides will helpfully become a part of your hallucinations, in order to help you out of them, but they must first of all get your trust.
At one time – in your terms – I myself acted as such a guide; as in a sleep state Ruburt now follows the same road. The situation is rather tricky from the guide’s viewpoint, for psychologically utmost discretion must be used. One man’s Moses, as I discovered, may not be another man’s Moses. I have served as a rather credible Moses on several occasions – and once, though this is hard to believe, to an Arab.
The Arab was a very interesting character, by the way, and to illustrate some of the difficulties involved, I will tell you about him. He hated the Jews, but somehow he was obsessed with the idea that Moses was more powerful than Allah, and for years this was the secret sin upon his conscience. He spent some time in Constantinople at the time of the Crusades. He was captured, and ended up with a group of Turks, all to be executed by the Christians, in this case very horribly so. They forced his mouth open and stuffed it with burning coals, as a starter. He cried to Allah, and then in greater desperation to Moses, and as his consciousness left his body, Moses was there.
He believed in Moses more than he did Allah, and I did not know until the last moment which form I was to assume. He was a very likable chap, and under the circumstances I did not mind when he seemed to expect a battle for his soul. Moses and Allah were to fight for him. He could not rid himself of the idea of force, though he had died by force, and nothing could persuade him to accept any kind of peace or contentment, or any rest, until some kind of battle was wrought.
A friend and I, with some others, staged the ceremony, and from opposite clouds in the sky Allah and I shouted out our claims upon his soul – while he, poor man, cowered on the ground between us. Now while I tell this story humorously, you must understand that the man’s belief brought it about, and so to set him free, we worked it through.
I called upon Jehovah, but to no avail, because our Arab did not know of Jehovah – only of Moses – and it was in Moses he put his faith. Allah drew a cosmic sword and I set it afire so that he dropped it. It fell to the ground and set the land aflame. Our Arab cried out again. He saw leagues of followers behind Allah, and so leagues of followers appeared behind me. Our friend was convinced that one of the three of us must be destroyed, and he feared mightily that he would be the victim.
Finally the opposing clouds in which we appeared came closer. In my hand I held a tablet that said: “Thou shalt not kill”. Allah held a sword. As we came closer we exchanged these items, and our followers merged. We came together, forming the image of a sun and we said: “We are one”.
The two diametrically opposed ideas had to merge or the man would have had no peace, and only when these opposites were united could we begin to explain the situation.
Now: To be such a guide requires great discipline and training.
Before the event just mentioned, for example, I had spent many lifetimes acting as a guide under the tutorship of another in my daily sleep states.
It is possible for example to lose yourself momentarily in the hallucinations that are being formed, and in such cases another teacher must bail you out. Delicate probing of the psychological processes is necessary, and the variety of hallucinations in which you may become involved is endless. You may, for example, take the form of an individual’s dearly beloved dead pet.
All of the hallucinatory activities take place usually some short time immediately following death. Some individuals are fully aware of their circumstances, however, because of previous training and development, and they are ready after a rest, if they desire to progress to other stages.
They may, for example, become aware of their own reincarnational selves, recognizing quite readily personalities they knew in other lives, if those personalities are not otherwise engaged. They may deliberately now hallucinate, or they may “relive” certain portions of past lives if they choose. Then there is a period of self-examination, a rendering of accounts, so to speak, in which they are able to view their entire performance, their abilities and weak points and to decide whether or not they will return to physical existence.
Any given individual may experience any of these stages, you see; except for the self-examination, many may be sidestepped entirely. Since the emotions are important, it is of great benefit if friends are waiting for you. In many instances, however, these friends have progressed to other stages of activity, and often a guide will take the guise of a friend for a while, so that you will feel more confident.
Of course, it is only because most people believe that you cannot leave your body that you do not consciously have out-of-body experiences with any frequency, generally speaking, in your lifetimes. Such experiences would acquaint you far better than words with some understanding of the conditions that will be encountered.
Remember that in one way, your physical existence is the result of mass hallucination. Vast gulfs exist between one man’s reality and another’s. After death, experience has as much organization, highly intricate and involved, as you know now. You have your private hallucinations now, only you do not realize what they are. Such hallucinations as I have been speaking of, intense symbolistic encounters, can also occur in your sleep states, when the personality is at a time of great change, or when opposing ideas must be unified, or if one must give way to another. These are highly charged, significant psychological and psychic events, whether they happen before or after death.
Occurring in the dream state, they can change the course of a civilization. After death, an individual may visualize his (immediately previous physical) life as an animal with which he must come to terms, and such a battle or encounter has far-reaching consequences, for the man must come to terms with all portions of himself. In this case, whether the hallucination ends with him riding the animal, making friends with it, domesticating it, killing it, or being killed by it, each alternative is carefully weighed, and the results will have much to do with his future development.
This “life-symbolization” may be adopted by those who give little thought to self-examination during their lifetime. It is a part of the self-examination process, therefore, in which an individual forms his life into an image and then deals with it. Such a method is not used by all. Sometimes a series of such episodes are necessary.