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What is Death? What Happens to Consciousness After We Die?

11553677_lWhy does everything have to die?

Life needs death to maintain a balance. Without one, you cannot have the other. Without death, living entities would multiply and consume everything, thus destroying all of creation. Consciousness provides for a balance by making life and death interdependent. Like the Apollonian energies of creation are balanced by the Dionysian energies of destruction, life and death are really two aspects of the same.

The renowned mythologist, Joseph Campbell, answers this question by demonstrating how Life lives on Death. In order to continue its existence, Life Must Feed on Other Life. Life and death, as a consequence, are two sides of the same coin.

Who or What Dies When We Lose a Friend or Loved One?

When the brain dies, we don’t know what happens. In fact, “happening” stops, for our bodies are the vehicles by which we experience this world of time and space.

When the body dies, the tools to experience this world – our sensory apparatus – cease to function. The body, however, is not merely a shell or avatar, giving us sensory experiences. The body is animated by something deeply rooted in all life – consciousness. While consciousness is immanent (present in every part of this universe), it is also transcendent. So, when the body dies, consciousness does not, for it is of the transcendent.

As we think, we create time (within the brain). We orient ourselves in time and space with apodictic certainty that the rules of the duality, to which we are subject, apply across the universe. We therefore understand that everything is subject to this great cycle of Birth / Death / Rebirth.

Recognition of this great cycle, seen throughout nature, may have played a part in the 1st great act of civilization – burial of the dead. Through this act we honor the heroic act of being alive and struggling through the various levels of consciousness we discussed in Robert Johnson’s work.

This act represents a beginning in the shift from human animal to human spirit.

What Becomes of Consciousness After We Die?

As we noted before, while the body dies, consciousness does not. Transcendent Consciousness is not of duality (the world of time and space); it transcends our sensory experience but also gives rise to it.

Time and Space are intrinsic to our experience of duality. As we think, we are creating time. One cannot describe transcendence is it is beyond time and space, it is everything and nothing, it is and it is not; it is beyond the act of description itself.

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The Three Levels of the Evolution of Consciousness Depicted in Classic Literature

The three levels of the evolution of consciousness, that vie for dominance at various points within our lives, are represented by Don Quixote, Hamlet and Faust in Robert Johnson’s seminal work, Transformation: Understanding the Three Levels of Masculine Consciousness.

Don_Quijote_and_Sancho_PanzaDon Quixote – the innocent child, unaware of life’s pain. This is simple awareness, a direct connection with nature.

File-Hamlet,_Prince_of_DemarkHamlet – conscious imperfection, a person divided within himself, not knowing how to act, feeling out of control, incomplete, powerless and in despair at the tragedies of life. This is often viewed as the state of Western man today.

Faust – the state of a fully integrated person, who has grown in awareness by struggling through the pitfalls and pain of the second level of consciousness. Through inner work, Faust – like us – restores to wholeness that which he had torn apart and becomes open to the ecstatic, authentic consciousness that derives from the alignment of ego and soul.

While the book title speaks of “masculine” consciousness, Johnson is not speaking of the male gender – these aspects of consciousness are applicable to all people, men and women alike. He is speaking of the attributes which are attached to the masculine aspect of the psyche – assertiveness, a call to action and the like. Johnson speaks to the feminine aspects of consciousness in his excellent work, She.

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Kant and the Theory of Forms

Kant understood that true forms exist a priori to (before) our experience; this was an idea derived from Plato’s Theory of Forms. The images of these forms are always and ever-present in our minds; we know with apodictic certainty that space in one place will follow the same rules and forms in another, no matter whether here on Earth of millions of light years away!

Einstein had this same, incredible insight; he saw that everything is related to the speed of light, which gives form and structure (in matter and energy) to everything within our universe. The speed of light is a constant and constitutes everything within the universe; we are, essentially, beings of light! This insight reflects Kant’s understanding that we exist within a field; his insight relates to the psyche while Einstein’s came, of course, in the realm of physics.

Before Kant, it was generally held that a priori knowledge must be analytic, meaning that what is stated in the predicate must already be present in the subject and therefore be independent of experience (for example, “An intelligent man is intelligent” or “An intelligent man is a man”). In either case, the judgment is analytic because is arrived at by analyzing the subject.

It was thought that all certain a priori judgments are of this kind: that in all of them there is a predicate that is only part of the subject of which it is asserted. If this were so, attempting to deny anything that could be known a priori (for example, “An intelligent man is not intelligent” or “An intelligent man is not a man”) would involve a contradiction. It was therefore thought that the Law of contradiction is sufficient to establish all a priori knowledge.

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Time is a Subtle Energy

“Vedic physics states that time is a subtle energy or force which is manifested before the cosmic manifestation. Time moves the unmanifest material energy and controls the movements in the universe. Without the manifestation of time, the unmanifest material energy cannot become active and take form. Only after the time fluctuations agitate the unmanifsted material energy does the cosmic manifestation begin!”

– Quote unknown

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The Crisis of Our Time is a Spiritual One

The crisis of our times is not only an ecological and political crisis but also a spiritual crisis. The answers we seek cannot come from the limited consciousness which currently rules the world, but could grow from a deeper understanding born of the union of mind and soul, helping us to see that all life is one, that each one of us participates in the life of a cosmic entity of immeasurable dimensions.

The urgent need for this psychic balance, this deeper intelligence and insight, this wholeness, could help us to recover a perspective on life that has been increasingly lost. We have come to live without it—without even noticing it has gone—not recognizing the existence of any dimension of reality beyond the parameters set by the human mind.

It is a dangerous time because it involves transforming entrenched belief systems and archaic survival habits of behavior that are rooted in fear and ignorance, as well as the greed and desire for power that are born of these. But it is also an immense opportunity for evolutionary advance, if only we can understand what is happening and why.