Death Dying and Beyond: The Science and Spirituality of Death

Death Dying and Beyond:
The Science and Spirituality of Death

Man’s paradoxical relation to death is that he sees the fact of death all around him, yet lives as if he were immortal. He may struggle to understand, wandering from the material scientist to the mystic in search of the secret meaning of death. In this book the author examines the complex questions on the nature of death, and follows Sri Aurobindo’s deeper vision behind the veil of death to find the answers to some of the most perplexing ethical and existential problems related to death, dying and the beyond.

Book Details

Author: Alok Pandey
Print Length: 293
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Society
Contributors: Alexey Zheleznyak
Book format: Pdf, ePub, mobi (Kindle)
Language: English

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  • Preface
  • Behind the Iron Mask — Introduction

What is Death?

  • Death – The Annihilator of Time’s Works
  • Death – A Partner in the Game of Life
  • The Two Faces of Death
  • The Scientific View of Death
  • The Inner Dimension of Death
  • The Tragedy of Inner Death
  • The Pervertors of Life and Death
  • Appendix I: What is Death?
    • Stopping the Heartbeat – Fact or Fiction

The Why of Death

  • Death – The Paradox of Life
  • Death – The Hooded Mask of Life
  • Death – The Passport to Immortality

The Shroud of Death

  • Death – The Sad Destroying Voice in Things
  • The Sting of Death
  • Death – The Spirit’s Goad and Soul’s Opportunity
  • To Grieve or Not to Grieve
  • The Moment of Death
  • Is the Moment of Death Fixed?
  • Spirit of Death
  • Staring into the Eyes of Death
  • The Question of Cremation
  • Death of a God
  • Appendix II: The Shroud of Death
    • Young Deaths
    • Strange Attachment – A Prophetic Poem
    • Behind the Iron Curtain – Encounters with Death
    • Case One – Death of a Child
    • Case Two – Death, an Evolutionary Necessity
    • Case Three – Facing Death with a Smile
    • The Fear of Death and the Four Methods of Conquering It
    • Music for the Departing Soul
    • An Extraordinary Death
    • Wisdom from the Tibetan Book of the Dead

Beyond Death

  • Death – A Passage Through the Inner Worlds
  • Self-Experience after Death
  • The Question of Ghosts
  • Heaven and Hell – Fact or Fiction?
  • The Return to Earth – Rebirth
  • The Return to Earth – Karma
  • Recollections of Past Life
  • The Soul’s Choice
  • The Cessation of the Cycle of Birth and Death
  • Appendix III: Beyond Death
    • Possession by the Asura
    • A Dream

The Ancient Debate

  • The Ancient Debate – Does the Soul Exist?
  • The Sheaths of the Soul
  • In Conclusion
  • Appendix IV: The Ancient Debate
    • The Myth of Our 3-Dimensional Universe
    • The Experience of Peace and Calm
    • The Dark Tunnel of Death
    • Out of the Body
    • Seeing the Body
    • Pure Consciousness
    • Perception
    • The Being of Light
    • Sensation of Being Pulled Back

The Inflexible Iron Law of Death and the Dilemmas of Human Law

  • Ethical Issues involving Death and the Dying
  • Homicide and Capital Punishment
  • Violent Deaths
  • Abortion
  • Organ Transplant
  • Post-mortem Examination
  • Resuscitation and Artificial Life Support
  • Euthanasia
  • Killing of Animals

Towards a Vision of the Future

  • Behind the Veil of Death
  • The Scientist’s View on Death and Immortality
  • Occultism and the Alchemy of Life and Death
  • Quest for Immortality – The Two Approaches
  • The Traditional Spiritual View of Immortality
  • The End of Death, the Death of Ignorance
  • A Glorious Body

The Many Faces of Death

  • The Many Faces of Death
  • The Tragedy in the Heart of Time
  • The Dance of Destruction
  • The Great Leveller
  • The Grim Accountant
  • The Ironic Critic of God’s Work
  • The Dark-Browed Sophist of the Universe
  • The Shroud of Mystery
  • The Seal of Ignorance
  • The Changing of Our Robes
  • The Passport to Immortality
  • The Instrument of God
  • The Being of Death
  • The Transmutation of Death

Ancient Texts

  • An Ancient Indian Tale: The Secret of Death
  • Nachiketas’s Three Boons
  • The Gita
  • Gems from the Gita


Death Dying and Beyond: The Science and Spirituality of Death


Death, in one of its conceptions, leads us from mansion to mansion in our journey from this mortal world of darkness to the doorsteps of the sphere of deathless Light. But it leads us blindfolded, so to say, and little do we remember of the worlds beyond that are hidden to our mist-laden eyes. Little do we remember of the journey through the Night of death when we return to the grey light of our earthly days again. Our birth, in the conception of a mystic poet, is a sleep and a forgetting. And rightly so, since we remember not the physical womb that delivers us to see the light of our mortal days and feel the struggle of our mortal life. Nor do we remember our spiritual womb, the World-Mother’s heart and lap from which we leaped forth as a soul of love and light to enter this zone of obscurity and unconsciousness. Not only the wherefore but we have forgotten also the why of our coming, the purpose of our earthly existence. Is it all a meaningless accident, a chance governing our fate? Or is accident only a term that covers our purblind Ignorance, chance only the lid that conceals a deeper plot and covers the future’s face? We also do not remember what pitiless necessity took the ominous shape of death and pain. Nor do we understand what coerced the divine soul to the adventure of time and space if the only purpose of all this tragicomic drama of life is to return to That from which it came? What helplessness drove the soul out from its paradise to suffer this fall into obscurity and Ignorance, this short or long interlude with sorrow and tears? Or is the soul helpless against some dark and ominous power that has the right to mar God’s work and cancel His force! And if that is so then who gave it this power and this right to drive the divine soul on the path of perdition and sin? What force coerced the immortal soul to forfeit its immortality and laid upon it the yoke of death? We do not see nor remember.

The material scientist shut in his own senses cannot help us. He sees no better for he too shares the malady called man and the forgetfulness that follows. He only strengthens the prison built by our senses by reinforcing its walls by the cement of a limited observation. The philosopher and the logician equally fail us by replacing realisation with imagination. The theologian seems to suddenly and magically transport us to a promised unseen land whose very ground we are unsure of and which lies disconnected with all that we feel and hope and aspire upon earth. The mystic simply bypasses the riddle rather than solving it by cutting the very knot of our quest by labelling the earth and all that it yearns for with that queer and paradoxical label of illusion. According to him, there is no pain, there is no suffering, there is no sorrow, nor grief, nor death since there is in fact no you and I. There is only the One who does not die even as It is not born. The birth you experience is an illusion, the pain and struggle is an illusion, and the death and destruction is a greater illusion. For there is no birth and no death, no being and no becoming, there is in fact nothing, nothing, and only nothing and ‘nothing’ cannot die for it never was nor ever will be!! There is very little to choose between the eternal No of the materialist, his no to all that is beyond the ken of our senses and all that exceeds or transcends our human experience, and the eternal No of the spiritualist, his no to all that is of this world and share its agony and pain.

Yet we instinctively feel a deeper truth wake within us. It pushes us from behind to exceed ourselves, to dally with death and play ball with time and circumstance. It calls us through unnumbered bodies and births and invites us to solve the mystery of the riddling Sphinx. It laughs in the face of terror and fear, through the eyes of a child. It smiles at grief and pain, through the lips of a hero laying down his life for the triumph of truth. It fills us with peace and joy in the midst of destruction’s dance, through a mind and heart identified with a deeper and higher Light. It leaps up from within as sympathy partaking of others’ grief and the strength to succour and to solace. This memory and this deeper vision hid in our own depths surfaces in the silence and the words of a seer and sage.

Sometimes this deeper vision is lent to our blindness, this deeper truth revealed to our forgetfulness. As Sri Krishna to Arjuna, as Rishi Vyasa to Sanjay, Sri Aurobindo lends this deeper vision to man. Not only deeper but also new, the song of our soul conquering death, the saga of the spirit climbing heroically from birth to birth through life and through death, towards peaks of Beauty and Light and Love and Strength and Bliss. We begin to discover through Him that life upon earth is not a meaningless accident nor is our birth a forced sentence decreed upon us by some powerful Satan for an original sin. Not man but God created this beautiful and dangerous world and not man but He sustains it. The world is divine in the hiding just as man is divine in the seeking. The earth is the field of an evolutionary experiment, a supreme adventure that our souls have undertaken, and man is Divine in the making. Birth is the soul’s great opportunity to work towards the intended fulfillment, death is a temporary pause to rest and to assimilate the gains of our labour. These and many other secrets are revealed to us by the supreme Grace of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who laboured incessantly to make this adventure easy for man. Not only did they reveal to us but also struggled and achieved all for us. It is to Them that we owe each and every drop of Light that may pass through these words even as we owe everything else to Them. To Them our endless love and gratitude. That may seem like stating the obvious, yet must the obvious be stated lest we take it so much for granted as to miss and forget it. For to forget the truth is the very seed and origin of death.

Smritibhranshadbuddhinasho Buddhinashatpranashyati

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