40. Death

One thing that all people without exception believe in is death! Everyone is convinced of its occurrence. It is one of the few facts about which there is no dispute and no ignorance. Despite the fact that all people expect to die one day even from childhood, the majority always try to ward off the thought of it. Many even become violent when it is mentioned in their presence. Others carefully avoid visiting cemeteries, avoid funerals, and try to erase any impression as quickly as possible if they do encounter a funeral procession on the street. There is always a secret fear that they might suddenly be surprised by death. A vague fear prevents them from approaching this unalterable fact with serious thoughts.
There is hardly any other event that, despite its inevitability, is so often pushed aside in thought as death. But there is hardly any process in earthly life that is so significant, apart from birth. It is striking that man wants to occupy himself so little with the beginning and the end of his existence on earth, while he seeks to attach a deep meaning to all other processes, even to quite trivial things. He researches and ponders over everything that happened in between more than over that which would bring him enlightenment about everything: the beginning and the end of his earthly life. Death and birth are so closely connected because one is the consequence of the other.
But how little seriousness is attached to procreation! It is only in very rare cases that anything worthy of human beings can be found. It is precisely in this process that people prefer to place themselves on an equal footing with animals and yet are unable to maintain their harmlessness. This results in a statement under the animal. For the animal acts according to the level it occupies in Creation. Man, however, is not able, or does not want, to keep to his proper level. He descends deeper and is then surprised when, in various relationships, the whole of humanity gradually goes downhill. Even the customs of weddings are all set up to regard the marriage covenant as a purely earthly affair. In many cases it even goes so far that serious minded people want to turn away in disgust from unambiguous details pointing only to earthly intercourse. The wedding celebrations in lower as well as in better circles have in many cases degenerated into downright matchmaking arrangements, which all parents, conscious of their high responsibility, would have to forbid their children to attend with the strictest severity. Young men and maidens, however, who do not feel revulsion in themselves at these customs and allusions during such a festival, and for this reason do not remain aloof in their own responsibility for their doings and letting go, are in any case already to be reckoned on an equally low level, and can therefore no longer be taken into consideration in an assessment. It is as if in this, too, people try to deceive themselves through a poisoned intoxication about something they do not want to think about.
If earthly life is then built on such frivolous foundations, as has already become the custom and usage, one can understand that people also try to deceive themselves about death by making a convulsive effort not to think about it. This pushing away of all serious thoughts is closely connected with one’s own low state at the time of procreation. The vague fear that runs like a shadow through the whole of man’s life on earth arises largely from the full consciousness of all the injustice of the reckless acts that degrade man. And if they cannot get any other peace of mind, they cling convulsively and artificially to the self-deception that either death will be the end of them, thus fully demonstrating their consciousness of their inferiority and their cowardice before any responsibility, or to the hope that they are not much worse than other people.

But all these imaginings do not change one jot of the fact that earthly death is approaching them. With every day, with every hour, it comes closer! It often looks miserable when, in the last hours, the majority of those who have stubbornly tried to deny a responsibility in a survival, begin to ask great, fearful questions, which prove how they suddenly become mistaken in their conviction. But then it is of little use to them, for it is again only cowardice which, just before the great step out of earthly life, makes them suddenly see the possibility of a continuation of life and with it a responsibility. Fear, however, and cowardice do not permit the diminution or detachment of the unconditional reciprocity of all actions any more than defiance does. Understanding, that is, coming to knowledge, does not happen in this way either. In the last hours of life, fear plays an evil trick on dying people’s intellect, which has so often been tested in earthly life, in that it would like to make the person suddenly and quickly become pious, as soon as the detachment of the living ethereal human being from the physical body has reached such a high degree that the intuitive perceptive life in this detachment is equal to the strength of the intellect, to which it has hitherto been forcibly subordinated.
They gain nothing by this! They will reap what they have sown in thoughts and actions in their earthly life. Not the slightest thing is improved or even changed! Irresistibly they are drawn into the wheels of the strictly working Laws of Reciprocal Action, in order to live through in the Ethereal Realm all that they did wrong, that is, to think and act out of wrong conviction. They have every reason to fear the hour of detachment from the earthly gross material body, which for a time was a protective wall for them for many ethereal processes. This protective wall was left to them as a shield and cover for a time, so that behind it they could change much for the better in undisturbed tranquillity and even completely replace what would have had to hit them hard without this protection.
It is doubly sad, even tenfold, for the one who staggers through this time of grace of an earthly existence in careless self-indulgence as in intoxication. The fear and anxiety of many is therefore well-founded.
It is quite different with those who did not waste their earthly existence, who entered the path of spiritual ascent at the right time, even if at a late hour, but not out of fear and anxiety. They take their earnest seeking with them as a staff and support over into the Ethereal World. Without fear and anxiety they can take the step from the gross to the ethereal, which is inevitable for everyone, since everything that is transient, like the gross body, must one day pass away. They can welcome the hour of this detachment, because it is an unconditional progress for them, no matter what they have to live through in the ethereal life. The good will then make them happy, the difficult will be made surprisingly easy for them, for the good will help them more powerfully than they ever imagined.
The process of death itself is nothing more than birth into the Ethereal World. Similar to the process of birth into the Gross Material World. The ethereal body is connected with the gross material body for a time after its dissolution as if by an umbilical cord, which is all the less firm the higher the person born into the Ethereal World has already developed his soul towards the Ethereal World as a transition into the Kingdom of his God. The more he has chained himself to the earth by his will, that is, to the gross material world, and thus did not want to know anything of the continuation of life in the Ethereal World, the more firmly this cord will be tied by his own will, which binds him to the gross material body, and thus also his ethereal body, which he needs as a garment of the spirit in the Ethereal World. But the denser his ethereal body is, the heavier it is according to the usual laws, and the darker it must also appear. Because of this great similarity and close relationship of all gross matter, it will also find it very difficult to detach itself from the gross matter body, so that it happens that such a one must also feel the last gross material-body pains, as well as the whole decay in decomposition. He is also not insensitive to cremation. But after this connecting cord has been finally severed, he sinks down in the Ethereal World to where his surroundings have the same density and heaviness. There, in the same heaviness, he will also find many like-minded people. But the fact that it is worse than on earth in the gross material body can be explained, because in the Ethereal World all intuitive perceptions live out
fully and uninhibitedly.
It is different with people who began the ascent to all that is nobler already in their earthly existence. Because they carry the conviction of the step into the Ethereal World alive within themselves, the detachment is also much easier. The ethereal body, and with it the connecting cord, is not tight, and this difference in their mutual strangeness with the gross material body makes the detachment take place very quickly, so that during the whole of the so-called death-struggle or the last muscular twitching of the gross material body, the ethereal body has been standing
beside it for a long time, if one can speak at all of a death-struggle in the normal dying of such a person. The loose, leaky condition of the connecting cord does not allow the ethereal-material person standing next to it to feel any pain, as this light connecting cord in its leaky condition cannot transmit pain from the coarse-material to the ethereal-material. This strand also bursts the connection more quickly owing to its greater fineness, so that the ethereal body becomes completely free in a much shorter time, and then floats upwards to the region which consists of the same finer and lighter kind. There, too, it will only be able to meet like-minded people and receive peace and happiness in the elevated good intuitive life. Such a lighter and less dense ethereal body naturally appears brighter and lighter, until at last it becomes so highly refined that the pure-spirit residing in it begins to break through radiantly before it enters into the pure-spirit-being as completely light radiating body.
But let those who are staying with a dying person be warned not to break out into loud lamentations. If the pain of separation is shown too strongly, the ethereal human being who is in the process of detachment, or perhaps already standing next to him, can be seized and hear or feel it. If this awakens in him compassion or the desire to say words of comfort, this desire binds him again more firmly with the need to make himself
understood by the pain-filled grieving person. He can only make himself understood earthly with the help of the brain. This endeavour, however, entails the close connection with the gross material body, and therefore the result is not only that an ethereal body that is still in the process of detachment unites itself again more closely with the gross material body, but also that a ethereal human being who is already standing beside it and who has been detached is once more drawn back into the gross material body. The end result is the re-experience of all the pain from which he has already been released. The renewed detachment is then much more difficult and can even last for several days. Then the so-called prolonged death struggle arises, which becomes really painful and difficult for the one who wants to detach. The blame for this lies with those who called him back from natural development through their selfish pain. Through this interruption of the normal course, a new, violent binding took place, even if it was only through the weak attempt of a gathering for understanding. And it is not so easy for those who are still completely unaware of it to loosen this unnatural bond. He cannot be helped in this, since he himself wanted the new bond. This bond can easily come about as long as the gross material body has not yet completely cooled down and the connecting strand exists, which often only breaks after many weeks. This is an unnecessary torment for the person passing over, a recklessness and crudeness on the part of the bystanders. For this reason, absolute silence should reign at the place of death, a dignified seriousness appropriate to the momentous hour! Persons who cannot control themselves should be forcibly removed, even if they are the nearest relatives.