As posed, the question seems academic. So let’s ask differently,
“ What will happen to me after death ?”
For most part, it seldom seems urgent; there is time enough in the meanwhile. Life exclusively preoccupies with the pressing need to do well, to more than adequately meet the survival challenge and comfortably fulfill this need to reproduce and raise our own.
But who is to restrain the power we acquire along the way, from our own whims or cruel drives, unjust disposition and uncaring ways ? It must be ourselves, for the law can hardly catch us all. It glosses over much of our unethical conduct and rarely concerns itself with moral torpidity.
Men, if you have not yet discovered, are quite poorly abled at doing the job of keeping themselves under their own leash.
However, if it were established that there is life after death, that we shall be put to account for our actions in life, the knowledge would have a profound bearing on how we conduct ourselves here and now. The non-Vedic religions — christianity and islam — speak of The Judgement Day, until when we all shall have our mouths filled with dust. On that morning, all shall arise and be judged, and sent to hell or heaven where we shall remain forever.
The scheme has several severe flaws, apart from the doubt that shrouds it from the start due to lack of evidence. One, sinners do not get the benefit of a second chance. Two, who says we have sinned ? It is men in black or white cloaks who yet soil their underwear much like the rest of us. We might never know if the prophesied Day was a fact but the judgement of men on the terra firma is real and final !
And, what happens to those who perish in a fire, their bodies reduced to ashes ? Would they escape the Day, the hell if they were sinners or heaven if they’d been good ? What happens to those who are cremated, in accord with rites in their belief system ?
There are other compelling objections too. For instance, if everyone is to have only one life, it would be so mindless of God, and stupidly rich, for one to be born in poverty and another rich, one in extremely cold clime and another in hot, one to parents who are cruel or careless and another with the kind and loving, one with one or more disability and another a born athlete, and so on.
Since, there are no causal explanations from facts we know or from the belief system we subscribe to, we declare that there are no reasons behind such inequity. What it actually suggests is that there is no rational “field” human beings can grasp, which we can define and reduce to a mathematical proposition that can then present to our view the iniquitous phenomena with its cause and effect links.
The elephant in the room concerns the individual being who was then alive and is now dead. Does that individuated life have a life after its own death ? We will have to be careful, painstakingly detailed, if we are to identify what it is that is dead and what may have survived. If something of the being as it was is to yet to survive, it must largely be because it is impossible to be negated along with the body.
It will take focus on our part, the opposite of dissipation usual in our worldly life, and hell of a lot of going through. We’ve generally lost the motivation for going after such subtle facts and the art of going through intense, very slow motion contemplation within ourself.
* * *
The Vedic Way
The belief system of the Vedic people seems to have transcended the limitations of the material reason of the thinking man. Instead of turning away from the wall it faces every time it turns upon the reflecting mind itself, Vedic thought soars high to allow the ‘concrete’ obstructions to recede and disappear. It asks : What is that, knowing which all this is known ?
The cause for initiating this mother inquiry was the realisation that, for very fundamental reason, knowing “this” has not been adequate for knowing all this is.
What the Vedic seers observed, proposed and concluded, are as follows :
01 There is a material world out there and this material body we each consider to be our ‘own.’ More, the material minded and the materials scientists amongst us believe that the body is all we are; that, the material composition and constituents of the body not only explain everything we are but also define and determine what we become.
02 But, nothing explains what constitutes the human mind as it is and the mental phenomena as it occurs. What is the “matter” that forms and constitutes it ?
What is the warp and woof of the mind ? We have never had the mind on a platter and have not been able to observe it as an object.
Even in captivity, under extreme torture, the mind is able to retain its own non–material world of ideas, images and beliefs. The mind can be free of the body, can assess the body prompts – of hunger, sex, tiredness, etc. – and can override them; or, more properly, made to override those needs and limitatations.
The exclusively material model does not explain the conscious, self awareness of our own being, the “person” we are, except in a summarily empirical sense. It is. Just so. What is the “ I “ formed of and what constitutes the variety, extent and strength of “ideas, knowledge, values and convictions” we each are vested with, and we each vest ourselves with, when the body and its constituents are so entirely dissimilar to the non-material phenomena in our focus ?
03 Hence, to gain seamless understanding of ourself — material and mental, the Vedic model conceives of different spaces, one subtler than the previous, somewhat similar to the arrangement we have in the material universe as well : solid, liquid, gas. They regard the material space as gross and derived from the subtle mental space, which pervades the material one, in the manner space pervades both the sand and the atoms that constitute its grains. The mental space in turn is more gross than the causal being space and is derived from it.
The three “Great Spaces” – material, mental and causal – are concomitant, co-existent and co-incident. one into the other, having entirely different natures and laws though. They each are both pervaded and constituted of objectless, undifferentiated consciousness at their substratum that are then layered over with characteristics formed of its own transformation, from its completely awake, witness nature state in the causal space to shadowed, half or fully asleep forms in the mental and material expanse.
During manifestation from this fourth “vanilla” consciousness, which is commonly referred as pure consciousness, the first projection is of causal space, followed by the mental and the material. During dissolution, the order is reversed : first material, then mental and, lastly, causal.
04 Question : Since the three spaces co-exist, why are the causal and mental spaces not visible to us or not available for scientific observation and study ?
Answer : That is what their relative subtlety of nature and respective laws dictate.
An animal being identified with a material body, is an entity of the grossest space, having a nature in common with the material phenomena. It is hence claimed and bound by its laws, which forecloses access to the mental self-awareness or the causal self-in-itself universe. Its witnessing faculty are directed outwards, to observe and study matters respective to the gross space alone. All its knowledge, of mental nature, is in its instincts that naturally issue of two principal drives – survival and perpetuation of itself.
Human beings have the same animal nature. But, over and above that, they can sense their experience and think about it. They can even sense and think about their own “ self.” A vital clue, if we may ponder long enough, linking the individuated self with the universal, undifferentiated causal One.
So, how do we validate the Vedic model ? By sheer observation, experience, understanding and insight. Rocks do not sense and have no experience. They also do not have a nourishing system.
Trees have a nourishing system. They can sense…the need for chlorophyl, the presence and direction of sunrays, and even music.
Snails have a nourishing system and the simplest of nerves. They can sense and direct themselves along the motor drive.
Vertebrates have both : a developed nourishing system and a developed nervous system. But what marks them out is the brain. Higher vertebrates have developed brains and, among them, humans have the most developed brain than any species on the planet.
The Brain Is Not The Mind …
Validation of Vedic truths, in our experience and direct perception, starts with an appreciation of the fallacy behind the materialist assertion that ‘ the Brain is the Mind.’
The reason given for the assertion is that if the brain is not working, damaged or dead, there is no mind. Besides, it is suggested that the presence of hormones in the body-mind complex determines the nature of the mind, because a strong correlation between the two has been observed. Let’s take up the second assertion first :
Suppose, the hormones in the body are found to co-exist with say, anger, a state of mind. How do we conclude that, therefore, mind is part of the body phenomena ? The individual mind is a form in the mental space in which anger is experienced. That experience is accompanied with presence of certain hormones in the brain. It is still possible for the mind to launch an anger management process and successfully quell it.
The ground for concluding that the brain is the mind, because the mind is damaged when the brain is or the mind is absent when the brain is cut-off or dead, is ludicrous. By that logic, the world is the eye because the damaged eye damages the world in our view and an absent eye makes the world disappear !
The fact is that every sense and all experiences take place in the mind, in the mental space. Inert matter, without life sustaining structure and processes, are not an individual being, privy to happenings in the mental space. A stone is hence without the sense and experience we associate with individual consciousness.
Which is not to say that matter are anything apart from consciousness or are not pervaded by the causal and mental spaces. All the physical facts and laws which science has discovered, of energy and forces, potential and processes, of which matter from Higgs-Boson to heavenly bodies and terrestrial forms have come to be… all of these facts, laws and processes are nothing but knowledge, formed of consciousness.
A Creator Is Not Necessary …
There is no need to admit a Creator, posit a God outside of the Creation, in order to accept the nature of things as it is. All material bodies are formed of physical facts, and life forms of biological facts, which are nothing but knowledge coagulates formed in cosmic mind, in mental space, that are in turn derived from more fundamental knowledge forms arising as the universal cause, in the causal space.
But it took a human being to notice the truth he discovered of himself, and extrapolate the understanding that an individual life form is a node at which the mental space form – the mind – connects with the material body formed and situated in gross space. As noted in our bulleted brief above, the higher vertebrates actually have “experience” proper and a sense of themselves and their environment, which experience forms are exclusive to the mental space.
It is as if a developed nervous system opens an entrance for the “conscious” mind to flow into the body and pervade it; and, when headed by a fully evolved brain, the “conscious” individual self can actually climb up the nerves-brain ladder to enter its mind, the domain allotted to it in the mental space, to observe its experience, its body and the environment, and reflect upon them.
Dreams — The Mental Phenomena
We think in the mind when we are awake and have the sense of the body and the environment. We dream in the mental space when we are no longer fettered by the limitations of the body or by fixations in the environment. The body is kept alive by vitality that conjoins the mind to the body.
Our vitality is affected by the actions of the body, by what it eats and drinks, and by the actions in the mind as well, in how it thinks and what it knows. But its survival processes are automated and it is programmed to power the sexual drive for perpetuation of the species, in accord with cosmic knowledge coagulates in the living cells and largely independent of interventions by either the body or the mind.
One instance of Vedic truth, in apparent contrast to the scientific view, is in its detailing of the process of perception and cognition, essentially a mental phenomenon. It suggests that an object is not perceived merely because light rays reflected off it strike our retina and the image conjured travels to the brain, where it is interpreted. This is the material part of the process that is essential but not sufficient, as it proves in our experience. An interpreter is necessary to complete the sufficiency.
The mental part involves an “issuing out” of the interpreting mind through the eye organ, to envelope the object in view and compare the gathered features and attributes with the knowledge impressed in the mind from before, and to finally determine the certain understanding of the object. It explains why, when absorbed in the mind, we do not perceive the object even though it is in full view; and, why a baby that has never known a cow will not perceive it as such.
It has been emphasised that every experience from without is fetched through the sense organs by vitality, which conjoins the material and the mental space, and is felt in the part of the mind most proximate to the overlap zone where vitality reigns.
The feeling we experience, as it occurs, causes a sub-conscious reaction at first, in the form of an emotion, happy or unhappy, depending upon whether the feeling is welcome or not. Concurrently, and instictively, the vitalised mind throws up a will to act, to possess and indulge or to avoid and eliminate, as it serves our desire.
Since action brings its consequence, an intelligent being subjects the “will to act” to some thinking and analysis in the light of awareness of the present environment and knowledge impressed from hearsay or its own experience in the past.
We are all materialists …
Most human beings are materialists, no matter how wholly subscribed we are to our religion or however high a degree we acquire in secular sciences or arts. We are the same thinking, reactive entities, propelled on impressions from our past even when we seem to be leading matters in our present.
Every one of our occasionally forming and self-qualifying impressions, inadequately dealt with in the gray haze of semi-consciousness when they occur, are very neatly stored in the mind-stuff, deep within the overlap zone between the mind and the body, well covered with the unceasing flow of vitality and far away from the view of mind-body being we are during our wakeful hours. What then preoccupies us are a whole range of quest driven by our desires for survival, security, sensual and sexual experience, our sense of incompletion and inadequacy, our relationship with other objects, beings, persons and our self.
* * *
Death is of the vitalised body. The phenomena of dying is restricted to the material space. Nothing mental, even the vitalised part of mind, dies. It can change, be reformed and reimpressed, but not die, as in decay and disappear.
But, without a vitalised body, where and how does the individual mind-person exist ? In a state of suspension, without change or notional attributes of previous incarnation.
Death Of Any Being Is An Illusion …
This discussion continues in a brilliant expose of the warp and woof of our perceptions, our scientific experiments and conclusions … Is Death An Illusion ?
” After the death of his old friend, Albert Einstein said, “Now Besso has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us … know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” ”
” New evidence continues to suggest that Einstein was right – death is an illusion.
” Our classical way of thinking is based on the belief that the world has an objective observer-independent existence. But a long list of experiments shows just the opposite. We think life is just the activity of carbon and an admixture of molecules – we live awhile and then rot into the ground.
” We believe in death because we’ve been taught we die. Also, of course, because we associate ourselves with our body and we know bodies die. End of story. But biocentrism – a new theory of everything – tells us death may not be the terminal event we think. Amazingly…”