One must never wish for death.
One must never will to die.
One must never be afraid to die.
And in all circumstances one must will to exceed oneself.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM,Vol. 4, p. 355
Death is necessary in the evolution, because the body can progress no longer—cannot suffice any longer as an instrument for the progress or evolution of the consciousness—it has to change its physical instrument and get a new one. If something can be brought into the body that will make it a plastic instrument for the soul, then only death is no longer necessary. If the supramental transformation is complete that is what should happen.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, p. 310
….death is only a shedding of the body, not a cessation of the personal existence. A man is not dead because he goes into another country and changes his clothes to suit that climate.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, p. 529
After death the soul passes in a little while or at once from the earth atmosphere and goes into the vital worlds where it remains for a time until it is ready to leave it. Thus it passes on its way till it is ready to pass into the psychic world where it rests until it is ready for a new birth.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, p. 530
Normally the consciousness of the departed ought to feel no pain for what happens to the body after his or her departure. But there is in the material body itself a consciousness called the “spirit of the form” which takes some time to get completely out of the aggregated cells; its departure is the starting point of a general decomposition, and before its departure it may have a kind of feeling of what happens to the body. That is why it is always better not to be in a hurry for the funeral.
The Mother – Words of the Mother – III: CWM, Vol. 15, pp. 121 – 22
Death is not at all what you believe it to be. You expect from death the neutral quietness of an unconscious rest. But to obtain that rest you must prepare for it.
When you die you lose only your body and at the same time the possibilities of relation with and action on the material world. But all that belongs to the vital world does not disappear with the material substance; all your desires, attachments, cravings persist with the sense of frustration and disappointment, and all that prevents you from finding the expected peace. To enjoy a peaceful and eventless death you must prepare for it. And the only effective preparation is the abolition of desires.
So long as we have a body we have to act, to work, to do something: but if we do it simply because it has to be done, without seeking for the result or wanting it to be like this or like that, we get progressively detached and thus prepare ourselves for a restful death.
The Mother – Words of the Mother – III: CWM, Vol. 15, p. 120
One must not be in a hurry and hasten the departure, even if it is for the eternal repose or the beatitude of nothingness. As long as we are in a body, undoubtedly we have yet something to do or learn therein.
The Mother – Words of the Mother – III: CWM, Vol. 15, p. 149
If a person feels that his work is over in this life and that he has nothing more to offer, wouldn’t it be better for him to die and be born again instead of dragging out an aimless existence?
This is what the unsatisfied ego asks itself when it finds that things are not going as it desires.
But someone who belongs to the Divine and wants to live in the truth knows that the Divine will keep him on earth as long as He perceives his usefulness on earth and will make him leave the earth when he has nothing more to do there. So the question cannot arise, and he will live quietly in the certitude of the Divine’s supreme wisdom.
The Mother – On Thoughts and Aphorisms: CWM, Vol. 10, pp. 317 – 18
And you must not believe that by leaving the body you will free yourself of this atmosphere; on the contrary, the body is a kind of a veil of unconsciousness which diminishes the intensity of the suffering. If you are without the protection of the body in the most material vital life, the suffering becomes much more acute and you no longer have the opportunity to change what is to be changed, to correct what is to be corrected, to open yourself to a higher, happier and more luminous life and consciousness.
You must make haste to do your work here, for it is here that you can truly do it.
Expect nothing from death. Life is your salvation.
It is in life that you must transform yourself. It is upon earth that you progress and it is upon earth that you realise. It is in the body that you win the Victory.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM,Vol. 3, p. 198
Not long ago M.’s sister died (psychologically, she was in a terrible state—she had no faith). Well, on that day, just when I came to know that she was passing away, I remember being upstairs in the bathroom communicating with Sri Aurobindo, having a sort of conversation with him (it happens very often), and I asked him, ‘What happens to such people when they die here at the Ashram?’ ‘Look,’ he replied, and I saw her passing away; and on her forehead, I saw Sri Aurobindo’s symbol in a SOLID golden light (not very luminous, but very concrete). There it was. And with the presence of this sign the psychological state no longer mattered—nothing touched her. And she departed tranquilly, tranquilly. Then Sri Aurobindo told me, ‘All who have lived at the Ashram and who die there have automatically the same protection, whatever their inner state.’
The Mother – Agenda: Vol. 2, pp. 236 – 37
There is after death a period in which one passes through the vital world and lives there for a time. It is only the first part of this transit that can be dangerous or painful; in the rest one works out, under certain surroundings, a remnant of the vital desires and instincts which one had in the body. As soon as one is tired of these and able to go beyond, the vital sheath is dropped and the soul, after a little time needed to get rid of some mental survivals, passes into a state of rest in the psychic world and remains there till the next life on earth.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, p. 529
…. I began to work quite systematically. Every night, at the same hour, I was working to construct—between the purely terrestrial atmosphere and the psychic atmosphere—a path of protection across the vital, so that people wouldn’t have to pass through it (for those who are conscious but without knowledge it’s a very difficult passage—infernal.) I was preparing this path, doing this work (it must have been around 1903 or 1904, I don’t remember exactly) for months and months and months….
Then, when I went to Tlemcen, I told Madame Theon about it. ‘Yes,’ she told me, ‘it is part of the work you have come on earth to do. Everyone with even a slightly awakened psychic being who can see your Light will go to your Light at the moment of dying, no matter where they die, and you will help them to pass through.’ And this work is constant. Constant. It has given me a considerable number of experiences concerning what happens to people when they leave their bodies.
The Mother – Agenda: Vol. 2, p. 234
If you wish to escape from death, you must not bind yourself to anything perishable.
One can conquer that alone which one fears not, and he who fears death has already been vanquished by death.
The Mother – Words of the Mother – III: CWM, Vol. 15, p. 120
So long as we are in a body, whatever its age and difficulties, it is certain that we have something to do or learn in it, and this conviction gives the necessary strength to face all vicissitudes.
The Mother – Words of the Mother – III: CWM, Vol. 15, p. 119
Death is there because the being in the body is not yet developed enough to go on growing in the same body without the need of change and the body itself is not sufficiently conscious. If the mind and vital and the body itself were more conscious and plastic, death would not be necessary.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, pp. 313 – 14
“Death is the question Nature puts continually to Life and her reminder to it that it has not yet found itself. If there were no siege of death, the creature would be bound for ever in the form of an imperfect living. Pursued by death he awakes to the idea of perfect life and seeks out its means and its possibility.”
Sri Aurobindo – Thoughts and Glimpses: CWSA, Vol. 13, p. 205
….This is a question which every person whose consciousness is awakened a little has asked himself at least once in his life. There is in the depths of the being such a need to perpetuate, to prolong, to develop life, that the moment one has a first contact with death, which, although it may be quite an accidental contact, is yet inevitable, there is a sort of recoil in the being.
In persons who are sensitive, it produces horror; in others, indignation. There is a tendency to ask oneself: “What is this monstrous farce in which one takes part without wanting to, without understanding it? Why are we born, if it is only to die? Why all this effort for development, progress, the flowering of the faculties, if it is to come to a diminution ending in decline and disintegration?…” Some feel a revolt in them, others less strong feel despair and always this question arises: “If there is a conscious Will behind all that, this Will seems to be monstrous.”
But here Sri Aurobindo tells us that this was an indispensable means of awakening in the consciousness of matter the need for perfection, the necessity of progress, that without this catastrophe, all beings would have been satisfied with the condition they were in—perhaps…. This is not certain.
So, according to what Sri Aurobindo tells us, Nature has found this rather radical means to awaken in the material consciousness the necessary aspiration and plasticity.
It is obvious that the most dominant characteristic of matter is inertia, and that, if there were not this violence, perhaps the individual consciousness would be so inert that rather than change it would accept to live in a perpetual imperfection…. That is possible. Anyway, this is how things are made, and for us who know a little more, there is only one thing that remains to be done it is to change all this, as far as we have the means, by calling the Force, the Consciousness, the new Power which is capable of infusing into material substance the vibration which can transform it, make it plastic, supple, progressive.
Why does this body, as soon as some progress has been made, feel the need to sit down? It is tired. It says, “Oh! you must wait. I must be given time to rest.” This is what leads it to death. If it felt within itself that ardour to do always better, become more transparent, more beautiful, more luminous, eternally young, one could escape from this macabre joke of Nature.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM,Vol. 9, pp. 33 – 35
Is the will for progress enough to prevent the deterioration that comes with time? How can the physical being prevent this deterioration?
That is precisely what the transformation of the body is: the physical cells not only become conscious, but receptive to the true Consciousness-Force; that is, they allow the working of this higher Consciousness. That is the work of transformation.
The Mother – On Education: CWM,Vol. 12, p. 344
Are the time and manner of death always chosen by the soul? In huge human destructions through bombings, floods, earthquakes, have all the souls chosen to die together at that time?
The vast majority of human beings have a collective destiny. For them, the question does not arise.
One who has an individualized psychic being can survive even in the midst of collective catastrophes, if such is the choice of his soul.
The Mother – Agenda: Vol. 8, p. 71
How should the news of death be received, especially when it is someone close to us?
Say to the Supreme Lord: “Let Thy Will be done”, and remain as peaceful as possible.
If the departed one is a person one loves, one should concentrate one’s love on him in peace and calm, for that is what can most help the one who has departed.
The Mother – Some Answers from the Mother: CWM, Vol. 16, p. 418
One can help the departed soul by one’s good will or by occult means if one has the knowledge. The one thing that one should not do is to hold them back by sorrow for them or longings or anything else that would pull them nearer to earth or delay their journey to their place of rest.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, pp. 529 – 30
At the time of death the being goes out of the body through the head; it goes out in the subtle body and goes to different planes of existence for a short time until it has gone through certain experiences which are the result of its earthly existence. Afterwards it reaches the psychic world where it rests in a kind of sleep until it is time for it to start a new life on earth. That is what happens usually—but there are some beings who are more developed and do not follow this course.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, p. 531
That is a superstition [that people have to live in naraka (hell) due to their bad actions]. People after death pass through certain vital and mental worlds or through certain psychological states which are the results of their nature and action in life, afterwards they go to the psychic world and return to birth at a later time.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, p. 532
1) Why are men obliged to leave their bodies?
Because they do not know how to keep up with Nature in her progress towards the Divine.
2) Should one respect the body of a dead person? If so, how?
One should respect everything, living and dead, and know that everything lives in the Divine Consciousness.
The respect should be felt in the heart and the inner attitude.
3) Is the Divine there in the body of a dead person?
The Divine is everywhere; and I repeat that for the Divine there are no living or dead—everything lives eternally.
4) What should we do to make the soul happy, so that it reincarnates in good conditions, for example in a spiritual environment?
Have no sorrow and remain very peaceful and quiet, while keeping an affectionate remembrance of the one who has departed.
5) Do souls weep?
When something separates them from the Divine.
6) How can one stop someone from weeping?
Love him sincerely and deeply without trying to stop his tears.
The Mother – Words of the Mother – III: CWM, Vol. 15, p. 121
Know for certain that to commit suicide is the most foolish action that a man can do; because the end of the body does not mean the end of the consciousness and what was troubling you while you were alive continues to trouble you when you are dead, without the possibility of diverting your mind which you can get when you are alive.
The Mother – Words of the Mother – III: CWM, Vol. 15, p. 128
I feel that I am your blank child born with blank fortune; such a child has no mission to fulfil in life. Isn’t it better to go away from the world?
It is in this world that you have to change and that the change is possible. If you run away from this world, you will have to come again probably in worse conditions and you will have to do everything all over again.
It is much better not to be a coward, to face now the situation and to make the necessary effort to conquer. The help is always with you; you must learn to avail yourself of it.
The Mother – Words of the Mother – III: CWM, Vol. 15, p. 127
“Domain of death” means what?
Generally, “domain of death” is the name given to a certain region of the most material vital into which one is projected at the moment one leaves one’s body. The part—how to put it?—of one’s life that’s usually the most conscious is projected there at the moment of death. Well, that region, that material vital world is very dark, it is full of adverse formations having desires at their centre or even adverse wills, and these are very, very elemental entities which have a very fragmentary life and are like vampires, in the see that they feed on all that is thrown out from human beings. And so, at that moment, from the shock of death … those entities rush in upon this, upon this vitality that goes out, and feed upon it.
So long as a person is alive, they cannot touch him. For, you have all had the experience of a nightmare in which, when the situation becomes really very dangerous, suddenly you wake up—you come back into your body, for the body is your protection. In the physical they can do nothing to you but when you are completely outside the physical (and even this link I spoke about serves as a protection to a certain extent when you go out), but if the links are broken and you are entirely without a body, well, unless you take advantage of special circumstances… as for instance when a person is much loved by others who are yet alive; if at that moment these people who love him concentrate their thought and love on the departed one, he finds a refuge therein, and this protects him completely against those entities; but one who passes away without anyone’s having a special attachment for him, either because he is surrounded by people he has harmed and who do not love him or by people who are in a terribly unconscious state—he is like a prey delivered to these forces. And that indeed is an experience that’s difficult to bear. They cannot touch anything else except what belongs to their own domain, that is, the most material vital—the higher vital escapes them altogether, they can do nothing there. And so, this material vital goes out but the other remain; and this higher vital is attacked by other dangers, simply that. And if it also disappears, the mind remain. But behind all this is the psychic being which nothing can touch, which is above all possible attacks, and it indeed is free to go where it wants. Usually—unless it has a special opportunity and has reached a state of complete development—it goes to rest in the psychic worlds. There it enters into a kind of beatific contemplation, in which it remain, and this is an assimilation of all its experiences, and when it has finished assimilating them and resting, well, it starts preparing to come down again for a new life. That being nothing can touch. But so very few are conscious of their psychic that one can hardly say that it is such and such a person whom one has known, for people as we know them are made of what?—of all their physical experiences, all their vital reactions, all their mental formations—that is, the body, the character, the thought—and with these we have a human being! Well, all that cannot persist after death unless it is organised and centralised around the psychic being and to the extent it is perfectly unified with the psychic. Otherwise all this mixture is dissolved and the psychic being alone remain, at times just as a flame, at times as a completely conscious being.
This of course is the general law. Now there are bridges, as it were, “protected passages” which have been built in the vital world in order to cross over all these dangers. There are atmospheres, which receive people leaving their body, give them shelter, give them protection….
But all this development does not come about just like that, simply by thinking about it from time to time, desiring it still less often and forgetting it most of the time—no, it is not like that that it can happen. These are disciplines, I may say, at least as arduous as the strictest spiritual disciplines…. Essentially it is for this that we are on the earth. Truly speaking, human beings were made for this purpose, to do that work, and it is perhaps because they refuse to do it that there is so much chaos in the world. If they did it truly, things would go much better.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM,Vol. 6, pp. 54 – 57
The most important thing in this case is the last state of consciousness in which one was while both were joined together, when the vital being and the body were still united. So the last state of consciousness, one may say the last desire or the last hope or the last aspiration, has a colossal importance for the first impact the being has with the invisible world. And here the responsibility of the people around the dying man is much greater than they think. If they can help him to enter his highest consciousness, they will do him the greatest service they can. But usually what they do is to cling to him as much as they can, and to pull him towards them with a fierce selfishness; the result, you see, is that instead of being able to withdraw in a slightly higher consciousness which will protect him in his exit, he is gripped by material things and it is a terrible inner battle to free himself from both his body and his attachments.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM,Vol. 6, p. 449
Generally speaking, perhaps the greatest obstacle in the way of man’s progress is fear, a fear that is many-sided, multiform, self-contradictory, illogical, unreasoning and often unreasonable. Of all fears the most subtle and the most tenacious is the fear of death. It is deeply rooted in the subconscient and it is not easy to dislodge. It is obviously made up of several interwoven elements: the spirit of conservatism and the concern for self-preservation so as to ensure the continuity of consciousness, the recoil before the unknown, the uneasiness caused by the unexpected and the unforeseeable, and perhaps, behind all that, hidden in the depths of the cells, the instinct that death is not inevitable and that, if certain conditions are fulfilled, it can be conquered; although, as a matter of fact, fear in itself is one of the greatest obstacles to that conquest. For one cannot conquer what one fears, and one who fears death has already been conquered by it.
How can one overcome this fear? Several methods can be used for this purpose. But first of all, a few fundamental notions are needed to help us in our endeavour. The first and most important point is to know that life is one and immortal. The forms are countless, fleeting and brittle. This knowledge must be securely and permanently established in the mind and one must identify one’s consciousness as far as possible with the eternal life that is independent of every form, but which manifests in all forms. This gives the indispensable psychological basis with which to confront the problem, for the problem remains. Even if the inner being is enlightened enough to be above all fear, the fear still remains hidden in the cells of the body, obscure, spontaneous, beyond the reach of reason, usually almost unconscious. It is in these obscure depths that one must find it out, seize hold of it and cast upon it the light of knowledge and certitude.
Thus life does not die, but the form is dissolved, and it is this dissolution that the physical consciousness dreads…. the method to be followed in order to overcome the fear of death will differ according to the nature of the case and the state of the consciousness. These methods can be classified into four principal kinds, although each one includes a large number of varieties; in fact, each individual must develop his own system.
The first method appeals to the reason. One can say that in the present state of the world, death is inevitable; a body that has taken birth will necessarily die one day or another, and in almost every case death comes when it must: one can neither hasten nor delay its hour. Someone who craves for it may have to wait very long to obtain it and someone who dreads it may suddenly be struck down in spite of all the precautions he has taken. The hour of death seems therefore to be inexorably fixed, except for a very few individuals who possess powers that the human race in general does not command. Reason teaches us that it is absurd to fear something that one cannot avoid. The only thing to do is to accept the idea of death and quietly do the best one can from day to day, from hour to hour, without worrying about what is going to happen. This process is very effective when it is used by intellectuals who are accustomed to act according to the laws of reason;
but it would be less successful for emotional people who live in their feelings and let themselves be ruled by them. No doubt, these people should have recourse to the second method, the method of inner seeking. Beyond all the emotions, in the silent and tranquil depths of our being, there is a light shining constantly, the light of the psychic consciousness. Go in search of this light, concentrate on it; it is within you. With a persevering will you are sure to find it and as soon as you enter into it, you awake to the sense of immortality. You have always lived, you will always live; you become wholly independent of your body; your conscious existence does not depend on it; and this body is only one of the transient forms through which you have manifested. Death is no longer an extinction, it is only a transition. All fear instantly vanishes and you walk through life with the calm certitude of a free man.
The third method is for those who have faith in a God, their God, and who have given themselves to him. They belong to him integrally; all the events of their lives are an expression of the divine will and they accept them not merely with calm submission but with gratitude, for they are convinced that whatever happens to them is always for their own good. They have a mystic trust in their God and in their personal relationship with him. They have made an absolute surrender of their will to his and feel his unvarying love and protection, wholly independent of the accidents of life and death. They have the constant experience of lying at the feet of their Beloved in an absolute self-surrender or of being cradled in his arms and enjoying a perfect security. There is no longer any room in their consciousness for fear, anxiety or torment; all that has been replaced by a calm and delightful bliss.
But not everyone has the good fortune of being a mystic.
Finally there are those who are born warriors. They cannot accept life as it is and they feel pulsating within them their right to immortality, an integral and earthly immortality. They possess a kind of intuitive knowledge that death is nothing but a bad habit; they seem to be born with the resolution to conquer it. But this conquest entails a desperate combat against an army of fierce and subtle assailants, a combat that has to be fought constantly, almost at every minute. Only one who has an indomitable spirit should attempt it. The battle has many fronts; it is waged on several planes that intermingle and complement each other.
All this time the consciousness stands like a sentinel in a trench: you must hold on, hold on at all costs, without a quiver of fear or a slackening of vigilance, keeping an unshakable faith in the mission to be accomplished and in the help from above which inspires and sustains you. For the victory will go to the most enduring.
The Mother – On Education: CWM,Vol. 12, pp. 82 – 87
The psychic being at the time of death chooses what it will work out in the next birth and determines the character and conditions of the new personality. Life is for the evolutionary growth by experience in the conditions of the Ignorance till one is ready for the higher light.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, p. 532
…. The soul comes into birth for experience, for growth, for evolution till it can bring the Divine into matter. It is the central being that incarnates, not the outer personality—the personality is simply a mould that it creates for its figures of experience in that one life. In another birth it will create for itself a different personality, different capacities, a different life and career.
Another thing. It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth—it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it. The psychic when it departs from the body, shedding even the mental and vital on its way to its resting place, carries with it the heart of its experiences,—not the physical events, not the vital movements, not the mental buildings, not the capacities or characters, but something essential that it gathered from them, what might be called the divine element for the sake of which the rest existed. That is the permanent addition, it is that that helps in the growth towards the Divine.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – I: CWSA, Vol. 28, pp. 543 – 44
A Heart was felt in the spaces wide and bare,
A burning Love from white spiritual founts
Annulled the sorrow of the ignorant depths;
Suffering was lost in her immortal smile.
A Life from beyond grew conqueror here of death;
To err no more was natural to mind;
Wrong could not come where all was light and love.
Sri Aurobindo – Savitri: CWSA, Vol. 33 , Book Three, p. 313
The Fear of Death
Death wanders through our lives at will, sweet Death
Is busy with each intake of our breath.
Why do you fear her? Lo, her laughing face
All rosy with the light of jocund grace!
A kind and lovely maiden culling flowers
In a sweet garden fresh with vernal showers,
This is the thing you fear, young portress bright
Who opens to our souls the worlds of light.
Is it because the twisted stem must feel
Pain when the tenderest hands its glory steal?
Is it because the flowerless stalk droops dull
And ghastly now that was so beautiful?
Or is it the opening portal’s horrid jar
That shakes you, feeble souls of courage bare?
Death is but changing of our robes to wait
In wedding garments at the Eternal’s gate.
Sri Aurobindo – Collected Poems: CWSA, Vol. 2, p. 219
Life and Death
Life, death,—death, life; the words have led for ages
Our thought and consciousness and firmly seemed
Two opposites; but now long-hidden pages
Are opened, liberating truths undreamed.
Life only is, or death is life disguised,—
Life a short death until by life we are surprised.
Sri Aurobindo – Collected Poems: CWSA, Vol. 2, p. 216