The Problem of Death

The problem of death, needless to say, is founded upon the love of life which is the deepest instinct in human nature. The determination that nothing is lost under divine law is a recognition of science; eternal persistence in some form or another is universally held to be a truth. Out of the welter of theories, three major solutions have been proposed; these are well known to all thinking people. They are:

  1. The strictly materialistic solution, which posits the experience and expression of conscious life as long as the physical, tangible form exists and persists, but also teaches that after death and the subsequent disintegration of the body there is no longer any conscious, functioning, self-identified person. The sense of the “I,” the awareness of a personality in contradistinction to all other personalities, vanishes with the disappearance of the form; personality is believed to be only the sumtotal of the consciousness of the cells in the body. This theory relegates man to the same state as any of the other forms in the three other kingdoms in nature; it is based on the non-sensitivity of the average human being to life, withdrawn from a tangible vehicle; it ignores all evidence to the contrary and says that because we cannot see (visually) and prove (tangibly) the persistence of the “I” or the immortal entity after death, it is non-existent. This theory is not held by so many as it was in earlier years, particularly during the materialistic Victorian age.
  2. The theory of conditional immortality. This theory is still held by certain fundamentalist and theologically narrow schools of thought and also by a few of the intelligentsia, primarily those of egoistic tendency. It posits that only those who reach a particular stage of spiritual awareness, or who accept a peculiar set of theological pronouncements, can receive the gift of personal immortality. The highly intellectual also argue at times that the crowning gift to humanity is a developed and cultured mind, and that those who possess this gift are likewise endowed with eternal persistence. One school dismisses those who are what they regard as spiritually recalcitrant or negative to the imposition of their particular theological certainties, either to complete annihilation as in the materialistic solution, or to a process of eternal punishment, thus at the same time arguing for a form of immortality. Owing to the innate kindness of the human heart, very few are vindictive or unthinking enough to regard this presentation as acceptable, and of course among those we must class the unthinking people who escape from mental responsibility into a blind belief in theological pronouncements. The Christian interpretation as given by the orthodox and the fundamentalist schools proves untenable when submitted to clear reasoning; among the arguments which negate its accuracy lies the fact that Christianity posits a long future but no past; it is likewise a future entirely dependent upon the activities of this present life episode and accounts in no way for the distinctions and differences which distinguish humanity. It is only tenable upon the theory of an anthropomorphic Deity Whose will – as it works out in practice – gives a present that has no past but only a future; the injustice of this is widely recognized, but the inscrutable will of God must not be questioned. Millions still hold this belief, but it is not so strongly held as it was one hundred years ago.
  3. The theory of reincarnation, so familiar to all my readers, is becoming increasingly popular in the Occident; it has always been accepted (though with many foolish additions and interpretations) in the Orient. This teaching has been as much distorted as have the teachings of the Christ or the Buddha or Shri Krishna by their narrow-minded and mentally limited theologians. The basic facts of a spiritual origin, of a descent into matter, of an ascent through the medium of constant incarnations in form until those forms are perfect expressions of the indwelling spiritual consciousness, and of a series of initiations at the close of the cycle of incarnation, are being more readily accepted and acknowledged than ever before.

Such are the major solutions of the problems of immortality and of the persistence of the human soul; they aim to answer the eternal questioning of the human heart as to Whence, Why, Whither and Where? Only the last of these proposed solutions offers a truly rational reply to all of them. Its acceptance has been delayed because, ever since the time of H. P. Blavatsky, who formulated this ancient truth for the modern world in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, it has been so unintelligently presented; it has been handicapped owing to the fact that the Eastern races have always held it, and – from the Western angle – they are heathen and the heathen “in their blindness bow down to wood and stone,” to quote one of your fundamentalist hymns. How curious it is to realize that, to the man from Eastern countries, the religious people in the West do likewise, and can be seen on their knees before the Christian altars bearing statues of the Christ, of the Virgin Mary and of the Apostles.


The occultists of the world, through the theosophical societies and other occult bodies, so-called, have greatly damaged the presentation of the truth anent reincarnation through the unnecessary, unimportant, inaccurate and purely speculative details which they give out as truths anent the processes of death and the circumstances of man after death. These details are largely dependent upon the clairvoyant vision of astral psychics of prominence in the Theosophical Society. Yet in the Scriptures of the world these details are not given, and H.P.B. in The Secret Doctrine gave none. An instance of this inaccurate and foolish attempt to throw light upon the theory of rebirth can be seen in the time limits imposed upon departed human souls between incarnations on the physical plane and the return to physical rebirth – so many years of absence are proclaimed, dependent upon the age of the departed soul and its place upon the ladder of evolution. If, we are told, the soul is very advanced, absence from the physical plane is prolonged, whereas the reverse is the case. Advanced souls and those whose intellectual capacity is rapidly developing come back with great rapidity, owing to their sensitive response to the pull of obligations, interests and responsibilities already established, upon the physical plane. People are apt to forget that time is the sequence of events and of states of consciousness as registered by the physical brain. Where no physical brain exists, what humanity understands by time is non-existent. The removal of the barriers of the form, stage by stage, brings an increasing realization of the Eternal Now. In the case of those who have passed through the door of death and who still continue to think in terms of time, it is due to glamor and to the persistence of a powerful thought-form. It indicates polarization upon the astral plane; this is the plane upon which leading Theosophical writers and psychics have worked, and upon which they have based their writings. They are quite sincere in what they say, but omit to recognize the illusory nature of all findings based on astral clairvoyance. The recognition of a pronounced time factor, and the constant emphasis laid upon timing, are characteristic of all highly developed people in incarnation and of those whose lower, concrete minds are powerful in caliber. Children and child-races on the one hand, and those highly advanced people whose abstract minds are functioning (through the medium of the interpretive lower mind), usually have no sense of time. The initiate uses the time factor in his relations and his dealings with those living upon the physical plane, but is detached within himself from all recognition of it elsewhere in the universe.

Therefore the use of the term “immortality” infers timelessness and teaches that this timelessness exists for that which is not perishable or conditioned by time. This is a statement requiring careful consideration. Man reincarnates under no time urge. He incarnates under the demands of karmic liability, under the pull of that which he, as a soul, has initiated, and because of a sensed need to fulfil instituted obligations; he incarnates also from a sense of responsibility and to meet requirements which an earlier breaking of the laws governing right human relations have imposed upon him. When these requirements, soul necessities, experiences and responsibilities have all been met, he enters permanently “into the clear cold light of love and life” and no longer needs (as far as he himself is concerned) the nursery stage of soul experience on earth. He is free from karmic impositions in the three worlds, but is still under the impulse of karmic necessity which exacts from him the last possible ounce of service that he is in a position to render to those still under the Law of Karmic Liability. You have, therefore, three aspects of the Law of Karma, as it affects the principle of rebirth:

  1. The Law of Karmic Liability, governing life in the three worlds of human evolution, and which is ended altogether at the fourth initiation.
  2. The Law of Karmic Necessity. This governs the life of the advanced disciple and the initiate from the time of the second initiation until a certain initiation higher than the fourth; these initiations enable him to pass on to the Way of the Higher Evolution.
  3. The Law of Karmic Transformation, a mysterious phrase governing the processes undergone upon the Higher Way. These fit the initiate to pass off the cosmic physical plane altogether, and to function upon the cosmic mental plane. It is concerned with the release of those like Sanat Kumara, and His Associates in the Council Chamber at Shamballa, from the imposition of cosmic desire which demonstrates upon our cosmic physical plane as spiritual will. This should be to you an arresting thought. It will be obvious, however, that there is little that I can say upon this subject. The knowledge involved is not yet mine.

Excerpted from:

Esoteric Healing – Chapter IV – The Basic Requirements for Healing”

By Alice Bailey &Djwhal Kuhl