The Sequence of Events at Death

I feel that the best that I can do, in order to clarify this subject more completely, is to describe the sequence of events which happens at a death bed, reminding you that the points of final abstraction are three in number:

  • the head for disciples and initiates and also for advanced mental types;
  • the heart for aspirants, for men of goodwill, and for all those who have achieved a measure of personality integrity and are attempting to fulfil, as far as in them lies, the law of love;
  • and the solar plexus for the undeveloped and emotionally polarized persons.

All I can do is to tabulate the stages of the process, leaving you to accept them as an interesting and possible hypothesis awaiting verification; to believe them unquestioningly because you have confidence in my knowledge, or to reject them as fantastic, unverifiable and of no moment anyway. I recommend the first of the three, for it will enable you to preserve your mental integrity, it will indicate an open mind, and at the same time it will protect you from gullibility and from narrow-mindedness. These stages, therefore, are:

1. The soul sounds forth a “word of withdrawal” from its own plane, and immediately an interior processing and reaction is evoked within the man upon the physical plane.

  • Certain physiological events take place at the seat of the disease, in connection with the heart, and affecting also the three great systems which so potently condition the physical man: the blood stream, the nervous system in its various expressions, and the endocrine system. With these effects I shall not deal. The pathology of death is well known and has received much study exoterically; much still remains to be discovered and will later be discovered. I am concerned, first of all, with the subjective reactions which (in the last analysis) bring about the pathological predisposition to death.
  • A vibration runs along the nadis. The nadis are, as you well know, the etheric counterpart of the entire nervous system, and they underlie every single nerve in the entire physical body. They are the agents par excellence of the directing impulses of the soul, reacting to the vibratory activity which emanates from the etheric counterpart of the brain. They respond to the directing Word, react to the “pull” of the soul, and then organize themselves for abstraction.
  • The blood stream becomes affected in a peculiarly occult manner. The “blood is the life,” we are told; it is interiorly changed as a result of the two previous stages, but primarily as the result of an activity hitherto undiscovered by modern science, for which the glandular system is responsible. The glands, in response to the call of death, inject into the blood stream a substance which in turn affects the heart. There the life thread is anchored, and this substance in the blood is regarded as “death-dealing” and is one of the basic causes of coma and of loss of consciousness. It evokes a reflex action in the brain. This substance and its effect will be questioned as yet by orthodox medicine, but its presence will later be recognized.
  • A psychic tremor is established which has the effect of loosening or breaking the connection between the nadis and the nervous system; the etheric body is thereby detached from its dense sheath, though still interpenetrating every part of it.

2. There is frequently a pause at this point of a shorter or longer period of time. This is allowed in order to carry forward the loosening process as smoothly and as painlessly as possible. This loosening of the nadis starts in the eyes. This process of detachment often shows itself in the relaxation and lack of fear which dying persons so often show; they evidence a condition of peace, and a willingness to go, plus an inability to make a mental effort. It is as if the dying person, still preserving his consciousness, gathers his resources together for the final abstraction. This is the stage in which – the fear of death once and for all removed from the racial mind – the friends and relatives of the departing person will “make a festival” for him and will rejoice with him because he is relinquishing the body. At present this is not possible. Distress rules, and the stage passes unrecognized and is not utilized, as it will some day be.

3. Next, the organized etheric body, loosened from all nervous relationship through the action of the nadis, begins to gather itself together for the final departure. It withdraws from the extremities towards the required “door of exit” and focuses itself in the area around that door for the final “pull” of the directing soul. All has been proceeding under the Law of Attraction up to this point – the magnetic, attractive will of the soul. Now another “pull” or attractive impulse makes itself felt. The dense physical body, the sumtotal of organs, cells and atoms, is steadily being released from the integrating potency of the vital body by the action of the nadis; it begins to respond to the attractive pull of matter itself. This has been called the “earth” pull and is exerted by that mysterious entity whom we call the “spirit of the earth”; this entity is on the involutionary arc, and is to our planet what the physical elemental is to the physical body of man. This physical plane life force is essentially the life and light of atomic substance – the matter of which all forms are made. It is to this reservoir of involutionary and material life that the substance of all forms is restored. Restitution of the commandeered matter of the form occupied by the soul during a life cycle consists in returning to this “Caesar” of the involutionary world what is his, whilst the soul returns to the God Who sent it forth.

It will therefore be apparent that a dual attractive process is at this stage going on:

  • The vital body is being prepared for exit.
  • The physical body is responding to dissolution.

It might be added that a third activity is also present. It is that of the conscious man, withdrawing his consciousness, steadily and gradually, into the astral and mental vehicles, preparatory to the complete abstraction of the etheric body when the right time comes. The man is becoming less and less attached to the physical plane and more withdrawn within himself. In the case of an advanced person, this process is consciously undertaken, and the man retains his vital interests and his awareness of relationship to others even whilst losing his grip on physical existence. In old age this detachment can be more easily noted than in death through disease, and frequently the soul or the living, interested, inner man can be seen losing his grip on physical and, therefore, illusory reality.

4. Again a pause ensues. This isthe point where the physical elemental can at times regain its hold upon the etheric body, if that is deemed desirable by the soul, if death is not part of the inner plan, or if the physical elemental is so powerful that it can prolong the process of dying. This elemental life will sometimes fight a battle lasting for days and weeks. When, however, death is inevitable, the pause at this point will be exceedingly brief, sometimes only for a matter of seconds. The physical elemental has lost its hold, and the etheric body awaits the final “tug” from the soul, acting under the Law of Attraction.

5. The etheric body emerges from the dense physical body in gradual stages and at the chosen point of exit. When this emergence is complete, the vital body then assumes the vague outline of the form that it energized, and this under the influence of the thought-form of himself which the man has built up over the years. This thought-form exists in the case of every human being, and must be destroyed before the second stage of elimination is finally complete. We will touch upon this later. Though freed from the prison of the physical body, the etheric body is not yet freed from its influence. There is still a slight rapport between the two, and this keeps the spiritual man still close to the body just vacated. That is why clairvoyants often claim to see the etheric body hovering around the death bed or the coffin. Still interpenetrating the etheric body are the integrated energies which we call the astral body and the mental vehicle, and at the center there is a point of light which indicates the presence of the soul.

6. The etheric body is gradually dispersed as the energies of which it is composed are reorganized and withdrawn, leaving only the pranic substance which is identified with the etheric vehicle of the planet itself. This process of dispersal is, as I have earlier said, greatly aided by cremation. In the case of the undeveloped person, the etheric body can linger for a long time in the neighborhood of its outer disintegrating shell because the pull of the soul is not potent and the material aspect is. Where the person is advanced, and therefore detached in his thinking from the physical plane, the dissolution of the vital body can be exceedingly rapid. Once it is accomplished, the process of restitution is over; the man is freed, temporarily at least, from all reaction to the attractive pull of physical matter; he stands in his subtle bodies, ready for the great act to which I have given the name “The Art of Elimination.”

One thought emerges as we conclude this inadequate consideration of the death of the physical body in its two aspects: that thought is the integrity of the inner man. He remains himself. He is untouched and untrammelled; he is a free agent as far as the physical plane is concerned, and is responsive now to only three predisposing factors:

  1. The quality of his astral-emotional equipment.
  2. The mental condition in which he habitually lives.
  3. The voice of the soul, often unfamiliar but sometimes well known and loved.

Individuality is not lost; the same person is still present upon the planet. Only that has disappeared which was an integral part of the tangible appearance of our planet. That which has been loved or hated, which has been useful to humanity or a liability, which has served the race or been an ineffectual member of it, still persists, is still in touch with the qualitative and mental processes of existence, and will forever remain – individual, qualified by ray type, part of the kingdom of souls, and a high initiate in his own right.


Excerpted From “Esoteric Healing – Chapter V – The Process of Restitution”

By Alice Bailey& Djwhal Kuhl