Meher Baba

The greatest warriors, scientists, doctors and astrologers, without exception, have to bow to nature's common law, death.

October 1922,
LM2 p431

Lower spirits are those beings without physical forms whose sanskaras remain to be wiped out. They cannot progress after death until their unfinished sanskaras are worked out. As a consequence, they wander about on the lower Astral plane. For this reason, they are a source of harassment to living people.
Suppose a man is destined to have a life span of forty years, but he commits suicide when he is thirty. Consequently, for the remaining ten year period of unexpressed sanskaras, his spirit inhabits the lower planes, and at times is seen by some people as a spirit or ghost. To hold seances or to talk with the dead is no great thing, because such spirits are always among us on this living plane.
There are advanced yogis and munis who converse with these ghosts who have committed suicide, as well as with the spirits of the higher planes. These advanced souls communicate without using a medium. They live on both levels.

2 June 1925,
LM2 p720

Meher Baba discussed the death of his brother Jamshed with his men Mandali:

Baba: I often told Jamshed not to leave Meherabad, but he persisted, and now he has really left. Do you feel badly about his death?

They said yes.

Baba: All this grief is false. It is meaningless. It is hypocrisy. It is not genuine at all and is selfish.

Q. But from the worldly point of view, everyone feels sorry when someone dies.

Baba: But why? That is where the mistake is made. Death is false.

Q. But he was your brother. Is he not dead?

Baba: He was indeed my brother. But he is not dead. On the contrary, he is at peace, resting within me. Hence I don't feel sad at all over his death.

Q. But how are we worldly people to know and appreciate this fact?

Baba: You can know, but only by trusting, having deep faith, and believing those who know the secrets of life and death. All say that by submitting to death, my brother Jamshed has left this world, and that is quite true. But all this hustle and bustle and noise of the world is momentary, and when the show is over one has to depart.

Believe me, Jamshed is not dead. His body has died. Everyone thinks he is dead, but I say he has taken birth. The joy expressed by people at the birth of a child should be expressed when a person breathes his last, instead of all the show of sorrow, grief and sympathy. This is sheer ignorance, and those who understand the secret of birth and death feel sorry at this hypocritical pretense.

If you had divine sight, you would be fully convinced, and see for yourself that after the dropping of the physical body, the soul, which is always immortal, is always there. And death does not make the slightest difference in this as you believe.

Everyone is feeling that Jamshed left this world in the prime of life. But one has to go sooner or later, and no one but God knows the right moment. How can you say he was young? He was thousands of years old, and God knows how many births he will take on this earth. Whatever you saw before your eyes was only the Gross form of Jamshed, and its absence makes you weep with sorrow for him. If you wish me to be a partner in your dense ignorance, forget it.

Death is common to all, and it is a necessary step forward toward real life - eternal infinite existence. The soul merely changes into a new abode; thus dying is nothing more than changing your coat. Jamshed has changed it after experiencing life in it on this plane. It is like an actor who plays different parts in different dramas, or changes costumes in the same play behind the curtain, and then reappears on stage in a different garb; or it can be compared with sleep.

The difference between death and sleep is that after the former state, one awakens in a new body, while in the latter state, one becomes conscious of the same body. Worldly-minded people do not become upset when a person goes to sleep at night, simply because they expect to see him awaken alive again the next morning. Then why not exercise the same indifference when he sleeps the sleep of death, since he is bound to awaken alive sooner or later in a new body?

You at times travel in a train, and other passengers, without a care in the world, depart at different stations such as Lonavla, Kalyan and Dadar, all according to their tickets. In the same way, Jamshed was traveling, and when he reached his destination, according to his ticket, he departed from the train - left his body. His station was nearby. But according to you he has passed away in his youth. The trains go on running day and night, and numberless passengers travel in them, and depart at different stations according to their tickets. How many are you going to weep over?

Thus it is the selfishness of not being able to satisfy their minds in the absence of the sight of their dear ones that makes people weep and wail, and not so much the death itself. After the death of a person, a hue and cry is raised from all sides: 'My beloved father or mother is dead! The source of my life is gone! The light of my eye is dimmed! Where is my sweetheart? My support has disappeared!' Such exclamations are heard in the house of death. But in spite of a great display of grief and pain, my and mine remain uppermost, rather than consideration for the welfare of the one who has passed away.

The sword of death has been swinging freely since the beginning of man's history. Every day I see hundreds and thousands of my brothers dying, without feeling anything for it, and Jamshed's death is no exception to this. All admit that death is unavoidable, the unavoidable end, and though the fact is universally acknowledged and experienced, at the time of its happening, people immediately start crying. It is either madness or weakness of the mind.

Nothing lasts, everything is indefinite in this world, except the jeevatma (individual soul) who is subject to births and deaths. Even Perfect Masters and Avatars leave this world when their duty is over, so what to say of ordinary souls? This come-and-go game, the alternating experiences of life, and gathering and spending of sanskaras, is really quite difficult to understand.

Most people generally do not believe in the principle of karma, and are firmly convinced that there is no other body. The very thought of reincarnation, of another body, makes them shudder and shake. They say that once one is dead, he is dead, and there is no rebirth, in the same way that dry wood does not turn green again.

It will be a pleasant surprise if Jamshed is really dead. But he is not. If he were really dead, all should rejoice over it, since it would mean real life for him - eternal, infinite existence. Unless we really die, meaning our ego is annihilated, we cannot realise divinity. So all this expressing of sorrow and regret is bunk.

Although you find me moving about among you, playing with you, and in fact doing all that a supposedly living man does, I am really dead. I am truly and really dead, though I seem alive and active to you. If you die once, truly, there will be no more life and death for you, since you become one with God. Because I am dead I am alive. As Kabir says,

Everyone says, 'I am dying' but none of them die.
Only he who is dead before dying has not to die again.

These are the words of Kabir. Die such a death that you will not have to die again. Die, all of you, in the real sense of the word, so you may live ever after. The stopping of breath and the absence of pulse are not real dying. It is no use letting your earthly body die; all your desires and longings should die. That is, seek out the death of maya first and become sanskara-less. Then alone you will have died the real death and have been born into eternity.

An earthly being who realises God can be said to have earned real birth. All the wise ones, holy ones, Sufis, saints, Pirs and Prophets, by surrendering every worldly thing to God, have reached the goal, union with God. So do such acts that will earn you freedom from the recurring rounds of births and deaths.

When you understand this, what is the use of sorrow and weeping? If you have love for the dead, it should be selfless. The dead do not want your expression of sadness. Manifest such love for them that they would be pleased and at peace. If you want the consciousness of their souls to progress, express selfless love. Do not make them unhappy by your weeping and wailing.

Jamshed was my brother, but I am Jam Sheth - the Master of Death. The same death has brought Jamshed to his Master. Jamshed is near Jam Sheth. So give up this worthless conduct and be absorbed in your duties. Do not have the idea that because Jamshed is dead the world is dead.

He who is convinced that after death there is birth again never worries or sorrows. What is the use of sorrowing over dried up crops in the field? By dying after death, and thereby annihilating the mind, you will gain both worlds. Otherwise it is a never-ending cycle of taking birth and dying. There is no escape. It is a matter of luck, fate.

What can we do when our last day dawns? It is not in our hands, so what can be done? We all have to go one day. So what is the sense of weeping? One can do nothing except submit to God's will.

27 February 1926,
LM3 p779-783
Other versions:
PM p95-96, SW p272-273,
Av p103-104

Why should we Sadgurus feel for the shocking wounds and mutilations that are horrible to look at? Do you feel anything while killing an ant, gnat or mosquito? Not a bit. Do you feel badly when a hen's neck is being cruelly wrung by a butcher? No. Then why fear and shiver at this human murder, the wounds, blood and pain? The ant, fly, hen and goat all have lives as humans have. Why feel for one and not for the other?

Just as you consider the lives of these animals quite insignificant as compared to human beings, so do the Sadgurus consider human deaths trivial and insignificant. For them, the whole world is a small thing, just a point. Then why worry for a man being dead? Besides, to Sadgurus, the dropping of a body is no death at all. It is simply dropping one form and taking another.

The body is a coat covering the soul. Thousands and hundreds of thousands of such bodies fall daily, and the same number take bodies again simultaneously. The Sadgurus are really dead to illusion, and so are really living in eternity. So what is this dropping of human bodies and changing coats to them?

The mind must die, not the body. The body may die a thousand deaths; the atma (soul) is there, alive; it never dies. Even when body and mind both are dead in the Realisation state, the atma is there living forever.

The body lives, works and suffers for the mind, and the mind lives for the soul.

For example, take the cloth to be the body, the body to be the mind, and the mind to be the soul. Now suppose a young, well-dressed maiden comes and stands before you. As long as the clothes cover all parts of her body, the mind pays no special attention to her and is checked. But suppose a part of her clothing flutters in the wind, uncovering her legs for a moment. It immediately affects the mind, and several undesirable ideas begin to surge into it.

Now what did this? The cloth - the body. Similarly, as cloth is to the body, so the body is to the mind. That is, the mind is affected by the body, as the body is affected by the cloth.

19? July 1926,
LM3 p828

In sound sleep, there is consciousness but no ego, while in the state of death, there is consciousness plus ego. After the death of the physical body, the soul remains, together with the limited ego, the mind, and the Subtle body. Only the outer garment has been left behind. From one to three days, the Subtle retains its connection with the Gross body, but never longer than that.

There are four main conditions of existence after the final severance with the Gross body:

1. Upwards

2. Immediate reincarnation

3. Heaven or hell

4. Downwards

1. Upwards: Only the spiritually advanced beings go upwards, that is, beyond and above the lunar sphere. There they stay until such time as they can reincarnate upon earth, since Perfection can only be realised in the Gross human form. During the interim, however, such advanced beings can and do utilise the bodies of earth beings to work out a certain kind of sanskaras.

2. Immediate reincarnation: Those whose good and bad sanskaras almost balance each other, but are not exactly equal - because if they were, such souls would at once attain to God-realisation - reincarnate immediately on earth in human form.

3a. Heaven: The person who has accumulated a large portion of good sanskaras, and few bad ones, experiences through the Subtle body the state called paradise or heaven. Here the capacity for enjoyment is increased tenfold, and the sensitivity to suffering as the result of the few bad sanskaras is proportionally diminished. In other words, in this condition there is practically no suffering at all, but only enjoyment, until all the good sanskaras are spent. However, the impressions of these sanskaras remain, and ultimately impel the soul to take another body on earth.

3b. Hell: One who has contracted many bad sanskaras during his earth life experiences after death the state called hell, wherein the susceptibility to suffering is increased tenfold, and the capacity for enjoyment is proportionately diminished. In the hell state there is only suffering, until all those sanskaras which induced this state are exhausted. The impressions remaining compel the soul to rebirth in a human body.

4. Downwards: Those who have acquired extremely bad sanskaras, resulting from deeds like murder for lust or greed, after death go downwards into the region of animal spirits, to await a suitable Gross form for earth life.

The condition of one who arrives at death through suicide requires special explanation. Such a one goes neither upwards nor downwards, neither does he immediately reincarnate, nor pass into heaven or hell. Such spirits remain suspended closer to the earth plane, inasmuch as no entry is possible for them in any of the aforementioned states. Their condition is pitiable in the extreme, because they too feel the pull of their sanskaras, but unlike those on earth, they have no Gross body in which to fulfill their desires. These are the ones which in common parlance we call ghosts or disembodied spirits. It is these spirits whom mediums sometimes contact, and they prove a souce of harm as well as good. Sometimes such a spirit tries to possess a human body with which it feels an affinity due to similarity of sanskaras.

If, for example, a person who is otherwise eligible for the heaven state commits suicide, he remains suspended near the earth plane, and if he comes in contact with a human being does him no harm. But if one who, through his bad sanskaras, was eligible for hell dies before his time, then he may become a source of harm and pain to those whom he contacts. The relatively good spirits, however, usually seek redress through yogis, or they seek to serve a Perfect Master in the darkness of night. Yet, owing to the karmic law, it takes many cycles for such suspended spirits to have the chance of reincarnating again in human form through the aid of the Master. The evil spirits run as far away as possible from a Perfect One.

Both good and bad suspended spirits can sometimes work out their sanskaras through a human being, if they can find one with similar sanskaras and suitable past karmic connections. However, the ignorant victims of such possession by a suspended spirit may suffer physically and materially, though spiritually they are benefitted to the extent of dispensing with three or four incarnations.

Av p105-107

A person dies when his sanskaras are exhausted, spent in full. After a person dies, his sanskaras snap the mind's connection with the Gross body. And at that time he receives such a shock that he forgets every incident of his past life. But, even though the Gross body drops, the mind and the Subtle body remain full of sanskaras. For the next forty to seventy hours after death, the attention of the sanskaras is centered mostly on the place where the body is kept. But, after that, there is no connection whatsoever between the dead person and that place. Within the next eight or ten days, the spirit of the dead person experiences the Subtle state of either heaven or hell, according to his sanskaras.

After a person dies, many people perform rites and ceremonies for a long time. But all these are useless. No ritual is necessary after ten days. However, the best rites would be to feed either dogs or crows near the body, because they have Subtle sight and can see the spirit of the dead person. Crows and dogs are not Subtle-conscious, but they have Subtle faculties of perception, and draw towards themselves the sanskaras of dead people.

22 September 1926,
LM3 p848

What the Astral body of an ordinary man sees and experiences after death, the yogis see and experience during physical life.

Four days after death, the Astral body rises up to gain pleasure or pain according to its good or bad actions in physical life. When the store of virtue (poonya) and vice (paap) is exhausted, the soul, in accordance with the faint impress of the sanskaras, takes another Gross body - that is, is reborn in the physical world - which process goes on until the soul is freed from the chains of birth and death.

Rarely, yogis of the fourth plane misuse their spiritual powers, and are reborn in the stone state, and have to go through the whole process of Gross evolution before again getting the human form. Otherwise no human being experiences a fall in the evolution of forms.

The human form is the best of all physical forms. It is the only form in which God can be realised, and until God is realised, the soul must continue with births and deaths.

28? February 1927,
GM p69

You eat food, and to keep yourselves healthy and fit, you pass out the residue as excrement. But do you ever shed tears for the waste you eliminate? Do you ever think about it, or feel regret over it? Not at all. Then, if someone dear dies, why do you weep for that discarded body, which is like food to the soul?

You preserve and protect your body to feed your soul. The body is the medium for the soul's progress. When your excrement is eliminated, you eat fresh food. Similarly, with the disposal of the old body, you take a new body. So why worry and weep over that which is the law of nature and cannot be altered?

Sadgurus and the Avatar consider human death to be absolutely unimportant. They do not feel sad about anyone's death. For them, the whole universe is a very, very small thing, a small point. The human body can be compared to the fibers on the outer shell of a coconut. Hundreds of such hairs fall off, but the coconut water remains safe inside. Similarly, thousands of human bodies may fall, but the soul is immortal. It never dies. It is always living and eternal.

December 1927,
LM3 p994-995

Suppose a person dies, and his greater number of good sanskaras take him to the Subtle state, to heaven. There he experiences, without a physical body, the result of his good sanskaras of his past life. Similarly, if he has a greater number of bad sanskaras, they take him to hell, and he experiences those sanskaras without a body. In both cases the Grossness of either good or bad sanskaras is wiped out, either in heaven or in hell, and still the faint stain of these sanskaras remains in the mind. These are Subtle impressions.

Suppose a dish of food overturns in your lap, and your clothes become soiled with spots. You immediately remove or throw away the food, the Gross impressions, but the stains remain. These stains are like Subtle impressions.

Sanskaras remain connected with the environment where a person dies for two or three days after death. Although they are disconnected from the environment after two or three days, they are not spent either in hell or heaven for ten to twelve days after death. They remain unspent during this period.

6 March 1929,
LM3 p1147

If a person dies by a sudden accident before he would have died naturally, he immediately takes birth again and completes the remaining time of his past life, after which he dies. Some live for one, two, three, four or five years. And after finishing the period remaining from their past life, they take another body according to the sanskaras of the life which ended suddenly by accidental death. However, they cannot live longer than it takes to complete this remaining time. This is why some children die, some in a few days, some in a few months, and some after a few years.

November 1929,
LM4 p1255

In a way, even an ordinary dream is also a subconscious experience of the Subtle, because everyone necessarily makes an actual use of one's Subtle body in the dreaming state. But be it noted that through that body one experiences different sensations and experiences pertaining to the Gross only. In other words, the ordinary dreaming state is the experiencing of the Gross through Subtle means in the subconscious state.

Of course, the case regarding communications with the spirits of the dead is not the same as that of the dreaming state. Just as a man in the ordinary dreaming state uses his Subtle body subconsciously, and thereby experiences different sensations pertaining to the Gross sphere, so in certain cases a man can consciously use his Gross organs to get the experiences of the Semi-Subtle sphere. And this amounts to being in a position to have communications with or get glimpses of the spirits of the dead.

Let it be noted that spirit communication is the experience of the Semi-Subtle through the Gross means in the conscious state. It is not at all a mark of advancement on the divine Path, as it has nothing to do with the gnosis, the Subtle sphere and the planes.

There lies a world of difference between the Subtle and the Semi-Subtle... The Semi-Subtle sphere is the link between the Gross and the Subtle spheres. The spirits of all human beings (with the exception of those who have gone beyond the fourth plane) come to this Semi-Subtle sphere, and according to sanskaras either go to heaven or to hell, from which they again return to it, or directly await a new Gross body without necessarily being aware of this, to reincarnate in the Gross sphere.

It is the spirits that are waiting in this waiting room of a Semi-Subtle sphere that are likely to enter into communications with those who are in the Gross sphere. They may be either on the point of going to heaven or hell, or may have finished their terms of pleasure and pain in heaven or hell, as the case may be. Or they may be directly awaiting reincarnation following the last physical death. But it is only these spirits that can be communicated with, though not quite always with a mathematical precision as believed by many.

As to the various descriptions of the conditions prevailing in the Semi-Subtle sphere and in heaven or hell that are purported to come from them, some of these are in some way or other true, but it is not proper to attach importance to them. The Semi-Subtle sphere, and even heaven and hell, and the respective happiness and sufferings in them, are not of real existence. The experiences in the Semi-Subtle are like those in a dream. And heaven and hell are nothing but states in which the jivatma (individual soul), according to its good or bad sanskaras, experiences Subtle enjoyments and miseries respectively through the Subtle organs. When jivatma gets Self-realised, heaven and hell are found to have been imaginary existences, just as one who in the dreaming state enjoys and suffers, finds the dream experience devoid of reality when one gets up.

It goes without saying that worldly people can never enter into communication with higher spirits, i.e. spirits belonging to the Subtle, Mental and Super-Mental spheres. For though the spirits of the Subtle and also, in some cases, of the Mental sphere, have to reincarnate, they don't have to stay in the Semi-Subtle sphere at any time. Spiritually advanced persons can, of course, communicate with advanced disembodied spirits, but they do not do so, for it is unnecessary. Spirituality has nothing to do with spiritism or communication with the spirits of the dead.

from notes dictated by Meher Baba before March 1930,
IL p18-20.
Other versions: ST p8-9, Tr p176-178.

As a result of ordinary physical death, although the Astitwa (Subtle body) and the Jiva (life) do get separated from the Gross body completely, the connection of the mind is closely maintained with the corpse for the first three days after death, and slight connection goes on for seven days more.

before July 1930,
IL p40

If anyone is executed by the government, he enters a state of samadhi. It is temporary. For instance, when a person is being hanged, there is a clash during the execution between the functioning of inhalation and exhalation. Becoming lifeless, the person enters a samadhi state.

This type of samadhi has nothing to do with anything spiritual, for as soon as this state is over, and according to the sanskaras of his past life, the soul takes rebirth. If he has murdered anyone, he must pay for those sanskaras of murder. If the person is innocent, yet is executed, he is then freed from the sanskaras of murder.

It is quite different in the case of people who commit suicide by hanging. When a suicide's samadhi finishes, he remains 'hanging' - waiting between the Astral and Gross worlds. The person becomes a ghost, and does not acquire a physical body for ages to come.

13 January 1931,
LM4 p1353

Death is like sleep. And as sleep is essential to man, so also is death a necessary part of life.

In reality, no one is born and no one dies. This is all a dream. And what worth does a dream have?

21 December 1933,
LM5 p1853

Suicide is not the solution. It only entails rebirth with the same problems all over again. The only solution is God-realisation, to see God in everything. Everything is easy then.

31 December 1934,
Hollywood, California
to Mercedes Acosta,
LM6 p1940

All want to die and to live. Ordinary dying is nothing serious or wonderful. It is like passing from one adventure to another, and every adventure needs a suitable medium - the body. If you go to a party, you wear a dress suitable for the occasion. If you go to a wedding, you wear different clothes. If to a funeral, something suitable for that, and so on. So each adventure requires a suitable garment. Who takes death as very serious or awesome?

... Just before death it is peaceful. Death appears so fearful, but it is usually the fear of the unknown, like an abyss you cannot gauge... But it is so ordinary, so simple. Every night you go to sleep, you are dying, but you are not scared to enter this unknown, for at the background is the thought of waking up again. Death is also sleep, but you wake up in another form, and the background of this death is complete uncertainty. When you sleep soundly, the body is a corpse, but the link with the body remains, so you wake up in the same form. When you die there is no longer the link with the body, so you wake up in another form. This goes on from one adventure to another till you realise me.

c.1937? LA p312

Those who die thinking of me come to me. They are Liberated from the chain of birth and death, and see me perpetually.

March? 1939,
LM7 p2409

At the time of death, the soul drops its physical body. Therefore, after death, there is generally no consciousness of the Gross world, since Gross consciousness is directly dependent on the physical body. Though the consciousness of the Gross world is thus lost, the impressions of the experiences of the Gross world are retained in the Mental body. And they continue to express themselves through the Semi-Subtle sphere. During the interval between death and the next incarnation, the consciousness of the soul is turned towards these impressions, with the result that there is a vivification of impressions, and the revival of corresponding experiences. The average man does not become aware of the Subtle environment. He is wrapped up in complete subjectivity, and he is absorbed in living through the revived impressions.

In life after death, the experiences of pain and pleasure become much more intense than what they were in the earthly life. And these subjective states of intensified suffering and joy are respectively called hell and heaven. Hell and heaven are states of the mind. They should not be looked upon as being places. And though, from the subjective point of view, they mean a great deal for the individualised soul, they are both illusions within the greater illusion of the phenomenal world...

But hell and heaven are both states of bondage subject to the limitations of the opposites of pleasure and pain. And they are both states whose duration is determined by the nature, amount and intensity of the accumulated impressions. Time in the Subtle world is not the same as time in the Gross world, owing to the increased subjectivity of the states of consciousness. But though the time in the Subtle world is thus incommensurable with the time in the Gross world, it is strictly determined by the impressions accumulated in the Gross world. However, the important fact is that the hell-state and the heaven-state are far from being lasting. And after they have served their purpose in the life of the individualised soul, they both come to an end...

Thus the hell-state and the heaven state become instrumental for the assimilation of experience acquired in the earthly phase, so that the individualised soul can start its next incarnation in the physical body with all the advantages of digested experience. The lessons, which are learned by the soul through much stock-taking and reflection, are by the power of their magnified suffering or happiness confirmed on the mind-body. And they become for the next incarnation part and parcel of the intuitive make-up of the active consciousness, without in any way involving the detailed revival of the individual events of the previous incarnation. The truths absorbed by the mind in the life after death become, in the next incarnation, a part of the inborn wisdom. Developed intuition is nothing but consolidated and compressed understanding, distilled through a multitude of diverse experiences gathered in previous lives...

Like the earthly career and its experiences, the states of hell and heaven in the life after death are integral parts and incidents of that journey of the individualised soul, which is ultimately meant to get to the source of all things.

c.1942? Di,
Hell and Heaven,
v4 p51-58

The soul remains untouched and unscathed by the loss and the destruction of material things and possessions; and death is only a gateway to further life. Those who would play their part in the divine game shall remain unmoved by any bereavements or losses; and they shall also impart to others the spirit of cheerful resignation to the divine will.

February 1942,
LM8 p2775

Although I am the formless one, I am destined to assume a human form again and again, and so I am here. But I wish for you to become free from the wheel of births and deaths, of being born again and again: growing, maturing, marrying, enjoying, procreating, decaying and dying.

God is just as soft as he is hard, as compassionate as he is harsh. Just remember that when you call on him or invoke him, if he is touched even once, the impossible then becomes possible and you become free.

2 November 1952,
GG3 p133-134

People die in all sorts of ways, but it is nothing to be upset about. They are born again and again in different Gross bodies. But during one's lifetime, one should do whatever one honestly feels without getting attached to actions.

Changing bodies between lifetimes is similar to changing a coat. Some die young, such as those who died at the time of the partition. Some live long lives, they do not change their coats soon, like Gustadji.

5 November 1952,
GG3 p162-163

I am never sorry for anyone who dies. He who dies with my name on his lips, with me in his heart, never dies. I never worry about them, for theirs is no loss. If I am ever worried, it is for those that suffer through the death, which they might allow to alienate them from me. That would be their loss indeed. Why suffer unnecessarily? My dead live in me. That should make you happy...

Knowing this, any mourning you may do therefore must be for yourselves only, from selfish motives. You don't know how fortunate they are who die with my name on their lips and in their hearts.

AL p94

Although I am taking my own name continuously, I have come to hear it repeated by my lovers. And even though I were deaf, I would hear it if you repeated it only once with all your heart in it. If you cannot remember me constantly, then always take my name before going to sleep and on waking up. At least remember to remember me when you breathe your last, and you will still come to me. But how will you remember at the last moment, unless you start to remember me right now?

Kammu Baba, whom many revere as a saint in Bombay, recently sent me word asking to be relieved of his duties and to return unto me. I advised him also to take my name when breathing his last. In his last moments, Nozher took my name. So did my brother Jamshed, and many others who have come to me. But it is only the heroes who come to me in their physical form. To these, death itself surrenders ultimately.

LH p45
Nozher = Nozher Dadachanji

In reality, there is nothing such as death or birth. I know this, and I say it with the authority of my conscious knowledge. We are all in eternity, and we will always be there. Really, none comes or goes, none is born or dies. But to experience this truth, we must first free ourselves from the bondage of our ignorance.

After a hundred years or so, you will all have dropped your bodies, and yet you will still exist. Do not think about your bodies, but think only about me. Then, before you drop your bodies, you will be able to remember me. My miracle will be to make you become me.

LH p86

The seers of all times have had direct access to the truth about life and death, and they have repeatedly given a suffering and groping humanity useful information on this point. Their explanations are important because they protect man's mind from erroneous and harmful attitudes towards life and death, and prepare him for perception of the truth. Although direct knowledge of truth requires considerable spiritual perception, nevertheless even correct intellectual understanding of the relationships of life and death plays an important part in restoring mankind to a healthy outlook. Above incarnate life in birth and beyond discarnate life after death, the soul is one indivisible, eternal existence...

Each incarnate life is an opportunity for the realisation of one's true self. Each death or discarnate life is an opportunity for achieving a semblance of balance to start another birth, with its further chance at self-realisation. If the opportunity were fully taken, one incarnate life could be sufficient to make the individual realise this goal. But it is well-nigh impossible to attain the initiative and longing to do so without getting involved in the illusory maze of innumerable opposite experiences. The contact of a Perfect Master is invaluable in calling a halt to the dizzy gyrations of incarnate and discarnate lives in illusion, and awakening the individual to the real knowledge of self.

From the psychological point of view, death entails no slightest curtailment of individual existence. This does not mean that the surviving mind remains unaffected by the kind of death which severed the individual from the body. Both the condition of the mind, as well as its capability to progress further in the life after death, are often substantially determined by the conditions surrounding the death.

From the standpoint of its psychic after-effects, death can be classified into three broad types: normal, abnormal, and supernormal. Normal death follows an illness which ultimately renders the physiological functioning of the body impossible. Generally it involves some kind of warning to the individual, for if the illness is severe, he often anticipates that death is at hand. Although by no means true of all deaths caused by illness, when the individual has some anticipation of impending death, he usually has a chance to tie up loose ends and prepare his mind for this new crisis.

The second or abnormal type of death is that which results from accidents, murder, war and suicide. In accidents and murder, there is generally no anticipation of impending death. Being unexpected, death involves in such instances a shock which can shatter the very roots of the sanskaras seeking expression through the physical incarnation of the individual. In unanticipated accidental death, the ordinary ego-mind has a moderate tendency to gravitate towards the Gross sphere and cling to it because of the ego-mind's attachment to the Gross world.

In anticipated (abnormal) death, when resulting from murder or war, the ego-mind can become bound to the Gross world by the chains of unfulfilled revenge. There is less tendency for such binding to occur in death due to war, than in that resulting from murder. In war the combatants on both sides are often impersonal in their actions, and aware that they are fighting for some cause, rather than through personal enmity. If this awareness is clear and steady, death in war does not yield the mental reaction of revenge.

Among abnormal kinds of death, suicide deserves special attention. Suicide may be divided into four grades: lowest, low, high and highest. The lowest type is a last measure in escaping punishment or ignominy or utter frustration after the individual has tried unscrupulously to satisfy his own selfish desires. Thus one who has committed murder for lust or power may commit suicide when he is caught. Even after leaving the body, such a person does not succeed in severing his link with the Gross world for hundreds of years.

These individuals live literally as ghosts in the Semi-Subtle sphere, which lies between the Gross and the Subtle world. They experience agonising suffering because of their unfulfilled desires. Due to the link which they preserve with the Gross world, they continue to desire various Gross objects keenly, a desire which can never be fulfilled. This suffering is even more acute than the intense sufferings in the hell-state* that the individual experiences after he severs his connection with the Gross world.

*Neither hell nor heaven should be regarded as places. They are mental states, and imaginary in the same sense that the world of duality also exists in the realm of illusion.

A somewhat less acute class of suffering in imagination is experienced in the hell-state by suicides who have been slightly better motivated, but who are still classified as 'low.' In this group are those motivated by sheer disgust with life. Thus a person suffering from bad health, or stricken by a loathsome disease, or one who is poverty-stricken and ashamed of being a burden on others, might put an end to his life through lack of will to live. Since the cause of such a suicide is revulsion from earthly life, the ego-mind does not continue to maintain any enduring link with the Gross world beyond the normal three or four days following death. After that normal period, the link is snapped, and the ego-mind then begins to experience the intense suffering of its bad sanskaras, usually termed the hell-state.

Although a ghost caught in the Semi-Subtle sphere suffers even more acutely than does the ego-mind experiencing the hell-state, the latter achieves some exhaustion of evil sanskaras, while the former does not. Further, the sufferings of the ghosts who maintain their link with earthly life are more tantalising, because the link constantly holds before them the prospect of fulfillment of Gross desires, without actual means for their satisfaction.

The general belief that suicide is bad is due to the fact that it is usually the result of low motives and a cowardly attitude towards life. When suicide is employed as an escape from dilemmas brought on by failure to cope with the needs of life, it is not only ignoble, but far-reaching as well in its demoralising effects upon the victim.

The third or high type of suicide is in no way rooted in inferior motives, and is therefore free of their deteriorating effects. It is inspired by altruistic motives alone, and is a sacrifice made to secure the material or spiritual well-being of others. One who meets death through, e.g. a hunger strike, in order to better the welfare of the masses, is a suicide of this high type.

The motives of such a suicide are not far different from those of martyrs who lay down their lives on the battlefield for country, society or religion. The total absence of base motives in this high type of suicide makes it entirely different from the lower grades. As in other noble acts of self-effacement, such highly motivated action entitles the departed individual to the privileges and pleasures of the heavenly state, and also constitutes a definite asset in his spiritual ongoing.

A suicide inspired by ordinary altruistic motives is not the highest type. The fourth or highest class results from intense desire to see God or to unite with him. This is an extremely rare occurence. In most cases in which suicide is believed to have been committed for the sake of God, there is an admixture of other motivating factors, such as dissatisfaction with conditions in earthly life.

If and when suicide is embraced purely for the sake of attaining God, it can have the effect of achieving Liberation or Mukti. The Masters have always warned aspirants against resorting to suicide in the intensity of their longing for union with God, for there is too great room for self-deception and inadvertent mixture of inferior unconscious motivation.

Regardless of the abnormality of the circumstances which may lie back of it, no type of death can really damn the individual forever. It is never more than an incident in his long spiritual journey.

The third or supernormal type of death consists in leaving the body voluntarily. This is done by the advanced yogis who wind up their earthly careers after fulfilling their mission, much as the student locks up his textbooks after passing his examination. The supernormal or voluntary death of the advanced yogi is definitely anticipated and willed, but is entirely different from suicide insofar as motives, results and manner of leaving the body are concerned.*

(*Meher Baba explained later that there was one other kind of death, 'circumstantial death.' For more about it, see 'Death' in Book Two. -- Editor)

Friends and relatives of a departed one often are seriously upset by his death, because the dissolution of the form may seem to them to be the extinction of life itself. All of their attachments had been related to the form. It was because of the form that they had contact with the soul, and it was through the form that their various physical and emotional needs were fulfilled. The disappearance of the body that had acted as the vehicle of the soul is therefore often interpreted by them as the annihilation of the individual himself. From the purely physical point of view, death does not involve annihilation of even the body, but physiologically it has become unfit to be the continued dwelling place of the spirit, and has therefore lost all importance.

From the point of view of the individualised soul as mind, death does not involve any loss whatsoever, as the mind and all its sanskaras remain intact. The individual in essence is thus in no way different. He has only cast off his external coat. Nevertheless this severance from the physical body is fraught with two important consequences. It is a means of introducing the individual to a new type of existence, and it is also in itself an incident of the utmost importance because of side effects of the greatest practical consequence.

When others die, the individual loses only one, or at most a few friends who have played an important role in his earthly existence. But when he dies, he loses at one stroke all the persons who had entered intimately into his own life. He also loses all his possessions, and is broken away from the achievements on which he had built the very foundations of his sense of accomplishment in life. As the crowning touch, he must also leave behind the very physical body with which he had identified himself so completely that he was rarely capable of imagining himself as anything but that physical body. This complete annihilation of the entire structure of the individual's earthly existence is therefore a crisis without parallel in his life.

This critical turning point, which occurs at death, is attended by both advantages and disadvantages. The greatest disadvantage lies in the fact that the individual must leave incomplete all the undertakings of his earthly life. He must leave the entire chessboard without taking any further interest in it. The scene of his life is blotted out, and the chain of his mundane interests is hacked apart.

From the standpoint of objective achievement, the continuity of his undertaking has undergone an abrupt break. Advancement of the projects he has left behind must come from his previous associates, and can no longer be his concern. It is rare for the individual to be drawn back through a sanskaric linking to the identical task which he had begun in a past incarnation, to develop it on from the point where his successors had left it.

It would be a mistake to think that death brings nothing but disadvantages. Death also brings about a general weakening of attachments by shattering all the sanskaras which were fed by the earthly objects, because the mind is now torn away from them. While it is true that many of the sadhanas undertaken by the individual during his earthly life have the effect of unwinding previous sanskaras, still it is only in extremely rare instances that he succeeds in completely erasing the present and future effects of these sanskaras. This erasure is effected within certain well-defined limits by the sudden transplanting of the individual that occurs at death.

If the lessons inherent in a single death were to be thoroughly assimilated by the individual, he would benefit by the equivalent of several lifetimes of patient spiritual effort. Unfortunately, this does not happen in most cases, because after death the individual usually tries to revive his accumulated sanskaras. Through these revived sanskaras he recaptures the experiences through which he has already lived. The period immediately following death usually becomes, therefore, an occasion for the repetition of all that has previously been lived through, rather than a period of emancipation through understanding all that has been lived out...

If death has any value, it is to teach the individual the true art of life. It would be wrong for the aspirant to seek death with the hope of making further progress thereby. On the other hand, he should not fear death when it overtakes him. A true aspirant neither seeks death nor fears it. And when death comes to him, he converts it into a stepping stone to the higher life.

Some people are particularly afraid of the exact moment of death because they anticipate unbearable pain at that instant. In reality, all physical suffering experienced during illness or just before death terminates at the moment of death. The process of the actual dropping of the body is quite painless, contrary to the superstition that a person experiences indescribable agonies in death.

However, the severing of the individual's emotional entanglement in the Gross world is not found to be easy. The various religious rites observed after a death have primarily the purpose of helping the departing individual disentangle himself from these ties. For instance, the repetition of the name of God or of scriptures, often practised after the death of a person, has a wholesome effect both on those who have been left behind as well as on the one who has passed away, because they help to free both parties of their mutual sanskaric attachment to form. On the other hand, the lamentation and wailing that is often observed has a degrading and depressing effect both on those left behind as well as on the person who has passed away, for it tends to strengthen mutual attachment to form.

The thought or wish the dying individual holds at the moment of death has special importance in determining his future destiny. If the last thought is of God or the Master, the individual achieves Liberation.

It is quite common for an individual not to have any specific thought at the moment of death. Even if he has had thoughts or wishes before death, he will tend to forget them at the time of death. At that moment some people hope they may not return to earthly life, but they are not exempted from rebirth by mere wishing. They are reborn, but exhibit a pronounced disgust for life, and tend to lead the lives of ascetics or recluses.

If the good and evil sanskaras* of the individual are almost balanced at the time of death, he may take on a new physical body almost immediately. He may even enter a new incarnation as early as the fourth day after death. In such urgent cases of rebirth the individual can enliven a ready fetus any time between the sixth and seventh months of embryological development. It is important to note that both father and mother give only prana or vital energy to the fetus. In addition to receiving prana, it must be enlivened by some individualised soul. Ordinarily this takes place during the later stages of embryological development.

When the individual is ready for reincarnation, he is automatically drawn to his future parents by sanskaric links. The parents act as a magnet due to their previous connections with the reincarnating individual. Occasionally the strongest sanskaric or karmic link which the reincarnating individual has with incarnate individuals is not with the parents, but with a brother or sister. It is this link, then, that determines the family in which he takes birth.

In times of emergency, as in wars or epidemics, when thousands of individuals may seek immediate reincarnation, it is not always possible for all to be born into families having strong previous links with them. But if the sanskaric status of the individual is precipitating him towards incarnation, his taking on of a body is not postponed merely because parents are not available to provide a suitable previous link. It is possible through the intervention of the Masters to make infinite adjustments through mutual exchanges.

Death is like throwing away clothes which have become useless through wear and tear. Just as a traveller may stop at different places, and at each halt may change clothes according to his needs, so the individual goes on changing his bodies according to the needs of his sanskaras.

Death may also be compared to sleep. When a man goes to sleep, he wakes up in the same physical body. When he drops his physical body at death, he wakes up in another physical body.

*Good actions leave sanskaric residues in the individual's subconscious as surely as do bad actions. Therefore the individual may be bound just as surely by the 'golden chains' forged by good actions as by the 'iron chains' of bad actions.

For most persons the period between death and birth is one of absorption in subjectivity. As mentioned before, after death the ego-mind of the individual normally retains its tie with the remnants of the physical body for three or four days. After this period the connection is completely severed, and the individual then exists entirely in the subjectivity of his mental states. This subjective phase is brought about by the resurrection of all the sanskaras which the ego-mind has brought along with it after death.

The sudden transplanting of the ego-mind from one sphere to another does wear out the scars of the sanskaras to some extent, but for the greater part they remain intact. If death had resulted in the complete wiping out of all the sanskaric scars on the mind, it would have resulted in emancipation of the individual from all limitation. But this does not happen. Not only are the sanskaric imprints retained after death, but they may unroll unhampered in the life after death...

The true death of the individual occurs at that moment when he transcends his limited individuality or separative consciousness by being taken up in the truth-consciousness of the unlimited and undivided being of God. The true death of the individual consists in the complete disappearance of the limiting ego-mind that has created the sanskaric veil of ignorance. True death is a far more difficult process than physical death, but when it occurs through the grace of the Master, it takes no longer than the twinkling of an eye. This dissolution of the ego-mind and the freeing of the soul from the illusion of separative limited individuality are known as Liberation...

True immortality is not the survival of the limited individual in the period following the death of the physical body. It is true that the ego-mind persists unscathed through death, but the individual cannot and does not thereupon attain to final freedom from birth and death. Survival should not be confused with deathlessness, which is true immortality. The chain of alternating incarnate and discarnate life is only a survival of consciousness plus ignorance, and ignorance makes true life impossible.

Life in ignorance is the very negation of existence in Truth. It is so basic a curtailment of true existence that when judged by the standards of the true existence in eternity, it had best be termed a continuous death. Only in Realisation is consciousness emancipated from the tyranny of this continuous death which nullifies the true life in eternity. And only in Liberation can consciousness arrive at that true immortality which lies beyond all curtailment and obscurity.

before 1956,
LH p97-111

Life does not end with death. Survival after death is as true as death after life.

To live in order to die, or to die in order to survive, would be a poor proposition indeed.

The death that follows life is not a lifelessness, nor is life after death a deathlessness.

Life is a positive manifestation of the true existence, which negative death cannot extinguish.

To end the ceaseless succession of lives and deaths, death itself has to be annihilated in life.

On annihilating death in life by completely freeing consciousness of all illusion, man becomes God in the naked truth of his own true existence. He remains infinitely conscious God, irrespective of his keeping or dropping the Gross, Subtle and Mental bodies, just as man remains man whether he is dressed or undressed.

c. 1956, LB p17

I say with my divine authority to each and all that whosoever takes my name at the time of breathing his last comes to me. So do not forget to remember me in your last moments.

Unless you start remembering me from now on, it will be difficult to remember me when your end approaches. You should start practising from now on. Even if you take my name only once every day, you will not forget to remember me in your dying moments.

24 May 1958,
Myrtle Beach,
GM p320

There is one real birth and one real death. You are born once, and you really die only once.

What is the real birth? It is the birth of a drop in the ocean of reality. What is meant by the birth of a drop in the ocean of reality? It is the advent of individuality, born of individuality through a glimmer of the first most-finite consciousness, which transfixed cognizance of limitation into the unlimited.

What is meant by the real death? It is consciouness getting free of all limitations. Freedom from all limitations is real death. It is really the death of all limitations. It is Liberation.

In between the real birth and the real death, there is no such reality as the so-called births and deaths. What happens in the intermediate stage known as births and deaths is that the limitations of consciousness gradually wear off, until consciousness is free of limitations. Ultimately, consciousness, totally free of limitations, experiences the unlimited reality eternally.

Real dying is equal to real living. Therefore, I stress: die for God, and you will live as God.

You are first a child, then grow old and drop the body, but you never die and never were born. In the East, Vedantists believe in reincarnation, in innumerable births and deaths until one attains Godhood. The Muslims believe in one birth only, and one death only; the Christians and Zoroastrians the same. All are right.

But Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Zoroaster, all meant what I mean by real birth and real death. I say you are born once and die once. All the so-called births are only sleeps and wakings.

The difference between sleep and death is that when you sleep, you awake and find yourself in the same body. But after death, you awake in a different body. You never die. Only the blessed ones die and become one with God.

26 May 1958,
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,
GM p328

Baba said of Mrs. Bahejian, a woman who had come to see him:

She resembles my aunt. My name was on her lips when she dropped her body.

My brother Jamshed, when we were boys, used to quarrel and fight with me. As he grew older, Jamshed began to love me. Later on, in Meherabad, he couldn't sleep because he thought all the time about me. When he went to Poona, all of a sudden he had a splitting headache and the heart felt heavy. And just before an attack of apoplexy, he felt very blissful. He shouted my name, and then fell in a coma. And during those three hours, his lips were moving with the rhythm 'Baba, Baba, Baba.' Mani was there. Then he died. He came to me.

All my relatives, my school friends, you haven't any idea how difficult it was for them to accept me as the Avatar after quarreling with me, playing marbles with me.

Charles Purdom: Will you comment on what you mean by 'to come to me?

Baba: To come to me means Liberation, experiencing me as I am. No more bondage of births and deaths. But it does not mean the state of a Perfect Master, of Perfection. That is only to be attained in the Gross body. So if you are not blessed with this state of Perfection, at least you can have Liberation. If you just take my name, just at the moment of dropping your body, you will come to me. Yes, anyone.

It's not easy to take my name at the very moment of leaving the body. Then you individually experience bliss, infinite bliss. After Liberation, you continue to experience infinite bliss eternally. Why? Because it belongs to you eternally. You experience what belonged to you eternally. Even spiritual ecstasy cannot be compared with divine bliss. Remember this.

28 May 1958,
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
GM p337 and LA p529

The physical body (of the mind) is the means of experiencing the sanskaras, and when this physical body becomes enfeebled after using up the old sanskaras, the body drops (dies). At that time there is the union of new sanskaras with the mind, and one is ready for new experience to use up the sanskaras Subtly or Grossly. For this purpose the mind takes another physical body. In this way old sanskaras are wiped out, and as this experience occurs, new sanskaras are produced. According to the new sanskaric makeup, a new body is then taken to experience the sanskaras. As the old sanskaras are spent, the mind loses impressions and the body weakens, to eventually drop off at death.

However, in the process of spending the old sanskaras while alive, the new sanskaras that are produced are imprinted in the mind in seed form. By these imprints, the new sanskaric makeup of the mind forces the old physical body to drop, and a new Gross body is thereby formed after the Gross sanskaras are somewhat equalised during the experience of Heaven or Hell. Thus the mind continues gathering new sanskaras and, accordingly, new bodies during reincarnation.

The infinite intelligence in its original form of the soul without sanskaras never changes; it remains always formless. But sanskaras change, and accordingly the human bodies change. To spend new sanskaras through the experience of birth and death is for the body and not for the soul; it has no birth or death. Rebirth is due to the sanskaras which form a Subtle body, and according to the change of the Subtle body in Heaven or Hell, the Gross body changes and is joined to the Subtle body when it takes birth in the Gross world. The new psychic or sanskaric makeup in the Mental body from the newly accumulated sanskaras from the previous life changes the Subtle body while in the states of Heaven or Hell, and this change requires that the Subtle body have a new Gross body.

The meaning of death in reincarnation is the changing of the old body according to the new sanskaras gathered by the mind. The meaning of birth is the taking of a new body according to these new sanskaras. The new sanskaras gathered in the present cannot be used up by the present body, as this body is suitable only for using up the new sanskaras of the previous lifetime. The death of the body is in accordance with the requirements of the new sanskaras. Death is necessary because the new sanskaras cannot be spent by the present body, as that human body was formed for spending the then new (now old) sanskaras of the previous body.

Physical death and the daily sleep that human beings experience are the same states (of mind). No thoughts are active in deep sleep - one does not think, but one awakens in order for the mind to experience thoughts. When awakening, the mind first experiences the Mental world (ordinary man is unconscious of this), then the Subtle body experiences the Subtle world (ordinary man is unconscious of this also). When an ordinary man is completely awake (conscious), he experiences the Gross world through his physical body. A Mental conscious person awakens in the Mental plane, as a Subtle conscious person awakens in the Subtle plane. Once this involved consciousness becomes active, then, automatically, the Gross body, like a shadow, becomes active.

Every time the mind is in sound sleep, its experience of the Mental, Subtle and Gross worlds comes to a stop, but this stop is temporary. When the person awakens, again mind becomes active (thinks). The mind experiences the world Mentally, Subtly or Grossly through the Mental, Subtle or Gross bodies, and it is the sanskaras that awaken the person.

Every time the mind is in the dream state (semi-consciousness) the Gross conscious man experiences his sanskaras Sub-Subtly, and for the time being Gross experience is at a standstill. Every time the mind is in the state of sleep, meaning when the mind stops thinking and is inactive, the sanskaras remain in a dormant state to be experienced again in the awake state (action). And every time there is a death, the mind goes to sleep (the thinking stops) and the sanskaras are temporarily left behind, since the experiencing of the sanskaras awakens the mind, makes it conscious, and forces it to begin thinking again.

After death the mind does not immediately awaken in a Gross body, but in its Subtle body, and the individual experiences Gross sanskaras through his Subtle body. This heaven or hell experience is according to the newly gathered sanskaras. While in the states of heaven and hell, the mind is awake, and during the experience the good and bad sanskaras balance to some extent in the mind. After this heaven or hell Subtle experience, the mind adopts another Gross body according to the new structure of the Subtle body, and this new structure of the Subtle body is determined by the balancing of the good and bad sanskaras that were left behind in the mind when the person died.

The similarity between sleep and death is that in both cases the sanskaras first awaken the mind in the Subtle body (to either experience a dream, or heaven or hell). In the Sub-Subtle state while dreaming, the nature of the opposites is still there (because of good and bad sanskaras), and through a person's good or bad sanskaras he has the Astral experience of a sweet dream or a nightmare. In both sleep and death states the mind stops thinking temporarily, and sanskaras then wake up the mind to experience them Subtly. In the sleep state the sanskaras wake up the mind to the Subtle body, and after the experience of dream, to the Gross body to experience the Gross world. But in the case of death, sanskaras wake up the mind in a new physical body to experience the sanskaras Grossly as the old body has been given up.

1968? Meherazad,
from notes dictated by Meher Baba, NE p255-258

Also see the chapter 'Liberation' in Book One and Book Two

Death Book Two

Index - Book One

Copyright 2005 Patra Chosnyid Skybamedpa, The Eastern School of Broad Buddhism.
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