Into the chambers of death
“The senior course of study now was opened up and Jesus entered and became a pupil of the hierophant. He learned the secrets of the mystic lore of Egypt land; the mysteries of life and death and of the worlds beyond the circle of the sun.
“When he had finished all the studies of the senior course, he went into the Chamber of the Dead, that he might learn the ancient methods of preserving from decay the bodies of the dead; and here he wrought” (Aquarian Gospel 54:1-3).
This seems very peculiar to us, but actually there was an entire esoteric side to the preparation for burial, namely the need for awareness of the present state of the departed and how to alleviate any confusion or suffering they might be undergoing. Part of this was the ability to see whether a person was truly dead, lest the embalming process kill someone who was only in deep suspension of the life functions. (This has often happened. A friend of mind knew a mortician who inserted the needles into a little boy and started the embalming fluid flowing into his veins. Instantly the child became conscious and began crying for his mother. In moments he was dead from the embalming fluid. The mortician’s life and mind were permanently devastated.) The ability to look into the subtle worlds and discover where the departed had gone upon leaving the earth plane was also necessary. So Jesus was learning a kind of science of death. At the same time he was teaching those around him about the life that transcends death, as we shall now see.
The true nature of death
“And carriers brought the body of a widow’s only son to be embalmed; the weeping mother followed close; her grief was great.
“And Jesus said, Good woman, dry your tears; you follow but an empty house; your son is in it not. You weep because your son is dead. Death is a cruel word; your son can never die. He had a task assigned to do in garb of flesh; he came; he did his work, and then he laid the flesh aside; he did not need it more. Beyond your human sight he has another work to do, and he will do it well, and then pass on to other tasks, and, by and by, he will attain the crown of perfect life. And what your son has done, and what he yet must do, we all must do.
“Now, if you harbor grief, and give your sorrows vent they will grow greater every day. They will absorb your very life until at last you will be naught but grief, wet down with bitter tears. Instead of helping him, you grieve your son by your deep grief. He seeks your solace now as he has ever done; is glad when you are glad; is saddened when you grieve.
“Go bury deep your woes, and smile at grief, and lose yourself in helping others dry their tears. With duty done comes happiness and joy; and gladness cheers the hearts of those who have passed on.
“The weeping woman turned, and went her way to find a happiness in helpfulness; to bury deep her sorrows in a ministry of joy” (Aquarian Gospel 54:4-14).
First let me say something about the grief felt at the death of someone. It springs from the loss of their presence–belief or disbelief in immortality has nothing to do with it. We have suffered a great loss, one that is even more shocking if it is someone we have known from birth, for it shatters our whole orientation in this present life. Again, the fact of the view being mistaken does not alleviate the sorrow one bit. When the departed was a loving and worthy person the pain will be even more intense. Consider the terrible loss of a holy person. Compared to that, all else is minimal. The loss of saints I have known is a great one indeed. No, I do not grieve, but I certainly regret and long for their presence. It is especially intense in regard to Swami Sivananda, for he was infinite goodness personified, incarnate mercy and love. How I yearn for even a few moments again with him. The sadness we feel at the death of someone is a tribute to them. “Comforting words” are silly. But words of wisdom are healing, and Jesus has provided them in this passage.
An empty house. No matter that someone believes in the immortality of the soul, if they identify with their own body they will accordingly identify the body of another with that person. There is no escaping it. So when the body dies, that person is dead to them. Witness the eerie way that we treat the dead body in this culture. We embalm it, put makeup on it, dress it up in the best clothes, put it in an expensive satin-lined box–often with a mattress in it–grieve over it, and then put it in the ground to decay and dissolve, yet continue to “visit” it and put flowers on the earth above it, and sometimes talk to it. We completely ignore the real, immortal person, especially if we do not believe in prayers for the departed.
By means of prayers for the departed, a subtle bond of communication is established between them and those who remain on earth. I have usually seen the departed during rituals I performed on their behalf. As the ritual progressed I often saw them in their new astral home and perceived the effect of the energies being directed to them. Frequently their loved ones also either see or feel them near during the ceremonies. I have seen long-standing grief eradicated completely in this way. One Protestant friend of mine asked some Catholic nuns to pray for her deceased father a few years after his death. That night she saw him vividly in a dream–something that had not happened before. “Dad,” she exclaimed, “you are alive!” “Well it’s about time you acted like it!” he rejoined, indicating thereby that praying for the dead is acting out the fact of immortality.
The point Jesus is making is that the body is never us–it is a just a place of temporary abode, and should be regarded accordingly, valuable though it is during our time of sojourn here. Just as we do not keep speaking into a telephone once the person on the other end has hung up, so it is pointless to keep relating to body as though the former tenant is still there. Burying a person where they will “have a good view” is absolutely grotesque.
He had a task assigned to do in garb of flesh; he came; he did his work, and then he laid the flesh aside; he did not need it more. It is important to know that birth and death are not happenstances, but that the person came into birth by their choice, and left by an act of will, even if the choice was not conscious. Their soul did make the choice–God did not, and should not be blamed for it. They had a purpose in being born, and when they had fulfilled it they left, no longer needing to be here. Fate or whimsy had nothing to do with it. All happened exactly as it should, even though it seems otherwise to our earth-dimmed eyes. No one is “cut-off,” but walks out as pre-arranged. No one leaves too early or too late. It is all as it should be. But until we develop our intuition and acquire a spiritual perspective this will be beyond our comprehension.
Beyond your human sight he has another work to do, and he will do it well, and then pass on to other tasks,…. More lives lie ahead for the departed, in this world and in higher worlds. There, too, others may grieve at his departures if they do not understand rightly. The departed will move on from life to life, “and, by and by, he will attain the crown of perfect life.” Part of our problem is the delusion that other people “belong” to us, that we somehow possess them and can “lose” them. This is purely ego-based and is not at all true. We belong to God alone, and the sooner we perfect our awareness of that relationship the better, for God never “comes” or “goes” but is always with–and within–us.
And what your son has done, and what he yet must do, we all must do. It is our work through birth and death that we must concentrate on, otherwise we only delay our progress and do not help the departed at all.
Now, if you harbor grief, and give your sorrows vent they will grow greater every day. They will absorb your very life until at last you will be naught but grief, wet down with bitter tears. Grief is as corrosive as hatred, for it is also mixed with self-pity and often with anger and resentment. It can destroy us utterly and ruin our own purpose in this life. In my small hometown there was a doctor’s wife who, when he died, shut herself up in her house and never came out–never. She hired people to do shopping for her. In all my years living there I never saw her, and no one I knew had seen her after the doctor’s death. She had buried herself alive. Many do this in one form or other. One of my cousins was a dear, simple soul that everyone loved. I will never forget his guileless goodness. When he died in his teens of a rare and sudden disease, his grandmother was literally overcome. Until her death many years later, she visited his grave every single day to weep and talk with him. Her sorrow became the major factor in her life. It was a tragic choice.
Instead of helping him, you grieve your son by your deep grief. He seeks your solace now as he has ever done; is glad when you are glad; is saddened when you grieve. This is because the departed are often aware of us and see our misery, which then makes them miserable. Sometimes our grief and their anguished reaction prevents them from moving on to the next world and they become earthbound. It is not impossible that at our death we will move on and leave them behind, a ghost of grief.
Go bury deep your woes, and smile at grief, and lose yourself in helping others dry their tears. With duty done comes happiness and joy; and gladness cheers the hearts of those who have passed on. Jesus gave similar advice to his mother in the twenty-ninth chapter, and later will give much the same to cure a man of alcohol addiction. One of the most valuable aspects of the Aquarian Gospel is this principle of the therapeutic effect of helping others. By this we see that when we are told to love our neighbor as ourself, we are being given the best self-help advice. This will help the departed, for when they see our pain lessened it will allow them to pass on without regret.
The roots of sorrow
“Then other carriers came and brought the body of a mother to the Chamber of the Dead; and just one mourner followed; she a girl of tender years.
“And as the cortege neared the door, the child observed a wounded bird in sore distress, a cruel hunter’s dart had pierced its breast. And she left following the dead, and went to help the living bird. With tenderness and love she folded to her breast the wounded bird, then hurried to her place.
“And Jesus said to her, Why did you leave your dead to save a wounded bird?
“The maiden said, This lifeless body needs no help from me; but I can help while yet life is; my mother taught me this. My mother taught that grief and selfish love, and hopes and fears are but reflexes from the lower self; that what we sense are but small waves upon the rolling billows of a life. These all will pass away; they are unreal. Tears flow from hearts of flesh; the spirit never weeps; and I am longing for the day when I will walk in light, where tears are wiped away. My mother taught that all emotions are the sprays that rise from human loves, and hopes, and fears; that perfect bliss cannot be ours till we have conquered these” (Aquarian Gospel 54:15-25).
This lifeless body needs no help from me; but I can help while yet life is. There is real wisdom in the question the angels asked those who came to the tomb of Jesus on Easter Sunday: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). We cannot possibly increase our life by obsessing on death and the departed. There are too many living people that we can benefit–and benefit ourselves at the same time.
Grief and selfish love, and hopes and fears are but reflexes from the lower self. This is straight fact, and we need to bite the proverbial bullet and acknowledge that all these emotions are squarely egocentric. After all, when someone dies we grieve for our loss, and how we feel about their departure. No matter how wonderful the departed were and how we loved them and they loved us, we must not allow ourselves to sink into the morass of self-pity. We must shake ourselves out of it and keep on living, just as they are, though in another world. We should do the same. Again, the problem is the wrong desire to possess and hold on as though someone can be our property.
I knew a man who had a metaphysical church. For years he gave talks about reincarnation. Then his best friend died, and he kept calling me and asking me if I was sure that reincarnation was true, and that his friend was not “waiting for him over there” instead of perhaps going on to be reborn. It was childish selfishness on his part, and I am glad to say that after a while he came out of it saw it for what it was.
What we sense are but small waves upon the rolling billows of a life. How many lives have we lived! This is just a little wave on the ocean of reincarnation. The people we obsess on and grieve for may never have known us in a previous life and may never be with us in a future life. So how silly to ruin our minds and hearts with selfish attachments and self-pity. We must choose life over death.
These all will pass away; they are unreal. Yes, and that includes our personal relationships in all lives. Death ends them most of the time.
Tears flow from hearts of flesh; the spirit never weeps; and I am longing for the day when I will walk in light, where tears are wiped away. Now we have the key: we must live in the spirit where death is no longer even a dream, but a gateway to increasing life. This should be our desire.
All emotions are the sprays that rise from human loves, and hopes, and fears; that perfect bliss cannot be ours till we have conquered these. This is truth absolute.
The tribute of Jesus
“And in the presence of that child did Jesus bow his head in reverence. He said, For days and months and years I’ve sought to learn this highest truth that man can learn on earth, and here a child, fresh brought to earth, has told it all in one short breath. No wonder David said, O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength.
“And then he laid his hand upon the maiden’s head, and said, I’m sure the blessings of my Father-God will rest upon you, child, for evermore” (Aquarian Gospel 54:26-30).
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: The Christ!