The Second Death – As Seen by Incarnate Observers
Last revised: 21 September 2008
Passing through the Second Death into the Second Heaven
References to the Second Death
We'll concentrate on Glastonbury. I woke up there on my second awakening after the 'second death', when I had already shaken off all the earth attachments. (Wellesley Tudor Pole through Cynthia Sandys in AL, 72.)
[The second death] is not a separation ... but a feeling of complete serenity and peace, with no concern for anything, or awareness of people around you. ... You are supported by something that is almost unidentifiable, you have lost your own identity without any concern or anxiety about it. ... It is a true spiritual release, and for a little while you don't really know where you are. ... There is no feeling of distress. It is a kind of oblivion, but a conscious oblivion.
Then you become aware of what I can only describe as a harmonic reverberation around you, a beautiful ecstacy. ... You feel this divine, ecstatic, unified power with such indescribable joy that you just don't know what is happening to you. (Chan in Ivy Northage, Trance Talks by Chan, 9-11.)
Only by crucifying the lower self, (1) only by totally destroying that nature of negativity within man can we ever hope to attain the total God-consciousness. Actually, the crucifixion of the lower self should be a joyous, not a "horrible," process. It is a time of great introspection, of deep learning, of understanding your mistakes, your weaknesses, and avowing to bring out only the purest you can find within yourself, and rising at all times to this highest level. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 40.)
- (1) A probable reference to the Second Death.
Once man has completed going through the "death" cycles of the earth plane, he never goes through another death cycle. (1) When one advances through the various levels of the higher planes, there is an initiation which takes place (2) which allows the soul to shed his "outer layer" (as when he shed the physical body). The heavier matter which makes up your coat for one level is shed for a lighter coat when you move to the next. You shed your old beliefs and lessons and attune to your new body, a little like a snake shedding its skin. (Unnamed spiritual teacher in Betty Bethards, TIND, 17.)
- (1) Some people, like Imperator, maintain there are many deaths; other people that there are none. A lot depends on what they conceive of by the use of the term "death." There are numerous purgations or shedding of unneeded spirit matter, etc. (2) The Second Death.
I feel myself growing out of myself in a certain fashion. (1) My adopted characteristics are becoming too small and cramped to contain my new growth and development, and I will move on most certainly to larger psychological quarters. It is not only the physical body we outlive, but the psychological house we have chosen. First after death we add new rooms and suites to accommodate our greater experience, but it is soon obvious that the entire structure has had its day. We must move out of it completely. (William James, ADJ, 159.)
I do not know when I will finish this composition, but I will suddenly know that I had added my last comments, written my last words as a tenant of my present psychological manse, and will then move into the larger framework of myself which I feel is being constructed. (William James, ADJ, 160.)
- (1) I.e., James feels the Second Death coming on.
Mike continued to look at his father with an affectionate smile on his face: (1) then, suddenly, Jasper was looking at a mature and wonderfully beautiful soul. In a flash he realized that his son's life had been the final link in a long, long series of lives and that it had been Jasper's privilege to have been his father while he was alive.
"At last you can see me as I really am," Mike greeted him. "Now you can see me with the dark glasses removed from your eyes. You are doubly my brother for every human traveler is the brother of his fellow."
The joy that Jasper experienced flooded throughout the whole of his mind.
"But for the time being," continued Mike pleasantly, "I think we'll all feel more at ease if I retain the outward form of Mike!"
Jasper could only nod, inarticulate with happiness at the sight of this golden figure. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 72.)
- (1) It is my hunch that Mike Swain has passed through the Second Death and has returned and manifested to share his revealed or, as so many say, "real" identity with his father.
I see it still makes you self-conscious to see me as I really am. But as I am, so are you!(Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 73.)
Now, if the soul is to pass from the Fourth to the Fifth stage, he must first shake off, cast from him any dogma, any special earthly outlook which has shaped his mentality, which confines it; (1) so that his vision is limited, and his experiences are, therefore, also limited; consciousness of reality being thus withheld from him. (F.W.H. Myers in RTI, n.p.)
- (1) Most likely, this is done in the Second Death and the Fourth Plane is the First heaven; the Fifth Plane, the Second Heaven.
The soul bears with him, however, the fundamental emotional memory, or rather retains contact with it in the first stage on the Fourth plane of life. This plane of color might be more aptly termed "The Breaking of the Image." (1) For on this level of consciousness the soul learns how to control form, learns by myriad experiences the ghostliness of all substance. In the anterior period of his evolution he has been controlled largely by substance. Slowly the graven image is broken, slowly the ego learns so to draw from the higher soul or spirit that he can, at will, break up his form and break from all forms, all appearances about him. (F.W.H. Myers, RTI, n.p.)
- (1) This "breaking of the image" is probably a reference to the Second Death.
Supposing that his review of his previous lives is satisfactory, (1) he will decide to go on to the Fifth Stage, and then the great calm is broken. There arises a tempest wherein he discards his desire for existence in etherealized form, in that plane of color. He discards then a certain part of himself which he will not lose but resume in the greater wholeness of the Sixth stage. (2) (F.W.H. Myers in RTI, n.p.)
- (1) The Judgment.
- (2) If the Fifth Stage is the Second Heaven, I can only surmise that the Sixth Stage is The Third Heaven.
There comes a time when the soul who dwells on the Fourth plane of life prepares for the incident of death. (1) This death does not resemble the death of man. At this particular point in evolution the soul has perfect and absolute control of form, of his appearance, of his eidolon or living ghost. This is the last veil between him and a conception of existence without form. He must free himself before he can go up another rung of the ladder, and freedom can only come through the deliberate process called "The Breaking of the Image." It is the farewell to appearance, to form as a necessity, to color, to feeling as a certainty, as a condition of life.
Again the soul enters into unconsciousness; and when he is born into the Fifth stage he has cast from him certain attributes that were his when he still inhabited the Image; for his soul was, in part, that Shape of Light he has now discarded. (F.W.H. Myers, RTI, n.p.)
- (1) The Second Death.
Later, one goes through another sort of emerging process (1) and acquires further power. I shall not do that till you come. It is a willed and conscious act, not like death on earth. We shall be able to do it together. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 124.)
- (1) The Second Death.
Accounts that Mention Many Deaths
Between each plane there is this lapse into apparent oblivion, a stilling of all processes, a great calm. It is called Hades by the ancients. Here the soul seems to pause. Slowly, however, vision returns, the traveller perceives, imaged upon the glimmering sea of eternity, all his experiences on previous planes; all the past images that make up the story of his life are spread before him. He studies them in the light of his Unifying Principle or spirit. They rouse, according to his nature, his varying desires, intellectual and emotional.
He knows then that he must choose either to go forward or backwards. The spirit actually forces the choice. It has to be made according to the fullness of his experiences in the previous life. He has entire free will, but inevitably he chooses his greatest need. When at the gate of Illusion-land, (1) the Animal-man chooses to drop back into a physical existence. When at the gate of the many-colored world, the Soul-man sometimes chooses to drop back into the first division of this region, which, in its last divisions, is the apotheosis of form. (F.W.H. Myers in RTI, n.p.)
- (1) "Illusion-land" is Myers' term for the Astral Plane.
Is each entry into a new sphere or state marked by a change analogous to death?
Analogous, in that there is a gradual sublimation or refinement of the spirit-body, until by degrees all gross elements are purged away. The higher the sphere the more refined and ethereal the body. The change is not so material as that which you call death, for there is no corporeal envelope to lay aside, but it is analogous to it in that it is a process of development, the entry of the spirit into a higher state of existence. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 156.)
The spirit-body, after leaving the earth-spheres, enters upon a course of purification, in process of which it passes through many changes analogous to death. Even as from the earth-body is eliminated a body more refined than it, but not dissimilar from it: so, from it again when the spirit has advanced sufficiently, is eliminated a more refined body; and so on, till the process of refinement has fitted it to enter the spheres of contemplation.
At each successive stage the spirit accretes to itself a similar body, and throws aside one which has become unsuited to it. Hence each change of state is accompanied by one somewhat analogous to death.
Immediately on its release from the body, the spirit gathers a new body from its new surroundings, and is clothed with a refined substance like to the flesh it has cast off. The spirit is always encased in a body of matter, as you would say; but matter impalpable to your senses, though as perceptible to us as is the grossest material substance to yours. (Doctor [Athenodorus] in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)
Spirits Actually Passing through the Second Death
It is not separation ... but ... a feeling of complete serenity and peace, with no concern for anything, or awareness of people around you. ... You are supported by something that is almost unidentifiable. You have lost your own identity without any concern or anxiety about it. ... It is a true spiritual release, and for a little while you don't really know where you are. .... There is no feeling of distress. It is a kind of oblivion, but a conscious oblivion.
Then you become aware ... of what I can only describe as a harmonic reverberation around you, a beautiful ecstacy. ... You feel this divine, ecstatic, unified power with such indescribable joy that you just don't know what is happening to you. (Trance Talks by Chan, 9-1, in Paul Beard, LO, 130.)
The soul enters into unconsciousnes; and when he is born into the Fifth stage he has cast from him certain attributes that were his when he still inhabited the Image; for his soul was, in part, that Shape of Light he has now discarded. ...
There is this lapse into apparent oblivion, a stilling of all processes, a great calm. ... Here the soul seems to pause. Slowly, however, the vision returns. (Frederic H.W. Myers in Paul Beard, LO, 130.
The change is made from the first heaven, which is in the Desire World, to the second heaven. (1) ... Then the man passes into a great stillness. For the time being everything seems to fade away. He cannot think. No faculty is alive, yet he knows that he is. He has a feeling of standing in "The Great Forever'; of standing utterly alone, yet unafraid; and his soul is filled with a wonderful peace. ... In occult science this is called "The Great Silence.? Then comes the awakening. The spirit is now in its home-world - heaven. (Max Heindel in Paul Beard, LO, 131.)
- (1) Notice Heindel's assertion that the Second Death occurs after the traveler has passed into the First Heaven and precedes entry into the Second Heaven.
That Second Death [is] so marvelous and yet so terrible an experience. For in this life we cling with all our might to - Self. ... Why not, when it seems desirable to enrich that personality with all the treasure we can gather by labour of hand or brain. ... We do not pass naked into the astral, but rather bear with us many an earthly treasure of knowledge, strength and pride of accomplishment.
And then ... crown and climax of all our striving comes utter relinquishment - such is the marvel and miracle of the human soul and spirit.
To relinquish knowledge, power, accomplishment, all that goes to make our personal self of claims and assertions; to relinquish self-pity, self-centredness, the hope of accomplishment for self; to bare oneself, to become nothing; to restore to the Giver of all ... all that one has and is. (Arthur Conan Doyle in Paul Beard, LO, 127.)
- (1) "Arthur Conan Doyle within three years of his leaving the earth - an unusually speedy time - sent this graphic account of how he met the Second Death." (Paul Beard, LO, 127.)
The meetings for materialization were held once a fortnight, and from the number of them I judged that about three months had passed, when I was told by Ahrinziman to prepare myself for a great change which was about to take place in myself and my surroundings, and which would mean my passing into a higher sphere. ...
I was now told that I had so far freed myself from the earth's attractions and overcome my desires for earthly things, that I was able to pass into the second sphere. (1) The passing from the body of a lower sphere into that of a higher one is often, though not invariably, accomplished during a deep sleep which closely resembles the death-sleep of the spirit in leaving the earthly body. As a spirit grows more elevated, more etherealized, this change is accompanied by a greater degree of consciousness, till at last the passing from one high sphere to another is simply like changing one garb for another a little finer, discarding one spiritual envelope for a more ethereal one. Thus the soul passes onward, growing less and less earthly (or material) in its envelopment, till it passes beyond the limits of our earth spheres into those of the solar systems.
It happened, then, that upon my return from one of my visits to the earth, I felt overpowered by a strange unusual sense of drowsiness, which was more like paralysis of the brain than sleep.
I retired to my little room in the Twilight Land, and throwing myself upon my couch, sank at once into a profound dreamless slumber like unto the unconscious sleep of death.
In this state of unconsciousness I lay for about two weeks of earthly time, and during it my soul passed from the disfigured astral body and came forth like a newborn child, clothed in a brighter, purer spiritual envelope, which my efforts at overcoming the evil in myself had created for it. Only I was not born as an infant but as a full grown man, even as my experience and knowledge had been those of a mature spirit.
There are some mortals whose knowledge of life is so limited, whose minds have been so little cultivated, and whose natures are so simple and childlike, that they are born into the spirit world as mere children, however many years of earth life they may have known, but it was not so with me, and in assuming my new condition I also possessed the development in age which my earth life had given me.
In a state of perfect unconsciousness my newborn soul was borne by the attendant spirit friends into the second sphere, where I lay sleeping my dreamless sleep till the time came for my awakening.
The discarded astral envelope I had left was by the power of attendant spirits dissolved into the elements of the earth plane, even as my earthly body left at my first death would decay into the earthly material from which it had been taken,--dust returning unto dust again, while the immortal soul passed on to a higher state.
Thus did I pass through my second death and awake to the resurrection of my higher self. (A. Farnese in WSL, .)
- (1) Perhaps the First Heaven but more probably the Second Heaven.
Progress may be gradual, an expanding, though there comes a time when a deliberate act of transition takes place. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 26.)
You [Philip says to his incarnate mother, Alice] are a projection of you. I am no longer possessed of a 'projection' - I have withdrawn from it. It is as if you were walking in a mirror and yet the mirror image had an independent existence as far as moving about is concerned, and, moreover, when you awake, in your sense, your real self here is almost quiescent, except in brief flashes, as when you 'tune-in' or go half-asleep. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 141.)
There is a most wonderful young man building up, but in a blaze of light - brilliant white light - he is very advanced. (Medium to Alice Gilbert of Philip Gilbert in PTW, 224.)
He is far more advanced than you realized on earth. He is working very hard. (Mrs. Robert, medium, to Alice Gilbert of Philip Gilbert in PTW, 225.)
He will soon realize his identity - his 'Egoic self' - and will continue his mission in which you will help him. For a while yet, he is in the aura of his incarnation, but his gaiety and zest even now have their effect on those he meets. (Unknown Teacher of Philip Gilbert in PTW, 92.)
I am losing my contact with earth life and I don't want you to feel sad about it. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 119.)
I am withdrawing my consciousness from earth conditions. Mentally I am [inseparably] linked with you - that is, in the real life of our aspect of being. But that earthy curiosity about places and people that I knew on earth, which made me spend time just tooling round old haunts, and practicing "skimming" by thought control, a grand way of locomotion - is almost gone. I come to see you often, but I am not, like some here, sitting round watching every detail. (Philip to Alice Gilbert in PTS, 11.)
Steady consciousness of my earth conditions is melting away - this does not mean I have forgotten because I can turn to these memories, deliberately, if I want, like opening an album. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 201.)
I am beginning to find myself - I can do a great deal more than I could at first. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 115.)
Being on earth is like being in a lower form at school. While there, one is very absorbed and thinks it tremendously important. When one moves up, at first one is still interested in one's old form, but soon it seems remote, unless one has a brother there. Then one does one's bit to advise and help him. It is only the dunces who yearn to be back. (Philip Gilbert to his mother, Alice, in PTS, 28.)
I myself am much in the light. It seems to radiate through me so that I glow myself, and so do many others. It's a stage! (Philip to Alice Gilbert in PTS, xxiv.)
I am now realizing myself as the entity I am known as, here, with a really lurid past (1) of adventures and strange knowledge and I do find it rather difficult to feel myself back in the very short flash of life I spent in the 20th century, on earth. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 137.)
- (1) The lively Philip is probably exaggerating here. The expression should not be taken to mean salacious, but probably more unconventional or daring.
I am rather losing my sense of my brief earth-personality and merging into the entity that I have always been - your partner through many lives. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 133.)
I only came to earth for a very short time - I feel now it was very unimportant. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 118.)
I am realizing, in my work here, how much these mental 'sound-tracks' matter. It takes centuries to wear them out. I suppose they must wear out in Eternity, eventually. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 217.)
I am completely 'coming to' here. I am resuming my real personality. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 170.)
You have got me far more intimately now than you had in life. You can indulge freely your knowledge of a true affinity, one who is your other self in deep love. You could not think of me like that when I was in my temporary relation as a son, for you knew you would be wrong, that I had to find another partner of my own age. ... Now you can think of me as yours and waiting for you. There was always that inner flash of oneness between us - it was the reality. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 218.)
My life is now divided into three parts: one spent in the hall of instruction, another in the land of the mists (1) helping to dispel the fog and tumult, and the third in the gardens of rest, where I have a little house and garden of my own. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 60.)
- (1) The immediate near-earth planes.
William [my brother] took me to a Hall of Silence. I had never been there before. Heaven's dome was above me. The silence of the spheres surrounded me. The loneliness of the desert was my only companion. There I seemed to remain a very long time. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 31.)
Strength and consolation came to me within its walls. ... Understanding of many truths dawned within me. (1) ... Although I know nothing, yet have I much to unlearn. This is indeed a paradox. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 31.)
- (1) Private Dowding may be describing a postmortem enlightenment experience or the Second Death (or both). It is not easy to say.
Somewhere within the soul there is silence. Attain unto it. It is a pearl of great price. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 31.)
I am now more myself. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 32.)
The Second Death as a Conscious Stripping Away of the Remnants of the Physical
Then came the moment of decision. I saw I was not of the same texture as Pat and Douglas (1) and asked why, and they explained ruthlessly that I hadn't died yet (2) and was still completely physical! So I must face the second death of virtually pushing off this nice comfortable physical body that was diseaseless and fatigueless and take on the Christ vibration of timeless, spaceless energy. I wasn't at all impressed. I wanted to stay as I was. And so I did for a long time, learning to use my physical body which was not suited to space travel until I became restless and longed to go further.
Had I accepted the weightlessness when in the body I could have acquired this on leaving the old one immediately, instead of going through all this intermediate stuff. Of course many people - oh! - millions, just stay in the ex-physical body until it literally wears out or is reabsorbed into spirit; then there is no alternative but either to reincarnate or go on into the finer vibrations.
I chose the latter, but after soul-searching quests. I did not want to be separated from you and, of course, from Lorna and, if I went into a reincarnating body, that would separate us for a further period. No - you and Lorna were not so far away through the help of your pen and, if you come over, which can't be very long delayed, then we should all be belonging and growing together.
It's the great strength of the group soul within us that forced me into this. You can't think how agonizing it was to push off my old, much loved physical remnant of a body and goodbye for always and ever and become vaporized. That is what it means. I said, "I will do this," and Douglas and Pat, both now high Initiates, were able, with Flo's (3) help, to drag me - the real me - out of all the soft friendly acts and encounters of the physical. It was an experience, I can tell you. Now I'm very glad I've been through it, but at the time it felt like annihilation. This is what I ask you both (4) to avoid by accepting the flow of weightlessness into your mind body. (Sir Alvary Gascoigne in AL, 155.)
- (1) Pat, Cynthia Sandys's daughter and Douglas Gascoigne, Sir Alvary's son.
- (2) The Second Death.
- (3) Florence Nightingale, a distant cousin of Sir Alvary's.
- (4) Cynthia Sandys and Rosamond Lehmann.