This is the last of four essays under the above title. The first one asked, “Who’s counting the sacraments?” In the second essay, I talked about “The Sacraments of Birth and Before.” Number three dealt with “The Sacraments of the Breathing Body.” And this fourth one will examine “The Sacraments of Death and Thereafter.”
The Sacraments of Death and Thereafter
Your earth mission has drawn to a close, but the sacraments of your evolution continue. What are the way stations and celebrations at this stage of the journey? In order to provide continuity among the four essays on this topic, I will number these beginning at number twenty-two.
- Sacrament number twenty-two
This is the sacrament of physical death. It’s a hugely, important sacrament. And it’s especially poignant for me today as I “celebrate” with my dearest friend, Arlen Brownstein, who lost her 97-year-old mother Saturday last week on the 21st of October and this morning lost her father at age 100. There comes a time, for each of us when we shuffle off this mortal coil and take a last breath – give back the Spirit. Isaac Brownstein took his final breath at 2:30 this morning, witnessed by his daughter, Arlen. That was his transition. That’s the first sacrament on the next stage of his journey.
- Sacrament number twenty-three
However, I believe that the etheric body – the energy template of which the physical body was a carbon copy or a printout – remains around, for several days. You know, if you’ve ever had out-of-body experiences yourself, that when you inhabit a different level of consciousness, you can actually see your physical body lying on the bed, but you somehow are floating on the ceiling or elsewhere. And you further realize that the part of you that is floating is a look alike. It’s very, very similar to the one that’s actually lying in the bed. Not exactly a doppelganger, but similar. And the danger is that people can get stuck at that stage; they don’t realize that they can’t re-join the physical body that’s on the bed. They’re still identifying with this kind of etheric body. And so there comes the second sacrament of this stage whereby you let go of the etheric body – realizing that that was just a template.
- Sacrament number twenty-four
And then, you experience yourself in your astral form. The astral body, according to Hinduism, is the place in which all of the experiences of the physical incarnation just ended are archived for future reference. So that when you come back in your next incarnation, all of those experiences, all that growing, is available to you. It gets hard-wired into your psyche. You don’t have to remember the details of it; it’s embedded in the core of the next iteration of yourself. And so, the astral body is the library of all those experiences. But you have to die from that as well. That’s the third sacrament on the other side. You have to realize, “Yes, that was the learning, those were the experiences, that is the archive of the incarnation just ended, but that is not who I am either. I am not just my astral body.”
25. Sacrament number twenty-five
Now you are invited into another sacrament. This one is the re-identification with the Soul. You now realize fully, “Ah! I thought I was a physical body for seventy-one years and three weeks; and then for three days I thought I was the etheric body; and then for forty-nine more days I thought I was the astral body; but now I realize that I am not. This is who I truly am – I am a Soul.”
26. Sacrament number twenty-six
The second to last would be the re-unification with the soul group. Now comes lots of cheering. It’s like you walk into the afterlife and everyone starts singing “Happy Birthday to you!” You realize they planned a surprise party for you; that all of those who got back before you have been waiting anxiously for your return. And, now the entire soul pod is re-united. And there’s hijinks, absolute hijinks! And you begin comparing notes. “What was it like for you in this lifetime?” “What do you think you learned?” “When you go back down, what task are you going to set yourself now?” “What kind of a drama should we plan the next time?” “Will it be in a totally different culture?” “Will we change genders?” “What will be the plot, so that we learn whatever it is we want to learn the next time?”
- Sacrament number twenty-seven
And, then, of course, the very last one again hinges on Spirit. At some stage God folds up the game of Lila. Having culled all of these billions of experiences, through the self-fractured, holograms of Herself that She created as souls, we are like bees coming back with their pollen and their stories to the hive at the end of the harvesting day, where we are united; and, once more, there is only God. The sense of separate self dissolves completely and, as was true before there was a beginning, there is only God once more.
In this entire trajectory, the sense of separate self is like the center of gravity of the identity. But this center has to move constantly. If it gets stuck, we are in trouble. And it can get stuck at any stage. It can get stuck during the incarnational phase, and it can get stuck in the post-incarnational phase. We can get stuck in life and never grow up, become the puer aeternus, the kind of Peter Pan that doesn’t want any responsibility. Or, we can get stuck thinking we are our bodies; or we can get fixated on the idea that we are our thoughts; or we can get fixated on a particular relationship we’re in, or a particular job we do. The center of gravity of the Self has to keep moving and moving and moving. Even after the physical death, it can still get stuck. I can still think I am the etheric body or I can still think that I am the astral body. We have to learn to keep the center of gravity moving.
And so, if there is one navigating tool, one orienting principle that I think can guide that entire process, in order for the center of gravity to keep moving from God’s womb, where it started, to God’s heart, where it finishes, it’s to be able to say with Jesus, “The Father and I are one.”