Bob Toben’s saying, above, is an excellent way of looking at it. Sometimes science, especially excellent, far-reaching, science-on-the-edge, does see death the same way as the shaman. As the shaman gets to know their way around the worlds through working with their Familiars, Totems and the Spirits they come to find out just how true this saying is. Understanding this means making a real shift of perspective … from that of the personality to that of the spirit.
For most people, the biggest problem with dying and death is the personality for it is this which ceases to exist, along with the physical atoms that make up the body which houses the spirit for the incarnation. But the personality is vital to the whole process, not something we should attempt to suppress or get rid of.
In order to work well and effectively the spirit needs a strong personality for this is its vehicle, the instrument through which it can work in the everyday world. The downside of this is that the strong personality believes, very strongly, in itself and consequently doesn’t want to let go and be dissolved back into its component parts at the end of the incarnation. What often happens is the personality doesn’t really believe the spirit is up to the job of carrying all the life-experience forward for the spirit group and that spirit’s next incarnation, it wants to do the spirit’s job itself. And, of course, this just isn’t possible.
What we each of us have to do – we-the-spirit that is – is to seat our consciousness firmly in the spirit and not in the personality. When we have worked long and hard to create a strong personality for the spirit to work through this can be an uphill job – like Sisiphus rolling that stone uphill and each night it rolls back down again, so Sisiphus feels he’s never actually moving forwards. But it is possible to get over this problem.
The spirit has no fear or illusion about death, it has done it many times and knows the ropes. For the personality the situation is quite different. It is new every lifetime and one lifetime is all it has, it doesn’t continue – as itself – after the body dies. Consequently its investment in its lifetime is huge. The spirit has no such deep investment in its current incarnation other than to successfully complete the job it signed on for this time around.
What happens to the personality at death?
The etheric, astral and mental atoms of the personality continue, individually, and go to make up something or someone else’s personality in due course. And these atoms continue with their background job of being a part of the body of the Earth herself – everything physical that we are, while we incarnate on this planet, is also a part of the Earth.
Matter can neither be created nor destroyed as Einstein rightly said so, in this way, the atoms of the personality do go on forever however, in each individual human lifetime, that job is unconscious for most people. Even for those of us who are awake and aware enough to know about it, that planetary job is not always, or perhaps even often, in the forefront of our consciousness. It’s something we may know about intellectually but not necessarily feel as part of our bones, our innate consciousness. We have to work to make it so and that is the beginning of understanding death.