154. Is the separation of the soul from the body painful?
“No, the body often suffers more during life than at death because the soul is usually unaware of what is occurring to the body at death.
At the time of death, the spirit often enjoys what it is feeling, because it recognizes that it is at the end of its exile.” In natural death, which is the aftereffect of exhaustion of the body due to age, human beings depart this life without even realizing that they are doing so. Like the fame of a lamp that dwindles and eventually goes out when it lacks a source of power.
155. How does the separation of the soul from the body take place?
“As the bonds restraining the soul are broken, it separates from the body.”
a) Is this separation sudden? Is there a distinct line between life and death?
“No, it is not like a bird whose cage is suddenly opened allowing it to escape at once. The soul gradually separates from the body. The two states are blurred together and the spirit extracts itself little by little from its bonds, which are loosened but not broken.”
During life, a spirit is connected to the body by its semi-material envelope, or perispirit. Death is the destruction of the body, but not of this envelope, which separates from the body when organic life ends. Observation has shown us that the separation of the perispirit from the body at death is gradual, rather than abrupt, and this speed may vary depending on different individuals. In some cases, it is so quick that the perispirit completely separates from the body within a few hours after passing, while in others, particularly for those whose life has been exceedingly material and sensual, this release is much slower, and can take days, weeks, and even months. This does not imply the persistence of vitality in the body or any possibility of restoring life, but is simply the result of a hold between the body and the spirit proportionate to how consumed the spirit was with materiality during its human life. It is only rational to assume that if a spirit has closely identifed with matter, it will be more diffcult for it to separate from its material body. In contrast, intellectual and moral elevation of thought initiates this division even during the life of the body.
Consequently, when death ultimately arrives, the separation is almost immediate. Studies of individuals after their death have shown that sometimes, the connection that remains between the soul and the body is extremely painful, as the spirit is fully cognizant of all the horrors of decomposition. This is an exceptional case, and unique to certain kinds of life and certain kinds of death. It can happen in the event of suicide.
156. Can the defnitive separation of the soul and body take place before the complete termination of organic life?
“When experiencing extreme agony, the soul sometimes leaves the body so that all that remains is purely organic life. The person is no longer conscious of him or herself, despite the faint ficker of vitality remaining. The body is a machine that is regulated by the heart. As long as the heart pumps blood through its veins it continues to live. A soul is not needed for this.”
157. At the moment of death, does the soul sometimes experience a kind of bliss that gives it a glimpse of the world to which it is about to return to?
“The soul often feels the slackening of the restraints holding it to the body, and struggles to fully break them. Partially freed from matter, it views the future laid out before it, and enjoys the anticipation of the spirit state.”
158. A caterpillar begins its existence by crawling on the ground, and then spins itself into a cocoon into an apparent death, only to be reborn as a brilliant butterfy. Can we correlate our human life, death, and life after death to this transformation?
“Yes, on a very small scale. The image may be good, but it should not be accepted literally, which human beings are prone to do.”
159. How does the soul feel when it realizes that it is in the spirit world?
“That depends. People who have done wrong for the sake of doing wrong feel overwhelmed by shame for their behavior. The soul of a righteous individual is at ease, as if a heavy weight has been lifted and does not dread even the most penetrating evaluation.”
160. Are spirits immediately surrounded by people who they knew on Earth and died before them?
“Yes, according to the degree of affection they had for them and vice versa. They often come to them upon their return to the spirit world and help them shed material ties. Others whom they formerly knew, but may have lost contact with on Earth, come to meet them as well. They see all who are wandering, and visit those who are still incarnated.”
161. In the event of violent or accidental death, when the organs have not been deteriorated by age or disease, does the separation of the soul and the end of organic life occur at the same time? “Usually and, at any rate, the interval between them in such cases is very brief.”
162. After decapitation, does a person retain any form of consciousness?
“They frequently do for a few minutes, until the organic life of the body is completely dead. The fear of death often causes people to lose consciousness before their demise.”
This question simply refers to the awareness that victims may have of themselves as a person, and not as a spirit. If they have not lost this awareness before death, they may retain it for a few moments afterwards, but only for a very short period of time, which must cease with the end of the brain’s organic life. The termination of human consciousness by no means implies the clean separation of the perispirit from the body. On the contrary, when death has resulted from violence and not the gradual extinction of life, the bonds tying the body to the perispirit are tighter, and the release is completed more slowly.