145. What is the soul's situation immediately after the death of the body? Is it instantly aware of itself? In other words, what does it see? What does itfeel?
At the moment of death, at first everything is confused. The soul needs some time to get a hold of itself. It is dazed and in the state of someone awakening from a deep sleep, trying to understand his or her situation. As the influence of the matter from which it has just freed itself wears off, and the sort of fog that obscures its thoughts dissipates, the lucidity of ideas and the memory of its past return.
The duration of this state of confusion varies greatly; it may last only a few hours or several days, months or even years. It is shorter for those who during life identified with their future state because they immediately understand their situation; it is longer for those who lived more materialistically.
The sensations that the soul feels at this time also vary greatly. The confusion following death is not at all painful for morally upright persons; it is calm and in every way resembles the sensation that accompanies a peaceful awakening. For those whose conscience is not clean and who are more bound to the corporeal than the spiritual life, it is full of anxiety and distress, which increase as they regain their self-awareness. They are overcome with fear and a sort of dread at what they see, and especially of what they foresee.
The sensation that may be termed physical is one of great relief and immense well-being; the spirit feels relieved of a burden and very happy at no longer feeling the corporeal pain experienced a few moments before; at feeling free, liberated, detached and alert, as if it had been freed from heavy chains.
In its new situation, the soul sees and hears what it saw and heard before death, but it also sees and hears other things that are beyond the coarse bodily organs. It experiences sensations and perceptions unknown to us.
Comment: These responses, as well as all those having to do with the soul's situation after death or during life, are not the result of a theory or system but of direct studies of thousands of individuals observed in every phase and period of their spirit existence, from the lowest to the highest degree of the hierarchy, and according to their habits during their earthly life, the kind of death, etc. When speaking of the spirit life, it is often stated that no one knows what happens there because no one has ever returned from it. That is a mistake because it is precisely those who are there who have come to instruct us, and God is allowing it more nowadays than ever before as a final warning to disbelief and materialism.