Our existence in the world of Space-Time is a short tour of our life and the death is just a moment of it. In this world everyone has a finite living time. One has to pass through three stages during this life, 1) childhood, 2) young age and 3) old age. The old age is last leg of our life on earth, after which there is a moment of transition - the person then enters into the world hereafter. It is the spirit or soul of the person, which leaves its earthly home at space-time. The spirit or the soul is the essence of a person that enters into another world – the so called astral plane. The route of our happiness lies in our understanding of the continuity of life. We must be prepared to meet the promised day of death just as one makes preparation when going out on a tour. Our hand baggage for the journey to eternal world must contain our good deeds and love with other human beings. In this way you prepare your Heaven while on earth and will carry the same with you to the world hereafter. For wrong doers it is otherwise i.e. you prepare your Hell here and carry it with you to the other world.
Man has a very limited time at his disposal in this world, during which he is given time and liberty to choose his way. During the given time at this planet he can choose to earn money and live a luxurious life forgetting about his death. People of this group are worthless for the society. They pass their lives on earth only for themselves - their living and death are just like those of animals. They believe that the life ‘is once’ and therefore every moment of it must be enjoyed. Unconsciously they are afraid of death and avoid even to think of it, keep themselves occupied in seeking pleasure moments one after another for which there is no limit till the death calls on them. There is another group of people, who is God fearing. These people are in majority within every society. They make the best use of their lifetime on earth by their existence among the society as a useful ingredient. They help others and take care of those who are in need. They are the people who have faith in the world hereafter. They acquire pleasure in having a belief to the continuity of life; hence they are never afraid to face the death.
Confucius (551 – 479 B.C.) said that ‘When I do not know what is life, how could I knew anything about death’. During prehistoric period the death was not considered compulsory but the people believed that man was immortal. To them the death was taken as an act of some unseen ill power causing death due to one reason or the other. In the Old Testament it was said that man was made immortal but due to his disobeying God and going to the prohibited tree he was punished by putting death in his nature. But today the death is universally considered as indispensable reality. Despite the fact that the death is indispensable the mind of man is never found ready to accept that he has to die one day. In fact he avoids thinking of his own death even if he had accompanied a funeral of his relative or friend. He is afraid of death and unconsciously suppresses the idea of his own death.
“New Views of Death” is one of the headlines of the book ‘Life After life’, by Raymond Moody. In that he says that those who had not previously expected that anything took place after death the NDE experience has caused deep effect and their attitude has altogether changed towards physical death. Nearly every such person said to him that ‘he is no longer afraid of death’. The last moment of death is like the first ray of morning sun. The moments of death are timeless which will pass like a flash of lightning in the clouds.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, the poet philosopher, who is well known in the East and the West, has written many verses on the subject of death scattered in his various books of Urdu and Persian poetry. Let us see what he says about death. In his two beautiful poems of “Bang-e Dara” namely ‘khuftgan-i Khak sey istifsar’ (Questions to those sleeping in the dust) and Walda marhooma ki yaad men (In the Memory of his mother). Following are a couple of verses from these two poems together their English translation.
1. Tum Batado raz jo is gumbad-i gardan men hai - Maut ek chubhta hua kanta dil-i insan men hai.
Translation: Addressing the sleeping persons in the graveyard Iqbal asks them to tell him what is the secret under the heavens which is called death; I just know that the death is a prickling thorn in the human breast.
2. Maut tajdeed-i mazaq-i zindgi ka nam hai – khwab kay pardey men bedari ka ek paigham hai.
Translation: The death is the change of taste in the life; it is the message of awakening after a sleep.
3. Maut ko samjhey hain ghafil ikhtitam-i zindgi, Hai ye sham-i zindgi subh-i dawam-i zindgi.
Translation:-- The imprudent ones consider death as the end of life, but death is the evening of temporal life that followed the morning of eternal life.
In the first couplet Iqbal is standing in a graveyard and questioning from the inhabitants of that place, the graveyard, saying that since you know better the secret under the heavens, tell me also something about death, which is a prickling thorn in the heart of everyone. The second couplet says that death is just a moment of change. It is just like awakening after a short sleep. In the third couplet Iqbal says that only non-believers think that the death brings an end to the life. As a matter of fact death is like an evening in this world. Just as every evening follows a bright morning, similarly death is the evening in this world and it follows a bright morning of eternity in the world hereafter.
3) Life hereafter.
For over the past century psychical researchers are attempting seriously to find out the possibility of man’s survival or resurrection after death. As we have seen earlier the idea of a life hereafter is inbuilt in the psyche of humans. The belief in other world is so widely admitted in all the ages and among all the religions of the world that we cannot possibly ignore it. In spite of the fact that we cannot prove it scientifically, mathematically or through some sort of test in a laboratory the continuity of life remains as a truth. Our material mind is unable to grasp this truth by way of any method applicable in the material world. ‘The world hereafter’ lies beyond the reach of a material human mind. Our existence in the world of Space-time is a short tour of our life which followed the death being a transit and timeless moment between the life at this planet and the realm hereafter. In the foregoing we have briefly studied the three phases of life, the physical life in this world, the death being a passing moment of life and the world beyond. These three phases of life are closely connected with each other. They are three in one, to which we call “Life”. This four letter word covers the physical world and also a vast unseen metaphysical world called ‘hereafter’. The soul of man is part of the Soul of God, which has no beginning and no end; hence when the Whole has no end the part also becomes immortal. Man is a combination of body and soul. The body perishes after departure of the soul. But since the soul is a part from the Real, which is eternal, therefore it does not perish with the body. The last leg of journey of the soul is therefore a place to which we call as hereafter or eternity. Eternity is boundless and timeless. We cannot possibly define eternity in words. According to Mathematicians any truth not proven mathematically cannot be accepted as a truth, but mathematical equations are the product of man’s mind and the Truth is something else. We know that two and two were four yesterday, they are four today and will be four tomorrow. There is no need of any mathematical equation to prove this truth. Similarly eternity is a truth, the eternal life is a truth and life hereafter is a truth. There is no need of any mathematical equation to prove this.
As mentioned earlier eternal life has to be earned by doing good deeds in this world. Thr philosopher Mc Taggart in his “Nature of Existence – page 372” writes: “An existent being was to be called immortal if it was a self which has an endless existence in future time.” Iqbal elaborates Self and the existent person that his/her immortality is just like a pearl in the ocean. Following is the full text of his view:
“I have conceived the Ultimate Reality as an Ego; and I must add now that from the Ultimate Ego only egos proceed. The creative energy of the Ultimate Ego, in whom deed and thought are identical, functions as ego-unities. The world, in all its detail, from the mechanical movement of what we call the atom of matter to the free movement of thought in the human ego, is the self-revelation of the ‘Great I am’.26 Every atom of Divine energy, however low in the scale of existence, is an ego. But there are degrees in the expression of egohood. Throughout the entire gamut of being runs the gradually rising note of egohood until it reaches its perfection in man. That is why the Qur’an declares the Ultimate Ego to be nearer to man than his own neck-vein. Like pearls do we live and move and have our being in the perpetual flow of Divine life.”
Reincarnation in the doctrine of the belief in Karma is the origin of the East but now quite a number of youngsters in the West also believe in reincarnation of man after death. About the law of Karma there are different views of different people according to their religious and social background. Some believe that our soul after leaving its earthly body is reborn in a new human body, which is quite different from the old body. To them this process continues for ever. But there is a good number of those who believe that during the tenure of every new life one learns lessons through which his/her knowledge improves and the person becomes better and better in his deeds and behaviour towards his fellow beings till the stage comes when he gets rid of the circle of rebirth and finally died in peace.
I remember to have seen a programme on one of the channels of TV in which a lady was hypnotised and made to utter whatever hypnotherapist signalled her in words asking if she could see such and such thing; in this way she started seeing and confronting whatever the hypnotherapist wanted, sometime she was frightened and cried trying to express and utter the happening going on with her. The mind of the lady was under total grip by the person’s mind that was treating her. At present such type of hypo therapy has become lucrative business for some people who are earning lot of money and passing luxurious life by fooling people.
Life hereafter is a universal truth. The belief in the other world is built in unconscious psyche of every human being. All religions of the world are based on two truths, the existence of one God and a life in the world hereafter. By nature every person is inclined to do some good work or assist the other human being in one way or another. The fact is inbuilt in the unconscious of everyone that for every good deed we are going to be rewarded in the afterlife. We have already stated earlier that all the known religions including Islam and Christianity believe and preach that there is a life hereafter, there is going to be a last day of judgement and that man after resurrection on that day is going to have eternal abode.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher, has said: “Maut ik chubhta hua kanta dil-i insan men hai” (The death is a sharp prickling thorn in the heart of human being). More than two thousand years after Confucius the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard observed that ‘death is briefest summary of life, or life traced back to its briefest form’. The question of death remained as top priority in philosophical thinking of Greeks during fourth and fifth centuries B.C. Even during first and second centuries B.C. the question remained unsolved in the mind of man. But after the birth of Christianity the importance of the question of death diminished; the religion had solved this riddle to a great extent. Later Islam dealt with the question of death and the life after death in logical way removing all the possible doubts and confusion in human mind. Another unanimous finding of great thinkers of the world is that the death is the most important part in the life of human being.
The life of soul is unlimited and the death does not touch the soul or spirit of a person, as said by Iqbal: “Farishta maut ka choota hai go badan tera; Teray wujood kay markaz say door rahta hai” (Translation: The angel of death simply touches your body; It remains away from the centre of your person). The death brings a rejoicing moment to the dying person’s soul. The veil between the physical world of space-time and the world hereafter is removed at the time of death. Sometime the dying person sees his next abode in front of him. Experiments reveal that in most cases the dying person sees those beloved ones who passed away long time ago. Socrates tells us his views about death in a part of his dialogues entitled “Apology”, wherein he says that ‘death is one of two things. Either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose there is no consciousness but a sleep of him who is undisturbed even by dreams, death is unspeakable gain… Now if death be of such a nature, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only for a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead abide, what good, O! my friends and judges, what can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgement there, Medos and Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus … what would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musacus and Hesiod and Homer? Nay if this be true, let me die again and again.
In fact death is an extremely beautiful moment of life. Even Socrates has taken death in a pleasant mood. All the existentialist philosophers have hailed the role of death in the life of a person including Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism. I would say that death is an essential ingredient in the philosophy of existentialism. Our life does not end with the death of our body but it is death that opens the door to a larger world hereafter, where we enter after a short tour of our earthly life. The life in that world is eternal and wonderful, where there is no fear of death. All the religions of the world advocate an eternal life of the soul after man’s bodily death. Mary T. Brown, a prominent researcher and psychiatrist in this field says, ‘when you sleep you wake up on this side, when you die you wake up on the other side’. We will study her views in these pages later on In a beautiful couplet Dr. Allama Iqbal says, Maut tajdeed-i mazaq-i zindgi ka nam hai, khwab kay parday men bedari ka ik pegham hai (Translation: Death is the renewal of life; it is a message of awakening behind the veil of sleep).
Near Death Experience (NDE)
Sociologists have examined near death situation of dying persons in different age groups of poor, middle class and rich people belonging to different societies. They have experienced that, with negligible exception, everyone comes across three phases in immediate moment before death. They are as following:
2. Panoramic view of life
The Four Socrates Dialogues of Plato (translated by Benjamin Lovett, Oxford 1903, reprinted 1949, p.90-91