At Death

At Death

I’ve written several times on the subject of death. What Yagyavalkya had to say on the subject, what happens with death after awakening, on the continuation of life, and so forth.

The death process itself has been described various ways and again, there can be individual variations in the process. But these are mostly subjective. Someone dying in a coma, or unexpectedly, or very consciously will each experience it differently.

Descriptions tend to emphasize certain aspects. For example, I noted a recent mention that after death, the air element is dominant. The energy is withdrawn up to the heart (air element) and out of earth, water and fire aka the lower chakras aka out of the physical, emotional and lower mind – our specific individuality.

I described some of the subjective experiences of the process here. The lower aspects begin to dissolve but the deeper impressions and karma are carried forward.

There is typically a few days or weeks transition period, then a moving on to a new role. If someone is very attached, they may take more time to move on or may refer back to loved ones a lot. I imagine this depends on the role they next have. Some transitions come with a forgetting and they cease their connection to prior relationships. There are lots of variables.

My father, for example, showed up occasionally over some years and then took a new human birth and ceased to be accessible.

Last Updated on June 16, 2016 by

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


  1. zen pig

    the Navaho, or Dine, do not say the dead persons name, so as not to attract that part of the person, (the ego), that separates at death. they say, that there is this “dark part of us”, or the ego selfish part that separates at death, i think they call it the ch’iidii (CHEE dee- or something like that). and it stays on earth for a bit. it will naturally dissolve, given time, but if we attract it, it could attach to another person or family member and cause problems. according to the Dine, our “real self” or our essence is already at peace the second we die, and some people have a very small ch’iidii and others have a very large ch’iidii, (i call it our Donald Trump) haaaaaaaaaa!

  2. Hi ZP
    Yes there are various traditions that spring out of some persons experience at some point in history.

    There are certain lower energies left behind that dissipate over time (much as the physical body but faster) but I’ve not found they go anywhere specific or are attracted by saying the persons name.

    However, if a person passes with a lot if unresolved upset, they may hang around and “haunt” relatives. It may also be considered good practice for the living not to try to hold on to the departed, lest they feel obliged to stick around and not let go.

    I have seen a bit of the first. In one case, they hung around a friend for 3 days non-stop wanting to get a message to people she didn’t know that where thousands of miles away. In another case when their deceased father came around, that part of the room would get very cold.

    What remains may be at peace immediately, released of the burden of the body but it depends on the person. Some may regret unfinished business or find the transition rather unexpected (like if they don’t believe in these things) and take a short time to adjust.

    But yeah some people have a lot more “weight” and the impressions of that weight do not dissipate but rather are carried forward into our later lives. Better we clean up now.

  3. gayanee

    Hi David, if one is awakened and aware of unity but is not in the direct experience of it (as in intellectually aware of the creation to be leela instead of maya) and drops the body, would this being finish the process in subtle bodies or most likely take another birth according to karma?
    When your father took another human birth, why was he not accessible anymore? is that because the forgetting was involved with his transition? Will he recover these memories and connections later on if necessary? lots of questions here today 🙂
    Thanks for the new articles! Enjoying reading them.

    1. Hi Gayanee
      First – a note about lila vs maya. That is relative to the dominant guna rather than the stage in consciousness. I talk more about that here:

      If the awakening is well established, the karmic drivers will have wound down. Someone would not come back based on unresolved karma. But someone awake but not fully established might find it valuable to return again.

      The direction they take would be what best suited the circumstances.

      A friend of mine had her unity shift on her death bed. Someone else may finish the process in the subtle, although that would be a somewhat different experience because it’s not in human form. And I’ve seen stories of people taking a birth simply to finish the process. This would be a rather exceptional being though.

      And yes, most of us forget our past when we come into this lifetime or soon after. Human school is rather immersive. I don’t expect my former father to remember until his current lifetime is complete. It’s possible but I don’t see what that would serve. His family in his old life have not been on his “stage” for almost 60 human years.

      You’re welcome. I have several more articles almost done that I hope to post today. They tend to collect and get completed in waves these days.

  4. gayanee

    I just finished reading the gunas article and it’s more clear now. My first shift definitely happened when rajas were dominant and about 8 – 9 years later another shift happened where the creation was seen not as an illusion. it’s not abiding here yet though. Do the dominant gunas change as life cycles change? Or the dominant guna is always effected by lifestyle and habits?

    I wonder about beings like Ramana and Anandamayi ma. Feels like they were already self realized coming into the lives we know them Ramana and Anandamyi.

    1. Hi Gayanee

      Well – it’s not so much that the dominant guna changes very often but the mix of gunas that are active in our experience at a given time shift around. More fatigue is more tamas. Spicy food is more rajas. And so forth. But these are more surface. They contribute but are not the whole story. We’re layered beings.

      The subjective experience is affected by lifestyle and habits but you don’t want to stress over that as that shifts gunas on a deeper level.

      The “dominant guna” I refer to is more fundamental. We can certainly have a guna shift that is then followed by a bunch of purification that kicks up the dust, obscuring progress subjectively.

      As is typical of human development, it’s much easier to see the pattern in retrospect.

  5. Lynette

    David, I recently lost my cat. Do they experience same thing at death as humans? Do animals have a soul or Self? Will the cat be reborn as something else including human?

    1. Hi Lynette
      Yes, every living thing has a soul. That expresses to the degree it can, based on the evolution of the soul and the current vehicle it’s experiencing through.
      I’ve not followed a cat through death but did assist a dog and the process was broadly similar.
      There are several trajectories a soul can take and each soul takes the body that best suits its next step, based on availability.
      You’ll see cats that are dumb as a post, simply walking though life by instinct. And you’ll meet cats that are very present and intelligent. Same as with people. 🙂
      There is a story of a cow attending a sages lectures, listening through a window and becoming enlightened. Clearly not an ordinary cow.
      Your cat will take another life. Sometimes, they spend some time in a subtle body first – depending on what they need to heal or grow and what circumstances are available.
      Just as it is very beneficial for a human to take birth in a family of yogis, so too for a pet.
      You may find points in this article useful too. The principles are the same. Thank them for their time with you and wish them well.

Leave a Reply to Davidya Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Pin It on Pinterest