Death and Dying – part 3

It’s said in the writings of Alice Bailey that there is a technique of dying, just as there is of living. That suggests that there’s a way to go about approaching one’s death that is right and in line with the soul’s purpose.

Robert: Welcome to Inner Sight. We’re going to be talking about death and dying today and we’re doing these shows because one commonality that all of us have is eventual death and some people fear death more than others. In this show we will use the literature of Alice Bailey and discuss some of her basic premises about death and dying, and through her writings, perhaps we can release some of that fear. The following thoughts are by Edgar Allan Poe; “There is nothing to fear about death for death is only the birth of our immortality,” and “The line between life and death is shadowy and vague at best.” The Alice Bailey writings suggest that death would lose its impact in the not-so-distant future. What did she mean by this?

Sarah: It might be related to her prediction that the fact of the soul would be proven by science in the not-too-distant future. The fact of the soul, the undying, immortal self, strikes at the very basis of the fear of death because it affirms that there is continuity of life beyond the physical form, whatever that might be. You mentioned the fear of death and the enormous power that it has, well it’s said in the writings of Alice Bailey, that the fear of death is one of the great abnormalities or distortions of divine truth. That’s an interesting thought, that evil forces of some sort have planted that idea in human consciousness from time immemorial, this fear of death. It’s not just in human consciousness, it’s in all living things, the dread of death. So, if there were a way that death could lose its impact, it would be so liberating. I think we’re getting to that stage because the strangest thing happened when I opened the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago. There on the front page of the style section was an article about the increasing popularity of seances, which is an activity where people sit around a table and someone who is able to contact the spirits of the dead can supposedly summon them forth. Whether or not you believe that it’s interesting that this is coming back into popularity. Maybe it’s related to the enormous popularity of the movie, The Sixth Sense, which appeared last year, where the little boy said, “I see dead people.” These are recognitions perhaps in the public’s consciousness, that death is not the end.

Dale: Yes, I think there’s gradually a breaking down of a wall, a barrier that’s been created largely by fear. Getting back to what you said earlier about the forces of evil that have planted this idea in human consciousness, fear is that big separating wall that separates us from God. We are thrust into this world where everything is separated; we’re in a separate body; in a separate existence, and there isn’t this feeling of continuity around us and that’s what we lack, I think. It’s this separation from our source, which is God, the God of love.

Sarah: And a lack of trust, wouldn’t you say? I mean, to me, the fear of death implies that God doesn’t know what he’s doing. Also, the need to maintain control at all costs, to not release oneself, one’s will to the larger, greater will of God. All of that seems to be contained within that fear.

Dale: Yes, and Alice Bailey said that it was one of the great triumphs of the forces of evil to have planted this idea, this fear, into human consciousness, because that’s what keeps evil alive in the world.

Sarah: I don’t mean to imply to our listeners that we relish the idea of death. I’m sure that many of us, if we were facing a terminal illness, would struggle to live at any cost and in fact that, we’re told in the writings of Alice Bailey, is a deeply human and spiritual urge, the desire to live, and to persist in the human body. That will to live is what furthers evolution and drives people forward in their development. But at the same time, there is a need to put death in its context of the whole. We are all part of a whole and you have only to walk in a forest and see how the death of parts of that forest sustain the life of the greater forest. I can remember years ago walking in Armstrong Woods State Park in Northern California, where the beautiful Redwoods are, and there was a huge Redwood that had fallen on the ground and had died, and all of the life forms that were coming out of that dead Redwood were incredibly fascinating; bugs; plants; new baby redwoods; animals were living within the decaying trunk of the tree. It was a beehive of life and vitality through the sacrifice of that tree.

Robert: What’s interesting about the writings of Alice Bailey too, is that in those writings is the idea that we are all connected. People have such a great respect for science and science today, namely through the branch of science called quantum physics, is finding out that indeed we are connected. Maybe it will take science to convince people of the reality of this connection between all living things. Many of the Native American Indians adopted that philosophy, and according to them, the Great Spirit had taught them that they were all connected. What a sense of security and love that must give them when they feel that connection to everything.

Sarah: I remember hearing once about the American Indians viewing an unusually beautiful day as a good day to die, which gives you a sense of their trust in the processes of life.

Robert: We’ve talked about the death of human beings, but animals and plants also die. I had a cat that I loved very much who passed away, and I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. Are there any similarities between death of human beings and death of animals and plants?

Sarah: Yes, all of them involve the death of a form of some sort. All living things have a cycle of duration, whether we’re talking about a human being; an animal; a plant; or even the minerals of the earth, everything has its cycle. And we see this depicted in the natural world in the four seasons of nature. Right now, we’re going through autumn and the death of the green foliage of summer. It’s absolutely glorious at this time of year! Winter follows it, and that seems to look like death, but it’s only for a cycle and then there’s renewal with spring. In a way that’s kind of hackneyed, but it’s also true that it affirms the continuity of life and the need to have cycles of waxing and waning. It’s not only inevitable, but also necessary as I understand.

Dale: There are differences though, in the death of an animal and the death of a human being. The human being has an individuality, and that’s not the case with an animal. I think in the case of an animal passing out, there is more of a group sense of consciousness that the animal emerges into on the other side, a group soul and of course with the human it’s the individual leaving the body.

Sarah: It’s a matter of free will with the individual who’s evolving. The soul, as I understand it, makes that conscious choice to depart.

Dale: Right, in the case of natural death, where the process is of a natural phasing out, then as I understand, it’s the decision of the soul when that departure will take place. So, there are differences between the animals and human beings.

Sarah: Another difference, of course, is the duration of the cycle, and you mentioned your cat. I’ve always thought that it’s such a good experience for children to have pets because they learn through the loss of their pets that life cycles are not the same for every living thing, and they learn to release a much-loved pet when it’s their time to pass on. Those are hard lessons and I think many of us can remember the loss of pets. I certainly do. And yet they teach us at an early age that life has waxing and waning and a need for release.

Robert: Sometimes we have a death of a whole species which I’d like to have you comment on too.

Sarah: Well, I can only give my own thoughts on this, and it’s a rather controversial matter because we’re living in a time right now when there are many species dying out and quite often it’s due to the intervention of man and his misuse of the natural world, that infringes on the right of other species, animal and vegetable particularly, to live out their natural cycle. But on the other hand, as I understand it, there are deaths of certain species that are part of the natural plan for our world. The obvious one is that of the dinosaurs, but there are other more recent examples too. Perhaps as the world develops and as human and animal evolution occurs, certain forms become outmoded or no longer serviceable. We’re only talking about forms when we’re talking about death, we’re not talking about the indwelling life.

Dale: Yes, that’s the whole key I think, and that’s one of the messages that we see in the processes of nature, where nature is constantly striving for some kind of perfection. If there were no death then that perfection would never be reached. Each time the cycle comes around there is a new form and it’s more efficient and more illustrative of the great beauty of God at work in the world.

Sarah: Speaking about the vanishing of species, right now there’s something going on in the Shenandoah Valley and North Carolina area. The chestnut trees are suffering from a disease that’s wiping out thousands of these beautiful trees, and many of us would remember some years ago, when so many of the beautiful Elm trees vanished from the eastern Woodlands. It’s heartbreaking and yet you wonder, if disease can take place in the vegetable and animal kingdoms, there’s something working out that we can’t really comprehend, but maybe it’s ultimately for the greater good. Dale mentioned the need for nature to achieve perfection, and we’re reminded of the statement in the writings of Alice Bailey that from the very beginning of time, death has always been present upon our planet and forms have come and gone. Plants; trees; animals; human beings; all have died for eons, yet our planet is not a burial ground as it might well be in the face of this fact, but rather a thing of beauty and unspoilt even by man. That’s reassuring, isn’t it, that death does not diminish the quality or beauty of the world?

Robert: Yes, and I think we need that reassurance. We need to eliminate that fear, and that’s what we’re attempting to do today through the writings of Alice Bailey. Psychiatry is saying that many of our addictions and self-defeating behavior really emanates from our fear of death, that it is a root cause, even if subconscious, so it’s certainly worthwhile to attempt to eliminate that fear. I have another question regarding the experimentations of nature; if every seven years we have totally new cells in our body, is this accompanied by a change in one’s personality?

Sarah: I would say it depends on the choice and the free will of the individual. Some people spend a lifetime in a kind of static or status quo mode of no real growth beyond a certain point, and other people are constantly rejuvenating themselves. I remember some years ago listening to a television program about the very old, people who have reached one hundred or more, and the comment of one very old lady really stuck in my mind. She was one hundred and two and she said, “every day I try to be a better person.” That’s someone who is replenishing her spirit growing out of the husk of the former self and becoming renewed through her own attitudes and that’s what the Bible tells us to do. Paul said, “be therefore transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It all starts in the mind; we are what we think.

Dale: It gets back again to what we were saying earlier about cycles, because every seven years we have totally new formation of the cells in our bodies, so even at the cellular level, these cycles are going on. We’re not aware of them, but they’re there and they’re constantly changing our appearance.

Sarah: Isn’t that a wonderful thought? We get a new body every seven years, I like that! But it seems to follow the basic scaffolding of the old body. (laughter)

Robert: In an unusual way, it’s a comforting thought too, that the life and death cycle is very natural and is constantly going on, even within our own body as we continue to age.

Sarah: And we can extrapolate that to the level of the soul. Every seventy, eighty or ninety years the soul releases its body, its physical vehicle, and yet it continues. On the level of the soul there is no real defeat or great loss, it simply changes its cells. When we think of this and contrast it with our attachment to earthly life, our natural desire to live, and to persist, it’s a much different matter. For the soul, the release of the form is easy.

Robert: A lot of times people think of reincarnation as going into another lifetime, but they don’t really consider the idea that it might be many lifetimes. What would be the purpose behind the idea of a sequence of lives?

Dale: I think it comes down to the word perfection and it’s in the Bible, in the words of Christ, when he said, “be ye perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.” So even in the mind of Christ this striving for perfection seems to be the driving force behind the work of the soul, the Christ principle in the world and in each human being. Now having said that, there are those among us who are perfectionists, and they probably feel this drive a little stronger than other people who are not, but nevertheless it’s still there.

Sarah: If you apply that to the larger picture of what humanity is going through in its struggle for perfection, there is a great deal of disruption and destruction going on in the world at the present time, meaning the last few 100 years. There have been terrible worldwide wars and great violent acts of nature; earthquakes; volcanoes; storms; that many people think are a sign that the world is becoming a more death ridden place. But in fact, you could look at it as a struggle for renewal and for a new level of life that the whole planet is engaged in. Ultimately it will lead to something better.

Robert: As far as the sequence of life, what I’m learning from both of you, which actually comes from the Alice Bailey books, is the idea that perhaps the higher self wants to experience many, many realities on its road of growth to perfection, and it’s only through walking in the shoes of many different life forms, having different experiences that we can really perfect ourselves and understand all aspects of reality. I’ve got one more question for you, is there a connection between a life of good will and a good death.

Sarah: I think so, because it’s said in the writings of Alice Bailey that there is a technique of dying, just as there is of living. That suggests that there’s a way to go about approaching one’s death that is right and in line with the soul’s purpose. One can choose to prepare for that death by putting things right in one’s own personal affairs and relationships, preparing for the release of the physical vehicle. All of that can leave a memory of the individual that is full of goodwill in those who knew that person because their life was good and their release of life was done with trust in God and preparation for all who loved the person.

Robert: And also, I would say that just looking at the life of Alice Bailey, thinking of all of the work that she put into her books trying to write things in such a way that we can eliminate our fear of death, that in itself is an act of good will. Sarah, do you and Dale have anything else to say before we close?

Sarah: Well, what you just said brought to mind the fact that a review of one’s life is important because not only do we review the day, but we can also review our life and come to terms with it. Perhaps in another program we can talk about that a bit more.

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




Quote of the Month

“Students of the writings of Alice Bailey know that the year 2025 is anticipated to be of vital spiritual significance….” Read more….

Latest Posts

Social Media



Inner Sight

Spiritual Festivals

The Light of the Renaissance