What Happens When We Die?
Where do we go immediately after death? What happens to our mind, our spirit and our soul when we die? Do we fly up into an eternal heaven, or fall into an eternal hell? Do we reincarnate in this world as other people, or even animals, plants or rocks? Do we keep living the life we led over and over again? Do we simply disappear into nothingness?
Different teachings offer different answers to these questions. Science details how the body decomposes when we die. In general, the discussion around this topic falls into two main categories:
- People who have had near-death experiences and lived to describe what they saw and felt;
- Religious beliefs, philosophies and other theories offering concepts about the afterlife, reincarnation and consciousness.
This article is dedicated to investigating the question — “What happens when you die?” — from the perspective of the wisdom of Kabbalah, which offers a fundamentally different approach to the current discussion. We will look into Kabbalah’s take on:
- What is common to all near-death experiences and what we can learn from them?
- What is the soul? Do we have a soul, or do we get one when we die, or can we can attain one during our lifetime?
- What happens to our corporeal existence when we die?
What Can We Learn from Near-Death Experiences?
People who have survived clinical death have reported a range of feelings, such as a sleep-like nothingness, a peaceful floating sensation in the sky or in a tranquil scenery like a garden, a bright light or a tunnel heading toward a bright light, seeing and speaking with loved ones who had passed away, as well as out-of-body experiences where they could see what was happening in the room where they were pronounced clinically dead.
What do all these sensations have in common?
They are all sensations of freedom from the corporeal body. In near-death experiences, the corporeal body is no longer a disturbance. People feel as if they belong to something other than what they identified as their body. The mind continues working and processing corporeal information, albeit differently.
Near-death experiences express a boundary between our corporeal life and its death. It is a boundary where we end our contact with information we received through our body, mind and corporeal senses.
In such states, our desire diminishes, and its disappearance equates to the person’s disappearance. In other words, the feeling of life we experience in our individual desires (food, sex, family) and social desires (money, honor, control, knowledge) fully vanishes and we agree with its withdrawal, ceasing to receive, feel, live and enjoy.
The sensation of freedom from the corporeal body marks a shift to a new state. This new state, however, is still not death, neither is it spirituality nor eternity.
According to Kabbalah, it is purely psychological. Whatever we feel in such states is limited and miniscule compared to the sensations of eternity and wholeness, which Kabbalah states we can attain a lot more vividly while we’re still alive in this world.
How? It is by attaining our soul.
What Is the Soul? Does It Belong to Our Body? Does the Body’s Death Mark the Soul’s Birth, or Can We Attain Our Soul While We’re Alive?
According to Kabbalah, the soul is not something we enter after our body’s death. Instead, it is something we need to attain a clear perception and sensation of while we’re alive. If we don’t attain our soul while we’re alive, then it’s considered that we don’t have one.
The soul is a desire above our egoistic, corporeal desires. That is, above our desires for food, sex, family, money, honor, control and knowledge, there is a small desire that asks about the meaning and purpose behind everything we experience: the meaning of life. This desire is a small point, called “the point in the heart” in Kabbalah, which we have an opportunity to develop. The full development of this point is considered the attainment of the soul.
Attaining the soul is like feeling an additional life to our current one, a life that was hidden from us. When we attain contact with the soul, it becomes the center of our life. We reevaluate our current life and start relating to it on a completely different level. Death of the physical body then becomes like changing one’s shirt. In other words, when our physical body dies, we continue reincarnating in a new body until the full extent of the soul is attained, called in Kabbalah, “125 degrees of spiritual attainment.”
If we don’t attain spirituality, then all that remains is a Reshimo (a “reminiscence” or “record”). It is a spiritual informational gene, similar to DNA. This Reshimo clothes in new bodies until it surfaces in us as the question, “What is the meaning of life?” This question eventually urges us to seek its answer: to find a method and an environment for the soul’s development.
What Happens to Our Corporeal Existence When We Die?
When we die, we lose awareness of everything we sensed in our corporeal lives. However, does it mean that we lose it all? No. It is being passed on in the form of personality attributes. This explains why, in every new generation, children are better adapted to life than adults. For example, children are instinctively proficient with the latest technologies and gadgets, while the older generation finds them more complicated.
In each successive generation, the will to receive undergoes an upgrade. If the will to receive fails to bring a person to spiritual development, then it shifts to a new stage, to another opportunity. All the problems, pains and knowledge gradually accumulate from one generation to the next, toward the need for spiritual development.
That is what the wisdom of Kabbalah was made for. Through the wisdom of Kabbalah, we can gain access to the eternal and whole system of the soul, discover its inner power, and become its active part, revealing spirituality as a clear perception and sensation, and this is the purpose of our development.
Today marks a very significant moment in humanity’s development toward this purpose, one which Kabbalists described as the time when humanity en masse would start awakening with questions about its meaning and purpose, and when Kabbalah would be revealed and open to everyone to allow us to realize this opportunity in our lifetime and gain eternal life.