The Soul: Traveller Between Death and Birth

Sri Aurobindo briefly recapitulates the soul’s journey and steps from the time of death to its next rebirth, describing the various sheaths that need to be disposed of in the process:

“…it is the soul, the psychic being, and not the mind, that is the traveller between death and birth, and the mental being is only a predominant element in the figure of its self-expression. There must then be a final resort to a plane of pure psychic existence in which the soul would await rebirth; there it could assimilate the energies of its past experience and life and prepare its future. Ordinarily, the normally developed human being, who has risen to a sufficient power of mentality, might be expected to pass successively through all these planes, subtle-physical, vital and mental, on his way to his psychic habitation. At each stage he would exhaust and get rid of the fractions of formed personality-structure, temporary and superficial, that belonged to the past life; he would cast off his mind-sheath and life-sheath as he had already cast off his body-sheath: but the essence of the personality and its mental, vital and physical experiences would remain in latent memory or as a dynamic potency for the future.”

He points out that to the extent that sufficient development of the higher powers such as mind or spiritual awareness had not occurred in the lifetime, the soul would not be expected to be able to consciously participate in those levels in the after-death state. He therefore posits that “But if the development of mind were insufficient, it is possible that it would not be able to go consciously beyond the vital level and the eing would either fall back from there, returning from its vital heavens or purgatories to earth, or, more consistently, would pass at once into a kind of psychic assimilative sleep co-extensive with the internatal period; to be awake in the highest planes a certain development would be indispensable.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 22, Rebirth and Other Worlds; Karma, the Soul and Immortality

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