Deathbed salvation is a concept that has considerable attraction for those who recognize that the outer life is something lesser and distracting to the spiritual aspiration and for those who work to maintain a state of Yogic trance as much as possible to escape the impinging forces of the outer world. The basic concept is that if one is in a spiritual trance and from there pass to the state of death, salvation is assured. There is much in common here with the idea prevalent in some religions that even someone who has lived a life of dissipation and “sin” can be “saved” if he is truly repentant at the time of death.
What is not recognized in either of these approaches is the fact that there is a complex web of energies, physical, vital and mental which all have gone into the creation of the person at the time of death, and these energies are not simply wiped out through either the Yogic trance or the transition of death of the body. Until the entire being is transformed, there remain movements that continue the old consciousness and methods.
Sri Aurobindo observes: But what under these circumstances is the human mind which seeks the divine to do with its waking moments? For if these are subject to all the disabilities of mortal mentality, if they are open to the attacks of grief, fear, anger, passion, hunger, greed, desire, it is irrational to suppose that by the mere concentration of the mental being in the Yogic trance at the moment of putting off the body, the soul can pass away without return into the supreme existence. For man’s normal consciousness is still subject to what the Buddhists call the chain or stream of Karma; it is still creating energies which must continue and have their effect in a continued life of the mental being which is creating them.”
The mind, which is independent of the body, does not disappear with the death of the physical body. “…to get rid of mortal body is not to get rid of mortal mind.”
Sri Aurobindo goes further to state that adopting a type of what can be called a “spiritual distaste for the world” is nevertheless still a mental formation and thus, does not solve the issue. “…for this too belongs to the lower mental status and activity.”
“The highest teaching is that even the desire for liberation with all its mental concomitants must be surpassed before the soul can be entirely free. Therefore not only must the mind be able to rise in abnormal states out of itself into a higher consciousness, but its waking mentality also must be entirely spiritualised.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 13, The Difficulties of the Mental Being, pg. 380