The purpose of death
The nature of life after death
How we can prepare for death
How we can assist the dying
In death, you lose nothing but your ignorance. Barry Long
The purpose of this stage is to extract the essence of the life just lived. We do this by re-living our Earth life, with particular focus on the deeper meaning and finer feelings of each experience. During this process, countless psychic impressions are sifted and reviewed in great detail. Whatever material is no longer needed is cast aside, like chaff from the grain. At the same time, the true value of our life experience is gathered together into a concentrated spiritual essence.
When extracting gold from the earth, miners may collect 50 tons of raw ore to produce a single ounce of pure gold. Likewise, the huge volume of psychic impressions from a lifetime yields only a tiny germ of spiritual essence. The exact nature of this essence is a mystery. It could be called the deepest meaning, or the finest expression of a human life. From another perspective, it represents the accumulated truth, love and wisdom of the Earth experience. Once gathered, this essence ascends to the next plane where it becomes a permanent part of our spiritual body, or soul.
As we distill the psychic impressions, we're actually consuming our astral body, for really they are one and the same. By getting rid of what is no longer needed, we're becoming less. And at the same time we're becoming more, in the sense of more real, true, and eternal.
This process culminates in what could be called a "second death", at which point there are two possible outcomes. If the astral body has been sufficiently consumed through the process described above, then individual awareness makes a "quantum leap" to the spiritual plane where it merges with soul. However, if an astral body remains in tact, then residual desires can pull awareness back to the Earth plane for another cycle of birth and death. These desires are like psychic seeds, or DNA, which become the template for a new birth, or so called, "reincarnation".
The term "reincarnation" usually refers to a soul incarnating a human form repeatedly, over many lifetimes. This is a misunderstanding. The soul always remains on the spiritual plane and can neither incarnate nor reincarnate a human form. Rather, the soul participates in recurring human births and the degree of participation, as well as the number and frequency of recurring births, can vary widely. Likewise, a recurring birth may take place soon after death or hundreds of years later. There are many variables which influence this process and the range of possibilities is enormous.