Life Beyond Death

The purpose of death
The nature of life after death
How we can prepare for death
How we can assist the dying

Proper Treatment of the Body

As soon as possible after the last breath, it's best if the body can be positioned on its right side. If this is not practical, for whatever reason, then position the body lying face up, with hands folded across the lower abdomen. If the eyes and mouth are open and cannot easily be closed, place a cloth over the face to encourage the awareness to turn inward. It's a good idea to do these things within the first few minutes, before rigor mortis sets in. Then the body should be left undisturbed in a quiet room during a transition period of at least 24 hours. During this period, if circumstances demand that the body be moved, do so carefully. Then, as soon as possible, leave the body undisturbed for the remainder of the prescribed time.

During the transition period (prior to burial or cremation) it's a good idea to keep the body as cool as possible. If it's winter time, open the windows wide and turn off the heat. Otherwise, use air conditioning at the lowest possible setting. Or, if necessary, use ice packs to keep the body cool during this period.

As soon as possible after the transition period, the body should be buried or cremated, without post mortem or embalming. However, if these procedures are required, they should be performed after the 24 hour transition period, and then the body buried or cremated as soon as possible thereafter.

If cremation is performed, the ashes should be scattered in the ocean, a river, or across a wide area of natural terrain, as soon as possible.

After death, the physical body is returned to the natural elements through the process of cremation, or biological decay. At the same time, the astral body detaches from the physical plane and recedes to the higher planes of experience. From a spiritual perspective, we want to avoid anything that would inhibit these processes, which ideally should take place within a matter of days. Unfortunately, with the use of modern caskets and burial methods, decay of the body can take many months. And during this time, it may become an object of attraction for the departing spirit, keeping it linked to the Earth plane for longer than necessary. From this perspective, it's best if the body can be cremated. However, if cremation is not compatible with the spiritual traditions of the deceased, it's recommended that the body be buried in a simple wooden box, or wrapped in cloth, without a casket.

Funeral rites, according to the spiritual tradition of the departed, serve an important function for a number of reasons. These ancient performances help the astral body to sever its connection with the Earth plane and move on to the higher planes of experience. They also help to purify the karma of surviving family members and ancestors, going back several generations.