Now here is a subject that is wrapped up in mystery, superstition, omens …… you name it! It is not a subject that people find easy to confront or discuss, but as we have come to expect, LRH has a very practical and Technical view of the “The Phenomena of Death”.
Let us take a brief look at the subject of death as considered by so many on this Planet.
“The underworld or netherworld is an otherworld thought to be deep underground or beneath the surface of the world in most religions and mythologies. Typically, it is a place where the souls of the departed go; an afterlife or a realm of the dead”.
“The Greeks had a definite belief that there was a journey to the afterlife or another world. They believed that death was not a complete end to life or human existence. The Greeks accepted the existence of the soul after death, but saw this afterlife as meaningless”.
“The Muslim concept of the soul is similar to the Christian concept although there has been considerable debate within Islam as to the soul’s relation with the mind, body and God’s “spirit” or “breath” and how it survives death and is resurrected. Most Sunni (Sunnis are often described as orthodox Muslims), regard the soul as a material substance that is not visible to the eye but was created along with the body by God while Sufis (Sufi are basically mystics) and other mystical Muslims regard the soul as something more abstract and separate from the body”.
As death is something all living organisms experience somewhere along their time track it is important that Scientologists (and others) understand what LRH has to say on the subject. We are therefore publishing the article he wrote in 1958 in full.
The Phenomena of Death
It has only been in Scientology that the mechanics of death have been thoroughly understood. Hitherto, the whole subject of death has been one of the more mysterious subjects to man.
We are actually the first people that do know a great deal about death. It is one of the larger successes of Scientology.
In the first place, man is composed of a body, a mind and what we refer to as a thetan—the Scientology word for the spirit, the individual being himself who handles and lives in the body.
A very effective way to demonstrate this is by saying to a person, “Look at your body. Have you got a body there?” Then tell him, “Get a mental picture of a cat.” He will get a picture of a cat. That picture is a mental image picture and is part of the mind.
The mind is composed of pictures that inter-associate, act and carry perceptions. While the person is looking at this actual picture ask him, “What’s looking at it?”
Nobody ever asked this question before! It is quite an innocent question, but this particular phrasing and this particular demonstration of the parts of man were unknown before Scientology.
This procedure gives a person a considerable subjective reality on the idea that he himself is a being that is independent of a mind or a body. There is an actual separateness there.
Man thought he had a human spirit. That is totally incorrect. Man is a human spirit which is enwrapped more or less in a mind which is in a body. That is Homo sapiens. He is a spirit and his usual residence is in his head. He looks at his mental image pictures and his body carries him around.
What happens to man when he dies?
Basically, all that happens is that a separation occurs between the thetan and the body.
The thetan, however, takes with him old tin cans, rattling chains, bric-a-brac and other energy phenomena that he feels he cannot do without and stashes this in the next body that he picks up.
In this lazy time of manufactured items and gadgetry he does not build a new body. He picks up a body that is produced according to a certain blueprint that has been carried through from the earliest times of life on this planet until now.
There is such a thing as a cycle of action: create-survive-destroy. At the shoulder of the curve an individual is mostly interested in surviving. Early on the curve he is interested in creating. And at the end of the curve, he is interested in the disposition of the remains.
This cycle of action occurs whether you are speaking of a building, a tree or anything else. When we apply this cycle of action to the parts of man, we get a death of the body, a partial death of the mind and a condition of forgetting on the part of the spiritual being which is in itself a type of death.
The first thing one should learn about death is that it is not anything of which to be very frightened. If you are frightened of losing your pocketbook, if you are frightened of losing your memory, if you are frightened of losing your girl or your boyfriend, if you are frightened of losing your body—well that is how frightened you ought to be of dying, because it is all the same order of magnitude.
We strike the first observable phenomenon in death when we find out that the mind, in spite of mechanisms which seek to decay it and wipe it out, does maintain and preserve mental image pictures of earlier existences. And with proper technology and an understanding of this one can be again possessed of the mental image pictures of earlier existences in order to understand what was going on.
But unless remembrance is restored to the being, the mental image pictures usually just continue to be pictures. Without that remembrance, sending somebody into a past life and having him look at a mental image picture would be similar to sending him to the art gallery. He would not connect himself with that picture.
The restoration of memory is therefore of great interest, since all that is really wrong with a person is that things have happened to him which he knows all about, but won’t let himself in on.
The restoration of memory is done as a matter of course in almost any Dianetics or Scientology processing. It is impossible today to process somebody well and expertly without having them sooner or later get recall with reality on a past existence.
Past lives can be easily invalidated because, without processing, it is difficult to remember them. An individual’s own will has a great deal to do with this. One should not look for outside sources as to why his memory is shut off. Just as he must grant permission to be trapped, so must he grant permission to be made to remember. He is more or less convinced that a memory, remembering back past this subject called death, would cause him to re-experience the pain he already feels has been too much for him. Thus he is very reluctant to face up again to this mechanism, and in facing death almost always goes into a degree of amnesia.
Now, it is all very well to take a scientific attitude towards death, but after all it does carry with it a little shock and upset. Until you have been dead a few times you wouldn’t understand how upsetting it can be!
We are actually indebted for a considerable amount of our material on this subject to the odd fact that I have been officially dead twice in this lifetime. I died in an operation one time back in the 1930s, and went outside above the street, felt sorry for myself and decided they couldn’t do this to me. The body’s heart had stopped beating, and I went back and grabbed the body through the mechanisms in the head that stimulate its heartbeats. I just took hold of them and snapped the body back to life.
The only reason I mention this is because it happens to so many people and they never mention it. They die and come back to life again. Then somebody invalidates them, and they never say anything about it again. Ordinarily when a person dies, he backs out of his body thinking of his responsibilities, knowing who he is, where he has been and what he has been doing. If he is in any kind of condition at all this is what occurs. He backs out at the moment of death with full memory.
Something kills a person’s body—an automobile, too many court suits, an overdose of widely advertised sleep-producing agents. The moment he conceives it to be no longer functional in any way, he backs out. Usually a total occlusion does not occur at this point.
It is not true that a thetan gets some distance from the body and then doesn’t care about it anymore or forgets all about it. In support of this, incidents have been recorded of times when a thetan backed out of his head and was as mad as the dickens and just kicked the stuffings out of the fellow who had killed him. This made the whole theory of spirits very unpopular. People tried to forget this, so that when they ran around killing people they would get no immediate kickback. Some people would want to forget about it, thinking that in this way they could commit a crime without having to suffer for it.
Man has capitalized on the phenomena surrounding death enormously. Look around in any neighbourhood—you will find that if there is any building which is well kept, it is normally an undertaking parlor. Why is it easy to capitalize on death?
Because when people think of death they think of loss and grab something.
This explains the behavior of relatives after one of their family has died. Everybody gets in there and tears apart all of the person’s clothes and they fight with each other over the possessions. They are still alive, but they have experienced a loss of havingness and they pore over this particular person’s effects. They are really to some degree trying to get the person back. They think if they can grab enough possessions, they will get the person back. It actually is not quite as greedy as it looks, it is just obsessive.
I have seen relatives, for instance, pick up some of the weirdest things. I once saw an old lady just screaming over the fact that someone wouldn’t let her have a fellow’s meerschaum pipe. I pointed out to her that she didn’t smoke a meerschaum pipe, and she looked at me sort of dazedly and came out of it and said, “So I don’t,” and handed it to somebody else. It was a token, a symbol of the person who had just left.
The exact behavior at death could vary from person to person. A person who had to “have” tremendously would get just so far from a body and be liable to say, “I don’t care, I don’t want to live anyway, I was very unhappy during that whole life and I’m awfully glad I don’t care.”
Somebody else is just as liable to not even think about it. But that person was so little alive, when he was alive, that his aliveness after he has died is also negligible.
With a person who is fairly strong and capable there is an interesting reaction to body death: “I’ll show them they can’t put me out of the game.” It makes him mad and upsets him, and he does a dive halfway across the country, sees a maternity hospital and grabs a baby body.
The exteriorization which occurs at death is very fascinating because the person is totally cognizant of it. He knows who he is; he usually has pretty good perception; he knows where his friends are. Pointing out as a fantastic spiritual phenomenon the occurrence of somebody appearing to a friend after he had died several thousand miles away, is something like being very surprised because a waitress came to the table in a restaurant.
People also sometimes wake up during the night and realize that somebody has died a death of violence. This is usually because of the amount of confusion which is thrown into a being when his body is killed. If a person is killed with sudden violence and is very surprised about it, he can be sufficiently upset and unphilosophical about the whole thing that he is liable to go around and see his next of kin and the rest of his friends in an awful frenzied hurry, trying to reassure himself that he hasn’t gone to purgatory or someplace.
He has suffered a loss of mass. If you had an automobile sitting out on the street and you went out totally expecting to find the automobile there and it was gone, you would be upset. That is just about the frame of mind a thetan is usually in when he finds his body dead. His main thought is to grasp another body.
This he could do by finding a young child that he could bring back to life.
But the ordinary entrance of a thetan into a new body is sometime around what we call the assumption, and the assumption occurs within a few minutes after birth in most cases. The baby is born and then a thetan picks up the baby body.
How do thetans behave when they suddenly haven’t got a body? They behave like people. They will hang around people. They will see a woman who is pregnant and follow her down the street. Or they will hang around the entrance to an accident ward and find some body that is all banged up and the being that had that body has taken off or is about to. He may even pick up this body and pretend to be somebody’s husband.
Thetans do all sorts of odd things. When a new body is picked up, if a new body is picked up at all, is not standardized beyond saying it usually occurs (unless the thetan got another idea) two or three minutes after the delivery of a child from the mother. A thetan usually picks it up about the time the baby takes its first gasp.
Would the body go on living without a thetan picking it up? That is beside the point. It is a case of how fast the thetan can pick one up before somebody else gets it. There is a certain anxiety connected with this.
Thetans often say very interesting prayers at the moment they pick up a body. They dedicate themselves to its continued growing and to the family and go through all kinds of odd rituals, all because they are so happy to get a new body. But the odd part of it is, they don’t shut their memory off until they pick another body up. The shut-off of memory actually occurs with the pickup of the new body.
Death is in itself a technical subject. You can, with considerable confidence, reassure some husband whose wife has just died that she got out all right and she is going someplace to take up a new body. If you got there while that person could still communicate with you, in the last moments, you would find that the person usually has something spotted, something planned.
The person doesn’t just back out ordinarily and forget all about it. He backs out of it with full identity and hangs around for quite a while. The being is usually there for the funeral, certainly. He will very often hang around his possessions to see that they are not abused, and he can be given upsets if his wishes aren’t carried out with regard to certain things.
It used to happen that thetans would punish people for not carrying out their wishes after death. People then said this was superstition, and science was against superstition. Well, it is quite interesting that in finding out what is science and what is superstition, we have found that a being is capable of almost anything providing it is within his ability to execute.
Losing your pocketbook, some treasured possession or your body are all alike. But because of the mechanism of forgetting, a great mystery is made of this.
And that is death, phenomena of.
L Ron Hubbard PAB 130 – 1958