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Conversations on the Nature of Death and Rebirth

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Excerpt from “Shadow of Death” by Professor Leon Drucker

Understanding the Nature of Continuity of Consciousness

Master what is the self. What happens to us after death? If I am to take life and perhaps lose mine in the taking, fear may cause hesitation in my actions. Is there a continuity of our consciousness when we die?

The Master explained; we must bear in mind that the understanding of the nature of continuity of consciousness and the understanding of the nature of the self are closely interlinked.

A person possesses many interrelated collections from separate parts. Among these collections are consciousness, which includes our physical body and senses, feeling which is the collection of discrimination, and the aggregate of motivational tendencies.

There is our body, the physical world and our five senses, and there are the various processes of mental activity, our motivational tendencies, our labelling of and discrimination between objects, our feelings, and the underlying awareness or consciousness.

Among the schools of thought, which accept the notion of continuity of consciousness, there is the belief that the essence or ‘soul’ of the person exists independently from the body and the mind of the person. However, our sense of self can upon examination be a complex flow of mental and physical events.

These patterns include our physical features, instincts, emotions and attitudes continuing through time. We look at these concepts as the temporary person that is as we exist at this moment, and at the same time, there is a subtle self which is independent of the body and mind. This subtle self-awareness can reflect the power of cognition.

There is a principle of dependent origination which asserts that nothing exists independent of other factors. Things and events come into being only in dependence on the aggregation of multiple causes and conditions. The process through which the external world and the sentient beings within it revolve in a cycle of existence propelled by karmic propensities and their interaction with misapprehension, attraction and aversion. This notion that there is a connection between this life and the events of both our previous existence and our future existence, follows understanding of the natural law of cause and effect.


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