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I Conquering Death: the View of the Masters of Awakening,
from Gurdjieff to Selim Aissel
Interview with Selim Aissel
Question: Can you speak about death?
Selim Aïssel: In order to attain a higher level, we need to leave the earth. And there are two ways of leaving the earth: spiritually, when we are still alive, or physically, when we die. Although there are different ways of dying…
As you know, there are many theories about life and death. Some people believe that nothing survives after death. Our physical body decomposes and returns to dust, and since our physical body is what produced our thoughts and feelings, everything disappears and nothing remains. This is the atheist materialist line of reasoning, and it is one theory. You know others.
Question: After he dies, man goes to heaven.
Selim Aïssel: To heaven or hell, with the third possibility of purgatory.
Question: There is also the theory of reincarnation. Something survives that reincarnates in a person, animal, or plant.
Selim Aïssel: There are two different theories here, the theory of metempsychosis – man can reincarnate in an animal, a plant, or even an object – and the theory of reincarnation: a human being is reborn as another human being at a different time and place. Then there is another variant, recurrence. The moment he dies, man is reborn at the same time and place, like the same film playing over and over again without stopping.
Are there any other theories? Which one are we going to choose? Disappearance after death, resurrection in heaven or hell, reincarnation, metempsychosis, eternal return or recurrence? There are people all over the world who believe in each of these theories, and if you listen to them, they all have proofs or well-founded arguments to defend their point of view. Their explanations are generally quite sensible, and for each theory you can find proponents of a high intellectual or spiritual level. For the simple reason that you were born in a given surrounding, you will be a proponent of a particular belief, or you will adopt the one you like best – for example, “Everyone will be saved, no matter what they do.” This is certainly the best belief! Whatever you do, you’ll be saved! We can admit that this is pretty silly, isn’t it?
But in a more serious vein, we can only understand the truth about all the theories about death – since they are all true, in fact, and not opposed to each other – if we know that there are different types of people and what are called “levels”: different levels of consciousness, different levels of people, and different levels of worlds.
For example, there are several types of people: ordinary physical man who is only interested in the physical world, ordinary emotional man who is dominated by his feelings and emotions, and ordinary intellectual man who is usually ruled by his thoughts and intellectual mechanisms. When they are awake, these three types of man – men numbers 1, 2, and 3 – have a pseudo-consciousness. If they decide one day to follow a spiritual path, they become men or women no. 4, men on the Way. If they persist in their Work, they can cross the threshold of initiation or awakening. Then they become initiates or awakened men – men no. 5 – and their level of consciousness is the level of consciousness of self. There are other types of people in the different spiritual ways – masters, bodhisattvas, avatars, etc. – who have attained the level of objective consciousness. But let us return to the question of life after death.
Question: According to materialist science, man is a higher animal, and when he dies, he disappears like all the other animals.
Selim Aïssel: In effect, this is one possibility. Certain people decide to believe that nothing exists after death; they are content to “live,” as they say, and do nothing to develop the higher elements that are capable of surviving after death. Their fate, as science tells us, is death and disappearance. Gurdjieff said they “die like dogs.” What the atheists and materialists say is true, but it is true above all for themselves, and not for other people.
In fact, a second possibility exists for ordinary man nos. 1, 2, and 3, spoken of by certain Western philosophers like Nietzsche, namely “eternal return” or recurrence. Man lives and dies and is reborn at the same time and place as his previous birth, he begins the same life all over again, and so on and so forth. Western philosophers are not the only ones who have held this view. It was very much in vogue starting with the turn of the 20th century, as it still is today, to set out in search of wisdom in the East, particularly in India, and some of these people brought back the idea of karma and reincarnation, which was new to the West. According to this idea, man neither disappears nor is resurrected when he dies, but returns to earth in a different physical body.
Reincarnation was presented as the theory of the East. But this is not at all what we find in the great Hindu scriptures which, besides reincarnation, talk about the great wheel of rebirths (not reincarnations) in which the majority of people are imprisoned, condemned to be eternally reborn at the same time and place. Reincarnation is exclusively addressed to the gods, demi-gods, and heros – the people who were considered heros in the past – the great priests and kings, that is to say an elite of humanity capable of evolving across the ages and chosen to lead the rest of humanity.
In fact, for the majority of people there is either total disappearance or recurrence – the same life beginning all over again. As for reincarnation, if this was only possible in the past for chosen men and women – demigods, great priests, kings, heros, and so on – today it is addressed to anyone who makes the effort to raise himself above the ordinary state, with the will to create a true spiritual dimension in himself, in other words to develop the seed of the spirit that exists in every human being, which people who don’t cultivate this spiritual dimension allow to waste away and perish. This dimension persists after death in an individualised way and is capable of reincarnating.
So reincarnation is the fate of those people who create this truly individual dimension in themselves, which allows them to evolve positively from life to life until they attain a level at which they can perceive the realities of the spiritual world. At this moment they become what is called an initiate or awakened man, referred to as man no. 5 in Psychoanthropology.
Excerpt from the book:
A Spiritual Master in the 21st Century: Meetings with Selim Aissel
by Francois Merlin
School of Psychoanthropology: www.epag.org
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