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Chapter III. Sleep and Death


etheric body still being present causes that past life to appear as a vivid and comprehensive panorama. That is man's first experience after death. He sees his life from birth to death spread out before him in a series of pictures. Memory is only present in the waking state, when during life man is united with his physical body, and it is present only to the extent allowed by that body. Nothing is lost to the soul that has made an impression on it during life. Were the physical body a perfect instrument for the purpose, it would be possible, at any moment during life, to conjure up the whole of the past before the eyes of the soul. At death there is no longer any obstacle to this. As long as the etheric body remains, there exists a certain degree of perfection of memory. But this disappears according to the degree in which the etheric body loses the form which it possessed while united with the physical body, and which resembles that body. This is the very reason why the astral body separates, after a time, from the etheric body. It can remain united with the latter only so long as the form of the etheric body corresponds with that of the physical body. During the period of life between birth and death, separation of the etheric body occurs only in exceptional cases, and for no longer than a brief space of time. If, for example, a man exposes one of his limbs to pressure, part of his etheric body may become separated from the physical one. We say on such occasion that the limb has “gone to sleep,� and the peculiar sensation we feel results from the separation of the etheric body. (Of course a materialistic manner of explanation may here again deny the invisible behind the visible and say: all this arises merely from the physical disturbance caused by the pressure.) Clairvoyant vision can see in such a case, how the corresponding part of the etheric body extends beyond the physical limb. Now if a man experiences an unusual shock, or something similar, such a separation of the etheric body from a large part of the physical body may result, for a short time. That is the case when a man,


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