From Yogi Bhajan's teachings about this process.
Death happens when the breath stops. The physical body no longer has any power to move or to grow, and it begins to decay. The subtle consciousness of the soul begins to separate from the physical body. But for the first 3-4 days, the consciousness can "hang out" around the body. It may have some kind of attachment still - to the body and to the life. What Yogi Bhajan calls "privileged souls" have a chance to travel around and say good-bye to those they love, or to visit places that are sacred to them before they leave the earth plane.
In either event, the subtle consciousness maintains a connection to the physical body in those first few days. This is why, in the Sikh tradition, we cremate the body and chant Akal. To help the soul let go of its attachment to the physical life it had and to be willing to move on.
The next part of the 17 days, the soul has to cross the electromagnetic field of the earth and begin its journey into the realm of the Blue Ethers. There are four levels of the blue ethers before one experiences absolute and perfect Union with the Divine. Those who have a spiritual teacher or guide get help at this point.
The first blue ether is where the assessment takes place. What were you sent for? How did you do? We all judge ourselves instantly at the time of death. The first blue ether allows a soul a chance to really sit and re-evaluate. In fact, if there are lessons that did not get finished during life, the soul has a chance, during the 17 days, to complete those lessons under his or her spiritual guide. This completion of the lessons takes place either in the first or second blue ether, depending on the ripeness of the soul. In the first blue ether, the soul can purify itself. In the second blue ether, it can continue to get deeper learning.
If the soul graduates to the second blue ether, it also has a chance to become a guide for other souls. It can reach out from that place and help others.
The third blue ether is the most refined ether that the human being can access while alive. Deep meditation can open us up to the third blue ether. The third blue ether is the realm of the master and the angel. So while alive, people who develop the consciousness of a master or an angel (and Hari Simran Singh definitely had the radiance of an angel) have penetrated through to the third blue ether with their meditative mind.
In the process of death, such a soul could navigate those first two ethers fairly easily during the 17 days, and may end up at the third blue ether if it has truly completed all its lessons. The third blue ether is the realm of the realized, enlightened soul. A soul who can reach out and touch other souls to guide them in the past, present or future. A soul that graduates to the third blue ether has a choice to make. That soul can decide to reincarnate again - for the purpose of serving humanity. Or it can chose to go onto the fourth blue ether and just be Pure Radiance. But such a soul will never reincarnate on earth again once it enters the fourth blue ether.
The fourth blue ether is reserved for those incredible amazing Lights that guide humanity with their pure radiance. Like Guru Nanak. Like Christ. Like Buddha. Like Yogi Bhajan. These souls will never take form again. But their consciousness is so clear and so realized, that they radiate from the fourth blue ether across the centuries giving guidance, hope and love to humanity.
After the fourth blue ether, there is just Pure Union. No separation. Absolute Oneness. And that is the end of the soul's journey across time and space.
During the 17 days - the process is:
1. Can the soul detach from the body within the first few days? Can it penetrate through the electro-magnetic field of the earth and begin to experience the blue ethers? The chanting we do and the chanting the soul does helps it through this initial process.
2. Does the soul have a guide to help on the journey through the blue ethers?
3. Are there lessons that the soul did not finish in life that it can finish during the 17 days under the guidance of its spiritual teacher in the blue ethers?
4. What blue ether does the soul eventually come to rest in? The first blue ether - they are already deciding their next incarnation based on their debts and the lessons they still have to learn.
5. The second blue ether - they are learning deep lessons, they are guiding others, and they will come back when the time is right.
6. The third blue ether - they are realized beings and simply there to support and guide others. They are deciding whether to come back to guide others in the form of a human, or go on to the fourth blue ether and just guide as Light, Love and Presence.
7. The fourth blue ether - they are sooooo realized they never have to take form again. Their Light is so huge - it will create guidance for souls across a vast range of time.
This is my best understanding today of this process.
Here are some quotes and notes I have in my files on death and the Blue Ethers from the Siri Singh Sahib. If you want to energetically understand the blue ethers, you can specially meditate on the 34-37th Paurees of Japji Sahib, which are Guru Nanak's descriptions of these realms.
"When your mind will be dead, it won't think or imagine. The mind will go to the Universal Mind. The physical body – all the five tattvas –go to the five tattvas. The auric body will go to the light. The pranic body will go to the prana. But the subtle body will carry the soul and shall process to the blue ethers. It is a conscious act." - April 2, 1981.
"It takes many thousands and hundreds of thousand of years, trillions of years, for this soul to come out of the third layer of the blue ether. It is not a small thing. A spot of earth waits millions of years that one day, a man of God will put his foot on it. It takes thousands of years fora mountain to get the wind to work and create a little cave where a man of God will take shelter for a minute. It's a whole planning." – July 11, 1975.
"What kind of body a man shall have, what kind of destiny and fate shall challenge it – is all performed at the stage called the third blue ether." July 9, 1990.
Some things about the blue ethers from the teachings of YogiBhajan:
1. The soul begins its journey from the third blue ether.
2. In meditation, we can journey to the third blue ether.
3. The first blue ether is to purify. "The receptivity of the cleansing of the soul to get ready to go back." (3/22/82) "Where the soul goes for purification." (7/9/90.)
4. The second blue ether is to get guidance or to guide. "The receptivity of the cleansing to be there and to supervise all other promising souls." (3/22/83) "Rest and get ready and the account is settled."(7/9/90)
5. The third blue ether is to become a realized being. "The light of the soul which has to vibrate to relate to all souls, future of that past and that of now, to be liberated." (3/22/83) "Where transmission to project out or project in is decided." (7/9/90)
6. The fourth blue ether is to become a super guide from the most Infinite, radiant aspect of consciousness – and it is not on the earth. "The lighted self." (3/22/83). "It's the fourth ether from where the soul never returns." (7/9/90)
7. The fifth stage is Union. "God, Itself."(3/22/83).
This is my best understanding of these teachings today. I hope this gives you some comfort. Sending you much Divine Love.
Ek Ong Kaar Kaur
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