Below is a selection from a book by Vitvan called "When the Sun Moves Northward." The full book is avaliable online here. The part I am referencing covers death.
Vitvan - When the Sun Moves Nothward:
The desire of birth, and the accomplishment of birth, followed by the experiences of love and life, have been the subject of the occult ceremonies and vigils so far. They are the subject of the whole Christmas and New Year celebrations, under all disguises, in all religions, and howsoever veiled and obscured by latter-day tradition. These being completed, it is now necessary for the disciple to turn his attention to the ritual concerning the soul's descent into matter, which was given in Egypt as an esoteric teaching only, for the enlightenment of those who were ready for knowledge. . . .
The descent of the spirit of man into matter was the outcome of the need for purification and regeneration. Unless he secures regeneration, and obtains the power to retrace his steps and become reborn again in higher states of being, he will descend too deeply into the Tomb, he will have missed his mark, and risk becoming engulfed altogether.
Among advanced occultists there is what is known as the Eighth Sphere. It is below even the lowest materialized animal consciousness, and this “descending too deeply into the Tomb” has reference to it. It is very exceptional that an individual will deliberately brutalize his nature until the Ego withdraws from it and allows the animal soul to descend under lower influences and be reborn in the animal kingdom. It doesn't seem possible that such retrogression could obtain, but if an individual so lowers his vibration, through the use of alcohol and drugs particularly, that the conditions become intolerable, the Immortal Soul will withdraw from its vehicles. The animal soul will take possession and come under the elemental influences to such an extent that the life forces will reincarnate in the animal state and be forced to begin the long, evolutionary process back again, because they have lost their human status in evolution. This is what is meant by “becoming engulfed altogether.”
The office of the ministering angel, Death, is to free man from matter temporarily, and to instruct him in his danger. Death is, in fact, a great conscious, devoted loving Power which strives ceaselessly to help man to strike off his bonds.
After a night's sleep, many of us have had the experience of consciously returning to our bodies in a very high and exalted state, but we soon noticed a lowering of the tone of vibration, due to coming under the influence of the lower instinctive nature when re-entering the body. From this, what takes place after death can readily be seen. With the release from the physical body, the soul immediately experiences a higher vibration and higher state of consciousness.
To those who understand this, the death-bed scene is a beautiful thing, instead of something to be dreaded. Death is really a wonderful provision of the cyclic or rhythmic law to release the soul and let it rise to a higher plane where it can strengthen itself spiritually before coming back to work out its incarnations further. When we begin to study death from this aspect, we shall see that death is really beautiful, and we shall see the similarity between love and death, because there is the same kind of beauty and joy in both. Love serves the same purpose to the soul as death.
No man dies alone, for Death himself is with him; and the dying man finds in him a familiar and most true friend. To the ancient Egyptian, this was known, and accepted, and he devoted himself to considering the steps he must take when he passed from his body, and from earth, in the charge of Death.
Because of the unprepared state of consciousness of the vast majority of people at death, a great amount of work has to be done for them by the astral workers when they pass over; and this condition is particularly chaotic in times of holocaust and war, when so many young and unprepared souls are thrown violently out of their bodies in a frightened, bewildered state.
This knowledge was accepted by the ancient Egyptians and they were prepared for the transition called death. It is a part of the occult training of the sacred science or ancient wisdom. To those who live in surface considerations, death is the last subject they want to entertain, and therefore they are wholly unprepared when it comes to them.
I remember vividly what a stir the consideration of “Thanatopsis” created in my soul when I was a mere school boy. I believe it a most beautiful and valuable thing to create this aspect of death in our consciousness, so that we shall anticipate it with pleasure, just as we look forward to a night's rest in a comfortable bed after a hard day's work. At the end of an incarnation, we should be able to say with the Apostle Paul: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith!”
In the Devaduta-sutra is given a conversation between Yama, the God of Death, and the spirit of a wicked man in his charge, in which Yama explains the law of Karma to him, and urges him to take warning. He impresses upon the spirit of the man, strongly, how absolutely responsible he is for his own unfortunate plight.
Through understanding the significance of things, we are able to raise ourselves higher and prepare ourselves by utilizing the time between incarnations in the assimilation of experiences, which results in the development of faculty. Then in the next incarnation that which was arduous and laborious effort will have become opportunity and aptitude.
“These, thy evil deeds,” says King Yama, “thou alone hast done them all; thou alone must bear the fruit.”
I firmly believe that in our Sacred Science work we should emphasize the doctrine of karma more, for there is nothing which makes one walk the straight and narrow path as to know absolutely that he cannot perpetrate a real wrong — mental, emotional, or physical — without creating suffering for himself.
This is a part of the occult truth, discovered and declared by Tolstoy, that in the life of the spirit, direction is all-important.
Energy follows thought. It is in the direction in which you steadily maintain your thought that energy will flow. No matter what may be your highest aim, object, or purpose, if you will hold your thought steadily upon the secrets and mysteries of it, you will attain it. No matter what you desire to penetrate, if you hold right to it, the ultimate mystery of it will open to you.
I once came across a thought in the Bhagavad Gita that was a supreme mystery to me. It was the words of Krishna — ”By my nature I create, O Arjuna, by my nature I create.” I concentrated on that thought until its significance was born in my consciousness, and the “Manual of Instruction” given during the 1927 Summer School was the result of my realization of it.
The experience of death, which comes to every man, is not in itself a preparation for the great Good Friday ceremony. It is only by looking straight upon Death, and asking of him his secrets, that the passing into his charge becomes a preparation. He will answer you, be sure; and instead of explaining to you, as to the ordinary man, that law of Karma of which he is one of the administrators, he will enter upon a different and much more difficult discourse. He will show you the nature of matter, and what its power is over the spirit of man, and he will prepare you for the mystery of the Tomb. The disciple who has not attained sight, can only demand it ceaselessly, and continue to direct his unseeing gaze toward that which he longs to know and understand.
Have you ever seen anyone die? We have all experienced that hushed and awed presence — that indefinable something — in the face of death! But we attributed these feelings to something in ourselves — to our imagination, our reactions to superstition, maybe.
Here is the difference between one who lives the outer life and one who lives the inner life: one who has the inner consciousness of things comes to realize that the conditions — the “presence” felt at the death of another — are actual, powerful forces on other planes, and not his own psychological state. There is never a power or force except as it is focalized and becomes a being or entity of some realm. Any condition that you feel you think of as a force, but on some other plane it is an entity.
There are numerous classifications of these entities. In the deva line of evolution alone are more than ten thousand groupings of the nature spirits, which live on the etheric and astral levels, and some of the higher ones — the devas — live on the mental plane.
There is one division of entities known as “occult creations,” which are the pseudo-creations of the perverse thoughts of mankind. There is another division of discarnate spirits who never come into physical bodies at all, and yet they live in worlds that are more complete and more vivid than our material-plane world.
There are many degrees of development among all these beings or entities that function on successive planes of consciousness. Do not think of these planes as one above the other or below the other in strata — that is only a figure of speech. They all occupy the same space, but because of different rates of vibration, they are incomprehensible to one another, just as our atmosphere is congested with radio-active forces from various broadcasting stations, but all in different keys or wave-lengths, and producing no interference with each other. and so we use a fourth- dimensional measure when we speak of “lower” or “higher” planes.
We sense a great deal of this force and vibration of the entities of subtler planes in our everyday life. The “presence” experienced in the death-chamber is not merely a superstitious awe, but a universal power that our spirits have contacted temporarily and that has registered in our consciousness. In order to cultivate living the inner life and not merely the outer existence of values and reactions to these things, we should always think of them as actual forces and powers having existence on other planes.
I never get anything out of love but terrific force — I always feel the awfulness, the tragedy of it that hurts. There is a great beauty in love, too, that requires a high degree of development to understand. There is a great identity in love and death.
To the ordinary man, who seeks no such experiences as these, the profound abyss of grief is that place of consciousness in which he first becomes dimly aware of the stately presence that is so near to him. He suddenly recognizes that what is happening is not only the loss of one close to him, but that there is a new and great presence, benign and beautiful, pressing upon him. As he contemplates it, he experiences the sensation of being blessed; from the presence of death comes a profound good-will to man.
Were you ever able to get far enough out of your grief, at the death of a loved one, to get that feeling? In love we get so involved in our desire that we can't catch the real impersonal meaning of love at all. Many of the boys of all nationalities returned from the world war with their souls almost transformed by this force. In the daily presence of death they became softened by it and they felt the greatest good will to all mankind. When they first returned they had a new outlook upon life, but they soon lost it under the influence of the old race-mind forces which again engulfed them.
Have you observed how everyone, in the presence of death, always thinks and speaks of the good deeds of the departed — never the evil that he may have done? Do you recall the great wave of this good will that swept the United States when President Harding's funeral train passed through San Francisco? It is always so.
None can make this great essay, of taking the knowledge of death and learning the mysteries that lie in its keeping, who has not been perfectly obedient to the simple rule, “Thou shalt not kill.” Man hinders his progress on the path by arrogating to himself rights which are not his. The Buddha taught men explicitly that they had no right to take life, but mankind has not yet begun to learn the lesson. The disciple is told to respect life as those do who desire it. The knowledge of death is utterly hidden from those who do not realize its sacredness.
As disciples, this teaching is something to which we should pay more attention. We have not lived up to it, because we all kill in the very worst way, for we kill by proxy — we compel others to do our killing for us, so that we may have meat to eat, shoes and furs to wear, leather goods, etc., to use in our modern civilization.
There are certain cults in India who observe this prohibition against taking life literally, and surrender their physical bodies for vermin to infest. An extreme view, of course!
The solemn and beautiful presence of Death comes in its majesty equally at the end of the little fluttering life which lasts but a few hours, as to the deathbed of a king, because every spirit which casts aside its physical sheath is in his charge. These great forces, Life and Death, two of the powerful pairs of opposites, remain unalterably splendid. No sordidness of human conditions, no briefness or insignificance of the creature's span of life, can alter the splendor of the possession, or the dignity of that which takes it away, or rather, which transforms it. For Death, in his true province, is not a destroyer but a transformer, one who by a magic touch changes all things. . . . He shows to the disciple that he is both Death and Life to the occultist. It lies with the one who is enduring the initiation to take Death and make it Life.
If we can learn to see death from this angle, we shall see it as life, not as destruction.
With every Ceremony witnessed, every vigil observed, every ordeal endured, the disciple changes not only himself but the world in which he lives. He helps the great Powers towards their release from service to man, and he helps men around him in every crisis of life. His knowledge of death as being life emanates from him without any need of speech, and helps others in critical and terrible moments of human suffering.
On 21st March, the day on which the sun shines exactly on the equator, when the whole material earth is assured of its annual rebirth into full life, the ceremony of the vigil of death is observed by the disciples. To the ‘one who walks’, birth and death are the two parts of one action.
Death itself is blessed, but it is not within man's province to give that blessing. When he kills, he makes himself accursed. Death transforms the ill deed for the victim, but he cannot do so for the sinner. The greatest theft of all has been committed, and must be suffered for. The spiritual law has been broken, and one who transgresses the spiritual law remains a transgressor, though all the beneficent Powers should unite to transform the effect of his deed, and though the effect of his deed be transformed.
Death is one of my favorite topics. Death in itself means re-birth. It is a transition from one state or stage to another. It reminds us that this world is but temporary. It is shame most people are so afraid of the concept that they refuse to talk about it while repressing knowledge of it deep within. Death should be looked upon just as highly as birth into this world if not higher. How backwards that we mourn the liberation of the spirit.