About Death
Anyone who knows death, lives in a different way
About Dying

About dying of old age or after an illness viewed from a medical, spiritual and 4 elements point of view.

From a medical point of view:

During the process of dying the body temperature, blood circulation and moisture level changes. The body temperature drops. Blood flows through the body slower and easier (livor mortis will start to appear). The moisture level changes; there can be an accumulation of moisture or incontinence can develop.

Shortly before death (a few hours, sometimes days) the following symptoms can occur: problems with swallowing, rattling, faster or slower breathing, bruising, fever, perspiration, urine and stools incontinence, stiffening of limbs, problems with speaking, sighing.

The breakdown of brain functions (such as the regular heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure and consciousness) eventually resulting in death.

From a spiritual point of view:

You see a luminous white light. You want to go towards it but you are pulled back to earth. A burning sensation develops. This can be uncomfortable (for the ones that want to return to earth) or a comfortable warm feeling (for the ones who want to move on). There is help to make you move away from your physical body.

When the burning sensation disappears you have surrendered. You feel light. You are resting.

After this you go through the colours. Some experience this as a tunnel. You see hazy curls in different colours around you. First all colours are mixed (a dark tunnel with light at the end of it). The colours are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The colours show the passing from earth to the realms.

You then arrive at the white light. This light explodes, it dies down and you wake up in the realm in a designated building. There is an auric body that you can enter. Now there is no longer a way back to earth.

Usually there are familiar people to welcome you.

This process is not the same for everybody. Depending on the knowledge you have acquired about life after death you wake up.

From: De aarde is ’slechts’ een leerschool - Th. van Leent

From the 4 elements point of view:

Dying is considered from the 4 elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Air.


Our body begins to lose all its strength. We are drained of any energy. We cannot get up, stay upright, or hold anything. We can no longer support our head. We feel as though we are falling, sinking underground, or being crushed by a great weight. Some traditional texts say that it is as if a huge mountain was being pressed down upon us, and we were being squashed by it. We feel heavy and uncomfortable in any position. We may ask to be pulled up, to have our pillows made higher, or for the bed-covers to be taken off. Our complexion fades and pallor sets in. Our cheeks sink, and dark stains appear on our teeth. It becomes harder to open and close our eyes. As the aggregate of form is dissolving, we become weak and frail. Our mind is agitated and delirious, but then sinks into drowsiness.

These are signs that the earth element is withdrawing into the water element. This means that the wind related to the earth element is becoming less capable of providing a base for consciousness, and the ability of the water element is more manifest. So the “secret sign” that appears in the mind is a vision of a shimmering mirage.


We begin to lose control of our bodily fluids. Our nose begins to run, and we dribble. There can be a discharge from the eyes, and maybe we become incontinent. We cannot move our tongue. Our eyes start to feel dry in their sockets. Our lips are drawn and bloodless, and our mouth and throat sticky and clogged. The nostrils cave in, and we become very thirsty. We tremble and twitch. The smell of death begins to hang over us. As the aggregate of feeling is dissolving, bodily sensations dwindle, alternating between pain and pleasure, heat and cold. Our mind becomes hazy, frustrated, irritable, and nervous. Some sources say that we feel as if we were drowning in an ocean or being swept away by a huge river.

The water element is dissolving into fire, which is taking over in its ability to support consciousness. So the “secret sign” is a vision of a haze with swirling wisps of smoke.


Our mouth and nose dry up completely. All the warmth of our body begins to seep away, usually from the feet and hands toward the heart. Perhaps a steamy heat rises from the crown of our head. Our breath is cold as it passes through our mouth and nose. No longer can we drink or digest anything. The aggregate of perception is dissolving, and our mind swings alternately between clarity and confusion. We cannot remember the names of our family or friends, or even recognize who they are. It becomes more and more difficult to perceive anything outside of us as sound and sight are confused.

The fire element is dissolving into air, and becoming less able to function as a base for consciousness, while the ability of the air element to do so is more apparent. So the secret sign is of shimmering red sparks dancing above an open fire, like fireflies.


It becomes harder and harder to breathe. The air seems to be escaping through our throat. We begin to rasp and pant. Our in breaths become short and laboured, and our out breaths become longer. Our eyes roll upward, and we are totally immobile. As the aggregate of intellect is dissolving, the mind becomes bewildered, unaware of the outside world. Everything becomes a blur. Our last feeling of contact with our physical environment is slipping away.

We begin to hallucinate and have visions: If there has been a lot of negativity in our lives, we may see terrifying forms. Haunting and dreadful moments of our lives are replayed, and we may even try to cry out in terror. If we have led lives of kindness and compassion, we may experience blissful, heavenly vision, and “meet” loving friends or enlightened beings. For those who have led good lives, there is peace in death instead of fear.

What is happening is that the air element is dissolving into consciousness. The winds have all united in the “life supporting wind” in the heart. So the “secret sign” is described as a vision of a flaming torch or lamp, with a red glow.

Our in breaths continue to be more shallow, and our out breaths longer. At this point blood gathers and enters the “channel of life” in the centre of our heart. Three drops of blood collect, one after the other, causing three long, final out breaths. Then, suddenly, our breathing ceases.

Just a slight warmth remains at our heart. All signs of life are gone, and this is the point where in a modern clinical situation we would be certified as “dead”.

From: The Tibetan book of living and dying - S. Rinpoche

This explanation about dying is not complete.