People who are disconnected from themselves will be as baffled by the afterlife as they are by the present. For them, cause and effect aren’t clear. Feelings of being alienated, alone, victimized, tossed around by fate, out of control, or abused by authority clash with one another. In this fog of confusion they cannot take responsibility for their own motivations and desires, and the afterlife may frighten or baffle them.
Being disconnected is an illusion from the soul’s perspective. And however long it may take, understanding, symbolized by light, begins to dawn. In clarity you realize that “I am” is your basis, not the things you did. You no longer identify with being a certain person; you now identify with being conscious, and what fills your mind is fresh possibilities.
The karma you brought into the last lifetime has been exhausted, and fresh seeds of karma are ready to sprout. Being reborn enters your mind gradually. For a long period (speaking objectively) you experience bliss; you have gained pure being, which brings its own fulfillment regardless of any karma, good or bad.
You find yourself in the same gap as the one between two thoughts, only this time you are aware of uncountable possibilities from which to choose. You will witness as the dream of a new identity begins to clothe you, and you will fall into your next life in complete surrender to past actions that you still know almost nothing about.
But all of us can take a more active role in how we reincarnate. The elaborate rituals in the Tibetan Book of the Dead are designed to make freedom of choice real, to bring the person fully aware into the gap so that karma can be shaped, controlled, or even fully resolved.
Adapted from Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2006).