Life, rest, sleep, death is a scale! 🤸🥱😴⚰️

Sleep little death
Could it be that sleeping is a “little death” and that death is nothing more than a “big sleep”? Photo by Kinga Cichewicz

It seems to me that life and death are not opposed to each other in a binary way but on a gradual scale, so that we can be more or less alive and more or less dead. Sleep seems to be a “little death” and therefore, on the other hand, death might be nothing more than “big sleep”.

Most people assume that we are either alive or dead. I, however, think that we will gain better insights into the nature of life and consciousness if we adopt a non-binary view of the matter.

In my view life and death are relative phenomena on a scale similar to day and night where we have all kinds of intermediate stages.

So that’s my framework for saying that sleep looks like death to some extent, and that death is only more of what sleep is to a lesser extent.

During daytime we are very much alive; that’s aware and in motion. But during sleep we are (almost) calm, silent and motionless, and we have (almost) no experience at the physical level.

Even more so this is the case in a comatose state of mind where we are totally unconscious. However, neither sleep nor coma is as much of unmoving and unconsciousness as is death and therefore death is further down that scale.

Sleep and death in plant life

If we look at plant life, I think this point is even easier to observe and realize. For example, flowers open up during the day and shut down at night, so it looks a lot like if they are awake during the day and sleeping at night.

But in winter plants have a more radical sleep that is “dead-like” to a further degree.

So, for example, the flowers, fruits and leaves of trees disappear in winter. These parts of the trees fall off and thus become dead flowers, fruits and leaves.

The trees themselves also look as if they were dead, but of course they are not completely dead and in spring they “come back to life” again.

So when it comes to plant life, it is relatively easy to see that the sleepers and the dead have some similarities.

To say that sleep and death are consequently the same is too much, but I think the two can best be understood as different phenomena on the same life and death spectrum rather than completely separate and diverse phenomena.

No real death?

Going a bit further down this line of thought it seems to me that the life/death scale is really a presence/absence scale.

Apparently life is the “presence” of consciousness, whereas death means “absence” of consciousness (on the physical level).

Where consciousness goes during its absence, we cannot know for sure, but when we are asleep it is supposedly in “dreamland”.

If it is true that sleep is actually a “little death” then, on the other hand, death might be just a “big sleep” where we have departed from the physical plane to go somewhere else but where that absence of consciousness is not necessarily tantamount to its extinction.

Personally, I think the scale indicates that there is no real death but only the coming and going of life and consciousness on the physical level.

Goethe on reincarnation

I just realized that Goethe believed in reincarnation. The German writer, scientist and philosopher was born in 1749 in Frankfurt am Main and died in 1832 in Weimar. 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was one of the most prominent writers of his day. He is considered to be the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. 

Reincarnation is a rather common belief in Western countries today, for instance in Denmark (where I come from) it is held by one in four. In Goethe’s lifetime, however, it must have been very unusual since beliefs were still primarily shaped by traditional Christianity.

For more Goethe quotes on reincarnation, see here.

Personal development: Here’s the road map

Symbol no. 33, a road map to personal development.
Martinus’s symbol no. 33, “Animal and Human Thought Climates”, is a great road map to personal development.

Especially if you are a newcomer to the subject, personal development may seem confusing with its rich variety of opinions, approaches and methods. Where to start? And which way to go? The answers depend on your issues and goals but in any case you might benefit from a general overview or a road map. My favorite one was provided by the Danish author and mystic Martinus (1890-1981).

Martinus Cosmology is, among other things, a thorough and comprehensive guide to personal development. Martinus’s writings on these issues were extensive but not just that because he also drew many symbols that provide accessible overviews.

The symbols are often both beautiful and informative. You can see all of them here.

This article concerns itself with just one of them, no. 33, which is a great road map to personal development because it shows who we are, where we came from and where we are headed.

Symbol 33 is called “Animal and Human Thought Climates”. For obvious reasons sometimes we also refer to it as “the tie-symbol”.

It not only maps our present day psychology but deals with human development within the framework of an evolutionary scheme that covers numerous incarnations on Earth.

According to Martinus we are now on a transitional stage in between the animal and “real human” kingdoms. 

His presentation of the symbol extends over many pages in The Eternal World Picture 3. The book is available for online reading here

I will give you a brief presentation of each of the symbol figures and highlight a few of the major difficulties that we typically face during this transition.

The general overview, symbol no. 33

personal development road map, numbered version, Registration of Symbol No. 33, Martinus symbol 33A
In order to ease the presentation, I refer to the figure numbers on the “Registration of Symbol No. 33” (symbol no. 33A).

Symbol no. 33 covers huge time spans. The large left hand side figure is divided into smaller, horizontal sections that symbolize “periods of evolution”. Its orange part is purely animal (sections 21-24) whereas the yellow part is truly human (sections 31-34).

In between we see a period (both orange and yellow) where we are mixed creatures. The animal part is degenerating and the human is growing. This is us, terrestrial humans (sections 25-30).

Since we evolved on Earth for a long time already, present day mankind is situated primarily in sections 27 and 28. 

The animal part of our nature is egoistic. During the transition we contribute to our personal growth by trying to counter that egoism. In time we become truly humane, or all-loving, instead. 

It’s a slow and organic process.

Some people have evolved further along those lines than others but how far we came is basically a matter of evolution, not choice, and therefore we cannot blame anyone or force anything.

You may feel ashamed of yourself, for instance due to envy or anger but you don’t have those emotions by chance. They are desirable in the animal kingdom where they support self-preservation and since we are partly animals they are still there.

Destination wholeness: The double poled state 

Way to the right we see a figure with violet squares that signify reincarnation or rebirth. The number of incarnations are, however, far greater than squares shown in the symbol. Due to our continuous life-experiences on Earth we grow.

Also on the right hand side we find two large green and yellow figures that symbolize men and women. Green indicates the masculine principle and yellow is feminine. 

In the animal kingdom we are divided into those two sexes and we need to unite with the opposite sex in order to feel whole and get a glimpse of happiness.

According to Martinus this is why we compete and fight. It is therefore the source of darkness.

Now opposite sex qualities are, however, growing within each of us. Because of this increase in individual wholeness, from section no. 28 and onwards we are less fit for marriage.

This is a big issue for many people today. If you want to dig further into the subject of unhappy marriages, read: Why are relationships so difficult?

In section 31 the green and yellow parts of the male and female figures have become equally wide. It goes to show that real humans are completely whole in themselves or so-called “double poled”.

From that point we are no longer divided into sexes, there are no couples and we are all-loving. That’s our final destination. At that point we are overshadowed by the spirit of God, as indicated by the flames at the top of the symbol.

Symbol 33 as a tool for working with ourselves

The tie-shaped figures on symbol 33 map different features that appear at a specific time in evolution, grow, peak and then decline. Below, each one of them are explained in short.

Getting acquainted with those details about terrestrial humanity, we sharpen our self-knowledge. 

For instance we can take a good look at figures no. 12 and 13 since they are culminating in our present period of evolution. 

The symbol is useful as a working tool in personal development. We should try to enhance and cultivate truly humane features. The declining animal thought forms are, on the other hand, better left behind.

Figure no. 9: The terrestrial human body

From being a coarse tool for survival under primitive conditions, our body is gradually refined towards the end of the animal kingdom.

Figure no. 10: The killing principle

The killing principle is a major part of self preservation because animals have to attack each other or defend themselves, kill or be killed. Figure 10 also symbolizes the dark karma that these killings bring about.

Figure no. 11: Thoughts that promote death and suffering

Symbolises the kinds of thoughts that causes murder and killing. Those are for instance jealousy, envy, professional rivalry, greed, robbery, fraud, hatred, vengefulness and thirst for power.

Figure no. 12: Arrogant and ambitious kinds of thoughts

Fundamental to this figure is self-worship. Without any justification the being sees itself as superior to others. Here we also meet the desire to be worshiped, honored and highly esteemed. This in turn gives rise to vanity, snobbery and complacency. Slander and derogatory remarks are not unfamiliar within this thought climate either.

Figure no. 13: Birth pangs of the real human kingdom

Shows unfortunate side effects of increased inner wholeness; such as many divorces, unhappy love, crimes of passion, suicide, perversities, sadism and sex murders, pyromania, kleptomania and other derailments. People far advanced in regard to universal love may be persecuted by those who are not.

Figure no. 14: The emergence of neighborly love

Caused by suffering, and concurrent with the emerging wholeness, we become more and more humane and compassionate. When fully developed (in section 31), the warmth of neighborly love causes us to give rather than take, forgive everyone and dissolve war, hatred and persecution.

Figure no. 15: Art in the animal kingdom

Art expresses the ideals of the various steps in evolution. For instance, early art glorifies conquerors and victors of war. Present day art praises amorous love. Typically heroes are also rewarded and villains punished. True human art is, however, about forgiveness and universal love.

Figure no. 16: The religious principle

Religions developed from worshiping gods of war and into the more humane world religions of today. Due to our improved intellectual abilities we are, however, not satisfied with faith anymore and therefore religions now degenerate in favor of spiritual science.

Figure no. 17: Psychic sensory faculties

This figure symbolizes all high-psychic forces. They form the basis of magic, black as well as white. Psychic abilities are also used in such phenomena as clairvoyance, telepathy and prayer.

Figure no. 18: The great birth

The great birth endows us with “cosmic consciousness”. This high level in evolution is only reached when we have become so outstandingly humble and loving that we can be totally overshadowed by God’s own consciousness.

Figure no. 19: “The Paraclete, the holy ghost”

Life’s very highest thought climate. The being can move freely in the spiritual worlds. According to Martinus this elevated state of mind is what was prophesied by Christ as the coming of “the Paraclete, the holy spirit”.

Figure no. 20: Materialization and dematerialization

The being creates its organism using the power of thought and therefore appears to others only in what we call “visions” or “revelations”. Reincarnation has ceased.

Personal development in the present stage of evolution

Our personal issues differ but in general, like I said, we might take a good look at figure no. 12 and 13 because they are culminating and therefore most of us will have difficulties and issues that relate to those figures.

Personally, I think that ambition (figure no. 12) is very interesting to look at for several reasons. 

I certainly have my own issues in that area but I also think that this particular thought climate is deeply rooted in our capitalistic societies. We tend to compete and we often praise the winners.

If on the other hand we fail to succeed, we may experience difficult self-esteem issues as well as envy towards those who did manage. 

According to Martinus, however, the highest developed beings have “absolutely no ambition”. 

Those beings also have: “No thirst for power, no envy, no desire to oppress other beings in order to get to the top oneself and be admired and honored” (The Eternal World Picture 3, sec. 33.74). 

So in order to move forward sooner or later we have to leave our personal ambitions behind in favor of love and humility. This development will come about in any case due to the hard lessons of karma.


To get a much more solid understanding of symbol 33, read The Eternal World Picture 3, sect. 33. It’s available online here.

Self-loathing: How I was taught to feel guilty in a past life

Christianity
In some versions of Christianity sinners are warned against hell and damnation. Photo by Marc Schaefer.

Maybe in a previous life, I was taught to feel guilty and to believe in a version of Christianity where sinners are warned against hell and damnation. This is my personal story.

At a small gathering with a few of my closest friends, one of them, O, told us about a nuisance that tormented him for long periods of his life. He described it as a recurring pain in his forehead and also came up with a possible explanation: “It may be caused by an old belief that I am not allowed to feel good”. 

“Furthermore”, he said, “I think that in a past life, I preached sin and guilt and that a remnant of this sense of guilt is left there in my forehead like a dark stain”.

I doubt that O would get into that rather unusual explanation in other settings but the four of us share mostly everything. Since we are spiritually inclined, we are also very familiar with the concept of reincarnation and receptive to ideas about how past lives may have influenced this one.

I had no problems imagining O preaching such a medieval version of Christianity in a previous lifetime. I envisioned him filled with holy wrath taking his audience to task and warning them about the flames of hell and eternal damnation.

Then suddenly, to show what kind of a preacher he once was, he turned towards me, pointed his finger at me and said in a very decisive manner: “You are a sinner!” And more stuff like that. I was sort of paralyzed and felt as if I was taken back in time. I don’t believe in sin at all but for a moment there, I was captured by his words as if I was one of his past followers.

Feeling guilty and unworthy 

I didn’t get any religious upbringing and words like God, sin and hell were hardly even mentioned in my childhood home. Today I do believe in God but my concept of God is very different from the traditional Christian one.

To me God is certainly not wrathful, but all-loving, forgiving and benevolent. To think that sinners are unworthy and subject to God’s judgment, hell and damnation, is far from my beliefs.

Therefore I was baffled by the ease with which I responded to O’s words and suddenly adopted such unfamiliar ideas. 

How could that be? 

Looking for a plausible explanation, I asked myself if traditional Christian dogmas are actually not unfamiliar to me after all, but only forgotten; maybe I was once a true believer of them and maybe I was really present there in the flesh listening to O’s sermon several lives back.

If that’s the case, then, like O, subconsciously I may still hold remnants of those dogmas even if my conscious beliefs about God and the afterlife are totally different now. 

And then my present day self-esteem issues would make better sense; for instance the fact that I sometimes hate myself for no good reason at all.

Hidden causes of low self-esteem

O’s story and my reaction to it made me wonder if self-esteem (or the lack of it) is not just taught in the formative years of our present lives, as psychologists would have it, but also something we carry with us from past lives. 

The story also pointed to how opposing ideas about the self and its relation to God may coexist in our mentality: 

On the one hand a conscious belief that God is all-loving and that each one of us is absolutely worthy of that love, and yet on the other hand subconsciously we may fear to be unworthy and undeserving.

Even if we were not taught to believe in a wrathful, unloving God in this life we may still harbor that unfortunate idea and along with it a hidden “talent” for looking down on, or even hating, ourselves. 

The unconscious God image may possibly lay dormant or it may actively undermine our self-esteem even if our conscious beliefs are well suited to make us feel good about ourselves.

If that’s the case, then I think it is important that we become aware of our subconscious God image and try to counter its negative influence. Being aware of self-hatred, and its causes, makes us better equipped to handle it. Even just naming it has, in my experience, a very beneficial effect. 


Get to know more about handling self-esteem issues and further investigate the connection between worldview, God image and perception of self: HIGH SELF-ESTEEM: YOU NEED AN ALL-EMBRACING WORLD VIEW