Question: In what sense should we understand eternal life?
Answer: Only life of the spirit is eternal; the life of the body is transitory and fleeting. When the body dies, the soul returns to eternal life.
Question: Is the separation of the soul from body painful?
Answer: No, the body often suffers more during life than at the moment of death; the soul has nothing to do with it. The suffering that a man sometimes experiences at the moment of death provides satisfaction for his spirit, in that he sees his exile coming to an end.
Question: Can the definitive separation between soul and body occur before the complete cessation of organic life?
Answer: During the death throes, the soul sometimes has already left the body, which in this case possesses nothing except organic life. The dying man no longer has any consciousness of himself, and yet a last gasp of life remains. The body is a machine that the heart keeps running, and it continues to live as long as the heart pumps blood through the vessels, and for that it does not need the soul.
Question: What sensation does the soul experience the moment it realizes that it is in the spirit world?
Answer: That is as the case may be. If you have done evil for the sake of evil, you find yourself at first ashamed of what you have done. It is much different in the case of the upright person, who feels relieved of a great burden, and does not fear the most meticulous scrutiny.
Question: Upon leaving the body, does the soul immediately have consciousness of itself?
Answer: Immediately is not the right word, it finds itself in a state of bewilderment for some time.
Question: Do all spirits experience the bewilderment that follows the disengagement of the soul from the body to the same degree and for the same amount of time?
Answer: No, it depends on their elevation. Those who are already purified are almost immediately aware of themselves, because they had already detached themselves from matter during their corporeal life. The carnal man, however, who’s conscience is not clear, retains the impression from matter for longer.
Question: Does the knowledge of Spiritism have any influence on the shorter or longer duration of this confusion?
Answer: It has a great influence, in that the spirit understands its situation in advance. The practice of a good and a clear conscience have the most influence, however.
~ The Spirits’ Book by Allan Kardec
Chapter 3, part 1, 153 – part 2, 154, 156, 159 – part 3, 163, 164, 165