I work as a doctor, and for the progress of medical science, we ask bereaved families permission to do an autopsy (Note 1) on their deceased relatives. However, since most autopsies are performed within a few hours after death, just as with organ transplants there are many spiritual questions (Note 2) that arise. What should we think about the rights and wrongs of this sort of autopsy?
Happy Science Question and Answer Session
June 6, 2011
Note 1: The law regarding autopsies is rooted in the notion that a pathological inquiry should be performed in order to investigate the cause of death and illness, as well as the effectiveness of medial treatment.
Note 2: According to the spiritual truth as explained by Happy Science, for roughly twenty-four hours following death by cardiac arrest, the soul remains attached to the body by means of a spiritual “silver cord.” During this time the internal organs are surgically removed, and as they are still alive, they experience a kind of shock and pain when they are taken out. Particularly in the case of a person who does not believe in the soul or the afterlife, this fact poses a large obstacle to the soul’s ability to embark to the other world.
Doctors must help those about to pass over to the next world by performing last rites
Since, in most cases, a person’s spirit remains attached to their body for a few hours after death, it is a fact that those people who are unaware of the truth experience shock when an autopsy is performed at this stage.
However, since we don’t want to go so far as to say that only Happy Science members can have autopsies, doctors must double as Buddhist priests. I think it is okay to have the last rites performed while the autopsy is being carried out.
They should be told the following things: “You are dead. You must give up your attachment to your body. Please return promptly to the other world, and have a happy life. An autopsy will be performed on you, but this is for the purpose of helping other people in the future, and to contribute to the progress of medical science. Please understand the significance of this. It is not to wound you or cause your suffering. You are dead, and though your body will not return to its source, it will be used as precious research material to help those who come after you. In this sense, you are acting as a bodhisattva. Through this precious sacrifice, you are performing a great service. You have already reached the point where it is impossible for you to return to this world, so please find some way to release yourself from life around here, and go find your happy life in the next world. Since you have died and become a spirit, in truth you cannot feel pain and suffering any longer. Your feelings of pain are due to the fact that your body and spirit remain too closely united. Thus, if your soul is able to separate itself, your pain will truly disappear.”
You must provide “anesthesia” by thinking “this will truly not hurt you.” Because an injection would be useless, you should use thought anesthesia, telling them: “You must depart your body and return to heaven. Do not be attached to your flesh.”
If you think that your self equals your body, it is because you are attached to the flesh. Even when you die and become a spirit and must separate from your flesh, the separation is not complete. Thus, it only natural that you will receive a shock when your body is invaded during an autopsy.
However, please say to them: “You are not your flesh. Your real self is your soul, in its perfection. No matter what state your body falls to, however beaten up it may be, even if your internal organs are removed, your true self—the soul—remains perfect.”
Once you are in the other world, you can restore your body to your ideal healthy condition
If their spiritual awareness is low, and a knife is cutting into their heart in order to remove it, it seems as though the heart is being removed from their spiritual body as well, and they feel a shock. You should tell them: “There is no connection. Once you return to the other world, everything will be restored.”
Once you return to the other world, quadriplegics will grow legs, and even the blind will be able to see. Therefore, while performing the autopsy, please perform the role of a Buddhist priest and comfort them by explaining as follows: “When you return to the other world with the complete freedom of your spiritual body, you can be restored to your original state. Your body can return to the age and condition that you wish.”
In the period immediately following a person’s death, it is natural for them to be still attached to their body. This is a only matter of course. They have not yet fully accepted the fact that they are dead. In particular, when the state of a person’s body has undergone drastic changes at death, very often they cannot accept that they are dead. It is especially difficult for the type of person who cannot accept his death even after his own funeral, as they lose their way for a time.
If possible, the doctor should perform the autopsy after he has already gained knowledge of the other world. If so, the deceased can quickly take notice of the other world. They may not believe in a Buddhist priest, but they will have faith in a doctor.
The doctor, for his part, should be filled with the following feeling: “Although your flesh is already dead, you have your soul, which is perfect. Since your soul is able to build your body with complete freedom, please attain a body that is suitable for the other world.”
Thus, doctors who realize the truth must not be faint of heart. Rather, it is important that they carefully communicate this kind of feeling. If they do so, then autopsies will be nothing to worry about.