Question: What happens to the vital at the hour of death?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two vitals. One is the physical vital, the vital that is in the physical. The other is the vital proper, the vital which does not belong to the physical. It is not identified with the physical; it is totally separate.

When the soul leaves the body, the human being decomposes into its five elements. The vital proper enters into the vital sheath. The mind stays for a shore while with the vital — for a few days or a few months — and then it goes back to the mind's level, the mental sheath. The soul stays in the vital sheath for two months, six months, sometimes even a year; it depends on the individual. Then it passes to the mental world and then to the psychic world.

Now, when the vital is in the vital sheath, it may suffer considerably. If the vital is unlit and impure, then it is tortured there most mercilessly. When our third eye is open, we see that no human punishment is as severe or as cruel as the vital punishment. Again, if the vital has aspired in its own way to be one with the soul, if the vital listened to the soul when the seeker was on earth, then the vital does not suffer in the vital zone. If the individual is spiritually advanced, he suffers practically nothing, because he knows the ins and outs of that realm.