"But in the same instant that he died, Prince Andrei remembered that he was asleep, and in the same instant that he died, he made an effort with himself and woke up."
Some of my favorite parts of this book are the death scenes. Death is the ultimate mystery. What does happen? Are we really at choice? And then what? Because Tolstoy takes it all on, there are several death scenes in this tome, although usually on the battlefield. I used the following lines in my collage:
"Yes, that was death. I died -- I woke up. Yes, that death is an awakening." The passage continues: "Clarity suddenly came to his soul, and the curtain that until then had concealed the unknown was raised before his inner gaze. He felt the release of a force that previously had been as if bound in him and that strange lightness which from then on did not leave him."
Wow! You never read passages like that in literature, but only in spiritual texts. The imagery of the curtain that separates ordinary consciousness from the inner reality is very yogic, as is the description of the life force. Tolstoy is an amazing writer.
A few years ago I was at a party and a friend told us about his near-death experience. He had a heart attack and was declared dead. He was then resuscitated, and tells a similar story. In his experience, he had to choose between two doors, one for life and one for death. The death door was more beautiful with surreal light surrounding it, yet he chose life. There was no struggle as in Prince Andrei's case. It was peaceful and beautiful and my friend made a conscious decision to choose the life door. -- Lola
from page 471-472, volume 2 of original text
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 983-985