[13]  What is physical death?

Solomon tells us that the dead are conscious of nothing and David tells us that their thoughts have perished... 

5 For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten (Ecclesiastes 9).

Or more revealingly...

5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. (Ecclesiastes 9 KJVi)
5 For the living know that they shall die; but the dead do not know anything; nor do they have any more a reward, for their memory is forgotten. (Ecclesiastes 9 GLT)

Here is the question. Have people forgotten about them OR has their memory ceased to function? 

3 Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. 
4 His spirit goes out, he goes back to the ground, in that day his thoughts do perish (Psalm 146).

So the dead are not conscious and their thoughts perish. At first thought, as a human, one thinks that this means the dead have their brains switched off, so they do not think at all. One thinks that their thoughts perish on the day that they die. But the bible is not written like that. Their thoughts perish on the entire 'day' of their being dead in the correct interpretation. Because we should interpret this scripture in the same way as we interpret the scripture...

17 But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively
die (Genesis 2).

Now Eve did not die judicially on the literal day she ate the fruit although Adam did. But both died during the 1,000 year first day of the 6,008 year week during which we all eat from that tree and die. Likewise the thoughts of those in the first death, physical death, perish all through the 'day' of their being dead, however long that 'day' may be. So the physically dead do think, actually in their dreams, but those thoughts are subconscious and they perish as do all unremembered dreams.

Two of the people that Jesus resurrected during his ministry, Jarius's daughter and Lazarus, he himself described not as being dead, but as being asleep. 

35 While he was yet speaking, some men from the home of the presiding officer of the synagogue came and said: Your daughter died [avpe,qanen]! Why bother the teacher any longer? (NWT)
36 But Jesus, overhearing the word being spoken, said to the presiding officer of the synagogue: Have no fear, only exercise faith. (NWT)
37 Now he did not let anyone follow along with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. (NWT)
38 So they came to the house of the presiding officer of the synagogue, and he beheld the noisy confusion and those weeping and letting out many wails, (Mark 5 NWT)

39
And, after stepping in, he said to them: Why are you causing noisy confusion and weeping? The young child has not died [avpe,qanen], but is sleeping.
40 At this they began to laugh scornfully at him. But, having put them all out, he took along the young child's father and mother and those with him, and he went in where the young child was.
41 And, taking the hand of the young child, he said to her: Talitha cumi, which, translated, means: Maiden, I say to you, Get up!
42 And immediately the maiden rose and began walking, for she was 12 years old. And at once they were beside themselves with great ecstasy (Mark 5).

She was asleep in the first death and for the first 8 hours of the first death, you are effectively just having a normal nights sleep but with a body that will not allow you back to consciousness at the end of that standard sleep period. David describes this as follows...

13 Show me favor, Oh Jehovah; see my affliction by those hating me, Oh you who are lifting me up from the gates of death [So David does not stay asleep/dead for long. He just makes it to the gates of death and then is lifted up out of there] (Psalms 9 NWT)

3 Do look [upon me]; answer me, Oh Jehovah my God. Do make my eyes shine, that I may not fall asleep in death [longer than one sleeps in life - one night], (Psalms 13 NWT)

David fell asleep and reach the gates of death but did not go inside those gates.

11 He said these things, and after this he said to them: Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.
12 Therefore the disciples said to him: Lord, if he has gone to rest, he will get well.
13 Jesus had spoken, however, about his death. But they imagined he was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
14 At that time, therefore, Jesus said to them outspokenly: Lazarus has died (John 11).

3 Do look, answer me, Oh Jehovah my God. Make my eyes shine that I may not fall asleep in death (Psalm 13). 

When Jesus said that these people were asleep, even though of course they were not in fact physically asleep but were dead. Jesus was not lying because Peter tells us that Jesus neither lied nor sinned...

21 In fact, to this [course] you were called, because even Christ suffered for you leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.
22 He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth (1 Peter 2).

So Jarius's daughter and Lazarus were indeed both physically dead, but they were also 'asleep' and therefore 'not dead' in some other sense. When the Christian Martyr Stephen was stoned in Acts 7 the bible says...

60 Then bending his knees, he cried out with a strong voice: Lord - do not charge this sin against them. And after saying this he fell asleep (Acts 7)!

This wasn't because Stephen was getting so bored with being stoned that he decided to take a power nap as the Sanhedrin was pelting him with rocks! Stephen truly fell asleep when he died. Likewise in Daniel 12 we read...

2 And there will be many of those asleep in the ground of dust [this categorically proves that the dead in Hades are asleep] who will wake up, these to indefinitely lasting life and those to reproaches [and] to indefinitely lasting abhorrence (Daniel 12).

But what actually falls asleep in death? It is not the human body. But there is only one other vehicle for the human spirit and that is an angelic body. A dead person is almost precisely like a person under a general anaesthetic except that a dead person cannot remain in his human body which is destroyed. So his or her spirit must be asleep in an angelic body. There is no other option.

Looking at this from our own experience, when one has an anaesthetic one wakes up from a dream and one remembers the very end of the dream (especially if the nurse is talking to you and asking you what you are doing in your dream, which has happened to the writer). So even under a general anaesthetic one continues to dream. Of course during sleep we all dream and we only remember dreams when we wake up during them for some reason. Jesus is telling us that sleep prefigures death so we would expect to dream during death. But since our thoughts perish, these dream of course will not be remembered since one is never woken up whilst one is physically dead, at least not until one is resurrected.

28 And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;≠ but rather be in fear of him≠ that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (Matthew 10). 
4 Next he said to them: "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do a good deed or to do a bad deed, to save or to kill a soul?"≠≠ But they kept silent (Mark 3). 

Man can kill a soul, he can kill a human soul, but he cannot kill the soul, which means all types of soul including the angelic soul. A soul in the sense of Mark 3 is a human soul, a human body, the human vehicle for the spirit. The soul in the sense of Matthew 10:28 is your angelic soul, the angelic vehicle for your spirit. There are two different souls being talked about in Matthew 10 and Mark 3, and these two correspond with the two nostrils of Adam. The human soul can be killed, the angelic soul which is in fact a sleeping angel, cannot. Luke explains it even more clearly...

4 Moreover, I say to you, my friends, Do not fear those who kill the body and after this are not able to do anything more.
5 But I will indicate to you whom to fear: Fear him who after killing [1st death] has authority to throw into Gehenna [2nd death]. Yes, I tell you, fear this One. (Luke 12 NWT)

Hamlet's Soliloquy

It is the most famous piece of literature in the history of the English language and it tells us all what the first death is. But no church ever listened to it!

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil.

Sleep is the first death precisely

1 Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel
2 and said to them: 120 years old I am today. I shall no more be allowed to go out and come in, as Jehovah has said to me, 'You will not cross this Jordan.' (Deuteronomy 31 NWT)

Come in to the presence of Jehovah in the tabernacle and go out from before him to lead Israel - was the literal meaning. But there is more so much more. For every night when Moses went to sleep, his spirit would go out into his angel and every morning when he woke up it would return back into his human body. Because we dream on our angelic server, not in our human brain which has the CPU power to screen a dream but not to make one in real time - see intro1. So when Moses was alseep, he was in the first death. the only difference between the first death and sleep is that in the case of sleep you body is still functioning for your spirit to return to. 

Dust you are and to dust you will return

19 In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return. (Genesis 3 NWT)

Looking at this literally at this negatively and metonymically your body is made from dust, and will become dust at your death and we are all walking dust.

Looking at this positively and metonymically we are made of dust we will return to being made of dust after death. We will once again become living dust. So we are living dust and we shall become dead dust and then we shall once again become living dust. QED. This scripture prophesies the resurrection of those made out of dust.

Philosophy

At last we have solved the great puzzle of faith in God's capability to carry us through death that Gordon had been wrestling with for 15 years. How do I know that a resurrected me is actually me? We knew that something had to keep going, there needed to be a continuity of some type for if I stop then I can be cloned and that clone would be identical to me but would not be me. But what is it that keeps going, what is it that defines my life? What is the heartbeat of the brain or the spirit.

Well the answer is that when your spirit leaves your physical body and stops experiencing physical reality, then it starts experiencing virtual reality instead, in your dreams. You continue to exist in your dreams just as you existed in the physical construct of the universe. To the mind, nothing much has changed. Your spirit lives by continuing to make decisions in the virtual reality of your dreams. These dreams do not occur in the human brain any longer, but in the angelic brain, where your spirit resides during the first death. The angelic brain is a superior cognitive mechanism to the human brain of course. Presumably your dreams are in higher resolution - HD - improved graphics! 

So death really could be described as an improved dream.

Definition: A living spirit never stops making decisions in some kind of environment (physical reality, angelic reality or the virtual reality of a dream).

As Descartes said: I think therefore I am.

Therefore a spirit never stops thinking for if it did, it would no longer exist. 

So following Descartes we can say: I stop thinking and I am not. 

So free willed life is a continuous decision making process. Plant life is something else. Although we do not own our bodies we merely lease them, we all of us have the freehold deeds to our everlasting spirits.

Definition: A spirit in the first death dreams and does not remember its dreams other than perhaps the last one at the moment it is resurrected.

So the first death is truly angelic sleep which to us will be indistinguishable from human sleep or a general anaesthetic. So there is absolutely no need at all to be scared of death. - unless one is bound for Gehenna upon resurrection.

Solomon refers to this as follows...

5 Because [a] man is walking to his long lasting house and the wailers have marched around in the street.
6
before the silver chord is removed and the golden bowl gets crushed and the jar at the spring is broken and the waterwheel for the cistern has been crushed.
7
Then the dust returns to the earth just as it happened to be and the spirit itself returns to the [true] God who gave it
(Ecclesiastes 12).

Obviously Solomon is using metaphor here. He is talking symbolically. The man of Ecclesiastes 12:5 has died. His long lasting house that he is walking to is his angelic body, the wailers are the funeral attenders. The human body is mainly plumbing for blood which represents our spirit our life. We are walking fluid dynamics. And Solomon is explaining our physiology in these terms. The Golden bowl is his head, the jar at the bubbling spring is presumably the circulatory system for the lungs which are the spring. The waterwheel is the heart and the cistern is the circulatory system for the body. The silver chord is an umbilical connection to a mother. This mother is the holy spirit, the heavenly woman, God's wife. When the umbilical cord is cut then the baby is born. This baby is the long lasting house, the angelic body. Gold means first (in time here) and silver means second (in time). Gold has a higher financial value than silver, and is used symbolically to represent a higher temporal value. So the golden bowl of the human vessel exists before the silver cord of the angelic vessel. So the human body precedes the angelic one for mankind.

But the silver angelic umbilical chord is cut and the angelic body is born before the golden bowl is crushed and the human body fails. This enable the spirit of the man to go into the angelic vehicle before it loses its human vehicle.

Putting this another way the man or woman is born again as an angel in an angelic body before he or she dies as a human in a human body. So everyone is born again when they die if they have not been born again whilst they were alive. But no one realises this at the time since they are unconscious. However out of body experiences in near death situations are widely reported.

44 It is sown a physical, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one (1 Corinthians 15). 

Well that is very good news, especially if one's physical body is a bit knackered! So we all get a spiritual body eventually. Those who are born again whilst they are living, and maintain their faith under test, get a permanent angelic vehicle of their own before they die. The rest of us get to borrow one when we die until we are resurrected into another human vehicle of our own. 

Being born again due to faith, becoming God's son, means having an empty angel waiting, with your name on it as your possession so long as you pass the test. If you die without being born again then you are put into a temporary angel with no name on it, and then later resurrected back to a plain old human with no associated angel. But all human resurrections require an angelic stage to bridge the gap between the two human bodies. This is why Paul says 'it is raised a spiritual body'.

Historical Note:

Tony and Gordon, two of the first Lords' Witnesses, first realised that spirits of humans enter temporary angels when they die, when they considered the following situation: Let us suppose that Gordon died, and that as the Jehovahís Witnesses then believed, his character was stored in Godís memory. If God resurrected him by sticking his exact character back into another human body, then would he still be Gordon? Or would he merely be a perfect copy from a character standpoint of Gordon? A clone of Gordon.

If he was merely a clone, then Gordon himself would actually still be dead, and would have not benefited at all from his own resurrection. Although no one would actually know whether the clone was Gordon or not, since the clone would be a perfect copy. In order for Gordon's resurrection to be of some use to him, there needs to be a continuity of his life between his first human body and his second human or angelic body. This continuity can only be provided angelically because God possesses no other souls for the human spirit, other than the human soul and the angelic soul.

The point is that God's memory would return an exact copy of what it stored (we argued), but the returned character would not have been asleep in an angel and therefore would have had no continuity of its own individual life. And therefore would not be the person that entered God's memory. God's memory would return a perfect copy of what was put into it. But it would not be the same person without a continuity of life. Sleep is that continuity and one sleeps in one's own body, not in God's memory.

Solomon referred to this situation in Ecclesiastes:  

1 Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days proceed to come, or the years have arrived when you will say: I have no delight in them [because your body is failing];
2 [remember him] before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return, after the downpour [all weather is perceived as bad, this is depression. Grumpy old man syndrome];
3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble [you get the shakes due to nervous system degradation], and the men of vital energy have bent themselves [bent with old age], and the grinding women have quit working because they have become few [few teeth], and the ladies seeing at the windows have found it dark [eyesight begins to fail];
4 and the doors onto the street have been closed [you don't get around so much], when the sound of the grinding mill becomes low [you are going deaf at low frequencies], and one gets up at the sound of a bird [you sleep more lightly], and all the daughters of song sound low [more deafness at high frequencies].
5 Also, they have become afraid merely at what is high, and there are terrors in the way. And the almond tree carries blossoms [the last blossom of the year in Shebat - you are a bit past full bloom], and the grasshopper drags itself along [no longer able to jump], and the desire is extinguished [or caper berry bursts - capers are supposed to stimulate your appetite and desire], because man is walking to his long-lasting house [his angelic soul] and the wailers have marched around in the street [funeral attendees];
6 [remember him] before the silver cord [the modem link to the heavens] is removed, and the golden bowl gets crushed [the brain that holds the spirit ceases functioning. Gold because the spirit resides their first and the cord is silver because the spirit goes down that cord second into your long lasting house], and the jar at the spring is broken [respiration stops], and the waterwheel for the cistern has been crushed [the heart stops pumping].
7 And the dust returns to the earth [the body decomposes] just as it happened to be and the spirit itself returns to the [true] God who gave it [who puts it into a sleeping angel] (Ecclesiates 12).

The long lasting house is his angelic body, the wailers are the funeral attenders, the golden bowl and jar and the waterwheel are his human body (it's all plumbing for blood which represents the spirit). The spirit returns to the true God, the silver cord is his lifeline of continuity between the human soul and the angelic soul, it is his umbilical cord with the heavenly woman, the holy spirit. It is Godís means of conquering death. When the umbilical cord is broken the child is born. Gold precedes silver in value, and gold precedes silver in time in this and other bible symbolisms - see [U235]. The gold body, which the man has first, is the human one and the silver body is the angelic one.

The silver cord is the saviour of the spirit of a person. This spirit is the spirit/breath of life that God breathed into Adam. This spirit of life, one's spirit, one's personality, persists even after death, returning to God, via the silver cord, being exhaled in fact. One's very breathing confirms this several times a minute. God either puts it in a sleeping angel, the first death or in Gehenna/Hell (the second death). The sleeping angel, a spirit creature, whether named, conceived in the heavenly woman's womb, or just designated for an unrighteous man who will be resurrected, is a living soul, just like an unborn foetus. It actually has the same spirit of life as the human soul, for God breathed into both of Adam's nostrils the same spirit. Therefore the human is in fact angelically possessed, from his sanctification, by his named sleeping angel. Gordon has two souls, but only one spirit. This living angel provides the continuity of his spirit symbolised by the silver thread, through death which preserves him.

19 This [hope] we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm, and it enters within the curtain (Hebrews 6).  

Thinking about brain injuries and alzheimers etc leads us to conclude that the silver cord is a network link to a heavenly memory storage device for everyone who has not yet been born again. Those who are born again have an angel for that purpose. So all of our memories are stored perfectly in the our heavenly server! If not then we would be the victims of character rape through disease or injury!

So to sum up, the soul is a vehicle for your spirit. There are two types of soul, fleshly and angelic. These are the two vehicles for the spirit of a man. Before you die, your spirit is put into a sleeping angelic body by God. Then when you die, you merely become a sleeping angel. You are effectively angelically possessed by an empty angel before you die.

Gordon said to Mike one day whilst walking along the side of the Islington canal: What precisely happens to us in the first death do you think? (we both knew that the first death is sleep in an angel but we did not know what such sleep would feel like - how would it be experienced?) Mike made the mistake of giving Gordon the classic JW answer: Oh we will have to wait for the kingdom to find that one out! Gordon said: Rubbish, we will not have to wait until the kingdom, in fact I bet you that God will give me the answer today. He did. One dreams but forgets ones dreams. In that day/period our thoughts do perish - but we do have the thoughts first before they perish!

The word symbolic meaning of Ecclesiastes 12?

1 Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days [of the end times] proceed to come, or the years have arrived when you will say: I have no delight in them [because of lawlessness, corruption, selfishness];
2 [remember him] before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark [in the great tribulation], and the clouds return, after the downpour [Jesus returns after the final spirit baptism];
3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble [the secular rulers panic], and the men of vital energy have bent themselves [ducking in hide outs due to nuclear and other bombs], and the grinding [females] have quit working because they have become few [due to a famine], and the [females] seeing at the windows have found it dark [seeing wicked behaviour];
4 and the doors onto the street have been closed [due to fear of the mobs and gangs or security forces], when the sound of the grinding mill becomes low [famine], and one gets up at the sound of a bird [you sleep more lightly], and all the daughters of song sound low [joy evaporates].
5 Also, they have become afraid merely at what is high, and there are terrors in the way. And the almond tree carries blossoms [the last blossom of the year in Shebat - the system is past full bloom], and the grasshopper drags itself along [no longer able to jump], and the desire is extinguished [worldly desire is shown up for what it is], because man is walking to his long-lasting house [the kingdom of God] and the wailers have marched around in the street [funeral attendees];
6 [remember him] before the silver cord [the 2NC administration?] is removed, and the golden bowl gets crushed [Spirit baptism ends], and the jar at the spring is broken [water baptism ends], and the waterwheel for the cistern has been crushed [faith baptism ends].
7 And the dust returns to the earth [the faithless sons of Adam die] just as it happened to be and the spirit [the holy spirit] itself returns to the [true] God who gave it [] (Ecclesiates 12).

Those in the first death are in fact alive from a second death standpoint since they are not in the second death, so they have an angelic soul, they are born again, although first dead, asleep in a temporary angel. John 3 tells is that everyone is born again, for even those in Gehenna do see the kingdom of God!