THE MENTAL BODY
by Arthur E. Powell
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MENTAL ELEMENTAL ESSENCEа
COMPOSITION AND STRUCTUREа
KAMA-MANAS [DESIRE MIND]а
THOUGHT Ц WAVESа
THOUGHT Ц FORMSа
THE MECHANISM OF THOUGHT-TRANSFERENCEа
THOUGHT Ц TRANSFERENCE: [a] UNCONSCIOUS
THOUGHT Ц TRANSFERENCE : [b] CONSCIOUS: and MENTAL HEALING
PHYSICAL OR WAKING CONSCIOUSNESSа
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DEVACHAN : GENERAL PRINCIPLES
DEVACHAN : LENGTH AND INTENSITY
DEVACHAN : FURTHER PARTICULARS
THE FIRST HEAVENа [SEVENTH SUB-PLANE]а
THE SECOND HEAVENа [SIXTH SUB-PLANE]
THE THIRD HEAVENа [ FIFTH SUB-PLANE ]
THE FOURTH HEAVEN [ FOURTH SUB-PLANE ]
THE MENTAL PLANE
THE AKASHIC RECORDSа
MENTAL PLANE INHABITANTSа
DEATH OF THE MENTAL BODY
THE PERSONALITY AND EGO
DEVACHAN : PRINCIPLES
The first portion
of the life after death, spent on the astral plane, has already been fully described
in The Astral Body. We therefore now take up our study from the moment when
the astral body is left behind on its own plane, and the man withdraws his consciousness
into the mental body, ie., "rises" to the mental plane, and in so
doing enters what is known as the heaven-world. This is usually called by Theosophists
Devachan, which means literally the Shining Land; it is also termed in Sanskrit
Devasthân, the land of the Gods; it is the Svarga of the Hindus, the Sukhavati
of the Buddhists, the Heaven of the Zoroastrian, Christian and Mohammedan; it
has been called also the "Nirvana " of the common people." The
basic principle of devachan is that it is a world of thought.
A man in devachan is described as a devachanî.
[The word Devachan is etymologically inaccurate, and therefore misleading. It has, however, become so firmly embedded in the Theosophical terminology that the present compiler has retained it throughout this volume. At least it has the merit of being less clumsy than "heaven-world" A. E. Powell.]
In the older books devachan is described as a specially guarded part of the mental plane, where all sorrow and evil are excluded by the action of the great spiritual Intelligences who superintend human evolution. It is the blissful resting-place of man where he peacefully assimilates the fruits of his physical life.
In reality, however, devachan is not a reserved part of the mental plane. It is rather that each man, as we shall see presently, shuts himself up in his own shell, and therefore takes no part in the life of the mental plane at all; he does not move about freely and deal with people as he does on the astral plane.
Another way of regarding
what has been called the artificial guardianship of devachan, the gulf that
surrounds each individual there, arises from the fact that the whole of the
kâmic, or astral, matter has, of course been swept away, and is no longer
there. The man therefore has no vehicle, no medium of communication which can
respond to anything in the lower worlds. For practical purposes these are in
consequence non-existent for him.
The final separation of the mental body from the astral does not involve any pain or suffering; in fact, it is impossible that the ordinary man should in any way realise its nature; he would simply feel himself sinking gently into a delightful repose.
There is however, usually a period of blank unconsciousness, analogous to that which usually follows physical death; the period may vary within wide limits, and from it the man awakens gradually.
It appears that this
period of unconsciousness is one of gestation, corresponding to the pre-natal
physical life, and being necessary for the building up of the devachanic ego
for the life in devachan. Part of it appears to be occupied in the absorption
by the astral permanent atom of everything that has to be carried forward for
the future, and part of it in vivifying the matter of the mental body for its
coming separate independent life.
When the man awakens again, after the second death, his first sense is one of indescribable bliss and vitality, a feeling of such other joy in living that he needs for the time nothing but just to live. Such bliss is of the essence of life in all the higher worlds of the system. Even astral life has possibilities of happiness far greater than anything that we can know in the physical life, but the heaven-life is out of all proportion more blissful than the astral. In each higher world the same experience is repeated, each far surpassing the preceding one. This is true not only of the feeling of bliss, but also of wisdom and breadth of view. The heaven life is so much fuller and wider than the astral that no comparison between them is possible.
As the sleeper awakens
in devachan the most delicate hues greet his opening eyes, the very air seems
music and colour, the whole being is suffused with light and harmony. Then through
the golden haze appear the faces of those he has loved on earth, etherealised
into the beauty which expresses their noblest, loveliest emotions, unmarred
by the troubles and the passions of the lower worlds. No man may describe adequately
the bliss of the awakening into the heaven-world.
This intensity of bliss is the main characteristic of the heaven-life. It is not merely that evil and sorrow are in the nature of things impossible in that world, or even that every creature is happy there. It is a world in which every being must, from the very fact of his presence there, be enjoying the highest spiritual bliss of which he is capable, a world where power of response to his aspirations is limited only by his capacity to aspire.
This sense of the overwhelming presence of universal joy never leaves a man in devachan; nothing on earth is like it, nothing can image it; the tremendous spiritual vitality of this celestial world is indescribable.
Various attempts have been made to describe the heaven-world, but all of them fail because it is by its nature indescribable in physical language. Thus Buddhist and Hindu seers speak of trees of gold and silver with jewelled fruits; the Jewish scribe, having lived in a great and magnificent city, spoke of the streets of gold and silver; more modern Theosophical writers draw their similes from the colours of the sunset and the glories of the sea and sky. Each alike tries to paint the truth, too grand for words, by employing such similes as are familiar to his mind.
The man's position
in the mental world differs widely from that in the astral. In the astral he
was using a body to which he was thoroughly accustomed, having been in the habit
of using it during sleep. The mental vehicle however, he has never used before,
and it is far from being fully developed. It thus shuts him out to a great extent
from the world about him, instead of enabling him to see it.
During his purgatorial life on the astral plane the lower part of his nature burnt itself away; now there remain to him only his higher and more refined thoughts, the noble and unselfish aspirations which he entertained during his earth-life.
In the astral world he may have a comparatively pleasant life, though distinctly limited; on the other hand, he may suffer considerably in that purgatorial existence. But in devachan he reaps the results only of such of his thoughts and feelings as have been entirely unselfish; hence the devachanic life cannot be other than blissful.
As a Master has said, devachan "is the land where there are no tears, no sighs, where there is neither
marrying nor giving in marriage, and where the just realise their full perfection."
The thoughts which cluster round the devachani make a sort of shell, through the medium of which he is able to respond to certain types of vibration in this refined matter. These thoughts are the powers by which he draws on the infinite wealth of the heaven-world. They serve as windows through which he can look out upon the glory and beauty of the heaven-world, and through which also response may come to him from forces without.
Every man who is above the lowest savage must have had some touch of pure unselfish feeling, even if it were but once in all his life; and that will be a window for him now.
It would be an error
to regard this shell of thought as a limitation. Its function is not to shut
a man off from the vibrations of the plane, but rather to enable him to respond
to such influences as are within his capacity to cognise. The mental plane [as
we shall see in Chapter XXVII] is a reflection of the Divine Mind, a storehouse
of infinite extent, from which the person enjoying heaven is able to draw just
according to the power of his own thoughts and aspirations generated during
his physical and astral life.
In the heaven-world these limitations if we may call them that for the moment no longer exist; but with that higher world we are not concerned in this volume.
Each man is able
to draw upon the heaven-world, and to cognise only so much of it as he has by
previous effort prepared himself to take. As the Eastern simile has it, each
man brings his own cup; some of the cups are large, and some are small. But,
large or small, every cup is filled to its uttermost capacity; the sea of bliss
is far more than enough for all.
The ordinary man is not capable of any great activity in this mental world; his condition is chiefly receptive, and his vision of anything outside his own shell of thought is of the most limited character. His thoughts and aspirations being only along certain lines, he cannot suddenly form new ones; hence he perforce can profit little from the living forces which surround him, or from the mighty angelic inhabitants of the mental world, even though many of these readily respond to certain of man's aspirations.
Thus a man who, during earth-life, has chiefly regarded physical things, has made for himself but few windows through which he may contact the world in which he finds himself. A man, however, whose interests lay in art, music or philosophy will find measureless enjoyment and unlimited instruction awaiting him, the extent to which he can benefit depending solely upon his own power of perception.
There is a large number of people whose only higher thoughts are those connected with affection and devotion. A man who loves another deeply, or feels strong devotion to a personal deity, makes a strong mental image of that friend, or of the deity, and inevitably takes that mental image with him into the mental world, because it is to that level of matter that it naturally belongs.
Now follows an important and interesting result. The love which forms and retains the image is a very powerful force, strong enough in fact to reach and to act upon the ego of the friend, which exists on the higher mental plane; for it is of course, the ego that is the real man loved, not the physical body which is so partial a representation of him. The ego of the friend, feeling the vibration, at once and eagerly responds to it, and pours himself into the thought-form which has been made for him. The man's friend is therefore truly present with him more vividly than ever before.
It makes no difference whatever whether the friend is what we call living or dead; this is because the appeal is made, not to the fragment of the friend which is sometimes imprisoned in a physical body, but to the man himself on his own true level. The ego always responds; so that one who has a hundred friends can simultaneously and fully respond to the affection of every one of them, for no number of representations of a lower level can exhaust the infinity of the ego. Hence a man can express himself in the "heavens" of an indefinite number of people.
Each man in his heaven-life
thus has around him the vivified thought-forms of all the friends for whose
company he wishes. Moreover, they are for him always their best, because he
has himself made the thought-images through which they manifest.
In the limited physical world we are accustomed to thinking of our friend as only the limited manifestation which we know on the physical plane. In the heaven world, on the other hand, we are clearly much nearer to the reality in our friends than we ever were on earth, as we are two stages, or planes, nearer the home of the ego himself.
There is an important
difference between life after death on the mental plane and life on the astral
plane. For on the astral plane we meet our friends [during sleep of their physical
bodies] in their astral bodies; i.e., we are still dealing with their personalities.
On the mental plane, however, we do not meet our friends in the mental bodies
which they use on earth. On the contrary, their egos build for themselves entirely
new and separate mental vehicles and, instead of the consciousness of the personalities,
the consciousness of the egos work through the mental vehicles. The mental plane
activities of our friends are thus entirely separate in every way from the personalities
of their physical lives.
Hence any sorrow or trouble which may fall upon the personality of the living man cannot in the least affect the thought-form of him which his ego is using as an additional mental body. If in that manifestation he did know of the sorrow or trouble of the personality, it would not be a trouble to him, because he would regard it from the point of view of the ego in the causal body, viz., as a lesson to be learned, or some karma to be worked out. In this view of his there is no delusion; on the contrary, it is the view of the lower personality which is the deluded one; for what the personality sees as troubles or sorrows are to the real man in the causal body merely steps on the upward path of evolution.
We also see that
a man in devachan is not conscious of the personal lives of his friends
on the physical plane. What we may call the mechanical reason for this has already
been fully explained. There are also other reasons, equally cogent, for this
arrangement. For it would obviously be impossible for a man in devachan to be
happy if he looked back and saw those whom he loved in sorrow and suffering,
or in the commission of sin.
In devachan there is thus no separation due to space or time; nor can any misunderstanding of word or thought arise; on the contrary, there is a far closer communion, soul with soul, than ever was the case in earth-life. On the mental plane there is no barrier between soul and soul; exactly in proportion to the reality of soul-life in us is the reality of soul-communion in devachan. The soul of our friend lives in the form of him which we have created just to the extent that his soul and ours can throb in sympathetic vibration.
We can have no touch with those with whom on earth the ties were only of the physical and astral bodies, or if they and we were discordant in the inner life. Hence, in devachan no enemy can enter, for only sympathetic accord of mind and heart can draw men together in the heaven-world.
With those who are beyond us in evolution, we come into contact just so far as we can respond to them; with those who are less advanced than we are, we commune to the limit of their capacity.
The student will recollect that the Desire-Elemental re-arranges the astral body after death in concentric layers of matter, the densest outermost, thus confining the man to that sub-plane of the astral world to which belongs the matter in the outermost layer of his astral body. On the mental plane there is nothing to correspond to this, the mental elemental not acting in the manner adopted by the Desire-Elemental.
There is also another important difference between the astral and mental life. On the mental plane the man does not pass through the various levels in turn, but is drawn direct to the level which best corresponds to his degree of development. On that level he spends the whole of his life in the mental body. The varieties of that life are infinite, as each man makes his own for himself.
In devachan, the
heaven world, all that was valuable in the moral and mental experiences of the
Thinker during the life just ended is worked out, meditated over, and gradually
transmuted into definite moral and mental faculty, into powers which he will
take with him to his next incarnation. He does not work into the mental body,
the actual memory of the past, for the mental body will, as we shall see in
due course, disintegrate. The memory of the past abides only in the Thinker
himself, who has lived through it and who endures. But the facts of past experience
are worked into capacity, so that, if a man has studied deeply, the effects
of that study will be the creation of a special faculty to acquire and master
that subject when it is first presented to him in another incarnation. He will
be born with a special aptitude for that line of study, and will absorb it with
Everything thought upon earth is thus utilised in devachan; every aspiration is worked up into power; all frustrated efforts become faculties and abilities; struggles and defeats re-appear as materials to be wrought into instruments of victory; sorrows and errors shine luminous as precious metals to be worked up into wise and well-directed volitions. Schemes of beneficence, for which power and skill to accomplish were lacking in the past, are in devachan worked out in thought, acted out, as it were, stage by stage, and the necessary power and skill are developed as faculties of mind to be put into use in a future life on earth.
In devachan, as a
Master has said, the ego collects "only the nectar of moral qualities
and consciousness from every terrestrial personality".
During the devachanic period the ego reviews his store of experiences, the harvest of the earth-life just closed, separating and classifying them, assimilating what is capable of assimilation, rejecting what is effete and useless. The ego can no more be always busied in the whirl of earth-life than a workman can always be gathering store of materials, and never fabricating from them goods; or than a man can always be eating food and never digesting and assimilating it to build up the tissues of his body. Thus devachan, except for the very few, as we shall see later, is an absolute necessity in the scheme of things.
An imperfect understanding
of the true nature of devachan has sometimes led people to think that the life
of the ordinary person in the lower heaven-world is nothing but a dream and
an illusion; that when he imagines himself happy amidst his family and friends,
or carrying out his plans with such fullness of joy and success, he is really
only a victim of a cruel delusion.
This idea results from misconception of what constitutes reality [so far as we can ever know it], and from a faulty point of view. The student should recollect that most people realise so little of their mental life, even as led in the body, that when they are presented with a picture of mental life out of the body, they lose all sense of reality, and feel as though they had passed into a world of dream. The truth is, however, that physical life compares unfavourably, as regards reality, with life in the mental world.
During ordinary earth-life
it is obvious that that average person's conception of everything around him
is imperfect and inaccurate in very many ways. He knows, for example, nothing
of the etheric, astral and mental forces which lie behind everything he sees,
and form in fact by far the most important part of it.
His whole outlook is limited to that small portion of things which his senses, his intellect, his education, his experience, enable him to take in. Thus he lives in a world very largely of his own creation. He does not realise that this is so, because he knows no better. Thus, from this point of view, ordinary physical life is at least as illusory as is life in devachan, and careful thought will show that it is really far more so.
For, when a man in devachan takes his thoughts to be real things, he is perfectly right; they are real things on the mental plane, because in that world nothing but thought can be real. The difference is that on the mental plane we recognise this great fact in nature, whereas on the physical plane we do not. Hence we are justified in saying that, of the two, the delusion is greater on the physical plane. Mental life, in fact, is far more intense, vivid, and nearer to reality than the life of the senses.
Hence, in the words of a Master: "we call the posthumous life the only reality, and the terrestrial one, including the personality itself, only imaginary." "To call the devachan existence a dream' in any other sense than that of a conventional term, is to renounce for ever the knowledge of the Esoteric Doctrine, the sole custodian of truth".
One reason for the feeling of reality in earth-life, and of unreality when we hear of devachan, is that we look at earth-life from within, under the full sway of its illusions, while we contemplate devachan from outside free for the time from its particular grade of mâyâ or illusion.
In devachan itself
the process is reversed; for its inhabitants feel their own life to be the real
one, and look on earth-life as full of the most patent illusions and misconceptions.
On the whole, those in devachan are nearer the truth than their physical critics
in earth-life, but of course the illusions of earth, though lessened, are not
wholly escaped from in the lower heavens, in spite of the fact that contact
there is more real and more immediate.
In more general terms, the truth is that the higher we rise through the planes of being, the nearer we draw to reality; for spiritual things are relatively real and enduring, material things illusory and transitory.
The student may usefully
pursue this thought a little further, and regard the life in devachan as the
natural and inevitable result of the earlier life spent on the physical and
astral planes. Our highest ideals and aspirations are never realised on the
physical plane, nor can they ever be realised there, because of the narrowness
of its possibilities and the comparative grossness of its matter.
But by the law of karma [of which that known as the conservation of energy is another expression] no force can ever be lost or robbed of its due effect; it must produce its due and full effect, and until its opportunity arises it remains as so much stored-up energy. In other words, much of the higher spiritual energy of man cannot bring about its due result in earth-life, because his higher principles cannot respond to such fine and subtle vibrations until the man is free from the incubus of the flesh. In the heaven-life, for the first time, all this hindrance is removed, and the accumulated energy pours forth in the inevitable reaction which the law of karma demands. "On the earth the broken arcs", says Browning, "in the heaven a perfect round". So perfect justice is done, and nothing is ever lost, even though in the physical world it may seem that much has missed its aim and come to nothing.
Devachan is thus
by no means a dream, or lotus-land of purposeless idling. On the contrary, it
is a land, or better, a condition of existence, where the mind and heart develop,
unhindered by gross matter or by trivial cares, where weapons are forged for
the struggles of earth-life, and where, in fact, the progress of the future
The student may perceive also that the system upon which nature has arranged the life after death is the only conceivable one which could fulfil its object of making everyone happy to the fullest extent of his capacity for happiness. If the joy of heaven were of one particular type only [as it is according to certain orthodox theories] some would weary of it, some would not be able to participate in it, either from want of taste in that particular direction, or from want of the necessary education.In Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven, Mark Twain has made of the old-fashioned idea of heaven such a reductio ad absurdum as to make it [one would think] forever untenable, thereby incidentally affording a classic example of the uses of humorous analysis even in matters of profound religion and philosophy.
Returning to our main theme, what other arrangement with regard to relatives and friends could be equally satisfactory? If the departed were permitted to follow the fluctuating fortunes of their friends on earth, happiness would be impossible for them. If, without knowing what was happening to them, they had to wait until the death of those friends before meeting them, there would be a painful period of suspense, often extending over many years, while in many cases friends would arrive so changed as to be no longer sympathetic.
Nature has avoided all these difficulties. Each man decides for himself, both the length and character of his heaven-life, by the causes which he has himself generated during his earth-life; therefore he cannot but have exactly the amount which he has deserved, and exactly that quality of joy which is best suited to his idiosyncrasies. Those whom he loves he has ever with him, and always at their noblest and best; no shadow of discord or change can ever come between them, since he receives from them all the time exactly what he wishes. In fact, nature's method is infinitely superior to anything which the wit or imagination of man has ever been able to offer in its place.
It is, perhaps, difficult
on the physical plane to realise the creative nature of the powers exercised
by the Thinker, clad in his mental body, and untrammelled by the physical vehicle.
On earth, an artist may create visions of exquisite beauty, but when he seeks
to embody them in the materials of earth he finds they fall short of his mental
conceptions. In devachan, however, all that a man thinks is at once reproduced
in form, out of the rare and subtle matter of mind-stuff itself, the medium
in which the mind normally works when free from passion, and which responds
to every mental impulse. Thus the beauty of man's surroundings in devachan is
indefinitely increased to the wealth and energy of his mind.
The student should strive to realise that the mental plane is a vast and splendid world of vivid life in which we are living now, as well as in the periods between physical incarnations. It is only our lack of development, the limitations imposed by the physical body, that prevent us from fully realising that all the glory of the highest heaven is about us here and now, and that influences flowing from that world are ever playing upon us, if we will only understand and receive them. As the Buddhist teacher said: "the light is all about you, if you will only cast the bandage from your eyes and look. It is so wonderful, so beautiful, so far beyond what any man has dreamt of or prayed for, and it is forever and ever.". [The Soul of a People, p.163.]
In other words, devachan is a state of consciousness, and may be entered at any time by one who has learned to withdraw his soul from his senses.
We may consider that what devachan is to each earth-life, so is Nirvana to the finished cycle of reincarnation.
DEVACHAN : LENGTH AND INTENSITY
In view of the fact
that man makes for himself his own purgatory and his own heaven, it is clear
that neither of these states of consciousness can ever be eternal, for a finite
cause cannot produce an infinite result.
The apportionment of time that a man spends in the physical, astral and mental worlds varies considerably as he evolves. The primitive man lives almost exclusively in the physical world, spending only a few years on the astral plane after death. As he develops, his astral life becomes longer, and as his intellect unfolds he begins to spend a little time on the mental plane as well.
The ordinary man of civilised races remains longer in the mental world than in the physical and astral. In fact, the more a man evolves, the shorter becomes his astral, and the longer his mental life.
Hence we see that,
except in the very earliest stages of his evolution, a man spends by far the
greater part of his time on the mental plane. As we shall see presently in detail,
except in the case of the very undeveloped, the proportion of the physical life
to the mental life is rarely more than 1 in 20, and in the case of fairly well-developed
people it would sometimes fall as low as 1 in 30. The student must ever bear
in mind that the true home of the real man, the ego, is the mental plane; each
descent into incarnation is merely a short, though important, episode in his
The tables on pp. 186-187, give an idea of the approximate average intervals between lives, according to the class of man concerned, together with the average portion spent on the astral, mental and causal levels.
The student is asked not to attach too literal or too rigid an interpretation to this classification by social rank, which is in some ways objectionable. At best the grouping should be taken as a rough and ready approximation. For it is obvious, for example that there may be specimens of the "drunkard and unemployable" class at any social level; or a person who is by his social position belongs to the "country gentlemen" class may truly be nothing higher than an unskilled labourer though he may omit the labour! It would have been better if, instead of social grade, some method of classification by moral and mental development could have been devised; but even this method might have proved just as difficult as that which has been adopted.
Moon-Chain Round No.
|Total interval between lives||Astral Life|
Advanced egos on the Path (many of these are taking continuous incarnations, so that for them the question of intervals between lives does not arise) Egos approaching the Path: -
1,500-2,000 or more
(an ego may even pass through rapidly and unconsciously
1,350-1,800 mostly on the highest level
|Tendency to longer astral and shorter causal life, especially for the religious and the artistic|
|6||Country gentlemen and professional men||600- 1,000||20-25||600-1,000||Touch of consciousness|
|7||Uppder Middle Class||500||25||475||Nil|
It must be understood that the above figures are only averages, a wide range on each side of them being possible.
|Class of Ego||Present Type|
|Total interval between lives||Astral Life||Heave-Life|
|Moon-Men: Second Order||Bourgeoisie||200-300||40||160-260 on lower levels||Nil|
|Moon Animal-Men||Skilled Workers||100-200||40||60-160 on lower levels||Nil|
|Moon-Animals: First Class||Unskilled Labourers||600-100||40-50||20-50 on lowest level||Nil|
|Moon-Animals: Second Class||Drunkards and Unemployables||40-50||40-50||Nil||Nil|
|Moon-Animals: Third Class||Lower of humanity||5||5||Nil||Nil|
A certain difference is produced by the mode of the individualisation, but this difference is much less, in proportion, in the lower classes. Those individualised through intellect tend to take the longer of the two intervals mentioned, whereas those individualised in other ways tend to take the shorter interval. We shall return to this point and explain it in fuller detail presently.
Generally speaking, a man who dies young tends to have a shorter interval than one who dies in old age, but is likely to have a greater proportion of astral life, because most of the strong emotions which work themselves out in the astral life are generated in the earlier part of physical life, whereas the more spiritual energy, which finds its result in the heaven-life, is likely to continue until the end or near the end of the earth-life.
Thus, as we have
seen, the total time spent in devachan depends upon the materials which the
man has brought with him from earth-life; that is to say, everything which is
capable of being worked up into mental and moral faculty all the pure
thoughts and emotions generated during earth-life, all the intellectual and
moral efforts and aspirations, all the memories of useful work, and plans for
human service. Not one is lost, however feeble or fleeting; but selfish animal
passions cannot enter, there being no material in which they can be
Nor does evil in the past life, though it may largely preponderate over the good, prevent the full reaping of whatever scant harvest of good there may be; the devachanic life may be very brief, but the most depraved, if he has any faint longings after the right, any stirrings of tenderness, must have a period of devachanic life, in which the seed of good may put forth its tender shoots, in which the spark of good may be fanned into a tiny flame.
In the past, when men lived with their hearts fixed on heaven, and directed their lives with a view to enjoying its bliss, the period spent in devachan was very long, lasting sometimes for many thousands of years. At the present time, however, men's minds being so much more centred on earth, and so few of their thoughts being directed towards the higher life, their devachanic periods are correspondingly shortened.
Similarly, the time spent in the lower mental and the causal heaven-worlds are proportional to the amount of thought generated severally in the mental and the causal bodies. All that belongs to the personal self, with its ambitions, interests, loves, hopes and fears, have their fruition in the lower mental world, the world of form; those belonging to the higher mind, to the regions of abstract, impersonal thinking, have to be worked out on the causal levels, the formless world. As the above tables show, the majority of people only just enter the causal heaven-world, and pass out swiftly again; some spend a large portion of their devachanic life there; a few spend there almost the whole.
Thus, just as a man
makes for himself his astral or purgatorial existence, so he decides for himself
both the length and character of his heaven-life, by the causes which he generates
during his earth-life. Hence he cannot but have both the amount which he has
deserved, and also exactly the quality of joy which is best suited
to his idiosyncrasies.
Another factor of great importance and interest, is that of the intensity of the devachanic life, which varies with the different classes of egos, and which of course produces a considerable effect upon the length of the heaven-life.
In the table on p.
186, within the same group of egos, two types are shown which, though equal
in development, differ greatly in their intervals between lives, one of them
taking about 1,200, and the other about 700 years between lives. Now the amount
of spiritual force generated is roughly equal in the two cases, but those who
take the shorter interval compress a double amount of bliss into their heaven-lives,
working as it were, at high pressure, concentrating their experience, and so
getting through nearly twice as much in any given period as the members of the
This difference, as was briefly mentioned a few pages back, is due to the way in which individualisation was attained. Without entering into the details of individualisation [which would be beyond the scope of the present volume], it may be explained that those who individualise gradually by intellectual development, generate a different kind of spiritual force, which gives them a longer devachanic life, than those who individualise through an instantaneous uprush of affection or devotion, and who take their bliss in a much more concentrated or intense form. If there be any difference in the amount of force generated, it appears to be slightly more in the case of those who take the shorter interval.
Investigations have shown that there is great flexibility regarding intervals between lives, resulting in much variation in the rate at which egos work out their heaven-lives.
One important reason for this is the necessity of bringing together groups of people into incarnation at the same time, not only in order that they may work out mutual karmic inter-relations, but also that they may learn to work together for certain great ends.
There are, for example, certain groups of egos, known as "servers", who come together life after life, in order that they may pass through similar preparatory experiences, that the bonds of affection between them may be knit so strongly that they will be incapable of misunderstanding or mistrusting one another, when the strain of the real work they are destined to do comes upon them in the future. The one great fact that the group is devoted to service overpowers all other considerations, and the group is thus brought together in order that it may perform that service as a body of people.
In this, needless
to say, there is no injustice; no one can escape one jot of the karma legitimately
due to him. But the rate at which karma is worked out is adjusted to meet the
particular circumstances of each case. Thus it sometimes happens that certain
past karma would be cleared up rapidly in order that the person may be free
to do higher work without hindrance from it; to this end it sometimes happens
that a considerable accumulation of karma may descend upon a man at once in
some great catastrophe; he thus gets rid of it rapidly, and his way is cleared
Of course, in the case of the great bulk of humanity, there is no special interference of this nature, and their heaven-life works itself out at its ordinary rate.
Differences in the time of working out karma, involving a difference in intensity in the life, are shown by a greater or lesser brilliancy in the light of the mental body.
DEVACHAN : FURTHER PARTICULARS
Having studied some
of the general features of devachan, and its broad purpose, it will now be necessary
to go over the ground again, filling in more details, and adding other particulars
which could not, without overloading, be included in the first description.
In spite of devachan being to a certain extent illusory, as indeed is all manifested life, in varying degree, nevertheless there is much greater reality in the heaven-life than there is in the earth life. This is clearly seen when we consider the conditions requisite for the attainment of devachan. For, in order that an aspiration or a thought-force should result in existence on the mental plane, its dominant characteristic must be unselfishness.
Affection for family
or friends takes man a man into the heaven-life, as also does religious devotion;
but only if the affection or the devotion is unselfish. Affection which is an
exacting, selfish kind of passion, which desires mainly to be loved,
which thinks of what it receives rather than of what it gives, and which may
so easily degenerate into the vice of jealousy, has in it no seed of the mental
development; the forces which it sets in motion will never rise above the astral
plane, the plane of desire, to which they so clearly belong.
Where there is no grasping, no drawing towards the self, no thought of return, there is a tremendous outpouring of force, which no astral matter can express, nor could the dimensions of the astral plane contain it. It needs the finer matter and the wider space of the mental plane, the energy generated belonging to that higher world.
Similarly the devotion of the religious devotee whose main thought is, not the glory of the deity, but how he may save his own soul, cannot lead to devachan. But on the other hand real religious devotion, which never thinks of self, but only of love and gratitude towards the deity or leader, and is inspired by ardent desire to do something for him or in his name, often leads to a prolonged heaven-life of a comparatively exalted type.
This would be the
case whoever the deity or leader might be, and hence followers of the Buddha,
of Krishna, of Ormuzd, Allah, or the Christ, would all equally attain their
meed of celestial bliss, its length and quality depending not in the least upon
its object, but upon the intensity and purity of the feeling.
It is an error to suppose that a man on the astral and mental planes after death is merely working out the results of his past earth-life; broadly speaking, this is true of the ordinary man, yet nevertheless even whilst he is enjoying the bliss of his devachan, he is at the same time affecting others, and he is therefore producing results, i.e., he is generating karma.
This must be so,
in the very nature of things, because thought is the most potent factor in the
creation of human karma. Every force has the characteristic of the plane on
which it is generated, and the higher the plane the more potent and the more
persistent the force.
In those cases, at present rare, in which, by raising the consciousness to the causal level, the higher mind and lower selves are unified, the consciousness of the ego is at the disposal of the man throughout the whole of his physical, astral and mental lives. Hence it follows that he is generating karma just as much at one period as at another, and he is able to modify the conditions of his life by the exercise of thought and will.
But, apart from such cases of well-developed men, even an ordinary man produces, quite unintentionally and unconsciously to himself, three separate results during the whole of his heaven-life.
First: The affection which he pours upon the thought-image he has made of his friend is a mighty power for good, which bears no inconsiderable part in the evolution of the ego of that friend. Affection is evoked from the friend, thus tending to intensify that admirable quality in him. Such an act is obviously one which generates karma.
It is even possible
that the effect of this action may be manifested in the personality of the friend
on the physical plane. For, if the ego be modified by the affection showered
upon the thought-form it en-souls, it is possible that that modification may
show itself in the personality, which is of course another manifestation of
the same ego.
Second : A man who pours out a great flood of affection, and evokes in response other floods from his friends, is clearly distinctly improving the mental atmosphere of his neighbourhood. This atmosphere plays upon all the inhabitants of the world who are living in that atmosphere devas, men, animals, plants, etc. This will clearly produce a karmic result.
Third : A thought of unselfish affection or devotion not only calls forth a response from the Logos to the individual who originated the thought, but also helps to fill the reservoir of spiritual force, which is held by the Nirmanakayas at the disposal of the Masters of Wisdom and Their pupils for the helping of humanity [vide The Astral Body , p. 57]. Magnificent as may be the result of such affection or devotion during physical life, it is easy to see that the response to the thought of an entity in devachan, sustained perhaps for a thousand years, will make to t he reservoir a considerable contribution, bringing to the world a benefit which is not calculable in any terms that we use upon the physical plane.
From all these considerations it should be clear that even quite an ordinary man, who has yet no special development of consciousness, is nevertheless capable of doing a great deal of good during his life in devachan. Hence he is during that time actually making fresh karma for himself, and may even modify his heaven-life while it is in progress.
In the physical world, many of our thoughts are mere fragments. In devachan the dreamer contemplates such fragments and patiently works them out in every detail, in every possibility of splendid performance, living through them with a vividness which nothing on earth can rival. He builds, shapes, moulds them into all their varied possibilities and tosses them into the world of form . Others may then pick them up, and be inspired by them to undertake schemes of reform, works of philanthropy, and so forth. Thus from the radiant thought-stuff of some solitary dreamer may arise wonderful changes, his "dreaming" helping to re-create the world.
It must however,
be borne in mind that, owing to the limitations which the ordinary man imposes
upon himself in devachan, he cannot originate a fresh line of affection
or devotion. But his affection and devotion, along the lines which he has already
decided, will be distinctly more powerful than they ever could have been while
he was labouring under the heavy limitations of the physical body.
This point will bear a little further elaboration. In order to understand the relation of a man in devachan to his surroundings, we have to think  of the matter of the plane as moulded by his thought, and  of the forces of the plane as evoked in answer to his aspirations.
We have already seen how the man moulds the matter of the plane into thought-images of his friends, and how egos of the friends express themselves through the images.
There are also other living forces about him, mighty angelic inhabitants of the plane; of these, many are very sensitive to certain aspirations of man, and readily respond to them.
But the main point to bear in mind is that both his thoughts and his aspirations are along those lines only which he has already prepared during earth-life.
It might perhaps have been imagined that when a man rises to a plane of such transcendent force and vitality, he would be stirred to entirely new activities along new lines; but this is not the case. His mental body [as we saw previously] is not by any means in the same order as his lower vehicles, neither is it so fully under control. It has in the past been accustomed to receive its impressions and incitements to action from below, chiefly from the physical, and sometimes from the astral. It has done very little in this way of receiving direct mental vibrations at its own level; consequently it cannot suddenly begin to accept and respond to them. Practically, thus, the man does not initiate any new thoughts, but is limited to those which he has previously entertained, and which form the only windows through which he can look out on his new world. Hence, a colourless, flavourless personality necessarily has a colourless, feeble devachanic state.
A man thus takes
into devachan just the mental furniture he has neither less nor more.
It is clearly, therefore, of great importance that during physical life he should
make his thinking as accurate and as precise as possible, otherwise he will
very much limit the usefulness of his devachan.
From this point of view, devachan is a world of effects, not causes, each man being limited to his own individual shades of perception and his capacity to appreciate. The more points of contact he has with the outer world, the more will be the starting-points or foci for development in devachan.
On the other hand,
devachan, from the point of view of the next life, is essentially a world of
causes, because in it all experiences are worked up into the character which
will be brought forward when the man returns into incarnation. Devachan is thus
the direct result of one life on earth, and prepares the way for the next life
The way in which man's vision is determined and limited by the windows through which perforce he must look, may best be studied by taking an actual example. Let us take that of music. A man who has no music in his soul has no window at all in that direction. A man, however who has a musical window is in the presence of a stupendous power. The degree to which he is able to respond will be determined by three factors. Pursuing the analogy of the glass in a window, we may call these three factors  the size of the glass;  its colour;  the quality of its material. Thus, if while on earth the man was able to appreciate only one class of music, he will obviously now be limited to that extent. His ideas of music may also be coloured, so as to admit only certain vibrations of music, or they may be of such poor material as to distort and darken everything that reaches him.
that his window is a good one, he will receive through it three distinct sets
First: He will sense that music which is the expression of the ordered movement of the forces of the plane. There is truth behind the poetic idea of the "music of the spheres", for on these higher planes all movement and action produce harmonies of sound and colour. All thought both his own and that of others expresses itself in this way, in a lovely yet indescribable series of ever-changing chords, as of a thousand Aeolian harps. The musical manifestation of the glowing life of the heaven-world forms a background to all his other experiences.
Second : Among the inhabitants of the mental plane there is an order of devas, or angels, who are specially devoted to music and who habitually express themselves by its means to a fuller extent than the rest. They are known to the Hindus as Gandharvas . The man who has musical appreciation will certainly attract their attention, will come into contact with them, and with the music they create, and will assuredly acquire much from that intercourse, for they will use all kinds of overtones and variations which were previously unknown to him. In this way he will eventually emerge from the heaven-life far richer than he entered it.
Third : He will listen with keen appreciation to the music made by his fellow-men in the heaven world.
Many of the great composers are there, pouring forth far greater music than any which they knew on earth. Much of the inspiration of earthly musicians is, in fact, but a faint echo of the music on the mental plane which they have dimly sensed.
The experience of a man who was a painter would be similar. He also would have the same three possibilities:  He would perceive the natural order of the plane expressing itself in colour as well as sound;  he would perceive the colour-language of the devas, an order of beings who communicate with one another by flashings of splendid colour ;  he would perceive the colour-creations of great artists on the mentalplane.
The same possibilities, mutatis mutandis , are open to a man in devachan, in all other directions of art or thought, so that there is an infinity for him to enjoy and to learn.
In considering the
action and reaction between the man in devachan and the thought-image he makes
of his friend, there are two factors to be taken into account:  The degree
of development of the man himself;  the degree of development of the friend.
If the man himself is undeveloped, the image he makes of his friend will be imperfect, many of the higher qualities of the friend not being represented. Consequently the ego of the friend may be able to make but little use of the image, there being nothing through which he can express some of his qualities.
Nevertheless, even at the worst the expression of a friend through an image is much fuller and more satisfying than it ever was in the physical life. For in earth-life we see our friends but partially; our knowledge of them must always be exceedingly defective, and our communion with them imperfect; even when we do believe we know our friend truly and wholly, it is still only part of him which is in incarnation that we can know, there being far more behind in the real ego which we cannot reach at all.
In fact, if it were
possible for us to see with mental vision, the whole of our friend, the probability
is that he would be quite unrecognisable; certainly he would not be the one
whom we thought we had known before.
If, on the other hand, it is the friend who is undeveloped, even when a good image is made, there may not be sufficient development in the friend to enable him to take due advantage of the image ; i.e., he may be unable to fill completely the image of him that has been made. This however, is unlikely, and could take place only when a quite unworthy object had been unwisely idolised. Even then the man who made the image would not find any change or lack in his friend, for the friend is now better able to fulfil his ideal than he ever was during physical life. Hence the joy of the man in devachan is not in any way diminished.
Whilst an ego can fill hundreds of images with those qualities which he possesses, he cannot suddenly evolve and express a quality which he has not developed, merely because someone has imagined him to have developed it. Hence the enormous advantage of forming images of those [such as the Masters] who are capable of rising above even the highest conception that the lower mind can form of them. In the case of a Master, a man is drawing upon a depth of love and power which his mental plummet can never sound.
But in every case,
the ego of the friend is reached by affection, and whatever may be its stage
of development it at once responds by pouring itself into the image which has
been made. Even the feeblest image that can be made is at any rate on the mental
plane, and, therefore, is far easier for the ego to reach than is a physical
body two planes lower down.
If the friend is still living in the physical body, he will of course be entirely unaware in his physical consciousness that his true self, or ego, is enjoying the additional manifestation; but this in no way affects the fact that the manifestation is a more real one and contains a nearer approximation to his true self than the one on the physical plane, which is all that most of us can as yet see.
From all these considerations it follows that a man who has made himself generally beloved, who has many real friends, will have a large number of thought-images in the devachans of his friends, and will thus evolve with far greater rapidity than a more ordinary man. This result is obviously the result of the karma of his development within himself of the qualities which make him so loveable.
The student will
now clearly perceive why the personality, which we know on the physical plane,
does not converse with its friends in devachan. But the real man, the
ego, does do so, acting through the thought-image, which has been created on
the mental plane.
The principle may perhaps be rendered still more clear by a practical example. Suppose that a mother, being somewhat narrow in her religious views, died, leaving behind her a well-loved daughter, and that the daughter later on broadened her religious ideas. The mother would continue to imagine that her daughter was still orthodox , and she would be able to see only as much of her daughter's thought as could be expressed by orthodox ideas; she would be unable to grasp the wider religious views which her daughter had now adopted.
But in so far as the ego of the daughter profited by what the personality had learned, there would be a tendency on her part gradually to widen out and perfect the conceptions of the mother, though always along the lines to which the mother was accustomed. There would be between them no sense of difference of opinion, and no avoidance of subjects of religion.
The above considerations apply to a person of ordinary development. In the case of a more advanced man, who was already conscious in the causal body, he would put himself down consciously into the thought-image provided for him by a friend in devachan, as into an additional mental body, and work through it with definite intention. If he happened to acquire additional knowledge he could thus directly and intentionally communicate to this friend. In this way the Masters work on such of Their pupils as take the heaven-life, and alter their characters immensely.
A man who makes for
himself an image of a Master is thus able to benefit enormously from the influence
which the Master is able to pour down into it, and to receive definite teaching
Two friends may know far more of each other at the mental level, than they ever could when physically alive, because each has now only the one veil, that of the mental body, cast over his individuality. If a man in devachan has known only one side of his friend during physical life, it will be only through that side that the friend can express himself in the heaven world. But, although he is largely confined to that side, he can express that aspect of himself much more fully and satisfactorily than ever before; the expression, in fact, is fuller than the man now in devachan was ever able to see on the lower planes.
We have already seen that an ordinary man in devachan is living in a shell of his own thoughts; he has thus shut himself off absolutely from the rest of the world, i.e., both from the mental plane and from the lower planes. But, although he is shut away from the full enjoyment of the possibilities of the mental world, he is not in the slightest degree conscious of any curtailment of his activities or his feelings. On the contrary, he is filled with bliss to the very utmost of which he is capable, and it is to him incredible that there can be any greater joy than that which he is himself experiencing.
Thus, although he
has shut himself within certain limits, he is quite unconscious of those limits,
and within them he has all that he can possibly desire or think. He has surrounded
himself with images of his friends, and through those images he is actually
in closer contact with his friends than he has ever been on any other plane.
The man in devachan by no means forgets that there is such a thing as suffering, because he remembers clearly his last life; but he understands now many things that were not clear when he was on the physical plane, and the delight of the present is for him so great that sorrow seems to him almost a dream.
The shell on the mental plane may be compared to the shell of an egg on the physical plane. The only way to get anything into the shell of the egg, without breaking it, would be to pour it in from a higher dimension, or to find a force whose vibrations are sufficiently fine to penetrate between the particles of the shell without disturbing them. The same is true of the mental shell; it cannot be penetrated by any vibrations of matter of its own level, but the finer vibrations which belong to the ego can pass through it without disturbing it in the least; i.e., it can be acted upon freely from above, but not from below.
From this follows two effects :  vibrations sent out from the mental body of the man in the shell cannot strike directly upon the mental body of his friend, nor can he generate a thought-form which could travel through space and attach itself to the friend in the ordinary way. This could happen only if the man were able to move freely and consciously about the mental plane, which of course he cannot do;  the thoughts of his friend cannot reach the man in his devachanic shell, as they do in ordinary life on the physical or astral plane.
We see, therefore, that all the difficulties produced by the mental shell round a man in devachan are completely overcome by nature'' method of the direct action of the ego on the thought-image which the man has created.
It follows also from the conditions of man in devachan that he can no longer be recalled to earth by Spiritualistic methods.
In spite of men in devachan being not readily accessible to influence from without, nevertheless one who can pass into the mental world in full consciousness can affect those in devachan to some extent. Thus he could flood them with thoughts of affection, for example, and although these thoughts may not be able so far to penetrate the shells as to make those within the shells conscious of the author of the thoughts, yet the stream of affection can act on the occupants of the shells much as the warmth of the sun can operate upon the germ within the egg, hastening its fructification and intensifying any pleasurable sensations it may be supposed to have.
If a man is an agnostic
or a materialist, his disbelief in a future life does not in the least prevent
him from experiencing astral or mental life just the same as anyone else; for
a man's disbelief in a future existence clearly cannot alter facts in nature.
If a man has lived an unselfish life, the forces which he has generated must
work themselves out, and this can take place only on the mental plane, ie.,
There is, of course, no fatigue in devachan; it is only the physical body that ever becomes tired. When we speak of mental fatigue, it is the brain and not the mind that is tired.
The fact that our minds can grasp three dimensions only, whereas there are four dimensions on the astral plane, and five on the mental plane, makes it difficult to describe exactly the position in space of those who have left physical life. Some tend to hover round their earthly homes, in order to keep in touch with their friends of the physical life and the places which they know; others, on the other hand, have a tendency to float away and to find for themselves, as if by specific gravity, a level much further removed from the surface of the earth.
Thus, for example, the average person passing into heaven-life, tends to float to a considerable distance above the surface of the earth, although on the other hand, some of such people are drawn to our level. Still, broadly speaking, the inhabitants of the heaven-world may be thought of as living in a sphere or zone round the earth.
For all but very highly advanced persons the heaven-life is absolutely necessary, because it is only under its conditions that aspirations can be developed into faculty, and experiences into wisdom. The progress which is thus made by the soul is far greater than would be possible if by some miracle the man was enabled to remain in physical incarnation for the entire period.
But for the advanced
man who is making rapid progress it is sometimes possible to give up the life
of bliss in the heaven-world to renounce devachan, as it is sometimes
called between two incarnations, in order to return more rapidly to carry
on work on the physical plane. But no man is permitted to renounce blindly that
of which he is ignorant, nor to depart from the ordinary course of evolution
unless and until it is certain that such a departure will be for his ultimate
The general rule is that no one may renounce devachan until he has experienced it during earth-life, ie., until he is sufficiently developed to be able to raise his consciousness to that plane and bring back with him a clear and full memory of its glory.
The reason for this is that it is the life of the personality, with all its familiar personal surroundings, which is carried on in the lower heaven-worlds, and therefore, before the renunciation can take place, the personality must realise clearly what it is that is being given up; the lower mind must be in accord with the higher on this subject.
To this general rule
there is an apparent exception. In the one-sided and artificial condition which
we call modern civilisation, people do not always develop quite regularly and
normally; cases are to be found in which a considerable amount of consciousness
on the mental plane has been acquired, and duly linked on to the astral
life, yet no knowledge of it ever gets through into the physical brain
Such cases are very rare, though they undoubtedly exist. They are not however, exceptions to the principle embodied in the general rule, viz., that the personality must make the renunciation. For in these cases, the astral life would be one of full and perfect consciousness for the personality, even though no memory of it ever penetrated into the purely physical consciousness. Thus the renunciation is made by the personality, but through the astral consciousness instead of through the physical, as in most instances. Such cases would be unlikely to occur except among those who were at least probationary pupils of a Master.
A man who wishes to perform the great feat of renouncing devachan must work with intense earnestness to make himself a worthy instrument in the hands of Those who help the world, and must throw himself with devoted fervour into labour for the spiritual good of others.
A man sufficiently
advanced to be permitted to "renounce his devachan" would clearly
have enjoyed an extremely long heaven-life; he is then able to expend this reserve
of force in quite another direction, for the benefit of humanity, thus taking
a part, however small, in the work of the Nirmânakâyas.
When a pupil has decided to do this, he waits upon the astral plane until a suitable incarnation can be arranged for him by his Master. Before the attempt can be made, permission of a very high authority must be obtained. Even when this is granted, so strong is the force of natural law, that it is said the pupil must be careful to confine himself to the astral plane, lest if once, even for a moment, he touched the devachanic plane, he might be swept as by an irresistible current into the line of normal evolution again.
In some cases, though these are rare, the man is enabled to take an adult body whose previous tenant has no further use for it, but naturally it is not often that a suitable body is available.
An animal that has
attained individualisation, after his death on the physical and astral planes,
has usually a very prolonged, though often somewhat dreamy life in the lower
heaven-world. His condition is sometimes called "dozing" consciousness,
and is analogous to that of a man on the same level, though with far less mental
activity. He is surrounded by his own thought-images, even though he may be
but dreamily conscious of them, and these will of course include images of his
earth-friends in their very best and most sympathetic moods. These images will
of course awaken response from the egos of his friends in the usual way. The
animal will remain in the condition described until in some future world he
assumes the human form.
Individualisation, by means of which an animal rises to the human kingdom, is attained by association with men, the intelligence and affection of the animal being developed to the degree necessary by his close relationship with his human friend. But we have already dealt with this matter in Chapter XIII.
THE FIRST HEAVEN : SEVENTH SUB-PLANE
Although, as we shall see presently, each of the four lower heavens has its own characteristic, it must not be supposed that a man divides his heaven-life between the various levels, according to the characteristics which he may have developed. On the contrary, as was mentioned briefly before, a man awakens to consciousness in devachan on that level which best corresponds to the degree of his development; and on that level he spends the whole of his life in the mental body. The reasons for this is that the higher level may always include the qualities of the lower, as well as those peculiar to itself; and when it does so its inhabitants almost invariably have these qualities in fuller measure than the souls on the lower level.
The lowest heaven,
that on the seventh sub-plane, has for its principal characteristic that of
affection for family and friends; that affection must, of course, be unselfish,
but it is usually somewhat narrow. It must not however, be supposed that love
is confined to the lowest heaven, but rather that this form of affection is
the highest of which those who find themselves on the seventh level are capable.
On the higher levels love of a far nobler and grander type is to be found.
It may be useful to describe a few typical examples of the inhabitants of the seventh sub-plane. One was that of a small tradesman, honest and respectable, but of no intellectual development or religious feeling.
Although he had probably attended church regularly, religion had been to him a sort of dim cloud which he did not really understand which had no connection with the business of everyday life, and which was never taken into account in deciding its problems. Whilst he had, therefore, no depth of devotion, he had nevertheless warm affection for his family. They were constantly in his mind, and he worked in his shop far more for them than for himself. His surroundings in devachan would not be of a very reined type; but nevertheless he would be as intensely happy as he would be capable of being and he would be developing unselfish characteristics which would be built into his soul as permanent qualities.
Other typical cases were that of a man who had died while his only daughter was still young. In his devachan she was always with him, and at her best, while he was continually weaving all sorts of beautiful pictures of her future. Another case was that of a young girl who was always absorbed in contemplating the manifold perfections of her father, and planning little surprises and fresh pleasures for him. Another was a Greek woman who was marvellously happy with her three children, one of them a beautiful boy, whom she delighted in imagining as the victor in the Olympic games.
A striking characteristic of this sub-plane for the last few centuries has been a very large number of Romans, Carthaginians, and Englishmen found there, this being due to the fact that among men of these nations the principal unselfish activity found its outlet through family affection. Comparatively few Hindus or Buddhists are on this sub-plane, because in their case real religious feeling usually enters more immediately into their daily lives, and consequently takes them to a higher level.
Among the cases observed,
there was an almost infinite variety, their different degrees of advancement
being distinguishable by varying degrees of luminosity, while differences of
colour indicate the qualities which the persons had developed. Some were lovers
who had died in the full strength of their affection, and so were always occupied
with the one person they loved, to the entire exclusion of all others. Others
there were who had been almost savages, yet who had had some touch of unselfish
In all these cases, the only element in the activity of their personal lives which could have expressed itself on the mental plane, was affection. In most cases observed on this level, the thought-images are very far from perfect, and consequently the egos of the friends concerned can express themselves but poorly through them. But even at the worst, as explained in a previous chapter, that expression is fuller and more satisfying than it ever was in physical life.
For those on this lowest level of the heaven-world there is not much material out of which faculty can be moulded, and their life is but very slightly progressive. Their family affections will be nourished and a little widened, and they will be re-born with a somewhat improved emotional nature, with more tendency to recognise and respond to a higher level.
THE SECOND HEAVEN : SIXTH SUB-PLANE
The dominant characteristic
of the sixth sub-plane of the heaven-world may be described as anthropomorphic
religious devotion. There appears to be some correspondence between this level
of the heaven-world and the second astral sub-plane, the difference being that
on the astral there is invariably an element of selfishness, of bargaining,
in the religious devotion, whereas in the heaven-world the devotion is of course
entirely free from any such taint.
On the other hand, this phase of devotion, which consists essentially in the perpetual adoration of a personal deity, must be distinguished from those still higher forms which find their expression in performing some definite work for the deity's sake. A few examples will show these distinctions.
A fairly large number of entities on this level are drawn from oriental religions, only those being included whose devotion is pure, but comparatively unreasoning and unintelligent. Worshippers of Vishnu, and a few of Shiva, are found here, each wrapped up in a cocoon of his own thoughts, alone with his god, and oblivious of the rest of mankind except in so far as his affections may associate those whom he loved on earth with his adoration of his deity. A Vishnavite was observed wholly absorbed in the ecstatic worship of the very image of Vishnu to which he had made offerings during earth-life.
Women form a very
large majority of the inhabitants of this sub-plane, and afford one of its most
characteristic examples. Among others, there was a Hindu woman who had glorified
her husband into a divine being, and who also thought of the child Krishna as
playing with her own children; but while these latter were thoroughly human
and real, the child Krishna was obviously nothing but the semblance of a blue
wooden image galvanised into life. Krishna also appeared in her heaven as an
effeminate young man playing a flute; but she was not in the least confused
by this double manifestation.
Another woman, a worshipper of Shiva, looked upon her husband as a manifestation of her god, so that the one seemed to be constantly changing into the other.
Some Buddhists are also found on this level, but apparently only those less instructed ones who regard the Buddha rather as an object of adoration than as a great teacher.
are found here; an illiterate Roman Catholic peasant, for example, full of unintellectual
devotion, or an earnest or sincere "soldier" of the Salvation Army.
An Irish peasant was seen absorbed in the deepest adoration of the Virgin Mary,
whom he imaged as standing on the moon, but holding out her hands and speaking
to him. A mediaeval monk was observed in ecstatic contemplation of Christ crucified,
and the intensity of his yearning love and pity was such that, as he watched
the blood dropping from the wounds of the figure of his Christ, the stigmata
reproduced themselves upon his own mental body.
Another man thought of his Christ only as glorified on his throne, with the crystal sea before him, and all around a vast multitude of worshippers, among whom he himself stood with his wife and family. Although his affection for his relatives was very deep, yet his thoughts were more occupied in adoration of the Christ, though his conception of his deity was so material that he imaged him as constantly changing kaleidoscopically backwards and forwards between the form of a man and that of a lamb bearing the flag, as often represented in church windows.
An interesting case
was that of a Spanish nun who had died at about the age of nineteen. In her
heaven she imagined herself accompanying the Christ in his life as recounted
in the gospels, and after his crucifixion taking care of the Virgin Mary. Her
pictures of the scenery and costumes of Palestine were entirely inaccurate,
the Saviour and his disciples wearing the dress of Spanish peasants, while the
hills round Jerusalem were mountains clothed with vineyards, and the olive trees
were hung with grey Spanish moss. She thought of herself as eventually martyred
for her faith and ascending into heaven, but yet only to live over and over
again this life in which she so delighted.
A child who had died at the age of seven was occupied in re-enacting in the heaven-world the religious stories which his Irish nurse had told him. He loved to think of himself as playing with the infant Jesus, and helping him to make those clay sparrows which the power of the Christ is fabled to have brought o life and caused to fly.
Even if a man is
a materialist and agnostic, he will still have a heaven-world, provided he had
been capable of devotion. For deep unselfish family affection, as well as earnest
philanthropic effort, are also great outpourings of energy, which must produce
their result, and can produce it nowhere but on the mental plane.
It will be seen that blind unreasoning devotion, of which examples have been given, does not at any time raise its votaries to any great spiritual heights; but of course they are entirely happy and fully satisfied, for they receive the highest which they are capable of appreciating. Nor is such a heaven-life without a very good effect on their future career. For although no amount of mere devotion will ever develop intellect, yet it does produce an increased capacity for a higher form of devotion, and in most cases it leads also to purity of life. A person, therefore, who enjoys a heaven, such as has been described, is not likely to make rapid progress, yet he is at least guarded from many dangers; for it is improbable that in his next birth he will fall into any of the grosser sins, or be drawn away from his devotional aspirations into a merely worldly life of avarice, ambition, or dissipation.
Nevertheless a survey of the sixth sub-plane distinctly emphasises the desirability of following the advice of St. Peter: "Add to your faith - virtue, and to virtue knowledge.
THE THIRD HEAVEN : FIFTH SUB-PLANE
The chief characteristic of this level of the heaven-world may be described as devotion expressing itself in active work. It is especially the plane for the working out of great schemes and designs unrealised on earth, of great organisations inspired by religious devotion, and usually having for their object some philanthropic purpose.
It must however, be borne in mind that as we rise higher, greater complexity and variety are introduced, so that many variations and exceptions occur which do not so rapidly range themselves under the general heading for the plane as a whole.
A typical case, somewhat
above average, was that of a deeply religious man who was found carrying out
a grand scheme, which he had himself devised, for the amelioration of the condition
of the poorer classes.
The scheme comprised amalgamation of businesses in order to effect economies, high wages, the provision of cottage and gardens, and profit sharing. He hoped that this demonstration of the practical side of Christianity would win many to his own faith, out of gratitude for the material benefits they had received.
A somewhat similar case was that of an Indian prince who had tried to model his life and methods of government, while on earth, on the example of the divine hero-king Rama. On earth many of his schemes had failed, but in his heaven-life everything went well, Rama himself personally advising and directing the work, and receiving perpetual adoration from all his devoted subjects.
A curious case of personal religious work was that of a nun, who had belonged to a working order. In her heaven, she was constantly occupied in feeding the hungry, healing the sick, clothing and helping the poor, the peculiarity of each case being that each person, to whom she administered, at once changed into the appearance of Christ, whom she then worshipped with fervent adoration.
An instructive case was that of two intensely religious sisters, one of them a cripple, the other having devoted herself to tending her. On earth they had often discussed and planned the religious and philanthropic work they would carry out if they were able to do so. In the heaven-world, each is the most prominent figure in the heaven of the other, the cripple being well and strong, while each thinks of the other as working with her in carrying out the unrealised wishes of her earth life. In these cases the only difference that death has made is to eliminate disease and suffering, and to render easy the work which before had been impossible.
On this plane are
found the higher type of sincere and devoted missionaries, engaged in the congenial
occupation of converting multitudes of people to the particular religion which
There occur also on this plane some cases of devotees of art, who follow it for its own sake, or regard it as an offering to their deity, not thinking of its effect on their fellows.
Artists who pursued
art, for the sake of fame and self-gratification, would not of course find their
way to this plane at all. On the other hand, those who regarded their faculty
as a great power entrusted to them for the spiritual elevation of their fellows
would reach a heaven even higher than the one we are now considering.
As an example, mention may be made of a musician of very religious temperament who regarded all his labour of love simply as an offering to the Christ, knowing nothing of the magnificent display of sound and colour which his compositions produced on the mental plane. His enthusiasm would not, of course be wasted, for, without his knowledge, it brought joy and help to many, and its results would certainly be to give him increased devotion and greater musical capacity in his next birth. But without the still wider aspiration to help humanity this kind of heaven-life might repeat itself almost indefinitely.
The student will perceive that the three lower heavens - on the seventh, sixth, and fifth sub-planes - are concerned with the working out of devotion to personalities, either to one's family and friends, or to a personal deity, rather than the wider devotion to humanity for its own sake, which, as we shall see, finds its expression on the next sub-plane.
THE FOURTH HEAVEN : FOURTH SUB-PLANE
The Fourth Heaven, on the fourth sub-plane, is on the highest of the lower rûpa levels. Its activities are so varied that it is difficult to group them under a single characteristic. They may best be arranged into four main divisions:-
 Unselfish pursuit
of spiritual knowledge
 High philosophic or scientific thought
 Literary or artistic ability, exercised unselfishly
 Service for the sake of service
A few examples of each of these classes will make them more readily comprehensible.
pursuit of spiritual knowledge.
Most of the inhabitants of this class are drawn from those religions in which the necessity of obtaining spiritual knowledge is recognised. Thus, of Buddhists, there are found here those more intelligent followers who looked upon the Buddha as a teacher, rather than as a being to be adored, and whose supreme aspiration was to sit at his feet and learn.
In their heaven-life
their wish is fulfilled; for the thought-image which they have made of the Buddha
is no mere empty form; through it shines the wonderful wisdom, power and love
of that greatest of earth's teachers. They are therefore acquiring fresh knowledge
and wider views, the effect of which on their next life cannot but be most marked.
They will not perhaps remember any individual facts, though when such facts
are presented to them in a subsequent life, they will grasp them readily, and
intuitively recognise their truth. Furthermore, the result of the teaching will
be to build into the ego a strong tendency to take broader and more philosophical
views on all such subjects.
The effect of such a heaven-life is to hasten considerably the evolution of the ego. Hence the enormous advantage gained by those who accepted the guidance of living and powerful teachers.
A similar result, in lesser degree, accrues to a man who followed the teachings of a great and spiritual writer, and made of that writer an ideal figure. The ego of the writer will enter into the student's heaven-life and, by virtue of his own developed power, vivify the mental image of himself, thus being able further to illuminate his written teachings.
Many Hindus find
their heaven on this level, as also a few of the more advanced Sufis and Parsis,
and some of the early Gnostics. But, except for a few Sufis and Gnostics, neither
Mohammedanism not Christianity seems to raise its followers to this level; some,
however, who nominally follow these religions may be carried to this sub-plane
by the presence in their character of qualities which do not depend upon the
teachings peculiar to their own religion.
Here are found also earnest students of Occultism, who are not yet sufficiently advanced to be permitted to "renounce" their devachan [see p. 203]. These include students of schools of occultism other than that which is best known to most members of the Theosophical Society.
An interesting case was observed, where a person who had fallen into an attitude of unworthy and unjustifiable distrust of the motives of her old friend and teacher, had thereby shut out to a considerable extent the higher influence and teaching, which otherwise she might have enjoyed in her heaven-life. The influence and teaching were in no way withheld from her, but her own mental attitude had rendered her to some extent unreceptive of them, although she herself was quite unconscious of this. A wealth of love, strength and knowledge lay at her hand, but her own ingratitude had sadly crippled her power to accept it.
 High Philosophic
or Scientific Thought.
This class does not include those philosophers who spend their time in verbal argument and hair-splitting, for that is a form of discussion which has its roots in selfishness and conceit, and can therefore never help towards a real understanding of the facts of the universe, not produce results that can work themselves out on the mental plane.
We find here rather those noble and unselfish thinkers who seek insight and knowledge only for the purpose of enlightening and helping their fellows.
A typical example was that of a later follower of the neo-platonic system, who was occupied in unravelling the mysteries of that school of thought, and in endeavouring to understand its bearing upon human life and development.
Another case was that of an astronomer whose studies had led him to Pantheism. He was still pursuing his studies with reverence, and was gaining knowledge from those orders of devas, through whom on this plane the majestic cyclic movement of the stellar influences seems to express itself in ever-changing coruscations of living light. He was lost in contemplation of a vast panorama of whirling nebulae and gradually-forming systems and worlds, and striving to form some idea of the shape of the universe. His thoughts surrounded him, shaped as stars, and he listened with joy to the stately rhythm of the music that pealed out in mighty chorales from the moving orbs.
Scientists such as this astronomer would return to earth as great discoverers, with unerring intuitions of the mysterious ways of nature.
or Artistic Effort exercised unselfishly.
On this level are found our greatest musicians. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Wagner and others are still flooding the heaven-world with harmony far more glorious than they were able to produce when on earth.
Streams of divine music pour into them from the higher regions, to be specialised by them and made their own, and then to be sent forth through all the plane in a tide of melody which adds to the bliss of all around. Both those who are functioning in full consciousness on this plane, and disembodied entities of this level, each of whom is wrapped up in his own thought-cloud, are deeply affected by the ennobling influence of this music.
Painters and sculptors
are here constantly making, by their thought, artificial elementals in all kinds
of lovely forms, which they send forth for the delight and encouragement of
These beautiful conceptions may also in many cases be grasped by the minds of artists still in the flesh, acting as inspirations to them.
An interesting figure seen on this level was that of a chorister who had died young. He had little save the one great gift of song, but he had used that gift worthily, trying to be the voice of the people to heaven, and of heaven to the people, and ever longing to know more music, and render it more worthily, for the Church's sake. In his heaven-life his wish was bearing fruit, and over him was bending the quaint angular figure of St. Cecilia, formed by his thought of the picture of her in a stained glass window. This thought-form was vivified by one of the archangels of the celestial hierarchy of song, and through it he taught the chorister a grander strain of music than ever earth has known.
Another example was that of a man who had on earth refused to use his literary power merely to earn a living for himself, but had instead written a book which none would read; he had been alone all his life, and eventually died of sorrow and starvation. In his heaven-life he was also in solitude, but he saw stretching before him the Utopia of which he had dreamed, and the vast impersonal multitudes whom he had longed to serve. The joy of their joy surged back to him and made his solitude a heaven.
 Service for
the sake of service.
On this level are found many who have rendered service for the sake of service, rather than because they desired to please any particular deity. They are engaged in working out with full knowledge and calm wisdom, vast schemes of beneficence, magnificent plans of world improvement, and at the same time they are maturing powers with which to carry them out in the future on the lower plane of physical life.
THE MENTAL PLANE
It is the function
of mental matter to vibrate in response to the modes of the Spirit working as
intellect, just as astral matter plays a similar part for desire and emotion,
and as buddhic matter responds to the Spirit working as intuition. Hence the
mental plane is that part or aspect of nature which belongs to consciousness
working as thought; not to mind working through the physical brain, but to mind
working in its own world, unencumbered with
The five lower planes of nature correspond to the five "Elements" of the ancients as follows:
|Âtmâ||Will||Âkâsha||Ether or sky|
|Manas||Mind||Tejas or Agni||Fire|
|Kâma||Feeling||Apas or jala||Water|
In certain Hindu books there is another classification, in which the mind is grouped with the elements. The Hindu has a way of looking at things from a very high standpoint, often, apparently, from that of the Monad, and to him the mind is but an instrument of consciousness. Thus, in the seventh chapter of the Gîtâ, Shri Krishna says: "Earth, water, fire, air, ether, manas, buddhi, and ahamkâra these are the eightfold divisions of my manifestation". (Prakriti) A little later on she speaks of these eight as "my lower manifestation".
The mental world is the world of the real man, the very word man deriving from the Sanskrit root man, the root of the verb "to think": thus man means thinker: he is named by his most characteristic attribute, intelligence.
The mental world
is thus the land of our birth, the realm to which in truth we belong, for our
native atmosphere is that of ideas, not of physical phenomena.
When man, the Thinker, became incarnate in the physical vehicle built for his reception, the senseless animal became the thinking being by virtue of the Manas which entered into and dwelt in him. Thus man became clothed in his "coat of skin" after his fall into physical matter, in order that he might eat of the Tree of Knowledge and thus become a "God". Hence man is the link between the Divine and the animal.
The mental world
is of peculiar interest, not only because man, after the mind is fairly developed,
spends here nearly all his time, dipping down into the physical world only for
brief snatches of mortal life, but also because it is the meeting ground of
the higher and lower consciousness.
In English the word "mind" stands both for the intellectual consciousness itself, and also for the effects produced on the physical brain by that consciousness. In occultism however, we must conceive of the intellectual consciousness as an individual entity, a being, the vibrations of whose life are thoughts, expressed not as physical words, but as images.
The real man is Manas,
the Thinker, working on the higher or causal levels of the mental plane. Only
a small section of his vibrations, and even that very imperfectly, can be reproduced
in the comparatively coarse physical materials, the physical brain and nervous
system being able to reproduce but a small fragment of the vast series of mental
vibrations set up by the Thinker in his own world.
Very receptive brains respond up to the point of what we call great intellectual power; exceptionally unresponsive brains respond up to the point of what we call idiocy; exceptionally responsive brains up to the point of what we call genius. The so-called mental powers of each man thus represent the degree of sensitiveness of his brain to the millions of thought-waves from the Thinker to which it can respond.
Thus consciousness working in the brain is illuminated, from above, by ideas that are not fabricated from materials supplied by the physical world, but are reflected into it directly from the Universal Mind [see below]. The great "laws of thought" regulate all thinking, and the very act of thinking reveals their pre-existence, as it is done by them and under them, and is impossible without them.
Taking a still wider view of the mental plane, it may be described as that which reflects the Universal Mind in Nature, the plane which, in our little system, corresponds with the Great Mind in the Kosmos. This Great Mind is Mahat, the Third Logos, or Divine Creative Intelligence, the Brâhma of the Hindus, the Mandjusri of the Northern Buddhists, the Holy Spirit of the Christians.
The Universal Mind
is that in which all archetypically exists; it is the source of beings, the
fount of fashioning energies, the treasure-house in which are stored up all
the archetypal forms which are brought forth and elaborated in lower kinds of
matter during the evolution of the universe. These are the fruits of past universes
brought over as seeds for unfoldment in the present universe.
It is on the higher part of the mental plane that exist the archetypal ideas which are now in course of concrete evolution. In its lower regions these are worked out into successive forms, to be duly reproduced in the astral and physical worlds.
An example of these ideas is that of the small artificial elementals, which may sometimes be seen hanging around a plant or flower, all through the time that the buds are forming. These are thought-forms of the great devas who supervise the evolution of the vegetable kingdom, and are created for the special purpose of carrying out their ideas connected with the plants and flowers. Such an elemental usually takes the form of an etheric model of the flower itself, or of a little creature which gradually builds the flower into the shape and colour of which the deva has thought. When the work is done, the power of the elemental is exhausted, and the matter of which it is composed dissolves into the general store of such matter.
These artificial elementals must not, of course, be confused with nature-spirits [see The Astral Body p. 181], which are frequently seen playing about flowers.
Before the Manu of
a Chain or Round commences the task appointed for Him, He examines the part
of that mighty thought-form of the Logos which refers to His work, and brings
it down to some level within easy reach for constant reference. The same thing
is done at a lower level by the Manu of each World and of each Root-Race. Each
Manu then builds as nearly as He can to the model He has before Him, usually
approaching the perfection required by degrees, the earlier efforts at the formation
of a race, for example, being often only partially successful.
At the beginning of the present [fourth]- round, all the archetypes for humanity were brought down, including those races which have not yet come into existence. From an examination of these, it is possible to see what the men of the future will be like. They will have finer vehicles in every way, and will be distinctly more beautiful in appearance, expressing in their forms the spiritual forces.
It was on Globe A in the fourth round that mind became definite on the lower mental level, and so we may say that it is in this round man began really to think. The result at first was by no means good. In previous rounds he had not been sufficiently developed to originate thought-forms to any great extent, and so the elemental essence of the globes had been affected only by the thoughts of the devas, who left everything harmonious and peaceful. But when man began to interject his selfish and jarring thoughts, this comfortable condition was very largely disturbed. Strife, unrest and disharmony were introduced, and the animal kingdom drew decisively apart from man, and began to feel fear and hatred towards him.
On Globe A there were also the group-souls of animals and vegetables, and even minerals. It is, of course, difficult for us to conceive what a mineral could be on the mental plane; it would correspond to our thought of a mineral; but the thought-form which exists there is that of the Manu, and is moulded by a power altogether beyond comparison with that of our mentality.
As we saw in Chapter II, in the natural course of events, the present fourth round should be devoted chiefly to the cultivation of the emotions; the next round, the fifth, should be that of intellectual advancement. We are, however, a long way in advance of the programme marked out for us. This advance is entirely due to those august Beings variously called the Lords of the Flame, the Children of the Fire-Mist, the Lords of Venus, who came to this earth from the planet Venus.
Most of them stayed
with us only through that critical period of our history; a few still remain
to hold the highest offices in the Great White Brotherhood, until the time when
men of our own evolution shall be able to relieve Them of Their high office.
As was explained in Chapters VII and VIII, the materials of the mental plane are capable of combining, under the impulse of thought-vibrations, and can give rise to any combination which thought can construct. Just as iron can be made into a spade or a sword, so can mental matter be shaped into thought-forms to help or to injure. In this region, thought and action are thus one and the same thing; matter is the obedient servant of life, adapting itself to every creative impulse.
The mental plane,
being that of thought itself, the very home of thought, is thus far nearer reality
than any lower plane. For everything that is material is buried and hidden in
matter, whatever of reality it may possess being far less obvious and recognisable
than it would be when regarded from a higher standpoint.
The whole of our Solar System being a manifestation of the Logos, every particle in it is part of His vehicles. Hence all the mental matter in the system constitutes His mental body.
This, of course,
comprises not only the mental world belonging to each of the physical planets,
but also those belonging to each of the astral planets, and in addition, the
purely mental planets, usually called, in our Chain of worlds, globes A and
It may be noted, parenthetically, that the man of globe A in the First Round can hardly be called a man at all; he is a thought; he is what will some day be a mind-body the germ of a mind-body, bearing perhaps the same relation to its later possibilities as the embryonic form of an infant after the first month bears to the fully developed human body. At this early stage he has marvellously little consciousness
The matter described above as composing the mental body of the Solar Logos also composes the mental bodies of the seven Planetary Logoi, which are centres of force within the Solar logos.
Now in every man's mental body there are particles belonging to each one of the seven Planetary Logoi, but the proportions vary infinitely, these proportions determining the type of each person.
In the seven Planetary Logoi certain psychic changes periodically occur, and these changes are bound to affect the bodies of every man in the world, because the materials of his bodies are also the materials of the Planetary Logoi. The degree to which he will be affected will, of course, depend upon the proportion in his bodies of the type of matter appropriate to that particular Logos. Hence the importance to man of the motions of these Planetary Spirits and the ultimate rationale of astrological science.
The influences belonging to these great types affect, amongst other things, the elemental essence which, as we have seen [see p. 6], is vividly active in the astral and mental bodies of men. Hence any unusual excitement of any of these types must affect to some extent either man's emotions or his mind, or both, to a degree corresponding to the amount of the particular type of essence concerned which he possesses in his vehicles. Such influences in themselves are no more good nor evil than any other natural force; they may be helpful or hurtful according to the use we make of them.
It is important to realise that any pressure these influences may bring to bear on man cannot dominate his will in the slightest degree. The most it can do is in some cases to make it easier, or more difficult, for that will to act along certain lines. A man of iron determination, or a student of occultism, may put these influences aside as a negligible quantity; for men of weaker will it may sometimes be worth while to know at what moment this or that force can most advantageously be applied. "The wise man rules his stars: the fool obeys them".
Whilst each physical globe has its physical, astral and mental planes, all inter-penetrating one another, and therefore occupying the same space, all of these are yet quite apart, and do not communicate with the corresponding planes of any globe. [ It is only at and beyond the buddhic level that there is a condition common to all the planets of our chain].
Notwithstanding the above, there is a condition of the atomic matter of each of these planes which is cosmic in its extent. In fact, the seven atomic-sub-planes of our system, taken apart from the rest, may be said to constitute the lowest cosmic plane, sometimes called the cosmic-prakritic. Thus our mental plane is the third sub-division of the lowest cosmic plane.
Regarded in another
way, the atomic part of our mental plane is also the lowest sub-plane of the
mental body of the Planetary Logos.
The astral plane of the earth extends to a little less than the mean distance of the moon, the earth and the moon being nearly 240,000 miles apart; the mental plane of the earth, which is of course a definite globe, extends still further into space than does the astral plane, bearing about the same proportion to the astral as does the astral to the physical.
Only that portion of the atomic matter of the astral and mental planes which is in an entirely free condition is co-extensive with the interplanetary ether [which consists of ultimate physical atoms in their normal and uncompressed state]. Consequently a person can no more pass from planet to planet of our chain in his astral or mental body than he can in his physical body. In the causal body, when very highly developed, this achievement is possible, though not with the ease and rapidity with which it can be done at the buddhic level.
Furthermore, the detailed sight of other planets would not be possible for any system of clairvoyance connected with the mental or any lower plane, though a good deal of information could be obtained by exercising a high magnifying power ,[see p. 116].
Matter of the lower planes is never carried over from planet to planet. When, for example, we leave this planet in order to incarnate upon Mercury, only the egos will be carried over. Those egos will draw round themselves mental and astral matter belonging to their new planet, and will obtain physical bodies provided by those who are already inhabiting Mercury.
The matter of the
mental plane is divided into seven grades of fineness, precisely as is that
of the astral and the physical planes. For want of other terms these must for
the present be denoted by the terms given to the seven grades of physical matter,
i.e., solid, liquid, gaseous, etc. The highest or finest sub-division consists,
of course, of ultimate mental atoms.
An ultimate mental atom contains 49 to the 4th or 5,764,801 [roughly five and three quarter million] "bubbles in koilon".
The three higher grades of mental matter are called arûpa, or formless; the four lower grades are termed rûpa, or having form. The distinction is a real one, being related to the divisions on the mind itself.
In the rûpa levels the vibrations of consciousness give rise to images or pictures, every thought appearing as a living shape; in the arûpa levels consciousness seems rather to send out flashes or streams of living energy, which does not body itself into distinct images, while it remains on its own levels, but which, when it rushes into the lower mental levels, sets up a variety of forms, all linked by some common condition. In other words, the arûpa levels are concerned with the expression of abstract thoughts, ideas, principles, and the rûpa levels with concrete thoughts and particular ideas.
Words being largely symbols of images, and belonging to the workings of the lower mind in the brain, it follows that it is almost, if not quite, impossible to describe in words the workings of abstract thought. For the arûpa levels pertain to the pure reason, which does not work within the narrow limits of language.
Another broad distinction between the rûpa and the arûpa levels of the mental plane is that on the rûpa levels a man lives in his own thoughts, and fully identifies himself with his personality in the life which he has recently quitted. On the arûpa levels he is simply the reincarnating ego who, provided he is sufficiently developed on that level to know anything at all, understands, at least to some extent, the evolution upon which he is engaged, and the work that he has to do.
Mental matter being
so much finer than either astral or physical matter, it follows that the life-forces
on the mental plane are enormously increased in activity. Mental matter is in
constant, ceaseless motion, taking form under every thrill of life and adapting
itself readily to every change of motion. Even astral matter seems relatively
heavy and lustreless. The vibrations of mental matter are as much more rapid
than physical vibrations as vibrations of light are more rapid than physical
vibrations as vibrations of light are more rapid than those of sound.
We might say that mental matter moves actually with thought; astral matter moves so quickly after thought that the ordinary observer can scarcely note any difference; etheric matter, of course, does not obey thought as rapidly as does astral matter.
The student will
of course realise that just as each particle of physical ether floats in a sea
of astral matter, so each astral particle floats in a mental ocean.
In spite of the idea, entertained by many people, that it is easier to deal with things on the physical plane than with those on the astral or mental planes, the reverse is the truth. For the very fineness of mental matter, and its ready response to mental impulses, makes it far easier to move, and to direct, by the action of the will, than either astral or physical matter.
In The Voice of the Silence, three Halls are spoken of the Hall of Ignorance; the Hall of Learning; the Hall of Wisdom. It seems probable that the Hall of Ignorance stands for the physical plane; the Hall of Learning for the astral and lower mental planes; and the Hall of Wisdom for the planes of higher mind and buddhi.
On the four lower
levels of the mental plane, some degree of illusion is still possible; but less
it appears, for the man who can function there in full consciousness during
physical life than for the undeveloped person after death, as was explained
in the Chapters on Devachan.
The lower mental plane is thus still a region of personality and error; in it, as well as in the astral world, there is a serpent coiled under every flower; for if personal and foolish desires infest the one, pride and prejudice inhabit the other.
On the higher mental plane, though there will be much that the ego does not know, what he does know he knows correctly. With the life of the causal body, however, we are not directly concerned in this volume.
There is a radical difference between the lower and higher mental planes. In the lower mental, matter is dominant; it is the first thing that strikes the eye; and consciousness shines with difficulty through the forms. But in the higher planes, life is the prominent thing, and forms are there only for its purposes. The difficulty in the lower plane is to give life expression in the forms, but in the higher it is quite the reverse to hold and give form to the flood of life. It is only above the line that divides the lower from the higher mental plane that the light of consciousness is subject to no wind, and shines with its own power. Hence the symbol of a spiritual fire is very fitting for consciousness at the higher levels, as distinguished from the lower planes, where the symbol of fire burning fuel is more appropriate.
In the case of the
astral plane, it is possible to give some account of its scenery; but this cannot
be done for the mental plane, because the mental plane has no scenery, except
such as each individual chooses to make for himself by his thought; we do not,
of course, include as "scenery" other mental entities who are themselves
in many cases objects of great beauty.
The conditions of the mental plane, however, are so difficult to describe in words that it would perhaps be more accurate to say that all possible scenery exists there; there is nothing conceivable of loveliness which is not there with a fullness and intensity beyond all power of imagination. But out of this splendour of living reality each man sees only that which his development enables him to perceive.
It is said to be difficult to describe the difference between the matter of the various sub-planes of the mental world, because the scribe bankrupts himself of adjectives in his attempt to describe the lowest sub-plane, and thus has no words left for the description of the higher sub-planes. All that can be said is, that as we ascend, the material becomes finer, the harmonies fuller, the light more living and transparent. There are more overtones in the sound, more delicate shades in the colours, more and new colours appear, as we rise through the sub-planes. It has been said poetically, and truly, that the light of a lower plane is darkness on the one above it.
On the highest sub-plane the matter is ensouled and vivified by an energy which flows like light from above, from the buddhic plane. As we descend through each sub-plane, the matter of each sub-plane becomes the energy of the sub-plane immediately below; more accurately, the original energy, plus the matter of the higher sub-planes, becomes the ensouling energy of the next lower sub-plane. Thus the seventh or lowest sub-plane consists of the original energy six times enclosed or veiled, and therefore by so much, weaker and less active.
The first impressions of one who enters the mental plane in full consciousness will be very much as described in Chapter XX, when dealing with a man awakening, after astral death, in devachan. He will experience intense bliss, indescribable vitality, enormously increased power, and the perfect confidence which flows from these. He finds himself in the midst of what seems to him a whole universe of ever-changing light, colour and sound. He will seem to be floating in a sea of living light, surrounded by every conceivable variety of loveliness in colour and form, the whole changing with every wave of thought that he sends out from his mind, and being indeed, as he will discover, only the expression of his thought in the matter of the plane and its elemental essence. Concrete thoughts, as we saw previously, take the shapes of their objects, while abstract ideas usually represent themselves by all kinds of perfect and most beautiful geometrical forms. In this connection it should be remembered that many thoughts, which to us on the physical plane are little more than mere abstractions, are on the mental plane concrete facts.
The feeling of freedom
in the mental world is so great that in comparison with it astral life seems
a state of bondage.
Anyone who wishes to abstract himself from his surroundings on the mental plane and devote himself to quiet thought, may live in a world of his own without possibility of interruption; he will also have the additional advantage of seeing all his ideas, and their consequences, full worked out, passing before him in a sort of panorama.
If, however, he wishes
instead to observe the plane upon which he is, he must very carefully suspend
his own thought for a time, so that he may not influence the readily impressible
matter around him [see p. 114].
Having attained to that condition in which he is no longer himself the centre of radiation of that light, colour, sound and form, it has not therefore ceased to exist: on the contrary, its harmonies and coruscations are grander than ever. Presently he will perceive that he is seeing the colour-language of the devas, the expression of thought or conversation of beings far higher than himself in the scale of evolution. By experiment and practice he will also find that he can himself use this mode of expression, and thus hold converse with, and learn from, these lofty non-human entities, whom we shall describe in a later chapter.
For, as the student will recollect, a thought-form, composed of rapidly vibrating particles of mental matter, sets up vibrations all around it; and these vibrations give rise to sensations of sound and colour in any entities adapted to translate them thus.
It is possible also
for a visitor to the mental plane to form round himself a huge shell, through
which none of the thought or conversation of other entities can penetrate, Then
holding his own mind perfectly still, he can examine the conditions inside his
He is now able to perceive another, and entirely different, series of regular pulsations, which the other more artificial phenomena had obscured. These are universal, and cannot be checked or turned aside by any shell made by human power. They produce no colour or form, but flow with resistless regularity through all the matter of the plane, outwards and in again, like the exhalations and inhalations of a great breath.
There are several sets of these, clearly distinguishable from one another by volume, period of vibration, and the tone of the harmony which they bring. Grander than them all sweeps one great wave which seems the very heart-beat of the system a wave which, welling up from unknown centres on far higher planes, pours out its life through all our world, and then draws back in its tremendous tide to That from which it came.It comes in one long undulating curve, and the sound of it is like the murmur of the sea. Yet in it and through it there echoes a ringing chant of triumph, the very music of the spheres.
A man who has once heard that glorious song of nature never quite loses it again. Even in the physical world, so dreary by comparison, he hears it always as a kind of undertone.
If the man has reached a certain degree of spiritual development, it is possible for him to merge his consciousness with the sweep of the wave and let it bear him upward to its source. But it is not wise to do this, unless a Master stands beside him to draw him back at the right moment; for otherwise its irresistible force will carry him away into still higher planes, whose far greater glories his ego is as yet unable to sustain. He will lose consciousness, with no certainty as to when and where he will regain it.
Whilst the attainment
of such unity is the ultimate object of man's evolution, he must reach that
goal in full and perfect consciousness, and not drift into absorption in a state
of blank unconsciousness but little removed from annihilation.
On the mental plane a man may circle the world with the speed of thought; he is at the other side of it even as he formulates the wish to be there, for the response of mental matter to thought is immediate, and it is very readily controlled by the will.
On the mental plane there is no alternation of day and night, and nothing to correspond to sleeping or waking, except of course on first entering the plane and on finally leaving it.
As the physical world is three-dimensional, and the astral world four-dimensional, so is the mental world five-dimensional. But, as was explained in The Astral Body, p. 165, it is probably more accurate to say that consciousness on each plane is able to appreciate the world in which it is functioning in the number of dimensions given above.
The three known forms
of energy have their appropriate manifestations on every plane which our students
have yet reached. Hence Fohat, Prana and Kundalini all exist on the mental plane,
thought at present little is known of the details of their workings.
A man in full consciousness on the mental plane will, of course, see the whole of humanity, excepting those who are living in their causal bodies only, for every man who is in physical or astral life must also possess a mental body. Those, however, who are confined in their own shells of thoughts in their heavens can scarcely be considered as companions, for reasons explained in the chapters on Devachan.
Between those who are fully conscious on the mental plane there is far closer union than is possible at any lower level. A man can no longer deceive another with regard to what he thinks, for all mental operations lie open for every one to see. Opinions or impressions can now be exchanged, not only with the quickness of thought, but also with perfect accuracy, for each now receives the exact idea of the other, clean, clear-cut, instantaneous, without having to puzzle his way through the maze of words.
The student will
recollect that on the astral plane difference of language is a barrier to communication,
as thoughts must be definitely formulated in words in order to be comprehensible
to another entity on that plane. On the mental plane, however, men communicate
directly by thought-transference, whatever their language may be.
Space is no barrier, for a man can come into touch with any other man merely by directing his attention to him. The real barrier between men are those due to the difference in their evolution. The less evolved can know only as much of the more evolved as he is able to respond to, and such limitations can obviously be felt, only by the more evolved, as the lesser has all he can contain.
The method of finding
a man on the mental plane, whether he be living or dead, is as follows.
For each of a man's vehicles there is what may be called a keynote, a sort of average tone of the man's various forces and qualities on the plane concerned. There have never been found two persons whose keynotes were identical at all levels, ie., etheric, astral, mental and causal, so as to make the same chord, when struck simultaneously.
Thus the chord of
each man is unique, and whether he be sleeping or waking, living or dead, his
chord is always the same, and he can always be found by it.
If the man is in the higher world, in his causal body alone, he still has his chord with him, because his permanent atoms are quite sufficient to give out the distinctive sound.
The trained seer, who is able to sense the chord, attunes his own vehicles for the moment exactly to its notes, and then by an effort of will sends forth its sound. Wherever in the three worlds the man sought may be, there is an instantaneous response from him. His causal body lights up instantly, like a great flame, and this is at once visible to the seer, so that a magnetic line of communication is established.
The seer can use
that line as a kind of telescope, or, if he prefers, he can send his consciousness
flashing along it with the speed of light, and see from the other end of it,
as it were.
The man's chord is his true occult name. Some vague tradition of this is probably the origin of the belief among certain savages that a man's real name must be concealed, lest magic be worked upon him.
Thus also it is said, that at each Initiation the man's true name is changed, since each Initiation is at once the official recognition, and the fulfilment of a progress by which the man, as it were, has raised himself into a higher key, so that thenceforward his chord must be sounded differently.
This name of the man must not be confused with the name of the Augoeides [see below [, for that is the chord of the three principles of the ego, produced by the vibrations of the âtmic, buddhic and mental atoms, and the monad behind them.
The chord is not actually either heard or seen; it is received by a complex perception which requires the practically simultaneous activity of the consciousness in the causal body and in all the lower vehicles.
Thus every man pronounces
his own true name. Just as he has his own odour materially, by which a bloodhound
can track him, so he has his sound spiritually. Those who can hear that sound
of his in the inner worlds know where he stands on the ladder of evolution,
and what he can and cannot do. Freemasons will recognise the chord as the man's
own "knock", his own "report", made by the t
inner self, that opens for the man the way into the true Lodge.
The Augoeides, the glorified man, is a name sometimes given to the three higher principles of a man, viz., Âtmâ-Buddhi-Manas, which constitute the ego, in the causal body. This, of course, is not an image of any one of the man's past vehicles, but contains within itself the essence of all that was best in each of them; it is the body which indicates more or less perfectly, as through experience it grows, what the deity means that man shall be.
From that vehicle, on the causal levels, it is possible to see not only what the man's past history has been, but also to a considerable extent the future that lies before him.
No description of
the mental plane would be complete without an account of what are known as the
Akashic Records. They constitute the only reliable history of the world, and
are often spoken of as the memory of nature, also as the true Karmic Records,
or the Book of the Lipika.
The word âkâshic is somewhat of a misnomer, for, though the records are read from the âkâsha, or matter of the mental plane, yet they do not really belong to that plane. A still worse name, which was often used in the earlier literature of the subject, was "records of the astral light", for they lie far beyond the astral plane, only broken glimpses of them being found on the astral plane, as we shall see presently.
The word âkâshic is suitable only because it is on the mental plane that we first come definitely into contact with the records, and find it possible to do reliable work with them.
The student is already familiar with the fact that as a person develops, his causal body, which determines the limit of his aura, increases in size, as well as in luminosity and purity of colour. Pursuing this conception to an enormously higher level, we arrive at the idea that the Solar Logos comprehends within Himself the whole of our solar system. Hence anything that happens within our system is within the consciousness of the Logos. Thus we see that the true record is His memory.
Furthermore, it is equally clear that on whatever plane that memory exists, it cannot but be far above anything that we know. Consequently, whatever records we may find our selves able to read must be only a reflection of the great original, mirrored in the denser media of the lower planes.
We know of these records on the buddhic, mental and astral planes, and we will describe them in the reverse order.
On the astral plane the reflection is exceedingly imperfect; such records as can there be seen are fragmentary in the extreme, and often seriously distorted. The analogy of water, which is so often used as a symbol of the astral world is remarkably apt in this case. A clear reflection in still water is at best only a reflection, representing in two dimensions objects which are three-dimensional, and then showing only their shape and colour; also the objects are reversed.
If the surface of the water be ruffled, the reflection is so broken and distorted as to be almost useless, and even misleading as a guide to the real shape and appearance of the objects reflected.
Now on the astral plane we can never have anything approaching what corresponds to a still surface; on the contrary, we have to deal with one in rapid and bewildering motion. Hence we cannot depend upon getting a clear and definite reflection. Thus a clairvoyant who possesses the faculty only of astral sight can never rely upon any picture of the past that comes before him as being accurate and perfect. Here and there some part of it may be so, but he has no means of knowing which it is. By long and careful training he may learn to distinguish between reliable and unreliable impressions, and to construct from broken reflections some kind of image of the object reflected. But usually long before he has mastered these difficulties he will have developed mental sight, which renders such labours unnecessary.
On the mental plane, conditions are very different. There, the record is full and accurate; also it is impossible to make any mistake in reading. That is to say, any number of clairvoyants, using mental sight, and examining a certain record, would see precisely the same reflection, and each would acquire a correct impression from reading it.
With the faculties of the causal body the task of reading the records is still easier. It appears, in fact, that for perfection in reading-- [so far as that is possible on the mental plane]Чthe ego must be fully awakened, so that he can use the atomic matter of the mental plane.
It is well known that if a number of persons witness a given event on the physical plane, their accounts afterwards will often vary considerably. This is because of faulty observation, each frequently seeing only those features of the event which most appealed to him.
This personal equation would not appreciably affect the impressions received in the case of an observation on the mental plane. For each observer would thoroughly grasp the entire subject, and so it would be impossible for him to see its parts out of due proportion.
Error, however, may be easily occur in transferring the impressions received to the lower planes. The reasons for this we may group roughly as those due to the observer himself, and those due to the inherent difficulty, or rather impossibility, of performing the task perfectly.
In the nature of things, only a small fraction of the experience on the mental plane could be expressed in physical worlds at all; hence, since all expression must be partial, there is obviously some possibility of choice in selecting the part expressed. For this reason, clairvoyant investigations by leading Theosophists are constantly checked and verified by more than one investigator, before they are published.
Apart from the personal
equation, however, there are still the difficulties inherent in bringing impressions
down from a higher to a lower plane. In order to understand this, the analogy
of the art of painting is useful. A painter has to endeavour to reproduce a
three-dimensional object on a flat surface, which of course has only two dimensions.
Even the most
perfect picture is in reality almost infinitely far from being a reproduction
of the scene it represents: for hardly a single line or angle in it can ever
be the same as those in the object copied. It is simply a highly ingenious attempt
to make upon one sense only, by means of lines and colours on a flat
source, an impression similar to that which the actual scene depicted would
make upon us. It can convey to us nothing, except by suggestion dependent on
our own previous experience, of, for example, the roar of the sea, the scent
of flowers, the taste of fruit, the hardness or softness of surfaces.
Far greater are the difficulties experienced by a clairvoyant in endeavouring to express mental phenomena in physical plane language; for, as was mentioned in an earlier chapter, the mental world is five-dimensional.
The appearance of the records varies to a certain extent, according to the conditions under which they are seen. Upon the astral plane, the reflection is usually a simple picture, though occasionally the figure seen would be endowed with motion. In this case, instead of a mere snapshot, a rather longer and more perfect reflection has taken place.
On the mental plane, they have two widely different aspects. First: if the observer is not thinking specially of them, the records simply form a background to whatever is going on. Under such conditions they are really merely reflections from the ceaseless activity of a great Consciousness upon a far higher plane, and have very much the appearance of cinematography pictures. The action of the reflected figures constantly goes on, as though one were watching the actors on a distant stage.
Second: if the trained observer turns his attention specially to any one scene, then, this being the plane of unhampered thought, it is instantly brought before him. Thus, if he wished to see the landing in Britain of Julius Caesar, in a moment he finds himself, not looking at a picture, but actually standing on the shore among the legionaries, with the whole scene being enacted around him, precisely as he would have seen it had he been there when it occurred in 55 BC. The actors are of course entirely unconscious of him, as they are but reflections, nor can any effort of his change the course of their action in any way.
But he has the power of controlling the rate at which the drama shall pass before him. He could thus have the events of a year take place before him in one hour. He could also stop the movement at any moment and hold any particular scene in view as long as he chooses.
Not only does he see all that he would have seen physically, had he been present when the events occurred, but he hears and understands what the people say, and he is conscious of their thoughts and motives.
There is one special case where an investigator can enter into an even closer sympathy with the records. If he is observing a scene in which he himself took part in a previous life, there are two possibilities open to him.  He may regard it in the usual manner, just as a spectator, though [as indicated above] a spectator whose insight and sympathy are perfect; or  he may once more identify himself with that long-dead personality of his and experience over again the thought and emotions of that time. He recovers, in fact, from the universal consciousness, that portion with which he has himself been associated.
The student will readily perceive the wonderful possibilities that open up before the man who is in full possession of the power to read the âkâshic records at will. He can review at leisure all history, correcting the many errors and misconceptions which have crept into the accounts handed down by historians. He can also watch, for example, the geological changes that have taken place, and the cataclysms which have altered the face of the earth many times.
It is usually possible to determine the date of any record which may be examined, but it may require considerable pains and ingenuity. There are many ways of doing this:  The observer may look into the mind of an intelligent person present in the picture, and see what date he supposes it to be;  he may observe the date, written in a letter or document. As soon as he has secured the date say according to the Roman or Grecian system of chronology, it is of course merely a matter of calculation to reduce it to the present accepted system.  He may turn to some contemporary record, the date of which can easily be ascertained from ordinary historical sources.
In comparatively recent times there is usually no great difficulty in ascertaining the date. But in much older times other methods have to be adopted. Even if the date can be read in the mind of someone living in the picture there may be difficulty in relating his system of dates to that of the observer. In such cases:  the observer may run the records before him [which he can do at any speed, such as a year or a second, or faster if he chooses] and count the years from a date that is known. In such cases it is of course necessary to form some approximate idea, from the general appearance and surroundings, of the period, in order that he may not have too long a series of years to count.  Where the years run into thousands, the above method would be too tedious to be practical. The observer, as an alternative, can notice the point in the heavens to which the axis of the earth is pointing, and calculate the date from the known data concerning that secondary rotation of the earth, known as the precession of the equinoxes.  In extremely early records of events which took place millions of years ago, the period of the precession of the equinoxes [approximately 26,000 years] can be used as a unit. In these instances absolute accuracy is not required, hence the date in round numbers is sufficient for all practical purposes in dealing with such remote epochs.
The accurate numbering of the records is possible only after careful training. As we have seen, mental sight is necessary before any reliable reading can be done. In fact, to minimise the possibility of error, mental sight ought to be fully at the command of the investigator while awake in the physical body; and to obtain this years of labour and rigid self-discipline are necessary.
Moreover, as the true records lie on a plane at present far beyond our ken, to comprehend them perfectly demands faculties of a far higher order than any which humanity has yet evolved. Hence our present view of the whole subject must necessarily be imperfect, because we are looking at it from below instead of from above.
The âkâshic records must not be confused with mere man-made thought-forms, which exist in such abundance on both the mental and astral planes.
Thus for example, as we saw in Chapter VIII, any great historical event, having been constantly thought of, and vividly imaged by large numbers of people, exists as a definite thought-form on the mental plane. The same applies to characters in drama, fiction, etc. Such products of thought [ often be it noted, of quite ignorant or inaccurate thought] are much easier to see than the true âkâshic record, for, as we have said, to read the records requires training, whilst to see thought-forms needs nothing but a glimpse of the mental plane.
Hence many visions of saints, seer, etc., are not of the true records but merely of thought-forms.
One method of reading the records is by means of psychometry. It appears that there is a sort of magnetic attachment or affinity between any particle of matter and the record which contains history. Every particle, in fact, bears within it forever the impress of everything that has occurred in its neighbourhood. This affinity enables it to act as a kind of conductor between the record and the faculties of anyone who can read it.
The untrained clairvoyant usually cannot read the records without some such physical link to put him en rapport with the subject required. Such a method of exercising clairvoyance is psychometry.
Thus, if a fragment of stone belonging, say, to Stonehenge, is given to a psychometer, he will see, and be able to describe, the ruins and the country surrounding them; in addition, he will probably also be able to see some of the past events with which Stonehenge was associated, such as Druidical ceremonies, for example.
It is quite probable that ordinary memory is but another expression of the same principle. The scenes through which we pass in the course of our lives seem to act upon the cells of the brain in such a way as to establish a connection between those cells and the portion of the records with which we have been associated, and so we "remember" what we have seen.
Even a trained clairvoyant needs a link to enable him to find the record of an event of which he has no previous knowledge. There are several way in which this may be done. Thus :  if he has visited the scene of the event, he may call up the image of the spot, and then run through the records until he reaches the period desired.  If he has not seen the place in question, he may run back in time to the date of the event and then search for what he wants;  he may examine the records of the period, when he will have no difficulty in identifying any prominent person connected with the event; then he can run through the records of that person till he comes to the event for which he was looking.
We thus see that the power to read the memory of nature exists in men in many degrees; there are the few trained clairvoyants who can consult the records for themselves at will; the psychometer who needs an object connected with the past in order to bring him into touch with the past; the person who gets occasional, spasmodic glimpses of the past; the crystal-gazer who can sometimes direct his less certain astral telescope [see The Astral Body, p. 235] to some scene of long ago.
Many of the lower manifestations of these powers are exercised unconsciously. Thus many a crystal-gazer watches scenes from the past, without being able to distinguish them from visions of the present; other vaguely psychic persons find pictures constantly arising before their eyes, without ever realising that they are actually psychometrising the various objects which happen to be around them.
A variant of this class of psychic is the man who is able to psychometrise persons only, instead of inanimate objects, as is more usual. In most cases this faculty shows itself erratically. Such psychics will sometimes, when they meet a stranger, see in a flash some prominent event in that stranger's life; on other occasions they will receive no special impression.
More rarely are found persons who get detailed visions of the past life of everyone they encounter. One of the best examples of this class is probably that of the German Zschokke, who describes his remarkable faculty circumstantially in his autobiography.
Although it is outside the scope of this book to treat of the buddhic plane, yet for the sake of completeness, and in this once instance, it may be well briefly to refer to the records as they exist on the buddhic plane.
The records, referred to as the memory of nature, are on the plane of buddhi very much more than a memory in the ordinary sense of the word. On this plane time and space are no longer limitations. The observer no longer needs to pass a series of events in review, for past and present, as well as future, are all alike and simultaneously present to him, for he is in what is called the "Eternal Now" Цmeaningless as such a phrase may sound on the physical plane.
Infinitely below the consciousness of the Logos as even the buddhic plane is, it is abundantly clear that the "record: is not merely a memory; for all that has happened in the past, or that will happen in the future, is happening now before His eyes, just as much as are the events of what we call the present. Incredible as this may sound, it is nevertheless true.
A simple and purely physical analogy may help to a partial understanding, not indeed of the future, but of the past and present being visible simultaneously.
Let the following two premises only be granted:
 That physical light can travel, at its usual speed, indefinitely into space without loss.
 That the Logos, being omnipresent, must be at every point in space, not successively, but simultaneously.
Granting these premises, it necessarily follows that everything which has ever happened, from the very beginning of the world, must at this very moment be taking place before the eyes of the Logos Цnot a mere memory of it, but the actual occurrence itself being now under His observation.
Further, by a simple movement of consciousness through space, He would not only be continuously conscious of every event that had ever happened, but would also be conscious of every event happening, at any speed He chooses, either forwards [as we reckon time], or backwards.
The illustration, however as stated, does not appear to throw any light on the problem of seeing the future, which for the present must remained unexplained, based, apart from metaphysical considerations, solely on the statements of those who have themselves been able to exercise, in some degree, the faculty of seeing future events.
The future cannot be seen as clearly as the past, for the faculty to see the future belongs to a still higher plane. Moreover, although prevision is to a great extent possible on the mental plane, yet it is not perfect, because wherever in the web of destiny the hand of the developed man comes in, his powerful will may introduce new threads, and change the pattern of the life to come. The course of the ordinary undeveloped man, who has practically no will of his own worth speaking of, may often be foreseen enough, but when the ego boldly takes his future into his own hands, exact prevision becomes impossible.
A man who can use his atmic body can contact the Universal Memory beyond the limits even of his own Chain.
On p.88 we mentioned one possible cause of plagiarism. Another cause, which sometimes occurs, is that two writers happening to see the same âkâshic record at the same time. In this case, they not only apparently plagiarise each other, but also, though each thinks himself the creator of a plot, a situation, etc., both are actually plagiarising the world's true history.
MENTAL PLANE INHABITANTS
In classifying the
inhabitants of the mental plane, we will adopt the classification chosen for
the inhabitants of the astral plane [see The Astral Body, p. 168] viz.
 Human,  Non-Human,  Artificial.
Since the products of man's evil passions, which bulk so largely the astral world, cannot exist on the mental plane, the sub-divisions we shall have to consider will naturally be far fewer than in the case of astral entities.
The following table sets out the main classes: -
|Human beings in devachan||
It will be seen that
Human entities are divided, for convenience, into embodied, i.e.,
those who are still attached to a physical body, "alive" as we say,
and those who are "dead", who have no physical body.
HUMAN : EMBODIED Ц Human beings who, while still attached to a physical body, are able to move in full consciousness and activity on the mental plane, are either Adepts or Their initiated pupils, for until a student has been taught by his Master how to use his mental body he will be unable to move with freedom upon even its lower levels.
Adepts and Initiates appear as splendid globes of living colour, driving away all evil influence wherever they go, shedding around them a feeling of restfulness and happiness, of which even those who do not see them are often conscious. It is in the mental world that much of their most important work is done, more especially upon the higher levels, where the individuality or ego can be acted upon directly. It is from this plane that they shower the grandest spiritual influences upon the world of thought. From it also they impel great and beneficent movements of all kinds. Here also much of the spiritual force poured out by the self-sacrifice of the Nirmanakayas [see The Astral Body, p. 57] is distributed; here also direct teaching is given to those pupils who are sufficiently advanced to receive it in this way, since it can be imparted far more readily and completely here than on the astral plane. In addition, they have a great field of work in connection with those whom we call the "dead".
Adepts or Masters for the most part reside on the highest or atomic level of the mental plane.
But in the majority of cases, those who attain to the Asekha level, no longer retain either physical, astral, mental or causal bodies, but live permanently at Their highest level. When They need to deal with a lower plane, They draw round Themselves a temporary vehicle of the matter belonging to that plane.
In order the better to understand the conditions of the mental plane and its inhabitants, it is necessary to mention also those who are not present on the plane. The characteristics of the mental world being unselfishness and spirituality, it follows that the black magician and his pupils can find no place there. In spite of the fact that in many of them the intellect is very highly developed, and consequently the matter of their mental bodies is extremely active and sensitive along certain lines, yet in every case those lines are connected with personal desire of some sort. They can find expression only through that lower part of the mental body, which is inextricably entangled with astral matter. As a necessary consequence of this limitation, their activities are practically confined to the astral and physical planes.
A man whose whole
life is evil and selfish, may indeed have periods of purely abstract thought
during which he may utilise his mental body, provided he has learnt how to do
so. But the moment that the personal element comes in, and the effort is made
to produce some evil result, the thought is no longer abstract, and the man
finds himself working in connection with the familiar astral matter once more.
One might therefore say that a black magician could function on the mental plane
only while he forgot that he was a black magician.
But even while he forgot it, he could be visible on the mental plane only to men functioning there consciously, never by any possibility to people in devachan, who are entirely secluded in a world of their own thoughts, into which nothing of an unpleasant or evil character can intrude from without.
For ordinary people during sleep, or for psychically developed persons in trance, to penetrate to the mental plane, is just possible, though extremely rare. Purity of life and purpose would be an absolutely pre-requisite, and even when the plane was reached there would be nothing that could be called real consciousness, but simply a capacity for receiving certain impressions. An example of this was given in the chapter on Sleep-Life, p. 166.
ЦThis class comprises all those in devachan, who have already been described
in the chapters dealing with that condition.
NON-HUMAN : -It was mentioned in The Astral Body, p. 169, that there are occasionally found on the astral plane certain cosmic entities, visitors from other planets and systems. Such visitors are very much more frequent on the mental plane. The difficulties of describing such entities in human language are almost insuperable, and the task will therefore not be attempted.
They are very lofty beings and are concerned, not with individuals, but with great cosmic processes. Those in touch with our world are the immediate agents for the carrying out of the law of karma, especially in connection with changes of land and sea brought about by earthquakes, tidal waves, and all other seismic causes.
Rûpadevas :-The beings known to the Hindus and Buddhists as Devas, to Zoroastrians as the Lords of the heavenly and the earthly, to the Christians and Mohammedans as angels, and elsewhere as Sons of God, etc., are a kingdom of spirits belonging to an evolution distinct from that of humanity, an evolution in which they may be regarded as a kingdom next above humanity, much as humanity is next above the animal kingdom. There is here however, an important difference; for, whilst an animal can pass only into the human kingdom, a human being, when he attains the Asekha level, has several choices, of which the deva line is one.
Although connected with the earth, devas are by no means confined to it, for the whole of our chain of seven worlds is as one world to them, their evolution being through a grand system of seven chains.
Their hosts have hitherto been recruited chiefly form other humanities in the solar system, some lower and some higher than ours, since but a very small portion of our own is sufficiently advanced to be able to join them. It seems certain that some of their very numerous classes have not passed through any humanity at al comparable with ours.
It is at present not possible for us to understand very much about them, but it is clear that the aim of their evolution is considerably higher than ours; that is to say, while the level of the Asekha Adept is that at which we are aiming at the end of the seventh round, the level attained by the deva evolution in the corresponding period will be a very much higher one. For them, as for us, there is a steeper, but shorter path leading to still more sublime heights.
There are at least as many types of angels or devas as there are races of men, and in each type there are many grades of power, of intellect, and of general development, so that altogether there are hundreds of varieties.
Angels have been divided into nine Orders, the names used in the Christian Church being Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim. Of these, seven belong to the great Rays of which the solar system is composed, and two may be called cosmic, as they are common to some other systems.
In each Order there are many types; in each there are some who work; some who assist those in trouble and sorrow; others who work among the vast hosts of the dead; some who guard, some who meditate, while others are at the stage where they are mainly concerned with their own development.
There are also angels of music, who express themselves in music as we express ourselves in words; to them an arpeggio is a greeting, a fugue a conversation, an oratorio an oration. There are angels of colour, who express themselves by kaleidoscopic changes of glowing hues. There are also angels who live in and express themselves by perfumes and fragrances. A sub-division of this type includes the angels of incense, who are drawn by its vibrations and find pleasure in utilising its possibilities.
There is still another kind, belonging to the kingdom of nature-spirits or elves, who do not express themselves by means of perfumes, but who live by and on such emanations and so are always found where fragrance is disseminated. There are may varieties, some feeding upon coarse and loathsome odours, and others only upon those which are delicate and refined. Amongst these are a few types who are especially attracted by the smell of incense, and who are therefore to be found in churches where incense is used.
Those who have been taught to know and respond to the ancient call at the preface of the Christian Eucharist and who are charged with the distribution of the force, are often called the apostolic or messenger angels. Some of these are thoroughly conversant with this class of work, from long practice, others are novices, eagerly learning what has to be done, and how to do it.
The method of angelic evolution being largely by service, a ceremony such as the Eucharist offers them a remarkably good opportunity, of which they readily avail themselves. At a Low celebration, the Directing Angel first responds to the call sent out by the priest, and he seems to assemble the rest; at a High Celebration or Missa Cantata, the ancient melody attracts the notice of all immediately that it rings out, and they stand ready to attend at the appropriate time for each.
The service rendered by the angels is of very many kinds, only a few bringing them into contact with human beings, mainly in connection with religious ceremonies.
The angels invoked in the Christian services are far above men in spiritual development. In Freemasonry also angelic aid is invoked, but those called upon are nearer to the level of men in development and intelligence, and each of them brings with him a number of subordinates, who carry out his directions.
Every regularly constituted Masonic Lodge is in charge of a seventh-ray Angel, who directs its affairs.
None of the devas have physical bodies such as we have. The lowest kind are called Kâmadevas, who have as their lowest body the astral; the next class is that of the Rûpadevas, who have bodies of lower mental matter, and who have their habitat on the four lower, or rûpa levels of the mental plane; the third class is that of the arûpadevas, who live in bodies of higher mental or causal matter. Above these there are four other great classes, inhabiting respectively the four higher planes of our solar system. Above and beyond the deva kingdom altogether stand the great hosts of planetary spirits. In this book we are concerned, of course principally with the Rûpadevas.
The relationship of devas to nature Цspirits somewhat resembles, at a higher level, that of men to animals. Just as an animal can attain individualisation only by association with man, so it seems that a nature-spirit can normally acquire a permanent reincarnating individuality only by an attachment of a somewhat similar character to devas.
Devas will never be human, most of them already byond that stage, but there are some who have been human beings in the past.
The bodies of devas are more fluidic than those of men, being capable of far greater expansion and contraction. They have also a certain fiery quality which clearly distinguishes them from human beings.
The fluctuations in the aura of a deva are so great that, for example, the aura of one which was normally about 150 yards in diameter has been observed to expand to about two miles in diameter.
The colours in the aura of a deva are more of the nature of flame than of cloud. A man looks like an exceedingly brilliant, yet delicate cloud of glowing gas, but a deva looks like a mass of fire.
Devas live far more in the circumference, more all over their auras than a man does. Whilst 99 percent of the matter of a man's aura is within the periphery of his physical body, the proportion is far less in the case of a deva.
They usually appear as human beings of gigantic size. They possess vast knowledge, great power, and are most splendid in appearance; they are described as radiant, flashing creatures, myriad-hued, like rainbows of changing supernal colours, of stateliest imperial mien, calm energy incarnate, embodiments of resistless strength. In Revelation [x. 1] one of them is described as having "a rainbow upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire". "As the sound of many waters" are their voices. They guide natural order, their cohorts carrying on ceaselessly the process of nature with regularity and accuracy.
Devas produce thought-forms as we do, but theirs are usually not so concrete as ours, until they reach a high level. They have a wide generalising nature, and are constantly making gorgeous plans. They have a colour language, which is probably not as definite as our speech, though in certain ways it may express more.
The Initiations which we take are not taken by devas; their kingdom and ours converge at a point higher than the Adept.
There are ways in which a man can enter the deva evolution, even at our stage, or lower.
The acceptance of this line of evolution is sometimes spoken of, in comparison with the sublime renunciation of the Nirmanakayas, as "yielding to the temptation to become a god". But it imust not be inferred from this expression that any shadow of blame attaches to the man who makes this choice. The Path which he selects is not the shortest, but it is a very noble one, and if his developed intuition impels him toward it, it is certainly the one best suited to his capacities.
In Freemasonry the deva captain associated with the S.D. is a rûpadeva, and he employs nature-spirits and elemental essence at his own level. The deva captains corresponding to the three Principal Officers are arûpadevas, who possess the consciousness and wield the forces of the planes which they respectively represent.
The deva of the J.W. takes charge of the 1st degree, the deva of the S.W. of the 2nd degree, and the deva of W.M. of the 3rd degree.
Nothing is known of any rule or limit for the work of the devas. They have more lines of activity than we can imagine. They are usually quite willing to expound and exemplify subjects along their own line to any human being who is sufficiently developed to appreciate them. Much instruction is given in this way, but few are able to profit by it as yet.
Whilst devas are exceedingly beautiful, the lower orders of them have the vaguest and cloudiest conceptions of things, being inaccurate so far as facts are concerned. Hence, while a deva friend may be an exceedingly interesting person, yet, having no relation to the facts amidst which humanity is evolving, the greatest care should be exercised in following advice he may give as to physical actions.
In general, the higher order of devas unreservedly co-operate with the great Plan of the universe; hence the perfect "order" that we find in nature. In the lower ranks, this perfect obedience is instinctive and automatic, rather than conscious; they do their work, feeling impelled in the direction of the One Will which runs through everything.
In the case of National devas, whilst the one at the head of each nation is a being of lofty intelligence, who always co-operates with the Plan, the lower national devas are found fighting, for example, for their own nation on a battlefield. As their intelligence develops, they co-operate more and more with the Plan.
The Spirit of the Earth, that obscure being who has the earth for his body, is not of the highest order of devas. Little is known of him; he may be said to belong more to the Rûpa Devas, because he has the earth for his body.
Devas who are beyond the level of the Asekha Adept, i.e., that of the Fifth Initiation, normally live in what is called in Sanskrit the Jñânadeha, or the body of knowledge. The lowest part of that body is an atom of the nirvanic plane, serving them as our physical body serves us.
For a description of the four Devarâjas, or Regents of the Earth, the student is referred to The Astral Body, p. 187.
In Freemasonry, the four tassels which appear in the corners of the "Indented Border" symbolise the Devarâjas, the Rulers of the elements of earth, water, air and fire, and the agents of the law of Karma.
Animal Group-Souls . The group-souls, to which the vast majority of animals are attached, are found on the lower mental plane. It would take us too far afield to describe the nature of these group-souls, so we confine ourselves merely to mentioning them here.
Individualised Animals. These, together with their state of consciousness on the mental plane, have already been described on p. 204.
Second Elemental Kingdom. We have already, in Chapter II, described the genesis of the Mental Elemental Essence; we have also dealt with this essence in its function as part of man's mental body, and also as used in thought-forms. Little more, therefore, need be said about it here.
There are three Elemental Kingdoms: the First ensouls matter of the higher mental or causal sub-planes; the Second, the matter of the four lower levels of the mental plane; the Third, astral matter. In the Second Kingdom, the highest subdivision exists on the fourth sub-plane, whilst there are two classes on each of the three lower sub-planes, thus making in all seven subdivisions on these four sub-planes.
We have already seen [p.5] that the mental essence is on the downward arc of evolution, and therefore is less evolved than astral essence or, of course, than any of the later kingdoms, such as the mineral; and we have also emphasised the importance of this fact, which the student should bear constantly in mind.
Mental Essence is, if possible, even more instantaneously sensitive to thought-action than is the astral Essence, the wonderful delicacy with which it responds to the faintest action of the mind being constantly and prominently brought to the notice of investigators. It is, of course, in this response that its very life consists, its progress being helped by the use of it by thinking entities.
If it could be imagined as entirely free for a moment from the action of thought, it would appear as a formless conglomeration of dancing infinitesimal atoms, instinct with marvellous intensity of life, but probably making but little progress on the downward path of evolution into matter. But when thought seizes upon it, and stirs it into activity, throwing it on the rûpa levels into all kinds of lovely forms [and on the arûpa levels into flashing streams], it receives a distinct additional impulse which, often repeated, helps it forward on its way.
For when a thought is directed from higher levels to the affairs of earth, it sweeps downwards and takes upon itself the matter of the lower planes. In doing this, it brings the elemental essence, of which the first veil was formed, into contact with that lower matter; thus by degrees the essence becomes accustomed to answer to lower vibrations, and so progresses in its downward evolution into matter.
The Essence is also very noticeably affected by music, poured forth by great musicians in devachan [see p. 197].
It should be clearly recognised that there is a vast difference between the grandeur and power of thought on its own plane and the comparatively feeble effort we know as thought on the physical plane.
Ordinary thought originates in the mental body and, as it descends, clothes itself in astral essence. A man who can use his causal body generates his thoughts at that level; these thoughts clothe themselves in lower mental essence, and are consequently infinitely finer, more penetrating, and in every way more effective.
If the thought be directed exclusively to higher objects, its vibrations may be too fine to find expression in astral matter; but when they do affect this lower matter they have far greater effect than those generated so much nearer to the level of that lower matter.
Following the idea further, the thought of an Initiate takes rise on the buddhic plane, and clothes itself in causal matter; the thought of a Master takes its rise on the plane of âtmâ, wielding the incalculable powers of regions of matter beyond our ordinary ken.
ARTIFICIAL. Elementals. Mental elementals, or thought-forms, having already been fully described, little further need be said about them. The mental plane is even more fully peopled by artificial elementals than is the astral plane, and they play a large part among the living creatures that function on the mental plane. They are, of course, more radiant and more brilliantly coloured than are astral elementals, are stronger, more lasting, and more fully vitalised.
When it is also remembered how much grander and more powerful thought is on the mental plane, and that its forces are being wielded not only by human entities, but by devas, and by visitors from higher planes, it will be realised that the importance and influence of such artificial entities can scarcely be exaggerated.
Great use is made of these mental elementals by Masters and Initiates, the elementals which they create having, of course, a much longer existence and proportionately greater power than any of those which were described in dealing with the astral plane, in The Astral Body, p. 190.
DEATH OF THE MENTAL BODY
Life in devachan,
the heaven-world, being, as we have seen, finite, must come to an end. This
takes place when the ego has assimilated all the essence of the experiences
which were gathered in the preceding physical and astral lives.
All the mental faculties, which were expressed through the mental body, are then withdrawn within the higher mental or causal body. Together with them, the mental unit, which performs a function similar to that performed by the physical and astral permanent atoms, also is withdrawn within the causal body, and remains there in a latent condition until called forth into renewed activity, when the time comes for re-birth.
The mental unit, together with the astral and physical permanent atoms, are enwrapped in the buddhic life-web [see p. 285], and stored up as a radiant nucleus-like particle in the causal body, being all that remains to the ego of his bodies in the lower worlds.
The mental body itself, the last of the temporary vestures of the true man, the ego, is left behind as a mental corpse, just as the physical and astral bodies were left behind. Its materials disintegrate, and return to the general matter of the mental plane.
We are not, strictly, concerned in this volume with the life of the man on the higher mental or causal plane, but, in order not to leave the story of man's life between one incarnation and the next too incomplete, we may mention very briefly the portion of that life spent on the higher mental plane.
Every human being, on his completion of his life on the astral and lower mental planes, obtains at least a flash of consciousness of the ego, in the causal body.
The more developed, of course, have a definitely conscious period, living as the ego on its own plane.
In the momentary flash of ego-consciousness, the man sees his last life as a whole, and gathers from it the impression of success or failure in the work which it was meant to do.
Together with this, he also has a forecast of the life before him, with the knowledge of the general lesson which that is to teach, or the specific progress which he is intended to make in it. Only very slowly does the ego awaken to the value of these glimpses; but when he comes to understand them, he naturally begins to make use of them. Eventually he arrives at a stage when this glimpse is no longer momentary, when he is able to consider the question much more fully, and to devote some time to his plans for the life which lies before him.
Further description of the life of the ego on his own plane must now be deferred for the fourth volume of this series, which will deal with The Causal Body.
THE PERSONALITY AND EGO
We now come to consider
the relationship between the personality and the ego. As, however, we have not
yet studied the ego [this, of course, having to be reserved for our next volume
on the Causal Body], it will not be possible for us to investigate the relationship
between personality and ego quite fully. Furthermore, we must in this volume
examine the question mainly from the point of view of the personality, rather
than from that of the ego. In The Causal Body
we must again take up the subject, which is one of very great importance, but
then, of course, principally from the point of view of the ego.
The personality consists of the transitory vehicles through which the true man, the Thinker, expresses himself in the physical, astral and lower mental worlds; i.e., the physical, astral and lower mental bodies, and of all the activities connected with these vehicles.
The individuality consists of the Thinker himself, the Self in the causal body. As a tree puts out leaves, to last through spring, summer and autumn, so does the individuality put out personalities to last through the life-periods spent on the physical, astral and lower mental planes. Just as the leaves take in, assimilate, and pass on nutriment to the sap, which is eventually withdrawn into the parent trunk, and then fall and perish, so does the personality gather experience and pass it on to the parent individuality, eventually, when its task is completed, falling and perishing.
The ego incarnates in a personality for the sake of acquiring definiteness. The ego on his own plane is magnificent, but vague in his magnificence, except in the case of men far advanced on the road of evolution.
|The 'principles" of man are sometimes classified as follows:|
|One classification||A slightly different classification|
|The Perishable Quarternary or Personality||Kâma||CONDITIONALLY IMMORTAL||Kâma-Manas|
|Etheric Double||Etheric Double|
|Dense Body||Dense Body|
A classification used by H.P. Blavatsky is as follows.
She speaks of four divisions of the mind:-
 Manas-taijasi, the resplendent or illuminated manas, which is really buddhi, or at least that state of man when his manas has become merged in buddhi, having no separate wil of its own.
 Manas proper, the higher manas, the abstract thinking mind.
 Antahkarana; the link or bridge between higher manas and kâma-manas during incarnation.
 Kâma-Manas, which on this theory is the personality.
Sometimes she calls manas the deva-ego, or the divine as distinguished from the personal self. Higher manas is divine because it has positive thought, which is kriyashakti, the power of doing things, all work being in reality done by thought-power. The word divine comes from div to shine, and refers to the divine quality of its own life which shines from within manas.
The lower mind is merely a reflector, having no light of its own; it is something through which the light comes, or through which the sound comes Цmerely persona, a mask.
Among the Vedantins, or in Shri Shankarâchârya's school, the term antakarana [see p. 271] is used to indicate the mind in its fullest sense, meaning the entire internal organ or instrument between the innermost Self and the outer world, and is always described as of four parts:-
 Buddhi ----------------Insight, intuition, or pure reason
 Manas ----------------Thought
 Chitta -----------------Discrimination of objects
What the Western
man usually calls his mind, with its powers of concrete and abstract thought,
is the last two in the above classification, viz., Manas and Chitta.
The Theosophist should recognise in the Vedantic divisions his own familiar âtmâ, buddhi, manas, and the lower mind.
In the symbolism of Freemasonry, the lower mind and the mental body are represented by the S.D.
The following table sets out the principles of man in the system of Freemasonry:-
|Principles in man||Officer||Colour of associated nature-spirits and elemental essence|
|Âtmâ||Will||W.M.||Rose, gold, blue and green|
|Buddhi||Intuition||S.W.||Predominantly electric blue|
|Higher Manas||Higher Mind||J.W.||Predominantly golden|
|Lower Manas||Lower Mind||S.D.||Yellow|
|Kâma||Desire and Emotion||J.D.||Crimson|
|Linga Sharîra||Dense Physical Body||O.G.|
(in the church Mass)
|Principles in Man|
|Wine||Ego or Individuality|
The taking on of
a personality by the ego has also been likened to the projection of a spark
from the Flame of Mind. The flame fires the material upon which it has fallen,
and from that a new flame will arise, identical in its essence with that which
generated it, but separated for purposes of manifestation. Hence it is said
that you may light a thousand candles from a single flame, but the flame is
never diminished, although a thousand flames are visible where only one was
The Thinker, the individuality, alone endures; he is the man for whom "the hour never strikes", the eternal youth who, as the Bhagavad Gitâ expresses it, puts on and casts off bodies as a man puts on new garments and throws off the old. Each personality is a new part for the immortal Actor, and he treads the stage of human life over and over again; but in the life-drama each character he assumes is the child of the preceding ones, and the father of those to come, so that the life-history is a continuous one.
The elements of which the personality is composed are bound together by the links of memory caused by the impressions made on the three lower vehicles, and also by the self-identification of the Thinker with his vehicles, which sets up the personal " I " consciousness known as Ahamkâra, derived from Aham meaning " I ", and kâra meaning "making"; Ahamkara thus means the " I Цmaker".
In the lower stages of evolution, this " I " consciousness is in the physical and astral vehicles, the greatest activity being in these bodies; later it passes to the lower mental body, which then assumes predominance.
The personality, with its transient feelings, desires, passions, thoughts, thus forms a quasi-independent entity; yet all the time it draws its energies from the Thinker it enwraps.
Moreover, as its qualifications, which belong to the lower worlds, are often in direct antagonism to the permanent interests of the individuality, the "Dweller in the body", conflict is set up, victory sometimes inclining to the temporary pleasure, sometimes to the permanent gain.
In dealing with the personality, the obstacle to be overcome is asmitâ, the notion that "I am this", or what a Master once called "self-personality". The personality, as we have seen, develops through life into quite a definite thing, with decided physical, astral and mental form, occupation and habits. And there is no objection to that, if it be a good specimen. But if the indwelling life can be persuaded that he is that personality, he will begin to serve its interests, instead of using it merely as a tool for his spiritual purposes. Hence, in consequence of this error we find men seeking inordinate wealth, power, fame, etc.
"Self-personality" is the greatest obstacle to the use of the personality by the higher self, and so to spiritual progress.
The life of a personality, of course, begins when the Thinker forms a new mental body [see Chapter XXXII] and it endures until that mental body disintegrates at the close of the period spent in devachan.
The objective of the ego is to unfold his latent powers, and this he does by putting himself down into successive personalities. Men who do not understand this Цand they are, of course, at the present time the great majority of humanity Цlook upon the personality as the real self, and consequently live for it alone, regulating their lives for what appears to be its temporary advantage.
The man, however, who understands, realises that the only important thing is the life of the ego, and that its progress is the object for which the temporary personality must be used. Thus, when he has to decide between tow possible courses of action, he does not, as most men do, consider which will bring him the greater pleasure or profit as a personality, but which will bring greater progress to him as an ego. Experience soon teaches him that nothing which is not good for all can ever be good for him, or for anyone. Thus he learns to forget himself altogether, and to consider only what is best for humanity as a whole.
Intensification of the personality, at the expense of the ego, is an error against which the student should ever be on his guard. Consider, for example, the probable result of the very commonest of failings Цselfishness. This is primarily a mental attitude or condition, so that its result must be looked for in the mental realm. As it is an intensification of the personality, at the expense of the individuality, one of its results will undoubtedly be the accentuation of the lower personality, so that the selfishness tends to reproduce itself in aggravated form, and to grow steadily stronger. This, of course, is part of the general workings of karmic law, and emphasises how fatal a bar to progress is persistence in the fault of selfishness. For nature's severest penalty is always deprivation of the opportunity for progress, just as her highest reward is the offering of such opportunity.
When a man rise to a level somewhat higher than that of the ordinary man, and his principal activity becomes mental, there is danger lest he should identify himself with the mind. He should therefore strive to identify himself with the ego, and make the ego the strongest point of his consciousness, thus merging the personality in the individuality.
The student should strive to realise that the mind is not the knower, but the instrument that the Knower uses to obtain knowledge. To identify the mind with the Knower is similar to identifying the chisel with the sculptor who wields it. The mind limits the Knower, who, as self-consciousness develops, finds himself hampered by it on every side. As a man may put on thick gloves and find that he thereby loses a great deal in delicacy of touch, so it is with the Knower when he puts on the mind. The hand is within the glove, but its capacities are greatly lessened; so the Knower is present within the mind, but his powers are limited in their expression.
As we saw in a previous chapter, the mental body possesses the characteristic of actually shaping a portion of itself into a likeness of the object presented to it. When it is thus modified, the man is said to know the object. What he knows, however, is not the object itself, but the image produced by the object in his own mental body. This image, moreover, for reasons which we have already discussed [see p. 56] is not a perfect reproduction of the object, but is liable to be coloured and distorted by the characteristics of the particular mind in which it is formed.
These considerations bring home to us that, in our minds or mental bodies, we do not know "things in themselves", but only the images of them which are produced in our consciousness. Meditation on these ideas will help the student to realise ever more and more fully that he himself, the true individuality, is not the personality which he, as the ego, has temporarily assumed for this one earth-life.
The existence of an evil quality in the personality implies a lack of the corresponding good quality in the ego or individuality. An ego may be imperfect, but he cannot be evil; nor, in any ordinary circumstances, can evil of any kind manifest through the causal body.
The mechanical reason for this has been explained previously. Evil qualities can be expressed only in the four lower subdivisions of astral matter. These reflect their influence in the mental plane only on its four lower sub-divisions; hence they cannot affect the ego at all. The only emotions that can appear in the three higher astral sub-planes are good ones, such as love, sympathy and devotion. These affect the ego in the causal body, since he resides on the corresponding sub-planes of the mental world.
The utmost result that is brought about in the causal body by long continued lives of a low type is a certain incapacity to receive the opposite good impression for a very considerable period afterwards, a kind of numbness or paralysis of the causal matter; an unconsciousness which resists impressions of the good of the opposite kind.
The qualities which the ego develops thus cannot be other than good qualities. When they are well-defined, they show themselves in each of his numerous personalities, and consequently those personalities can never be guilty of the vices opposite to such qualities.
But where there is a gap in the ego, there is nothing inherent in the personality to check the growth of the opposite vice; and since others in the world about him already possess that vice, and since man is an imitative animal, it is quite probable that the vice will speedily manifest in him. The vice, however, as we have seen, belongs to the vehicles of the personality, not to the man inside them. In these vehicles its repetition may set up a momentum which is difficult to conquer; but if the ego bestirs himself to create in himself the opposite virtue, then the vice is cut off at its root, and can no longer exist, neither in this life nor in all the lives to come. In other words, the principle to be applied in practical life is, that to rid oneself of an evil quality in such a way that it can never reappear, is to fill the gap in the ego by developing the opposite virtue. Many modern schools of psychology and education now advocate this method rather than that attacking an evil quality in a more direct fashion. " Nerve us with constant affirmatives, " said Emerson, with great insight.
The personality is a mere fragment of the ego, the ego projecting but a minute portion of himself into the mental, astral, and physical bodies. This tiny fragment of consciousness can be seen by clairvoyants moving about within man. Sometimes it is seen as "the golden man the size of a thumb," who dwells in the heart. Others see it as a brilliant star of light .
A man may keep this Star of Consciousness where he will, i.e., in any one of the seven Chakrams of the body.
Which of these chakrams is most natural depends largely upon the type or "ray" of the man, and also, it seems, upon his race and sub-race. Thus men of the fifth sub-race of the Fifth Root-Race nearly always keep that consciousness in the brain, in the chakram dependent upon the pituitary body. There are however, men of other races who keep it habitually in the heart, the throat, or the solar plexus.
The Star of Consciousness is the representative of the ego in the lower planes, is in fact, what we know as the personality. But although, as we have seen, that personality is part of the ego, its only life and power being that of the ego, it nevertheless often forgets those facts and comes to regard itself as an entirely separate entity, and works for its own ends. In the case of ordinary people who have never studied these matters, the personality is to all intents and purposes the man, the ego manifesting himself only very rarely and partially.
There is always a line of communication between the personality and the ego; this is called antahkarana. Most people make no effort to use this line. In its earlier stages evolution consists in the opening up of this line of communication, so that the ego may be able increasingly to assert himself through it and finally to dominate the personality. When this is achieved, the personality has no separate thought or will, but becomes [as it should be] merely an expression of the ego on the lower planes.
The hold that the ego has over his lower vehicles is only very partial, and the antahkarana may be regarded as the arm stretched out between the little piece of the ego that is awakened, and the hand that is put down.
When the two are perfectly joined, this attenuated thread ceases to exist.
In Sanskrit, antahkarana means the inner organ or instrument, and its destruction would imply that the ego would no longer need an instrument, but would work directly on the personality. Thus the antahkarana, being the link between the higher and lower self, disappears when one will operates the two.
It must however, be understood that the ego, belonging as he does to an altogether higher plane, can never fully express himself in the lower planes. The most that can be expected is that the personality will contain nothing which is not intended by the ego, that it will express as much of him as can be expressed in the lower world.
A man completely untrained has practically no communication with the ego; the Initiate has full communication. [ NOTE ЦIt would appear here that, as every other "step" on the occult path, Initiation confers the possibility of full communication with the ego rather than its complete realisation; the Initiate must by his own efforts convert the possibility into an actuality. ЦA. E. Powell ] Between these two extremes there are, of course, men at all stages.
It must be born in mind that the ego himself is in process of development, and we therefore have to deal with egos in very different stages of advancement. In any case an ego is in many ways something enormously bigger than a personality can ever be.
Although the ego himself is but a fragment of the Monad, he is yet complete as an ego in his causal body even when his powers are undeveloped; whereas in the personality there is but a touch of the life of the ego.
It is obviously of great importance that the earnest student should do all in his power to make and keep active the connection between his personality and his ego. In order to do this he must pay attention to life, for the paying attention is the descent of the ego in order to look through his vehicles. Many men have fine mental bodies and good brains, but they make little use of them, because they do not pay attention to life. Thus the ego puts but little of himself down into the lower planes, and so the vehicles are left to run riot at their own will.
The cure for this, very briefly, is as follows: The ego should be given the conditions he desires; if this is done, he will promptly put himself down more fully and avail himself of the conditions offered. Thus, if he desires to develop affection, the personality must provide the opportunity for developing affection to the fullest extent on the lower planes. If he desires wisdom, then the personality must by study endeavour to make itself wise on the physical plane.
Pains should be taken to find out what the ego desires; then, if the necessary conditions are provided, he will appreciate the effort and be delighted to respond. The personality will have no cause to complain of the response which the ego will make. In other words, if the personality pays attention to the ego, the ego will pay attention to the personality.
The ego puts down a personality much as a fisherman makes a cast. He does not expect that every cast will be successful, and he is not deeply troubles if one proves a failure. To look after a personality is only one of his activities, so he may very well console himself with successes in other lines of activity. In any case, failure represents the loss of a day, and he can hope to do better with another day.
Often the personality would like more attention from the ego, and he may be sure he will receive it as soon as he deserves it, as soon as the ego finds it worth while.
In the Christian Church, the sacrament of Confirmation is intended to widen and strengthen the link between the ego and the personality. After the preliminary widening of this channel, the divine power rushes through the ego of the bishop into the higher manas of the candidate. At the signing of the cross, it pushes upwards into the buddhic principle, and from there into the âtmâ or spirit. The effect upon âtmâ is reflected in the etheric double, that upon the buddhi is reproduced in the astral body, and what is done to the higher manas should be similarly mirrored in the lower mind. This result is not merely temporary, for the opening up of the connections made a wider channel through which a constant flow can be kept going. The general effect, as said, is to make it easier for the ego to act on and through his vehicles.
The various vehicles of man, looked at from below, give the impression of being one above the other, although they are not, of course, really separated in space, and also of being joined by innumerable fine wires or lines of fire. Every action which works against evolution puts an unequal strain upon these, twisting and entangling them. When a man goes badly wrong in any way, the confusion between the higher and lower bodies is seriously impeded; he is no longer his real self, and only the lower side of his character is able to manifest itself fully.
The Christian Church provides a method of assisting man more rapidly to regain uniformity. For one of the powers specially conferred upon a priest at ordination is that of straightening out this triangle in higher matter; this is the truth behind "absolution", the co-operation of the man having been first obtained by "confession".
A break in the connection between the ego and his vehicles results in insanity. If we imagine each physical particle in the brain is to be joined to its corresponding astral particle by a small tube, each astral particle being similarly joined to its corresponding mental particle, and each mental particle to its corresponding causal particle, then so long as all these tubes are in perfect alignment there will be a clear communication between the ego and his brain. But if any of the sets of tubes be bent, closed, or knocked partially aside, it is obvious that the communication might be wholly or partially interrupted.
From the occult standpoint, the insane may be divided into four main classes, as follows:-
 Those who are insane from a defect in the physical brain. The brain may be too small, injured by some accident, pressed upon by a growth, or have its tissues softened.
 Those whose defect is in the etheric brain, so that the etheric particles do not correspond with the denser physical particles.
 Those in whom the astral body is defective, the tubes being out of alignment with either the etheric or mental particles.
 Those in whom the mental body is out of order.
Classes  and  are quite sane when out of the body in sleep, and of course after death.
Class  do not recover sanity until the heaven-world is reached.
Class  do not become sane until the causal body is reached, so that for this class the incarnation is a failure.
More than 90 percent of the insane belong to classes  and .
Obsession is caused by the ousting of the ego by some other entity. Only an ego who had a weak hold on his vehicles would permit obsession.
Although the hold of the ego upon his vehicles is less strong in childhood, yet adults are more likely to be obsessed than children, because the adult is far more likely to have in him qualities which attract undesirable entities and make obsession easy.
Briefly, the best way to prevent obsession is by the use of the will. If the lawful possessor of the body will confidently assert himself and use his will-power, no obsession can take place.
When obsession occurs, it is almost always because the victim has in the first place voluntarily yielded himself to the invading influence, and his first step, therefore, is to reverse the act of submission and determine strongly to resume control over his own property.
The relationship between the personality and the ego is so important that we may perhaps be pardoned for a little repetition, or recapitulation. A study of the inner vehicles of man should at least help us to understand that it is the higher presentation which is the real man, not the aggregation of physical matter in the midst of it, to which men are apt to attach such undue importance. The divine trinity within we may not yet see; but we can at least attain some idea of the causal body, which is perhaps the nearest to a conception of the true man as sight at the higher mental level can give us.
Looking at the man from the lower mental level, we can see only so much of him as can be expressed in his mental body; on the astral level we find that an additional veil has descended, whilst on the physical plane there is yet another barrier, so that the true man is more effectively hidden than ever.
Such knowledge should lead us to form a somewhat higher opinion of our fellows, since we realise that they are so much more than they seem to the physical eye. In the background, there is always the higher possibility, and often an appeal to the better nature will arouse it from latency and bring it down into manifestation where we can see it.
Having thus studied man as he is, it becomes easier for us to pierce through the dense physical veil and image the reality which is behind. That which is behind all men is the divine nature; hence, grasping this principle, we should be able so to modify and readjust our attitude that we are able to help other men better than we could do without this knowledge.
We have already seen, in the chapter on Contemplation, that the consciousness of the ego may be reached by maintaining the mind in an attitude of attention, without the attention being directed to anything, the lower mind being stilled in order that consciousness of the higher mind may be experienced. By this means, ideas from the ego flash down into the lower mind with dazzling light, these being the inspirations of genius. "Behold in every manifestation of genius, when combined with virtue, the undeniable presence of the celestial exile, the divine Ego whose jailor thou art, O man of matter".
Genius is thus the momentary grasping of the brain by the larger consciousness of the ego, who is the real man; it is the putting down of the larger consciousness into an organism capable of vibrating in answer to its thrills. Flashes of genius are the voice of the living Spirit in man; they are the voice of the inner God, speaking in the body of man.
The phenomena included in the term "conscience" appear to be of two distinct kinds. Conscience is sometimes used to describe the voice of the ego, and at other times it is spoken of as the will in the domain of morality. Where it is the voice of the ego it should be recognised that it is not always infallible, but may often decide wrongly. For the ego cannot speak with certainty on problems with which it is unfamiliar, being dependent upon experience before he can judge correctly.
That form of conscience, however, which comes from the will does not ell us what to do, but rather commands us to follow that which we already know to be best, usually when the mind is trying to invent some excuse to do otherwise. It speaks with the authority of the spiritual will, determining our path in life.
But the will, which is undoubtedly a quality of the ego, must not be confused with the desires of the personality in the lower vehicles. Desire is the outgoing energy of the Thinker, determined in direction by the attraction of external objects; will is the outgoing energy of the thinker, determined in direction by conclusions drawn by reason from past experiences, or by the direct intuition of the Thinker himself. In other words: desire is guided from without; will from within.
In the early stages of evolution desire has complete sovereignty, and hurries a man hither and thither; the man is ruled by his astral body; in the middle stages of evolution there is continual conflict between desire and will; the man struggles with kâma-manas; in the later stages of evolution desire dies, and will rules unopposed; the ego is in command.
Summarising, we may say that the voice of the ego or higher self speaking  from âtmâ, is true conscience;  from buddhi, is intuitive knowledge between right and wrong;  from higher manas, is inspiration; when inspiration becomes continuous enough to be normal, it is genius.
As was briefly mentioned in Chapter VI, genius which is of the ego, sees instead of arguing; true intuition is one of its faculties, as reason is the method of the lower mind. Intuition is simply insight; it may be described as the exercise of the eyes of the intelligence, the unerring recognition of a truth presented on the mental plane. It sees with certainty; but no reasoned proof of its certitude can be had, because it is beyond and above reason. But before the voice of the ego, speaking through intuition, can be recognised with certainty, careful and prolonged self-training are necessary.
It would appear, however, that the word intuition is used with significations that vary somewhat. Thus it has also been said that the attainment of reliable intuition in daily life means the opening of a direct channel between the buddhic and the astral bodies.
Incidentally, it may be mentioned that it works rather through the heart-centre or chakram, than through the mind. The consecration of a bishop has special reference to this centre and to the stimulation of the intuition.
We thus distinguish two distinct modes for the transmission of "intuition" from the higher to the lower consciousness. The one comes from the higher to the lower mental plane, the other direct from the buddhi to the astral body.
The intuition of the causal body has been described as the intuition which recognises the outer; that which comes from buddhi is intuition which recognises the inner. With buddhic intuition, one sees things from inside; with intellectual intuition, one recognises something outside oneself.
Which of these lines is the easier depends upon the method of individualisation. Those who individualised through deep understanding will receive their intuition as a conviction, requiring no reasoning to establish its truth at present, though it must have been understood in previous lives or out of the body in the lower mental plane.
Those who attained individualisation through a rush of devotion, will receive their intuition from the buddhic plane to the astral body.
In both cases, of course, the condition of receptivity to intuition is a steadiness of the lower vehicles.
We need not shrink from the fact that there is frequently a psychological instability associated with genius, as expressed in the saying that madness is akin to genius, and in the statement of Lombroso and others that many of the saints were neuropaths.
Very often the saint and the visionary may have overstrained their brains, so that the physical mechanism is distorted and rendered unstable.
Furthermore, it is sometimes true that the instability is the condition of the inspiration. As Professor William James has said: "If there were such a thing as inspiration from a higher realm, it might well be that the neurotic temperament would furnish the chief condition of the requisite receptivity" [Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 19]. Genius may thus have an unstable brain because the higher consciousness is pressing upon it in order to improve the mechanism; so the brain is kept in a state of tension, and under such circumstances it may easily go too far until the structure breaks down under the strain. But the abnormality is on the right, not on the wrong side, being on the very front of the crest of human evolution. It is the instability of growth, not of disease.
An attempt to stimulate the heart-centre is also made in the Christian Church at the time of the reading of the Gospel, the sign of the cross being made by the thumb over the heart-centre, as well as over those between the eyebrows and the throat. This use of the thumb corresponds to a pugnal pass in mesmerism, and seems to be employed when a small but powerful stream of force is required, as for the opening of centres.
The heart is the centre in the body for the higher triad, âtmâ-buddhi-manas. The head is the seat of the psycho-intellectual man, its various functions being in seven cavities, including the pituitary body and the pineal gland.
A man who can take his consciousness from the brain to the heart should be able to unite kâma-manas to higher manas, through lower manas, which, when pure, is the antahkarana; he will then be in a position to catch some of the promptings of the higher triad.
In the Indian methods of Yoga, steps are taken to prevent the dangers of hysteria in those who are coming into touch with the higher planes, insistence being made upon discipline and purification of the body, and control and training of the mind.
The ego frequently puts ideas into the lower consciousness in the form of symbols; each ego has his own system of symbols, though some forms seem general in dreams. Thus for example, it is said that to dream of water signifies trouble of some sort. Now while there may be no real connection between water and troubles, yet if the ego knew that the personality held that particular belief with regard to water, he might very likely choose such a form of symbolism in order to warn the personality of some impending misfortune.
In some cases the ego may manifest himself in a curious external way. Thus, for example, Dr. Annie Besant has said that while she is speaking one sentence of a lecture she habitually sees the next sentence actually materialise in the air before her, in three different forms, from which she consciously selects that one which she thinks best. This must be the work of the ego, though it is a little difficult to understand why he takes this particular method of communication instead of impressing his ideas direct on the physical brain.
The relationship between the personality and the ego is graphically described in The Voice of The Silence: "Have perseverance as one who doth for evermore endure. Thy shadows [ie., personalities] live and vanish; that which in thee shall live forever, that which in thee knows, for it is knowledge, is not of fleeting fleeting life; it is the man that was, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike."
A vivid description of the ego is given also by H. P. Blavatsky in The Key To Theosophy : "try to imagine a СSpirit', a celestial being, whether we call it by one name or another, divine in its essential nature, yet not pure enough to be one with the ALL, and having, in order to achieve this, so to purify its nature as finally to gain that goal. It can do so only by passing, individually and personally, i.e., spiritually and physically, through every experience and feeling that exists in the manifold or differentiated universe. It has, therefore, after having gained such experience in the lower kingdoms, and having ascended higher and still higher with every rung of the ladder of being, to pass through every experience on the human planes. In its very essence it is Thought, and is, therefore, called in its plurality, Manasaputra, Сthe Sons of [universal] Mind'. This individualised СThought' is what we Theosophists call the real human Ego, the thinking entity imprisoned in a case of flesh and bones. This is surely a spiritual entity, not matter [i.e.., matter as we know it in the objective universe], and such entities are the incarnating Egos that inform the bundle of animal matter called mankind, and whose names are Manasa or minds".
of lower manas is ever seeking to return to its source and parent, the higher
manas. But while the duality persists, i.e., until the consciousness
has been raised to the causal level, thereby "unifying the higher and lower
selves," as the phrase goes, there is a continual yearning, which is felt
by the noblest and purest natures as one of the most salient facts of the inner
life. It is this yearning which clothes itself as prayer, as inspiration, as
"seeking after God", as the longing for union with the divine. "My
soul is athirst for God, for the living God", cries the eager Christian.
The occultist recognises in this cry the inextinguishable impulse of the lower self to the Higher Self, from which it is separated, but the attraction of which it vividly feels. Whether a man prays to the Buddha, to Vishnu, to Christ, to the Virgin, to the Father, matters little; these are questions of dialect, not of fact. In every prayer the Higehr Manas, united to Buddhi and to Âtmâ, is the real objective, veiled under whatever name time or race may give. It is the ideal humanity, the "personal God", the "God-Man", found in all religions; it is the "God incarnate", the "Word made flesh", the Christ who must be "born" in each, with whom the believer must be made one.
Expressed rather more technically, the individualised "God" in each man, his Father in Heaven, is the monad, and as the ego is to the monad, so is the personality to the ego.
A warning hint, however, may here not be out of place. In the past such expressions as "looking up to the higher self", and "listening to the promtings of the higher self", have been used; and it has even been suggested that the higher self ought to take more interest in the unfortunate personality struggling on its behalf on the lower planes. Gradually the student should come to realise that the personality that we see on the lower planes is but a very small part of the real man, and that the higher self is the man. For there is only one consciousness, the lower being an imperfect representation of the higher, and in no way separate from it. Thus, instead of thinking of raising " ourselves" till we can unite with the glorified higher self, we should realise rather that the higher is the true self, and that to unite the higher to the lower really means to open out the lower, so that the higher may work more freely and fully in and through it.
A man should thus endeavour to become certain, beyond the possibility of doubt, that he is the spirit or higher self; he should develop confidence in his own powers as the ego, and courage to use those powers freely. Instead of looking upon his usual state of consciousness as natural and normal, and looking upwards towards the ego as a lofty being to be reached by continuous and tremendous effort, he should learn to look upon his ordinary state of consciousness as abnormal and unnatural, and upon the life of the spirit as his own true life, from which by continuous effort he keeps himself estranged.
Expressed in terms of form, when the lower vehicles are fully in harmony with the ego they form themselves in the likeness of the Augoeides [see p. 237]. They then change very little from life to life.
Similarly, when the ego is becoming a perfect reflection of the monad, he also changes but little, though he continues to grow.
Those who would deliberately
undertake the task of bringing the higher consciousness into the brain may do
so by a careful training of the lower mind and of the moral character, by steady
and well directed effort. The habit of quiet, sustained, sequential thought,
directed to non-worldly subjects, of meditation, of study, alsodevelops the
mental body and renders it a better instrument. The effort to cultivate abstract
thinking is also useful, thus raising the lower mind towards the higher, as
well as drawing into the mental body the subtlest materials of the lower mental
This Diagram is an attempt to give some idea of the relationship between the ego and his lower vehicles. Of the powers, faculties, and knowledge of the ego on his own plane, only a small fraction can be transmitted to the mental body; from this again, still less penetrates to the astral body; and of this but a fragment reaches the consciousness in the physical body. One of the aims of the man should be, as we have seen, so to widen and strengthen the link between the ego and the lower bodies that more and more of the powers of the ego can find expression in the lower vehicles of the personality.
Above and beyond the ego resides the Monad, whose relationship to the ego is somewhat similar to that which exists between the ego and the personality.
We now take up the
story of the ego and his vehicles at the point where, the period of life on
the higher mental plane being ended, the time comes for a fresh incarnation
to be undertaken.
It will be recollected that when the ego withdraws into the causal body, he takes with him his physical and astral permanent atoms, and his mental unit or molecule. These particles of matter, one only of each of the three lower planes, remain with the ego throughout the whole of his human incarnations. Whilst they are withdrawn into the causal body they are in a quiescent or latent condition.
When the time for reincarnation comes, the ego turns his attention outwards, whereupon a thrill of life from him arouses the mental unit and the life-web begins to unfold itself; this life-web consists of buddhic matter, and appears as shimmering gold of inconceivable fineness and delicate beauty; it is formed of a single thread, which is a prolongation of Sutrâtmâ. Into further details of these matters, however, we cannot enter here; the writer hopes to deal with them in a later volume.
The mental unit now resumes activity, because the ego seeking to express himself once more on the lower mental plane, so far as the plasticity of its matter will permit.
Accordingly, the mental unit acts as a magnet, drawing round itself mental matter and mental elemental essence, with vibratory powers resembling, or accordant with, its own, and thus fitted to express its latent mental qualities. The process is in a certain sense automatic, though devas of the Second Elemental Kingdom assist in the process by bringing suitable materials within reach of the mental unit.
The matter is first shaped into a loose cloud around the mental unit; it is not as yet a mental body, but merely the materials out of which the new mental body will be built.
Neither are the qualities as yet in any way in action. They are simply the germs of qualities, and for the moment their only influence is to secure for themselves a possible field of manifestation, by providing matter suitable for their expression in the mental vehicle of the child.
The germs or seeds, brought over from the past, are known by the Buddhists as the Skandhas; they consist of material qualities, sensations, abstract ideas, tendencies of mind, mental powers. As we have seen, in the course of our study, the pure aroma of these passed with the Ego into devachan; all that was gross, base and evil, remained in the state of suspended animation spoken of. These are taken up by the Ego as he passes outwards towards terrestrial life, and are built into the new "man of flesh", which the true man is to inhabit.
The experiences of the past do not, of course exist as mental images in the new mental body; as mental images they perished long ago when the old mental body perished; only their essence, their effects on faculty, remain.
Precisely the same thing happens when the ego turns his attention to the astral permanent atom, and puts into it his will. Thus the mental unit and the astral permanent atom attract to themselves material capable of producing a mental and an astral body of exactly the same type as the man had at the end, respectively, of his last mental and astral lives. In other words, the man resumes his life in the mental and astral worlds just where he left it last time.
A man's mental and astral bodies, taken on for his new life-period, being thus the direct result of his past, form a most important part of his "ripe" or Prârabda karma.
The mental matter is at first evenly distributed throughout the ovoid. Only as the little physical form comes into existence are the mental and astral matter attracted to it; they then begin to mould themselves to its shape, and thereafter steadily grow along it. At the same time, with this change in arrangement, the mental and astral matter is called into activity, and emotion and thought appear.
It should be noted that the coarser the kinds of mental matter built into the mental body, the more intimate becomes the association between the mental and astral matter, thus strengthening the element of Kâma-Manas [see Chapter VI].
A young child thus cannot be said to have a definite mental or a definite astral body; but he has around and within him the matter out of which these bodies are to be constructed.
He possesses tendencies of all sorts, some good, some evil. Whether these germs will develop once more in the new life into the same tendencies as in the last life will depend very largely upon the encouragement or otherwise given to them by the surroundings of the child during his early years. Any of them, good or bad, may be readily stimulated into activity, or, on the other hand, may be starved out for lack of that encouragement.
If stimulated, it becomes a more powerful factor in the man's life this time than it was in his previous existence; if starved out it remains merely as an unfructified germ, which presently atrophies and dies out, and does not make its appearance in the succeeding incarnation at all.
During his early years the ego has but little hold over his vehicles, and he therefore looks to his parents to help him to obtain a firmer grasp, and to provide him with suitable conditions. Hence the enormous responsibility resting upon parents.
It is impossible to exaggerate the plasticity of the child's unformed vehicles. Plastic and readily impressible as is the physical body of a young child, his astral and mental vehicles are far more so. They thrill in response to every vibration which they encounter, and are eagerly receptive with regard to all influences, whether good or evil, which emanate from those around them. As in the case of the physical body, whilst the mental and astral bodies are in early youth susceptible and easily moulded, they soon set and stiffen and acquire definite habits which, once firmly established, can be altered only with great difficulty.
To a far larger extent than is ever realised by even the fondest parents, the child's future is under their control.
If we can imagine our friends with all their good qualities enormously intensified, and all the less desirable features weeded out of their characters, then we can picture to ourselves the results which parents can produce in their children if they will do their full duty by them.
The extraordinary sensitiveness to the influence of his surroundings commences as soon as the ego descends upon the embryo, long before birth takes place; it continues, in most cases, up to about the period of maturity.
The mental body, or rather the material out of which the mental body will be built, becomes involved with the lower vehicles during the pre-natal life; the connection becomes more and more close until, at about the end of the seventh year, the lower vehicles are as closely in touch with the ego as the stage of evolution permits. The ego then, if sufficiently advanced, begins slightly to control his vehicles, what we call conscience being his monitory voice.
During the pre-natal period the ego broods over the human mother in whom his future body is building, but the ego can affect the embryo but little, save through a feeble influence from the physical permanent atom; the embryo cannot respond to, and therefore does not share, the thoughts and emotions of the ego expressed in his causal body.
The Hindus had various ceremonies by which they surrounded with pure influences both mother and child before and after birth. The object was to create special conditions which warded off the lower influences and brought in the higher influences. Such ceremonies were very valuable.
The "seeds" of evil which are brought by a child in his permanent atoms have often been called "original sin" though they are wrongly connected with the fabled action of Adam and Eve. In the Christian Church the sacrament of baptism is intended specifically to help in reducing to a minimum the effects of the seeds of evil.
To this end magnetised or "holy" water is employed; by its means the priest is able to set strongly in vibration the etheric matter of the child's body, to stimulate the pituitary body, and through it affect the astral body and through that in turn the mental body. The force which is poured in rushes down and up again until, like water, it finds its own level.
The "exorcism" performed by the priest is intended to bind down the germs of evil in their present condition, and to prevent them being fed or encouraged in any way, so that eventually they atrophy and fall out.
In addition, in the ceremony as performed in the Liberal Catholic Church at least, the priest making the sign of the cross down the whole length of the front and back of the child's body, builds a thought-form or artificial elemental [which has given rise to the idea of the baptismal guardian angel], which is filled by the divine force, and which is also ensouled by a higher kind of nature-spirit known as a sylph. The thought-form is a kind of cuirass of white light before and behind the child. Incidentally, through association with the thought-form which is permeated by the life and thought of the Christ Himself, the sylph eventually individualises and becomes a seraph.
Even if the child dies almost immediately, the baptism may be of value to it on the other side of death. For it would be quite possible for the germs of evil to be stimulated into activity in the astral world, and the thought-form may be of assistance in preventing such action.
Thus, in baptism, not only are certain centres or chakrams in the child aroused and opened to spiritual influence, but also the germs of evil are to some extent repressed, and the child is endowed with what is practically a guardian angel, a new and powerful influence for good.
It may be added that the cross which is made on the forehead of the child with the consecrated oil is visible in the etheric double all through the life of the person; it is the sign of the Christian, precisely as the tilaka spot, or caste-mark in the case of the Hindu, is the sign of Shiva or the trident of Vishnu.
The aura of a child is often a most beautiful object, pure and bright in colour, free from the clouds of sensuality, avarice, ill-will and selfishness which so frequently darken all the life of the adult. It is pathetic to perceive the change which almost invariably comes over the child-aura as the years pass on; to note how persistently evil tendencies are fostered and strengthened by his environment, and how entirely good ones are neglected. With such object-lessons before one, one ceases to wonder at the extraordinary slowness of human evolution, and the almost imperceptible progress which most egos make for life after life spent in the lower world.
The remedy lies with parents and teachers, the effect of whose personal character, behaviour and habits on the development of children is almost incalculable. It should be unnecessary, at this stage of our study, again to emphasise the great importance of the thoughts and emotions of parents and teachers on their charges. This subject is dealt with at length by C.W.Leadbeater in The Hidden Side of Things, Vol. II, p. 287-312.
In the Atlantean civilisation the importance of the office of the teacher was so fully recognised that none was permitted to hold it but a trained clairvoyant, who could see all the latent qualities and capabilities of his charges, and could therefore work intelligently with each, so as to develop the good and amend the evil. In the distant future of the Sixth Root-Race this principle will be applied even more completely.
With whatever care parents may surround a child, it is practically inevitable that the child will some day encounter evil influences in the world, which will tend to stimulate evil tendencies in himself. But it makes a vast difference whether the good or the evil tendencies are stimulated first. In most cases the evil is awakened into activity before the ego has any hold upon the vehicles, so that when he does grasp them he finds that he has to combat a strong predisposition to various evils. When the germs of good are tardily aroused they have to struggle to assert themselves against evil tendencies already firmly established.
On the other hand, if the parents by exceeding care before birth, and for several years after it, have been able to excite only good tendencies, then, as the ego gains control, he finds it easy to express himself along those lines, a habit having been established. If then an evil excitation comes, it finds a strong momentum in the direction of good, which it strives in vain to overcome.
The ego, unless he is unusually advanced, has but little command over his vehicles at first; but it must be borne in mind that his will is always for good, because he desires to evolve himself by means of his vehicles, and such power as he is able to throw into the balance will always therefore be on the right side.
During the embryonic and infantile life the ego is carrying on his own wider, richer life, and, as said, gradually comes more and more closely into touch with the embryo.
We may note here that the relation of the Monad to the universe, in which his consciousness is evolving, is analogous to that of the ego in relation to his new physical body.
Since the mental body is a new one, it naturally cannot contain the memory of previous births, in which it had no part. Such memory clearly belongs to the ego, in the causal body, who, together with his permanent atoms, alone persists from one incarnation to another. Hence a man functioning in the physical world cannot remember his past lives, so long as he remembers only by means of his mental body.
In the development of the human body the gestation period corresponds to the downward course of the elemental kingdoms; from birth to the age of seven it is considered by many educationists that the child's physical nature should receive most attention ; up to the age of about fourteen the development of emotions should have chief consideration; up to the age of about twenty-one the teacher should appeal especially to the unfolding of the mind.
These last three ages may be taken to correspond to a certain extent to the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. In the first, consciousness is on the physical plane; in the second, on the emotional plane; in the third, the lower mind gradually gains ground, and leads on to the stage when man becomes the true thinker. The long period of middle life is the real human career. The epoch of old age should bring wisdom; this is as yet imperfect in most people, being but an adumbration of the superhuman heights of future attainment.
It is necessary to mention here a curious eventuality which, in certain rare cases, may occur when a man is re-born. In Chapter VI we saw how, if a man leads a thoroughly degraded life, identifying himself entirely with the lower, animal nature, and neglecting the higher, the lower nature is severed wholly from the higher, and the incarnation is a total loss to the ego.
Under such conditions the ego has become so disgusted with his vehicles that, when death relieves him of the physical body, he casts the others aside also; in fact, he may even during physical life leave the desecrated temple.
After death, such an ego, having no astral or mental body, will reincarnate quickly. This being so, the old mental and astral vehicles may not yet have disintegrated, but may, by natural affinity, be drawn to the new mental and astral bodies; they then become the most terrible form of what is known as the "dweller on the threshold".
The control, training
and development of the mental body [as well, of course, as the astral] form
an important part of the work of one who aims at becoming a pupil, or chela,
of a Master and, later, an Initiate of the Great White Brotherhood.
The following is a table of the four well-known "Qualifications" for the Path which leads to Initiation. It will be seen that in practically all of these there is a mental element.
between the real and the unreal;
also described as the opening of the doors of the mind.
|2||Vairâgya||Indifference to the unreal, the transitory, and to the fruits of action: non-attachment|
|3||Shatsampati:-||Sixfold mental attributes: -|
|-1-Shama||Control of thought|
|-2-Dama||Control of action|
|4||Mumuksha||Desire for liberation|
Volumes have been written on the Qualifications: here space will permit of the briefest description only. They are not expected in perfection, but they must be at least partially possessed before Initiation is possible.
Vivekâ: The aspirant must learn that the inner life, the life of and for the ego, is the real life; he must learn, as C.W.Leadbeater succinctly puts it, that "few things matter much: most things do not matter at all".
Needless to say, this does not mean that worldly duties and responsibilities, once undertaken, may or should be neglected; on the contrary, they should be performed by the occultist even more scrupulously and carefully than by other men. It is the spirit in which they are done which matters, the recognition of the aspect of them which is important, and those aspects which are not important.
This "opening of the doors of the mind", or "conversion" as it has been called, is precisely that which is spoken of in the bible: "Set your affection on things above and not on things of the earthЕfor the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Discrimination is much stimulated by the rapidly changing circumstances into which the disciple is generally thrown, with a view to impressing on him the instability of all external things. The life of a disciple is generally one of storm and stress, in order that qualities and faculties may be forced into swift growth and speedily brought to perfection.
Vairagyâ: From a recognition of the instability and unsatisfying nature of external things, indifference to them naturally follows. The aspirant becomes indifferent to things that come and go, and more and more he fixes his attention on the changeless reality that is ever present.
need for control of thought has already been amply emphasised in this present
The pupil must reduce the chaos of his emotions and thoughts to order ; he must eliminate the host of minor interests, and control wandering thoughts. Whilst he still lives in the world, the difficulty of the undertaking is multiplied manyfold by the ceaseless pressure of disturbing waves of emotion and thought, which give him no rest, no opportunity to collect his forces in order to make a real effort.
Steady, daily practice in concentration and meditation is a method that many find suitable. The aspirant must work with great energy and perseverance to reduce the mental rebel to order and discipline, knowing that the great increase in thought-power which will accompany his rapid growth will prove a danger to others and to himself, unless the force be thoroughly under his control. Better give a child dynamite to play with, than place the creative powers of thought in the hands of the selfish and the ambitious.
Dama: To inner control must be added the control of outer actions. As the mind obeys the soul so must the lower nature obey the mind. Carelessness in the lower part of human activity must be eliminated.
Uparati : The sublime and far-reaching virtue of tolerance means the quiet acceptance of each man, each form of existence , as it is, without demand that it should be something different, shaped more to one's own liking. Respect for the individuality of others is one of the marks of the disciple.
Titiksha: Endurance means an attitude of mind that cheerfully bears all and resents nothing, going straight onwards unswervingly to the goal. The aspirant knows that nothing can come to him but by the Law, and the Law is good. He must realise that as he is paying in a few short lives the karmic obligations accumulated during the past, the payments must be correspondingly heavy.
Shraddhâ: The very struggles, in which the aspirant is plunged, develop in him faith in his Master, and in himself, a serene, strong confidence that is unshakeable.
Sâmadhâna: Balance, or equilibrium, grows to some extent without conscious effort during the striving after the previous five qualifications. The soul gradually disentangles itself from ties that knit it to the world of sense, the objects in which "turn away from abstemious dweller in the body", and soon lose all power to disturb his balance. Balance amid mental troubles of every kind is also necessary, this balance being further taught by the swift changes, mentioned above, through which his life is guided by the ever-watchful care of his Master.
The deep, intense longing for liberation, that yearning of the soul towards
union with the Divine, follows on the attainment of the other Qualifications.
This adds the last touch to the readiness to enter into full discipleship. Once
the longing has definitely asserted itself, the soul that has felt it can never
again quench its thirst at earthly fountains.
The attainment of this stage makes the man ready for Initiation, an Adhikari, ready to "enter the stream" that cuts him off forever from the interests of earthly life, save as he can serve his Master in them and help forward the evolution of humanity.
This hunger for the things of the spirit appears to be represented in Freemasonry by the inner attitude of the Candidate in "humbly soliciting to be admitted to the mysteries and privileges of Ancient Freemasonry". In this attitude, as every Freemason knows, the emphasis is on the urge from within the Candidate himself; no man can tread the occult path on the inspiration of another.
In the Buddhist system the names given to the stage are somewhat different, though the qualifications themselves are the same in effect. The following is the Pali nomenclature:-
1. Manodvâravajjana. The opening of the doors of the mind, or perhaps escaping by the doors of the mind. A conviction of the impermanence and worthlessness of mere earthly aims.
2. Parikamma. Preparation for action. Doing right for right's sake, with complete indifference to the enjoyment of the fruit of action.
3. Upacharo. Attention or conduct.
----- Samo. Quietude of thought that comes from control of mind.
----- Damo. Subjugation; mastery over words and actions.
----- Uparati. Cessation from bigotry or belief in the necessity of ceremonies. Hence, independence of thought and tolerance.
----- Titikshâ. Endurance or forbearance, including complete absence of resentment.
----- Samadhana. Intentness, one-pointedness, involving the incapability of being turned aside by temptation.
----- Saddha. Faith; confidence in one's Master and one's self.
4. Anuloma. Direct
order of succession, signifying that it follows naturally from the other three;
intense desire for liberation.
5. Gotrabhû. The condition of fitness for Initiation.
The student will readily perceive that these Qualifications necessarily follow from ego-consciousness. For if we can look on life from the world of the ego, we see it in true perspective, i.e., with discrimination; and the ego-consciousness being disentangled from the lower bodies, desirelessness is inevitable. Further, since conduct will be that of the ego himself, instead of that of the bodies, shatsampatti or control of conduct will necessarily follow. And, as the world of the ego is the world of unity, of love in its widest sense, ego-consciousness implies love, a word which is sometimes used to designate, from a somewhat different angle, the last of the four qualities, Mumuksha, or longing for liberation.
When a man appears to be reasonably near the possession of the necessary qualifications, a Master may take him upon "probation". This means that the man will remain for a period under very close observation. During the period of probation, the pupil is not in any sense in any kind of direct communication with the Master; he is little likely to hear or to see anything of him. Nor as a general rule are any special trials or difficulties put in his way. He is simply carefully watched in his attitude towards all the little daily troubles of life.
For convenience of observation, the Master makes what is called a "living image" of the probationary pupil, that is to say an exact duplicate of the man's etheric, astral, and causal bodies. This image He keeps in a place where He can easily reach it, and He places it in magnetic rapport with the man himself, so that every modification of thought or feeling in the man's own vehicles is faithfully reproduced in the image.
These images are examined daily by the Master, who in this way obtains with a minimum of trouble a perfectly accurate record of His prospective pupil's thoughts and feelings, from which He is able to decide when He can take him into the far closer relationship of the Accepted pupil, which relationship we shall describe presently.
There is not generally much ceremony in this step. The master gives a few words of advice, tells the new pupil what will be expected of him, and often, in His gracious way, he may find some reason to congratulate the pupil on the work that he has already accomplished.
The living image records not only defects or disturbances; it mirrors the whole condition of the pupil's consciousness. It must be remembered that the pupil must achieve not only a passive, but also an active goodness, as a pre-requisite for advancement.
If a pupil on probation does something unusually good, for the moment the Master flashes a little more attention on him, and may even send a wave of encouragement of some sort, or he may put some work in the pupil's way, and see how he does it. Generally however, He delegates that to some of His senior pupils.
Thus the link between the pupil and his Master is chiefly one of observation, and perhaps occasional use of the pupil. It is not the custom of the adepts to employ special or sensational tests; the pupil is usually left to follow the ordinary course of his life, the living image affording sufficient indication of his character and progress.
The average time for probation is said to be seven years; but it may be indefinitely lengthened, or on the other hand it may be very much shortened. It has been known to extend for thirty years, and it has been known to be reduced to a few weeks.
On the probationary
path, the man's highest consciousness works upon the higher mental plane.
When a pupil is "accepted", he is taken into his Master's consciousness to so great an extent that whatever he sees or hears is within the knowledge of his Master. Not that the Master sees or hears it at the same moment, though that often happens, but that it lies within the Master's memory, exactly as it lies within the memory of the pupil, so that He could recollect it at any time that He chose to do so. Whatever the pupil feels or thinks is thus within the astral and mental bodies of his Master.
The master in this way blends the aura of the pupil with His own, so that His forces may be constantly acting, without special attention on His part, through the pupil.
It must not be thought that a mere unconscious channel is required; on the contrary, the pupil must become a keenly intelligent co-operator.
If, unfortunately, it should happen that there comes into the mind of the pupil some thought which is not fit to be harboured by the Master, as soon as He feels it, he at once erects a barrier, and shuts off from himself that vibration. To do this of course diverts His attention for a moment from His other work, and takes a certain amount of energy.
The union between
the pupil and the Master, that begins with Acceptance, is permanent, so that
the higher vehicles of the pupil are always vibrating in common with those of
his Master. The whole time he is being tuned up, thus growing more and more
like the Master. At all times the thoughts of the pupil are largely preoccupied
with thoughts of his Master and His influence, so that, while he is sensitively
open to Him, he is to a considerable extent closed to lower influences.
It is not, however, expected that a pupil shall be actively thinking of nothing else but his Master; but it is expected that the form of the Master shall always be in the background of his mind, always within the immediate reach, always there when needed in the vicissitudes of life. Whilst reasonable relaxation and change of thought are necessary to mental health, the pupil should, of course, be scrupulously careful to permit no thought, even for a moment, which he would be ashamed for his Master to see.
The process of attuning can take place only slowly; a living being is being moulded, and it is essential that the slow growth from within should adapt the form to the outside influence, much as a gardener gradually directs the limbs of a tree.
Although the Master is working upon thousands of people simultaneously, as well as doing other and much higher work, yet the effect is as though He were watching the pupil and thinking of no one else, for the attention that He can give to one among hundreds is greater than ours when we concentrate it entirely upon one. The Master often leaves to some of His older pupils the work of tuning the lower bodies, though He Himself is allowing a constant flow between His vehicles and those of the pupil. It is in this way that he does most for His pupils, without their necessarily knowing anything about it.
The accepted pupil thus becomes an outpost of the Master's consciousness, so that whatever is done in his presence is done in the Master's presence. Although the Master may be unconscious of such events at the time when they happen, nevertheless they are, as said, in His memory afterwards. The experiences of the pupil are thus in the master's mind among His own knowledge, as soon as He turns His attention to the subject concerned.
Even purely physical things, such as a slight shock or noise, in the consciousness of the pupil, are also in the consciousness of the Master. A wise pupil, therefore, tries to avoid any kind of shock, and for that reason he is usually a gentle and quiet sort of person.
A pupil is always connected with His Master by a constant current of thought and influence, which expresses itself on the mental plane as a great ray or stream of dazzling light of all colours, violet and gold and blue.
When however, the pupil sends a thought of devotion to his Master, the result is a sudden intensification of the colours of this bar of light, and a distinct flow of spiritual influence from the Master towards the pupil. The reason for this is that the Master's power is flowing outwards always and in all directions like the sunlight. The touch of the pupil's thought vivifies his connection with the Master and simply gives a wider opening through which the great ocean of the Master's love can find vent.
So intimate is the union between the consciousness of the pupil and his Master that [as mentioned in Chapter XI] the pupil can at any time see what His Master's thought is upon any given subject, and in that way often save himself from error.
This privilege must not be misused. It is a power of ultimate reference in questions of great difficulty; it is not intended that the pupil should save himself the trouble of thinking, or of deciding ordinary matters which he is quite competent to determine for himself.
In a similar manner, at a higher level, the Initiate may place his thought beside that of the Brotherhood, and draw into himself just as much of that tremendous consciousness as he, at his level, is able to respond to. The Initiate, similarly, must strive never to introduce anything discordant into that mighty consciousness, which is acting as a whole.
We may repeat here what was said in Chapter XI, viz., that the Master can at any moment send a thought through the pupil, either in the form of a suggestion or a message, e.g., when the pupil is writing a letter or delivering a lecture. In earlier stages the pupil is often unconscious of this, but he very soon learns to recognise the thought of the Master. In fact, it is eminently necessary that he should learn to recognise it, because there are many other entities on the astral and mental planes who may make similar suggestions, and it is well that the pupil should learn to distinguish from whom they came.
The use by a Master of His pupil's body is entirely different from what is ordinarily understood by mediumship. The mechanism and rationale of mediumship has already been explained in The Etheric Double and The Astral Body, together with the objections to it. To the use by a Master of a pupil's body there can, of course, be no objections.
The influence of a Master is so powerful that it may well shine through to almost any extent, and a sensitive person might be conscious of His presence even to the extent of seeing His features or hearing His voice instead of those of the pupil. It is improbable that there will be any purely physical change, though this of course frequently happens in mediumship.
Neither is the relationship between Master and pupil in any way one of coercion, or one in which the pupil's individuality is submerged in the flood of power from the Master. On the contrary, the Master's influence is not a hypnotic force from without, but an inexpressibly wonderful illumination from within, irresistible because so deeply felt as in perfect accord with the pupil's highest aspiration, and as the self-revelation of his own spiritual nature. The Master being Himself in fullest measure a channel of the Divine life, that which flows from Him awakens into activity the seed of Divinity within the pupil. The process is somewhat analogous to that of electrical induction. It is because of the identity of nature in the two that the influence of the Master stimulates in the highest degree all the noblest and highest qualities in the pupil. The love of the Master for a disciple may be likened to the sunshine which opens the lotus bud to the morning air; it may in truth be said that one smile from the Master will call forth from the pupil such an outburst of affection as would be gained only by months of scholastic meditation on the virtue of love.
From the above it is clear that any disturbance in the lower bodies of the pupil will affect also those of the Master. Should such disturbance occur, the Master drops a veil that shuts the pupil off from Himself, lest there be interference with His own work. Such an unfortunate incident does not usually last longer than forty-eight hours, but in extreme, and very rare, cases, it may endure for years, or even for the remainder of that incarnation.
Practically all ordinary people turn their forces inward upon themselves, and thus become a jangling mass of self-centred forces. One who would become an accepted pupil must learn to turn himself outwards, concentrating his attention and strength upon others, pouring out helpful thoughts and good wishes upon his fellow-men.
Thus the disciple, and even the aspirant for discipleship, is taught to hold all powers entirely for the service of the world. The sharing by the lower consciousness of the knowledge of the higher is determined mainly by the needs of the work that is being done.
Whilst it is necessary that the disciple should have the full use of his vehicles on the higher planes, the conveyance of a knowledge of that work to the physical body [which is in no way concerned with it] is usually a matter of no importance.The strain upon the physical body, when the higher consciousness compels it to vibrate responsively, is very great, at the present stage of evolution, and unless external circumstances are very favourable, this strain is apt to cause nervous disturbance and hyper-sensitiveness, with its attendant evils. Hence most of those whose higher vehicles are developed, and whose most important work is done out of the physical body, remain apart from the busy haunts of men, thus preserving the sensitive physical body from the rough usage and clamour of ordinary life.
Furthermore, as soon as a pupil shows any signs of psychic faculty, full instructions are always given to him as to the limitations which are placed on its use.
Briefly, these restrictions are that such faculty shall not be used  to satisfy mere curiosity,  for selfish purposes,  in order to display phenomena. That is to say, the same considerations which govern the actions of a man of right feeling on the physical plane are expected to apply also on the astral and mental planes; the pupil is never under any circumstances to use his additional power to promote his own worldly advantage, or in connection with gain in any way; and he is never to give what is called in spiritualistic circles a "test" i.e., any indisputable physical plane proof of abnormal power.
There is always a gentle radiation of the Master's influence flowing through the pupil, even though the pupil be not conscious of it. At certain times the pupil may feel a greatly increased flow of force, although he may not know where it is going. With a little careful attention he can learn in which direction it is going, and a little later he can follow it more definitely with his consciousness and trace it to the actual people who are being affected by it. The pupil, however, cannot direct it, being simply a channel. Later, the Master may tell the pupil to seek out a person and give him some of the force. As the pupil increases in usefulness, more and more of the work is placed in his hands, thus relieving, even only in small degree, the strain upon the Master. Occasionally a pupil may even be given a definite message to deliver to a particular person.
It is possible to obtain constant contact with the Master in another way. Just as images of persons made by a man in devachan are filled with life by the egos of the persons concerned, so the Master fills with His real presence the thought-form produced by His pupil. Through that form real inspiration and sometimes instruction may be given. An example of this was that of a Hindu yogi in the Madras Presidency, who claimed to be a pupil of the Master Morya. Having met his Master physically and become His pupil, the yogi claimed that he did not lose his Master after he went away, for he used frequently to appear to him and instruct him through a centre within himself.
There is yet a third stage of even more intimate union, when a pupil becomes the "son" of the Master. The link is such that not only the lower mind, but also the ego in the causal body of the pupil, is enfolded within that of the Master; the Master can then no longer draw a veil to cut off the pupil, so as to separate the consciousness even for a moment.
An accepted pupil has the right, and the duty, to bless in the name of the Master, and a splendid outpouring of the Master's power will assuredly follow his effort to do so. The Son of the Master can give the very touch of the Master's intimate presence. He who is a Son of the Master either is or soon will be a member of the great White Brotherhood also; that, of course, confers the power of blessing in the name of the Brotherhood.
In the Greater Mysteries, celebrated principally at Eleusis, the initiates were named epoptai, that is "those whose eyes were opened". Their emblem was the golden fleece of Jason, the symbol of the mental body. The pupil was shown the effect in the heaven-world of a certain line of life, study and aspiration on earth; he was also taught the whole history of the evolution of the world and of man, in its deeper aspect.
The pupil further received not only teachings about the conditions of the mental plane, but also instruction as to the development of the mental body as a vehicle.
Freemasons will be interested to note that an ear of corn was shown to the aspirant as symbolical of the supreme mystery at Eleusis, and is probably connected with the fact that a sheaf of corn is often carved on the chair of the S.W. in a Masonic Lodge.
When a man is Initiated, the influence to which he has tuned himself on higher planes rushes through every part of his being. Though there is little effect in the solids, liquids, and gases of the physical plane, there is a great deal of radiation from the etheric double, and from his astral and mental bodies, and this is felt both by the kingdom of nature, and by such men as are in a condition to respond.
A very great expansion and development of the mental body takes place in connection with the Second Initiation, but it is usually some years before the effects can show themselves in the physical brain. They unquestionably put a great strain on the brain, as it cannot be instantaneously tuned to the necessary pitch.
The period after the Second Initiation is in many ways the most dangerous anywhere on the Path, the danger in nearly all cases coming through pride. When a man gets a glimpse of what his intellect will be in the future, he must guard against and kill out every trace of pride, selfishness and prejudice.
This danger-point in the life on the Initiate is indicated in the Gospel story by the temptation in the wilderness, which followed the Baptism of Christ by John. The forty days in the wilderness symbolise the period during which the expansion of the mental body is being worked down into the physical brain, though for the ordinary candidate some forty years might well be required for its accomplishment.
The "I-making" faculty, the Ahamkâra [see p. 266] which is generally described as mâna, pride, since pride is the subtlest manifestation of the "I" as distinct from others, is the last fetter of separateness which the Arhat casts off before he takes the Fifth Initiation and becomes a Master, an Asekha. Ahamkara was born with the soul, is the essence of individuality, and persists till all that is valuable in it is worked into the Monad; it is finally dropped on the threshold of liberation.
In that survival of the Ancient Mysteries known as Freemasonry, the E.A. corresponds to the stage of the Probationary pupil, and is required to practise the three qualities of discrimination, desirelessness, and good conduct or self-control [Viveka, Vairâgya and Shatsampatti]. Discrimination will give him mental power; desirelessness emotional power; self-control will-power.
Discrimination enables the candidate to pass unscathed through the lower regions of the astral world, represented [in Co-Masonry] in the First Symbolical Journey.
Desirelessness enables him to pass through the allurements of the higher astral world, represented in the Second Symbolical Journey.
Good conduct will enable him to master the highest part of the astral world, on the very borders of the heaven-world, represented in the Third Symbolical Journey.
The gЕ of the First Degree indicates the necessity of conquering the desire nature.
The general effect of the First Degree is to widen somewhat the channel of connection between the ego and the personality of the candidate.
The master-colour of the First Degree is crimson.
The E.A. in Freemasonry corresponds to the Sub-Deacon in the Christian Church.
The p Е gЕ between the First and the Second Degree indicates the necessity of conquering that peculiar entanglement of the lower mind in the meshes of desire which we know as Kâma-Manas.
In the Second Degree, the idea of illumination is put before the candidate, the special object being the development of the intellectual, artistic and psychic faculties, and the control of the lower mind. The effect of the Degree is a more decided widening of the link between the ego and the personality.
The gЕ of the Second Degree indicates the need of full control of the lower mind.
The master-colour of the Second Degree is yellow.
The F.C. in Freemasonry corresponds to the order of deacon in the Christian Church, for just as the F.C is preparing himself for the work of the M.M., so is the deacon preparing himself for the work of the Priesthood.
The pЕgЕ between the Second and the Third Degree indicates the necessity of gaining some mastery over the strange intermediate tract beyond the lower mind which in a certain school of thought, is denominated the subliminal consciousness.
In the Third degree, the work is principally on the higher mental plane. The predominant colour is a blue tinge. The M.M. corresponds to the Priest in the Church.
In the First Degree, the Idâ, or feminine aspect of the etheric force, is stimulated, thus making it easier for the man to control passion and emotion. The Idâ starts from the base of the spine on the left of a man, and the right of a woman, and ends in the medulla oblongata. It is crimson in colour.
In the Second degree, the Pingalâ or masculine aspect of the force is strengthened, thus facilitating the control of mind. Pingalâ starts from the base of the spine on the right of a man, and the left of a woman, ending in the medulla oblongata. It is yellow in colour.
In the Third degree, the Sushumnâ, the central energy itself, is aroused, thus opening the way for the influence of the pure spirit from on high. It is deep blue in colour.
The E.A., as a personality, should organise his physical life for higher use; as an ego he should be developing active intelligence in his causal body. For this he must use his will, the First Person of the Trinity, the power of Shiva [to employ the Hindu terminology], reflected by his outward-turned power, or shakti, Devî Girijâ or Parvatî, who gives self-control, and who blesses the physical body and makes its powers holy.
The F.C., as a personality, is organising his emotional life; as an ego he is unfolding intuitional love in his buddhic body. This he does with the power of the Second Person of the Trinity, the love that comes from Vishnu, through Lakshmi, who fulfils desires and makes life rich and full, sanctifying material prosperity and transmuting the passions of the astral body.
The M.M., as a personality, is arranging his mental life; as an ego he is strengthening his spiritual will Цâtmâ. To conquer the wavering mind he must use the power of thought, or kriyîshakti, the divine activity of the Third Person of the Trinity, Brahmî, reflected by Saraswati, the patroness of learning and practical wisdom.
At the same time, the E.A. should also be learning to control his emotions, the F.C. should be mastering his mind, and the M.M. should be developing on higher planes.
For the convenience of the student, most of the above facts, together with some further ones, are tabulated as follows : -
|Work as Personality||Organisation of physical life, and learning to control emotion||Organisation of emotional life, and learning to master mind||Organisation of mental life, and development on higher plane|
|Work as Ego||Development of active intelligence in causal body||Development of Intuitional love in buddhic body||Development of Atmâ or will|
|Under influence of Trinity|
|--English||First Person||Second Person||Third Person|
|Whose outward-turned power, Shakti, or Devi, is:-|
|--Sanskrit||Girijâ or Parvati||Lakshmi||Sarawati|
to bless the physical body
|to confer material prosperity||to confer knowledge|
|-Who are represented by||Moon||Sun||Fire|
|Etheric force, or Nadi stimulated||Idâ||Pingalâ||Sushumnâ|
|Path of||Ordinary man||Occult aspirant||Ascension|
|Corresponds to||Probationary Pupil||Pupil on the Path||Fourth Initiation (Arhat)|
|Corresponds in Christian Church||Sub-Deacon||Deacon||Priest|
|Re-birth||After interval||After short interval, or none||Voluntarily only|
In the various Degrees
in Freemasonry, not only is the link between the personality and ego widened,
but also a link is formed between certain principles of the candidate and the
corresponding vehicles of the H.O.A.T.F. The changes induced are somewhat of
the same nature as those that occur in the Christian Church, as will be mentioned
The Lord Buddha was once asked by a disciple to sum up the whole of His teaching in one verse. He replied:-
-----Cease to do evil
-----Learn to do well
-----Cleanse your own heart;
-----This is the religion of the Buddha
The student will recognise here a correspondence with the Masonic system, as well indeed as with other systems. The teaching of the First Degree is that of purification. The Second Degree instructs him to acquire knowledge. The Third degree instructs the man to rise to a higher level and to consider not merely the outward action, but also the inner condition of which all outer manifestation should be an expression.
For purposes of reference and comparison the student may like to examine the following table, which sets out the main features of the system in Christianity, as followed in the Liberal Catholic Church:-
|Minor Orders||Symbols||Application of Symbols||Ceremony acts principally upon|
|Cleric||Surplice||Control of physical body||Etheric Double|
|Doorkeeper||Key and Bell||Control of emotion||Astral Body|
|Reader||Book||Control of mind||Mental Body|
|Exorcist||Sword and Book||Development of will and fuller control by ego of vehicles||Causal Body|
|Development of intuition||Buddhic Body|
Love of service; diligence in good works
Spirit of joy and gladness
|General purpose is to enable the ego to express himself more fully through the personality|
White Stole (over left shoulder)
Book of Gospels
link between ego and personality (antakana), thickening and hardening walls
so as to hold them more firmly in their new form.
Carries process a little further so as to strengthen buddhi (intuition).
Higher Manas is connected with corresponding principle of the Christ
Stole (over both shoulders)
between Atmâ-Buddhi-Manas opened up and greatly widened
Ego more definitely awakened so that he can act upon others at the causal level, and express himself more fully through buddhi.
Whole aura expanded prodigiously
Way cleared between higher principles and physical brain.
Every atom shaken as its spirillae are aroused
Buddhi connected with corresponding principle of the Christ
Atmâ stimulated by sympathetic vibration
Book of Gospels
|Atmâ connected with corresponding principle of the Christ|
Few words are necessary
in bringing to a close this study of man's mental body and the lower mental
plane. It may, however, be useful to look back over the ground we have covered
and endeavour to obtain a perspective view of the relative importance and significance
of our subject matter, it its setting amongst the totality of our knowledge
of modern Theosophy.
The student cannot help being struck by the great difference between the "atmosphere" of the mental world and that of the astral world Цlet alone that of the physical. By comparison with the mental world, the astral world is heavy, crude, turgid, and unsatisfying, even at its loftiest levels. However pure and refined the state of feeling to which it may raise us, we feel that we are still far from our true home. The dignity of man's soul demands more than feeling, however pure and unselfish.
The mental plane Цeven its four lower levels - conveys the impression that we are distinctly nearer "home". Here there is more of freedom; we feel that we are more the masters of our own consciousness, less the servants of our vehicles. The mental world seems a cleaner and more wholesome world, where we can shape our destiny nearer to our will than seems possible in the worlds we have left below us. Consciousness is freer to roam where it will, far less restricted by the limitations of space and time.
Nevertheless, mastery of even the lower mental world, of the totality of concrete thinking, leaves us still unsatisfied, for through it and beyond it we can plainly sense that there are yet fresh and greater worlds to conquer.
This world of concrete thought is as far as we can go while we still belong to the lower planes. To plant our feet firmly on this thought-world, and reach upwards to the very abstractions of thought - his surely will bring us to the threshold of a world higher and purer, not only in degree, but in kind, than any of the lower worlds.
Through those abstractions we shall rise to the world of the spirit, and draw appreciably nearer to the God-consciousness from which we feel and know ourselves to be temporarily exiled.
But we must not minimise the vast importance of the lower mental world, especially at the present juncture in man's psychological history. Let us, therefore, recapitulate in briefest form the outstanding features which emphasise the importance of mind, and of the mental world, to men in their evolution.
In the Scheme of seven Chains, to which we belong, every Chain has globes on the lower mental plane, while six of the seven Chains have also globes on the higher mental plane. Of the forty-nine globes in all, twenty-four, or practically half, are on the mental plane. The following diagram sets out these facts clearly, the mental globes being blacked-in solid, in order to emphasise the points mentioned.
The habitat of the ego, the Thinker, the one who endures throughout all reincarnations, is on the higher mental plane.
The mental plane is the meeting-ground between the Higher and the Lower Selves. The "Ray", which the higher or divine part of man projects into the lower worlds in order to carry out the purposes of evolution, is a ray of lower mind, emerging from the higher mind.
The battleground of life to-day, for most men, is kâma-manas, the intermingling of mind with desire.
The consciousness of most men to-day is centred in their feelings, in the astral body. Hence, the next immediate step for them is to learn to master feelings, to control the astral body; and this, as we have seen, can be achieved only from the plane above, from the mind
The next step will be to raise the centre of consciousness from the astral to the mental world.
The very name "man" means the thinker, the being possessing mind.
Man, in Occultism, has been defined as that being in the universe, in whatever part of the universe he may be, in whom highest Spirit and lowest Matter are joined together by Intelligence.
The development of mind in man has been expedited a whole Round by the influence of the Lords of the Flame. In the next Round, the Fifth, the progress to be made in mental development must clearly be prodigious, and, to our limited minds as at present developed, in the nature of things inconceivably lofty.
These few considerations, it is submitted, constitute a formidable array, and scarcely call for further comment; they are their own emphasis of the crucial importance to man, at his present stage, of the mind and the mental body - not indeed as a final achievement, but as a necessary stepping-stone to that future of man which, in the words of a Master, "is the future of a thing whose growth and splendour have no limit."
Nevertheless, whilst emphasizing one aspect of our work, and that an aspect unquestionably of great importance, it is necessary to preserve a careful sense of proportion and balance, giving to each element its due weight, and no more.
Hence, as Annie Besant, and C.W.Leadbeater have writen, so far as the Theosophical Society is concerned, its great object is not so much to provide mental development as to raise those who are ready into responsiveness to buddhic influences, to re-awaken the sensitiveness of its members on a higher turn of the spiral, and to prepare them for the new race, now starting on its way in the world.
The Society "does not deprecate mental development - far from it - but it prepares for the next stage, when intuitional love will produce harmony and brotherhood, and will emply the developed intellect to build a new civilisation, based on those ideals."
|BOOKS QUOTED аааа||AUTHORаааааа||EDITIONа||ABBREVIATION|
|Ancient Wisdom аа||Besant, Annieааааааааа||1897ааааааа||AW|
|Astral Plane ааа||Leadbeater,C.W.аааааааааааа||1910ааааааааа||AP|
|Changing worldаааа||Besant, Annieааа||1909ааа||CW|
|Death and Afterаааааа||Besant, Annieааааа||1901аааааааааааааа||DA|
|Gods in exile||Van der Leeuw, J.J. ааааааааа||1926||GE|
|Hidden Life in Freemasonry||Leadbeater, C.W.||1926||HLF|
|Hidden Side of Things,Volume 1||Leadbeater, C.W.||1913||HSI|
|Hidden Side of Things, Volume 2||Leadbeater, C.W.||1913||HSII|
|How animals Talk||Long, W.J.||1919||HAT|
|Inner Life, Volume I||Leadbeater, C.W.||1910||ILI|
|Inner Life, Volume 2||Leadbteater, C.W.||1911||ILII|
|Introduction to Yoga||Besant, Annie||1908||IY|
|Invisible helpers||Leadbeater, C.W.||1922||IH|
|Life after Death||Leadbeater, C.W.||1917||LAD|
|Man and his Bodies||Besant, Annie||1900||MB|
|Man Visible and Invisible||Leadbeater, C.W.||1902||MVI|
|Masters and the Path||Leadbeater, C.W.||1925||MP|
|Meditation for Beginners||Wedgwood, J.I.||1919||MFB|
|Other Side of Death||Leadbeater, C.W.||1904||OSD|
|Science of the Sacrements||Leadbeater, C.W.||1920||SOS|
|Self and its Sheaths||Besant||1903||SS|
|Seven Principles of Man||Besant||1904||SP|
|Some Glimpsons of Occultism||Leadbeater, C.W.||1913||SGO|
|Study in Consciousness||Besant, Annie||1921||SC|
|Talks on the Path of Occultism||Besant, Annie & Leadbeater,C.W.||1926||TPO|
|Talks with a Class||Besant, Annie||1921||TC|
|Textbook of Theosophy||Leadbeater, C.W.||1914||TB|
|Theosophy and the New Psychology||Besant, Annie||1909||TNP|
|Thought-Forms||Besant, Annie & Leadbeater, C.W.||1905||TF|
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