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If the above be taken in connection with what has been said elsewhere in Theosophical literature about the desire-body and its purification, it will, I think, become more intelligible how the Ego, as it gradually gains control over the elemental essence which informs the desire-body, and learns through suffering that its own goal is not the same as that of this informning essence, gradually disentangles itself from the meshes of this kâmic sheath, until at last it trains this essence to energize only along the lines and in the ways which the Ego, now grown wise through accumulated experience, selects for its activity upon the astral plane.
One point more remains to be mentioned, and then these fragmentary notes may be closed for the present. After the death of the physical body it is known that the matter of the astral body, instead of being all mixed up together as is the case in life, arranges itself in a sort of stratified series of shells, with the matter of the lowest (and therefore coarsest and grossest) astral sub-plane on the outside, and that of the more refined and higher sub-planes in order as one passes in wards or upwards.
This rearrangement of the matter of the astral body is brought about by the action of the informing essence about which we have been speaking. This essence during its temporary specialization in a given astral body acquires a kind of quasi-individualization, analogous to what happens in the case of an artificial elemental. In this condition it exhibits a sort of instinct of self-preservation. And as, after the death of the physical body, the disintegrating forces of the astral plane begin to play upon the astral body, this specialized essence, feeling its separated existence in danger, seeks to maintain itself, as separate, by rearranging the matter in which it is specialized in such a manner as to resist disintegration as long as possible. This it does by putting the grossest matter outside, as it were, since the lower the order of matter the greater its resistance to disintegration.
And now in conclusion let me again remind the reader that the foregoing is not an infallible revelation, not even as yet a thoroughly worked-out theory; but inerely a brief statement of the result of some recent investigations. Though there is strong reason for believing these to be accurate, yet further experiment and more critical comparison will be necessary before they can be finally fitted into their proper place in the great scheine of verified and tested Theosophical knowledge.
For it must always be remembered that however accurate an observer's vision may be from liis present standpoint, that standpoint itself is constantly changing as he gradually grows in knowledge; as we rise in the scale of evolution our horizon must inevitably widen, and though, if we have been careful in the building up of our structure, we shall not need to pull down any part of what we have erected, we shall certainly have to add to it in many directions, to learn to contemplate it from many new points of view, and to be ever ready to modify our deductions from it in the light of fuller information. And indeed this must always be so, for Theosoplıy is no dogmatic religion with narrow and inflexible creed, but the ever-progressive science of the divine.
(Continued from l'ol. XVII., pagi 470.)
In our endeavour to describe the inhabitants of Devachan it will perhaps be well for us to divide them into the same three great classes chosen in the paper on the astral plane—the human, the non-human, and the artificial—though the subdivisions will naturally be less numerous in this case than in that, since the products of inan's evil passions, which bulked so largely in Kâinaloka, can find no place here.
I. HUMAN. Exactly as was the case when dealing with the lower world, it will be desirable to subdivide the human inhabitants of the devachanic plane into two classes—those who are still attached to a physical body, and those who are not—the living and the dead, as they are commonly but most erroneously called. Very little experience of these higher planes is needed to alter fundamentally the student's conception of the change which men call death; he realizes iinmediately on the opening of his consciousness even in the astral, and still more in the devachanic world, that the fulness of true life is something which can never be known down here, and that when we leave this physical earth we are passing into that true life, not out of it. We have not at present in the English language any convenient and at the same time accurate words to express these conditions; perhaps to call them respectively embodied and disembodied will be, on the whole, the least misleading of the various possible phrases. Let us therefore proceed to consider those inhabitants of Devachan who come under the head of
THE EMBODIED. Those human beings who, while still attached to a physical body, are found inoving in full consciousness and activity upon this plane are invariably either initiates or Adepts, for until a pupil has been taught by his Master how to form the Mâyâvirûpa he will be unable to move with freedom upon even the rûpa levels of Devachan. To function consciously during physical life upon the arûpa levels denotes still greater advancement, for it means the unification of the Manas, so that the man down here is no longer a mere personality, more or less influenced by the individuality above, but is himself that individuality, trammelled and confined by a body, certainly, but nevertheless having within him the power and knowledge of a highly developed Ego. Very magnificent objects are these Adepts and initiates to the vision which has learnt to see them-splendid globes of light and colour, driving away all evil influence wherever they go, and shedding around them a feeling of restfulness and happiness of which even those who do not see them are often conscious. It is in this celestial world that much of their most important work is done—more especially upon its higher levels, where the individuality 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 much of the spiritual force poured out by the glorious self-sacrifice of the Nirmânakayas 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 than on the astral plane. In addition to all these activities they have a great field of work in connection with devachanees, but this will be more fitly explained under a later heading.
It is a pleasure to find that a class of inhabitants which obtruded itself painfully on our notice on the astral plane is entirely absent here. In a world whose characteristics are unselfishness and spirituality the black magician and his pupils can obviously find no place, since selfishness is of the essence of all the proceedings of the darker school. Not but that in many of them the intellect is very highly developed, and consequently the matter of the mind-body extremely active and sensitive along certain lines; but in every case those lines are connected with personal desire of some sort, and they can therefore find expression only through Kâma-Manas—that is, the part of the mind-body which has become almost inextricably entangled with Kâma.
As a necessary consequence of this limita
tion it follows that their activities are confined to the astral and physical planes, and thus is justified the grand old description of the heaven-world as the place“ where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.”
In thinking of the living inhabitants of Devachan, the question naturally suggests itself whether either ordinary people during sleep, or psychically developed persons in a trance condition, can ever penetrate to this plane. In both cases the answer must be that the occurrence is possible, though extremely rare. Purity of life and purpose would be an absolute 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.
As exemplifying the possibility of entering the devachanic state during sleep, an incident may be mentioned which occurred in connection with the experiments made by the London Lodge on dream consciousness, an account of some of which was given in the December number of LUCIFER. It may be remembered by those who read that article that a thought-picture of a lovely tropical landscape was presented to the minds of various classes of sleepers, with a view of testing the extent to which it was afterwards recollected on awaking. One case, however, which as it did not illustrate the phenomena of dreams was not referred to in the article, was that of a person of pure mind and considerable though untrained psychic capacity; and the effect of the presentation of the thought-picture to her mind was of a somewhat startling character. So intense was the feeling of reverent joy, so lofty and so spiritual were the thoughts evoked by the contemplation of this glorious scene, that the consciousness of the sleeper passed entirely into the mind-body, or, to put the same idea into other words, rose on to the devachanic plane. It must not, however, be supposed from this that she became cognizant of her surroundings upon that plane, or of its real conditions ; shie was simply in the state of the ordinary devachanee after death, floating in the sea of light and colour indeed, but entirely absorbed in her own thought, and conscious of nothing beyond it-resting in ecstatic contemplation of the landscape and of all that it had suggested to her—yet contemplating it, be it understood, with the keener insight, the more perfect appreciation, and the enhanced vigour of thought peculiar to the devaclianic plane,