Imatges de pàgina

and enjoying all the while the intensity of bliss which has so often been spoken of before. The sleeper remained in that condition for several hours, though apparently entirely unconscious of the passage of time, and at last awoke with a sense of deep peace and inward joy, for which, since she had brought back no recollection of what had happened, she was quite unable to account. There is no doubt, however, that such an experience as this, whether remembered in the physical body or not, would act as a distinct impulse to the spiritual evolution of the Ego concerned.

Though in the absence of a sufficient number of experiments one hesitates to speak too positively, it seems almost certain that such a result as this just described would be possible only in the case of a person having already some amount of psychic development; and the same condition is even more definitely necessary in order that a mesmerized subject should touch the devachanic plane in trance. So decidedly is this the case, that probably not one in a thousand ainong ordinary clairvoyants ever reaches it at all; but on the rare occasions when it is so attained the clairvoyant, as before remarked, must be not only of exceptional development, but of perfect purity of life and purpose : and even when all these unusual characteristics are present there still remains the difficulty which an untrained psychic always finds in translating a vision accurately from the higher plane to the lower. All these considerations, of course, only emphasize what has been so often insisted upon before—the necessity of the careful training of all psychics under a qualified instructor before it is possible to attach much weight to their reports of what they see.

THE DISEMBODIED. Before considering in detail the condition of the disembodied entities on the various sub-planes of Devachan, we must have very clearly in our minds the broad distinction between the rûpa and arûpa levels, of which mention has already been made. On the former the man lives entirely in the world of his own thoughts, still fully identifying himself with his personality in the life which he has recently quitted ; on the latter he is simply the reincarnating Ego, who (if he has developed sufficient consciousness on that level to know anything clearly at all) understands, at least to some extent, the evolution upon which lie is engaged, and the work that lie has to do. And it should be remembered that every man passes through both these stages between death and birth, though the undeveloped majority have so little consciousness in either of them as yet that they might more truly be said to dream through them. Nevertheless, whether consciously or unconsciously, every human being must touch his own Ego on the arûpa level of Devachan before reincarnation can take place : and as his evolution proceeds this touch becomes more and inore definite and real to him. Not only is he more conscious here as he progresses, but the period he passes in this world of reality becomes longer: for the fact is that his consciousness is slowly but steadily rising tlırough the different planes of the system. Primitive man, for example, would have comparatively little consciousness on any plane but the physical during life and the lower astral after death, and indeed the same may be said of the quite undeveloped man even in our own day; a person a little more advanced would perhaps begin to have a short devachanic period (on the rûpa levels, of course), but would still spend by far the greater part of his time, between incarnations, on the astral plane. As he progressed the astral life would grow shorter and the devachanic life longer, until when he became an intellectual and spirituallyininded person, he would pass through Kâmaloka with hardly any delay at all, and would enjoy a long and happy sojourn on the higher of the rûpa levels. By this time, however, the consciousness in the true Ego on the arûpa levels would have been awakened to a very considerable extent, and thus his conscious life in Devachan would divide itself into two parts--the later and shorter portion being spent on the higher sub-planes in the causal body. The process previously described would then repeat itself, the life on the râpa levels gradually shortening, while the higher life became steadily longer and fuller, till at last the time came when the consciousness was uified-when the higher and lower Manas were indissolubly united, and the man was no longer capable of wrapping himself up in his own cloud of thought, and mistaking that for the great heaven-world around him—when he realized the true possibilities of his life, and so for the first time truly began to live. But by the tiine that he attains these heights he will already be an initiate, and will liave taken his future progress definitely into his own hands.

It has frequently been urged as an objection to the Theosophical teaching on the subject of the hereafter, that the life of the ordinary person in Devachan 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 fulness of joy and success, he is really only the victim of a cruel delusion : and this is sometimes unfavourably contrasted with what is called the solid objectivity of the heaven promised by Christianity. The reply to such an objection is twofold: first of all, that when we are studying the problems of the future life we are not concerned to know which of two hypotheses put before us would be the pleasanter (that being, after all, a inatter of opinion), but rather which of them is the true one; and secondly, that when we enquire more fully into the facts of the case, we shall see that those who maintain the illusion theory are looking at the matter from quite a wrong point of view. As to the first point, the actual state of the facts is quite easily discoverable by those who have developed the power to pass consciously on to the devachanic plane during life ; and when so investigated it is found to agree perfectly with the teaching given to us by the Masters of Wisdom through our great founder and teacher Madame Blavatsky. This, of course, disposes of the “solid objectivity” theory inentioned above. As to the second point, if the contention be that on the lower levels of Devachan truth in its fulness is not yet known to man, and that consequently illusion still exists there, we must frankly adınit that that is so. But that is not what is usually meant by those who bring forward this objection; they are generally oppressed by a feeling that the devachanic life will be more illusory and useless than the physical—an idea which further consideration will, I think, show to be inaccurate.

Let it be clearly grasped first of all that such illusion as there is inheres in the personality, and that when that is for the time dissipated no illusion remains. (Of course I am using the word illusion in its ordinary everyday meaning—not in that metaphysical sense in which all is illusion until the absolute is attained.) It will be seen, as our account of the plane progresses, that this illusion differs very much on different levels, and that it steadily diminishes as the soul advances. Indeed, we may say that just as it is only the child down here who constantly “makes believe," so it is only

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the child-soul who surrounds himself again and again with an illusory world created by his own thought. In point of fact, the Devachan of each person is exactly suited to him; as he becomes more real, it becomes more real also. And we ought in fairness to bear in mind, before inveighing against the unreality of Devachan, that we are, after all, at the present moment living a life which is still more unreal. Is it contended that on that plane we make our own surroundings, and that they have therefore no objective existence? But surely that argument cuts both ways; for even down here the world of which a person is sensible is never the whole of the outer world, but only so much of it as his senses, his tellect, his education, enable him to take in. It is obvious that during life the average person's conception of everything around him is really quite a wrong one-empty, imperfect, inaccurate in a dozen ways; for what does he know of the great forces-etheric, astral, devachanic—which lie behind everything he sees, and in fact form by far the most important part of it? What does he know, as a rule, even of the more recondite physical facts which surround him and meet him at every step he takes? The truth is that here, as in Devachan, he lives in a world which is very largely of his own creation. He does not realize it, of course, either there or here, but that is only because of his ignorance-because he knows no better. It may be thought that there is a difference in the case of our friends —that here we have them really with us, whereas in Devachan what we have is only an image of them which we ourselves make. This latter statement is true only of the lowest planes, and if the friend is an entirely undeveloped person ; but, once more, is not the case exactly the same down here? Here also we see our friend only partly—we know only the part of himn which is congenial to us, and the other sides of his character are practically non-existent for us. If we were for the first time, and with the direct and perfect vision of the devachanic plane, to see the whole of our friend, the probability is that he would be quite unrecognizable : certainly lie would not be at all the dear one we had known.

Not only is it true, as above stated, that as a inan becomes more real himself his Devachan becomes more real; but it is also a fact that, as the man evolves, the image of him in his friend's Devachan becomes inore real, too. This was very well illustrated by a simple case which recently came under the notice of our investigators. It was that of a mother who had died, perhaps twenty years ago, leaving behind her two boys, to whom she was deeply attached. Naturally they were the most prominent figures in lier Devachan, and quite naturally, too, she thought of them as she had left them, as boys of fifteen or sixteen years of age. The love which she thus ceaselessly poured out upon these images in Devachan was really acting as a beneficent force showered down upon the grown-up men in this physical world, but it affected them to a very different extent--not that her love was stronger for one than the other, but because there was a great difference between the images themselves. Not a difference, be it understood, that the mother could see; to her both appeared equally with her and equally all that she could possibly desire : yet to the eyes of the investigators it was very evident that one of these images was a mere thought-form of the mother's, without anything that could be called a reality at the back of it, while the other was distinctly much more than a mere image, for it was instinct with living force. On tracing this very interesting phenomenon to its source, it was found that in the first case the son had grown up into an ordinary man of business-110t specially evil in any way, but by no means spiritually-ininded, while the second had become a man of high unselfish aspiration, and of considerable refinement and culture. His life had been such as to develope a inuch greater amount of consciousness in the Ego than his brother's, and consequently his higher self was able to energize the image of himself as a boy which his mother lad forined in her Devachanto put something of himself into it, as it were. A large number of similar instances were revealed by further research, and it was eventually clearly established that the more highly a man is developed along spiritual lines, the more truly is his image in his friend's Devachan informed by a ray from his higher Ego, even though the personality down liere in incarnation might often be entirely ignorant of its action. Thus as the man rises his image becomes really himself, until in the case of an Adept that image is fully and consciously entered and used as a means of raising and instructing the pupil who has formed it. Of this more will be said later; but meantime it is abundantly evident that, as man evolves, the illusions which clung round his spiritual childhood drop away,

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