The Animal Kingdom – As Seen by Incarnate Observers
Last revised: 6 August 2008
The Animal Kingdom
Animals Individuated and Unindividuated
Each man is a soul, but not each animal or each plant. Man, as a soul, can manifest through only one body at a time in the physical world, whereas one animal soul manifests simultaneously through a number of animal bodies, one plant-soul through, a number of separate plants. A lion, for example, is not a permanently separate entity in the same way as a man is. When the man dies - that is, when he as a soul lays aside his physical body - he remains himself exactly as he was before, an entity separate from (Page 34) all other entities. When the lion dies, that which has been the separate soul of him is poured back into the mass from which it came - a mass which is at the same time providing the souls for many other lions. To such a mass we give the name of "group-soul". (Charles Leadbeater, TT, 34-5.)
The Astral Bodies of Animals. This is an extremely large class, yet it does not occupy a particularly important position on the astral plane, since its members usually stay there but a short time. The vast majority of animals have not as yet acquired permanent individualization, and when one of them dies the monadic essence which has been manifesting through it flows back again into the particular stratum whence it came, bearing with it such advancement or experience as has been attained during that life. It is not, however, able to do this quite immediately; the astral body of the animal rearranges itself just as in man's case, and the animal has a real existence on the astral plane, the length of which, though never great, varies according to the intelligence which it has developed. In most cases it does not seem to be more than dreamily conscious, but appears perfectly happy.
The comparatively few domestic animals who have already attained individuality, and will therefore be reborn no more as animals in this world, have a much longer and much more vivid life on the astral plane than their less advanced fellows, and at the end of it sink gradually into a subjective condition, which is likely to last for a very considerable period. One interesting subdivision of this class consists of the astral bodies of those anthropoid apes mentioned in The Secret Doctrine (vol. i., p. 184) who are already individualized, and will be ready to take human incarnation in the next round, or perhaps some of them even sooner. (Charles Leadbeater, 107-8.)