The Mental Plane – The First Heaven – As Seen by Incarnate Observers
Last revised: 7 September 2008
- 1 Life in the First Heaven
- 1.1 The Journey so Far
- 1.2 The Vast Majority Live in the First Heaven
- 1.3 Illusion in Heaven
- 1.4 Conditions on the Mental Plane
- 1.5 Surroundings
- 1.6 The Vibratory Rate is Extremely Rapid
- 1.7 All is Bliss Here
- 1.8 Movement is Instantaneous
- 1.9 Communication is by Thought
- 1.10 Possibility of Deception Gone
- 1.11 Emotional Relationships Deepen
- 1.12 Few Spirits from It Communicate Back to Us
- 1.13 The Mental Plane as Seen by the Clairvoyant
- 1.14 Annie Besant's View of Heaven
- 1.15 Residents of the Mental Plane Now Have Greatly-Enhanced Powers of Cognition, Including the Ability to Know Past Lives and Their Future Karmic Evolution
Life in the First Heaven
The Journey so Far
The traveler has ... to enter what is sometimes called the First Heaven. (1) ... Though he does not at first fully understand all that is involved, the pilgrim now has the freedom to discover himself to be a much larger being than he has so far known. He begins this gradual rediscovery of and return to the whole of his own being. But only a small part of this will now be achieved in the First heaven. (Paul Beard, LO, 108-9.)
- (1) To the best of my knowledge, the first subplane of the Mental Plane.
Buddhi and Manas (1) united, with this overshadowing of Atma, (2) form the Devachani; (3) now, as we have seen in studying the Seven Principles, Manas is dual during earth-life, and the Lower Manas is redrawn into the Higher during the kamalokic interlude. (4) By this reuniting of the Ray and its Source, Manas re-becomes one, and carries the pure and noble experiences of the earth-life into Devachan with it, thus maintaining the past personality as the marked characteristic of the Devachani, and it is in this prolongation of the "personal Ego", so to speak, that the "illusion" of the Devachani consists. (Annie Besant, DA, n.p.)
- (1) Intellect and Mind, freed from emotions or passions.
- (2) The immortal Self.
- (3) The individual established on the Mental Plane.
- (4)The time spent in the Astral Plane, including some time spent in the First Heaven before the Second Death and subsequent dropping of the remains of the astral body.
The Vast Majority Live in the First Heaven
The vast majority live on the lowest level, in various stages of evolution. (Annie Besant, AW, 129.)
The first, or lowest, region is the heaven of the least progressed souls, whose highest emotion on earth was a narrow, sincere, and sometimes selfish love for family and friends. Or it may be that they felt some loving admiration for some one they met on earth who was purer and better than themselves, or felt some wish to lead a higher life, or some passing aspiration towards mental and moral expansion.
There is not much material here 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 reborn after a while with a somewhat improved emotional nature, with more tendency to recognise and respond to a higher ideal. Meanwhile they are enjoying all the happiness they can receive; their cup is but a small one, but it is filled to the brim with bliss, and they enjoy all that they are able to conceive of heaven. Its purity, its harmony, play on their undeveloped faculties and woo them to awaken into activity, and the inner stirrings begin which must precede any manifested budding. (Annie Besant, AW, 164-5.)
Illusion in Heaven
This First Heaven, too, is a mental creation, just as were the earlier regions of the Winter- and Summerland, but which exists for the fuller expression of the life of the soul. (Paul Beard, LO, 111.)
The world of the First Heaven must be looked upon as still belonging to that area of experience which theosophists and occultists call Kama Loka or the astral world, the place of desires, (1) where the soul, still conscious of unfulfilment as well as fulfillment, works upon the inadequacies it discovered in itself through the judgement and which it must overcome if it is to free itself. (Paul Beard, LO, 115.)
- (1) Until, after the "second death," the traveler sheds all traces of earthly remains.
The soul may equally be said to be qualifying itself for entry into the mental world or Devachan, the world of the heavens, (1) in which are found the beginnings of mental creation. ... Early steps at the boundaries of Devachan are taken whilst much of the soul's work is still concerned in Kama Loka with its own past legacy of error to be made good. (Paul Beard, LO, 116.)
- (1) Again, there is no way to reconcile Beard's schema with others that I am aware of. "Heaven" in most other schemes is the Mental Plane, but here Beard suggests that the Mental Plane, Devachan, or heaven world is ahead of the resident of the "First Heaven."
The more evolved a soul, the more does he know of all around him, the nearer does he approach to realities; but the mental plane has also its veils of illusion, it must be remembered, though they be far fewer and thinner than those of the astral and the physical worlds. Each soul has its own mental atmosphere, and, as all impressions must come through this atmosphere, they are all distorted and coloured. The clearer and purer, the atmosphere, and the less it is coloured by the personality, the fewer are the illusions that can befall it. (Annie Besant, AW, 128-9.) Mental life is far more intense, vivid, and nearer to reality than the life of the senses. Everything we see and touch and hear and taste and handle down here is two removes farther from the reality than everything we contact in Devachan. We do not even see things as they are, but the things that we see down here have two more veils of illusion enveloping them. Our sense of reality here is an entire delusion; we know nothing of things, of people, as they are; all that we know of them are the impressions they make on our senses, and the conclusions, often erroneous, which our reason deduces from the aggregate of these impressions. Get and put side by side the ideas of a man held by his father, his closest friend, the girl who adores him, his rival in business, his deadliest enemy, and a casual acquaintance, and see how incongruous the pictures. (Annie Besant, AW, 154.)
We live in the midst of illusions, but we have the feeling of reality, and this yields us content. In Devachan we shall also be surrounded by illusions - though, as said, two removes nearer to reality - and there also we shall have a similar feeling of reality which will yield us content.
The illusions of earth, though lessened, are not escaped from in the lower heavens, though contact is more real and more immediate. For it must never be forgotten that these heavens are part of a great evolutionary scheme, and, until man has found the real Self, his own unreality makes him subject to illusions. One thing however, which produces the feeling of reality in earth-life and of unreality when we study 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 veil of Mâyâ.
In Devachan the process is reversed, and its inhabitants feel their own life to be the real one and look on the earth-life as full of the most patent illusions and misconceptions. On the whole, they are nearer to the truth than the physical critics of their heaven-world. (Annie Besant, AW, 155.)
Were the manasic entity free from all illusion, it would see all Egos as its brother-Souls, and looking back over its past would recognise all the varied relationships it had borne to others in many lives, as the actor would remember the many parts he had played with other actors, and would think of each brother actor as a man, and not in the parts he had played as his father, his son, his judge, his murderer, his master, his friend. The deeper human relationship would prevent the brother actors from identifying each other with their parts, and so the perfected spiritual Egos, recognising their deep unity and full brotherhood, would no longer be deluded by the trappings of earthly relationships. (Annie Besant, DA, n.p.)
Conditions on the Mental Plane
When the Triad has quitted Kamaloka, it passes wholly out of the sphere of earth attractions:
As soon as it has stepped outside the Kamaloka--crossed the "Golden Bridge" leading to the "Seven Golden Mountains" (1) -the Ego can confabulate no more with easy-going mediums.
(Annie Besant, DA, n.p.)
- (1) The Seven Golden Mountains are the Seven Heavens or seven subplanes of the Mental Plane.
Next, the Thinker - being clad only in the mental body and being in the untrammelled exercise of its powers - manifests the creative nature of these powers in a way and to an extent that down here we can hardly realise. On earth a painter, a sculptor, a musician, dreams, dreams of exquisite beauty, creating their visions by the powers of the mind; but when they seek to embody them in the coarse materials of earth they fall far short of the mental creation. The marble is too resistant for perfect form, the pigments to muddy for perfect colour.
In heaven, all they think is at once reproduced in form, for the rare and subtle matter of the heaven-world is mind stuff, the medium in which the mind normally works when free from passion, and it takes shape with every mental impulse. Each man, therefore, in a very real sense, makes his own heaven, and the beauty of his surroundings is definitely increased, according to the wealth and energy of his mind. As the soul develops his powers, his heaven grows more and more subtle and exquisite; all the limitations in heaven are self-created, and heaven expands and deepens with the expansion and deepening of the soul.
While the soul is weak and selfish, narrow and ill-developed, his heaven shares these pettinesses; but it is always the best that is in the soul, however poor that best may be. As the man evolves, his devachanic lives become fuller, richer, more and more real, and advanced souls come into ever closer and closer contact with each other, enjoying wider and deeper intercourse.
A life on earth, thin, feeble, vapid, and narrow, mentally and morally, produces a comparatively thin, feeble, vapid and narrow life in Devachan, where only the mental and the moral survive. We cannot have more than we are, and our harvest is according to our sowing. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that,"- and neither more nor less, - "shall he also reap." Our indolence and greediness would fain reap where we have not sown, but in this universe of law, the Good Law, mercifully just, brings to each the exact wages of his work.
The mental impressions, or mental pictures, we make of our friends will dominate us in Devachan. Round each soul throng those he loved in life, and every image of the loved ones that live in the heart becomes a living companion of the soul in heaven. And they are unchanged. They will be to us there as they were here, and no otherwise. The outer semblance of our friend as it affected our senses, we form out of mind-stuff in Devachan by the creative powers of the mind; what was here a mental picture is there - as in truth it was here, although we knew it not - an objective shape in living mind-stuff, abiding in our own mental atmosphere; only what is dull and dreamy here is forcibly living and vivid there.
And with regard to the true communion, that of the soul with soul? That is closer, nearer, dearer than anything we know here, for, as we have seen, there is no barrier on the mental plane between soul and soul; exactly in proportion to the reality of the soul-life in us is the reality of soul-communion there; the mental image of our friend is our own creation; his form is as we knew and loved it; and his soul breathes through that form to ours just to the extent that his soul and ours can throb in sympathetic vibration.
But we can have no touch with those we knew on earth if the ties were only of the physical or astral body, or if they and we were discordant in the inner life; therefore into our Devachan no enemy can enter, for sympathetic accord of minds and hearts can alone draw men together there. Separateness of heart and mind means separation in the heavenly life, for all that is lower than the heart and mind can find no means of expression there. With those who are far beyond us in evolution we come into contact just as far as we can respond to them; great ranges of their being will stretch beyond our ken, but all that we can touch is ours. Further, these greater ones can and do aid us in the heavenly life, under conditions we shall study presently, helping us to grow towards them, and thus be able to receive more and more. There is then no separation by space or time, but there is separation by absence of sympathy, by lack of accord between hearts and minds.
In heaven we are with all whom we love and with all whom we admire, and we commune with them to the limit of our capacity, or, if we are more advanced, of theirs. We meet them in the forms we loved on earth, with perfect memory of our earthly relationships, for heaven is the flowering of all earth's buds, and the marred and feeble loves of earth expand into beauty and power there. The communion being direct, no misunderstandings of words or thoughts can arise; each sees the thought his friend creates, or as much of it as he can respond to.
Devachan, the heaven-world, is a world of bliss, of joy unspeakable. But it is much more than this, much more than a rest for the weary. In Devachan all that was valuable in the mental and moral experiences of the Thinker during the life just ended is worked out, meditated over, and is gradually transmuted into definite mental and moral faculty, into powers which he will take with him to his next rebirth. He does not work into the mental body the actual memory of the past, for the mental body will, in due course, disintegrate; the memory of the past abides only in the Thinker himself, who has lived through it and who endures. But these facts of past experiences are worked into mental capacity, so that if a man has studied a subject 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 pick it up with great facility. 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 reappear 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 the mind to be put into use in a future life on earth, when the clever and earnest student shall be reborn as a genius, when the devotee shall be reborn as a saint. Life then, in Devachan, is no mere dream, no lotus-land of purposeless idling; it is the land in which the mind and heart develop, unhindered by gross matter and by the trivial cares, where weapons are forged for earth's fierce battlefields, and where the progress of the future is secured.
When the Thinker has consumed in the mental body all the fruits belonging to it of his earthly life, he shakes it off and dwells unencumbered in his own place. All the mental faculties which express themselves on the lower levels are drawn within the causal body - with the germs of the passional life that were drawn into the mental body when it left the astral shell to disintegrate in Kâmaloka - and these become latent for a time, lying within the causal body, forces which remain concealed for lack of material in which to manifest. (The thoughtful student may here find a fruitful suggestion on the problem of continuing consciousness after the cycle of the universe is trodden. Let him place Îshvara in the place of the Thinker, and let the faculties that are the fruits of a life represent the human lives that are the fruits of a Universe. He may then catch some glimpse of what is necessary for consciousness, during the interval between universes).
The mental body, the last of the temporary vestures of the true man, disintegrates, and its materials return to the general matter of the mental plane, whence they were drawn when the Thinker last descended into incarnation. Thus the causal body alone remains, the receptacle and treasure-house of all that has been assimilated from the life that is over. The Thinker has finished a round of his long pilgrimage and dwells for a while in his own native land.
His condition as to consciousness depends entirely on the point he has reached in evolution. In his early stages of life he will merely sleep, wrapped in unconsciousness, when he has lost his vehicles on the lower planes. His life will pulse gently within him, assimilating any little results from his closed earth-existence that may be capable of entering into his substance; but he will have no consciousness of his surroundings. But as he develops, this period of his life becomes more and more important, and occupies a greater proportion of his Devachanic existence.
He becomes self-conscious, and thereby conscious of his surroundings - of the not-self - and his memory spreads before him the panorama of his life, stretching backwards into the ages of the past. He sees the causes that worked out their effects in the last of his life-experiences, and studies the causes he has set going in this latest incarnation. He assimilates and works into the texture of the causal body all that was noblest and loftiest in the closed chapter of his life, and by his inner activity he develops and co-ordinates the materials in his causal body. He comes into direct contact with great souls, whether in or out of the body at the time, enjoys communion with them, learns from their riper wisdom and longer experience.
Each succeeding devachanic life is richer and deeper; with his expanding capacity to receive, knowledge flows into him in fuller tides; more and more he learns to understand the workings of the law, the conditions of evolutionary progress, and thus returns to earth-life each time with greater knowledge, more effective power, his vision of the goal of life becoming ever clearer and the way to it more plain before his feet. (Annie Besant, AW, 156-63.)
Nature gives to each in Devachan the satisfaction of all pure desires, and Manas there exercises that faculty of his innate divinity, that he "never wills in vain". (Annie Besant, DA, n.p.
He finds himself in the midst of what seems to him a whole universe of ever-changing light and colour and sound, such as it has never entered into his loftiest dreams to imagine. Verily it is true that down here " eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive" the glories of the heaven-world : and the man who has once experienced them in full consciousness will regard the world with widely different eyes for ever after. Yet this experience is so utterly unlike anything we know on the physical plane that in trying to put it into words one is troubled by a curious sense of helplessness - of absolute incapacity, not only to do it justice, for of that one resigns all hope from the very outset, but even to give any idea at all of it to those who have not themselves seen it.
Let a man imagine himself, with the feelings of intense bliss and enormously increased power already described, 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 presently discovers, only the expression of his thought in the matter of the plane and in its elemental essence. For that matter is of the very same order as that of which the mind-body is itself composed, and therefore when that vibration of the particles of the mind-body which we call a thought occurs, it immediately extends itself to this surrounding mental matter, and sets up corresponding vibrations in it, while in the elemental essence it images itself with absolute exactitude. Concrete thought naturally takes the shape of its objects, while abstract ideas usually represent themselves by all kinds of perfect and most beautiful, geometrical forms; though in this connection it should be remembered that many thoughts which are little more than the merest abstractions to us down here become concrete facts on this loftier plane.
It will thus be seen that in this higher world anyone who wishes to devote himself for a time to quiet thought, and to abstract himself from his surroundings, may actually live in a world of his own without possibility of interruption, and with the additional advantage of seeing all his ideas (and their consequences, fully worked out) passing in a sort of panorama before his eyes. If, however, he wishes instead to observe the plane upon which he finds himself, it will be necessary for him very carefully to suspend his thought for the time, so that its creations may not influence the readily impressible matter around him, and thus alter the entire conditions so far as he is concerned. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 20-2.)
When the visitor to the mental plane succeeds in putting himself in this position he finds that although he is no longer himself a centre of radiation of all that marvellous wealth of light and colour, form and sound, which I have so vainly endeavoured to picture, it has not therefore ceased to exist; on the contrary, its harmonies and its coruscations are but grander and fuller than ever. Casting about for an explanation of this phenomenon, he begins to realize that all this magnificence is not a mere idle or fortuitous display - a kind of devachanic aurora borealis; he finds that it all has a meaning - a meaning which he himself can understand ; and presently he grasps the fact that what he is watching with such ecstasy of delight is simply the glorious colour-language of the Devas - the expression of the thought or the conversation of beings far higher than himself in the scale of evolution. By experiment and practice he discovers that he also can use this new and beautiful mode of expression, and by this very discovery he enters into possession of another great tract of his heritage in this celestial realm - the power to hold converse with, and to learn from, its loftier non-human inhabitants. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 23-4.)
In point of fact the mental world has no scenery except such as each individual chooses to make for himself by his thought - unless indeed we take into account the fact that the vast numbers of entities who are continually passing before him are themselves objects in many cases of the most transcendent beauty. Yet so difficult is it to express in words the conditions of this higher life that it would be a still better statement of the facts to say that all possible scenery exists there - that there is nothing conceivable of loveliness in earth or sky or sea which is not there with a fulness and intensity beyond all power of imagination; but that out of all this splendour-of living reality each man sees only that which he has within himself the power to see - that to which his development during the earth-life and the astral-life enables him to respond. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 24.)
The Vibratory Rate is Extremely Rapid
One way in which this intense vitality manifests itself is the extreme rapidity of vibration of all particles and atoms of this mental matter. As a theoretical proposition we are all aware that even here on the physical plane no particle of matter, though forming part of the densest of solid bodies, is ever for a moment at rest; nevertheless when by the opening of astral vision this becomes for us no longer a mere theory of the scientists, but an actual and ever-present fact, we realize the universality of life in a manner and to an extent that was quite impossible before; our mental horizon widens out, and we begin even already to have glimpses of possibilities in nature which to those who cannot yet see must appear the wildest of dreams.
If this be the effect of acquiring the mere astral vision, and applying it to dense physical matter, try to imagine the result produced on the mind of the observer when, having left this physical plane behind and thoroughly studied the far more vivid life and infinitely more rapid vibrations of the astral, he finds a new and transcendent sense opening within him, which unfolds to his enraptured gaze yet another and a higher world, whose vibrations are as much quicker than those of our physical plane as vibrations of light are than those of sound - a world where the omnipresent life which pulsates ceaselessly around and within him is of a different order altogether, is as it were raised to an enormously higher power. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 16-7.)
All is Bliss Here
The first impressions ... of the pupil who enters this mental plane in full consciousness will probably be those of intense bliss, indescribable vitality, enormously increased power, and the perfect confidence which flows from these. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 20.)
The one quality which [its residents] all have in common is that of ensuring to those residing upon them the utmost intensity of bliss which they are capable of experiencing. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 14.)
They have " crossed the golden bridge" over the stream which divides this realm from the world of desire; for them the struggle between the higher and the lower is over, and for them, therefore, is "no more grief or sorrow in that cycle," until once more the man puts himself forth into, incarnation, and the celestial world is again left for a time behind. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 14.)
This intensity of bliss is the first great idea which must form a background to all our conceptions of the heaven-life. It is not only that we are dealing with a world in which, by its very constitution, evil and sorrow are impossible; it is not only a world in which every creature is happy; the facts of the case go far beyond all that. 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 whose power of response to his aspirations is limited only by his capacity to aspire. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 14-5.)
This radiant sense, not only of the welcome absence of all evil and discord, but of the insistent, overwhelming presence of universal joy, is the first and most striking sensation experienced by him who enters upon the heaven-world. And it never leaves him so long as he remains there; whatever work he may be doing, whatever still higher possibilities of spiritual exaltation may arise before him as he learns more of the capabilities of this new world in which he finds himself, the strange indescribable feeling of inexpressible delight in mere existence in such at realm underlies all else - this enjoyment of the abounding joy of others is ever present with him. Nothing on earth is like it, nothing can image it; if one could suppose the bounding life of childhood carried up into our spiritual experience and then intensified many thousand-fold, perhaps some faint shadow of an idea of it might be suggested; yet even such a simile falls miserably short of that which lies beyond all words - the tremendous spiritual vitality of this celestial world. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 16.)
Movement is Instantaneous
If we learn to use the powers of the mental body, (1) we do not therefore lose those of the lower, for they are included in the higher. We can then pass from place to place with the rapidity of thought. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 15.)
- (1) Leadbeater is speaking here as a clairvoyant investigator of the Mental Plane.
At this level a man may circle the world actually with the speed of thought; he is at the other side of it even as he formulates the wish to be there, for in this case the response of matter to thought is immediate, and the will can control it far more readily than on any lower level. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 46.)
Communication is by Thought
Opinions or impressions can now be exchanged not only with the quickness of thought but with perfect accuracy, for each now receives the exact idea of the other - clean, clear-cut, instantane—ous - instead of having to try to puzzle his way to it through a jungle of inexpressive words. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 46.)
Communication between intelligences functioning consciously on this plane, whether human or non-human, whether in or out of the body, is practically instantaneous, for it is with "the "speed of thought." Barriers of space have here no power to divide, and any soul can come into touch with any one by merely directing his attention to him.
Not only is communication thus swift, but it is also complete, if the souls are at about the same stage of evolution; no words fetter and obstruct the communion, but the whole thought flashes from the one to the other, or, perhaps more exactly, each sees the thought as conceived by the other. The real barriers between souls are the differences of evolution; the less evolved can know only as much of the more highly evolved as his is able to respond to; the limitation can obviously be felt only by the higher one, as the lesser has all that he can contain. (Annie Besant, AW, 128.)
Possibility of Deception Gone
If we learn to use the powers of the mental body ... we can then see the thoughts of our fellow men, so that deception is no longer possible. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 15.)
A man can no longer deceive another with regard to what he thinks, for all mental operations lie open for every one to see. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 46.
Emotional Relationships Deepen
The traveler is now placed in a world of intensified perception and of deepened emotional relationships. Having grown tired of the shallow pleasures which the Summerland offered, he now links with those who are dear to him in a more unselfish way and rejoices in the other's nature for its own sake as much as for what it gives him. (Paul Beard, LO, 110-1.)
Few Spirits from It Communicate Back to Us
From Sukhavati down to the "Territory of Doubt," (1) there is a variety of spiritual states, but ... as soon as it has stepped outside the Kamaloka, (2) crossed the "Golden Bridge" leading to the "Seven Golden Mountains," (3) the Ego can confabulate no more with easy-going mediums. No Ernest or Joey has ever returned from the Rupa Loka, (4) let alone the Arupa Loka, (5) to hold sweet intercourse with men. (6) (Unnamed Master in Annie Besant, DA, n.p.)
- (1) I do not know what these names refer to.
- (2) Here used to mean the Astral Plane, but, in later usage, usually restricted to the Borderlands.
- (3) The Seven Golden Mountains are the seven subplanes of the Mental Planes.
- (4) The Rupa Loka are the first four subplanes of form.
- (5) The Arupa Loka are the second three subplanes without form.
- (6) But a spirit can visit and speak with a medium past the threshold and into the Second Heaven - witness "Sigwart" in The Bridge Over the River. Of his continuing communication to his sister, he said: "I have found many dear human souls who console me concerning my spatial separation from you. They are all amazed over my strong and intimate connection with all of you because it is considered rare to maintain such near relationship on earth." (Sigwart, BOTR, 93-4.)
Perhaps the least unsatisfactory method of approaching this exceedingly difficult subject will be to plunge in medias res and make the attempt (foredoomed to failure though it be) to depict what a pupil or trained student sees when first the heaven-world opens before him. I use the word pupil advisedly, for unless a man stand in that relation to one of the Masters of Wisdom, there is but little likelihood of his being able to pass in full consciousness into that glorious land off bliss, and return to earth with clear remembrance of that which he has seen there. Thence no accommodating "spirit" ever comes to utter cheap platitudes through the mouth of the professional medium; thither no ordinary clairvoyant ever rises, though sometimes the best and purest have entered it when in deepest trance they slipped from the control of their mesmerizers - yet even then they have rarely brought back more than a faint recollection of an intense but indescribable bliss, generally deeply coloured by their personal religious convictions. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 11.)
There are some exceptional possibilities of reaching such an Ego, (1) that will be explained later, but the Ego is out of the reach of the ordinary medium and cannot be recalled into the earth-sphere. (Annie Besant, DA, n.p.)
- (1) Individual.
The Mental Plane as Seen by the Clairvoyant
The man who has opened for himself the mental consciousness ... finds that this higher plane is thrilling with a glory and a bliss beside which even the wonderful vigour of the astral life pales its ineffectual fires. Once more he feels that now at last he has reached the true life, of which before he had only an inefficient and / inaccurate reflection.
Again his horizon is widened, for now the vast world of the Form-Angels opens before his astonished eyes. He sees now the whole of humanity - the enormous hosts who are out of incarnation as well as the comparatively few who possess vehicles upon the lower planes. Every man who is in physical or astral life must necessarily possess a mental body, and it is that which now represents him to the sight of the student who has come thus far on his way; but, in addition to this, the great army of those who are resting in the heaven-world is now within his view - though, as each is confined entirely within his own shell of thought, these men can hardly be regarded as in any sense of the word companions. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 44-5.)
The man who has evolved to the point at which he is able to use fully both the astral and physical consciousness while still awake, can naturally never be separated from his departed friend, but has him present and fully available until the end of the latter's astral life, when that body in turn is dropped, and he enters upon his sojourn in the heaven-world. Then indeed an apparent separation does take place, though even then it can never be at all the same thing as what we call loss down here; for a man who has already fully realised the existence of two of the planes has thoroughly convinced himself of the plan of Nature's / arrangements, and has a certainty with regard to them and a confidence in them which puts him in an altogether different position from the ignorance of the man who knows only one plane and cannot imagine anything beyond it. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 43-4.)
Annie Besant's View of Heaven
[Ed. Note that Annie Besant differs from Charles Leadbeater in saying that the Devachan, rather than simply being a synonym for "mental plane," is "a specially guarded part of the mental plane." This presents difficulties for the student of the afterworld. In this anthology, I have take Devachan in Leadbeater's meaning as being identical to the mental plane, but here include Besant's statement for the reader's awareness. Note as well that Besant's use of the term here differs from her own use of the term in passages above taken from Death - and After.
The word Devachan is the theosophical name for heaven, and, literally translated, means the shining land, or the Land of the Gods. (1) It is a specially guarded part of the mental plane, whence all sorrow and all evil are excluded by the action of the great spiritual Intelligences who superintend human evolution; and it is inhabited by human beings who have cast off their physical and astral bodies, and who pass into it when their stay in Kâmaloka is completed. (2) (Annie Besant, AW, 151.)
- (1) Besant's own footnote: Devasthan, the place of the Gods, is the Sanskrit equivalent. It is the Svarga of the Hindus; the Sukhâvati of the Buddhists; the Heaven of the Zoroastrians and Christians, and of the less materialised among the Mohammedans. 2) Ed. I have never seen this view reproduced in other investigator's works nor in Annie Besant's other works. Usually the three terms "Devachan," "Mental Plane," and "Heaven" are synonymous.
Residents of the Mental Plane Now Have Greatly-Enhanced Powers of Cognition, Including the Ability to Know Past Lives and Their Future Karmic Evolution
The very sense itself, by which he is enabled to cognize all this, is not the least of the marvels of this celestial world; no longer does he hear and see and feel by separate and limited organs, as he does down here, nor has he even the immensely extended capacity of sight and hearing which he possessed on the astral plane; instead of these he feels within him a strange new power which is not any of them, and yet includes them all and much more - a power which enables him the moment any person or thing comes before him not only to see it and feel it and hear it, but to know all about it instantly inside and out - its causes, its effects, and its possibilities, so far at least as that plane and all below it are concerned. He finds that for him to think is to realize; there is never any doubt, hesitation, or delay about this direct action of the higher sense. If he thinks of a place, he is there; if of a friend, that friend is before him. No longer can misunderstandings arise, no longer can he be deceived or misled by any outward appearances, for every thought and feeling of his friend lies open as a book before him on that plane.
And if he is fortunate enough to have among his friends another whose higher sense is opened, their intercourse is perfect beyond all earthly conception. For them distance and separation do not exist; their feelings are no longer hidden or at best but half expressed by clumsy words; question and answer are unnecessary, for the thought-pictures are read as they are formed, and the interchange of ideas is rapid as is their flashing into existence in the mind.
All knowledge is theirs for the searching - all, that is, which does not transcend even this lofty plane; the past of the world is as open to them as the present; the indelible records of the memory of nature are ever at their disposal, and history, whether ancient or modern, unfolds itself before their eyes at their will. No longer are they at the mercy of the historian, who may be ill-informed, and must be more or less partial; they can study for themselves any incident in which they are interested, with the absolute certainty of seeing "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." If they are able to stand upon the higher levels of the plane, the long line of their past lives unrolls itself before them like a scroll; they see the kârmic causes which have made them what they are; they see what karma still lies in front to be worked out before " the long sad count is closed," and thus they realize with unerring certainty their exact place in evolution.
If it be asked whether they can see the future clearly as the past, the answer must be in the negative, for that faculty belongs to a still higher plane. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 17-9.)