TASKS IN THE HIGHER WORLDS
Yesterday we came to
know a little about the nature of Devachan; now we have to ask how the
bliss of Devachan comes about. Most of the activity there is creative,
and though it is difficult to give an idea of the bliss that goes with
it, a comparison with something that occurs on Earth will perhaps bring
us nearer to it.
Let us observe the feeling
that pervades the activity of a being engaged in the creation of another
being: for instance, a hen sitting on her eggs. This is really a very
appropriate comparison, grotesque though it may sound, for the brooding
hen experiences an immense and blissful sense of well-being. Transfer
this feeling to the spiritual level and you will have some conception
In the first region, the
continental, where everything physical is spread out in negative, but
like a vast tableau, a man is under an obligation to create the image
of his new body. He does this free of all hindrance, and in so doing
feels the bliss of creation.
In the second region,
the universal life which under physical conditions is tied up with the
forms of man, animal and plant, flows freely like the waters of the
sea; and a man sees this flow as something both external and internal.
Externally he sees it flow in a reddish-lilac stream from one plant
form to another, one animal form to another, all embraced in the unity
of life. All forms of spiritual life, for example that of Christian
communities, are seen as belonging to the universal flow of life. Hence
the first rule for a Theosophist, which is to look for the one life
in everything, can be truly practised; for the universal life, common
to all things, is seen in flow.
In the third region one
sees realised in visible form all the relationships that arise between
human beings on the level of the soul. If two people love one another,
one sees the love as a real being whose body is love. If you can make
a picture of all this for yourselves, you will have some idea of the
bliss of Devachan; but anyone who has any knowledge of it will use few
words, for the spiritual cannot be rendered in physical language.
But you must not think
a man is inactive in Devachan, or is concerned only with himself. He
has something else to do there.
The countenance of the Earth
with all its flora and fauna, is continually changing: how different,
for instance, must things have been in northern Siberia when the mammoth,
still to be found as though frozen alive in the ice-fields, lived there.
How different things must have been here, when primeval forest still
covered the ground, when wild animals of the torrid zone lived here
and a tropical climate prevailed. Who is it that brings all this about?
Who changes conditions on the Earth? How is it with the souls and spirits
of animals, and with the souls of plants?
If we are talking only
of the physical plane, we are quite justified in saying that man has
his Ego and his dwelling-place here, and that man is the highest of
the beings who live on the Earth. On the astral plane things are quite
different. As soon as an Initiate enters that plane, he comes to know
a whole range of new beings who are not present on the physical plane,
but appear on the astral plane as beings like himself. Among them are
the species-souls or group-souls of animals, and one associates with
them as one does with other people on the physical plane. On the physical
plane animals have only a physical, an etheric and an astral body; they
have no Ego there, for their Ego is to be found on the astral plane.
Just as your ten fingers have a common soul, all animals of one species
have their common soul on the astral plane. The Ego of the species lion,
dog, or ant, and so on, is to be found there as a real being. It is
as though the Ego hovered in astral space and held the individual animals
on strings like marionettes. Plants also have group-souls of this kind,
but their Ego is in Devachan; the “strings” go still higher.
And all the minerals, such as gold, diamonds, rocks and so forth, have
their group-soul in the upper region of Devachan.
various beings, then, are ranked in the following way:
Click image for large view
When a man dies, his Ego
is to be found together with the Egos of the animals, and the work he
can be engaged on is similar to that of the Egos of the animals —
to produce gradual changes in the animal world. In Lower Devachan he
finds the Egos of the plants as his companions, and there he can alter
the forms of the plant-world. In this way he can collaborate in the
transformation of the Earth. Hence it is man himself who brings about
the great changes in the countenance of the Earth, and also the greatly
altered scene in which he lives during his next incarnation. But he
carries out this work under the leadership and guidance of higher Beings.
Thus it is true to say, when we look at the continually changing plant
and animal worlds, that this change is the work of the dead. The dead
are active in the transformation of flora and fauna, and even in changing
the physical form of the solid Earth. Even in the forces of nature we
have to see the activity of discarnate human beings; and we know how
powerfully these forces can work on the face of the Earth.
All activity, all work,
had its beginning at some time long ago. There were as yet no pyramids,
not even any tools. Everything existed in the form given to it by gods,
or, as materialists would say, by the forces of nature; and man was
set into the midst of it all. Now, however, most of our surroundings
are the work of man. Thus the Earth is always being transformed by man.
This will go on increasingly, and what man cannot accomplish here, he
carries out in the period between death and rebirth. Thus our own evolution
is tied up with the changes of the whole Earth. The structure and evolution
of the Earth are the work of men on higher planes, and the more highly
man succeeds in developing himself, the more quickly and perfectly will
the transformation of the physical Earth, and of its flora and fauna,
advance. The more highly developed a man is, the longer is the time
he can spend at work in the higher regions of Devachan. A savage sees
little of it. In many stories and legends the human spirit —
apparently childish but in reality inspired by lofty powers has given
expression to these facts.
Now how do the forces
act which bring man down to a new incarnation? As we saw, there is an
interval of about I,000 years between death and the next incarnation,
and during this period the soul is making itself ready for its journey
to a new birth. It is exceedingly interesting for a clairvoyant to explore
the astral world. He may, for example, observe astral corpses floating
about, in process of dissolution. The astral corpse of a highly developed
man, who has worked on his lower impulses, will dissolve very quickly,
but with undeveloped persons, who have given free rein to their impulses
and passions, the process of dissolution goes slowly. Sometimes the
earlier astral corpse is not wholly dissolved when its original bearer
returns to a new birth, and he will then face a difficult destiny. It
can also happen that through special circumstances a man returns soon
and finds his astral corpse still present. The corpse is then strongly
drawn to him and slips into his new astral body. He does indeed create
a new astral body, but the old one combines with it, and he has to drag
both of them along throughout his life. And then in bad dreams or visions
the old astral body comes before him as a second Ego, playing tricks
on him, harassing and tormenting him. This is the false, counterfeit
Guardian of the Threshold. An old astral corpse finds it easy to withdraw
from a man because it is not firmly united with the other members of
his being, and then it appears as a Double, a Doppelgänger.
Besides these astral forms,
the clairvoyant sees another particularly remarkable set of shapes. They
are bell-shaped and shoot through astral space with enormous speed. They
are germinal human beings not yet incarnated but striving for incarnation.
Time and space hardly matter to these beings because they can move about
very easily. They are variously coloured and surrounded by an aura of
colour: at one point they are red, at another blue, and a shining yellow
ray flashes out from inside them. These germinal human beings have just
come from Devachan into astral space. What is happening here?
After a man has taken
with him into Devachan his higher astral body, and the causal body made
up of the fruits of his former lives, he now has to gather round him
new “astral substance” rather as scattered iron filings
are brought into order by the pull of a magnet. He collects this astral
substance in accordance with the forces within him: the substance collected
after a good previous life is different from the substance collected
after a bad one. The bell-shaped forms are made up of the causal body,
the forces of the earlier astral body and the new astral body. The germinal
human being ought not to encounter the old astral body; his task is
to build up a new astral body out of undifferentiated astral substance,
so that the whole process depends on the man himself. The form and colour
of the new astral body are determined by the forces of his previous
life: this is a fact to be kept thoroughly well in mind. The reason
why the germinal human beings dart about with such enormous speed is
that they are seaching for parents with suitable characters and family
circumstances. Their speed helps them to find the right parents —
they can be here at one moment and in America the next.
For the next stage, help
is needed. Higher Beings, the Lipikas, guide the germinal human being
to the chosen parents; the “Maharajas” form the etheric
body to correspond with the astral form and with the contribution by
the parents to the physical body. The clairvoyant can descry astral
substance in the passion experienced by the parents during the act of
impregnation, and the passional nature of the child is determined by
the intensity of the passion felt by the parents. After this, etheric
substance shoots in from north, south, east and west, from the heights
and from the depths.
Parents who will be exactly
right for the germinal human being cannot always be found; all that
can be done is to search for the most suitable. Similarly, a physical
body cannot always be built so as to match exactly the incoming etheric
body. There can never be complete harmony. This is the reason for the
discord between soul and body in human beings.
incarnation a very important event occurs, parallel to the event which
follows the moment of death. Just as immediately after death the whole
memory of a man's past life appears like a tableau before his soul, so is
a kind of preview of the coming life given to the soul immediately before
it incarnates. Not all the details are seen, but the circumstances of
the coming life are made evident in broad outline. This is of the utmost
importance. It may happen that a person who went through a great deal
of suffering and hardship in his previous life receives a shock from
the glimpse of the new circumstances and destiny now in prospect, and
holds back the soul from complete incarnation. Only a part of the soul
then enters the body, and this will result in the birth of an epileptic
or an idiot.
the moment of incarnation, immediately after conception, the yellow
thread in the causal body darkens and disappears. It persists through
all stages only in Initiates.
We must not imagine that
the higher members of a man's being unite completely with the embryo
from the beginning. The causal body is the first to be active, for it
works on the earliest formation of the physical body.
Development goes on after
birth by stages, in the most varied ways; specially important for education
is the period from the seventh to the fourteenth year. We shall see
tomorrow how Theosophy bears on these problems of education, which point
to an important chapter in human evolution.