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Title: Death—and After?
Author: Besant, Annie Wood, 1847-1933
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                    _Theosophical Manuals. No. 3._

                          DEATH--AND AFTER?


                            ANNIE BESANT.

                           (20TH THOUSAND)

                   Theosophical Publishing Society

                          London and Benares

               City Agents, Percy Lund Humphries & Co.

                      Amen Corner, London, E.C.


                         _PRICE ONE SHILLING_


_Few words are needed in sending this little book out into the world.
It is the third of a series of Manuals designed to meet the public
demand for a simple exposition of Theosophical teachings. Some have
complained that our literature is at once too abstruse, too technical,
and too expensive for the ordinary reader, and it is our hope that the
present series may succeed in supplying what is a very real want.
Theosophy is not only for the learned; it is for all. Perhaps among
those who in these little books catch their first glimpse of its
teachings, there may be a few who will be led by them to penetrate
more deeply into its philosophy, its science, and its religion, facing
its abstruser problems with the student's zeal and the neophyte's
ardour. But these Manuals are not written for the eager student, whom
no initial difficulties can daunt; they are written for the busy men
and women of the work-a-day world, and seek to make plain some of the
great truths that render life easier to bear and death easier to face.
Written by servants of the Masters who are the Elder Brothers of our
race, they can have no other object than to serve our fellow-men._


Who does not remember the story of the Christian missionary in
Britain, sitting one evening in the vast hall of a Saxon king,
surrounded by his thanes, having come thither to preach the gospel of
his Master; and as he spoke of life and death and immortality, a bird
flew in through an unglazed window, circled the hall in its flight,
and flew out once more into the darkness of the night. The Christian
priest bade the king see in the flight of the bird within the hall the
transitory life of man, and claimed for his faith that it showed the
soul, in passing from the hall of life, winging its way not into the
darkness of night, but into the sunlit radiance of a more glorious
world. Out of the darkness, through the open window of Birth, the life
of a man comes to the earth; it dwells for a while before our eyes;
into the darkness, through the open window of Death, it vanishes out
of our sight. And man has questioned ever of Religion, Whence comes
it? Whither goes it? and the answers have varied with the faiths.
To-day, many a hundred year since Paulinus talked with Edwin, there
are more people in Christendom who question whether man has a spirit
to come anywhence or to go anywhither than, perhaps, in the world's
history could ever before have been found at one time. And the very
Christians who claim that Death's terrors have been abolished, have
surrounded the bier and the tomb with more gloom and more dismal
funeral pomp than have the votaries of any other creed. What can be
more depressing than the darkness in which a house is kept shrouded,
while the dead body is awaiting sepulture? What more repellent than
the sweeping robes of lustreless crape, and the purposed hideousness
of the heavy cap in which the widow laments the "deliverance" of her
husband "from the burden of the flesh"? What more revolting than the
artificially long faces of the undertaker's men, the drooping
"weepers", the carefully-arranged white handkerchiefs, and, until
lately, the pall-like funeral cloaks? During the last few years, a
great and marked improvement has been made. The plumes, cloaks, and
weepers have well-nigh disappeared. The grotesquely ghastly hearse is
almost a thing of the past, and the coffin goes forth heaped over with
flowers instead of shrouded in the heavy black velvet pall. Men and
women, though still wearing black, do not roll themselves up in
shapeless garments like sable winding-sheets, as if trying to see how
miserable they could make themselves by the imposition of artificial
discomforts. Welcome common-sense has driven custom from its throne,
and has refused any longer to add these gratuitous annoyances to
natural human grief.

In literature and in art, alike, this gloomy fashion of regarding
Death has been characteristic of Christianity. Death has been painted
as a skeleton grasping a scythe, a grinning skull, a threatening
figure with terrible face and uplifted dart, a bony scarecrow shaking
an hour-glass--all that could alarm and repel has been gathered round
this rightly-named King of Terrors. Milton, who has done so much with
his stately rhythm to mould the popular conceptions of modern
Christianity, has used all the sinewy strength of his magnificent
diction to surround with horror the figure of Death.

                              The other shape,
    If shape it might be called, that shape had none
    Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,
    Or substance might be called that shadow seemed,
    For each seemed either; black it stood as night,
    Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
    And shook a dreadful dart; what seemed his head
    The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
    Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
    The monster moving onward came as fast,
    With horrid strides; hell trembled as he strode....
    ... So spoke the grisly terror: and in shape
    So speaking, and so threatening, grew tenfold
    More dreadful and deform....
    ... but he, my inbred enemy,
    Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart,
    Made to destroy: I fled, and cried out _Death!_
    Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sighed
    From all her caves, and back resounded _Death_.[1]

That such a view of Death should be taken by the professed followers
of a Teacher said to have "brought life and immortality to light" is
passing strange. The claim, that as late in the history of the world
as a mere eighteen centuries ago the immortality of the Spirit in man
was brought to light, is of course transparently absurd, in the face
of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary available on all hands.
The stately Egyptian Ritual with its _Book of the Dead_, in which are
traced the post-mortem journeys of the Soul, should be enough, if it
stood alone, to put out of court for ever so preposterous a claim.
Hear the cry of the Soul of the righteous:

    O ye, who make the escort of the God, stretch out to me your
    arms, for I become one of you. (xvii. 22.)

    Hail to thee, Osiris, Lord of Light, dwelling in the mighty
    abode, in the bosom of the absolute darkness. I come to thee,
    a purified Soul; my two hands are around thee. (xxi. 1.)

    I open heaven; I do what was commanded in Memphis. I have
    knowledge of my heart; I am in possession of my heart, I am
    in possession of my arms, I am in possession of my legs, at
    the will of myself. My Soul is not imprisoned in my body at
    the gates of Amenti. (xxvi. 5, 6.)

Not to multiply to weariness quotations from a book that is wholly
composed of the doings and sayings of the disembodied man, let it
suffice to give the final judgment on the victorious Soul:

    The defunct shall be deified among the Gods in the lower
    divine region, he shall never be rejected.... He shall drink
    from the current of the celestial river.... His Soul shall
    not be imprisoned, since it is a Soul that brings salvation
    to those near it. The worms shall not devour it. (clxiv.

The general belief in Re-incarnation is enough to prove that the
religions of which it formed a central doctrine believed in the
survival of the Soul after Death; but one may quote as an example a
passage from the _Ordinances of Manu_, following on a disquisition on
metempsychosis, and answering the question of deliverance from

    Amid all these holy acts, the knowledge of self [should be
    translated, knowledge of the _Self_, Atmâ] is said (to be)
    the highest; this indeed is the foremost of all sciences,
    since from it immortality is obtained.[2]

The testimony of the great Zarathustrean Religion is clear, as is
shown by the following, translated from the _Avesta_, in which, the
journey of the Soul after death having been described, the ancient
Scripture proceeds:

    The soul of the pure man goes the first step and arrives at
    (the Paradise) Humata; the soul of the pure man takes the
    second step and arrives at (the Paradise) Hukhta; it goes the
    third step and arrives at (the Paradise) Hvarst; the soul of
    the pure man takes the fourth step and arrives at the Eternal

    To it speaks a pure one deceased before, asking it: How art
    thou, O pure deceased, come away from the fleshy dwellings,
    from the earthly possessions, from the corporeal world hither
    to the invisible, from the perishable world hither to the
    imperishable, as it happened to thee--to whom hail!

    Then speaks Ahura-Mazda: Ask not him whom thou asketh, (for)
    he is come on the fearful, terrible, trembling way, the
    separation of body and soul.[3]

The Persian _Desatir_ speaks with equal definiteness. This work
consists of fifteen books, written by Persian prophets, and was
written originally in the Avestaic language; "God" is Ahura-Mazda, or

    God selected man from animals to confer on him the soul,
    which is a substance free, simple, immaterial, non-compounded
    and non-appetitive. And that becomes an angel by improvement.

    By his profound wisdom and most sublime intelligence, he
    connected the soul with the material body.

    If he (man) does good in the material body, and has a good
    knowledge and religion he is _Hartasp_....

    As soon as he leaves this material body, I (God) take him up
    to the world of angels, that he may have an interview with
    the angels, and behold me.

    And if he is not Hartasp, but has wisdom and abstains from
    vice, I will promote him to the rank of angels.

    Every person in proportion to his wisdom and piety will find
    a place in the rank of wise men, among the heavens and stars.
    And in that region of happiness he will remain for ever.[4]

In China, the immemorial custom of worshipping the Souls of ancestors
shows how completely the life of man was regarded as extending beyond
the tomb. The _Shû King_--placed by Mr. James Legge as the most
ancient of Chinese classics, containing historical documents ranging
from B.C. 2357-627--is full of allusions to these Souls, who with
other spiritual beings, watch over the affairs of their descendants
and the welfare of the kingdom. Thus Pan-kang, ruling from B.C.
1401-1374, exhorts his subjects:

    My object is to support and nourish you all. I think of my
    ancestors (who are now) the spiritual sovereigns.... Were I
    to err in my government, and remain long here, my high
    sovereign (the founder of our dynasty) would send down on me
    great punishment for my crime, and say, "Why do you oppress
    my people?" If you, the myriads of the people, do not attend
    to the perpetuation of your lives, and cherish one mind with
    me, the One man, in my plans, the former kings will send down
    on you great punishment for your crime, and say, "Why do you
    not agree with our young grandson, but go on to forfeit your
    virtue?" When they punish you from above, you will have no
    way of escape.... Your ancestors and fathers will (now) cut
    you off and abandon you, and not save you from death.[5]

Indeed, so practical is this Chinese belief, held to-day as in those
long-past ages, that "the change that men call Death" seems to play a
very small part in the thoughts and lives of the people of the Flowery

These quotations, which might be multiplied a hundred-fold, may
suffice to prove the folly of the idea that immortality came to "light
through the gospel". The whole ancient world basked in the full
sunshine of belief in the immortality of man, lived in it daily,
voiced it in its literature, went with it in calm serenity through the
gate of Death.

It remains a problem why Christianity, which vigorously and joyously
re-affirmed it, should have growing in its midst the unique terror of
Death that has played so large a part in its social life, its
literature, and its art. It is not simply the belief in hell that has
surrounded the grave with horror, for other Religions have had their
hells, and yet their followers have not been harassed by this shadowy
Fear. The Chinese, for instance, who take Death as such a light and
trivial thing, have a collection of hells quite unique in their varied
unpleasantness. Maybe the difference is a question of race rather than
of creed; that the vigorous life of the West shrinks from its
antithesis, and that its unimaginative common-sense finds a bodiless
condition too lacking in solidity of comfort; whereas the more dreamy,
mystical East, prone to meditation, and ever seeking to escape from
the thraldom of the senses during earthly life, looks on the
disembodied state as eminently desirable, and as most conducive to
unfettered thought.

Ere passing to the consideration of the history of man in the
post-mortem state, it is necessary, however briefly, to state the
constitution of man, as viewed by the Esoteric Philosophy, for we must
have in mind the constituents of his being ere we can understand their
disintegration. Man then consists of

_The Immortal Triad_:


_The Perishable Quaternary_:

Etheric Double.
Dense Body.

The dense body is the physical body, the visible, tangible outer form,
composed of various tissues. The etheric double is the ethereal
counterpart of the body, composed of the physical ethers. Prâna is
vitality, the integrating energy that co-ordinates the physical
molecules and holds them together in a definite organism; it is the
life-breath within the organism, the portion of the universal
Life-Breath, appropriated by the organism during the span of existence
that we speak of as "a life". Kâma is the aggregate of appetites,
passions, and emotions, common to man and brute. Manas is the Thinker
in us, the Intelligence. Buddhi is the vehicle wherein Atmâ, the
Spirit, dwells, and in which alone it can manifest.

Now the link between the Immortal Triad and the Perishable Quaternary
is Manas, which is dual during earth life, or incarnation, and
functions as Higher Manas and Lower Manas. Higher Manas sends out a
Ray, Lower Manas, which works in and through the human brain,
functioning there as brain-consciousness, as the ratiocinating
intelligence. This mingles with Kâma, the passional nature, the
passions and emotions thus becoming a part of Mind, as defined in
Western Psychology. And so we have the link formed between the higher
and lower natures in man, this Kâma-Manas belonging to the higher by
its mânasic, and to the lower by its kâmic, elements. As this forms
the battleground during life, so does it play an important part in
post-mortem existence. We might now classify our seven principles a
little differently, having in view this mingling in Kâma-Manas of
perishable and imperishable elements:

                          { Atmâ.
      _Immortal_.         { Buddhi.
                          { Higher-Manas.

_Conditionally Immortal_. Kâma-Manas.

                          { Prâna.
      _Mortal_.           { Etheric Double.
                          { Dense Body.

Some Christian writers have adopted a classification similar to this,
declaring Spirit to be inherently immortal, as being Divine; Soul to
be conditionally immortal, _i.e._, capable of winning immortality by
uniting itself with Spirit; Body to be inherently mortal. The majority
of uninstructed Christians chop man into two, the Body that perishes
at Death, and the something--called indifferently Soul or
Spirit--that survives Death. This last classification--if
classification it may be called--is entirely inadequate, if we are to
seek any rational explanation, or even lucid statement, of the
phenomena of post-mortem existence. The tripartite view of man's
nature gives a more reasonable representation of his constitution, but
is inadequate to explain many phenomena. The septenary division alone
gives a reasonable theory consistent with the facts we have to deal
with, and therefore, though it may seem elaborate, the student will do
wisely to make himself familiar with it. If he were studying only the
body, and desired to understand its activities, he would have to
classify its tissues at far greater length and with far more
minuteness than I am using here. He would have to learn the
differences between muscular, nervous, glandular, bony, cartilaginous,
epithelial, connective, tissues, and all their varieties; and if he
rebelled, in his ignorance, against such an elaborate division, it
would be explained to him that only by such an analysis of the
different components of the body can the varied and complicated
phenomena of life-activity be understood. One kind of tissue is wanted
for support, another for movement, another for secretion, another for
absorption, and so on; and if each kind does not have its own
distinctive name, dire confusion and misunderstanding must result, and
physical functions remain unintelligible. In the long run time is
gained, as well as clearness, by learning a few necessary technical
terms, and as clearness is above all things needed in trying to
explain and to understand very complicated post-mortem phenomena, I
find myself compelled--contrary to my habit in these elementary
papers--to resort to these technical names at the outset, for the
English language has as yet no equivalents for them, and the use of
long descriptive phrases is extremely cumbersome and inconvenient.

For myself, I believe that very much of the antagonism between the
adherents of the Esoteric Philosophy and those of Spiritualism has
arisen from confusion of terms, and consequent misunderstanding of
each others meaning. One eminent Spiritualist lately impatiently said
that he did not see the need of exact definition, and that he meant by
Spirit all the part of man's nature that survived Death, and was not
body. One might as well insist on saying that man's body consists of
bone and blood, and asked to define blood, answer: "Oh! I mean
everything that is not bone." A clear definition of terms, and a rigid
adherence to them when once adopted, will at least enable us all to
understand each other, and that is the first step to any fruitful
comparison of experiences.


The human body is constantly undergoing a process of decay and of
reconstruction. First builded into the etheric form in the womb of the
mother, it is built up continually by the insetting of fresh
materials. With every moment tiny molecules are passing away from it;
with every moment tiny molecules are streaming into it. The outgoing
stream is scattered over the environment, and helps to rebuild bodies
of all kinds in the mineral, vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms,
the physical basis of all these being one and the same.

    The idea that the human tabernacle is built by countless
    _lives_, just in the same way as the rocky crust of our Earth
    was, has nothing repulsive in it for the true mystic....
    Science teaches us that the living as well as the dead
    organism of both man and animal are swarming with bacteria of
    a hundred various kinds; that from without we are threatened
    with the invasion of microbes with every breath we draw, and
    from within by leucomaines, robes, ærobes, anærobes, and what
    not. But Science never yet went so far as to assert with the
    Occult Doctrine that our bodies, as well as those of animals,
    plants, and stones, are themselves altogether built up of
    such beings, which, except larger species, no microscope can
    detect. So far as regards the purely animal and material
    portion of man, Science is on its way to discoveries that
    will go far towards corroborating this theory. Chemistry and
    physiology are the two great magicians of the future, who are
    destined to open the eyes of mankind to the great physical
    truths. With every day, the identity between the animal and
    physical man, between the plant and man, and even between the
    reptile and its nest, the rock, and man, is more and more
    clearly shown. The physical and chemical constituents of all
    being found to be identical, chemical Science may well say
    that there is no difference between the matter which composes
    the ox and that which forms man. But the Occult Doctrine is
    far more explicit. It says: Not only the chemical compounds
    are the same, but the same infinitesimal _invisible lives_
    compose the atoms of the bodies of the mountain and the
    daisy, of man and the ant, of the elephant, and of the tree
    which shelters him from the sun. Each particle--whether you
    call it organic or inorganic--_is a life_.[6]

These "lives" which, separate and independent, are the minute vehicles
of Prâna, aggregated together form the molecules and cells of the
physical body, and they stream in and stream out, during all the years
of bodily life, thus forming a continual bridge between man and his
environment. Controlling these are the "Fiery Lives," the Devourers,
which constrain these to their work of building up the cells of the
body, so that they work harmoniously and in order, subordinated to the
higher manifestation of life in the complex organism called Man. These
Fiery Lives on our plane correspond, in this controlling and
organising function, with the One Life of the Universe,[7] and when
they no longer exercise this function in the human body, the lower
lives run rampant, and begin to break down the hitherto definitely
organised body. During bodily life they are marshalled as an army;
marching in regular order under the command of a general, performing
various evolutions, keeping step, moving as a single body. At "Death"
they become a disorganised and tumultuous mob, rushing hither and
thither, jostling each other, tumbling over each other, with no common
object, no generally recognised authority. The body is never more
alive than when it is dead; but it is alive in its units, and dead in
its totality; alive as a congeries, dead as an organism.

    Science regards man as an aggregation of atoms temporarily
    united by a mysterious force called the life-principle. To
    the Materialist, the only difference between a living and a
    dead body is that in the one case that force is active, in
    the other latent. When it is extinct or entirely latent, the
    molecules obey a superior attraction, which draws them
    asunder and scatters them through space. This dispersion must
    be Death, if it is possible to conceive such a thing as
    Death, where the very molecules of the dead body manifest an
    intense vital energy.... Says Eliphas Levi: "Change attests
    movement, and movement only reveals life. The corpse would
    not decompose if it were dead; all the molecules which
    compose it are living and struggle to separate."[8]

Those who have read _The Seven Principles of Man_,[9] know that the
etheric double is the vehicle of Prâna, the life-principle, or
vitality. Through the etheric double Prâna exercises the controlling
and co-ordinating force spoken of above, and "Death" takes triumphant
possession of the body when the etheric double is finally withdrawn
and the delicate cord which unites it with the body is snapped. The
process of withdrawal has been watched by clairvoyants, and definitely
described. Thus Andrew Jackson Davis, "the Poughkeepsie Seer",
describes how he himself watched this escape of the ethereal body, and
he states that the magnetic cord did not break for some thirty-six
hours after apparent death. Others have described, in similar terms,
how they saw a faint violet mist rise from the dying body, gradually
condensing into a figure which was the counterpart of the expiring
person, and attached to that person by a glistening thread. The
snapping of the thread means the breaking of the last magnetic link
between the dense body and the remaining principles of the human
constitution; the body has dropped away from the man; he is
excarnated, disembodied; six principles still remain as his
constitution immediately after death, the seventh, or the dense body,
being left as a cast-off garment.

Death consists, indeed, in a repeated process of unrobing, or
unsheathing. The immortal part of man shakes off from itself, one
after the other, its outer casings, and--as the snake from its skin,
the butterfly from its chrysalis--emerges from one after another,
passing into a higher state of consciousness. Now it is the fact that
this escape from the body, and this dwelling of the conscious entity
either in the vehicle called the body of desire, the kâmic or astral
body, or in a yet more ethereal Thought Body, can be effected during
earth-life; so that man may become familiar with the excarnated
condition, and it may lose for him all the terrors that encircle the
unknown. He can know himself as a conscious entity in either of these
vehicles, and so prove to his own satisfaction that "life" does not
depend on his functioning through the physical body. Why should a man
who has thus repeatedly "shed" his lower bodies, and has found the
process result, not in unconsciousness, but in a vastly extended
freedom and vividness of life--why should he fear the final casting
away of his fetters, and the freeing of his Immortal Self from what he
realises as the prison of the flesh?

This view of human life is an essential part of the Esoteric
Philosophy. Man is primarily divine, a spark of the Divine Life. This
living flame, passing out from the Central Fire, weaves for itself
coverings within which it dwells, and thus becomes the Triad, the
Atmâ-Buddhi-Manas, the reflection of the Immortal Self. This sends out
its Ray, which becomes encased in grosser matter, in the desire body,
or kâmic elements, the passional nature, and in the etheric double and
the physical body. The once free immortal Intelligence thus entangled,
enswathed, enchained, works heavily and laboriously through the
coatings that enwrap it. In its own nature it remains ever the free
Bird of Heaven, but its wings are bound to its side by the matter into
which it is plunged. When man recognises his own inherent nature, he
learns to open his prison doors occasionally and escapes from his
encircling gaol; first he learns to identify himself with the
Immortal Triad, and rises above the body and its passions into a pure
mental and moral life; then he learns that the conquered body cannot
hold him prisoner, and he unlocks its door and steps out into the
sunshine of his true life. So when Death unlocks the door for him, he
knows the country into which he emerges, having trodden its ways at
his own will. And at last he grows to recognise that fact of supreme
importance, that "Life" has nothing to do with body and with this
material plane; that Life is his conscious existence, unbroken,
unbreakable, and that the brief interludes in that Life, during which
he sojourns on Earth, are but a minute fraction of his conscious
existence, and a fraction, moreover, during which he is less alive,
because of the heavy coverings which weigh him down. For only during
these interludes (save in exceptional cases) may he wholly lose his
consciousness of continued life, being surrounded by these coverings
which delude him and blind him to the truth of things, making that
real which is illusion, and that stable which is transitory. The
sunlight ranges over the universe, and at incarnation we step out of
it into the twilight of the body, and see but dimly during the period
of our incarceration; at Death we step out of the prison again into
the sunlight, and are nearer to the reality. Short are the twilight
periods, and long the periods of the sunlight; but in our blinded
state we call the twilight life, and to us it is the real existence,
while we call the sunlight Death, and shiver at the thought of passing
into it. Well did Giordano Bruno, one of the greatest teachers of our
Philosophy in the Middle Ages, state the truth as to the body and Man.
Of the real Man he says:

    He will be present in the body in such wise that the best
    part of himself will be absent from it, and will join himself
    by an indissoluble sacrament to divine things, in such a way
    that he will not feel either love or hatred of things mortal.
    Considering himself as master, and that he ought not to be
    servant and slave to his body, which he would regard only as
    the prison which holds his liberty in confinement, the glue
    which smears his wings, chains which bind fast his hands,
    stocks which fix his feet, veil which hides his view. Let him
    not be servant, captive, ensnared, chained, idle, stolid, and
    blind, for the body which he himself abandons cannot
    tyrannise over him, so that thus the spirit in a certain
    degree comes before him as the corporeal world, and matter is
    subject to the divinity and to nature.[10]

When once we thus come to regard the body, and by conquering it we
gain our liberty, Death loses for us all his terrors, and at his touch
the body slips from us as a garment, and we stand out from it erect
and free.

On the same lines of thought Dr. Franz Hartmann writes:

    According to certain views of the West man is a developed
    ape. According to the views of Indian Sages, which also
    coincide with those of the Philosophers of past ages and with
    the teachings of the Christian Mystics, man is a God, who is
    united during his earthly life, through his own carnal
    tendencies, to an animal (his animal nature). The God who
    dwells within him endows man with wisdom. The animal endows
    him with force. After death, _the God effects his own release
    from the man_ by departing from the animal body. As man
    carries within him this divine consciousness, it is his task
    to battle with his animal inclinations, and to raise himself
    above them, by the help of the divine principle, a task which
    the animal cannot achieve, and which therefore is not
    demanded of it.[11]

The "man", using the word in the sense of personality, as it is used
in the latter half of this sentence, is only conditionally immortal;
the true man, the evolving God, releases himself, and so much of the
personality goes with him as has raised itself into union with the

The body thus left to the rioting of the countless lives--previously
held in constraint by Prâna, acting through its vehicle the etheric
double--begins to decay, that is to break up, and with the
disintegration of its cells and molecules, its particles pass away
into other combinations.

On our return to Earth we may meet again some of those same countless
lives that in a previous incarnation made of our then body their
passing dwelling; but all that we are just now concerned with is the
breaking up of the body whose life-span is over, and its fate is
complete disintegration. To the dense body, then, Death means
dissolution as an organism, the loosing of the bonds that united the
many into one.


The etheric double is the ethereal counterpart of the gross body of
man. It is the double that is sometimes seen during life in the
neighbourhood of the body, and its absence from the body is generally
marked by the heaviness or semi-lethargy of the latter. Acting as the
reservoir, or vehicle, of the life-principle during earth-life, its
withdrawal from the body is naturally marked by the lowering of all
vital functions, even while the cord which unites the two is still
unbroken. As has been already said, the snapping of the cord means the
death of the body.

When the etheric double finally quits the body, it does not travel to
any distance from it. Normally it remains floating over the body, the
state of consciousness being dreamy and peaceful, unless tumultuous
distress and violent emotion surround the corpse from which it has
just issued. And here it may be well to say that during the slow
process of dying, while the etheric double is withdrawing from the
body, taking with it the higher principles, as after it has withdrawn,
extreme quiet and self-control should be observed in the chamber of
Death. For during this time the whole life passes swiftly in review
before the Ego, the individual, as those have related who have passed
in drowning into this unconscious and pulseless state. A Master has

    _At the last moment the whole life is reflected in our
    memory, and emerges from all the forgotten nooks and corners,
    picture after picture, one event after another.... The man
    may often appear dead, yet from the last pulsation, from and
    between the last throbbing of his heart and the moment when
    the last spark of animal heat leaves the body_, the brain
    thinks, _and the Ego lives over in those few brief seconds
    his whole life. Speak in whispers, ye who assist at a
    deathbed, and find yourselves in the solemn presence of
    death. Especially have ye to keep quiet just after death has
    laid her clammy hand upon the body. Speak in whispers, I say,
    lest ye disturb the quiet ripple of thought, and hinder the
    busy work of the past, casting its reflection upon the veil
    of the future._[12]

This is the time during which the thought-images of the ended
earth-life, clustering around their maker, group and interweave
themselves into the completed image of that life, and are impressed in
their totality on the Astral Light. The dominant tendencies, the
strongest thought-habits, assert their pre-eminence, and stamp
themselves as the characteristics which will appear as "innate
qualities" in the succeeding incarnation. This balancing-up of the
life-issues, this reading of the kârmic records, is too solemn and
momentous a thing to be disturbed by the ill-timed wailings of
personal relatives and friends.

    At the solemn moment of death every man, even when death is
    sudden, sees the whole of his past life marshalled before
    him, in its minutest details. For one short instant the
    _personal_ become one with the _individual_ and all-knowing
    Ego. But this instant is enough to show to him the whole
    chain of causes which have been at work during his life. He
    sees and now understands himself as he is, unadorned by
    flattery or self-deception. He reads his life, remaining as a
    spectator, looking down into the arena he is quitting.[13]

This vivid sight is succeeded, in the ordinary person, by the dreamy,
peaceful semi-consciousness spoken of above, as the etheric double
floats above the body to which it has belonged, now completely
separated from it.

Sometimes this double is seen by persons in the house, or in the
neighbourhood, when the thought of the dying has been strongly turned
to some one left behind, when some anxiety has been in the mind at the
last, something left undone which needed doing, or when some local
disturbance has shaken the tranquillity of the passing entity. Under
these conditions, or others of a similar nature, the double may be
seen or heard; when seen, it shows the dreamy, hazy consciousness
alluded to, is silent, vague in its aspect, unresponsive.

As the days go on, the five higher principles gradually disengage
themselves from the etheric double, and shake this off as they
previously shook off the grosser body. They pass on, as a fivefold
entity, into a state to be next studied, leaving the etheric double,
with the dense body of which it is the counterpart, thus becoming an
ethereal corpse, as much as the body had become a dense corpse. This
ethereal corpse remains near the dense one, and they disintegrate
together; clairvoyants see these ethereal wraiths in churchyards,
sometimes showing likeness to the dead dense body, sometimes as violet
mists or lights. Such an ethereal corpse has been seen by a friend of
my own, passing through the horribly repulsive stages of
decomposition, a ghastly vision in face of which clairvoyance was
certainly no blessing. The process goes on _pari passu_, until all but
the actual bony skeleton of the dense body is completely
disintegrated, and the particles have gone to form other combinations.

One of the great advantages of cremation--apart from all sanitary
conditions--lies in the swift restoration to Mother Nature of the
physical elements composing the dense and ethereal corpses, brought
about by the burning. Instead of slow and gradual decomposition, swift
dissociation takes place, and no physical remnants are left, working
possible mischief.

The ethereal corpse may to some extent be revivified for a short
period after its death. Dr. Hartmann says:

    The fresh corpse of a person who has suddenly been killed may
    be galvanised into a semblance of life by the application of
    a galvanic battery. Likewise the astral corpse of a person
    may be brought back into an artificial life by being infused
    with a part of the life principle of the medium. If that
    corpse is one of a very intellectual person, it may talk
    very intellectually; and if it was that of a fool it will
    talk like a fool.[14]

This mischievous procedure can only be carried out in the
neighbourhood of the corpse, and for a very limited time after death,
but there are cases on record of such galvanising of the ethereal
corpse, performed at the grave of the departed person. Needless to say
that such a process belongs distinctly to "Black" Magic, and is wholly
evil. Ethereal corpses, like dense ones, if not swiftly destroyed by
burning, should be left in the silence and the darkness, a silence and
a darkness that it is the worst profanity to break.


Loka is a Sanskrit word that may be translated as place, world, land,
so that Kâmaloka is literally the place or the world of Kâma, Kâma
being the name of that part of the human organism that includes all
the passions, desires, and emotions which man has in common with the
lower animals.[15] In this division of the universe, the Kâmaloka,
dwell all the human entities that have shaken off the dense body and
its ethereal double, but have not yet disentangled themselves from the
passional and emotional nature. Kâmaloka has many other tenants, but
we are concerned only with the human beings who have lately passed
through the gateway of Death, and it is on these that we must
concentrate our study.

A momentary digression may be pardoned on the question of the
existence of regions in the universe, other than the physical,
peopled with intelligent beings. The existence of such regions is
postulated by the Esoteric Philosophy, and is known to the Adepts and
to very many less highly evolved men and women by personal experience;
all that is needed for the study of these regions is the evolution of
the faculties latent in every man; a "living" man, in ordinary
parlance, can leave his dense and ethereal bodies behind him, and
explore these regions without going through Death's gateway. Thus we
read in the _Theosophist_ that real knowledge may be acquired by the
Spirit in the living man coming into conscious relations with the
world of Spirit.

    As in the case, say, of an initiated Adept, who brings back
    upon earth with him the clear and distinct
    recollection--correct to a detail--of facts gathered, and the
    information obtained, in the invisible sphere of

In this way those regions become to him matters of knowledge as
definite, as certain, as familiar, as if he should travel to Africa in
ordinary fashion, explore its deserts, and return to his own land the
richer for the knowledge and experience gained. A seasoned African
explorer would care but little for the criticisms passed on his report
by persons who had never been thither; he might tell what he saw,
describe the animals whose habits he had studied, sketch the country
he had traversed, sum up its products and its characteristics. If he
was contradicted, laughed at, set right, by untravelled critics, he
would be neither ruffled nor distressed, but would merely leave them
alone. Ignorance cannot convince knowledge by repeated asseveration
of its nescience. The opinion of a hundred persons on a subject on
which they are wholly ignorant is of no more weight than the opinion
of one such person. Evidence is strengthened by many consenting
witnesses, testifying each to his knowledge of a fact, but nothing
multiplied a thousand times remains nothing. Strange, indeed, would it
be if all the Space around us be empty, mere waste void, and the
inhabitants of earth the only forms in which intelligence could clothe
itself. As Dr. Huxley said:

    Without stepping beyond the analogy of that which is known,
    it is easy to people the cosmos with entities, in ascending
    scale, until we reach something practically indistinguishable
    from omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.[17]

If these entities did not have organs of sense like our own, if their
senses responded to vibrations different from those which affect ours,
they and we might walk side by side, pass each other, meet each other,
pass through each other, and yet be never the wiser as to each other's
existence. Mr. Crookes gives us a glimpse of the possibility of such
unconscious co-existence of intelligent beings, and but a very slight
effort of imagination is needed to realise the conception.

    It is not improbable that other sentient beings have organs
    of sense which do not respond to some or any of the rays to
    which our eyes are sensitive, but are able to appreciate
    other vibrations to which we are blind. Such beings would
    practically be living in a different world to our own.
    Imagine, for instance, what idea we should form of
    surrounding objects were we endowed with eyes not sensitive
    to the ordinary rays of light, but sensitive to the
    vibrations concerned in electric and magnetic phenomena.
    Glass and crystal would be among the most opaque of bodies.
    Metals would be more or less transparent, and a telegraph
    wire through the air would look like a long narrow hole
    drilled through an impervious solid body. A dynamo in active
    work would resemble a conflagration, whilst a permanent
    magnet would realise the dream of mediæval mystics, and
    become an everlasting lamp with no expenditure of energy or
    consumption of fuel.[18]

Kâmaloka is a region peopled by intelligent and semi-intelligent
entities, just as our own is thus peopled; it is crowded, like our
world, with many types and forms of living things, as diverse from
each other as a blade of grass is different from a tiger, a tiger from
a man. It interpenetrates our own world and is interpenetrated by it,
but, as the states of matter in the two worlds differ, they co-exist
without the knowledge of the intelligent beings in either. Only under
abnormal circumstances can consciousness of each other's presence
arise among the inhabitants of the two worlds; by certain peculiar
training a living human being can come into conscious contact with and
control many of the sub-human denizens of Kâmaloka; human beings, who
have quitted earth and in whom the kâmic elements were strong, may
very readily be attracted by the kâmic elements in embodied men, and
by their help become conscious again of the presence of the scenes
they had left; and human beings still embodied may set up methods of
communication with the disembodied, and may, as said, leave their own
bodies for awhile, and become conscious in Kâmaloka by the use of
faculties through which they have accustomed their consciousness to
act. The point which is here to be clearly grasped is the existence
of Kâmaloka as a definite region, inhabited by a large diversity of
entities, among whom are disembodied human beings.

From this necessary digression we return to the particular human being
whose fate, as a type, we may be said to be tracing, and of whose
dense body and etheric double we have already disposed. Let us
contemplate him in the state of very brief duration that follows the
shaking off of these two casings. Says H.P. Blavatsky, after quoting
from Plutarch a description of the man after death:

    Here you have our doctrine, which shows man a _septenary_
    during life; a _quintile_ just after death, in Kâmaloka.[19]

Prâna, the portion of the life-energy appropriated by the man in his
embodied state, having lost its vehicle, the ethereal double, which,
with the physical body, has slipped away from its controlling energy,
must pass back into the great life-reservoir of the universe. As water
enclosed in a glass vessel and plunged into a tank mingles with the
surrounding water if the vessel be broken, so Prâna, as the bodies
drop from it, mingles again with the Life Universal. It is only "just
after death" that man is a quintile, or fivefold in his constitution,
for Prâna, as a distinctively human principle, cannot remain
appropriated when its vehicle disintegrates.

The man now is clothed, but with the Kâma Rûpa, or body of Kâma, the
desire body, a body of astral matter, often termed "fluidic," so
easily does it, during earth-life, take any form impressed upon it
from without or moulded from within. The living man is there, the
immortal Triad, still clad in the last of its terrestrial garments, in
the subtle, sensitive, responsive form which lent it during embodiment
the power to feel, to desire, to enjoy, to suffer, in the physical

    When the man dies, his three lower principles leave him for
    ever; _i.e._, body, life, and the vehicle of the latter, the
    etheric body, or the double of the living man. And then his
    four principles--the central or middle principle (the animal
    soul or Kâma Rûpa, with what it has assimilated from the
    lower Manas) and the higher Triad--find themselves in

This desire body undergoes a marked change soon after death. The
different densities of the astral matter of which it is composed
arrange themselves in a series of shells or envelopes, the densest
being outside, shutting the consciousness away from all but very
limited contact and expression. The consciousness turns in on itself,
if left undisturbed, and prepares itself for the next step onwards,
while the desire body gradually disintegrates, shell after shell.

Up to the point of this re-arrangement of the matter of the desire
body, the post-mortem experience of all is much the same; it is a
"dreamy, peaceful semi-consciousness," as before said, and this, in
the happiest cases, passes without vivid awakening into the deeper
"pre-devachanic unconsciousness" which ends with the blissful wakening
in Devachan, for the period of repose that intervenes between two
incarnations. But as, at this point, different possibilities arise,
let us trace a normal uninterrupted progression in Kâmaloka, up to the
threshold of Devachan, and then we can return to consider other
classes of circumstances.

If a person has led a pure life, and has steadfastly striven to rise
and to identify himself with the higher rather than the lower parts of
his nature, after shaking off the dense body and the etheric double,
and after Prâna has re-mingled with the ocean of Life, and he is
clothed only with the Kâma Rûpa, the passional elements in him, being
but weak and accustomed to comparatively little activity, will not be
able to assert themselves strongly in Kâmaloka. Now during earth-life
Kâma and the Lower Manas are strongly united and interwoven with each
other; in the case we are considering Kâma is weak, and the Lower
Manas has purified Kâma to a great extent. The mind, woven with the
passions, emotions, and desires, has purified them, and has
assimilated their pure part, absorbed it into itself, so that all that
is left of Kâma is a mere residue, easily to be gotten rid of, from
which the Immortal Triad can readily free itself. Slowly this Immortal
Triad, the true Man, draws in all his forces; he draws into himself
the memories of the earth-life just ended, its loves, its hopes, its
aspirations, and prepares to pass out of Kâmaloka into the blissful
rest of Devachan, the "abode of the Gods", or as some say, "the land
of bliss". Kâmaloka

    Is an astral locality, the Limbus of scholastic theology, the
    Hades of the ancients, and, strictly speaking, a _locality_
    only in a relative sense. It has neither a definite area, nor
    boundary, but exists _within_ subjective space, _i.e._, is
    beyond our sensuous perceptions. Still it exists, and it is
    there that the astral _eidolons_ of all the beings that have
    lived, animals included, await their _second death_. For the
    animals it comes with the disintegration and the entire
    fading out of their astral particles to the last. For the
    human _eidolon_ it begins when the Atmâ-Buddhi-Mânasic Triad
    is said to "separate" itself from its lower principles or the
    reflection of the ex-personality, by falling into the
    Devachanic state.[21]

This second death is the passage, then, of the Immortal Triad from the
kâmalokic sphere, so closely related to the earth sphere, into the
higher state of Devachan, of which we must speak later. The type of
man we are considering passes through this, in the peaceful dreamy
state already described, and, if left undisturbed, will not regain
full consciousness until these stages are passed through, and peace
gives way to bliss.

But during the whole period that the four principles--the Immortal
Triad and Kâma--remain in Kâmaloka, whether the period be long or
short, days or centuries, they are within the reach of the
earth-influences. In the case of such a person as we have been
describing, an awakening may be caused by the passionate sorrow and
desires of friends left on earth, and these violently vibrating kâmic
elements in the embodied persons may set up vibrations in the desire
body of the disembodied, and so reach and rouse the lower Manas, not
yet withdrawn to and reunited with its parent, the Spiritual
Intelligence. Thus it may be roused from its dreamy state to vivid
remembrance of the earth-life so lately left, and may--if any
sensitive or medium is concerned, either directly, or indirectly
through one of these grieving friends in communication with the
medium--use the medium's etheric and dense bodies to speak or write to
those left behind. This awakening is often accompanied with acute
suffering, and even if this be avoided, the natural process of the
Triad freeing itself is rudely disturbed, and the completion of its
freedom is delayed. In speaking of this possibility of communication
during the period immediately succeeding death and before the freed
Man passes on into Devachan, H.P. Blavatsky says:

    Whether any living mortal, save a few exceptional cases--when
    the intensity of the desire in the dying person to return for
    some purpose forced the higher consciousness _to remain
    awake_, and, therefore, it was really the _individuality_,
    the "Spirit", that communicated--has derived much benefit
    from the return of the Spirit into the _objective_ plane is
    another question. The Spirit is dazed after death, and falls
    very soon into what we call "pre-devachanic

Intense desire may move the disembodied entity to spontaneously return
to the sorrowing ones left behind, but this spontaneous return is rare
in the case of persons of the type we are just now considering. If
they are left at peace, they will generally sleep themselves quietly
into Devachan, and so avoid any struggle or suffering in connection
with the second death. On the final escape of the Immortal Triad there
is left behind in Kâmaloka only the desire body, the "shell" or mere
empty phantom, which gradually disintegrates; but it will be better to
deal with this in considering the next type, the average man or woman,
without marked spirituality of an elevated kind, but also without
marked evil tendencies.

When an average man or woman reaches Kâmaloka, the spiritual
Intelligence is clothed with a desire body, which possesses
considerable vigour and vitality; the lower Manas, closely interwoven
with Kâma during the earth-life just ended, having lived much in the
enjoyment of objects of sense and in the pleasures of the emotions,
cannot quickly disentangle itself from the web of its own weaving, and
return to its Parent Mind, the source of its own being. Hence a
considerable delay in the world of transition, in Kâmaloka, while the
desires wear out and fade away to a point at which they can no longer
detain the Soul with their clinging arms.

As said, during the period that the Immortal Triad and Kâma remain
together in Kâmaloka, communication between the disembodied entity and
the embodied entities on earth is possible. Such communication will
generally be welcomed by these disembodied ones, because their desires
and emotions still cling to the earth they have left, and the mind has
not sufficiently lived on its own plane to find therein full
satisfaction and contentment. The lower Manas still yearns towards
kâmic gratifications and the vivid highly coloured sensations of
earth-life, and can by these yearnings be drawn back to the scenes it
has regretfully quitted. Speaking of the possibility of communication
between the Ego of the deceased person and a medium, H.P. Blavatsky
says in the _Theosophist_,[23] as from the teachings received by her
from the Adept Brothers, that such communication may occur during two

    Interval the first is that period between the physical death
    and the merging of the spiritual Ego into that state which is
    known in the Arhat esoteric doctrine as Bar-do. We have
    translated this as the "gestation" period [pre-devachanic].

Some of the communications made through mediums are from this source,
from the disembodied entity, thus drawn back to the earth-sphere--a
cruel kindness, delaying its forward evolution and introducing an
element of disharmony into what should be an orderly progression. The
period in Kâmaloka is thus lengthened, the desire body is fed and its
hold on the Ego is maintained, and thus is the freedom of the Soul
deferred, the immortal Swallow being still held down by the bird-lime
of earth.

Persons who have led an evil life, who have gratified and stimulated
their animal passions, and have full fed the desire body while they
have starved even the lower mind--these remain for long, denizens of
Kâmaloka, and are filled with yearnings for the earth-life they have
left, and for the animal delights that they can no longer--in the
absence of the physical body--directly taste. These gather round the
medium and the sensitive, endeavouring to utilise them for their own
gratification, and these are among the more dangerous of the forces so
rashly confronted in their ignorance by the thoughtless and the

Another class of disembodied entities includes those whose lives on
earth have been prematurely cut short, by their own act, the act of
others, or by accident. Their fate in Kâmaloka depends on the
conditions which surrounded their outgoings from earthly life, for not
all suicides are guilty of _felo de se_, and the measure of
responsibility may vary within very wide limits. The condition of such
has been thus described:

    _Suicides, although not wholly dissevered from their sixth
    and seventh principles, and quite potent in the séance room,
    nevertheless to the day when they would have died a natural
    death, are separated from their higher principles by a gulf.
    The sixth and seventh principles remain passive and negative,
    whereas in cases of_ accidental death _the higher and the
    lower groups actually attract each other. In cases of good
    and innocent Egos, moreover, the latter gravitates
    irresistibly toward the sixth and seventh, and thus either
    slumbers surrounded by happy dreams, or sleeps a dreamless
    profound sleep until the hour strikes. With a little
    reflection and an eye to the eternal justice and fitness of
    things, you will see why. The victim, whether good or bad, is
    irresponsible for his death. Even if his death were due to
    some action in a previous life or an antecedent birth, was an
    act, in short, of the Law of Retribution, still it was not
    the_ direct _result of an act deliberately committed by the_
    personal _Ego of that life during which he happened to be
    killed. Had he been allowed to live longer he might have
    atoned for his antecedent sins still more effectually, and
    even now, the Ego having been made to pay off the debt of his
    maker, the personal Ego is free from the blows of retributive
    justice. The Dhyân Chohans, who have no hand in the guidance
    of the living human Ego, protect the helpless victim when it
    is violently thrust out of its element into a new one, before
    it is matured and made fit and ready for it._

These, whether suicides or killed by accident, can communicate with
those in earth-life, but much to their own injury. As said above, the
good and innocent sleep happily till the life-period is over. But
where the victim of an accident is depraved and gross, his fate is a
sad one.

    _Unhappy shades, if sinful and sensual, they wander about
    (not shells, for their connection with their two higher
    principles is not quite broken) until their_ death-_hour
    comes. Cut off in the full flush of earthly passions which
    bind them to familiar scenes, they are enticed by the
    opportunities which mediums afford to gratify them
    vicariously. They are the Pishâchas, the Incubi and Succubæ
    of mediæval times; the demons of thirst, gluttony, lust, and
    avarice--Elementaries of intensified craft, wickedness, and
    cruelty; provoking their victims to horrid crimes, and
    revelling in their commission! They not only ruin their
    victims, but these psychic vampires, borne along by the
    torrent of their hellish impulses, at last--at the fixed
    close of their natural period of life--they are carried out
    of the earth's aura into regions where for ages they endure
    exquisite suffering and end with entire destruction.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Now the causes producing the "new being" and determining the
    nature of Karma are Trishnâ (Tanhâ)--thirst, desire for
    sentient existence--and Upâdâna, which is the realisation or
    consummation of Trishnâ, or that desire. And both of these
    the medium helps to develop_ ne plus ultra _in an Elementary,
    be he a suicide or a victim. The rule is that a person who
    dies a natural death will remain from "a few hours to several
    short years" within the earth's attraction--_i.e._, the
    Kâmaloka. But exceptions are the cases of suicides and those
    who die a violent death in general. Hence, one of such Egos
    who was destined to live, say, eighty or ninety years--but
    who either killed himself or was killed by some accident, let
    us suppose at the age of twenty--would have to pass in the
    Kâmaloka not "a few years," but in his case sixty or seventy
    years, as an Elementary, or rather an "earth-walker," since
    he is not, unfortunately for him, even a "Shell." Happy,
    thrice happy, in comparison, are those disembodied entities
    who sleep their long slumber and live in dream in the bosom
    of Space! And woe to those whose Trishnâ will attract them to
    mediums, and woe to the latter who tempt them with such an
    easy Upâdâna. For, in grasping them and satisfying their
    thirst for life, the medium helps to develop in them--is, in
    fact, the cause of--a new set of Skandhas, a new body with
    far worse tendencies and passions than the one they lost. All
    the future of this new body will be determined thus, not only
    by the Karma of demerit of the previous set or group, but
    also by that of the new set of the future being. Were the
    mediums and spiritualists but to know, as I said, that with
    every new "angel-guide" they welcome with rapture, they
    entice the latter into a Upâdâna, which will be productive of
    untold evils for the new Ego that will be reborn under its
    nefarious shadow, and that with every séance, especially for
    materialization, they multiply the causes for misery, causes
    that will make the unfortunate Ego fail in his spiritual
    birth, or be reborn into a far worse existence than
    ever--they would, perhaps, be less lavish in their

Premature death brought on by vicious courses, by over-study, or by
voluntary sacrifice for some great cause, will bring about delay in
Kâmaloka, but the state of the disembodied entity will depend on the
motive that cut short the life.

    _There are very few, if any, of the men who indulge in these
    vices, who feel perfectly sure that such a course of action
    will lead them eventually to premature death. Such is the
    penalty of Mâyâ. The "vices" will not escape their
    punishment; but it is the_ cause, _not the effect, that will
    be punished, especially an unforeseen, though probable
    effect. As well call a man a "suicide" who meets his death in
    a storm at sea, as one who kills himself with "over-study".
    Water is liable to drown a man, and too much brain work to
    produce a softening of the brain matter which may carry him
    away. In such a case no one ought to cross the_ Kâlapâni,
    _nor even to take a bath for fear of getting faint in it and
    drowned (for we all know of such cases), nor should a man do
    his duty, least of all sacrifice himself for even a laudable
    and highly beneficial cause as many of us do. Motive is
    everything, and man is punished in a case of direct
    responsibility, never otherwise. In the victim's case the
    natural hour of death was anticipated_ accidentally, _while
    in that of the suicide death is brought on voluntarily and
    with a full and deliberate knowledge of its immediate
    consequences. Thus a man who causes his death in a fit of
    temporary insanity is_ not _a_ felo de se, _to the great
    grief and often trouble of the Life Insurance Companies. Nor
    is he left a prey to the temptations of the Kâmaloka, but
    falls_ asleep _like any other victim._

The population of Kâmaloka is thus recruited with a peculiarly
dangerous element by all the acts of violence, legal and illegal,
which wrench the physical body from the soul and send the latter into
Kâmaloka clad in the desire body, throbbing with pulses of hatred,
passion, emotion, palpitating with longings for revenge, with
unsatiated lusts. A murderer in the body is not a pleasant member of
society, but a murderer suddenly expelled from the body is a far more
dangerous entity; society may protect itself against the first, but in
its present state of ignorance it is defenceless as against the

Finally, the Immortal Triad sets itself free from the desire body, and
passes out of Kâmaloka; the Higher Manas draws back its Ray, coloured
with the life-scenes it has passed through, and carrying with it the
experiences gained through the personality it has informed. The
labourer is called in from the field, and he returns home bearing his
sheaves with him, rich or poor, according to the fruitage of the life.
When the Triad has quitted Kâmaloka, it passes wholly out of the
sphere of earth attractions:

    _As soon as it has stepped outside the Kâmaloka--crossed the
    "Golden Bridge" leading to the "Seven Golden Mountains"--the
    Ego can confabulate no more with easy-going mediums._

There are some exceptional possibilities of reaching such an Ego, 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. But ere
we follow the further course of the Triad, we must consider the fate
of the now deserted desire body, left as a mere _reliquum_ in


The Shell is the desire body, emptied of the Triad, which has now
passed onwards; it is the third of the transitory garments of Soul,
cast aside and left in Kâmaloka to disintegrate.

When the past earth-life has been noble, or even when it has been of
average purity and utility, this Shell retains but little vitality
after the passing onwards of the Triad, and rapidly dissolves. Its
molecules, however, retain, during this process of disintegration, the
impressions made upon them during the earth-life, the tendency to
vibrate in response to stimuli constantly experienced during that
period. Every student of physiology is familiar with what is termed
automatic action, with the tendency of cells to repeat vibrations
originally set up by purposive action; thus are formed what we term
habits, and we unconsciously repeat motions which at first were done
with thought. So strong is this automatism of the body, that, as
everyone knows by experience, it is difficult to break off the use of
a phrase or of a gesture that has become "habitual."

Now the desire body is during earth-life the recipient of and the
respondent to all stimuli from without, and it also continually
receives and responds to stimuli from the lower Manas. In it are set
up habits, tendencies to repeat automatically familiar vibrations,
vibrations of love and desire, vibrations imaging past experiences of
all kinds. Just as the hand may repeat a familiar gesture, so may the
desire body repeat a familiar feeling or thought. And when the Triad
has left it, this automatism remains, and the Shell may thus simulate
feelings and thoughts which are empty of all true intelligence and
will. Many of the responses to eager enquiries at _séances_ come from
such Shells, drawn to the neighbourhood of friends and relatives by
the magnetic attractions so long familiar and dear, and automatically
responding to the waves of emotion and remembrance, to the impulse of
which they had so often answered during the lately closed earth-life.
Phrases of affection, moral platitudes, memories of past events, will
be all the communications such Shells can make, but these may be
literally poured out under favourable conditions under the magnetic
stimuli freely applied by the embodied friends and relatives.

In cases where the lower Manas during earth-life has been strongly
attached to material objects and to intellectual pursuits directed by
a self-seeking motive, the desire body may have acquired a very
considerable automatism of an intellectual character, and may give
forth responses of considerable intellectual merit. But still the mark
of non-originality will be present: the apparent intellectuality will
only give out reproductions, and there will be no sign of the new and
independent thought which would be the inevitable outcome of a strong
intelligence working with originality amid new surroundings.
Intellectual sterility brands the great majority of communications
from the "spirit world"; reflections of earthly scenes, earthly
conditions, earthly arrangements, are plentiful, but we usually seek
in vain for strong, new thought, worthy of Intelligences freed from
the prison of the flesh. The communications of a loftier kind
occasionally granted are, for the most part, from non-human
Intelligences, attracted by the pure atmosphere of the medium or

And there is an ever-present danger in this commerce with the Shells.
Just because they are Shells, and nothing more, they answer to the
impulses that strike on them from without, and easily become malicious
and mischievous, automatically responding to evil vibrations. Thus a
medium, or sitters of poor moral character, will impress the Shells
that flock around them with impulses of a low order, and any animal
desires, petty and foolish thoughts, will set up similar vibrations in
the blindly responsive Shells.

Again, the Shell is very easily taken possession of by Elementals, the
semi-conscious forces working in the kingdoms of Nature, and may be
used by them as a convenient vehicle for many a prank and trick. The
etheric double of the medium, and the desire bodies emptied of their
immortal Tenants, give the material basis by which Elementals can work
many a curious and startling result; and frequenters of _séances_ may
be confidently appealed to, and asked whether many of the childish
freaks with which they are familiar--pullings of hair, pinchings,
slaps, throwing about of objects, piling up of furniture, playing on
accordions, &c.--are not more rationally accounted for as the tricky
vagaries of sub-human forces, than as the actions of "spirits" who,
while in the body, were certainly incapable of such vulgarities.

Let us leave the Shells alone to peacefully dissolve into their
elements, and mingle once again in the crucible of Nature. The authors
of the _Perfect Way_ put very well the real character of the Shell.

    The true "ghost" consists of the exterior and earthly portion
    of the Soul, that portion which, being weighted with cares,
    attachments, and memories merely mundane, is detached by the
    Soul and remains in the astral sphere, an existence more or
    less definite and personal, and capable of holding, through a
    sensitive, converse with the living. It is, however, but as a
    cast-off vestment of the Soul, and is incapable of endurance
    _as ghost_. The true Soul and real person, the _anima
    divina_, parts at death with all those lower affections
    which would have retained it near its earthly haunts.[24]

If we would find our beloved, it is not among the decaying remnants in
Kâmaloka that we should seek them. "Why seek ye the living among the


The word "Elementary" has been so loosely used that it has given rise
to a good deal of confusion. It is thus defined by H.P. Blavatsky:

    Properly, the disembodied _souls_ of the depraved; these
    souls having, at some time prior to death, separated from
    themselves their divine spirits, and so lost their chance for
    immortality. But at the present stage of learning it has been
    thought best to apply the term to the spooks or phantoms of
    disembodied persons, in general to those whose temporary
    habitation is the Kâmaloka.... Once divorced from their
    higher Triads and their bodies, these souls remain in their
    Kâma Rûpic envelopes, and are irresistibly drawn to the earth
    amid elements congenial to their gross natures. Their stay in
    the Kâmaloka varies as to its duration; but ends invariably
    in disintegration, dissolving like a column of mist, atom by
    atom, in the surrounding elements.[25]

Students of this series of Manuals know that it is possible for the
lower Manas to so entangle itself with Kâma as to wrench itself away
from its source, and this is spoken of in Occultism as "the loss of
the Soul."[26] It is, in other words, the loss of the personal self,
which has separated itself from its Parent, the Higher Ego, and has
thus doomed itself to perish. Such a Soul, having thus separated
itself from the Immortal Triad during its earth-life, becomes a true
Elementary, after it has quitted the dense and etheric bodies. Then,
clad in its desire body, it lives for awhile, for a longer or shorter
time according to the vigour of its vitality, a wholly evil thing,
dangerous and malignant, seeking to renew its fading vitality by any
means laid open to it by the folly or ignorance of still embodied
souls. Its ultimate fate is, indeed, destruction, but it may work much
evil on its way to its self-chosen doom.

The word Elementary is, however, very often used to describe the lower
Manas in its garment the desire body, not broken away from the higher
Principles, but not yet absorbed into its Parent, the Higher Manas.
Such Elementaries may be in any stage of progress, harmless or

Some writers, again, use Elementary as a synonym for Shell, and so
cause increased confusion. The word should at least be restricted to
the desire body _plus_ lower Manas, whether that lower Manas be
disentangling itself from the kâmic elements, in order that it may be
re-absorbed into its source, or separated from the Higher Ego, and
therefore on the road to destruction.


Among the various conceptions presented by the Esoteric Philosophy,
there are few, perhaps, which the Western mind has found more
difficulty in grasping than that of Devachan, or Devasthân, the
Devaland, or land of the Gods.[27] And one of the chief difficulties
has arisen from the free use of the words illusion, dream-state, and
other similar terms, as denoting the devachanic consciousness--a
general sense of unreality having thus come to pervade the whole
conception of Devachan. When the Eastern thinker speaks of the present
earthly life as Mâyâ, illusion, dream, the solid Western at once puts
down the phrases as allegorical and fanciful, for what can be less
illusory, he thinks, than this world of buying and selling, of
beefsteaks and bottled stout. But when similar terms are applied to a
state beyond Death--a state which to him is misty and unreal in his
own religion, and which, as he sadly feels, is lacking in all the
substantial comforts dear to the family man--then he accepts the words
in their most literal and prosaic meaning, and speaks of Devachan as a
delusion in his own sense of the word. It may be well, therefore, on
the threshold of Devachan to put this question of "illusion" in its
true light.

In a deep metaphysical sense all that is conditioned is illusory. All
phenomena are literally "appearances", the outer masks in which the
One Reality shows itself forth in our changing universe. The more
"material" and solid the appearance, the further is it from Reality,
and therefore the more illusory it is. What can be a greater fraud
than our body, so apparently solid, stable, visible and tangible? It
is a constantly changing congeries of minute living particles, an
attractive centre into which stream continually myriads of tiny
invisibles, that become visible by their aggregation at this centre,
and then stream away again, becoming invisible by reason of their
minuteness as they separate off from this aggregation. In comparison
with this ever-shifting but apparently stable body how much less
illusory is the mind, which is able to expose the pretensions of the
body and put it in its true light. The mind is constantly imposed on
by the senses, and Consciousness, the most real thing in us, is apt to
regard itself as the unreal. In truth, it is the thought-world that is
the nearest to reality, and things become more and more illusory as
they take on more and more of a phenomenal character.

Again, the mind is permanent as compared with the transitory physical
world. For the "mind" is only a clumsy name for the living Thinker in
us, the true and conscious Entity, the inner Man, "that was, that is,
and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike". The less deeply
this inner Man is plunged into matter, the less unreal is his life;
and when he has shaken off the garments he donned at incarnation, his
physical, ethereal, and passional bodies, then he is nearer to the
Soul of Things than he was before, and though veils of illusion still
dim his vision they are far thinner than those which clouded it when
round him was wrapped the garment of the flesh. His freer and less
illusory life is that which is without the body, and the disembodied
is, comparatively speaking, his normal state. Out of this normal state
he plunges into physical life for brief periods in order that he may
gain experiences otherwise unattainable, and bring them back to enrich
his more abiding condition. As a diver may plunge into the depths of
the ocean to seek a pearl, so the Thinker plunges into the depths of
the ocean of life to seek the pearl of experience; but he does not
stay there long; it is not his own element; he rises up again into his
own atmosphere and shakes off from him the heavier element he leaves.
And therefore it is truly said of the Soul that has escaped from earth
that it has returned to its own place, for its home is the "land of
the Gods", and here on earth it is an exile and a prisoner. This view
was very clearly put by a Master of Wisdom in a conversation reported
by H.P. Blavatsky, and printed under the title "Life and Death."[28]
The following extracts state the case:

    _The Vedântins, acknowledging two kinds of conscious
    existence, the terrestrial and the spiritual, point only to
    the latter as an undoubted actuality. As to the terrestrial
    life, owing to its changeability and shortness, it is nothing
    but an illusion of our senses. Our life in the spiritual
    spheres must be thought an actuality because it is there that
    lives our endless, never-changing immortal I, the Sûtrâtmâ.
    Whereas in every new incarnation it clothes itself in a
    perfectly different personality, a temporary and short-lived
    one.... The very essence of all this, that is to say, spirit,
    force, and matter, has neither end nor beginning, but the
    shape acquired by this triple unity during its incarnations,
    their  exterior, so to speak, is nothing but a mere illusion
    of personal conceptions. This is why we call the posthumous
    life the only reality, and the terrestrial one, including the
    personality itself, only imaginary._

    Why in this case should we call the reality sleep, and the
    phantasm waking?

    _This comparison was made by me to facilitate your
    comprehension. From the standpoint of your terrestrial
    notions it is perfectly accurate._

Note the words: "From the standpoint of your terrestrial notions," for
they are the key to all the phrases used about Devachan as an
"illusion." Our gross physical matter is not there; the limitations
imposed by it are not there; the mind is in its own realm, where to
will is to create, where to think is to see. And so, when the Master
was asked: "Would it not be better to say that death is nothing but a
birth for a new life, or still better, a going back to eternity?" he

    _This is how it really is, and I have nothing to say against
    such a way of putting it. Only with our accepted views of
    material life the words "live" and "exist" are not applicable
    to the purely subjective condition after death; and were they
    employed in our Philosophy without a rigid definition of
    their meanings, the Vedântins would soon arrive at the ideas
    which are common in our times among the American
    Spiritualists, who preach about spirits marrying among
    themselves and with mortals. As amongst the true, not
    nominal, Christians so amongst the Vedântins--the life on the
    other side of the grave is the land where there are no_
    _tears, no sighs, where there is neither marrying nor giving
    in marriage, and where the just realise their full

The dread of materialising mental and spiritual conceptions has always
been very strong among the Philosophers and oral Teachers of the far
East. Their constant effort has been to free the Thinker as far as
possible from the bonds of matter even while he is embodied, to open
the cage for the Divine Swallow, even though he must return to it for
awhile. They are ever seeking "to spiritualise the material", while in
the West the continual tendency has been "to materialise the
spiritual". So the Indian describes the life of the freed Soul in all
the terms that make it least material--illusion, dream, and so
on--whereas the Hebrew endeavours to delineate it in terms descriptive
of the material luxury and splendour of earth--marriage feast, streets
of gold, thrones and crowns of solid metal and precious stones; the
Western has followed the materialising conceptions of the Hebrew, and
pictures a heaven which is merely a double of earth with earth's
sorrows extracted, until we reach the grossest of all, the modern
Summerland, with its "spirit-husbands", "spirit-wives", and
"spirit-infants" that go to school and college, and grow up into

In "Notes on Devachan",[29] someone who evidently writes with knowledge
remarks of the Devachanî:

    _The_ à priori _ideas of space and time do not control his
    perceptions; for he absolutely creates and annihilates them
    at the same time. Physical existence has its cumulative
    intensity from infancy to prime, and its diminishing energy
    from dotage to death; so the dream-life of Devachan is lived
    correspondentially. Nature cheats no more the Devachanî than
    she does the living physical man. Nature provides for him far
    more_ real _bliss and happiness_ there _than she does_ here,
    _where all the conditions of evil and chance are against him.
    To call the Devachan existence a "dream" in any other sense
    than that of a conventional term, is to renounce for ever the
    knowledge of the Esoteric Doctrine, the sole custodian of

"Dream" only in the sense that it is not of this plane of gross
matter, that it belongs not to the physical world.

Let us try and take a general view of the life of the Eternal Pilgrim,
the inner Man, the human Soul, during a cycle of incarnation. Before he
commences his new pilgrimage--for many pilgrimages lie behind him in the
past, during which he gained the powers which enable him to tread the
present one--he is a spiritual Being, but one who has already passed out
of the passive condition of pure Spirit, and who by previous experience
of matter in past ages has evolved intellect, the self-conscious mind.
But this evolution by experience is far from being complete, even so far
as to make him master of matter; his ignorance leaves him a prey to all
the illusions of gross matter, so soon as he comes into contact with it,
and he is not fit to be a builder of a universe, being subject to the
deceptive visions caused by gross matter--as a child, looking through a
piece of blue glass, imagines all the outside world to be blue. The
object of a cycle of incarnation is to free him from these illusions, so
that when he is surrounded by and working in gross matter he may retain
clear vision and not be blinded by illusion. Now the cycle of
incarnation is made up of two alternating states: a short one called
life on earth, during which the Pilgrim-God is plunged into gross
matter, and a comparatively long one, called life in Devachan, during
which he is encircled by subtle matter, illusive still, but far less
illusive than that of earth. The second state may fairly be called his
normal one, as it is of enormous extent as compared with the breaks in
it that he spends upon earth; it is comparatively normal also, as being
less removed from his essential Divine life; he is less encased in
matter, less deluded by its swiftly-changing appearances. Slowly and
gradually, by reiterated experiences, gross matter loses its power over
him and becomes his servant instead of his tyrant. In the partial
freedom of Devachan he assimilates his experiences on earth, still
partly dominated by them--at first, indeed, almost completely dominated
by them so that the devachanic life is merely a sublimated continuation
of the earth-life--but gradually freeing himself more and more as he
recognises them as transitory and external, until he can move through
any region of our universe with unbroken self-consciousness, a true Lord
of Mind, the free and triumphant God. Such is the triumph of the Divine
Nature manifested in the flesh, the subduing of every form of matter to
be the obedient instrument of Spirit. Thus the Master said:

    _The spiritual Ego of the man moves in eternity like a
    pendulum between the hours of life and death, but if these_
    _hours, the periods of life terrestrial and life posthumous,
    are limited in their continuation, and even the very number
    of such breaks in eternity between sleep and waking, between
    illusion and reality, have their beginning as well as their
    end, the spiritual Pilgrim himself is eternal. Therefore the_
    hours of his posthumous life, _when unveiled he stands face
    to face with truth, and the short-lived mirages of his
    terrestrial existence are far from him,_ compose _or make up,
    in our ideas,_ the only reality. _Such breaks, in spite of
    the fact that they are finite, do double service to the
    Sûtrâtmâ, which, perfecting itself constantly, follows
    without vacillation, though very slowly, the road leading to
    its last transformation, when, reaching its aim at last, it
    becomes a Divine Being. They not only contribute to the
    reaching of this goal, but without these finite breaks
    Sûtrâtmâ-Buddhi could never reach it. Sûtrâtmâ is the actor,
    and its numerous and different incarnations are the actor's
    parts. I suppose you would not apply to these parts, and so
    much the less to their costumes, the term of personality.
    Like an actor the soul is bound to play, during the cycle of
    births up to the very threshold of Parinirvâna, many such
    parts, which often are disagreeable to it, but like a bee,
    collecting its honey from every flower, and leaving the rest
    to feed the worms of the earth, our spiritual individuality,
    the Sûtrâtmâ, collecting only the nectar of moral qualities
    and consciousness from every terrestrial personality in which
    it has to clothe itself, forced by Karma, unites at last all
    these qualities in one, having then become a perfect being, a
    Dhyân Chohan._[30]

It is very significant, in this connection, that every devachanic
stage is conditioned by the earth-stage that precedes it, and the Man
can only assimilate in Devachan the kinds of experience he has been
gathering on earth.

    _A colourless, flavourless personality has a colourless,
    feeble Devachanic state._[31]

Husband, father, student, patriot, artist, Christian, Buddhist--he
must work out the effects of his earth-life in his devachanic life; he
cannot eat and assimilate more food than he has gathered; he cannot
reap more harvest than he has sown seed. It takes but a moment to cast
a seed into a furrow; it takes many a month for that seed to grow into
the ripened ear; but according to the kind of the seed is the ear that
grows from it, and according to the nature of the brief earth-life is
the grain reaped in the field of Aanroo.

    _There is a change of occupation, a continual change in
    Devachan, just as much and far more than there is in the life
    of any man or woman who happens to follow in his or her whole
    life one sole occupation, whatever it may be, with this
    difference, that to the Devachanî this spiritual occupation
    is always pleasant and fills his life with rapture. Life in
    Devachan is the function of the aspirations of earth-life;
    not the indefinite prolongation of that "single instant," but
    its infinite developments, the various incidents and events
    based upon and outflowing from that one "single moment" or
    moments. The dreams of the objective become the realities of
    the subjective existence.... The reward provided by Nature
    for men who are benevolent in a large systematic way, and who
    have not focussed their affections on an individual or
    speciality, is that, if pure, they pass the  quicker for
    that through the Kâma and Rûpa Lokas into the higher sphere
    of Tribhuvana, since it is one where the formulation of
    abstract ideas and the consideration of general principles
    fill the thought of its occupant._[32]

Into Devachan enters nothing that defileth, for gross matter has been
left behind with all its attributes on earth and in Kâmaloka. But if
the sower has sowed but little seed, the devachanic harvest will be
meagre, and the growth of the Soul will be delayed by the paucity of
the nutriment on which it has to feed. Hence the enormous importance
of the earth-life, _the field of sowing, the place where experience is
to be gathered_. It conditions, regulates, limits, the growth of the
Soul; it yields the rough ore which the Soul then takes in hand, and
works upon during the devachanic stage, smelting it, forging it,
tempering it, into the weapons it will take back with it for its next
earth-life. The experienced Soul in Devachan will make for itself a
splendid instrument for its next earth-life; the inexperienced one
will forge a poor blade enough; but in each case the only material
available is that brought from earth. In Devachan the Soul, as it
were, sifts and sorts out its experiences; it lives a comparatively
free life, and gradually gains the power to estimate the earthly
experiences at their real value; it works out thoroughly and
completely as objective realities all the ideas of which it only
conceived the germ on earth. Thus, noble aspiration is a germ which
the Soul would work out into a splendid realisation in Devachan, and
it would bring back with it to earth for its next incarnation that
mental image, to be materialised on earth when opportunity offers and
suitable environment presents itself. For the mind sphere is the
sphere of creation, and earth only the place for materialising the
pre-existent thought. And the soul is as an architect that works out
his plans in silence and deep meditation, and then brings them forth
into the outer world where his edifice is to be builded; out of the
knowledge gained in his past life, the Soul draws his plans for the
next, and he returns to earth to put into objective material form the
edifices he has planned. This is the description of a Logos in
creative activity:

    Whilst Brahmâ formerly, in the beginning of the Kalpas, was
    meditating on creation, there appeared a creation beginning
    with ignorance and consisting of darkness.... Brahmâ,
    beholding that it was defective, designed another; and whilst
    he thus meditated, the animal creation was manifested....
    Beholding this creation also imperfect, Brahmâ again
    meditated, and a third creation appeared, abounding with the
    quality of goodness.[33]

The objective manifestation follows the mental meditation; first idea,
then form. Hence it will be seen that the notion current among many
Theosophists that Devachan is waste time, is but one of the illusions
due to the gross matter that blinds them, and that their impatience of
the idea of Devachan arises from the delusion that fussing about in
gross matter is the only real activity. Whereas, in truth, all
effective action has its source in deep meditation, and out of the
Silence comes ever the creative Word. Action on this plane would be
less feeble and inefficient if it were the mere blossom of the
profound root of meditation, and if the Soul embodied passed oftener
out of the body into Devachan during earth-life, there would be less
foolish action and consequent waste of time. For Devachan is a state
of consciousness, the consciousness of the Soul escaped for awhile
from the net of gross matter, and may be entered at any time by one
who has learned to withdraw his Soul from the senses as the tortoise
withdraws itself within its shell. And then, coming forth once more,
action is prompt, direct, purposeful, and the time "wasted" in
meditation is more than saved by the directness and strength of the
mind-engendered act.

Devachan is the sphere of the mind, as said, it is the land of the
Gods, or the Souls. In the before quoted "Notes on Devachan" we read:

    _There are two fields of causal manifestations: the objective
    and the subjective. The grosser energies find their outcome
    in the new personality of each birth in the cycle of
    evoluting individuality. The moral and spiritual activities
    find their sphere of effects in Devachan._

As the moral and spiritual activities are the most important, and as
on the development of these depends the growth of the true Man, and
therefore the accomplishing of "the object of creation, the liberation
of Soul", we may begin to understand something of the vast importance
of the devachanic state.


When the Triad has shaken off its last garment, it crosses the
threshold of Devachan, and becomes "a Devachanî". We have seen that
it is in a peaceful dreamy state before this passage out of the earth
sphere, the "second death", or "pre-devachanic unconsciousness". This
condition is otherwise spoken of as the "gestation" period, because it
precedes the birth of the Ego into the devachanic life. Regarded from
the earth-sphere the passage is death, while regarded from that of
Devachan it is birth. Thus we find in "Notes on Devachan":

    _As in actual earth-life, so there is for the Ego in Devachan
    the first flutter of psychic life, the attainment of prime,
    the gradual exhaustion of force passing into
    semi-consciousness and lethargy, total oblivion, and--not
    death but birth, birth into another personality, and the
    resumption of action which daily begets new congeries of
    causes that must be worked out in another term of Devachan,
    and still another physical birth as a new personality. What
    the lives in Devachan and upon earth shall be respectively in
    each instance is determined by Karma, and this weary round of
    birth must be ever and ever run through until the being
    reaches the end of the seventh Round, or attains in the
    interim the wisdom of an Arhat, then that of a Buddha, and
    thus gets relieved for a Round or two._

When the devachanic entity is born into this new sphere it has passed
beyond recall to earth. The embodied Soul may rise to it, but it
cannot be drawn back to our world. On this a Master has spoken

    _From Sukhâvatî down to the "Territory of Doubt," there is a
    variety of spiritual states, but ... as soon as it has
    stepped outside the Kâmaloka, crossed the "Golden Bridge"
    leading to the "Seven Golden Mountains," the Ego can
    confabulate no more with easy-going mediums. No Ernest or
    Joey has ever returned from the Rûpa Loka, let alone the
    Arupa Loka, to hold sweet intercourse with men._

In the "Notes on Devachan," again, we read:

    _Certainly the new Ego, once that it is reborn (in Devachan),
    retains for a certain time--proportionate to its
    earth-life--a complete recollection "of his life on earth";
    but it can never revisit the Earth from Devachan except in

The Devachanî is generally spoken of as the Immortal Triad,
Atmâ-Buddhi-Manas, but it is well always to bear in mind that

    Atman is no individual property of any man, but is the Divine
    Essence which has no body, no form, which is imponderable,
    invisible, and indivisible, that which does not _exist_ and
    yet _is_, as the Buddhists say of Nirvâna. It only
    overshadows the mortal; that which enters into him and
    pervades the whole body being only it's omni-present rays or
    light, radiated through Buddhi, its vehicle and direct

Buddhi and Manas united, with this overshadowing of Atmâ, form the
Devachanî; 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 kâmalokic interlude. 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
Devachanî, and it is in this prolongation of the "personal Ego", so
to speak, that the "illusion" of the Devachanî consists. Were the
mânasic 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. But the Devachanî, at least in the lower stages, is
still within the personal boundaries of his past earth-life; he is
shut into the relationships of the one incarnation; his paradise is
peopled with those he "_loved best with an undying love, that holy
feeling that alone survives_," and thus the purified personal Ego is
the salient feature, as above said, in the Devachanî. Again quoting
from the "Notes on Devachan":

    "_Who goes to Devachan?" The personal Ego, of course; but
    beatified, purified, holy. Every Ego--the combination of the
    sixth and seventh principles[35]--which after the period of
    unconscious gestation is reborn into the Devachan, is of
    necessity as innocent and pure as a new-born babe. The  fact
    of his being reborn at all shows the preponderance of good
    over evil in his old personality. And while the Karma [of
    Evil] steps aside for the time being to follow him in his
    future earth re-incarnation, he brings along with him but the
    Karma of his good deeds, words and thoughts into this
    Devachan. "Bad" is a relative term for us--as you were told
    more than once before--and the Law of Retribution is the only
    law that never errs. Hence all those who have not slipped
    down into the mire of unredeemable sin and bestiality go to
    the Devachan. They will have to pay for their sins, voluntary
    and involuntary, later on. Meanwhile they are rewarded;
    receive the effects of the causes produced by them._

Now in some people a sense of repulsion arises at the idea that the
ties they form on earth in one life are not to be permanent in
eternity. But let us look at the question calmly for a moment. When a
mother first clasps her baby-son in her arms, that one relationship
seems perfect, and if the child should die, her longing would be to
re-possess him as her babe; but as he lives on through youth to
manhood the tie changes, and the protective love of the mother and the
clinging obedience of the child merge into a different love of friends
and comrades, richer than ordinary friendship from the old
recollections; yet later, when the mother is aged and the son in the
prime of middle life, their positions are reversed and the son
protects while the mother depends on him for guidance. Would the
relation have been more perfect had it ceased in infancy with only the
one tie, or is it not the richer and the sweeter from the different
strands of which the tie is woven? And so with Egos; in many lives
they may hold to each other many relationships, and finally, standing
as Brothers of the Lodge closely knit together, may look back over
past lives and see themselves in earth-life related in the many ways
possible to human beings, till the cord is woven of every strand of
love and duty; would not the final unity be the richer not the poorer
for the many-stranded tie? "Finally", I say; but the word is only of
this cycle, for what lies beyond, of wider life and less separateness,
no mind of man may know. To me it seems that this very variety of
experiences makes the tie stronger, not weaker, and that it is a
rather thin and poor thing to know oneself and another in only one
little aspect of many-sided humanity for endless ages of years; a
thousand or so years of one person in one character would, to me, be
ample, and I should prefer to know him or her in some new aspect of
his nature. But those who object to this view need not feel
distressed, for they will enjoy the presence of their beloved in the
one personal aspect held by him or her in the one incarnation they are
conscious of _for as long as the desire for that presence remains_.
Only let them not desire to impose their own form of bliss on
everybody else, nor insist that the kind of happiness which seems to
them at this stage the only one desirable and satisfying, must be
stereotyped to all eternity, through all the millions of years that
lie before us. 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". Will not this suffice?

But leaving aside disputes as to what may be to us "happiness" in a
future separated from our present by millions of years, so that we are
no more fitted now to formulate its conditions than is a child,
playing with its dolls, to formulate the deeper joys and interests of
its maturity, let us understand that, according to the teachings of
the Esoteric Philosophy, the Devachanî is surrounded by all he loved
on earth, with pure affection, and the union being on the plane of the
Ego, not on the physical plane, it is free from all the sufferings
which would be inevitable were the Devachanî present in consciousness
on the physical plane with all its illusory and transitory joys and
sorrows. It is surrounded by its beloved in the higher consciousness,
but is not agonised by the knowledge of what they are suffering in the
lower consciousness, held in the bonds of the flesh. According to the
orthodox Christian view, Death is a separation, and the "spirits of
the dead" wait for reunion until those they love also pass through
Death's gateway, or--according to some--until after the judgment-day
is over. As against this the Esoteric Philosophy teaches that Death
cannot touch the higher consciousness of man, and that it can only
separate those who love each other so far as their lower vehicles are
concerned; the man living on earth, blinded by matter, feels separated
from those who have passed onwards, but the Devachanî, says H.P.
Blavatsky, has a complete conviction "that there is no such thing as
Death at all", having left behind it all those vehicles over which
Death has power. Therefore, to its less blinded eyes, its beloved are
still with it; for it, the veil of matter that separates has been torn

    A mother dies, leaving behind her little helpless children,
    whom she adores, perhaps a beloved husband also. We say that
    her "Spirit" or Ego--that individuality which is now wholly
    impregnated, for the entire Devachanic period, with the
    noblest feelings held by its late _personality, i.e._, love
    for her children, pity for those who suffer, and so on--is
    now entirely separated from the "vale of tears," that its
    future bliss consists in that blessed ignorance of all the
    woes it left behind ... that the _post-mortem_ spiritual
    consciousness of the mother will represent to her that she
    lives surrounded by her children and all those whom she
    loved; that no gap, no link will be missing to make her
    disembodied state the most perfect and absolute

And so again:

    As to the ordinary mortal his bliss in Devachan is complete.
    It is an absolute oblivion of all that gave it pain or sorrow
    in the past incarnation, and even oblivion of the fact that
    such things as pain or sorrow exist at all. The Devachanî
    lives its intermediate cycle between two incarnations
    surrounded by everything it had aspired to in vain, and in
    the companionship of everything it loved on earth. It has
    reached the fulfilment of all its soul-yearnings. And thus it
    lives throughout long centuries an existence of _unalloyed_
    happiness, which is the reward for its sufferings in
    earth-life. In short, it bathes in a sea of uninterrupted
    felicity spanned only by events of still greater felicity in

When we take the wider sweep in thought demanded by the Esoteric
Philosophy, a far more fascinating prospect of persistent love and
union between individual Egos rolls itself out before our eyes than
was offered to us by the more limited creed of exoteric Christendom.
"Mothers love their children with an immortal love," says H.P.
Blavatsky, and the reason for this immortality in love is easily
grasped when we realise that it is the same Egos that play so many
parts in the drama of life, that the experience of each part is
recorded in the memory of the Soul, and that between the Souls there
is no separation, though during incarnation they may not realise the
fact in its fulness and beauty.

    We are with those whom we have lost in material form, and
    far, far nearer to them now than when they were alive. And it
    is not only in the fancy of the Devachanî, as some may
    imagine, but in reality. For pure divine love is not merely
    the blossom of a human heart, but has its roots in eternity.
    Spiritual holy love is immortal, and Karma brings sooner or
    later all those who loved each other with such a spiritual
    affection to incarnate once more in the same family

Love "has its roots in eternity", and those to whom on earth we are
strongly drawn are the Egos we have loved in past earth-lives and
dwelt with in Devachan; coming back to earth these enduring bonds of
love draw us together yet again, and add to the strength and beauty of
the tie, and so on and on till all illusions are lived down, and the
strong and perfected Egos stand side by side, sharing the experience
of their well-nigh illimitable past.


At length the causes that carried the Ego into Devachan are exhausted,
the experiences gathered have been wholly assimilated, and the Soul
begins to feel again the thirst for sentient material life that can be
gratified only on the physical plane. The greater the degree of
spirituality reached, the purer and loftier the preceding earth-life,
the longer the stay in Devachan, the world of spiritual, pure, and
lofty effects. [I am here ignoring the special conditions surrounding
one who is forcing his own evolution, and has entered on the Path
that leads to Adeptship within a very limited number of lives.] The
"average time [in Devachan] is from ten to fifteen centuries", H.P.
Blavatsky tells us, and the fifteen centuries cycle is the one most
plainly marked in history.[39] But in modern life this period has much
shortened, in consequence of the greater attraction exercised by
physical objects over the heart of man. Further, it must be remembered
that the "average time" is not the time spent in Devachan by any
person. If one person spends there 1000 years, and another fifty, the
"average" is 525. The devachanic period is longer or shorter according
to the type of life which preceded it; the more there was of
spiritual, intellectual, and emotional activity of a lofty kind, the
longer will be the gathering in of the harvest; the more there was of
activity directed to selfish gain on earth, the shorter will be the
devachanic period.

When the experiences are assimilated, be the time long or short, the
Ego is ready to return, and he brings back with him his now increased
experience, and any further gains he may have made in Devachan along
the lines of abstract thought; for, while in Devachan,

    In one sense we can acquire more knowledge; that is, we can
    develop further any faculty which we loved and strove after
    during life, provided it is concerned with abstract and ideal
    things, such as music, painting, poetry, &c.[40]

But the Ego meets, as he crosses the threshold of Devachan on his way
outwards--dying out of Devachan to be reborn on earth--he meets in the
"atmosphere of the terrestrial plane", the seeds of evil sown in his
preceding life on earth. During the devachanic rest he has been free
from all pain, all sorrow, but the evil he did in his past has been in
a state of suspended animation, not of death. As seeds sown in the
autumn for the spring-time lie dormant beneath the surface of the
soil, but touched by the soft rain and penetrating warmth of sun begin
to swell and the embryo expands and grows, so do the seeds of evil we
have sown lie dormant while the Soul takes its rest in Devachan, but
shoot out their roots into the new personality which begins
to form itself for the incarnation of the returning man. The Ego has
to take up the burden of his past, and these germs or seeds, coming
over as the harvest of the past life, are the Skandhas, to borrow a
convenient word from our Buddhist brethren. They consist of material
qualities, sensations, abstract ideas, tendencies of mind, mental
powers, and while the pure aroma of these attached itself to the Ego
and passed with it into Devachan, all that was gross, base and evil
remained in the state of suspended animation spoken of above. These
are taken up by the Ego as he passes outwards towards terrestrial
life, and are built into the new "man of flesh" which the true man is
to inhabit. And so the round of births and deaths goes on, the turning
of the Wheel of Life; the treading of the Cycle of Necessity, until
the work is done and the building of the Perfect Man is completed.


What Devachan is to each earth-life, Nirvâna is to the finished cycle
of Re-incarnation, but any effective discussion of that glorious
state would here be out of place. It is mentioned only to round off
the "After" of Death, for no word of man, strictly limited within the
narrow bounds of his lower consciousness, may avail to explain what
Nirvâna is, can do aught save disfigure it in striving to describe.
What it is not may be roughly, baldly stated--it is not
"annihilation", it is not destruction of consciousness. Mr. A.P.
Sinnett has put effectively and briefly the absurdity of many of the
ideas current in the West about Nirvâna. He has been speaking of
absolute consciousness, and proceeds:

    We may use such phrases as intellectual counters, but for no
    ordinary mind--dominated by its physical brain and brain-born
    intellect--can they have a living signification. All that
    words can convey is that Nirvâna is a sublime state of
    conscious rest in omniscience. It would be ludicrous, after
    all that has gone before, to turn to the various discussions
    which have been carried on by students of exoteric Buddhism
    as to whether Nirvâna does or does not mean annihilation.
    Worldly similes fall short of indicating the feeling with
    which the graduates of Esoteric Science regard such a
    question. Does the last penalty of the law mean the highest
    honour of the peerage? Is a wooden spoon the emblem of the
    most illustrious pre-eminence in learning? Such questions as
    these but faintly symbolise the extravagance of the question
    whether Nirvâna is held by Buddhism to be equivalent to

So we learn from the _Secret Doctrine_ that the Nirvânî returns to
cosmic activity in a new cycle of manifestation, and that

    _The thread of radiance which is imperishable and dissolves
    only in Nirvâna, re-emerges from it in its integrity  on the
    day when the Great Law calls all things back into


We are now in position to discriminate between the various kinds of
communication possible between those whom we foolishly divide into
"dead" and "living," as though the body were the man, or the man could
die. "Communications between the embodied and the disembodied" would
be a more satisfactory phrase.

First, let us put aside as unsuitable the word Spirit: Spirit does not
communicate with Spirit in any way conceivable by us. That highest
principle is not yet manifest in the flesh; it remains the hidden
fount of all, the eternal Energy, one of the poles of Being in
manifestation. The word is loosely used to denote lofty Intelligences,
who live and move beyond all conditions of matter imaginable by us,
but pure Spirit is at present as inconceivable by us as pure matter.
And as in dealing with possible "communications" we have average human
beings as recipients, we may as well exclude the word Spirit as much
as possible, and so get rid of ambiguity. But in quotations the word
often occurs, in deference to the habit of the day, and it then
denotes the Ego.

Taking the stages through which the living man passes after "Death",
or the shaking off of the body, we can readily classify the
communications that may be received, or the appearances that may be

I. While the Soul has shaken off only the dense body, and remains
still clothed in the etheric double. This is a brief period only, but
during it the disembodied Soul may show itself, clad in this ethereal

    For a very short period after death, while the incorporeal
    principles remain within the sphere of our earth's
    attraction, it is _possible_ for spirit, under _peculiar_ and
    _favourable_ conditions, to appear.[43]

It makes no communications during this brief interval, nor while
dwelling in this form. Such "ghosts" are silent, dreamy, like
sleep-walkers, and indeed they are nothing more than astral
sleep-walkers. Equally irresponsive, but capable of expressing a
single thought, as of sorrow, anxiety, accident, murder, &c., are
apparitions which are merely a thought of the dying, taking shape in
the astral world, and carried by the dying person's will to some
particular person, with whom the dying intensely longs to communicate.
Such a thought, sometimes called a Mayâvi Rûpa, or illusory form

    _May be often thrown into objectivity, as in the case of
    apparitions after death; but, unless it is projected with the
    knowledge of (whether latent or potential), or owing to the
    intensity of the desire to see or appear to some one shooting
    through, the dying brain, the apparition will be simply
    automatical; it will not be due to any sympathetic
    attraction, or to any act of volition, any more than the
    reflection of a person passing unconsciously near a mirror is
    due to the desire of the latter._

When the Soul has left the etheric double, shaking it  off as it
shook off the dense body, the double thus left as a mere empty corpse
may be galvanised into an "artificial life"; but fortunately the
method of such galvanisation is known to few.

II. While the Soul is in Kâmaloka. This period is of very variable
duration. The Soul is clad in an astral body, the last but one of its
perishable garments, and while thus clad it can utilise the physical
bodies of a medium, thus consciously procuring for itself an
instrument whereby it can act on the world it has left, and
communicate with those living in the body. In this way it may give
information as to facts known to itself only, or to itself and another
person, in the earth-life just closed; and for as long as it remains
within the terrestrial atmosphere such communication is possible. The
harm and the peril of such communication has been previously
explained, whether the Lower Manas be united with the Divine Triad and
so on its way to Devachan, or wrenched from it and on its way to

III. While the Soul is in Devachan, if an embodied Soul is capable of
rising to its sphere, or of coming into _rapport_ with it. To the
Devachanî, as we have seen, the beloved are present in consciousness
and full communication, the Egos being in touch with each other,
though one is embodied and one is disembodied, but the higher
consciousness of the embodied rarely affects the brain. As a matter of
fact, all that we know on the physical plane of our friend, while we
both are embodied, is the mental image caused by the impression he
makes on us. This is, to our consciousness, our friend, and lacks
nothing in objectivity. A similar image is present to the
consciousness of the Devachanî, and to him lacks nothing in
objectivity. As the physical plane friend is visible to an observer on
earth, so is the mental plane friend visible to an observer on that
plane. The amount of the friend that ensouls the image is dependent on
his own evolution, a highly evolved person being capable of far more
communication with a Devachanî than one who is unevolved.
Communication when the body is sleeping is easier than when it is
awake, and many a vivid "dream" of one on the other side of death is a
real interview with him in Kâmaloka or in Devachan.

    Love beyond the grave, illusion though you may call it,[44]
    has a magic and divine potency that re-acts on the living. A
    mother's Ego, filled with love for the imaginary children it
    sees near itself, living a life of happiness, as real to it
    as when on earth--that love will always be felt by the
    children in flesh. It will manifest in their dreams and often
    in various events--in providential protections and escapes,
    for love is a strong shield, and is not limited by space or
    time. As with this Devachanic "mother", so with the rest of
    human relationships and attachments, save the purely selfish
    or material.[45]

Remembering that a thought becomes an active entity, capable of
working good or evil, we easily see that as embodied Souls can send to
those they love helping and protecting forces, so the Devachanî,
thinking of those dear to him, may send out such helpful and
protective thoughts, to act as veritable guardian angels round his
beloved on earth. But this is a very different thing from the "Spirit"
of the mother coming back to earth to be the almost helpless spectator
of the child's woes.

The Soul embodied may sometimes escape from its prison of flesh, and
come into relations with the Devachanî. H.P. Blavatsky writes:

    Whenever years after the death of a person his spirit is
    claimed to have "wandered back to earth" to give advice to
    those it loved, it is always in a subjective vision, in dream
    or in trance, and in that case it is the Soul of the living
    seer that is drawn to the _disembodied_ spirit, and not the
    latter which wanders back to our spheres.[46]

Where the sensitive, or medium, is of a pure and lofty nature, this
rising of the freed Ego to the Devachanî is practicable, and naturally
gives the impression to the sensitive that the departed Ego has come
back to him. The Devachanî is wrapped in its happy "illusion", and

    _The Souls, or astral Egos, of pure loving sensitives,
    labouring under the same delusion, think their loved ones
    come down to them on earth, while it is their own spirits
    that are raised towards those in the Devachan._[47]

This attraction can be exercised by the departed Soul from Kâmaloka or
from Devachan:

    A "spirit" or the spiritual Ego, cannot _descend_ to the
    medium, but it can _attract_ the spirit of the latter to
    itself, and it can do this only during the two
    intervals--before and after its "gestation period". Interval
    the first is that period between the physical death and the
    merging of the spiritual Ego into that state which is known
    in the Arhat Esoteric Doctrine as "Bar-do". We have
    translated this as the "gestation period", and it lasts from
    a few days to several years, according to the evidence of the
    Adepts. Interval the second lasts so long as the merits of
    the old [personal] Ego entitle the being to reap the fruit of
    its reward in its new regenerated Egoship. It occurs after
    the gestation period is over, and the new spiritual Ego is
    reborn--like the fabled Phoenix from its ashes--from the
    old one. The locality which the former inhabits is called by
    the northern Buddhist Occultists "Devachan."[48]

So also may the incorporeal principles of pure sensitives be placed
_en rapport_ with disembodied Souls, although information thus
obtained is not reliable, partly in consequence of the difficulty of
transferring to the physical brain the impressions received, and
partly from the difficulty of observing accurately, when the seer is

    A pure medium's Ego can be drawn to and made, for an instant,
    to unite in a magnetic(?) relation with a real disembodied
    spirit, whereas the soul of an impure medium can only
    confabulate with the _Astral Soul_, or Shell, of the
    deceased. The former possibility explains those extremely
    rare cases of direct writing in recognised autographs, and of
    messages from the higher class of disembodied intelligences.

But the confusion in messages thus obtained is considerable, not only
from the causes above-named, but also because

    Even the best and purest sensitive can at most only be placed
    at any time _en rapport_ with a particular spiritual entity,
    and can only know, see, and feel what that particular entity
    knows, sees, and feels.

Hence much possibility of error if generalisations are indulged in,
since each Devachanî lives in his own paradise, and there is no
"peeping down to earth,"

    Nor is there any _conscious_ communication with the flying
    Souls that come as it were to learn where the Spirits are,
    what they are doing, and what they think, feel, and see.

    What then is being _en rapport_? It is simply an identity of
    molecular  vibration between the astral part of the
    incarnated sensitive and the astral part of the
    dis-incarnated personality. The spirit of the sensitive gets
    "odylised", so to speak, by the aura of the spirit, whether
    this be hybernating in the earthly region or dreaming in the
    Devachan; identity of molecular vibration is established, and
    for a brief space the sensitive becomes the departed
    personality, and writes in its handwriting, uses its
    language, and thinks its thoughts. At such times sensitives
    may believe that those with whom they are for the moment _en
    rapport_ descend to earth and communicate with them, whereas,
    in reality, it is merely their own spirits which, being
    correctly attuned to those others, are for the time blended
    with them.[50]

In a special case under examination, H.P. Blavatsky said that the
communication might have come from an Elementary, but that it was

    Far more likely that the medium's spirit really became _en
    rapport_ with some spiritual entity in Devachan, the
    thoughts, knowledge, and sentiments of which formed the
    substance, while the medium's own personality and
    pre-existing ideas more or less governed the forms of the

While these communications are not reliable in the facts and opinions

    We would remark that it may _possibly_ be that there really
    is a distinct spiritual entity impressing our correspondent's
    mind. In other words, there may, for all we know, be some
    spirit, with whom his spiritual nature becomes habitually,
    for the time, thoroughly harmonised, and whose thoughts,
    language, &c., become his for the time, the result being that
    this spirit seems to communicate with him.... It is possible
    (though by no means probable) that he habitually passes into
    a state of _rapport_ with a genuine spirit, and, for the
    time, is assimilated therewith, thinking (to a great extent
    if not entirely) the thoughts that spirit would think,
    writing in its handwriting, &c. But even so, Mr. Terry must
    not fancy that that spirit is consciously communicating with
    him, or knows in any way  anything of him, or any other
    person or thing on earth. It is simply that, the _rapport_
    established, he, Mr. Terry, becomes for the nonce assimilated
    with that other personality, and thinks, speaks, and writes
    as it would have done on earth.... The molecules of his
    astral nature may from time to time vibrate in perfect unison
    with those of some spirit of such a person, now in Devachan,
    and the result may be that he appears to be in communication
    with that spirit, and to be advised, &c., by him, and
    clairvoyants may see in the Astral Light a picture of the
    earth-life form of that spirit.

IV. Communications other than those from disembodied Souls, passing
through normal _post mortem_ states.

(a) _From Shells._ These, while but the cast-off garment of the
liberated Soul, retain for some time the impress of their late
inhabitant, and reproduce automatically his habits of thought and
expression, just as a physical body will automatically repeat habitual
gestures. Reflex action is as possible to the desire body as to the
physical, but all reflex action is marked by its character of
repetition, and absence of all power to initiate movement. It answers
to a stimulus with an appearance of purposive action, but it initiates
nothing. When people "sit for development", or when at a _séance_ they
anxiously hope and wait for messages from departed friends, they
supply just the stimulus needed, and obtain the signs of recognition
for which they expectantly watch.

(b) _From Elementaries._ These, possessing the lower capacities of the
mind, _i.e._, all the intellectual faculties that found their
expression through the physical brain during life, may produce
communications of a highly intellectual character. These, however, are
rare, as may be seen from a survey of the messages published as
received from "departed Spirits".

(c) _From Elementals._ These semi-conscious centres of force play a
great part at _séances_, and are mostly the agents who are active in
producing physical phenomena. They throw about or carry objects, make
noises, ring bells, etc., etc. Sometimes they play pranks with Shells,
animating them and representing them to be the spirits of great
personalities who have lived on earth, but who have sadly degenerated
in the "spirit-world", judging by their effusions. Sometimes, in
materialising _séances_, they busy themselves in throwing pictures
from the Astral Light on the fluidic forms produced, so causing them
to assume likenesses of various persons. There are also Elementals of
a high type who occasionally communicate with very gifted mediums,
"Shining Ones" from other spheres.

(d) _From Nirmânakâyas._ For these communications, as for the two
classes next mentioned, the medium must be of a very pure and lofty
nature. The Nirmânakâya is a perfected man, who has cast aside his
physical body but retains his other lower principles, and remains in
the earth-sphere for the sake of helping forward the evolution of
mankind. Nirmânakâyas

    Have, out of pity for mankind and those they left on earth,
    renounced the Nirvânic state. Such an Adept, or Saint, or
    whatever you may call him, believing it a selfish act to rest
    in bliss while mankind groans under the burden of misery
    produced by ignorance, renounces Nirvâna and determines to
    remain invisible _in spirit_ on this earth. They have no
    material body, as they have left it behind; but otherwise
    they remain with all their principles even _in astral life_
    in our sphere. And such can and do communicate with a few
    elect ones, only surely not with _ordinary_ mediums.[52]

(e) _From Adepts now living on earth._ These often communicate with
Their disciples, without using the ordinary methods of communication,
and when any tie exists, perchance from some past incarnation, between
an Adept and a medium, constituting that medium a disciple, a message
from the Adept might readily be mistaken for a message from a
"Spirit". The receipt of such messages by precipitated writing or
spoken words is within the knowledge of some.

(f) _From the medium's Higher Ego._ Where a pure and earnest man or
woman is striving after the light, this upward striving is met by a
downward reaching of the higher nature, and light from the higher
streams downward, illuminating the lower consciousness. Then the lower
mind is, for the time, united with its parent, and transmits as much
of its knowledge as it is able to retain.

From this brief sketch it will be seen how varied may be the sources
from which communications apparently from "the other side of Death"
may be received. As said by H.P. Blavatsky:

    The variety of the causes of phenomena is great, and one need
    be an Adept, and actually look into and examine what
    transpires, in order to be able to explain in each case what
    really underlies it.[53]

To complete the statement it may be added that what the average Soul
can do when it has passed through the gateway of Death, it can do on
this side, and communications may be as readily obtained by writing,
in trance, and by the other means of receiving messages, from embodied
as from disembodied Souls. If each developed within himself the
powers of his own Soul, instead of drifting about aimlessly, or
ignorantly plunging into dangerous experiments, knowledge might be
safely accumulated and the evolution of the Soul might be accelerated.
This one thing is sure: Man is to-day a living Soul, over whom Death
has no power, and the key of the prison-house of the body is in his
own hands, so that he may learn its use if he will. It is because his
true Self, while blinded by the body, has lost touch with other
Selves, that Death has been a gulf instead of a gateway between
embodied and disembodied Souls.

       *       *       *       *       *


     The following passage on the fate of suicides is taken from the
     _Theosophist_, September, 1882.

We do not pretend--we are not permitted--to deal exhaustively with the
question at present, but we may refer to one of the most important
classes of entities, who can participate in objective phenomena, other
than Elementaries and Elementals.

This class comprises the Spirits of conscious sane suicides. They are
_Spirits_, and not _Shells_, because there is not in their cases, at
any rate until later, a total and permanent divorce between the fourth
and fifth principles on the one hand, and the sixth and seventh on the
other. The two duads are divided, they exist apart, but a line of
connection still unites them, they may yet reunite, and the sorely
threatened personality avert its doom; the fifth principle still holds
in its hands the clue by which, traversing the labyrinth of earthly
sins and passions, it may regain the sacred penetralia. But for the
time, though really a Spirit, and therefore so designated, it is
practically not far removed from a Shell.

This class of Spirit can undoubtedly communicate with men, but, as a
rule, its members have to pay dearly for exercising the privilege,
while it is scarcely possible for them to do otherwise than lower and
debase the moral nature of those with and through whom they have much
communication. It is merely, broadly speaking, a question of degree;
of much or little injury resulting from such communication; the cases
in which real, permanent good can arise are too absolutely exceptional
to require consideration.

Understand how the case stands. The unhappy being revolting against
the trials of life--trials, the results of its own former actions,
trials, heaven's merciful medicine for the mentally and spiritually
diseased--determines, instead of manfully taking arms against a sea of
troubles, to let the curtain drop, and, as it fancies, end them. It
destroys the body, but finds itself precisely as much alive mentally
as before. It had an appointed life-term determined by an intricate
web of prior causes, which its own wilful sudden act cannot shorten.
That term must run out its appointed sands. You may smash the lower
half of the hand hour-glass, so that the impalpable sand shooting from
the upper bell is dissipated by the passing aerial currents as it
issues; but that stream will run on, unnoticed though it remain, until
the whole store in that upper receptacle is exhausted.

So you may destroy the body, but not the appointed period of sentient
existence, foredoomed (because simply the effect of a plexus of
causes) to intervene before the dissolution of the personality; this
must run on for its appointed period.

This is so in other cases, _e.g._, those of the victims of accident or
violence; they, too, have to complete their life-term, and of these,
too, we may speak on another occasion--but here it is sufficient to
notice that, whether good or bad, their mental attitude at the time of
death alters wholly their subsequent position. They, too, have to wait
on within the "Region of Desires" until their wave of life runs on to
and reaches its appointed shore, but they wait on, wrapped in dreams
soothing and blissful, or the reverse, according to their mental and
moral state at, and prior to the fatal hour, but nearly exempt from
further material temptations, and, broadly speaking, incapable (except
just at the moment of real death) of communicating _scio motu_ with
mankind, though not wholly beyond the possible reach of the higher
forms of the "Accursed Science," Necromancy. The question is a
profoundly abstruse one; it would be impossible to explain within the
brief space still remaining to us, how the conditions immediately
after death differ so entirely as they do in the case (1) of the man
who deliberately _lays down_ (not merely _risks_) his life from
altruistic motives in the hope of saving those of others; and (2) of
him who deliberately sacrifices his life from selfish motives, in the
hope of escaping trials and troubles which loom before him. Nature or
Providence, Fate, or God, being merely a self-adjusting machine, it
would at first sight seem as if the results must be identical in both
cases. But, machine though it be, we must remember that it is a
machine _sui generis_--

    Out of himself he span
      The eternal web of right and wrong;
    And ever feels the subtlest thrill,
      The slenderest thread along.

A machine compared with whose perfect sensitiveness and adjustment the
highest human intellect is but a coarse clumsy replica, _in petto_.

And we must remember that thoughts and motives are material, and at
times marvellously potent material, forces, and we may then begin to
comprehend why the hero, sacrificing his life on pure altruistic
grounds, sinks as his life-blood ebbs away into a sweet dream, wherein

    All that he wishes and all that he loves,
    Come smiling round his sunny way,

only to wake into active or objective consciousness when reborn in the
Region of Happiness, while the poor unhappy and misguided mortal who,
seeking to elude fate, selfishly loosens the silver string and breaks
the golden bowl, finds himself terribly alive and awake, instinct with
all the evil cravings and desires that embittered his world-life,
without a body in which to gratify these, and capable of only such
partial alleviation as is possible by more or less vicarious
gratification, and this only at the cost of the ultimate complete
rupture with his sixth and seventh principles, and consequent ultimate
annihilation after, alas! prolonged periods of suffering.

Let it not be supposed that there is no hope for this class--the sane
deliberate suicide. If, bearing steadfastly his cross, he suffers
patiently his punishment, striving against carnal appetites still
alive in him, in all their intensity, though, of course, each in
proportion to the degree to which it had been indulged in earth-life.
If, we say, he bears this humbly, never allowing himself to be tempted
here or there into unlawful gratifications of unholy desires, then
when his fated death-hour strikes, his four higher principles reunite,
and, in the final separation that then ensues, it may well be that all
may be well with him, and that he passes on to the gestation period
and its subsequent developments.

       *       *       *       *       *


[Footnote 1: Book ii., from lines 666-789. The whole passage bristles
with horrors.]

[Footnote 2: xii. 85. Trans., of Burnell and Hopkins.]

[Footnote 3: From the translation of Dhunjeebhoy Jamsetjee Medhora,
_Zoroastrian and some other Ancient Systems_, xxvii.]

[Footnote 4: Trans., by Mirza Mohamed Hadi. _The Platonist_, 306.]

[Footnote 5: _The Sacred Books of the East_, iii, 109, 110.]

[Footnote 6: _Secret Doctrine_, vol. i. p. 281.]

[Footnote 7: See _ibid._, p. 283.]

[Footnote 8: _Isis Unveiled_, vol. i. p. 480.]

[Footnote 9: Theosophical Manuals, No. 1.]

[Footnote 10: _The Heroic Enthusiasts_, Trans., by L. Williams. part ii.
pp. 22, 23.]

[Footnote 11: _Cremation_, Theosophical Siftings, vol. iii.]

[Footnote 12: _Man: Fragments of Forgotten History_, pp. 119, 120.]

[Footnote 13: _Key to Theosophy_, H.P. Blavatsky, p. 109. Third

[Footnote 14: _Magic, White and Black_, Dr. Franz Hartmann, pp. 109,
110. Third Edition.]

[Footnote 15: See _The Seven Principles of Man_, pp. 17-21.]

[Footnote 16: _Theosophist_, March, 1882, p. 158, note.]

[Footnote 17: _Essays upon some Controverted Questions_, p. 36.]

[Footnote 18: _Fortnightly Review_, 1892, p. 176.]

[Footnote 19: _Key to Theosophy_, p. 67.]

[Footnote 20: _Ibid._, p. 97.]

[Footnote 21: _Key to Theosophy_, p. 97]

[Footnote 22: _Ibid._, p. 102.]

[Footnote 23: June, 1882, art. "Seeming Discrepancies."]

[Footnote 24: Pp. 73, 74. Ed. 1887.]

[Footnote 25: _Theosophical Glossary_, Elementaries.]

[Footnote 26: See _The Seven Principles of Man_, p.p. 44-46.]

[Footnote 27: The name Sukhâvatî, borrowed from Tibetan Buddhism, is
sometimes used instead of that of Devachan. Sukhâvatî, according to
Schlagintweit, is "the abode of the blessed, into which ascend those
who have accumulated much merit by the practice of virtues", and
"involves the deliverance from metempsychosis" (_Buddhism in Tibet_,
p. 99). According to the Prasanga school, the higher Path leads to
Nirvâna, the lower to Sukhâvatî. But Eitel calls Sukhâvatî "the
Nirvâna of the common people, where the saints revel in physical bliss
for æons, until they reënter the circle of transmigration"
(_Sanskrit-Chinese Dictionary_). Eitel, however, under "Amitâbha"
states that the "popular mind" regards the "paradise of the West" as
"the haven of final redemption from the eddies of transmigration".
When used by one of the Teachers of the Esoteric Philosophy it covers
the higher Devachanic states, but from all of these the Soul comes
back to earth.]

[Footnote 28: See _Lucifer_, Oct, 1892, Vol. XI. No. 62.]

[Footnote 29: _The Path_, May, 1890.]

[Footnote 30: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 31: "Notes on Devachan," as cited.]

[Footnote 32: "Notes on Devachan," as before. There are a variety of
stages in Devachan; the Rûpa Loka is an inferior stage, where the Soul
is still surrounded by forms. It has escaped from these personalities
in the Tribhuvana.]

[Footnote 33: _Vishnu Purâna_, Bk. I. ch. v.]

[Footnote 34: _Key to Theosophy_, p. 69. Third Edition.]

[Footnote 35: Sixth and seventh in the older nomenclature, fifth and
sixth in the later--_i.e._, Manas and Buddhi.]

[Footnote 36: _Key to Theosophy_, p. 99. Third Edition.]

[Footnote 37: _Ibid._, p. 100.]

[Footnote 38: _Ibid._, p. 101.]

[Footnote 39: See Manual No. 2 _Re-incarnation_, pp. 60, 61. Third

[Footnote 40: _Key to Theosophy_, p. 105. Third Edition.]

[Footnote 41: _Esoteric Buddhism_, p. 197. Eighth

[Footnote 42: Quoted in the _Secret Doctrine_, vol. ii. p. 83. The
student will do well to read, for a fair presentation of the subject,
G.R.S. Mead's "Note on Nirvâna" in _Lucifer_, for March, April, and
May, 1893. (Re-printed in _Theosophical Siftings_).]

[Footnote 43: _Theosophist_, Sept., 1882, p. 310.]

[Footnote 44: See on "illusion" what was said under the heading

[Footnote 45: _Key to Theosophy_, p. 102. Third Edition.]

[Footnote 46: _Theosophist_, Sept. 1881.]

[Footnote 47: "Notes on Devachan", _Path_, June, 1890, p. 80.]

[Footnote 48: _Theosophist_, June, 1882, p. 226.]

[Footnote 49: Summarised from article in _Theosophist_, Sept., 1882.]

[Footnote 50: _Ibid._, p. 309.]

[Footnote 51: _Ibid._, p. 310.]

[Footnote 52: _Key to Theosophy,_ p. 151.]

[Footnote 53: _Theosophist_, Sept., 1882, p. 310.]

       *       *       *       *       *


Accident, Death by, 37.

Appendix, 81.

Astral Body, 19,
  Fate of, 31.

Astral Shell or Soul, 75.

_Avesta_, quoted, 9.

Blavatsky, H.P., quoted, 16, 17, 24, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 45, 49, 60,
                         65, 66, 67, 73, 74, 78.

_Book of the Dead_, quoted, 8.

Bruno, Giordano, quoted, 21.

_Buddhism in Tibet_, quoted, 47, (note).

Communications between Earth and other Spheres, 70.
      "        between Earth and Soul in Etheric Body, 71.
      "        between Earth, and soul in Devachan, 72,
      "        between Earth and soul in Kâmaloka, 72.
      "        from Adepts now living, 79.
      "        from Elementals, 78.
      "        from Elementaries, 77.
      "        from Medium's Higher Ego, 79.
      "        from Nirmânakâyas, 78.
      "        from Shells, 43, 77.

_Controverted Questions, Essays upon some_, quoted, 28.

_Cremation_, quoted, 21.

Cycle of Incarnation, 52 et seq.

Death, a Gateway, 79.
  "    Chinese Ideas of, 11.
  "    Christian Ideas of, 6.
  "    Egyptian Ideas of, 8.
  "    Theosophic Ideas of, 18.

_Desatir_, quoted, 9.

Devachan, 33, 46. et seq.

Devachan, Passing into, of the average-living, 33.

Devachan, The Soul in, 72.

Devachanî, The, 58 et seq.

Earth, The return to, 66.

Egos, Many lives of, 63 et seq.

Elementals, 44, 78.

Elementaries, 45, 77.

_Esoteric Buddhism_, quoted, 69.

Etheric Double, 12, 22 et seq., 24, 25, 71 et seq.

Fiery Lives, 17.

_Fortnightly Review_, quoted, 29.

_Heroic Enthusiasts, The_, quoted, 21.

Immortal Triad, The, 12, 13, 31, 33, 58, 60.

_Isis Unveiled_, quoted, 17.

Kâmaloka, 26, 27, 29, 32, 34, 41.

Kâmaloka, The Soul in, 72.

Kâma Rûpa, 30.

_Key to Theosophy_, quoted, 24, 30, 31, 33, 60, 65, 67, 73, 78.

_Lucifer_, quoted, 49, 70.

_Magic, White and Black_, quoted, 26.

_Man: Fragments of Forgotten History_, quoted, 23.

Man: How Made, 12 et seq.

Mâyâ, 47.

Medium, Communications from Higher Egos of, 79.

Nirvâna, 69.

_Ordinances of Manu_, quoted, 9.

_Paradise Lost_, quoted, 7.

_Path_, quoted, 51, 54, 55, 56, 59 et seq.

_Perfect Way_, quoted, 44.

Perishable Quaternary, 12.

Pishâchas, 38.

Prâna, 26, 30.

Premature Death, 36, 39.

Re-incarnation, 8, 67.

_Sanskrit-Chinese Dictionary_, quoted, 47 (Footnote: 27).

_Seven principles of Man_, quoted, 26, 45.

Shell, Astral Soul, or, 75.

Shells, The, 41.

_Shû King_, quoted, 10.

Soul, Growth of, in Devachan, 56,

  "   Powers of the, 80.

  "   Relations of, with Devachanî, 74 et seq.

  "   The Disembodied, 71 et seq.

Spiritualism and Esoteric Philosophy, 15.

Suicides, 36, et seq., 81.

_Theosophical Glossary_, quoted, 45.

_Theosophical Siftings_, quoted, 21.

_Theosophist, The_, quoted, 27, 35, 71, 74, 75 et seq.

_Theosophist. The_, summarised, 75, 79, 81.

Unconscious co-existence of intelligent beings, 28 et seq.

_Vishnu Purâna_, quoted, 57.

       *       *       *       *       *

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