Timeless Truths of The Secret Doctrine

My second book: Timeless Truths of The Secret Doctrine – A Compilation has recently been published and is currently available on Amazon and also from Trafford Publishing book store online. It is based on Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s unique masterpiece The Secret Doctrine.

The Secret Doctrine is an exposition of timeless truths that goes back to ancient time and forms the wisdom the widsom at the heart of all religions. Tt embodies and embraces teachings to be found in the sacred texts of many traditions and countries of the world, including India, Tibet, China, Egypt, Greece, the Middle East and Europe. In essence this work provides an astounding picture and saga of both the emergence of the Cosmos, as well as the development of the human kinggdom.

Complementary to my first book: Insights From the Masters, this compilation offers 56 fascinating themes. For those seeking greater understanding of the mysteries of life and appreciation of the esoteric depths of the world religions, this is a must read.

Writes Denise McDermott-King, Author of The Master, The Lover and Me: “What a gift this book is to the sincere seeker of truth. Expertly put together, it places before the reader insights from one of the most profound teachings given to man, The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky. Fiona has skillfully woven her magic to present a read that not only works as a companion to The Secret Doctrine, but also a read that stands on its own merit. Congratulations on yet another good body of work.”

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The Teachings of the Masters: Reincarnation – Questions and Answers

THE TEACHINGS of the MASTERS

REINCARNATION – QUESTIONS and ANSWERS

Introduction

In H.P. Blavatsky’s mammoth work The Secret Doctrine, it is made abundantly clear one of the major pillars of the Ageless, Ancient Wisdom as presented by the Masters of the Himalayan Brotherhood, is the law of periodicity. This is a universal law which governs everything in life, its manifestation being day and night, birth and death, rest and activity, sleeping and waking…. It is this law which also underscores the magnificent truth of the periodic rebirth of the human soul in various lives until one has reached a certain stage of spiritual unfoldment and learnt all the lessons to be gleaned, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually on planet earth.

So obscure is the concept of reincarnation in the Western world that those unfamiliar with eastern thought and the Ancient Wisdom teachings are apt to regard it as bizarre and fanciful. However, as these teachings are being revived through greater encounters with eastern religions and thought and the inspiring efforts of the modern theosophical movement, the concept is now becoming increasingly contemplated in the west. Blavatsky wrote in The Key to Theosophy with regard to the truth of reincarnation and humanity as follows:

“For logic, consistency, profound philosophy, divine mercy and equity, this doctrine of Reincarnation has not its equal on earth. It is a belief in a perpetual progress from the outward into the inward, from the material to the Spiritual, arriving at the end of each stage at absolute unity with the divine Principle. From strength to strength, from the beauty and perfection of one plane to the greater beauty and perfection of another, with accessions of new glory, of fresh knowledge and power in each cycle, such is the destiny of every Ego, which thus becomes its own savior in each world and incarnation.” So now let us attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions with regard to Reincarnation.

1.What is it in the human being that actually does the reincarnating?

This is a good place to begin because tremendous confusion and misconceptions reign over this mystery. The Masters make it clear that without a comprehensive  grasp of the various aspects that constitute a human being, the aspirant cannot begin to fathom the law of rebirth and many other truths that are currently being revived. For these purposes, we can basically think of the human being as having a dual nature – a higher nature with 3 aspects that is immortal: spirit (or spiritual will), buddhi (love-wisdom, the faculty of intuition, also the ability to contemplate and express compassion) and  enlightened mind (the creative mind capable of abstract thought). But man also has a lesser, mortal nature involving 4 distinct aspects: the everyday mind, the emotions, the vitality body or etheric body, as well as a physical body. These together constitute the personality.

It is the higher ideal nature which ultimately survives the death process and which eventually sooner or later, unless having experienced freedom from the necessity to reincarnate, incarnates and enters a new body and life. This enduring part of our being which also includes a higher mind component is also called by the Masters the Reincarnating Ego.   Without this centre of permanent consciousness, the fruits of experience would be dissipated at death and no progressive spiritual evolvement would be possible.

Although in all cases certain tendencies or skandhas, as they are termed by the Masters, are brought over from previous lives, and eventually manifested in the new life, the persona cannot be described as being exactly the same as in the previous incarnation. However, having said that, according to the Masters Koot Hoomi and Morya, there are some exceptions when almost the exact persona is replicated. This is in the cases of lives which have been cut off prematurely by some tragic accident or other cause resulting from a so-called “failure of nature.”

2. Why do we not remember our previous lives?

This question constitutes one of the main objections and stumbling blocks to the teaching of reincarnation in the west. In answering this question we need to first distinguish between memory and recollection. H.P.B. states in The Key to Theosophy (which was largely inspired by the master Koot Hoomi) that we have remembrance, recollection,and also reminiscience. (The Key to Theosophy, pp.96 – 97)

Memory is the innate power to reproduce past impressions and is a faculty depending on the normal functioning of  the physical brain. Remembrance  and recollection are the attributes and handmaidens of that memory. Whereas, reminiscence is something in between these two and is a conscious recalling of past occurrences without full and varied reference to particular things. To express it another way: “memory is the stored-up record of experiences and recollections the ability to bring back memories into our present consciousness.”

According to the Wisdom teachings, the memory of our past lives is stored up in a specific part of our higher nature known as the causal body which exists in the higher vibrational levels of the mental part of our being. So the memories of all our previous lives do in fact exist in tact in a component of our Higher Self, but the incapacity to recall them consciously is due to the fact that the individual now has a different body and brain.  However, at a certain stage of spiritual unfoldment, and at the right time, memories stored in the higher nature become more and more accessible, but not before we are ready spiritually to access them. Plato was a firm advocate of the concept of reincarnation and believed it was “recollection” rather than memory that was involved in the recovery of knowledge of previous lives.

There have been plenty of documented cases of advanced souls having full recall. Helena Roerich, the amanuensis of the Agni Yoga books, and wife of the great Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich recorded in her diaries vivid memories from a variety of previous lives. We also have the example of the remarkable Christian sage and healer on Cyprus in the past century who was known as the Magus of Strovolus. He also maintained he had a very vivid recall of numerous lives including one as the early Christian father, Origen, in the 4th century A.D. (Kyriacos C. Markides, The Magus of Strovolus)

It is suggested that the amnesia we suffer in failing to recall our past lives before we are spiritually mature, is, in fact, a form of protection and blessing. Even recall of unpleasant memories in the present life can act as a detriment and hindrance to spiritual growth; how much more adverse it could be if we were able to recall unlimited the memories of painful events of other lives before reaching a certian spiritual maturity.

Djwhal Khul, who was a chela of the Master Koot Hoomi at the time when the correspondence now called The Mahatma Letters were being written, mentions that as we progress spiritually, glimpses of past lives rise to the surface uninvited; they usually begin to manifest first of all in our dream life. And very often the first memories that appear are details of how we died in a previous life.

3. What is the truth of transmigration and how does it differ from reincarnation?

Transmigration refers generally to the grossly mistaken concept that reincarnation can mean the rebirth and regression of an individual’s soul into that of an animal form in the next incarnation.Some Eastern religions teach that such an incarnation is a form of retribution for the committing of sins in another birth. However, the Masters are adamant that this is a total distortion of another ancient teaching.

In the Ageless Wisdom, it is taught that once one has entered the human kingdom, one does not usually return to an earlier kingdom of nature. There are some exceptionally rare cases when a life is so depraved and bestial the Soul and Divine part of one’s being cuts itself loose from the lesser aspects. The Divine Self or Monad, can never be obliterated, for it is the enduring part of our being. However, when the latter occurs, that essential Self has to begin all over again working its way through the various kingdoms of nature. In other cases, which are not quite so severe as the one cited, the previous Reincarnation becomes in effect a lost life, a page torn from the book of lives, leaving no trace. The Masters say it is a credit to humankind that this has occurred so very rarely over the course of the history of man. ( ML 16, p.104)

The misconception with regard to the possibility of rebirth of man into an animal form is also a misapplication of an ancient concept of the Wisdom Teachings which was later presented in modern Theosophy as “Transmigration of Life Atoms.” Life atoms have been described by theosophist, G. de Purucker, as “undeveloped god sparks, some belonging to the physical, others to the emotional and mental natures.” They compose a man’s lower principles and are the basis of the cells of one’s body. At death, these migrate or transmigrate into other bodies in which these are psycho-magnetically attracted. If the man has led a dissipated, over-indulgent existence, the life-atoms through attraction will pass into bodies or substances of like energy, which may well include animals.

4. How much choice do we have with regard to parents, race, and nation when we reincarnate?

It could be suggested that we are choosing our next life now in everything we are involved in: attitudes toward life, words, thoughts, and deeds. Of course if we had total freedom of choice we would undoubtedly choose loving parents and siblings, and the best possible situation and environment. However, the currents of Karma are not just our own; those of the family to which we are attracted play a major part in bringing about the most suitable circumstances for our spiritual evolution and development of skills and talents. Obviously if one’s life work is to be along political lines then it is highly likely, although not always so, that one will be drawn to a family involved in some way with political affairs.

Choice of race and nation may also be a matter of Karma. If you have shown racist tendencies in a particular life, as was the case with many white plantation owners in the deep South of the USA in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is probable that in a future life you will reincarnate in the race you ostracized to experience the other side of the picture. The same could be cited for the unfair treatment of the native Indians of Canada and the USA by the invading white settlers. In future incarnations the former could very well incarnate as indigenous peoples. So, the oppressors of the past may well become the oppressed in a future incarnation in order to balance the Karma.

In The Mahatma Letters, the Masters state we have to experience all the Root Races, their sub-races, and their off-shoots known as branchlets and families – and we have to experience them both in male and female bodies. Strangely and interestingly, the Masters quote a figure of 777  ( ML 14, pp.82 -83) which is supposed to account for reincarnations in all the races and subdivisions , including branchlets and families. One suspects that this figure is to some extent symbolic and not to be taken too literally, for karma may well require one to spend more than two incarnations in each race.

Of course, untold numbers of lives may be required to settle various karmic ties and obligations, or to compensate for lives cut short prematurely through accidents, suicides, and disease Surely, understanding the idea we have all probably experienced a great variety of races and sub-races and are likely to do so in the future, underscores the total inappropriateness and ignorance of racist attitudes.

5. Is immediate reincarnation entirely possible?

According to the Masters K.H. and Morya, this is not usually the norm. However, they do mention that there can be “mistakes” and “failures” of nature complicating the situation – as is the case with premature babies dying in the first few days, as with cot-death syndrome, which still remains a mystery, as with severely physically challenged and mentally-challenged children dying at a young age.  In these cases the Soul/Reincarnating Ego re-enters a new body immediately following death; and  because of the immediacy of the rebirth they can be called “the reincarnation of the same personality.” (ML 25B, p. 172)

6. Are the same tendencies carried over from one incarnation into the next?

The Masters state definitely that even though we are not exactly the same personality as in the previous incarnation – barring the exceptions mentioned above – we do bring into the new birth characteristics and tendencies developed in past incarnations. This is apparently unavoidable. These tendencies – also called skandhas  in the East – can relate to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects and are preserved  and “recorded” in some form of memory devices which in later spiritual literature are referred to as “permanent atoms.”

The Soul or Reincarnating Ego is drawn back into incarnation and ready to descend again as a result of desire for earthly experience or Trishna, as it is called in Buddhism. It “flashes forth” so to speak and as it does so, it passes through the astral dimensions on its way into physical existence and attracts these personal life atoms and permanent atoms with their bundles of skandhas. These, rather like “germs” or seeds, await the right time to spring into activity and manifest in the new personality.

7. Is there scientific proof that Reincarnation does indeed exist?

There has been numerous research on Near Death Experiences but with regard to Reincarnation, the most convincing research conducted on the subject is probably the work in the 1970s and 80s of Dr. Ian Stevenson, professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia. Stevenson interviewed hundreds of people of varying ages and from different cultures purported to have had genuine recall of recent lives. These cases included for instance children in India, indigenous peoples in Alaska and Canada, and others in South America, the U.K. and U.S.A.

His first book focused on 20 cases he considered to be the most convincing and entitled it Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. Being primarily a scientist and psychiatrist, he was very mindful of establishing his research on as scientific a basis as possible. Hence the use of the word “suggestive” in his title. Be that as it may, these cases and later ones in his future works are certainly most convincing.

Ian Stevenson also researched the strange phenomenon of people speaking in foreign languages in sleep, unknown to them in waking life, and based a book on his findings. He coined a special word for this phenomena which was ….

8. Do the Masters have the ability to perceive the previous lives of their chelas?

The Master Koot Hoomi intimates in the letters he does have the ability to look into the previous incarnations of his disciples and others but does not really like to exercise this particular siddhi. (ML 24B, p. 188) It is suggested there is nothing untoward/improper in our curiosity to learn about our previous incarnations. However, he makes the comment it would be more advisable for each of us to study and understand our present persona before attempting to learn anything of its “creator, predecessors and fashioner.” He encourages us to follow the Delphic oracle’s advice: “Man Know Thyself.” (ML 23A, p. 145)

Even so, despite the above, the Master Koot Hoomi does offer some clues about  A.P. Sinnett’s previous life as a Roman senator, Nonius Asprenas, who lived at the time of the Emperor Domitian; he also mentions he had a close liaison with one Clemens Arretinus who was a friend of the high priest in the Temple dedicated to Jupiter in Rome.  It is also indicated that Sinnett’s love for mysticism originated from that life-time and his connection with the Temple of Jupiter.

9. What can be said with regard to the historical belief in Reincarnation?

The doctrine of Reincarnation is generally associated with eastern thought, Hinduism and Buddhism in particular. In the West, we are not used to associating it historically with the ancient Jews, Greeks, and Romans. Yet, surprisingly enough, at the time of Jesus, it was universally taught in most parts of the world. Indeed, there are various references to Reincarnation in the Bible despite the fact many references were removed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinian. And there is evidence that some of the Church Fathers fully accepted it. For instance, we have the outstanding example of the Alexandrian Christian father and ascetic, Origen, who wrote a lengthy treatise on the subject of Metempsychosis – the current term of that day for the doctrine of Rebirth.

In the middle of the 6th century a special Church council was convened which was supposed to involve priests both from the western and eastern churches on a number of topics, including the attempt to ostracize the teachings of the Church father, Origen on Metempsychosis/Reincarnation by declaring them “anathema.” It was following this significant church council meeting that the teachings with regard to Reincarnation began to disappear from the intellectual and religious life of Europe. This coincided with and heralded the beginning of the so-called “Dark Ages” and the consequent dimming of the light of Spirituality and enlightenment in the western world. Ironically, the Eastern Orthodox church representatives, who had been invited, boycotted the meetings due to serious differences of opinion between them and the western church members. As a result the vote against Origen’s stand on Reinarnation was never ratified and so from a legal standpoint, one can be a member of the Roman Catholic Church and still maintain a belief in reincarnation. Words to this effect are in fact stated in the modern Catholic Encyclopedia.

Down through the centuries, there had been the occasional profound thinkers, mystics, and poets in the west, such as Jacob Bohme, Marcillo Ficino, Francis Bacon, William Wordsworth, Lord Arthur Tennyson and many more, who have fully embraced the idea of reincarnation. However, it was not until the end of the 19th century, when the modern theosophical movement was established with its emphasis on the revival of the teachings of the Ancient and Ageless Wisdom, that this great doctrine was re-introduced into western thought. Since then, it has been regaining its position as a world-wide belief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Masters’ Teachings on Dying and Life After Life

THE MASTERS’ TEACHINGS on DYING and LIFE AFTER DEATH

Introduction

In the remarkable correspondence known as The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett written from 1880 t0 1885, extensive information was imparted on the subjects of death, and life after life. It is interesting to note that many of these teachings were being made available to Western minds possibly for the first time in recorded history.

When these teachings were being communicated, Spiritualism was captivating the hearts and minds of many seekers both in the UK, Europe, and the American Continent. Undoubtedly the Spiritualist movement played an important part in awakening people in the West to reflect more on the possibility of life existing after death. However, much of the interest was confined to attempts by grieving relatives to contact loved-ones who had left this earthly plane. The belief system surrounding Spiritualism was in most cases totally focused on departed souls whom they called “spirits” inhabiting “Summerland” – that dimension of consciousness which in the Ageless Wisdom is referred to today as the astral plane. There were also many misconceptions as to the true nature of the contacts made during séance sessions.

The Masters explain that they were not against true Spiritualism per se but against indiscriminate mediumship, especially trance possessions. Their desire was to deepen the perceptions of those involved in Spiritualism to assist them to explore further into the more profound realm of spiritual philosophy rather than limiting their fascination to departed “Spirits” and “Summerland.”

Since the latter part of the 19th century, attitudes with regard to life after death have undergone a transformation, albeit a gradual and slow one. And I propose that the teachings of the Masters, through these letters and later theosophical works, has played its part in raising public consciousness on this all-important subject.

We have seen of course the meteoric rise of research on Near Death Experiences; that and the greater numbers of people reporting such happenings has also played a major part in changing public attitudes. No doubt one of the reasons for the proliferation of experiences is the increased sophistication of medical technology in resuscitating those on the threshold of death. Perhaps, also, people are no longer afraid of speaking openly about such occurrences without being considered mad-caps and quacks. We have also seen a marked growth in the interrelation and mingling of peoples from the East with the West with its indelible effect on western society and thought. For example, the influx of Tibetan peoples including Buddhist lamas fleeing from the oppression of the Chinese invasion, beginning in the 1950s, migrating to western countries has made its impact.

Tibetan teacher, Sogyal Rimpoche, author of the book: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying was appalled when he first came to the west in the 1970s of attitudes towards death, and the lack of any real process and programs to assist dying patients and their families for the inevitable transition. As a result, he initiated a movement to help rectify this situation which drew upon the wisdom of the east, especially Tibetan Buddhism. His book, which became very popular, outlined this approach and offered many useful practices.

Interestingly the Tibetans have been referred to in spiritual literature as “the guardians of knowledge about life after death.” This may be in part due to a remarkable treatise written by a Tibetan saint in the 8th century A.D. – Padma Sambhava – which became known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead.  Although the teachings in this work are largely symbolic, some of the specifics given by Masters Koot Hoomi and Morya, especially the concept of the bardos, parallel this treatise; this is not surprising as both these Mahatmas had a strong connection with Tibet and the “Himalayan Brotherhood.” There is also plenty of evidence that H.P. Blavatsky spent several years in Tibet being tutored by these Masters. One of the monasteries she is alleged to have frequented was the Tibetan monastery of Shigatze, and this place of spiritual learning is mentioned several times in the letters.

The Last Moments

In the first instance, the teachings of the Masters with regard to dying echo beliefs expressed in Hinduism, Buddhism, and even Christianity. They stress the tremendous importance of the last thoughts and desires at the moments leading up to death for these determine our state of consciousness in the after life. The Christians subscribe to the belief that reflections on Jesus in the last moments will lead to salvation, whereas in Hinduism it is stated that the last desires will not only determine the nature of life after death, but will also affect the next incarnation.(ML 23B, p. 170)

We may perceive, understandably, it is not an easy feat to entertain positive and spiritual thoughts at the actual moment of passing unless contemplation on the Divine have become part of one’s daily practice. There is the well-known Hindu story of the shop keeper who gave names of deities to each of his children to ensure he would remember to call upon God and the Divine at the time of passing. However, when it came to the actual moment, all his children were gathered around the bed, and the question that came uppermost in his mind was “who is left  minding the shop?”

The Masters Koot Hoomi and Morya are specific in stating in the letters that most average good people dying natural deaths will still remain in the earth’s atmosphere for a  few days to a few years (counting in earth time although it is noted that time in the inner dimensions time differs a great deal from time in the earthly realm). This period depends really on how ready one is to outlive the patterns established in the emotional and mental aspects of one’s being that has formed the persona during the previous incarnation. (ML 20C, p. 133)

It is important to emphasize at this juncture, a point made by the Teachers and which is corroborated by later spiritual writers: no-one dies insane or unconscious. (ML 23B, p.170) We are assured that even a madman will have his instant of perfect lucidity. In The Key to Theosophy (p. 127), which is purported to have been inspired by the Master K.H., H.P. Blavatsky states that “for one short instant the personal becomes one with the individual all-knowing Ego.” In this case, let it be clarified, the Ego refers to the Higher Self and immortal part of our nature and not the limited self which we associate with egoism. If this moment of clarity is recognized for what it really is, it can represent a truly wondrous opportunity for enlightenment and spiritual freedom which is known in Hinduism as “moksha.”

It is further stated, “this instant is enough to show to him the whole claim 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; he feels and knows the justice of all the suffering that has overtaken him.” ( The Key to Theosophy, p. 127)

Another highly significant factor stressed by the Masters is the truth that in those last moments before the soul leaves the body, the soul lives his whole life again. Each of us sees the entire panorama pass by as in a film from the last happenings running backwards to the earliest times of one’s life  This process is a totally involuntary process without any judgment involved, and is one we cannot affect in a conscious manner.

There have been numerous documented cases of people who have been on the threshold of dying, as for example in drowning, and they certainly corroborate this truth that “the whole life is reflected in our memory and emerges from all forgotten nooks and crannies … event after event”. (ML 23B, p. 170)

The Masters have some strong and poignant advice for those present at a death-bed scene.  As much is happening to the soul of the departing one, it is imperative their work not be impeded by any distraction such as incessant chatter, and weeping. Those assisting are advised to “speak with whispers and to keep quiet until death has laid her clammy hand upon the body.” Otherwise, as the Master explains, we may “hinder the busy work of the Past casting its veil upon the veil of the Future.”(ML 23B, p. 170)

The Next Stage

In the Mahatma Letters a rather complex description is provided of what happens to the various aspects of our being following the dying process.  In order to grasp this we have to gain a clearer idea of what really makes up the human constitution. The Ageless Wisdom represents the human being as being partly divine and immortal, and partly human and mortal, which are referred to respectively as the Higher or the Spiritual Self and the Lesser, Lower Self or Personality.

The Higher, Spiritual Self  has three aspects: Intelligent Mind capable of great creativity and abstract thought (Higher Manas), the Intuitive, all-compassionate nature  (Buddhi), and Spirit, which includes the spiritual will (Atma). The Lesser Self comprises the physical body plus its vital counterpart, the etheric body, the components of the emotions, and the everyday or lower mind. In the teachings presented in the Letters the higher three aspects are variously referred to as the fifth (beginning with higher mind), sixth and seventh  principles and the lower self as the first (beginning with the physical body), second, third, and fourth principles.

When death is underway, the soul leaves first the physical body and then a little later the vital body (the etheric or vital body- on which the physical is moulded) along with its prana, the source of energy for the body. Sometimes the soul can linger in the vital body for an extended period and may be seen as a phantom; however, as long as unnatural means are not employed to sustain the vital body (as was practiced in ancient Egypt through mummification), the soul can become free of the etheric within a matter of hours.  Cremation practices in the west were first introduced by those partial to the teachings of Theosophy; as time passes, this practice is becoming increasingly the norm and this is beneficial both for the environment and for the passage of the soul.

The Purification Process

The person who dies a natural death will usually remain in the so-called “Kama-loka” or astral world and following a period of unconsciousnss and repose will awaken and be drawn to activites in this realm of existence similar to those engaged upon in life. One can say that in the Kama-loka, we create our own reality according to the state of our consciousness we departed the earthly life. It is suggested by the Masters that the less evolved will tend to sleep even right through this period. Although time is certainly different in the astral dimensions of consciousness (actually speeded up) we can say that this stage of the after-life can vary from simply hours (which is rare) to years (of earth time).

This is also referred to as a period of purification and “gestation” in which the soul and what has remained of the personality learns to detach from clinging desires, passions and negative mental states. The time of this process will vary a great deal depending on many factors, especially those pertaining to karma. Eventually, sooner or later, the higher part of our being comprising the 5th, 6th, and 7th principles, detaches itself from the lesser self which subsequently then becomes a shell. This is known in theosophical literature as the “second death.” The shell left behind is really comprised of the discarded animal nature and basically it is these astral shells that mediums are animating during séances. These can survive for a time and are also referred to as elementaries. Later on they dissipate and break up. Unfortunately, mediums very often mistake these elementaries for the souls of the departed and in some cases they have even been described as “angel-guides.”

Regarding unnatural deaths such as suicides, and accidents, the Masters have plenty to say. In the case of suicide much depends on the motive and it is not ruled out that there have been examples in history of suicide being performed as an act of sacrifice. In most cases, the soul is held in a “holding pattern” until the time has passed that represents the time one would have spent in incarnation if suicide had not intervened. (ML 20C, p. 132)

As for accidents, it is pointed out there are such things as “accidents” which have not been precipitated through karma; Blavatsky refers for instance to cases of “unmitigated suffering.”  In such cases, the soul will experience compensation in the next incarnation.  For those thrust suddenly into the after-life, it is comforting to read there is a group and special department of angelic beings (dhyan chohans) whose main role is to assist these souls in making much-needed adjustments to their new state of being. (ML 20C, p. 131)

The Devachan Bardo

Following this period of “gestation” when, as the Masters express it, the personal Ego is “purified, made holy,” the soul enters a state of intense happiness and bliss referred to in Buddhism as Devachan. The Masters provide in their correspondence to A.P. Sinnett and A.O. Hume a great deal of fascinating information on this aspect of the after-life. They describe it as the third phase in the period between death and rebirth. In The Tibetan Book of the Dead the duration in the after life state is generally termed the bardo but it is divided into three main divisions.(ML 16, pp. 105 – 106)

Devachan can be equated, to some extent, with the heaven and paradise of Christianity with one glaring exception. In Christianity, heaven is presented as a non-ending state lasting into perpetuity. For this reason the Masters admonished HPB for comparing it to the Christian heaven.  (ML 16, p. 106) In the Ageless Wisdom teachings, there are no ultimate everlasting conditions; everything is cyclic and even those sufficiently enlightened to experience and enter Nirvana do so only for a certain cycle, even though it may seem to go on into eternity; and when this cycle has finished, Nirvanees resume their evolutionary journey with its various commitments and duties whether it involves this planet or other planetary schemes.

Although it does not last into infinitude, Devachan, unequivocally, is a state of unalloyed bliss and happiness in which “no pain, no grief nor even the shadow of sorrow” darkens its bright horizon. There the purified soul is in the company of all one’s loved ones regardless of whether they are in fact still in the earth plane or not, and one is engrossed in all the affections , activities, and pursuits that brought happiness on Earth. This state is of course still an illusionary one – although highly refined – yet it is an ideal condition subject entirely to one’s own idea of paradise. And obviously, one person’s idea of paradise can greatly differ from that of another individual. (ML 16, pp.101 – 102)

So, as the Masters expound, there are many states of Devachan. It can also be described as an intensely selfish state. Yet, there is no denying, it occurs as a reward for all the meritorious acts and words expressed in the recent and fast-fading incarnation. However we must not fall into the trap of mistaking Devachan for Nirvana. The latter is a genuine experience of the Reality that lies beyond all illusion.

Interestingly, for the individual experiencing Devachan, time is not a factor as there is no cognizance of the passage of time in this state. In some ways this can be compared to the absorption and lack of realization of the passage of time experienced when we are engrossed in activities that bring us great happiness. Paradoxically, though, the Masters teach that the period spent in Devachan varies greatly and depends upon the amount of good karma accumulated as the result of merited deeds, activities, thoughts and words in the previous life. The Master gives an analogy as follows: “Fill with oil Den’s little cup, and a city reservoir of water, and lighting both see which burns longer. The Ego is the wick and Karma the oil, the difference in the quantity of the latter (in the cup and the reservoir) suggesting to you the great difference in the duration of various Karmas.” (ML 16, p. 106)

A surprising aspect to Devachan is the idea there is the possibility to develop further interests and talents already manifested in previous life and lives. Blavatsky assures us: “Devachan is an idealized and subjective continuance of earthly life.” The Masters actually refer to two stages of Devachan. The first being the rupa or form stage and the second being the arupa or formless stage.The first features the living out of the spiritual aspirations of the previous life. As those ideals are exhausted, our inner self then enters the second stage. There we can live in a state of spiritual bliss for an immense period depending on the karma created in the previous incarnation. However, even in the arupa stage it is still an illusory state, albeit of a very high order. (ML 16, pp.105 – 106)

Later proponents of the Ageless Wisdom have indicated that in a similar way, disciples and those treading the spiritual path are likely to bypass the Devachan bardo in order to return more quickly to earthly life to complete the task of mastering the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of his/her being. More importantly it is also bypassed for the purpose of engaging in service to humanity and the planet.

Communication Between the Living and the Dead

A perplexing question is whether those of us still in the earthly realm can contact loved ones who have passed on and are currently in Devachan. First of all we need to recall that those in this state are oblivious to any suffering or pain. The Masters are quite adamant in stating that those who have passed on into Devachan cannot have “direct communion with those left behind simply because it would inevitably involve suffering on one or both parties. However, they do not discredit the possibility of indirect communion for those who express a pure love for the departed relative or relatives. It is intimated that if the love is pure enough it will reach them and prove to be beneficial to both the sender and the recipients.

In The Key to Theosophy, Blavatsky gives two exceptions to the rule regarding the possibility of communication of the living with the departed. The first exception she cites is during the days that follow immediately the death of a person and before the Soul passes into the devachanic state. The second exception is found in the teaching with regard to Nirmanakayas. These are adepts or Saints who have won the right to Nirvana but who out of pity for humanity renounce the Nirvanic state. Blavatsky informs us that such saints determine to remain in spirit on our earth. She writes: “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.”

Sleep and Life After Life

This article would not be replete without including some thoughts on comparing Sleep and Death. The Masters in their correspondence to A.P. Sinnett and A.O. Hume do not comment on this but useful reflections are found in later theosophical writings such as those of Alice A. Bailey which were purported to be inspired by Djual Khool (Djwhal Khul), the chela of the Master Koot Hoomi, who became an Adept. In these it is specified that death is literally the withdrawl from the heart and the head of two major streams of energy. The first is the soul or consciousness aspect anchored in the brain in the region of the pineal gland; the second is that aspect of the life current which animates every atom of the body and produces the principle of coherence or integration and is focused on the right side of the heart. From these two points, the pineal gland in the brain, and the right side of the heart, the spiritual man seeks to control his vehicle of expression, the physical body.

Death differs from sleep in that both streams of energy are withdrawn. In sleep only the thread of energy anchored in the brain is withdrawn and when this happens the man becomes unconscious regarding the physical world. However, his consciousness or sense of awareness can be focused elsewhere, for example in the astral dimension of consciousness. As indicated by many spiritual writers, our most vivid dreams can be recollections of actual happenings and activities in the astral realm and its various gradations. However, because the life thread is still anchored to the heart, the individual who may be having these experiences in sleep is able to return to the physical body without difficulty.

The Masters Koot Hoomi and Morya clarify that after death it is the Kama-rupa – better known now as the astral body – that becomes the vehicle  in which we function until the purification and gestation period has passed. Then, as mentioned before, the soul becomes free of the trammels of the lesser self and can enter into Devachan and the realms of the higher mind.

Conclusion

It is perhaps of some solace, as we come to grips with the inevitable process of death and dying, to know that every night we “die” to the physical plane of existence and are alive and functioning elsewhere.  We also need to remember we have already achieved the facility in leaving the physical body. Because as yet we cannot  bring back into the physical brain memories of leaving and returning, most of us fail to relate sleep and death. As the Master Djwhal Khul expresses it: “Death after all is only a longer interval in the life of physical functioning; one has only gone abroad for a longer period (before coming back into incarnation).”

The only difference between the two is that the magnetic thread preserving the life force is intact and represents the path of return to the body. In death the life thread is snapped making return to the same physical vehicle impossible.

The importance of understanding the Ageless Wisdom teachings on this whole subject of death cannot be over-estimated. As the Master Koot Hoomi comments in the Mahatma Letters: “He who holds the key to the secrets of Death is in possession of the keys of life.”

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

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