On the Fate of the Lower “Principles.”    

ENQUIRER. You spoke of Kama-loka, what is it?

THEOSOPHIST. When the man dies, his lower three principles leave him for ever; i. e., body, life, and the vehicle of the latter, the astral body or the double of the living man. And then, his four principles―the central or middle principle, the animal soul or Kama-rupa, with what it has assimilated from the lower Manas, and the higher triad find themselves in Kama-loka. The latter 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 Atma-Buddhi-Manasic triad is said to “separate” itself from its lower principles, or the reflection of the ex-personality, by falling into the Devachanic state.

ENQUIRER. And what happens after this?

THEOSOPHIST. Then the Kama-rupic phantom, remaining bereft of its informing thinking principle, the higherManas, and the lower aspect of the latter, the animal intelligence, no longer receiving light from the higher mind, and no longer having a physical brain to work through, collapses.

ENQUIRER. In what way?

THEOSOPHIST. Well, it falls into the state of the frog when certain portions of its brain are taken out by the vivisector. It can think no more, even on the lowest animal plane. Henceforth it is no longer even the lower Manas, since this “lower” is nothing without the “higher.”

ENQUIRER. And is it this nonentity which we find materializing in Seance rooms with Mediums?

THEOSOPHIST. It is this nonentity. A true nonentity, however, only as to reasoning or cogitating powers, still an Entity, however astral and fluidic, as shown in certain cases when, having been magnetically and unconsciously drawn toward a medium, it is revived for a time and lives in him by proxy, so to speak. This “spook,” or the Kama-rupa, may be compared with the jelly-fish, which has an ethereal gelatinous appearance so long as it is in its own element, or water (the medium's specific AURA), but which, no sooner is it thrown out of it, than it dissolves in the hand or on the sand, especially in sunlight. In the medium's Aura, it lives a kind of vicarious life and reasons and speaks either through the medium's brain or those of other persons present. But this would lead us too far, and upon other people's grounds, whereon I have no desire to trespass. Let us keep to the subject of reincarnation.

The Key to Theosophy pp143-145 or view on line at:

http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/key/key-9.htm

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Comments and questions welcome

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Here are some questions to help us focus and get us started:

a)  What does HPB mean when she says the Kama-loka is an astral locality only in a relative sense?

b) What are the two deaths referred to in this passage?

c) How does the second death differ between animals and humans.

d) The kama-rupic phantom is said to collapse once bereft of the Higher Manas and the physical brain. What is implied by the term “collapse”?

e)  Why is the kama-rupic phantom called both an Entity and a non-entity?   

Please share any questions or bring up key points of your own.

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As no one has responded to the above questions, here is an overview of dying and the after death states.  This is based on the excellent work Geoffrey Farthing has done on collating many of the  references to it in HPB's works and the Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett.  I have used slightly different headings and passages to suit my own attempts to clarify these stages.  To keep a sense of flow,  I've not put passages in quotes even when some of these are quotes and put the references at the end of the passages for those who wish to verify what is put below for themselves. Apologies for the length.

Overview of dying and after death states:

As a general principle everything happens in nature as part of a gradual process.   The process of the dissolution of the inner, astral principles may begin while the person is still in seeming good heath.  Once physical death has occurred and the Ego is free of the body, the period between this and rebirth is divided into three sub-periods which may last from a few years to a kalpa (see ML 16; note 7):

1) the Ego enters  Kama-Loka, the abode of Elementaries and shells.  This can last from a few hours up to several years, perhaps 25 to 30yrs. From which it enters…

2) the Gestation State… unclear how long this lasts, "very long", it depends on the spiritual stamina. From which it enters...

3) Devachan.  Average time 1,000 to 1,500 years.

1.  Dissolution process before death of physical body.

The dissolution of the astral inner man, “or rather its outer shell”, may already have begun while the physical body is still in seeming health.  Due to the process of dissolution as we approach the end of life, the inner faculties may be able to present themselves to the inner eye giving a glimpse of the profound knowledge which belongs to the Higher Ego.  This may include a presentment of time of death. (see CW VI 347 - 348).

2. The Process of Dying.

The last desires and predominant thoughts at the time of death strongly influence the prenatal state and birth in the next incarnation.  However, these last desires and thoughts are normally affected by the general shape of the life just ending. 

No man dies insane or unconscious.   The dying brain dislodges memory, and memory restores every memory entrusted to it during the period of the brain’s activity.   For one short instant the personal becomes one with the individual and all knowing Ego and lives over his whole life again.  Looking down on his life in those moments the person feel and knows the justice of all the suffering that has overtaken him in life. 

(ML 23b and KEY 162)  

3.  Immediately after Death.

First death marked by the loss of lower triad (physical body, life principle and astral double).

Person becomes unconscious in the Kama-loka, losing all remembrance of things internal and external. Sleeps its akashic sleep which may last from a few hours up to several years.

Perceptive faculties become extinct forever.  Spiritual powers of cognition and volition lost for time being.

At the moment of death the Mayavi rupa may be thrown into objectivity and appear to a loved one owing to intensity of desire shooting through the dying brain, but this is automatic rather than a conscious projection.

“Those who know they are dead in their physical body can only be either adepts or sorcerers; and these two are the exceptions to the general rule.”  

(ML 16; 20c; 24b)

4.  The Death Struggle.

Death struggle takes place in kama-loka, at the ‘entrance’ to the Gestation state.  The struggle takes place between the Upper and Lower dualities (Atma-Buddhi and kama-manas) for the spiritual content of the life just ended. 

The Upper Duad attracts to itself the quintessence of the Good from the fifth principle – its nobler affection, saintly aspirations, and the most spiritualized portions of the mind, taking these into the “Gestation State” where they will be assimilated.

The process of stripping off the lower, the fourth and part of the fifth, principles is an unconscious one in all normal human beings. 

(ML 16; ML 23b; CW IX 164; CW VI 129)

5.  Gestation State.

The spiritual portions of the personal consciousness carried away by the Higher in the Death Struggle are assimilated by Atma-Buddhi.  The Ego and person are still unconscious at this stage, but consciousness slowly and gradually returns towards the end of the gestation period.

After the period of unconscious gestation a new spiritual Ego is reborn out of the old Ego.  The ‘new’ Ego - as pure and innocent as a new-born babe - goes into Devachan.

(ML 16 ;  CW IV 120-121;  CW IX 164)

6.  Devachan.

Consciousness has returned to the Ego by the end of the Gestation period. 

At the entrance to Devachan a Second Review (re-living) takes place of the whole of the previous life by the new Ego.   The Ego clings to certain scenes and actors that remain permanently while all the rest fade away to disappear forever, or return to their creator – the shell.  

Second Death:  Devoid of the finer, spiritual portions of fifth principle the kama-rupa shell is left behind with merely a shadow of animal intelligence from the personality remaining.  These kama-rupic remains are the angel guides appearing at the medium’s circle.  A faint consciousness gradually returns to the shell only after the spiritual portions have been carried away by the Upper Duad. The kama-rupa shells will finally disentegrate in the Kama-loka, but sometimes it will last a long time, especially if their vitality is preserved by a medium.  25 to 30 years is said not to be too long if sustained in this manner.

Devachan is a subjective dream like state wherein each Ego experiences an ideal paradise of its own making, filled with the scenery, crowded with incidents, and thronged with the people it would expect to find in such a sphere of compensative bliss.  It is a spiritual condition only as contrasted with our grossly material condition.

The devachanic Ego can never return to earth, nor is it aware of what takes place there.

Length of time in devachan may be decades, centuries and millenniums, depending upon the duration of karma which needs to be expended.  Average time is 1,000 to 1,500 years.  Devachan is the world of effects set in motion by causes during incarnation.

(ML 16; ML 24; ML 25;  KEY 145)

7.  Rebirth.

Towards the end of the Devachanic period the Ego falls into an unconscious condition which precedes rebirth. 

At the moment it is reborn, the Ego awakes from the Devachanic state and has a prospective vision of the life to come and realizes all the causes that have led to it.    The Ego rebecomes for a short time the god he was, before, in compliance with Karmic law, he first descended into matter and incarnated in the man of flesh.

A new astral entity is formed out of the akashic essence and the tanhic elements (skandhas) left as a record in the kama loka by the previous personality.  The new personality, conditions of birth, family and environment are determined by Karma.

(ML 16;  KEY p163; CW XII 609)

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There are two works by Geoffrey Farthing which deal specifically with the after death states as presented by HPB and the Mahatmas.  These are:

"When we die: exploring the great beyond." 

"AFTER-DEATH CONSCIOUSNESS AND PROCESSES"
published 1996

The first book comes with explanations and clarifications by Geoffrey Farthing.  The second book is a compilation of passages from HPB and the Mahatmas arranges in order of the after death states.

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Hi Peter,

This is very clear.  I assume the second death is the process you describe above as the death struggle between Atma-Buddhi and Kama-Manas.  After the Upper Duad assimilates the higher portion of Manas, what happens to the remains of kama-manas?  Do they disintegrate back to the elementals?  It looks like the ego (i.e. I am Barbara) exists after death n Kama Loka? 

Something that was pointed out by Daniel, which is, initiates go through this process while living.  It would be interesting to imagine how it works during initiation. 

Thanks,

Barbara

 

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Barbara - Yes, the way I understand it is that the “Second Death” takes place at at the end of the Gestation period at ‘the entrance’ to Devachan.  In other words, it immediately follows the “Second Review” or re-living of the whole of the life just gone by the “new spiritual Ego” which emerges from the Gestation state “like the fabled Phoenix from the ashes” (see CW IV 121). 

  On the one hand we are told that each stage is part of a gradual process, on the other hand there must be a final moment when the “new Spiritual Ego” is completely free of the kama-rupa. It seems that during the Second Review the “reborn” Ego takes into the Devachanic state what it needs from the life just gone and rejects the rest, casting off the kama-rupic shell completely.  

In the First Death and after the first review it is the physical body, life principle (prana) and astral double (linga sarira) which are shrugged off, each of which returns to its respective earthly elements as the form disintegrates.

In the Second Death and after the second review it is the kama-rupa (passions and animal and purely earthly intelligence) which is shrugged off, leaving the shell to disintegrate and return to its respective psychic and astral elements.

Does ‘the ego (i.e. I am Barbara) exists after death in Kama Loka?”   No. I don’t believe that’s the case any more than a recording of your voice left on a magnetic tape can be said to be your Ego continuing to exist after you had moved to another place and left machine behind.   No matter how many times we play back the tape it will never tell us anything new other than what was left imprinted on it.  The kama-rupic shell is in a similar condition.    

We are taught that ‘thoughts are things and have tenacity, coherence and life’. That’s why we tend to struggle with them; habitual thoughts and strong desires being particularly hard to deal with.  These are the elemental lives that constitute our psychic-mental life and which persist for some time after the thinking ego has abandoned the kama-rupic shell.   It is said that after the spiritual portions of manas have been carried off by the Monad into Devachan “the shell gradually develops a kind of hazy consciousness of its own from what remains in the shadow of personality.”  (ML 23b)  What remains of the manas in the shell is only a low kind of animal intelligence.

“The Manas shorn of its finest attributes, becomes like a flower from which all the aroma has suddenly departed, a rose crushed, and having been made to yield all its oil for the attar manufacture purposes; what is left behind is but the smell of decaying grass, earth and rottenness.”  (ML23b; note 21) 

The above (and the previous post) is said to be the general rule for the normal run of humanity who have some portions of their lives worthy of uniting with the Monad after death.  Exceptions are also discussed, for example the case of suicides, infant deaths and the fate of deprived souls who during life have cut themselves off from they Higher Triad.  However, HPB appears reluctant to go into details of these in The Key.

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Hi Peter,

The death process is interesting.  I did not realize there were two reviews of one's life.  What do you think is the difference between the first and second one?  Knowing the stages of our death,  how do you think it helps us to live a more meaningful life?

Thanks for your explanation. 

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Barbara asks: What do you think is the difference between the first and second review?  Knowing the stages of our death, how does it helps us to live a more meaningful life? ------

Great questions Barbara, hopefully some of our members might like to share some thoughts on these.  Below are some of my own with regards to the first question on the two reviews.

Actually there are three reviews, if I may call them all by that same term for the time being.  Two concern the life that is over.  One concerns the life that is about to come.

First review - at the moment of the first death (the shrugging off of the physical body, life principle and astral double).

Second review - at the entrance to Devachan (the shrugging off of kama-rupa; the second death)

Third ‘review’ - at the entrance to the new incarnation; shrugging off its identity with the devachanic ego, the Ego regains full manasic consciousness for a short time.

To my understanding, the first and the third review seem to have more clarity and wisdom/knowledge about them as both include an understanding of all the causes that have led up to that moment.  

In the first review the personal ego merges momentarily with the Higher Ego and sees the whole of the 'life just gone' spread out before it - in all its details.  The personal consciousness is granted a spiritual bird’s eye view all that has happened to it, with a direct insight into the whole chain of causation at work throughout.  “He reads his life, remaining as a spectator looking down into the arena he is quitting; he feels and knows the justice all the suffering that has overtaken him.”  (KEY p162)

The second review is carried out the by “new Spiritual Ego”, reborn out of the Gestation state - like the butterfly that has emerged from the chrysalis or the phoenix that has arisen from the dead ashes.  The review or re-living of the whole life at this stage appears to be concerned largely with the gathering together of those ‘spiritual’ memories that will populate the Ego’s stay in Devachan.  We understand that the devachanic state while spiritual in terms of its quality, so to speak, is yet illusory with regards to its content.  So, the process in this review appears to lack the understanding and wisdom that flashed through the first review.   Adepts don’t have a devachan.

The third ‘review’ comes at the end of the Devachanic period when the Ego has woken up out of its devachanic dream of bliss.  “…between Devachan and re-birth…the Ego regains his full manasic consciousness, and rebecomes for a short time the god he was, before, in compliance with Karmic law, he first descended into matter and incarnated in the first man of flesh.”  (KEY 163)   I’ve used the same term again (i.e. review) because the Ego is said not only to have “a prospective vision of the life which awaits him”, it also has a realisation and understanding of all the causes that have led to this point, this new incarnation.  The clarity, wisdom and understanding embracing past and future are clearly of a far higher order than the previous two reviews.

Then comes birth, and another sleep - as Wordsworth put it.

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting…"

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What is the benefit to engaging in these reviews or, something like it, self-consciously prior to the death process?

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That's a good question - what might those benefits be and what would be the purpose or aim of such an approach?  Would anyone like to respond to Tamiko's question?

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Two things come to mind regarding the benefits of reviewing our life before death are -

1.  Evaluate how we spend our time and energy and see how we can better aligned ourselves with our spiritual life.

2.  By looking at ourselves and our lives at a distance with an objective light would help us to become less identified with our personality and become more detached to ourselves.

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Following up on Barbara's good thoughts…  it seems that the most important and major work carried out in the after death process takes place during the Gestation State. For it is out of this struggle and assimilation process that a 'new' spiritual Ego isrebornready to enter Devachan.  So, perhaps there is a clue in this as to spiritual maturation during incarnation.  The initiate is also sometimes referred to as "the twice born", which might indicate the result of such a process carried out while living.  The Adept has no devachan.

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Hi Peter:

As I am reading your summary of the after death states, a few questions come to mind.  I  hope you do not mind that I ask them now.  I am sure I will have questions every time I read them.   This is a great overview and very helpful. 

"At the moment of death the Mayavi rupa may be thrown into objectivity"  

Question:  Is the Mayavi rupa always with the person during incarnation or is this some thing created by the mind, a phantom so to speak, at the time of death?  I believe adepts at times use this vehicle for specific purposes. 

"The spiritual portions of the personal consciousness carried away by the Higher in the Death Struggle are assimilated by Atma-Buddhi.  The Ego and person are still unconscious at this stage."

What is meant by the term "Ego and person?"  There is still a "personal ego" after the stripping process?  I thought the personal part is gone at this point.

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Permalink Reply by Peter on November 16, 2014 at 4:28am
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Hi Barbara,

The definition of terms such as mayavi-rupa and kama-rupa seem to have evolved over the years of HPB’s writing as the teachings given out were refined (or more revealed) and adequate terms were adapted to express those teachings.  There are a couple of definitions of ‘mayavi-rupa’ which may act as starting points for exploration.  One comes from HPB’s article “The Septenary Principle in Esotericism’ (see Collected Writings).  If we look at the table given on page 157 of the SD volume 1,  what HPB is saying in her article is that the Mayavi-rupa is essentially the same as the Manomaya kosa given under the Vedantic Classification. (SEE NEXT POST for TABLE) In fact, in her article she says she is comparing here ‘The Septenary Principle in Esotericism’ with the five-fold classification found in Sankaracarya’s work, ‘Atma-Bodhi’.  She explains:

‘…the Mano-maya sheath composed of “illusionary mind” associated with the organs of action and will, is the Kamarupa and Linga-sariria combined, producing an illusive “I” or Mayavi-rupa.’ (CW IV 582)

Note that she includes the Linga Sarira in the above definition, which is actually part of the Pranamaya Kosa.  In other articles, she differentiates it from the Mayavi-rupa.  In an article in which she discusses the projection of the astral soul, HPB says:

“… that which appears, or the “double,” is called Mayavi-Rupa (illusionary form) when acting blindly; and—Kama-Rupa, “will” or “desire-form” when compelled into an objective shape by the conscious will and desire of its possessor. The Jivatma (vital principle) and Linga Sarira…are inner principles; while the Mayavi-Rupa is the outside “soul” so to say: one which envelops the physical body, as in a filmy ethereal casing. It is a perfect counterpart of the man and even of the clothing which he happens to wear. And this principle is liable to become condensed into opacity, compelled to it, either by the law of intermagnetic action, or by the potentiality of Yoga-ballu or “adept-power.”  (CW IV 53)

In answer to your question, ‘Is the Mayavi rupa always with the person during incarnation or is this some thing created by the mind, a phantom so to speak, at the time of death?’ the answer appears to be, “Both".   As well as comprising the principles outlined in the Vedanta classification, in one sense it is a ’thought-body’ which can be unconsciously projected at the time of death.  William Judge has written a number of things on the Mayavi-rupa and kama-rupa which explain more the the statement above, namely that the double is called Mayavi-Rupa when acting blindly and Kama-Rupa when compelled into an objective shape by the conscious will…’  Judge writes that the Adept creates a kama-rupa, but of a material form far more rarified than we normally associate with the kama-principle associated with the ordinary man.  A number of references to this can be found in “Echoes of the Orient” vol iii of Judge’s Collected writings.

As a ‘by-the-way’, a further confusion of terms also took place at the time of HPB (and perhaps still does) over the term “astral double”.  It is sometimes used to refer to the Linga Sarira, the astral double around which the physical body is formed.  In the Secret Doctrine, it states this is supplied by the Lunar Pitris (Dhyan-Chohans).  Then we have the ‘astral soul’ which is the Mayavi-Rupa, as described above, which, when projected is called, at times, the astral double.  Both Manas and kama (mind and the vehicle of desire) were awakened in humanity by the Solar Pitris (the Manasa Dhyanis).  From this we can infer that there is a pure form of kama (i.e. sakti or energy),  which is not merely the bundle of passions associated with our selfish and destructive desires.  Hence, the Adept can create and utilise a kama-rupa and act a distance.

Do we see a reference to the “Mayavi rupa’ (the illusory form) in The Voice of the Silence, when it states:

“When waxing stronger, the Soul glides forth from her secure retreat: and breaking lose from the protecting shrine, extends her silver thread and rushes onward: when beholding her image on the waves of Space she whispers. “This is I,” – declare, O Disciple, that thy should is caught in the webs of delusion.” (VOS, p4, original edition).

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 16, 2014 at 4:32am
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Table for previous post on Mayavi Rupa.

 

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 16, 2014 at 4:57am
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Barbara asks about my comment on the Gestation Stage, see above:  What is meant by the term "Ego and person?"  There is still a "personal ego" after the stripping process?  I thought the personal part is gone at this point.

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I think I must have written a bit clumsily here, Barbara, when saying "Ego and person". I'm not sure what I had in mind at the time, but I mean 'personal ego'.  In the previous stage, called "the Death Struggle", the spiritual aspects of the personal consciousness gained in the life just completed are separated (sifted) from the purely selfish and materialistic aspects of the personal consciousness, leaving only the spiritual portion remaining.  It appears that in the gestation state the 'spiritual' aspects of the personal consciousness are then assimilated into the higher triad, which process forms the Ego which goes into Devachan.  If there were no 'personal' aspect remaining at all, there would be no Ego to enjoy the Devachanic bliss and thus no Devachan, which is said to happen in very rare cases of a purely materialist person. 

Hope that's a bit clearer.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 16, 2014 at 5:28pm
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Thank you, Peter, for the explanation on the Mayavi rupa and personal ego.  I have to think about it and may have more questions later on.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 22, 2014 at 1:25pm
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Peter - If there were no 'personal' aspect remaining at all, there would be no Ego to enjoy the Devachanic bliss and thus no Devachan, which is said to happen in very rare cases of a purely materialist person.

Barbara - It appears that the "personal" ego remains throughout the death process.  Devachan is as much an illusion as living in the material world.  The question comes when does the personal "I" dissolve?  Is it only in Samadhi?  Does it resurrect itself after Samadhi?

In the VOS - And now thy Self is lost in SELF, thyself unto THYSELF, merged in THAT SELF from which thou first didst radiate.

Where is thy individuality, Lanoo, where the Lanoo himself?  It is the spark lost in the fire, the drop within the ocean, the ever-present Ray become the all and the eternal radiance.    

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 24, 2014 at 11:19am
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I think you're asking deep questions here, Barbara.

With regards 'the personal ego' and devachan after death, what we mean, at least as I understand it, is 'the spiritual portion of the personality that was.'  HPB calls it a 'spiritualised remembrance of the ex-personality' in The Key (p177).  There are aspects of the personal consciousness that aren't fit to enter devachan.   The real Ego is the incarnating entity itself, while the personality is a temporary composite of many elements in which the real Ego shines - or at least it tries. The Incarnating Ego is still identified with that 'spiritualised remembrance' during Devachan and while it populates that dreamy state with the idealised scenes from the life just gone, and while these are illusory, the love it feels for others, the aspiration it feels for spiritual qualities of a higher life may well be real.

Perhaps we could say that Devachan is a kind of samadhi or absorption in bliss for Ego still clothed in the best of its last life and unaware of anything else.  At the end of the Devachanic period, when 'spiritual' energy from the life just gone is finally exhausted, the Ego is said to fall into a state of unconsciousness. Perhaps this is where the 'personal' finally is exhausted, as the Ego once again becomes a god and has a god like vision of all the causes that have led up to the life about to come.

It seems that by this stage, the spiritual qualities which 'watered' the personal consciousness during the life just lived - which came in the first place from 'the higher' -  are absorbed back into Buddhi, and the consciousness ('conscious awareness') given to those qualities by the personal consciousness goes to form the Spiritual Ego.

Just some thoughts.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 22, 2014 at 2:28pm
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Hi Peter,

I am looking at the death states and have a minor, technical question.  Do you think the paragraph on the Second Death goes better under 4. The Death Struggle rather than 6 Devachan?  The way it is posted the second death occurs at the time of going into Devachan.  Reading the sequence, it seems this takes place in Kama Loka.

 

"Second Death:  Devoid of the finer, spiritual portions of fifth principle the kama-rupa shell is left behind with merely a shadow of animal intelligence from the personality remaining.  These kama-rupic remains are the angel guides appearing at the medium’s circle.  A faint consciousness gradually returns to the shell only after the spiritual portions have been carried away by the Upper Duad. The kama-rupa shells will finally disentegrate in the Kama-loka, but sometimes it will last a long time, especially if their vitality is preserved by a medium.  25 to 30 years is said not to be too long if sustained in this manner."

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 24, 2014 at 11:34am
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Hi Barbara - yes, I see what you mean.  As I understand it, the reason we would put 'The Second Death' just before the entrance into devachan (number 6 in the table above) is that it is said to be after the Gestation State and before the Entrance to Devachan that 'the second review' of the life just gone takes place.  Once this second review has taken place the 'new Ego' is ready to enter Devachan and finally discards 'the shell' (or kama-rupa) - perhaps, much like the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. This discarding of the kama-rupa shell is the second death just as discarding the physical body is the first death.  Does that seem to fit for you?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 26, 2014 at 7:07pm
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Hi Peter:

My mistake was thinking that the ego has already left kama loka during the Gestation State, but it does not seem to be the case.  If all the early stages take place in Kama Loka before the Ego goes into devachan, then the sequence of events makes a lot of sense. 

One thought that comes to mind,  if the spiritualized aspects are extracted and the dregs left behind by the "new Ego,"  how and when does the new Ego pick up its old karma?  As the "new Ego" discards the materialistic portion of the old personality,  one would think the imprints are left behind as well.

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 1, 2014 at 5:12am
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Hi Barbara - apologies for the delay in responding.  Interesting questions - thanks.  

I think part of the difficulty is that we are struggling to find adequate terms to reflect both our understanding and the very subtle distinctions in the teachings between different stages of conscious progression.  I believe that by the term “new Ego” in the after death process we are to understand this to mean the purified Ego that has emerged out of the gestation stage and appears at the entrance to Devachan.  It is the manasic Ego (the Ray of the Higher Manas that is now withdrawn, so to speak) which is still identified with the personal consciousness, except that now this personal consciousness is constituted of only the ‘spiritual’ tendencies and aspirations of the personality-that-was. 

HPB makes reference to this in her table of the seven principles in the Key to Theosophy, where she talks about Manas during the lifetime either gravitating ‘downwards’ to the kama-rupa (the animal passions) or ‘upwards’ to Buddhi:

“In the latter case, the higher consciousness of the individual Spiritual aspirations of mind (Manas), assimilating Buddhi, are absorbed by it and form the Ego, which goes into Devachanic bliss.” (p91; original edition.)

"... and form the Ego" is the relevant phrase above.

By the end of the Devachanic experience this ‘personal’ aspect (the ‘new Ego’, which goes into Devachanic bliss) will have been fully absorbed back into the Individuality (the Reincarnating Ego or Buddhi- Manas) and then ceases to exist as a distinct entity or form of consciousness.  It is said that at this stage the Individuality (Higher Manas - the Reincarnating Ego) “regains his full manasic consciousness, and rebecomes for a short time the god he was, before, in compliance with Karmic law, he first descended into matter and incarnated in the first man of flesh.”  (p163)  At the same time ‘Karma with its army of skandhas’ also waits at the threshold of Devachan for the Reincarnating Ego to re-appear and send forth a new ray into ‘matter’ around which the new personal Ego will form.

It seems to me that what we see in the after death process with its many stages is the destruction of form and the extraction of spiritual essence.  The physical body disintegrates as a form as does the kama-rupa and devachanic Ego. These are all reduced back to their base elements or life atoms.  When the Reincarnating Ego comes forth again in its next incarnation then through the power of affinity and the Law of Karma, these are drawn back to it once again and play their part in constituting the ‘new’ form (body and persona) and attracting to itself ‘new’ people, events and circumstances based on the ‘old karma’ and latent tendencies of mind.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 4, 2014 at 8:16pm
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Hi Peter:

Thank you.  It is clearer now.  I am trying to understand the basic stages so I can explain it to non-theosophists if the topic ever comes up. 

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on January 13, 2014 at 1:48pm
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In regards to question a.

The latter 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.

Is this correlative with what we experience in the dream state?

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Permalink Reply by Peter on January 15, 2014 at 3:19am
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Yes, I agree - that would be a good way to look at it, Tamiko.  

Diversity is observed most in the physical realm where every thing is spatially separated and no two things co-exist in the same point of space or locality.  As our experience becomes more subjective the sense of space changes along with it and we have to conceive of the subtler levels more in terms of 'states' rather than 'localities'.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on January 17, 2014 at 9:06am
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"Diversity is observed most in the physical realm where every thing is spatially separated and no two things co-exist in the same point of space or locality.  As our experience becomes more subjective the sense of space changes along with it and we have to conceive of the subtler levels more in terms of 'states' rather than 'localities'."

Hi Peter,

Can you describe your idea on how "the sense of space changes?"

Thanks in advance. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 18, 2014 at 4:45am
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Can you describe your idea on how "the sense of space changes?"

------------------------------

Hi Barbara - I’ll have a go! To start with I’m just saying that our understanding of space (and therefore “locality”) is largely based on our experience of the physical sensory realm.  Here separateness and diversity are experienced objectively.   A table and a chair cannot occupy the same point in physical space.  When we try to make two objects occupy the same point in physical space normally what happens is either one displaces or destroys the other, or both are displaced or destroyed.   

Subjective space has a different quality and set of laws.  I’m in my room - Mary sits in her chair;  I sit in mine. We both can’t physically occupy that same space.  That’s an objective fact.  Yet when I listen to Mary tell me about the difficult life she has had, her subjective experience, if I am understanding and empathetic I can enter into her space, step into her shoes for moment and feel something of her suffering, her hopes and aspirations.   She’s no longer someone merely ‘over there’ giving voice to her thoughts and feelings and I’m not longer someone merely ‘over here’ hearing her words.   The physical sensory-based space and location still holds, yet, at the subjective level our sense of space has changed.  That subjective space that we share together has its own properties, qualities and laws.

Of course, empathy and communion are only one side of this subjective space.  When we feel ill-will or hatred we can be sat at the same table as another person and yet feel more distant from them than from somebody the other side of the world!  When we feel depressed we can be in group of thousands and yet feel desperately lonely. When we have love in our hearts those we care for may be experienced as a part of the fabric of our life and being wherever they may be - whether they are alive or dead.  States of communion needn’t be with people, they may be experienced when out in nature, as you know.

To come back to Mary - does the space in which Mary and I share her life story together have a location in space?  I think, yes, in one way - for we entered into it and we could move around in it as we explored one aspect after another.  At the same time it had a location only in a relative sense, for if I meet Mary the street the next day we can’t just decide to walk up to that space or point to it and say, ‘there it is’.  Yet, we could go sit on a park bench together and once again take up the thread of her life story and enter that ‘same’ space again.

So, as I understand it, the subjective after death states we talk about in Theosophy, such as Kama-loka and Devachan, the various talas and lokas referred to in the eastern traditions, are both states of consciousness and relative localities.  Devachan is regarded as a dream state because the Ego identifies for the time being with the characters, events, aspirations and loves with which it surrounds itself.  We do the same in our night time dreams, but these can be unpleasant as well as pleasant.  The Ego in devachan experiences only that which is positive and blissful - blind, for the time being to what takes place in the terrestrial world and ignorant of its real nature until it wakes up for a short time at the end of Devachanic period — then rebirth.

A corollary to the above is that our proximity to those great Sages that work to benefit humanity has less to do with where we live on the globe and more to do with our state of mind and what’s in our hearts.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on January 18, 2014 at 1:43pm
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This is very interesting.  I have never thought of empathy and communication from the perspective of space, but this makes a lot of sense.  The more I digest this,  the more I can see expansion of consciousness is related to the sense of space.   We generally identify ourselves as the ego locked in our physical shell but, as our consciousness grow more universal, our sense of self also becomes more encompassing.   Instead of feeling like an isolated ego needing attention, we feel part of the One Life.   

There is another facet to this subject of space and it is related to akasa.  To illustrate,  there was one time I was visiting a client and as usual, I stopped by the front desk to chat with the receptionist about some trivialities.  We were just acquaintances.   As we were conversing, I felt as though I was "enlarging" and I enfolded her in my being.  I sensed all her thoughts.  This lasted for a few seconds or minutes.   I did not know what to make out of this experience for many years, until one day, I came across some writing by HPB where she talks about the sixth sense which has to do with permeability.  When I read this, all the pieces seemed to come together.     

Thanks for your insightful post.  It is very thought-provoking.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on January 18, 2014 at 5:40pm
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One more thought, the internet is a great example how our sense of space is changing.  This life-changing invention has altered our sense of distance and enabled humanity to come closer together, ushering the advent of the global economy.  Also, the exploration and the possibility of visiting other planets is not too far in the future. 

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on January 13, 2014 at 2:22pm
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It seems that many spiritual disciplines in a manner of speaking mirror the death process.  In other words, while in a body we must learn to let go of any limitations of self-hood we may have acquired. Letting go of the impermanent in this sense becomes a self-conscious process rather than a process merely compelled by nature's cycles.

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 15, 2014 at 3:30am
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Nicely put, Tamiko.  In the 'Phaedo', by Plato, Socrates states:

“..the one aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death.”  (Phaedo: 64)"

"It is only those who practice philosophy in the right way, we say, who always most want to free the soul; and this release and separation of the soul from the body is the preoccupation of the philosophers." (Pahedo 67d)

Socrates explains that by the above is means freeing ourselves from our attachment and identification with the body, senses and material desires.

Permalink Reply by Daniel Caldwell on January 15, 2014 at 7:37am
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The whole afterdeath process can be shown in the life cycle 
of the butterfly.  See my webpage on the monarch butterfly:

http://blavatskyarchives.com/mon/monwwdie.htm

Also:

http://blavatskyarchives.com/mon/revivingf.htm

In this webpage at:
http://blavatskyarchives.com/mon/monwwdie.htm
you can see also the stages of human evolution.

The catepillar stage represents the human being in
physical life..  That is our normal
human personality.

The monarch catepillar has a voracious appetite for milkweed and spents
its whole catepillar "life" eating and eating......Just as human beings have an appetite for experiences--- physical, emotional
and mental, etc.

When the catepillar "dies" and goes into the cocoon stage, a remarkable
transformation takes place.  From a lowly crawling creature it is transformed into
a creature of the air...that can fly...and can ascend skyward....

With a human being who dies a natural normal death, the personality goes into a
cocoon stage in KamaLoka.  A transformation takes place and only the "higher"
parts of the personality are assimilated by our inner "God".

that is, resurrected....into Devachan....the butterfly stage.

The lower parts of our personality are discarded...becomes a shell....

There are the exceptions...lives cut short by abortion, disease,  accidents, murders, 
suicides.

See also the writing by Plutarch:

http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/theos-talk/conversations/message...

http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/theos-talk/conversations/message...

Now KH writes:  

"He who holds the keys to the secrets of Death is possessed of the keys of Life...."

And Master M writes:  

"...Mr. Hume [in his "Fragments of Occult Truth" article] has perfectly defined the difference between personality and individuality. The former hardly survives — the latter, to run successfully its seven-fold downward and upward course has to assimilate to itself the eternal life-power residing but in the seventh and then blend the three (fourth, fifth and seventh) into one — the sixth. Those who succeed in doing so become Buddhs, Dyan Chohans, etc. The chief object of our struggles and initiations is to achieve this union while yet on this earth."

And then the SD Wurzburg Mss. quote:

"It [Buddhi] is also the plane of existence in which spiritual individuality is evolved, and from which personality is eliminated."

So we must learn to do consciously in this life what is usually done automatically and unconsciously in the after death states.  

THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE is such an instruction manual.  See also my small compilation:

http://blavatskyarchives.com/voiceselectedextracts.htm

And KH's teachings concerning the after death states is another instruction manual.
Farthing's compilation can be considered a Theosophical BOOK OF THE DEAD or even better titled:

THE THEOSOPHICAL BOOK OF GOING FORTH FROM THE LAND OF THE DEAD [MAYA] INTO THE REALM OF LIGHT AND LIFE.

Somewhat wordy, I know!

Daniel
http://hpb.cc
Permalink Reply by Daniel Caldwell on January 15, 2014 at 7:44am
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For more material on the afterdeath states as given in the writings of HPB and the Masters, see:

http://blavatskyarchives.com/blavatskypsychicetc.htm

See a listing of Mr. Farthing's books at:

http://blavatskyarchives.com/farthingbooks.htm

Daniel
http://hpb.cc
Permalink Reply by Peter on January 18, 2014 at 5:35am
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Daniel - thanks very much for your outline of the after death states.  The butterfly analogy is very helpful.  Thanks too for the links to your web page which provides some excellent material on this topic and on many others.

Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on November 17, 2014 at 10:35am
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Here's an excellent two part series on Kama-Loka and Devachan by Julia Keightley based on her own visionary experiences. I've found it very edifying and hope others do as well!

http://www.easterntradition.org/sleeping%20spheres.pdf

Why Theosophists Do Not Believe in the Return of Pure “Spirits.”

Towards the end of our previous sub-section HPB states that the average time spent in devachan is ten to fifteen centuries.  She also states that throughout that time the Ego remains completely unaware of terrestrial life and nor does it communicate with those it left behind, for to do so would interfere with the Ego’s bliss in devachan (p145).  The Enquirer takes this up in this next sub-section:

ENQUIRER. What do you mean? Why should this interfere with their bliss?

THEOSOPHIST. Simply this; and here is an instance. A mother dies, leaving behind her little helpless children — orphans whom she adores — perhaps a beloved husband also. We say that her “Spirit” or Ego — that individuality which is now all 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―we say that it 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. Spiritualists say, on the contrary, that it is as vividly aware of them, and more so than before, for “Spirits see more than mortals in the flesh do.” We say that the bliss of the Devachaneeconsists in its complete conviction that it has never left the earth, and that there is no such thing as death at all; 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 happiness. The Spiritualists deny this point blank. According to their doctrine, unfortunate man is not liberated even by death from the sorrows of this life. Not a drop from the life-cup of pain and suffering will miss his lips; and nolens volens, since he sees everything now, shall he drink it to the bitter dregs. Thus, the loving wife, who during her lifetime was ready to save her husband sorrow at the price of her heart's blood, is now doomed to see, in utter helplessness, his despair, and to register every hot tear he sheds for her loss. Worse than that, she may see the tears dry too soon, and another beloved face shine on him, the father of her children; find another woman replacing her in his affections; doomed to hear her orphans giving the holy name of “mother” to one indifferent to them, and to see those little children neglected, if not ill-treated. According to this doctrine the “gentle wafting to immortal life” becomes without any transition the way into a new path of mental suffering! And yet, the columns of the “Banner of Light,” the veteran journal of the American Spiritualists, are filled with messages from the dead, the “dear departed ones,” who all write to say how very happy they are! Is such a state of knowledge consistent with bliss? Then “bliss” stands in such a case for the greatest curse, and orthodox damnation must be a relief in comparison to it!

ENQUIRER. But how does your theory avoid this? How can you reconcile the theory of Soul's omniscience with its blindness to that which is taking place on earth?

THEOSOPHIST. Because such is the law of love and mercy. During every Devachanic period the Ego, omniscient as it is per se, clothes itself, so to say, with the reflection of the “personality” that was. I have just told you that the ideal efflorescence of all the abstract, therefore undying and eternal qualities or attributes, such as love and mercy, the love of the good, the true and the beautiful, that ever spoke in the heart of the living “personality,” clung after death to the Ego, and therefore followed it to Devachan. For the time being, then, the Ego becomes the ideal reflection of the human being it was when last on earth, andthat is not omniscient. Were it that, it would never be in the state we call Devachan at all.

ENQUIRER. What are your reasons for it?

THEOSOPHIST. If you want an answer on the strict lines of our philosophy, then I will say that it is because everything is illusion (Maya) outside of eternal truth, which has neither form, colour, nor limitation. He who has placed himself beyond the veil of maya―and such are the highest Adepts and Initiates― can have no Devachan. As to the ordinary mortal, his bliss in it 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 Devachanee lives its intermediate cycle between two incarnations surrounded by everything it had aspired to in vain, and in the companionship of everyone 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 degree.

The Key to Theosophy pp146-148 (original edition)

You can read the entire section on line at:

http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/key/key-9.htm

______________________________

Comments, reflections and questions are welcome.

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This passage in the Key reminds me of the idea in the Voice of the Silence that Compassion is the Law of laws.  Nature provides protection, in many ways from ourselves.

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Can someone explain why Compassion is the Law of laws?

Thank you.

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Barb;

Let us raise that question in the Art of Living group.  We will make that the focus for the next two weeks.  It is a very important question and if anyone wants to talk about it in relation to the selection Peter has here for us on "pure spirits" please go ahead. Otherwise we will take it up in detail in another study group.

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This passage emphasizes the bliss that characterizes devachan. The word devachan is a phonetic rendering of the Tibetan word spelled bde ba can, which translates the Sanskrit word sukhāvatī, which means "possessing happiness," or "possessing bliss." I bring this up because devachan is defined in the glossary to this book as the "Dwelling of the Gods," and in the book itself, p. 100, as the "land of gods," where the deva of devachan is evidently understood as the Sanskrit word deva meaning "god." There is no need to perpetuate this error any longer, when correct information is now available. In the major Theosophical source on this, the so-called "devachan letter" (Mahatma letter #16), the author of that letter clearly equates devachan with sukhāvatī. This may be seen by comparison with Samuel Beal's text that the Mahatma letter is quoting (A Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese), where Beal has sukhavati and the Mahatma letter substitutes devachan for it. So the author of that letter knew that devachan translates sukhāvatī. Here in the Key to Theosophy, too, Blavatsky's description of devachan emphasizes the meaning, "bliss" (Tibetan bde ba, pronounced dewa or deva, Sanskrit sukha), not "gods" (Sanskrit deva).

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"The Devachanee lives its intermediate cycle between two incarnations surrounded by everything it had aspired to in vain, and in the companionship of everyone 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."

It seems to me that Bliss states and land of the gods, at least symbolically have a certain correspondence.  In either case there is a certain degree of unreality connected with it.  It appears to be a certain dreamlike state.

The translations you give us here are very interesting and shed more light on the subject.

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David and/or Nicholas,

Could either of you share some thoughts on the relationship between Devachan ("place of bliss and of supreme felicity," KEY 145) and Deva-gati (the God realm, or heavenly-being realm) which is one of the six realms of samsara and into which an individual may be born depending on his/her karma, according to Buddhism.

Thanks in advance.

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Thanks, Nicholas - that bit of background is helpful.  

From one perspective I had seen Devachan as part of the cycle of samsaric existence in that, although 'spiritual', it is still filled with illusion and also, the incarnating ego is still subject to the wheel of birth and death.  From another perspective it appears not to fit in with the cycle of samsara at all in that it is only a 'world' of effects - no new karma is created there.

In the Mahatma Letter 16, the Master KH quotes a passage attributed to the Buddha in the Shan-Mun-yi-Tung where Sukhavati (Devachan) is allegorically described including it being the holy abode of Arahats governed by the Tathagatas (Dhyan Chohans).  See Letter XIV.  We wouldn't normally link the illusory state of Devachan with the 'holy abode of Arhats'.  However, later on in that letter KH goes on to talk about the varieties of bliss experienced in Devachan adding:

"Everything is so harmoniously adjusted in nature – especially in the subjective world, that no
mistake can be ever committed by the Tathagatas – or Dhyan Chohans – who guide the impulses."  (note 5 in ML 16)

Interestingly, in her article "A Few More Misconceptions Corrected", reprinted in CW XIV, which I'm sure you know,  HPB links Devachan with one of the two main types of samadhi of Raja Yoga.  In this part of the article she is discussion the visions that arise from certain mediation practices and whether or not they lead to the true state of knowledge which is infallible.

"In short, this doctrine is that of the Rāja-Yoga in its practice of the two kinds of the
Samādhi state; one of the “Paths” leading to the sphere of bliss (Sukhāvatī or Devachan),
where man enjoys perfect, unalloyed happiness, but is yet still connected with personal
existence; and the other the Path that leads to entire emancipation from the worlds of
illusion, self, and unreality."  CW XIV 439

So, plenty of food for thought, once we start looking into it.

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Another point that could be added is the what is "spiritual" and what is "material" or "illusory" is often determined by the reference point of the Perciever.  Devachan is a multifaceted term (Aren't all Occult concepts like this?) referring to a variety of states of consciousness as is illustrated above.  One would assume that HPB is referring a particular one of these in this section of the Key. Perhaps she is employing the term to mean something specific she has in mind for unincarnated after-death states. This world seems perfectly real to personal consciousness.  To the Sage it is a dreamy and temporal unreality.

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Reading your message above, it seems like the Masters use the word "devachan" in a different way.  They are not describing the state after death but an abode of the Arhats.

"From one perspective I had seen Devachan as part of the cycle of samsaric existence in that, although 'spiritual', it is still filled with illusion and also, the incarnating ego is still subject to the wheel of birth and death.  From another perspective it appears not to fit in with the cycle of samsara at all in that it is only a 'world' of effects - no new karma is created there."

Does Samsara only limited to the plane where one can create new karma?  It seems that it could be in the realm of causes as well in the realm of effects? 

"In short, this doctrine is that of the Rāja-Yoga in its practice of the two kinds of the  Samādhi state; one of the “Paths” leading to the sphere of bliss (Sukhāvatī or Devachan), where man enjoys perfect, unalloyed happiness, but is yet still connected with personal  existence; and the other the Path that leads to entire emancipation from the worlds of  illusion, self, and unreality."

What are the names of the two Samādhi states? 

 

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Barbara: What are the names of the two Samādhi states?

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HPB doesn’t give a name for these, nor is it clear whether she is referring to the Raja Yoga of Patanjali or some other school (for example, HPB does at times speak of the Raja Yoga of the Aryasanga school and also of Taraka Raja yoga of the Vedantins).

If she was referring to Patanjali, we find two types of Samadhi referred to in 1: 17 and 1: 18 of the Yoga Sutras.  These are called samprajnata samadhi and asamprajnata samadhi.  The first is samadhi with an object of consciousness.  The second follows on from the first when the samadhi has been maintained so that the object is no longer present leaving a state in which only the subtle impressions are present in a quiescent state.  Some commentators refer to these two as samadhi with and without seed (sabija and nirbija samadhi).  Others disagree and state that the true samadhi without seed only occurs when both the object of consciousness and the subtle impressions are inhibited.  See Patanjal 1:51.

In Advaita Vedanta, a number of types of samadhi are described.  Two main ones are kevala samadhi and nirvikalpa samadhi. But even these are described differently by different commentators.  Among the Advaita Vedanta sages, I would take Sri Ramana Maharshi as an authority on samadhi.  He states:

“In kevala samadhi, the activities (vital and mental), waking, dream and sleep, are only merged, ready to emerge after regaining the state other than samadhi. In sahaja [nirvikalpa] samadhi the activities, vital and mental, and the three states are destroyed, never to reappear.”  

(Talks with Ramana Maharshi)

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Barbara: Reading your message above, it seems like the Masters use the word "devachan" in a different way.  They are not describing the state after death but an abode of the Arhats.

------------

The Master does provide this description of devachan ahead of answering questions on Devachan as an after death state.  He also does point out the description is allegorical.   It does make sense to relate devachan to certain types of samadhi with seed, for in the two instances both involve being absorbed in a state of bliss of one's own making' so to speak.

Barbara:  Does Samsara only limited to the plane where one can create new karma?  It seems that it could be in the realm of causes as well in the realm of effects? 

Yes, you could be right about Samsara.  It may be a mistake to limit it only to the realm of causes, as I did. Good point.

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"In the Mahatma Letter 16, the Master KH quotes a passage attributed to the Buddha in the Shan-Mun-yi-Tung where Sukhavati (Devachan) is allegorically described . . ."

Catherine L. Albanese, scholar of American religious history, was not able to find the Shan-Mun-yi-Tung that the Mahatma quotes on devachan. After referring to this Mahatma letter in her book, A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion (Yale University Press, 2007), she writes (p. 580): "The Chinese text, if extant, is obscure: My colleague in Chinese religions, William Powell, has no knowledge of theShan-Mun-yi-Tung. Neither, apparently, did Edward Conze in his bibliography of Buddhist scriptures, nor did Lewis Lancaster (to whom Powell referred me), who revised it." As far as I know, no one has published an identification of this Buddhist text that the Mahatma quotes on devachan. I traced it a few years ago, and posted the information. It is perhaps worth re-posting the relevant part here.

The translation from the Shan-Mun-yi-Tung given in the Mahatma letter is adapted from the 1871 translation by Samuel Beal given in A Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese, pp. 378-381. Beal prefaces this with "Translated from the Chinese version of Kumarajiva, as it is found in the Shan-mun-yih-tung" (p. 378). Beal had earlier (p. 374) said that this extract is to be given "from the Sutra known as the Wu-liang-sheu-king, in which we have a full account of the Sukhavati, or Paradise in the West, over which Amitabha is supposed to preside." Before that (p. 373), Beal had said about Amitabha that "his title is 'Wu-liang-sheu,' and a Sutra bearing this title was one of the earliest translated into Chinese." So we can easily deduce that the Wu-liang-sheu-king is the Amitabha Sutra. It is this that is found in the Shan-mun-yih-tung, from which Beal translated it, and from there it was quoted and adapted in Mahatma letter 16. So what are these texts?

Today it is common knowledge, findable even on Wikipedia, that the Amitabha Sutra is a popular name for the shorter Sukhavati-vyuha sutra. But this was not known when Beal wrote. He had earlier published his "Translation of the Amitabha Sutra from Chinese" in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, for 1866 (pp. 136-144). There we learn what theShan-mun-yih-tung is. Beal begins his translation by saying: "The Amitabha Sutra. Extracted from the work called 'Shan Mun Yih Tung,' or Daily Prayers of the Contemplative School of Priests" (p. 140). He had a few pages earlier introduced it as follows (p. 136): "The following translation of the Amitabha Sutra is made from the Chinese edition of that work, prepared by Kumarajiva, and bound up in a volume known as the 'Daily Prayers of the Buddhist Priests belonging to the Contemplative School' (Shan-mun)." (p. 136). In other words, Beal had translated the shorter Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra, popularly called the Amitabha Sutra, as it is found included in a prayer book called theShan-mun-yih-tung. Since the Mahatma letter had quoted and adapted this material from Beal's 1871 Catena, this letter quoted this material as from the Shan-mun-yih-tung (rather than as from the Amitabha Sutra or the shorter Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra):

"The Devachan, or land of 'Sukhavati,' is allegorically described by our Lord Buddha himself. What he said may be found in the Shan-Mun-yih-Tung. Says Tathagata:—"

But of course, Beal does not use the word "devachan," because this is the Tibetan translation of Sukhavati, and Beal was translating from Chinese. The writer of the Mahatma letter put the word "devachan" in Beal's translation as it was there adapted: "there is a region of Bliss called Sukhavati . . . This, O Sariputra is the 'Devachan.'" So, as said earlier, this Mahatma writer knew that devachan translates or is equivalent to sukhavati. He added this word to Beal's translation in place of sukhavati.

The original Sanskrit text of the Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra was discovered in China and was first published in 1883. A considerably improved edition was published in 1965. Both of these Sanskrit editions are posted with the Sanskrit texts at dzyan.net. The first English translation made from the Sanskrit, by F. Max Muller, was published in the book, Buddhist Mahayana Texts, as Sacred Books of the East, vol. 49, in 1894. This is no doubt available online now. In 1996 a new translation was published, made by Luis O. Gomez, under the title, The Land of Bliss: The Paradise of the Buddha of Measureless Light.

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Permalink Reply by Peter on January 28, 2014 at 2:46am
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Thanks, David - I marvel at the research that must go into bringing all these facets of historical information together.

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 28, 2014 at 2:44am
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Thanks, Nicholas - it couldn't be put more simply than that.  I'm glad, however, that HPB and the Mahatmas did choose to say a little bit more :-).

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 28, 2014 at 12:27pm
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The interference of bliss that HPB talks about in the example of the mother and her children might go the other way too.  Nature does not seem to support the interference of karma of those on earth by those who have passed on either.

Up to this point HPB has continued to provide reasons as to why the Ego in Devachan cannot return to talk to loved ones on earth.  This in contrast to the views of the spiritualists.

ENQUIRER. In no case, then, do you admit the possibility of the communication of the living with thedisembodied spirit?

THEOSOPHIST. Yes, there is a case, and even two exceptions to the rule. The first exception is during the few days that follow immediately the death of a person and before the Ego passes into the Devachanic state. 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 unconsciousness.” The second exception is found in the Nirmanakayas.

ENQUIRER. What about them? And what does the name mean for you?

THEOSOPHIST. It is the name given to those who, though they have won the right to Nirvana and cyclic rest — (not “Devachan,” as the latter is an illusion of our consciousness, a happy dream, and as those who are fit for Nirvana must have lost entirely every desire or possibility of the world's illusions)―have out of pity for mankind and those they left on earth renounced the Nirvanic 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 Nirvana, 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 evenin astral life in our sphere. And such can and do communicate with a few elect ones, only surely not with ordinary mediums.

ENQUIRER. I have put you the question about Nirmanakayas because I read in some German and other works that it was the name given to the terrestrial appearances or bodies assumed by Buddhas in the Northern Buddhistic teachings.

THEOSOPHIST. So they are, only the Orientalists have confused this terrestrial body by understanding it to be objective and physical instead of purely astral and subjective.

ENQUIRER. And what good can they do on earth?

THEOSOPHIST. Not much, as regards individuals, as they have no right to interfere with Karma, and can only advise and inspire mortals for the general good. Yet they do more beneficent actions than you imagine.

ENQUIRER. To this Science would never subscribe, not even modern psychology. For them, no portion of intelligence can survive the physical brain. What would you answer them?

THEOSOPHIST. I would not even go to the trouble of answering, but would simply say, in the words given to “M. A. Oxon,” “Intelligence is perpetuated after the body is dead. Though it is not a question of the brain only. . . . It is reasonable to propound the indestructibility of the human spirit from what we know” (Spirit Identity, p.69).

ENQUIRER. But "M. A. Oxon" is a Spiritualist?

THEOSOPHIST. Quite so, and the only true Spiritualist I know of, though we may still disagree with him on many a minor question. Apart from this, no Spiritualist comes nearer to the occult truths than he does. Like any one of us he speaks incessantly “of the surface dangers that beset the ill-equipped, feather-headed muddler with the occult, who crosses the threshold without counting the cost.”* Our only disagreement rests in the question of “Spirit Identity.” Otherwise, I, for one, coincide almost entirely with him, and accept the three propositions he embodied in his address of July, 1884. It is this eminent Spiritualist, rather, who disagrees with us, not we with him.

ENQUIRER. What are these propositions?

THEOSOPHIST. 

“l. That there is a life coincident with, and independent of the physical life of the body.”

“2. That, as a necessary corollary, this life extends beyond the life of the body” (we say it extends throughout Devachan).

“3. That there is communication between the denizens of that state of existence and those of the world in which we now live.”

All depend, you see, on the minor and secondary aspects of these fundamental propositions. Everything depends on the views we take of Spirit and Soul, or Individuality and Personality. Spiritualists confuse the two “into one”; we separate them, and say that, with the exceptions above enumerated, no Spirit will revisit the earth, though the animal Soul may.

The Key to Theosophy pp148-153 (edited) -  Original Edition.

You can read the entire section on line at:

http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/key/key-9.htm

_______________________

Comments and questions welcome.

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Here are a few questions to think about...

- Would anyone like to comment on the two exceptions of communication after death, which HPB refers to? 

- the first exception is said to happen '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 theindividuality, the “Spirit” that communicated..'  What kind of thing would be an example of such a communication?  Why does HPB appear to doubt that any real benefit comes of such occurrences?

- What might HPB mean when she says that the Nirmanakayas "can only advise and inspire mortals for the general good"?  

-  "...with the exceptions above enumerated, no Spirit will revisit the earth, though the animal Soul may."  Why might people mistake the animal soul for the real Spirit when communications between the dead and the living take place?

Please share any questions and comments of your own.

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- the first exception is said to happen '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 theindividuality, the “Spirit” that communicated..'  What kind of thing would be an example of such a communication?  

Barbara -How would we be able to distinguish it is the individuality that is communicating and not the astral shell when we hear the different stories about communication with the dead? 

- What might HPB mean when she says that the Nirmanakayas "can only advise and inspire mortals for the general good"?  

Barbara - The Nirmanakayas have shed their personality and only relate impersonally.  They focus on the manifestation of the One Life and individuals.  They can not interfere with karma;  hence they only inspire the mortals and could not give directives.

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"How would we be able to distinguish it is the individuality that is communicating and not the astral shell when we hear the different stories about communication with the dead?"

Barbara, I think these cases refer to the projection of the mayavi-rupa (thought-body) which we are told happens in some cases immediately after death - as a result of a strong desire of the Ego to communicate to a love one and so on.   Without training and the requisite spiritual vision ourselves we would have to go by the quality of the presence and the communication.  

 

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Do the Masters at times use their mayavi-rupa (thought-body) to communicate with their students as well?  I assume the developed individuals have the power to use their mayvai rupa  at will.

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I’m not sure how much there is to say on this particular sub-section, so I’ve pasted below and in the next message some passages from HPB’s article, “Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits”.  It seems to bring together and sum up many of the different elements we have studied in previous sections and up to now.

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1. The immortal Spirit—sexless, formless (arupa), an emanation from the One universal BREATH.

2. Its Vehicle—the divine Soul—called the “Immortal Ego,” the “Divine monad,” etc., etc., which by accretions from Manas in which burns the ever-existing Jiv—the undying spark—adds to itself at the close of each incarnation the essence of that individuality that was, the aroma of the culled flower that is no more.

What is the false personality? It is that bundle of desires, aspirations, affection and hatred, in short of action, manifested by a human being on this earth during one incarnation and under the form of one personality. Certainly it is not all this, which as a fact for us, the deluded, material, and materially thinking lot—is Mr. So and So, or Mrs. somebody else—that remains immortal, or is ever reborn.

All that bundle of Egotism, that apparent and evanescent “I,” disappears after death, as the costume of the part he played disappears from the actor’s body, after he leaves the theatre and goes to bed. That actor re-becomes at once the same “John Smith” or Gray, he was from his birth and is no longer the Othello or Hamlet that he had represented for a few hours. Nothing remains now of that “bundle” to go to the next incarnation, except the seed for future Karma that Manas may have united to its immortal group, to form with it—the disembodiedHigher Self in “Devachan.” As to the four lower principles, that which becomes of them is found in most classics, from which we mean to quote at length for our defence. The doctrine of the périsprit, the “false personality,” or the remains of the deceased under their astral form—fading out to disappear in time, is terribly distasteful to the spiritualists, who insist upon confusing the temporary with the immortal EGO.

Unfortunately for them and happily for us, it is not the modern Occultists who have invented the doctrine. They are on their defence. And they prove what they say, i.e., that no“personality” has ever yet been “reincarnated on the same planet” (our earth, this once there is no mistake) save in the three exceptional cases above cited. Adding to these a fourth case,which is the deliberate, conscious act of adeptship; and that such an astral body belongs neither to the body nor the soul, still less to the immortal spirit of man, the following is brought forward and proofs cited.

continued...

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(…continued)

Before one brings out on the strength of undeniable manifestations, theories as to whatproduces them and claims at once on prima facie evidence that it is the spirits of the departed mortals that re-visit us, it behoves one to first study what antiquity has declared upon the subject. Ghosts and apparitions, materialized and semi-material “ SPIRITS” have not originated with Allan Kardec, nor at Rochester. If those beings whose invariable habit it is to give themselves out for souls and the phantoms of the dead, choose to do so and succeed, it is only because the cautious philosophy of old is now replaced by an a prioriconceit, and unproven assumptions. The first question is to be settled—“Have spirits any kind of substance to clothe themselves with?” Answer: That which is now called périspritin France, and a “materialized Form” in England and America, was called in days of oldperi-psyche, and peri-nous, hence was well known to the old Greeks. Have they a bodywhether gaseous, fluidic, ethereal, material or semi-material? No; we say this on the authority of the occult teachings the world over. For with the Hindus atma or spirit isArupa (bodiless), and with the Greeks also. Even in the Roman Catholic Church the angels of Light as those of Darkness are absolutely incorporeal: “meri spiritus, omnes corporis expertes” and in the words of the “SECRET DOCTRINE,” primordial. Emanations of the undifferentiated Principle, the Dhyan Chohans of the  ONE (First) category or pure Spiritual Essence, are formed of the Spirit of the one Element; the second category of [or?] the second Emanation of the Soul of the Elements; the third have a “mind body” to which they are not subject, but that they can assume and govern as a body, subject to them, pliant to their will in form and substance. 

Parting from this (third) category, they (the spirits, angels, Devas or Dhyan Chohans) have  BODIES, the first rupa group of which is composed of one element Ether; the second, of two—ether and fire; the third, of three—Ether, fire and water; the fourth, of four—Ether, air, fire and water. Then comes man, who, besides the four elements, has the fifth that predominates in him—Earth: therefore he suffers. Of the Angels, as said by St. Augustine and Peter Lombard, their bodies are made to act not to suffer. It is earth and water, humor et humus, that gives an aptitude for suffering and passivity, ad patientiam, and Ether and Fire for action. The spirits or human monads, belonging to the first, or undifferentiated essence, are thus incorporeal; but their third principle (or the human Fifth—Manas) can in conjunction with its vehicle become Kama rupa and Mayavi rupa—body of desire or “illusion body.” After death, the best, noblest, purest qualities of Manas or thehuman soul, ascending along with the divine Monad into Devachan, whence no one emerges from or returns, except at the time of reincarnation—what is that then which appears under the double mask of the spiritual Ego or soul of the departed individual? The Kama rupa element with the help of elementals. For we are taught that those spiritual beings that can assume a form at will and appear, i.e., make themselves objective and even tangible—are the angels alone (the Dhyan Chohans) and the nirmanakaya * of the adepts, whose spirits are clothed in sublime matter. The astral bodies—the remnants anddregs of a mortal being which has been disembodied, when they do appear, are not the individuals they claim to be, but only their simulacra. And such was the belief of the whole of antiquity, from Homer to Swedenborg; from the third race down to our own day.

Footnote * Nirmanakaya  is the name given to the astral forms (in their completeness ) of adepts, who have progressed too high on the path of knowledge and absolute truth, to go into the state of Devachan; and have on the other hand, deliberately refused the bliss of nirvana, in order to help Humanity by invisibly guiding and helping on the  same path of progress elect men. But these astrals  are not empty shells, but complete monads made up of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th principles. There is another order of nirmanakaya,  however, of which much will be said in The Secret Doctrine.— H.P.B.

(CW VII  185-188; from "Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits")

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Here's another passage from HPB on spirits, devachanees and Nirmanakayas.  Here we also see explained the relationship between the Nirmanakayas, individuals, humanity at large and karma.

“. . . the hitherto very esoteric doctrine of the Nirmanakayas was lately brought forward as a proof and explained in the treatise called The Voice of the Silence. These Nirmanakayas are the Bodhisattvas or late Adepts, who having reached Nirvana and liberation from rebirth, renounce it voluntarily in order to remain invisibly amidst the world to help poor ignorant Humanity within the lines permitted by Karma. These are the real  SPIRITS of the disembodied men, and we recognize no others. The rest are either Devachanees to whose plane the spirit of the livin