Regarding the question of occupation in the heaven-world—the Astral Plane—the following from a well-known writer on the subject, Mr. A. P. Sinnett, will prove interesting and instructive:
“Readers, however, who may grant that a purview of earthly life from heaven would render happiness in heaven impossible, may still doubt whether true happiness is possible in the state of monotonous isolation now described. The objection is merely raised from the point of view of an imagination that cannot escape from its present surroundings. To begin with, about monotony. No one will complain of having experienced monotony during the minute, or moment, or half-hour, as it may have been, of the greatest happiness he may have enjoyed in life. Most people have had some happy moments, at all events, to look back to for the purpose of this comparison; and let us take even one such minute or moment, too short to be open to the least suspicion of monotony, and imagine its sensations immensely prolonged without any external events in progress to mark the lapse of time. There is no room, in such a condition of things, for the conception of weariness. The unalloyed, unchangeable sensation of intense happiness goes on and on,
The Life Beyond Death
not forever, because the causes which have produced it are not infinite themselves, but for very long periods of time, until the efficient impulse has exhausted itself.”
Another high authority on the subject (quoted by Sinnett) says: “The moral and spiritual qualities have to find a field in which their energies can expand themselves. Devachan (the higher Astral Plane) is such a field. Hence, all the great planes of moral reform, of intellectual research into abstract principles of Nature—all the divine, spiritual, aspirations that so fill the brightest part of life, in Devachan come to fruition; and the abstract entity occupies itself in this inner world, also of its own preparation, in enjoying the effects of the grand beneficial spiritual causes sown in life. It lives a purely and spiritually conscious existence—a dream of realistic vividness—until Karma, being satisfied in that direction…the being moves into its next era of causes, either in this same world or another, according to its stage of progression…. Therefore, there is a ‘change of occupation,’ a continual change, in Devachan. For that dream-life is but the fruition, the harvest-time, of those psychic germs dropped from the tree of physical existence in our moments of dream and hope—fancy glimpses of bliss and happiness, stifled in an ungrateful social soil, blooming in the rosy dawn of Devachan, and ripening under its ever-fructifying sky. If man had but a single moment of ideal experience, not even then could it be, as erroneously supposed, the indefinite prolongation of that ‘single moment.’ That one note struck from the lyre of life, would form the key-note of the being’s subjective state, and work out into numberless harmonic tones and semi-tones of psychic phantasmagoria. There all unrealized hopes, aspirations and dreams, become fully realized, and the dreams of the objective become the realities of the subjective existence. And there, beyond the curtain of Maya, its vaporous and deceptive appearances are perceived by the Initiate, who has learned the great secret how to penetrate thus deep into the Arcana of Being.”
Astral Plane Occupation
The same authority continues: “To object to this on the ground that one is thus ‘cheated by Nature,’ and to call it ‘a delusive sensation of enjoyment which has no reality’ is to show oneself utterly unfit to comprehend the conditions of life and being outside of our material existence. For how can the same distinction be made in Devachan—i. e. outside of the conditions of earth-life—between what we call a reality, and a fictitious or an artificial counterfeit of the same, in this, our world. The same principle cannot apply to the two sets of conditions…. The spiritual soul has no substance…nor is it confined to one place with a limited horizon of perceptions around it. Therefore, whether in or out of its mortal body, it is ever distinct, and free from its limitations; and, if we call its Devanchanic experiences ‘acheating of nature,’ then we should never be allowed to call ‘reality’ any of those purely abstract feelings that belong entirely to, and are reflected and assimilated by, our higher soul—such, for instance, as an ideal perception of the beautiful, profound philanthropy, love, etc., as well as every other purely spiritual sensation that during life fills our inner being with either immense pain or joy.”
Surely to the aspiring soul there is a far greater happiness in the thought of a heaven-world in which shall be worked out the problems of this life—in which the creative impulse shall be given full opportunity for unfoldment and development, to the end that in a newer and fuller life to come there shall be a putting forth of blossom and fruit, of heart’s desires come true, of ideals made real—than in a heaven of the cessation of unfoldment and creative endeavor, where all is finished, where there is nothing to be done or created, where there is no occupation but to fold hands end enjoy the bliss of eternal idleness. The creative instinct is from the very heart of Nature herself, the throbbing of her own life-blood, for Nature is ever at work, creating, doing, performing, becoming, making, achieving—forever, and ever, and ever, on, and on, and on,
The Life Beyond Death
without ceasing, rising from greater to greater achievement, as the aeons of time fly by. Verily this alone is life, and:
“All other life is living death, a land where none but phantoms dwell;
“A wind, a sound, a breath, a voice; the tinkling of the Camel’s bell.”
And yet so grounded in materiality is the world of men, that they would speak of the heaven-world of the higher Astral Plane as a mirage, a mere dream, a phantasm. They consider nothing “real” unless it is on the material plane. Poor mortals, they do not realize that, at the last, there can be nothing more unreal, more dreamlike, more transitory, more phantasmal, than this very world of material substance. They are not aware that in it there is absolutely no permanence—that the mind itself is not quick enough to catch a glimpse of material reality, for, before the mind can grasp a material fact, the fact has merged into something else.
The world of mind, and still more true, the world of spirit, is far more real than is the world of materiality. From the spiritual viewpoint there is nothing at all real but Spirit; and matter is regarded as the most fleeting and unreal of all illusory appearances. From the same viewpoint, the higher in the scale one rises above the material plane, the more real becomes the phenomena experienced. Therefore, it follows, that the experiences of the soul on the higher Astral Plane are not only not unreal in nature, but, by comparison, are far more real than the experiences of life on the material plans. As the writers just quoted have well said, Nature is not cheated on the Astral Plane—but Nature herself manifests with more real effect on that plane than on the material plane. This is a hard saying for the uninitiated—but the advanced soul becomes more and more convinced of its truth every succeeding hour of its experience.
It is a grievous error to regard the experiences of the soul in the heaven-world as little more than a “playing at reality,” as
Astral Plane Occupation
some materialistic critics has termed it. One has but to turn to the experiences even of the earth-life to see that some of the world’s best work is performed in the hours other than those employed in the actual fashioning of the things. There are times in the everyday life of the most active workers of the world which may be called “the ideal period”—that is, the time in which the mind creates and forms that which is afterward manifested in material form. There has never been a building, nor a bridge, nor any other great work of human hands, erected, unless first it has been created in the mind of some man or men. It has had its first existence in the creative faculties of the mind—the material building is merely the reproduction of the mental creation. This, being remembered, which shall we consider the real creation, the mental or the material?
The soul, in its activities on the higher Astral Plane, performs a work similar to that of the mind of the inventor, designer, builder, when it fashions and designs that which will afterward be objectified in material form. It may be called the period or stage of forming the model, or pattern, or mould, which shall afterward serve for the material manifestation. Ignorance, alone, can conceive of such a stage of existence as being a “mere dream.” Verily, the scales of matter serve to blind the eyes of man, so that he sees the real as the unreal—the unreal as the real. The higher in the scale of existence the soul rises, the more real are its experiences—the nearer it approaches matter, in its descent of the scale, the more unreal are its experiences. Ah, Maya! Maya! thou mother of illusion, when shall we learn to rise above thy spell! Those who play in the clay, are besmeared by it, and can see nothing finer and higher than its sticky substance.