LIFE AFTER DEATH: THE MENTAL PLANE (DEVACHAN)
edited by Roger Fritz, 5-13-16
WOK = The Working Out Of Karma,
TMB = The Mental Body, by A. E. Powell
TCB = The Causal Body, by A. E. Powell
FDA = Death- and After, by Annie Besant
TDP = The Devachanic Plane, by C. W. Leadbeater.
These books are available for free on the Canadian Theosophical website or by googling PDF name-of-book name-of-author.)
THE MENTAL PLANE (DEVACHAN):
The "average time in Devachan is from ten to fifteen centuries," H. P. Blavatsky tells us. (FDA36)
Devachan (the mental plane) is a realm of nature. It is a vast and splendid world of vivid life in which we are living now, as well as in the periods intervening between physical incarnations. Influences flowing from that world are ever playing upon us if we will only understand and receive them. (TDP, page 1)
It is a world in which every being must, by the very fact of his presence there, be experiencing the highest spiritual bliss of which he is capable. (TDP, page 8)
While in Devachan, in one sense we can acquire more knowledge; that is, we can develop further any faculty which we loved and strove after during life, provided it is concerned with abstract and ideal things, such as music, painting, poetry, etc. (FDA36)
In spite of Devachan being to a certain extent illusory, as indeed is all manifested life, in varying degree, nevertheless there is much greater reality in the heaven-life than there is in the earth life.
The student realizes immediately on the opening of his consciousness even in the astral, and still more in this mental world, that the fulness of true life is something which can never be known down here, and that when we leave this physical earth we are passing into that true life, not out of it. (TDP, Page 19)
An ordinary man in devachan is living in a shell of his own thoughts; he has thus shut himself off absolutely from the rest of the world, i.e., both from the mental plane and from the lower planes. But, although he is shut away from the full enjoyment of the possibilities of the mental world, he is not in the slightest degree conscious of any curtailment of his activities or his feelings. On the contrary, he is filled with bliss to the very utmost of which he is capable, and it is to him incredible that there can be any greater joy than that which he is himself experiencing.
Thus, although he has shut himself within certain limits, he is quite unconscious of those limits, and within them he has all that he can possibly desire or think. He has surrounded himself with images of his friends, and through those images he is actually in closer contact with his friends than he has ever been on any other plane.
CALLING UP FRIENDS:
In the mental plane the man moulds the matter of the plane into thought-images of his friends, and egos of the friends express themselves through the images. Nevertheless, even at the worst the expression of a friend through an image is much fuller and more satisfying than it ever was in the physical life. For in earth-life we see our friends but partially; our knowledge of them must always be exceedingly defective, and our communion with them imperfect; even when we do believe we know our friend truly and wholly, it is still only the part of him which is in incarnation that we can know, there being far more behind in the real ego which we cannot reach at all.
But in every case, the ego of the friend is reached by affection, and whatever may be its stage of development it at once responds by pouring itself into the image which has been made.
If the friend is still living in the physical body, he will of course be entirely unaware in his physical consciousness that his true self, or ego, is enjoying the additional manifestation; but this in no way affects the fact that the manifestation is a more real one and contains a nearer approximation to his true self than the one on the physical plane, which is all that most of us can as yet see.
From all these considerations it follows that a man who has made himself generally beloved, who has many real friends, will have a large number of thought-images in Devachan of his friends, and will thus evolve with far greater rapidity than a more ordinary man.
SEEING OUTSIDE THE SHELL:
It will thus be seen that in this higher world anyone who wishes to devote himself for a time to quiet thought, and to abstract himself from his surroundings, may actually live in a world of his own without possibility of interruption, and with the additional advantage of seeing all his ideas (and their consequences, fully worked out) passing in a sort of panorama before his eyes. If, however, he wishes instead to observe the plane upon which he finds himself, it will be necessary for him very carefully to suspend his thought for the time. (TDP, page 10)
When the visitor to the mental plane succeeds in putting himself in this position he finds that although he is no longer himself a centre of radiation of all that marvellous wealth of light and colour, form and sound, which I have so vainly endeavoured to picture, it has not therefore ceased to exist; on the contrary, its harmonies and its coruscations are but grander and fuller than ever. Casting about for an explanation of this phenomenon, he begins to realize that all this magnificence is not a mere idle or fortuitous display — a kind of devachanic aurora borealis; he finds that it all has a meaning — a meaning which he himself can understand; and presently he grasps the fact that what he is watching with such ecstasy of delight is simply the glorious colour-language of the Devas — the expression of the thought or the conversation of beings far higher than himself in the scale of evolution. By experiment and practice he discovers that he also can use this new and beautiful mode of expression, and by this very discovery he enters into possession of another great tract of his heritage in this celestial realm —the power to hold converse with, and to learn from, its loftier non-human inhabitants. (TDP, Page 11)
MUSIC OF THE SPHERES:
It is possible also for a visitor to the mental plane to form round himself a huge shell, through which none of the thought or conversation of other entities can penetrate. Then holding his own mind perfectly still, he can examine the conditions outside his shell. He is now able to perceive another, and entirely different, series of regular pulsations, which the other more artificial phenomena had obscured. These are universal, and cannot be checked or turned aside by any shell made by human power. They produce no colour or form, but flow with resistless regularity through all the matter of the plane, outwards and in again, like the exhalations and inhalations of a great breath. There are several sets of these, clearly distinguishable from one another by volume, period of vibration, and the tone of the harmony which they bring. Grander than them all sweeps one great wave which seems the very heart-beat of the system –a wave which, welling up from unknown centres on far higher planes, pours out its life through all our world, and then draws back in its tremendous tide to that from which it came. It comes in one long undulating curve, and the sound of it is like the murmur of the sea. Yet in it and through it there echoes a ringing chant of triumph, the very music of the spheres. A man who has once heard that glorious song of nature never quite loses it again. Even in the physical world, so dreary by comparison, he hears it always as a kind of undertone.
If the man has reached a certain degree of spiritual development, it is possible for him to merge his consciousness with the sweep of the wave and let it bear him upward to its source. But it is not wise to do this unless a Master stands beside him to draw him back at the right moment; for otherwise its irresistible force will carry him away into still higher lanes, whose far greater glories his ego is as yet unable to sustain. He will lose consciousness, with
no certainty as to when and where he will regain it. Whilst the attainment of such unity is the ultimate object of man's evolution, he must reach that goal in full and perfect consciousness, and not drift into absorption in a state of blank unconsciousness but little removed from annihilation. (TMB Ch 27)
THE AKASHIC RECORDS:
The past to the observers [in the mental plane] is as open as the present; the indelible records of the memory of nature are ever at their disposal, and history, whether ancient or modern, unfolds itself before their eyes at their will. If they are able to stand upon the higher levels of the plane, the long line of their past lives unrolls itself before them like a scroll; they see the karmic causes which have made them what they are; they see what karma still lies in front to be worked out. (TDP,Page 9)
If it be asked whether they can see the future as clearly as the past, the answer must be in the negative, for that faculty belongs to a still higher plane [the causal], and though in this mental plane prevision is to a great extent possible to the inhabitants, yet it is not perfect, because wherever in the web of destiny the hand of the developed man comes in, his powerful will may introduce new threads, and change the pattern of the life to come. (TDP, page 10)
PURPOSE OF THE MENTAL PLANE:
For all but very highly advanced persons the heaven-life is absolutely necessary, because it is only under its conditions that aspirations can be developed into faculties, and experiences into wisdom. The progress which is thus made by the soul is far greater than would be possible if by some miracle the man was enabled to remain in physical incarnation for the entire period.
An animal that has attained individualisation, after his death on the physical and astral planes, has usually a very prolonged, though often somewhat dreamy life in the lower heaven-world [the mental plane]. His condition is sometimes called "dozing" consciousness, and is analogous to that of a man on the same level, though with far less mental activity. He is surrounded by his own thought-images, even though he may be but dreamily conscious of them, and these will of course include images of his earth-friends in their very best and most sympathetic moods. (TMB, Ch 22)
The main function of Devachan is to manifest appearances that seem real to a particular lifestream. For example, many lifestreams have a desire to live in a large house or an opulent palace. This is obviously difficult to accomplish on earth, but it is very easy for the devas to manifest such conditions in Devachan. The devas can easily manifest a wonderful palace that is all centered around one lifestream. They can manifest what seems to be servants occupying the palace. In some cases the devas themselves even take on characters in people's dreams, as that can give the devas an opportunity to grow.
The obvious purpose for Devachan is to give lifestreams the exact conditions they did not have on earth, so that by experiencing the fulfillment of their wishes, they will eventually reach a saturation point and then become aware that they have a desire for something more than the conditions they have.
AFTER THE MENTAL PLANE:
On earth, there is a constant struggle, whereas in Devachan there is no struggle, because everything conforms to your wishes. For most lifestreams, this becomes boring, and then they will go one of [three] ways.
One is that they actually long to go back for the struggle, they long to have someone oppose their wishes, so they have something to struggle against. Which means they can now set aside the particular wish that brought them to Devachan and go back into embodiment on earth.
As an example, take the fact that many lifestreams on earth have a wish for more sex. Sex has the potential to be both a wish and a desire. If consenting adults seek to fulfill each others wish for more sex, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. Yet if people develop a desire that makes them willing to rape or force others, then we obviously have a karma-making situation. Some people are on the borderline between wish and desire, but still at the point where they can potentially benefit from Devachan. It is surprising how quickly lifestreams get bored with having sex with partners who are exactly as they dreamt about on earth.
The wish to have certain material things is in itself innocent in that it does not necessarily harm other people. Yet if seeking to fulfill it means coercing others, it too can be karma making. Yet in Devachan it is very easy to have this wish fulfilled without hurting anyone, and again it is surprising how quickly it becomes boring to have everything you want.
The wish to be revered as a spiritual teacher is not in itself harmful to others, and it is also easy to fulfill in Devachan. And again, it can quickly become boring to have followers who never give you any contrast, either as opposition or by challenging you from a higher state of consciousness.
The second option is that lifestreams long for interaction with beings who are at a higher level of consciousness than themselves. They will be ready to leave the earth behind. They will then either take embodiment on other – higher – planets or begin the ascension process.
The third option is that one can join the devas, become one of them. This means you would become a nature spirit, who have an evolution parallel to ours.]