The Devachanic Plane
in the Scheme of Things
An extract from the
Devachanic Plane by C
The mental plane or the heaven-world is often spoken of in our Theosophical literature as that of Devachan or Sukhâvatí.
Although, in calling this plane the heaven-world, we distinctly intend to imply that it contains the reality which underlies all the best and most spiritual ideas of heaven which have been propounded in various religions, yet it must by no means be considered from that point of view only.
It is a realm of nature. which is of exceeding importance to us — a vast and splendid world of vivid life in which we are living now as well as in the periods intervening between physical incarnations. It is only our lack of development, only the limitation imposed upon us by this robe of flesh, that prevents us from fully realizing that all the glory of the highest heaven is about us here and now, and that influences flowing from that world are ever playing upon us if we will only understand and receive them.
Impossible as this may seem to the man of the world, it is the plainest of realities to the occultist; and to those who have not yet grasped this fundamental truth we can but repeat the advice given by the Buddhist teacher:— " Do not complain and cry and pray, but open your eyes and see. The light is all about you, if you would only cast the bandage from your eyes and look. It is so wonderful, so beautiful, so far beyond what any man has dreamt of or prayed for, and it is for ever and for ever." (The Soul of a People, page 163.)
It is absolutely necessary for the student of Theosophy to realize this great truth, that there exist in nature various planes or divisions, each with its own matter of an appropriate degree of density, which in each case interpenetrates the matter of the plane next below it. It should also be clearly understood that the use of the words "higher" and " lower " with reference to these planes does not refer in any way to their position (since they all occupy the same space), but only to the degree of rarity of the matter of which they are respectively composed, or (in other words) the extent to which their matter is subdivided - for all matter of which we know anything is essentially the same, and differs only in the extent of its subdivision and the rapidity of its vibration.
It follows, therefore, that to speak of a man as passing from one of these planes to another does not in the least signify any kind of movement in space, but simply a change of consciousness. For every man has within himself matter belonging to every one of these planes, a vehicle corresponding to each, in which he can function upon it when he learns how this may be done.
So that to pass, from one plane to another is to change the focus of the consciousness from one of the vehicles to another, to use for the timethe astral or, the mental body instead of the physical. For naturally each of these bodies responds only to the vibrations of its own plane; and so while the man's consciousness is focused in his astral body, he will perceive the astral world only, just as while our consciousness is using only the physical senses we perceive nothing but this physical-world —though both these worlds (and many others) are in existence and full activity all round us all the while.
Indeed, all these planes together constitute in reality one mighty living whole, though as yet our feeble powers are capable of observing only a very small part of this at a time.
When considering this question of locality and interpenetration we must be on our guard against possible misconceptions. It should be understood that none of the three lower planes of the solar system is co-extensive with it except as regards a particular condition of the highest or atomic subdivision of each.
Each physical globe has its physical plane (including its atmosphere), its astral plane, and its mental plane, all interpenetrating one another, and therefore occupying the same position in space, but all quite apart from and not communicating with the corresponding planes of any other globe. It is only when we rise to the lofty levels of the buddhic plane that we find a condition common to, at any rate, all the planets of our chain.
Notwithstanding this, there is, as stated above, a condition of the atomic matter of each of these planes which is cosmic in its extent; so that the seven atomic sub-planes of our system, taken apart from the rest, may be said to constitute one cosmic plane - the lowest, sometimes called the cosmic-prakritic.
The interplanetary ether, for example, which appears to extend through the whole of space - indeed must do so, at least to the farthest visible star, otherwise our physical eyes could not perceive that star - is composed of physical ultimate atoms in their normal and uncompressed condition. But all the lower and more complex forms of ether exist only (so far as is at present known) in connection with the various heavenly bodies, aggregated round them just as their atmosphere is, though probably extending considerably further from their surface.
Precisely the same is true of the astral and mental planes. The astral plane of our own earth interpenetrates it and its atmosphere, but also extends for some distance beyond the atmosphere.
It may be remembered that this plane was called by the Greeks the sub-lunar world. The mental plane in its turn interpenetrates the astral, but also extends further into space than does the latter.
Only the atomic matter of each of these planes, and even that only in an entirely free condition, is co-extensive with the interplanetary ether, and consequently a person can no more pass from planet to planet even of our own chain in his astral body or his mind-body, than he can in his physical body.
In the causal body, when very highly developed, this achievement is possible, though even then by no means with the ease and rapidity with which it can be done upon the buddhic plane by those who have succeeded in raising their consciousness to that level.
A clear comprehension of these facts will prevent the confusion that has sometimes been made by students between the mental plane of our earth and those other globes of our chain which exist on the mental plane. It must be understood that the seven globes of our chain are real globes, occupying definite and separate positions in space, notwithstanding the fact that some of them are not up in the physical plane. Globes A, B, F, and G are separate from us and from one another just in the same way as are Mars and the earth; the only difference is that whereas the latter have physical, astral and mental planes of their own, globes B and F have nothing below the astral plane, and A and G nothing below the mental. The astral plane dealt with in Manual V and the mental plane which we are about to consider are those of this earth only, and have nothing to do with these other planets at all.
The mental plane upon which the heaven-life takes place, is the third of the five great planes with which humanity is at present concerned, having below it the astral and the physical, and above it the buddhic and the nirvânic.
It is the plane upon which man, unless at an exceedingly early stage of his progress, spends by far the greater part of his time during the process of evolution; for, except in the case of the entirely undeveloped, the proportion of the physical life to the celestial is rarely much greater than one in twenty, and in the case of fairly good people it would sometimes fall as low as one in thirty. It is, in fact, the true and permanent home of the reincarnating ego or soul of man, each descent into incarnation being merely a short though important episode in his career.
It is therefore well worth our while to devote to its study such time and care as may be necessary to acquire as thorough a comprehension of it as is possible for us while encased in the physical body.
Unfortunately there are practically insuperable difficulties in the way of any attempt to put the facts of this third plane of nature into language — and not unnaturally, for we often find words insufficient to express our ideas and feelings even on this lowest plane.
Readers of The Astral Plane will remember what was there stated as to the impossibility of conveying any adequate conception of the marvels of that region to those whose experience had not as yet transcended the physical world; one can but say that every observation there made to that effect applies with tenfold force to the effort which is before us in this sequel to that treatise. Not only is the matter which we must endeavour to describe much further removed than is astral matter from that to which we are accustomed, but the consciousness of that plane is so immensely wider than anything we can imagine down here, and its very conditions so entirely different, that when called upon to translate it all into mere ordinary words the explorer feels himself utterly at a loss, and can only trust that the intuition of his readers will supplement the inevitable imperfections of his description.
To take one only out of many possible examples of our difficulties, it would
seem as though on this mental plane space and time were non-existent, for events which down here take place in succession and at widely-separated places, appear there to be occurring simultaneously and at the same point. That at least is the effect produced on the consciousness of the ego, though there are circumstances which favour the supposition that absolute simultaneity is the attribute of a still higher plane, and that the sensation of it in the heaven-world is simply the result of a succession so rapid that the infinitesimally minute spaces of time are indistinguishable, just as in the well-known optical experiment of whirling round a stick the end of which is red-hot, the eye receives the impression of a continuous ring of fire if the stick be whirled more than ten times a second; not because a continuous ring really exists, but because the average human eye is incapable of distinguishing as separate any similar impressions which follow one another at intervals of less than the tenth part of a second.
However that may be, the reader will readily comprehend that in the endeavour to describe a condition of existence so totally unlike that of physical life as is the one which we have to consider, it will be impossible to avoid saying many things that will be partly unintelligible and may even seem wholly incredible to those who have not personally experienced that higher life. That this should be so is, as I have said, inevitable, so readers who find themselves unable to accept the report of our investigators must simply wait for a more satisfactory account of the heaven-world until they are able to examine it for themselves: I can only repeat the assurance previously given in The Astral Plane that all reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure accuracy. In this case as in that, we may say that " no fact, old or new, has been admitted to this treatise unless it has been confirmed by the testimony of at least two independent trained investigators among ourselves, and has also been passed as correct by older students whose knowledge on these points is necessarily much greater than ours. It is hoped, therefore, that this account, though it cannot be considered as complete, may yet be found reliable as far as it goes."
The general arrangement of the previous manual will as far as possible be followed in this one also, so that those who wish to do so will be able to compare the two planes stage by stage. The heading " Scenery " would, however, be inappropriate to the mental plane.
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