When the time for transition has come to the incarnated soul–the exact moment of which is determined and initiated by the Higher Self–the physical seed-atom which contains the soul-plan of the Higher Self, releases certain information to the endocrine glands via the blood stream to stimulate the death process. The glands then secrete certain substances that Earlyne Chaney calls the “death hormone.” This hormone then circulates around the physical system releasing the immaterial aspect from the physical. The mental, astral and etheric bodies dissociate themselves from the physical body, followed by the seed-atoms. The first to be affected and released is the mental seed-atom. As it leaves the physical body, the mental records of the soul and consciousness goes along with it. This is in fact the commencement of the bardo, of which no soul can avoid experiencing, even in a sudden impact of death.
Once the mental seed-atom escapes from the physical system, the physical body falls into a coma. Although the physical body still reacts to external stimuli, there is no registration in the consciousness of the soul through the brain. Next to be liberated from the physical body is the astral seed-atom. With the absence of the astral seed-atom, the physical body lies inert and senseless. The departure of the physical seed-atom marks the beginning of clinical death. Its disappearance from the physical body causes the dissolution and disintegration of the physical form. In the above process no pain is involved, for the absence of the mental seed-atom prevents any sensation to be noted in the consciousness. Also, the “death hormone” anesthetizes the whole physical system. Any death struggle or spasms to be seen in the dying merely reflects the release of the components of the soul and the physical body’s straining to prevent its departure. As a person is about to leave the physical, the astral body increases in luminosity, even in the case of sudden deaths.
All of the seed-atoms as they leave the physical body, are transferred to the astral form. With the transference of the mental seed-atom, the consciousness of the soul gradually awakens in the astral state and experiences the bardo. Once the bardo is undergone, the soul, the awareness-principle in average cases, is greeted by advance beings and earth-relatives who have prepared beforehand for the arrival of the soul. This we know personally having had psychic contacts when our dad was undergoing the dying process. The dying are often instilled peace with the help of music played by the disembodied spirits.
The departure of every soul from the physical plane is known by spiritual beings, and preparation is always made for their reception in the astral world. Even while journeying in the bardo the soul is often aided by spiritual guides. Divine guides in the higher planes helping the newly dead is a common belief among ancient Egyptians.
When the physical seed-atom leaves the physical form and transfers itself to the astral body, the sutratma, the silver cord, snaps and recoils to the physical form where it infuses itself into the bones of the body. Imbued with the qualities or magnetism of the personality of the soul, the sutratma, as it recoils to the bones, impregnates the skeletal structure with the vibrations of the soul. The bones, therefore, acquire a magical quality, especially if the departed soul was a mystic or saint of a high caliber. This occult principle is well known among shamans of various cultures who often utilize bones of revered men as implements as ceremonial magicians would use their consecrated wands as tools of their will. We personally possess such a magickal object, a very ancient trisula, part of which is made by a human bone.
During the above process of soul-transference, or transition, the awareness-principle undergoes the bardo, as we have said before. Since we will be considering the bardo at some length in a later section of this paper, we will now deal, instead, with the nature of the after-death state.
Once soul-transference has been completed and the bardo experienced, the astral form drifts to the realm or region in the astral or mental world where it will sojourn for a time. The etheric body, is however, still connected with the physical form through a remnant of the sutratma. It dissolves simultaneously with the physical body. With the absence of the higher principles, the etheric body, like the physical form, is but an empty shell, and it may somehow be galvanized into some resemblance of life by astral entities using the life-force borrowed from incarnated beings. Some forms of vampirism is also related to the etheric body. Corpses remaining fresh in their graves is the result of a vital etheric body animated by some intelligence maintaining subsistence through the act of vampirism.
Possessing some psychological traits and memory of its former occupant, the etheric form is often used by malicious entities to deceive and mislead living relatives and persons through channels, psychics and mediums. It is for this reason that cremation, from the occult point of view, is often seen as a spiritual necessity and a psychically sanitary method for disposing physical remains. It prevents the occurrence of negative phenomena such as obsession and possession. In burial grounds, the etheric body may often be seen as bluish lights hovering buried bodies; these are often mistaken for ghosts or human spirits–the correct term for these are phantoms.
In ancient Egypt, the desire for preserving the etheric body may underlie the practice of mummification. Like the bones of a deceased person, the etheric body is also often used for occult and magical purposes–usually necromancy or sciomancy, which are forms of divination. This is usually done with the use of the shedding of blood where it attracts the shades, the etheric forms of the dead used not by its former occupant, but by elemental or elementary spirits. Blood, as a medium of the life-force, is an energy source sought after by malicious or mischievous spirits. With the presence of blood such spirits find it possible to be fully aware of the physical plane and materialize and converse with material beings; and also possible to satisfy certain base desires.
We mentioned before that the soul, the awareness-principle, gravitates to the realm most suited for it in terms of vibration. Mercy does not automatically lead a soul to heaven. A soul’s personality determines where it would go. If the nature of the soul is of a low type, it will find itself in one of the lower astral regions which corresponds to the religious concept of hell. High-natured souls will be drawn to the high astral worlds or to the mental mansions. Swedenborg speaks of this in his book, “Heaven and Hell”:
“It ought to be clearly understood that with the angels [souls] it is their interiors which cause them to be in one heaven or another. For, the more their interiors are open towards the Lord, the more interior is the heaven in which they are.” (1958:16)
Here Swedenborg says that souls enter the type of heaven that corresponds with the quality of the inner heaven within them. This spiritual principle is a known law among occultists. Cornelius Agrippa in the Three Books of Occult Philosophy, has this to say about the reward of lofty souls:
“But the spirit of man, which is of a sacred nature, and divine offspring, because it is always faultless, becomes incapable of any punishment; but the soul of it hath done well, rejoiceth together with the spirit, and going forth with its aerial chariot [astral body], passeth freely to the graves of the heroes, or reacheth heaven, where it enjoys all its senses, and powers, a perpetual blessed felicity, a perfect knowledge of all things, as also the divine vision, and possession of the kingdom of heaven, and being made partaker of the divine power bestows freely divers gifts upon these inferiors, as if it were an immortal god . . .” (1995:594)
He goes on to say that the soul of a negative nature is left to the pleasure of the “devil”:
“Wherefore then this soul being void of an intelligible essence and being left to the power of a furious planetary, is ever subjected by the torment of corporeal qualities.” (1995:594)
Agrippa alludes here to hell or purgatory. Should there be coarse material in the astral form as a result of negative habits, negative patterns of thoughts and desires, the soul sojourns temporarily in purgatory before transmigrating to its rightful place in the heavenly regions. Purgatory is a transitional plane of human souls of various natures and types; for instance, there are those bound there because of their unrealistic religious concepts, and they linger in purgatory until they accept the truth concerning the spiritual laws governing the higher spheres. There are those also stuck in purgatory until certain habits or desires are overcome. Atheists and intellectuals likewise find themselves in purgatory for a time. Attachment to earthly wealth, position, and power may also be a cause of bondage to purgatory.
In purgatory the soul strives to rid itself of its moral, mental and emotional defects; and also the effects of its physical and sensual indulgences, as well as those sensual desires itself. In Hindu and Buddhist mythology, these souls in purgatory are called Pretas, or “hungry ghosts.” Until the astral form has reached the required degree of purification, the soul would find it uncomfortable to live anywhere else in the astral plane. Purgatory is said to resemble the earth plane’s slums and ghetto areas.
The author of this paper once had an interesting experience in one of the lower astral regions in which he was directed to counsel souls who were kleptomaniacs. Although not informed as to the nature of the inhabitants of the realm, certain events such as personal objects carried on our astral person at that time which was suddenly amiss made us realize the common problem of those souls living there. Those souls were stuck in purgatory because of their thieving tendencies, and we were there to help them realize and give up their negative habit. Bad habits and desires follow us in the afterlife and they cause us intense suffering–the result of being unable to completely satiate, gratify, or fulfill them. It is for this reason that negative habits and desires should be extinguished, or at least transmuted in the here and now, in the physical plane. Before entering purgatory, a soul may be given a glimpse of the astral heavens so as to awaken its aspirations, its desires to improve its condition and soul-estate. When the soul is dissatisfied with mundane and carnal things in the lower astral and when it aspires for something better, it commences to purify its astral body of the lower particles, and suddenly it finds itself within a higher sphere.
Souls that are psychologically unsound or mentally and emotionally disturbed are brought to healing centers in purgatory for the restoration of harmony among their soul-vehicles. Souls with crystallized minds and are mentally imprisoned by preconceived ideas concerning life after death are likewise brought to healing centers for de-hypnotization, or rehabilitation. Souls that led violent lives fall into suspended animation for a lengthy period of time. This enforced unconsciousness is therapeutic in nature, it is a period of soul-healing. These souls are awakened from time to time to determine its attitude–whether it feels guilt or repents of its negative deeds. If not, it is once again tranquilized.
When ignorant of the existence of the higher spheres, souls in purgatory and in the hell regions are often shown, by guiding souls, of the splendour and glory of the upper regions of the astral and mental worlds. Souls are no more intelligent or knowledgeable in the astral as they were in the physical. Ignorance in the physical concerning Truth and Reality are brought along with them in the discarnate state. Opinions are maintained. Souls, therefore, see and experience what they have learnt to believe. Such “lost souls” are shown the way of ascension to the higher worlds.
The astral body is plastic-like in nature and it normally reflects the nature of the soul within. Souls with negative tendencies and evil traits assume forms with facial features reflective of its nature. They may take on the appearance of misshapen, grotesque, and monstrous forms. Conversely, souls with positive, clean, and pure natures take on angelic forms. The higher the quality and nature of the soul, the more beautiful and scintillating its appearance. Even the clothings worn by souls reflects the inner state. Referring to this principle Swedenborg declares:
“. . . all the interior affections appear and shine forth from the face.” (1958:22)
He also relates the mystery of soul-appearance of evil persons:
“. . . and wonderful to tell, those in hell appear to one another as men, but in the light of heaven they appear as monsters, horrid in face and body, the exact form of their own evil.” (1958:66)
Among Chinese and Tibetan beliefs is that souls could reincarnate as animals. Considering the principle mentioned above, we can come to appreciate some truth in this concept. Men with animal characteristics do reflect their animal nature in their astral-forms.
Through death the mind retains the same personality, habits, traits, character and inclinations, and this is known through one’s appearance. It is through the facial appearance, the quality of the clothings worn, and the luminosity and colours of the aura of the soul that the degree of evolution of the soul may be determined. Some beings are so radiant, that it hurts to look at them. We would probably shield our eyes with our hands to protect our sight from the glare–this gesture could almost be interpreted as a salute–a sign of honor and respect to those beings. These souls are bearers of Light, Life and Love. Their presence heals and vitalizes the younger souls. Overthere, in the astral and mental worlds, everyone sees us for what we really are, including ourselves. Though we may be “somebody” in the physical world, in the astral worlds we may be just another “person.” In the higher worlds, our true character stands revealed. There is nothing of our private thoughts, feelings and character that we can hide. We are an opened book that reveals our inner selves to others around us. Again quoting Swedenborg:
“. . . an angel who excels in wisdom instantly sees the quality of another from his face.” (1958:22)
Only virtues, good thoughts, deeds, and a search for Truth confers beauty of appearance. In the higher worlds we will discover the fact that thoughts are things. What we think manifests and affects us almost immediately without any time interval.
Those with pre-conceptions regarding heaven, such as religious devotees, will experience the type of heaven of their expectations. These various heavenly conditions, however, are illusions. They exist temporarily as dramas played on the behalf of the newly-arrived soul for the purpose of teaching spiritual lessons, such as the errors of pre-conceived ideas. The dramas are sometimes played by negative beings with non-benevolent motive. These dramas last until the soul awakens to the fact that its concept of heaven as experienced, hardly reflects the true reality, state, and nature of the mansions of the Cosmos; or conversely, it could entrap him even further. The former condition is brought home when certain events occur in their personal “heaven” which indicates the artificiality of their paradise. For instance, a soul conceiving heaven to be one where its inhabitants wear wings and halos, and play on the harp and sing hymns for all eternity will experience just that . . . until ennui sets in, and voices begin to get hoarse, and harp strings begins to burst, and halos begin to fall, and wings begin to molt . . . In reference to these dramas in the astral dimensions, Torkom Saraydarian comments in The Science of Meditation:
“Once you enter into it, you see that many colorful events are rapidly forming and dissolving according to your unnamed urges, aspirations, thoughts, and volitions, which are in continuous change and motion and in various intensities. All you see is the response of your astral substance, which mirrors your desires, urges, dreams, and mental modifications. The comic part of this is that you do not realize that whatever you see or experience is your creation, your own expression, which sometimes becomes the vehicle of astral entities who perform an illusive play or comedy to englamour and trap you even more.” (1993:208)
In the various astral and higher planes, the soul occupies some of its time analyzing its past life and the assimilation of its experience. This introspection is often done with the assistance of spiritual guides and group discussions. In the heavenly worlds the soul finds time to do and to learn the things that it always wanted to without being bothered by the necessities of earning a daily living. There are Halls of Wisdom and Temples of Learning in all branches of the arts and sciences, including the science of creation. In these schools the soul learns the purpose of life, the laws of the spiritual planes and how it may function effectively therein in its higher vehicles. The potential and expressions of one’s creativity are also taught. Generally, the average soul will spend its time studying and serving others, with intervals of relaxation and play.
In the astral state one discovers that it is unnecessary to eat or to drink to nourish the astral form. Nourishment occurs through spiritual osmosis. The astral form automatically absorbs the life-giving energy-fluid flowing through the astral ethers. This could be done physically as well, but it requires intense spiritual training to reach this level. Streams and fountains of energy are to be found in the higher heavens. Muslims call them Salsabil. A dip in them also vitalizes the whole spiritual constitution.
There are several modes of locomotion available to the inhabitants of the heavenly worlds. There are vehicles to convey one from place to place. One may also choose to walk or to use the astral body’s innate capability to fly. This latter mode of travel requires some mastery though, however, once mastered, it offers one of the most convenient methods of mobilization. Once settled in the higher astral, the soul does not possess the ability to view or manifest in the earth plane unless it has acquired the occult ability to do so. Generally speaking, it is not possible for the soul to visit the higher worlds beyond its soul-level because of the intense fiery vibrations emanating from those worlds. Journeying to lower worlds, however, is much more easily accomplished.
Communication in the subtle worlds is done mainly through telepathy, although sometimes normal speech is used. The utilization of telepathy means that every soul understands every other soul eventhough in physical terms there may be a language barrier. For instance, through the means of telepathy it is possible for an Englishman to understand an Italian, and vice versa. One also eventually learns to communicate through colours and sounds, these being universal languages. There is, however, a phenomenon that should be noted and expressed clearly by Swedenborg:
“. . . the angels of a lower heaven cannot speak with those of a higher heaven. In fact when they look towards them, they do not see them, the higher heavens appearing like a mist over their heads. Angels of a higher heaven, however, can see those in a lower heaven . . .” (1958:100)
Copyright © 2006 Luxamore