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[9/7/2013 6:08:25 PM] Thuan Thi Do: CHAPTER 23 ASTRAL DEATH
WE have now reached the end of the life-history of the astral body, and little remains to be said regarding its death and final dissolution. The steady withdrawal of the ego, as we have seen, causes, in a time which varies within very wide limits, the particles of the astral body gradually to cease to function, this process taking place, in most cases, in layers arranged according to degree of density, the densest being on the outside. The astral body thus slowly wears away and disintegrates as the consciousness is gradually withdrawn from it by the half-unconscious effort of the ego, and thus the man by degrees gets rid of whatever holds him back from the heaven-world. During the stay on the astral plane, in kâmaloka, the mind, woven with the passions, emotions and desires, has purified them, and assimilated their pure part, and has absorbed into itself all that is fit for the higher ego, so that the remaining portion of kâma is a mere residue, from which the ego, the Immortal Triad of Atmâ-Buddhi-Manas (as it is often called), can readily free itself. Slowly the Triad or ego draws into itself the memories of the earth-life just ended, its loves, hopes, aspirations, etc., and prepares to pass out of kâmaloka into the blissful state of devachan, the “abode of the gods”, the “heaven-world”. Into the history of the man when he has reached the heaven-world we cannot enter here, as it lies beyond the scope of this treatise: it is hoped, however, to deal with it in the third volume of this series. For the moment, however, it may be said, in brief, that the period spent in devachan is the time for the [Page 207] assimilation of life experiences, the regaining of equilibrium, ere a new descent into incarnation is undertaken. It is thus the day that succeeds the night of earth-life, the subjective as contrasted with the objective period of manifestation. When the man passes out of kâmaloka into devachan, he cannot carry thither with him thought-forms of an evil type; astral matter cannot exist on the devachanic level, and devachanic matter cannot answer to the coarse vibrations of evil passions and desires. Consequently all that the man can carry with him when he finally shakes off the remnants of his astral body will be the latent germs
or tendencies which, when they can find nutriment or outlet, manifest as evil desires and passions in the astral world. But these he does take with him, and they lie latent throughout his devachanic life, in the astral permanent atom. At the end of the kâmalokic life, the golden life-web (see A Study in Consciousness, pages 91-93) withdraws from the astral body, leaving it to disintegrate, and enwraps the astral permanent atom, which then retreats within the causal body. The final struggle with the desire-elemental (see pp. 6 & 108) takes place at the conclusion of the astral life, for the ego is then endeavouring to draw back into himself all that he put down into incarnation at the beginning of the life which has just ended. When he attempts to do this he is met with determined opposition from the desire-elemental, which he himself has created and fed. In the case of all ordinary people, some of their mental matter has become so entangled with their astral matter that it is impossible for it to be entirely freed. The result of the struggle is therefore that some portion of the mental matter, and even of causal (higher mental) matter is retained in the astral body after the ego has completely broken away from it. If, on the other hand, a man has during life completely conquered his lower desires and succeeded in absolutely freeing the lower mind from desire, there is practically [Page 208] no struggle, and the ego is able to withdraw not only all that he “invested” in that particular incarnation, but also all the “interest”, i.e., the experiences, faculties, etc., that have been acquired. There are also extreme cases where the ego loses both the “capital” invested and the “interest”, these being known as “lost-souls” or elementaries (see page 145). The full treatment of the method in which the ego puts a portion of himself down into incarnation and then endeavours to withdraw it again, must clearly be reserved for the third and fourth volumes of this series, which will deal with the mental and causal bodies. The exit from the astral body and the astral plane is thus a second death, the man leaving behind him an astral corpse which, in its turn, disintegrates, its materials being restored to the astral world, just as the materials of the physical body are returned to the physical world. This astral corpse, and the various possibilities which may happen to it, have already been dealt with in Chapter 19 on Astral Entities, under the headings Shades (page 170), Shells (page 171), Vitalised Shells (page 172), etc. [Page 209]
[9/7/2013 6:23:09 PM] Thuan Thi Do: CHAPTER 24 RE-BIRTH
AFTER the causes that carried the ego into devachan are exhausted, the experiences gathered having been wholly assimilated, the ego begins to feel again the thirst for sentient material life, that can be gratified only on the physical plane. That thirst is known by the Hindus as trishnâ.
It may be considered, first, as a desire to express himself: and second, as a desire to receive those impressions from without which alone enable him to feel himself alive. For this is the law of evolution. Trishnâ appears to operate through kâma, which, for the individual as for the Cosmos, is the primary cause of reincarnation. During the devachanic rest the ego has been free from all pain and sorrow, but the evil he did in his past life has been in a state, not of death, but of suspended animation. The seeds of past evil tendencies commence to germinate as soon as the new personality begins to form itself for the new incarnation. The ego has to take up the burden of the past, the germs or seeds coming over as the harvest of the past life being called by the Buddhists skandhas. Kâma, with its army of skandhas, thus waits at the threshold of devachan, whence the ego re-emerges to assume a new incarnation. The skandhas consist of material qualities, sensations, abstract ideas, tendencies of mind, mental powers. The process is brought about by the ego turning his attention, first to the mental unit, which immediately resumes its activity, and then to the astral permanent atom, into which he puts his will. The tendencies, which we have seen are in a condition [Page 210] of suspended animation, are thrown outwards by the ego as he returns to re-birth, and draw around themselves, first, matter of the mental plane, and also elemental essence of the second great kingdom, these expressing exactly the mental development which the man had gained at the end of his last heaven-life. He thus begins in this respect exactly where he left off. Next, he draws round himself matter from the astral world, and elemental essence of the third kingdom, thus obtaining the materials out of which his new astral body will be built, and causing to re-appear the appetites, emotions, and passions which he brought over from his past lives. The astral matter is gathered by the ego descending to re-birth, not of course consciously, but automatically. This material is, moreover, an exact reproduction of the matter in the man's astral body at the end of his '' last astral life. The man thus resumes his life in each world just where he left it last time. The student will recognise in the above a part of the workings of karmic law, into which we need not enter in this present volume. Each incarnation is inevitably,
automatically, and justly linked with the preceding lives, so that the whole series forms a continuous, unbroken chain. The astral matter thus drawn round the man is not yet formed into a definite astral body. It takes, in the first place, the shape of that ovoid which is the nearest expression that we can realise of the true shape of the causal body. As soon as the baby physical body is formed, the physical matter exerts a violent attraction for the astral matter, which previously was fairly evenly distributed over the ovoid, and so concentrates the great bulk of it within the periphery of the physical body. As the physical body grows, the astral matter follows its every change, 99 per cent, of it being concentrated within the periphery of the physical body, and only about I per cent, filling the rest of the ovoid and constituting the aura, as we saw in an earlier chapter (see page 7). [Page 211] The process of gathering matter round the astral nucleus sometimes takes place rapidly, and sometimes causes long delay; when it is completed the ego stands in the karmic vesture he has prepared for himself, ready to receive from the agents of the Lords of Karma the etheric double, into which, as into a mould, the new physical body will be built (see The Etheric Double, page 67). The man's qualities are thus not at first in action: they are simply the germs of qualities, which have secured for themselves a possible field of manifestation in the matter of the new bodies. Whether they develop in this life into the same tendencies as in the last one will depend largely upon the encouragement, or otherwise, given to them by the surroundings of the child during his early years. Any one of them, good or bad, may be readily stimulated into activity by encouragement, or, on the other hand, may be starved out for lack of that encouragement. If stimulated, it becomes a more powerful factor in the man's life this time than it was in his previous existence; if starved out, it remains merely as an unfructified germ, which presently atrophies and dies out, and does not make its appearance in the succeeding incarnation at all. The child cannot thus be said to have as yet a definite mind-body or a definite astral body, but he has around and within him the matter out of which these are to be built. Thus, for example, suppose a man was a drunkard in his past life: in kâmaloka he would have burnt out the desire for drink and be definitely freed from it. But although the desire itself is dead, there still remains the same weakness of character which made it possible for him to be subjugated by it. In his next life his astral body will contain matter capable of giving expression to the same desire; but he is in no way bound to employ such matter in the same way as before. In the hands of careful and capable parents, in fact, being trained to regard such desires as evil, he would gain control over them, repress them as they [Page 212]
appear, and thus the astral matter will remain unvivified and become atrophied from want of use. It will be recollected that the matter of the astral body is slowly but constantly wearing away and being replaced, precisely as is that of the physical body, and as atrophied matter disappears it will be replaced by matter of a more refined order. Thus are vices finally conquered and made virtually impossible for the future, the opposite virtue of self-control having been established. During the first few years of the man's life the ego has but little hold over his vehicles, and he therefore looks to his parents to help him to obtain a firmer grasp and to provide him with suitable conditions. It is impossible to exaggerate the plasticity of these unformed vehicles. Much as can be done with the physical body in its early years, as in the case of children trained as acrobats, for example, far more can be done with the astral and mental vehicles. They thrill in response to every vibration which they encounter, and are eagerly receptive of all influences, good or evil, emanating from those around them. Moreover, though in early youth they are so susceptible and so easily moulded, they soon set and stiffen and acquire habits which, once firmly established, can be altered only with great difficulty. Thus to a far larger extent than is realised by even the fondest parents, the child's future is under their control. It is only the clairvoyant who knows how enormously and how rapidly child-characters would improve if only adult characters were better. A very striking instance is recorded where the brutality of a teacher irreparably injured the bodies of a child so as to make it impossible for the child in this life to make the full progress that was hoped for it. So vitally important is the early environment of a child that the life in which Adeptship is attained must have absolutely perfect surroundings in childhood. In the case of lower-class monads with unusually strong astral bodies, who reincarnate after a very [Page 213] short interval, it sometimes happens that the shade or shell left over from the last astral life still persists, and in that case it is likely to be attracted to the new personality. When that happens it brings with i...
[9/7/2013 6:24:53 PM] Thuan Thi Do: When that happens it brings with it strongly the old habits and modes of thought, and sometimes even the actual memory of that past life. In the case of a man who has led such an evil life i that his astral and mental bodies are torn away from the ego after death, the ego, having no bodies in which to live in the astral and mental worlds, must quickly form new ones. When the new astral and mental bodies are formed, the affinity between them and the old ones, not yet disintegrated, asserts itself, and the old mental and astral bodies become the most terrible form of what is known as the “dweller on the
threshold”. In the extreme case of a man, returning to re-birth, who by vicious appetite or otherwise, has formed a very strong link with any type of animal, he may be linked by magnetic affinity to the astral body of the animal whose qualities he has encouraged, and be chained as a prisoner to the animal's physical body. Thus chained he cannot go onward to re-birth: he is conscious in the astral world, has his human faculties, but cannot control the brute body with which he is connected, nor express himself through that body on the physical plane. The animal organism is thus a jailor, rather than a vehicle. The animal soul is not ejected, but remains as the proper tenant and controller of its own body. Such an imprisonment is not reincarnation, though it is easy to see that cases of this nature explain at least partially the belief often found in Oriental countries that man may under certain circumstances reincarnate in an animal body. In cases where the ego is not degraded enough for absolute imprisonment, but in which the astral body is strongly animalised, it may pass on normally to human re-birth, but the animal characteristics will be largely reproduced in the physical body — as witness the [Page 214] “monsters” who in appearance are sometimes repulsively animal, pig-faced, dog-faced, etc. The suffering entailed on the conscious human entity, thus temporarily cut off from progress and from self-expression, is very great, though, of course, reformatory in its action. It is somewhat similar to that endured by other egos, who are linked to human bodies with unhealthy brains, i.e., idiots, lunatics, etc., though idiocy and lunacy are the results of other vices. Insanity is often the result of cruelty, more especially when the cruelty is of a refined and intentional character.[Page 215]
[9/7/2013 7:26:58 PM] Thuan Thi Do: http://thongthienhoc.net/truongbigiao/DaiCuongTiengVoThinh.htm
[9/7/2013 7:40:42 PM] Thuan Thi Do: http://thongthienhoc.net/truongbigiao/DaiCuongTiengVoThinh2.htm