From Brahman down to the Individual
From the astral world of desires, some of the souls pass on to another world, the world of thoughts. It is a mental zone – man-o-mai srishti – created by the thinking mind or manas as it is called. Thoughts have tremendous energy and each person, while on earth, creates his own dream-land by flights of imagination and fancy and to this, the soul, after death, is gradually led on to experience the castles built in the air as the saying goes.
Mind at every stage from the universal Brahman with his pure mind-essence down to the individual, weaves a world of its own and takes delight to live in it as a spider caught in the web of its own making and flits up and down, right and left, of the gossamer texture so artistically set up with a light filmy substance coming out of its own body. So do the thought-patterns and thought-images of each individual go out to make a wonderful thought-kingdom, far in advance of the time that the thinker in the body is freed from the prison-house of the physical existence in the material world.
As you think, so you become. This is the law of nature, and no one can escape from its operation. In this world of thoughts, thought-vibrations are the only channels of communication between soul and soul, and all the souls live in close communion with each other. There space and time do not matter. If at all there is any separation between them, it is only due to the lack of sympathy and not for anything else. All in all, life there is richer, fuller and more advanced than in any of the foregoing regions, but it continues to be delusive, it being the outcome of the mind-stuff of each and no one here can totally escape from delusion, though each one enjoys in full, his own heaven-world, vast and expanding or shallow and restricted according to one’s own mind-stuff, but all the same each one retains in him, a sense of reality in the midst of surrounding illusion.
A sanctuary of special interest in the mental world is Dev Lok, the abode of the Devas or the shining ones – people highly enlightened in their time and greatly advanced in their researches. Here are located the Svargas and Baikunths of the Hindus, the Sukh Vati of the Buddhists, the heavens of the Zoroastrians and Christians, the Arshas of the less materialised Muslims and the Supernal Paradises or Pleasure-grounds of the later Jews. Here lies the garden of Eden from where man was expelled and excluded by God for his first disobedience of His commandments.
John Milton (1608–1674), a great poet and genius of his age, and a profound political and spiritual Thinker has, in his immortal classics, 'Paradise Lost' and 'Paradise Regained,' given a wonderful account of the fall of man and his resurrection and return unto Him through the intercession of the Son of Man.
Without wading through the scriptures of various religions, dealing with post-mortal existence of man in the various realms, we would do well to once again refer to Brahma Vidya or the Divine Wisdom rightly termed by the Greeks as Theosophia which provides an adequate philosophy, embracing in its fold, the wisdom of the east and the west.
Turning, again, to the great occultist, Mrs Annie Besant, we find the mental plane inhabited by human beings after they cast off their physical and astral vestures. Purged of the selfish animal passions, each one enters into this region to reap the harvest of his good deeds, whatever the same may be, large or small, according to the measure of good thoughts of personal self-aspirations and ambitions, hopes and fears, loves and interests.
We cannot have more than what we are, and our harvest is according to our sowing. Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
It is a universe of the good law, mercifully just, and brings to each, the exact wages or meed of his work on earth. Everything thought of, every aspiration worked up into power, frustrated efforts transmuted into faculties, struggles and defeats becoming pillars of strength and power, sorrows and errors forged into shining armour; now find fruition in one of the seven sub-planes or heavens in the land of midnight sun where self-consciousness awakening, makes one fully conscious of his non-self surroundings; with memory spreading out into the hitherto unknown past, bringing to view the causes that worked out his life on earth and the causes that are wrought by him likewise for the vast future. The past, the present and the future now present to him an integrated view of life, like an open book, with nothing to hide and withhold. Here he develops for himself an all-seeing eye and becomes a perfect seer so far as his individuality is concerned, in the true sense of the word.
In this heaven-world, the lowest part is assigned to the least developed souls with sincere and unselfish love for their families and friends, an admiration for nobler, purer and better persons than themselves. The measure of their meed is accordingly narrow and shallow, the cup of their receptivity being small; but still bubbling over to the brim with joy, purity and harmony; and they are reborn after a while on this plane with improved powers and faculties.
Next, come in men and women of religious faith with hearts and minds turned towards God – the personal God of their own choice, with any name and any form they had faith in, and to them the Nameless and the Formless appears in the said likeness in which they lovingly worshipped Him, overwhelming them with devotional ecstasy according to their mental and emotional capacity. The Divine veils Himself in the form familiar to His devotee. It is really strange that men forget that all deities reside in the human breast. We have but to turn inward to get a glimpse of the Formless in the very form in which we adore Him the most.
It is therefore said:
Formless is He and yet all forms are His; nameless is He and yet all names are His; call Him by any name thou wishest; and He turns to thee.
To the third plane, come devoted and earnest souls who see and serve God-in-man and worship Him in His manifested creation. At this place they are perfected into great philanthropists of times yet unborn, and endowed with a rich power of unselfish Love for mankind.
The souls of master-minds in fine arts, like music, sculpture and painting; the researchers and discoverers of the laws of nature; eager and reverent students delving into the depths of knowledge, get an opportunity in the fourth sub-plane for developing into perfect teachers of mankind in the ages to come; and when they do come, they serve as torch-bearers and leave their footprints on the sands of time.
Next, there are three lofty regions of formless heavens. A large number of souls simply reach the lowest reaches, have but a brief stay, and a flash of insight, according to their sowing and then they come back to the earth-plane with a dip into the great unknown.
But souls with deep thinking and noble living correctly and immediately perceive truths, see the fundamental causes and the underlying unities and learn of the changeless working of the Divine Law in all harmony in the midst of the most incongruous effects as appear to untrained eye – and where 'though all things differ, all agree.' (Alexander Pope)
More advanced souls with memory perfect and unbroken, find their way to the sixth sub-plane and after garnering the riches of the divine mind – Brahmand –, return as great pioneers of mankind to justify the ways of God to man and to glorify God. The mighty dead of ages gone by here get a taste of the glorious living, seeing and witnessing as they do, the working of the will of Brahman in its fullness with no link missing in the chain of causation.
In the loftiest sub-plane come the souls of the Masters of Brahma Vidya and their initiates – Brahmacharis – for none but an initiate can find the strait gate and the narrow path that leadeth unto life and so the chosen few enter into the land and life of Brahman. They enjoy their self-consciousness to the highest point but are not yet endowed with cosmic consciousness.
In the end, Mrs Annie Besant sums up the position thus:
Such is an outline of the 'seven heavens' into one or other of which men pass in due time after the 'change that men call death.' For death is only a change that gives the soul a partial liberation, releasing him from the heaviest of his chains. It is but a birth into a wider life, a return after brief exile on earth to the soul’s true Home (Home of the universal mind), passing from a prison into the freedom of the upper air. Death is the greatest of earth’s illusions; there is no death, but only changes in life conditions. Life is continuous, unbroken, unbreakable; 'unborn, eternal, ancient, constant,' it perishes not with the perishing of the bodies that clothe it. We might as well think that the sky is falling when a pot is broken, as imagine that the soul perishes when the body falls to pieces.