The Astral Body is always connected with the physical body (during the life of the latter) by a thin silk-like, astral thread, which maintains the communication between the two. Were this cord to be severed the physical body would die, as the connection of the soul with it would be terminated.
On this lower Astral Plane may also be perceived the auric colors of men, as described in our Fourth Lesson. Likewise it is on this plane that the emanations of thought may be observed by the clairvoyant vision, or the astral of one who visits that plane in his astral body. The mind is continually throwing off emanations, which extend some distance from the person, for a time, and which then, if strong enough, gradually pass off, drawn here and there by the corresponding thoughts of others.
These thought emanations resemble clouds, some delicate and beautiful, while others are dark and murky. To the psychic or astral vision, places are seen to be filled with this thought-stuff, varying in character and appearance with the quality and nature of the original thought which produced them.
Some places are seen to be filled with bright attractive thought-stuff showing that the general character of the thought of those who inhabit it is of an uplifting and cheerful character, while other places are filled with a hazy, murky mass or cloud of thought-stuff, showing that those who live there (or some visitors) have been dwelling on the lower planes of thought, and have filled the place with depressing reminders of their sojourn there. Such rooms should be opened wide to the sun, and air, and one moving into them should endeavor to fill them with bright, cheerful and happy thoughts, which will drive out the lower quality of thought-stuff.
A mental command, such as “I command you to move away from this place,” will cause one to throw out strong thought vibrations, which will either dissolve the objectionable thought-stuff, or will cause it to be repelled and driven away from the immediate vicinity of the person making the command.
If people could see but for a few minutes the thought-atmosphere of groggeries, gambling-rooms, and places of that kind, they would not care to again visit them. Not only is the atmosphere fairly saturated with degrading thoughts, but the lower class of disembodied souls flock in large numbers around the congenial scene, striving to break the narrow bounds which separate them from the physical plane in such places.
Perhaps the best way to make plain to you the general aspects and phenomena of the Astral World, would be to describe to you an imaginary trip made by yourself in that world, in charge of an experienced occultist. We will send you, in imagination, on such a trip, in this lesson, in charge of a competent guide-it being presupposed that you have made considerable spiritual progress, as otherwise even the guide could not take you very far, except by adopting heroic and very unusual methods, which he probably would not see fit to do in your case. Are you ready for your trip? Well, here is your guide.
You have gone into the silence, and suddenly become aware of having passed out of your body, and to be now occupying only your astral body. You stand beside your physical body, and see it sleeping on the couch, but you realize that you are connected with it by a bright silvery thread, looking something like a large bit of bright spider-web. You are conscious of the presence of your guide, who is to conduct you on your journey.He also has left his physical body, and is in his astral form, which reminds you of a vapory something, the shape of the human body, but which can be seen through, and which can move through solid objects at will.
Your guide takes your hand in his and says, “Come,” and in an instant you have left your room and are over the city in which you dwell, floating along as does a summer cloud. You begin to fear lest you may fall, and as soon as the thought enters your mind you find yourself sinking. But your guide places a hand under you and sustains you, saying, “Now just realize that you cannot sink unless you fear, to hold the thought that you are buoyant and you will be so.” You do so, and are delighted to find that you may float at will, moving here and there in accordance to your wish or desire.
You see great volumes of thought-clouds arising from the city like great clouds of smoke, rolling along and settling here and there. You also see some finer vapory thought-clouds in certain quarters, which seem to have the property of scattering the dark clouds when they come in contact with them. Here and there you see bright thin lines of bright light, like an electric spark, traveling rapidly through space, which your guide tells you are telepathic messages passing from one person to another, the light being caused by the Prana with which the thought is charged.
You see, as you descend toward the ground, that every person is surrounded by an egg-shaped body of color, his aura – in which is reflected his thought and prevailing mental state, the character of the thought being represented by varying colors. Some are surrounded by beautiful auras, while others have around them a black, smoky aura, in which are seen flashes of red light. Some of these auras make you heartsick to observe, as they give evidence of such base, gross, and animal thoughts, that they cause you pain, as you have become more sensitive now that you are out of your physical body. But you have not much time to spare here, as your trip is but a short one, and your guide bids you come on.
You do not seem to change your place in space, but a change seems to have come over everything like the lifting of a gauzy curtain in the pantomime. You no longer see the physical world with its astral phenomena, but seem to be in a new world – a land of queer shapes. You see astral “shells” floating about – discarded astral bodies of those who have shed them as they passed on. These are not pleasant to look upon, and you hurry on with your guide, but before you leave this second ante-room to the real Astral World, your guide bids you relax your mental dependence upon your astral body, and much to your surprise you find yourself slipping out of it, leaving it in the world of shells, but being still connected with it by a silk-like cord, or thread, just as it, in turn, is connected with your physical body, which you have almost forgotten by this time, but to which you are still bound by these almost invisible ties.
You pass on clothed in a new body, or rather an inner garment of ethereal matter, for it seems as if you have been merely shedding one cloak, and then another, the YOU part of yourself remains unchanged – you smile now at the recollection that once upon a time you thought that the body was “you.” The plane of the “astral shells” fades away, and you seem to have entered a great room of sleeping forms, lying at rest and in peace, the only moving shapes being those from higher spheres who have descended to this plane in order to perform tasks for the good of their humbler brethren.
Occasionally some sleeper will show signs of awakening, and at once some of these helpers will cluster around him, and seem to melt away into some other plane with him. But the most wonderful thing about this region seems to be that as the sleeper awakens slowly, his astral body slips away from him just as did yours a little before, and passes out of that plane to the place of “shells,” where it slowly disintegrates and is resolved into its original elements. This discarded shell is not connected with the physical body of the sleeping soul, which physical body has been buried or cremated, as it is “dead”; nor is the shell connected with the soul which has gone on, as it has finally discarded it and thrown it off. It is different in your case, for you have merely left it in the ante-room, and will return and resume its use, presently.
The scene again changes, and you find yourself in the regions of the awakened souls, through which you, with your guides, wander backward and forward. You notice that as the awakening souls pass along, they seem to rapidly drop sheath after sheath of their mental-bodies (for so these higher, forms of ethereal coverings are called) , and you notice that as you move toward the higher planes your substance becomes more and more etherealized, and that as you return to the lower planes it becomes coarser and grosser, although always far more etherealized than even the astral body, and infinitely finer than the material physical body. You also notice that each awakening soul is left to finally awaken on some particular plane.
Your guide tells you that the particular plane is determined by the spiritual progress and attainment made by the soul in its past lives (for it has had many earthly visits or lives), and that it is practically impossible for a soul to go beyond the plane to which it belongs, although those on the upper planes may freely revisit the lower planes, this being the rule of the Astral World – not an arbitrary law, but a law of nature. If the student will pardon the commonplace comparison, he may get an understanding of it, by imagining a large screen, or series of screens, such as used for sorting coal into sizes.
The large coal is caught by the first screen, the next size by the second, and so on until the tiny coal is reached. Now the large coal cannot get into the receptacle of the smaller sizes, but the small sizes may easily pass through the screen and join the large sizes, if force be imparted to them. Just so in the Astral World, the soul with the greatest amount of materiality, and coarser nature, is stopped by the screen of a certain plane, and cannot pass on the higher ones, while one which has passed on to the higher planes, having cast off more confining sheaths, can easily pass backward and forward among the lower planes.
In fact souls often do so, for the purpose of visiting friends on the lower planes, and giving them enjoyment and comfort in this way, and, in cases of a highly developed soul, much spiritual help may be given in this way, by means of advice and instruction, when the soul on the lower plane is ready for it. All of the planes, in fact, have Spiritual Helpers, from the very highest planes, some devoted souls preferring to so devote their time in the Astral World rather than to take a well earned rest, or to pursue certain studies for their own development.
Your guide explains these things to you as you pass backward and forward, among the lower set of planes (the reason you do not go higher will be explained to you bye-and-bye), and he also informs you that the only exception to the rule of free passage to the planes below the plane of a soul, is the one which prevents the lower-plane souls from entering the “plane of the sleepers,” which plane may not be entered by souls who have awakened on a low plane, but may be freely entered by those pure and exalted souls who have attained a high plane.
The plane of the chamber of slumber is sacred to those occupying it, and those higher souls just mentioned, and is in fact in the nature of a distinct and separated state rather than one of the series of planes just mentioned.
The soul awakens on just the plane for which it is fitted – on just the sub-plane of that plane which its highest desires and tastes naturally select for it. It is surrounded by congenial minds, and is able to pursue that which the heart of the man had longed for during earth life. It may make considerable progress during this Astral World life, and so when it is reborn it is able to take a great step forward, when compared to its last incarnation. There are planes and sub-planes innumerable, and each finds an opportunity to develop and enjoy to the fullest the highest things of which it is capable at that particular period of development, and as we have said it may perfect itself and develop so that it will be born under much more favorable conditions and circumstances in the next earth life.
But, alas, even in this higher world, all do not live up to their best, and instead of making the best of their opportunities, and growing spiritually, they allow their more material nature to draw them downward, and they spend much of their time on the planes beneath them, not to help and assist, but to live the less spiritual life of the denizens of the lower planes – the more material planes. In such cases the soul does not get the benefit of the Astral World sojourn and is born back into just about the same condition as the last earth life – it is sent back to learn its lesson over again.