The very lowest planes of the Astral World are filled with souls of a gross type – undeveloped and animal like – who live as near as possible the lives they lived on earth (about the only thing they gain being the possibility of their “living-out” their gross tastes, and becoming sick and tired of it all, and thus allowing to develop a longing for higher things which will manifest in a “better-chance” when they are reborn). These undeveloped souls cannot, of course, visit the upper planes, and the only plane below them being the plane of shells and the astral sub-plane immediately above the material plane (which is one of the so-called anterooms of the Astral World) they often flock back as near to earth as is possible.
They are able to get so near back to earth that they may become conscious of much that is transpiring there, particularly when the conditions are such that they are in harmony with their own natures. They may be said to be able to practically live on the low material plane, except that they are separated from it by a tantalizing thin veil, which prevents them from actively participating in it except on rare occasions. They may see, but not join in, the earth life. They hang around the scenes of their old degrading lives, and often take possession of the brain of one of their own kind, who may be under the influence of liquor, and thus add to his own low desires. This is an unpleasant subject, and we do not care to dwell upon it – happily it does not concern those who read these lessons, as they have passed beyond this stage of development. Such low souls are so attracted by earth-life, on its lower planes, that their keen desires cause them to speedily reincarnate in similar conditions although there is always at least a slight improvement – there is never a going backward. A soul may make several attempts to advance, in spite of the dragging-back tendencies of its lower nature – but it never slips back quite as far as the place from which it started.
The souls in the higher planes, having far less attraction for earth-life, and having such excellent opportunities for advancement, naturally spend a much longer time in the Astral World, the general rule being that the higher the plane, the longer the rest and sojourn. But sooner or later the lesson is fully learned, and the soul yearns for that further advancement that can only come from the experience and action of another earth-life, and through the force of its desires (never against its will, remember) the soul is gradually caught in the current sweeping on toward rebirth, and becoming drowsy, is helped toward the plane of the room of slumber and, then falling into the soul-slumber it gradually “dies” to the Astral World, and is reborn into a new earth-life in accordance to its desires and tastes, and for which it is fit at that particular stage of its development.
It does not fully awaken upon physical birth, but exists in a dreamy state of gradual awakening during the years of early childhood, its awakening being evidenced by the gradual dawning of intelligence in the child whose brain keeps pace with the demands made upon it. We will go more into detail regarding this matter, in the succeeding chapters.
All of these things, your guide has pointed out to you, and he has shown you examples of all the things we have just mentioned. You have met and talked with friends and loved ones who have passed out of the body and occupy some of the planes through which you have passed. You have noticed with wonder that these souls acted and spoke as if their life was the only natural one, and in fact seemed to think that you had come to them from some outside world. You also noticed that while those on each plane were more or less acquainted with the planes beneath them, they often seemed in total ignorance of those above them – except in the case of those on the higher planes who had awakened to a conscious realization of what it all meant, and knew that they were merely in a class working their way upward.
Those on the lower planes seemed more or less unconscious of the real meaning of their existence, not having awakened to the conscious spiritual stage. You also noticed how few changes these souls seemed to have undergone, how very little more they seemed to know about things spiritual and occult than when on earth.
You also noticed on the lower planes an old friend, who in earth-life, was a pronounced materialist, who did not seem to realize that he was “dead” and who believed that, by some catastrophe of nature, he had been transported to some other planet or physical world, and who was as keen as ever for his argument that “death ended all,” and who flew into a rage with the visitors from the higher spheres who told him whom they were and from whence they came, calling them rogues and imposters, and demanding that they show him something of their claimed “higher spheres” if they were realities. He claimed that their sudden appearances and disappearances were simply the physical phenomena of the new planet upon which they were living.
Passing away from him in the midst of his railing at you for agreeing with the “imposters” and “visionaries,” who, to use his expression, were “little better than the spiritualists of the old world,” you sadly asked your guide to take you to the highest spheres. Your guide smiled and said, “I will take you as far as you can go,” and then took you to a plane which so fitted in with your desires, aspirations, tastes, and development, that you begged him to allow you to remain there, instead of taking you back to earth, as you felt that you had reached the “seventh heaven” of the Astral World. He insisted upon your return, but before starting told you that you were still in one of the sub-planes of the comparatively lower planes. You seemed to doubt his words, and like the materialist asked to be shown the greater things. He replied, “No, my son, you have progressed just as far as your limitations will allow – you have reached that part of the ‘other life’ which will be yours when you part with the body, unless you manage to develop still more and thus pass into a higher grade thus far you may go but no farther. You have your limitations, just as I have mine, still farther on. No soul may travel beyond its spiritual boundaries.”
“But,” continued your guide, “beyond your plane and beyond mine are plane after plane, connected with our earth, the splendors of which man cannot conceive. And there are likewise many planes around the other planets of our chain – and there are millions of other worlds – and there are chains of universes just as there are chains of planets – and then greater groups of these chains – and so on greater and grander, beyond the power of man to imagine – on and on and on and on, higher and higher to inconceivable heights. An infinity of infinities of worlds are before us. Our world and our planetary chain and our system of suns, and our systems of solar systems, are but as grains of sand on the beach.”
“Then what am I – poor mortal thing – lost among all this inconceivable greatness,” you cried. “You are the most precious thing – a living soul,” replied your guide, “and if you were destroyed the whole system of universes would crumble, for you are as necessary as the greatest part of it – it cannot do without you – you cannot be lost or destroyed – you are part of it all, and are eternal. “And beyond all of this of which you have told me,” you cried, “what is there, and what is the center of it all?” Your guide’s face took on a rapt expression. “THE ABSOLUTE,” he replied. And when you reached your physical body again – just before your guide faded away – you asked him, “How many million miles away from Earth have we been, and how long were we gone?” He replied, “You never left the Earth at all – and your body was left alone but a moment of time – time and space belong not to the Astral world.”