The lower planes of the Astral World are filled with souls of a gross, undeveloped type, who live lives very similar to those lived on earth. In fact they are so closely connected with the material plane, and are so attracted to it, that they are so conscious of much that goes on in it, that they may be said to be living on the material Plane, and only prevented from active participation in it by a thin veil which separates them from their own kind in the body.
These souls hang around the old scenes of their earthly degradation, and often influence one of their kind who is under the influence of liquor and who is thereby open to influences of this nature. They live their old lives over again in this way, and add to the brutality and degradation of the living by their influences and association. There are quite a number of these lower planes, as well as the higher planes, each containing disembodied souls of the particular class belonging to it.
These lower plane souls are in very close contact with the material plane, and are consequently the ones often attracted to seances, where the medium and sitters are on a low plane. They masquerade as the “spirits” of friends of visitors, and others, often claiming to be some well known and celebrated personages. They play the silly pranks so often seen at seances, and take a particular delight in such things, and “general devilment,” if permitted to do so. They are not fit company for people on the higher plane, whether they be embodied or disembodied.
These lower plane souls spend but little time in the disembodied state, and are strongly attracted by the material life, the consequence being that they are filled with a great desire to reincarnate, and generally spend but little time between two incarnations. Of course, when they are reborn they are attracted to, and attracted by, parents of the same tendencies, so that the surroundings in their new earth-life will correspond very closely to those of their old one. These crude and undeveloped souls, as well as the souls of the savage races, progress but slowly, making but a trifling advance in each life, and having to undergo repeated and frequent incarnations in order to make even a little progress. Their desires are strong for the material, and they are attracted to and by it – the Spirit’s influences exerting but a comparatively slight attraction upon them. But even these make some progress – all are moving forward if even but a little.
The souls on each of the succeeding higher planes, of course, make more rapid progress each earth-life, and have fewer incarnations, and a much longer time between them. Their inclinations and tastes being of a higher order, they prefer to dwell on in the higher places of disembodied life, thinking of and contemplating the higher teachings, aided as they are by the absence from material things and encouraged by the rays of the Spiritual Mind beating down upon them, helping their unfoldment. They are able to prepare themselves for great progress in this way, and often spend centuries on the higher planes, before reincarnating. In some cases where they have advanced far beyond their race, they spend thousands of years in the higher planes, waiting until the race grows up to, render their rebirth attractive, and in the meantime they find much helpful work to do for less developed souls.
But sooner or later, the souls feel a desire to gain new experiences, and to manifest in earth-life some of the advancement which has come to them since “death,” and for these reasons, and from the attraction of desires which have been smoldering there, not lived out or cast off, or, possibly influenced by the fact that some loved soul, on a lower plane, is ready to incarnate and wishing to be incarnated at the same time in order to be with it (which is also a desire) the souls fall into the current sweeping toward rebirth, and the selection of proper parents and advantageous circumstances and surroundings, and in consequence again fall into a soul-slumber, gradually, and so when their time comes they “die” to the plane upon which they have been existing and are “born” into a new physical life and body.
A soul does not fully awaken from its sleep immediately at birth, but exists in a dream-like state during the days of infancy, its gradual awakening being evidenced by the growing intelligence of the babe, the brain of the child keeping pace with the demands made upon it. In some case the awakening is premature, and we see cases of prodigies, child-genius, etc., but such cases are more or less abnormal, and unhealthy. Occasionally the dreaming soul in the child half-awakes, and startles us by some profound observation, or mature remark or conduct.
Much of this process of preparing for reincarnation is performed by the soul unconsciously, in obedience to its inspirations, and desires, as it really has not grown to understand what it all means; and what is before it, and is being swept along by the Law of Attraction almost unconsciously. But after souls attain a certain degree of development, they become conscious of the process of reincarnation, and are thereafter conscious of past lives, and preceding a rebirth may take a conscious part in selecting the environments and surroundings. The higher they rise in the scale, the greater their conscious power, and choice.
It will readily be seen that there are planes upon planes of disembodied existence. The Yogi Philosophy teaches that there are Seven Great Planes (sometimes spoken of by uneducated Hindus as the “seven heavens”), but each great plane has seven subdivisions, and each subdivision has seven minor divisions, and so on.
It is impossible for us to begin to describe the nature of the higher astral life. We have no words to describe it, and no minds to comprehend it. Life on the lower planes is very similar to earth-life, many of the inhabitants seeming to think that it is a part of the earth, and, not realizing that they are freed from earthly limitations, imagine that fire can burn them, water can drown them, etc. They live practically on the earth amidst its scenes. Above these are planes whose inhabitants have higher ideas and lives – and so on and on and on, until the bliss of the higher planes cannot be comprehended by man today. In some of the intermediate planes, those who are fond of music indulge to the utmost their love for it – artists their love for their art, intellectual workers pursue their studies – and so on, along these lines.
Above these are those who have awakened spiritually and have opportunities for developing themselves, and gaining knowledge. Above these are states of which we cannot dream. And; yet remember this, even these highest planes are but parts of the high Astral Plane, which plane is but one of the lower ones of the Universe, and above that comes plane after plane of existence. But why speak of this, friends – we cannot undertake to master the problem of higher mathematics, when we scarcely know how to add two figures together. But all this is for us – all for us – and we cannot be robbed of our inheritance.